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Kagan Hearings Under Way With Eye on Thursday Wrap-Up

Day three of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan threatened to stretch into the night Wednesday with Members hoping to wrap up work in time for the Thursday funeral of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

A handful of Democrats are still waiting to conduct their opening round of questioning of Kagan, whose hearings began on Monday afternoon. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was hoping to start the second series of interrogations later Wednesday morning.

As the hearings got under way, ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said that Republicans would work to try to accommodate the desire of Senators to attend memorial services for Byrd, who died Monday morning at 92.

“We want to work with you,” Sessions told Leahy.

Although no formal agreement had been worked out between Leahy and Sessions, Kagan was expected to finish her testimony sometime Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning.

With the Senate expected to be shuttered for six hours Thursday – memorial services for Byrd are set to span throughout the weekend – both sides were hoping to complete testimony from outside witnesses on Thursday.

In Wednesday’s hearing, Kagan is expected to again face a series of questions on a range of topics, including gun rights and abortion. Sessions and other Republicans were also expected to again press Kagan on her decision as dean of the Harvard Law School to limit military recruiters’ access to the campus because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay individuals from serving.

The GOP will also continue to question Kagan’s credibility and try to make the case that she would bring partisan views to the bench.

While Sessions’ office has focused on specific policy and philosophical issues, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) Senate Republican Communications Center has taken a lead role in orchestrating the broader attack on her political career. And it has employed its rapid response team to hit Kagan for what Republicans see as misstatements in her testimony.

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