In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) suggested at Tuesday's Attorney General confirmation hearing that he may be open to softening consent decrees hammered out by the Obama administration with police departments accused of discriminatory or otherwise illegal policing. He said that police departments "often feel forced to agree to a consent decree just to remove that stigma and sometimes there are difficulties there."

The comment was one of a number in which Sessions, during what will be his only day of testimony, hinted that he intended to take the Justice Department in a different direction from the current administration. For instance, in a discussion about the Obama administration's attitude of letting states experiment with marijuana legalization, Sessions said, "One obvious concern is that Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it an illegal act."

Much of the nine-and-a-half-hour questioning of Sessions by his Judiciary Committee peers focused on controversial comments that he had made previously, as well as some of the stances that President-elect Donald Trump took during the presidential campaign.

Sessions was forced to clarify comments he made during the presidential campaign that grabbing someone by the pussy -- as Donald Trump described doing on a 2005 Access Hollywood tape -- did not qualify as sexual assault. He also said he would recuse himself of investigations involving Hillary Clinton controversies that came up during her presidential race against Trump. He vowed to follow the Supreme Court's decisions on same-sex marriage and abortion, even though he had previously criticized the rulings. He also dodged a question about whether he believe Russia was behind election-related hacking by saying he had not done any "research" into the matter. Later he conceded that he had "no reason to doubt" the report by the U.S. intelligence community that found that Russia, through cyberattacks and other methods, sought to influence the presidential campaign.

Sessions said he opposed banning Muslims as a religious group, but added that he believed religious views should be considered when vetting immigrants if those views were "inamicable to the public safety of the United States."

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After years of rallies in the cold, votes on bills that were going nowhere, and committee witch hunts and candidate pledges, the anti-abortion movement is on the verge of securing a major victory, even if it's one that's making some Republicans uncomfortable. There’s a reason that anti-abortion groups fought so hard for a provision defunding Planned Parenthood be included in a doomed 2015 Obamacare repeal bill. And it’s the moment they find themselves in now.

While even the earliest steps to push the larger legislation through again has been subject to all sorts of squabbles, a top anti-abortion group says that they are “really confident” that this time, a measure to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood will become law.

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After publicly airing some of their grievances with the GOP's current strategy of repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan, a handful of Republican senators put their concerns in legislative writing. Five senators on Monday evening introduced a measure that would delay the next steps on repealing the Affordable Care Act by more than a month. The senators, in their statements accompanying the provision, said the delay would buy Congress more time to work out of the the details of a replacement.

"This amendment will ensure that we move forward with a smart, responsible plan to replace the law as quickly as possible,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in a statement announcing the measure. He was joined by Bob Corker (R-TN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in introducing the proposal.

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Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), one of the Republicans who has been skeptical of the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, elaborated on his concerns Monday evening, pointing specifically to how lawmakers will fund its replacement if the Obamacare taxes are repealed right away.

"It just seems to me that probably you’re better off working this all out together," Corker said. "That may not end up being the case and that of course would take some Democratic cooperation, but I think people are beginning to realize that throwing $116 billion dollars in a mud puddle is a pretty big deal."

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Wednesday is shaping up to be a blockbuster day in political news, with Senate confirmation hearings scheduled for six of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees in addition to the President-elect holding his first press conference since July in midtown Manhattan.

That stacked schedule has some senior Democrats crying foul. They argue that, with the attention of the public and the political press divided between cities and hearings, Republicans will have an easier time forcing through some of the President-elect’s more controversial appointees.

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