Dems delay Sessions vote
Senate Democrats used a procedural move Tuesday to stall a committee vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions
’s nomination to be attorney general, one day after the growing controversy surrounding President Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim nations led to the firing of an acting attorney general for insubordination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will reconvene at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to vote on Sessions’s nomination, Chairman Chuck Grassley
The announcement came after the committee took a break to allow members to vote on the floor confirmation of Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary.
When the meeting reconvened, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Grassley that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) intended to invoke the two-hour rule against holding committee meetings beyond the first two hours of the Senate’s day.
Sessions’s already-difficult path to confirmation was made more contentious by Trump’s firing Monday night of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who deemed the president’s order illegal and said she would not have Justice attorneys defend it.
Trump quickly replaced Yates with Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He rescinded the Yates order and said Justice will defend the executive order.
Democrats have fiercely criticized Trump’s order and Yates’s firing, and said that any vote for Sessions is a vote to let Trump stifle dissent in his Justice Department.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said it took “guts” and a “steel spine” to stand up to Trump’s “seemingly unconstitutional” order, which bars all refugees from entering the U.S. for four months, and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely.
Citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen are barred from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.
“That’s what an attorney general must be willing and able to do,” Feinstein said. “I have no confidence Sessions will be able to do that.”
Republicans, however, backed Trump’s decision to fire Yates.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn
(R-Texas) noted that the Office of Legal Counsel reviewed the legality of Trump’s order before it was issued.
“Her job was to do her job or resign,” he said. “I believe Trump was entirely in his rights to fire her.”