Dems Miffed That Black Lawmakers Have To Testify Last At Sessions Hearing

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January 9, 2017 12:53 p.m.

Senate Democrats are pushing Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to let members of the Congressional Black Caucus testify at the confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Politico reported Monday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Judiciary Committee, told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the committee’s ranking member, that he was willing to let members of the CBC testify at the hearing, according to Politico. However, Grassley said that Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and other black lawmakers would only be able to speak after a panel of outside witnesses testifies at the hearing, per Politico.

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.

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