Dems delay Sessions vote

Senate Democrats used a procedural move Tuesday to stall a committee vote on Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports McCabe: Trump's 'relentless attack' on FBI prompted memoir Trump: 'Disgraced' McCabe, Rosenstein look like they were planning 'very illegal act' MORE’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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown MORE (R-Iowa) said.

The announcement came after the committee took a break to allow members to vote on the floor confirmation of Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary.

ADVERTISEMENT

When the meeting reconvened, Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union New battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks MORE (D-Hawaii) told Grassley that Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (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 He rescinded the Yates order and said Justice will defend the executive order.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 CornynJohn CornynOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (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.”

- Updated at 1:46 p.m.