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Sessions Nomination Advances To Full Senate, Approved By Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees (all times local):11:25 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general after angry exchanges between Republicans and Democrats.

The 11-9 vote was along party lines. All the panel’s Democrats voted against the nomination.

The Alabama Republican is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate. Republicans have been strongly supportive of their colleague, arguing that he will follow the law and maintain traditional independence from President Donald Trump, if needed.

In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is shown while meeting with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington.© Molly Riley In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is shown while meeting with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

 

Democrats have expressed doubts that he would be able to say no to the president since he was one of his earliest and strongest defenders in the presidential campaign.

They also expressed concerns about whether Sessions would be committed to civil rights, a chief priority of the Obama administration.

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11:10 a.m.

Tempers flared in the usually decorous Senate as the Judiciary Committee weighed a vote on attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.

Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas traded charges on Wednesday over previous committee testimony.

Franken said he wanted to set the record straight and complained that his integrity had been abused.

Cornyn interrupted Franken as Republicans tried to move ahead and vote on the nominee.

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10:50 a.m.

The top Democrat on a Senate panel responsible for advancing President Donald Trump’s pick to head the White House budget office says she needs time to examine the results of a routine FBI investigation before she can vote on Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s nomination.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says she gained access to Mulvaney’s FBI file just a half-hour before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee vote Wednesday morning. Mulvaney is a Missouri Republican tapped to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

The vote has been postponed by not rescheduled. Mulvaney faces a Budget panel vote on Thursday.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain is a critic of Mulvaney’s prior House votes on Pentagon spending, but he said after the hearing that he would have voted to advance Mulvaney.

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9:50 a.m.

A Senate committee has approved President Donald Trump’s picks for Health and Treasury secretaries after majority Republicans suspended the panel’s rules. The rule they suspended requires at least one Democrat to be present for votes. It was the latest escalation in partisan tensions in the new Congress.

The Senate Finance Committee approved Georgia GOP Rep. Tom Price to become Health secretary and financier Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury secretary by a pair of 14-0 votes.

Democrats boycotted the meeting, demanding time to ask more questions about both nominees. Democrats say there were unresolved questions about both nominees’ financial backgrounds.

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7 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state is headed toward Senate confirmation after several Democrats crossed party lines to back the former Exxon Mobil CEO.

The vote on Tillerson, scheduled for Wednesday, comes as tension builds among congressional Republicans and Democrats over Trump’s executive order on immigrants and refugees. The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, said the order would be a litmus test for Trump’s remaining Cabinet choices, and that any who refuse to reject the “horrible” new policy should be opposed.

But Democrats lack the numbers in the Senate to block Tillerson from becoming the nation’s chief diplomat. Republicans hold a four-seat advantage and during a procedural vote Monday on the nomination, Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia cast their ballots for Tillerson. They’re unlikely to change their minds.

AP

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