Democrats are unhappy with this arrangement, arguing that lawmakers typically testify at hearings before outside witnesses, Politico reported.
Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine told Politico that Democrats requested that members of the CBC testify ahead of witnesses who had already been called to speak at the hearing.
“A members-only panel that could have preceded even Senator Sessions, simply to satisfy an ideological perspective, was unacceptable to Senator Grassley,” Levine said. “Instead, a third panel, with both supporters and opponents, has been added to the hearing following the panel of citizens on Wednesday afternoon.”
Sessions' confirmation hearing will likely be contentious given the Alabama senator's history with racial issues. He was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after several U.S. attorneys testified at the confirmation hearing that he had made racist comments.