Benjamin L Cardin

Democrats Spin McConnell Entitlement Comments Into Political Messaging
McConnell says Republicans cannot tackle program on their own but Democrats warn of GOP action

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., says a vote for the GOP is a vote to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, spinning Senate Majority McConnell’s comments that Republicans can’t execute that goal on their own. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats are spinning comments Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently made on overhauling entitlements to craft a political message that electing Republicans will lead to cuts in safety net programs. 

“Sen. McConnell gave the game up in his comment yesterday,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said on a press call Wednesday. “It was very clear from what he said that a vote for Republican candidates in this election is a vote to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. That’s what he said.”

Trump Signals Intent to Nix Proposed Federal Pay Increase
Congress can weigh in if it feels need to maintain agreed-upon pay hike

President Donald Trump wants to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, saying he has the authority by citing a national emergency. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signaled his intent to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, informing Congress on Thursday that federal law allowed him to do so in the event of a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

The move drew a quick response from D.C.-area members and is almost certain to draw howls from the Senate, which included a 1.9 percent pay raise in its Financial Services spending bill. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month.

A Russian Oligarch Bought Maryland’s Election Vendor. Now These Senators Are Questioning the Rules
Letter to Rules Committee follows request to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin

Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Benjamin L. Cardin are concerned about Russian ownership of a Maryland election contractor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maryland’s Democratic senators want a Senate committee to require disclosures of foreign investments in U.S. election systems, an alarm bell set off by a Russian oligarch’s connection to their state’s voter registration system. 

The request to the Rules and Administration Committee comes from Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Van Hollen is also the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Brennan Fracas Could Rip Through Senate’s Defense Spending Debate
Security clearances, abortion among amendment topics floated

Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner, here with Chairman Richard Burr, says he plans to introduce an amendment to the 2019 defense spending bill that would block the president from revoking security clearances. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is ready to start voting on amendments to the fiscal 2019 Defense spending bill, possibly including several that could stir spirited debate.

Senators have only agreed so far to vote on two relatively uncontroversial amendments to the the two-bill package that includes both the $675 billion Defense bill and the $179.3 billion Labor-HHS-Education measure. Those first two votes are scheduled for Monday evening.

Durbin Blasts Removal of Myanmar Sanctions From Defense Bill
Signs point to McConnell not allowing language targeting country also known as Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, has been a guest at the Capitol, including in Sept. 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A legislative effort to punish officials responsible for atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar appears to have stalled thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin gave a speech ahead of floor consideration of the fiscal 2019 defense authorization conference report in which he decried, “the irresponsible removal of provisions related to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.”

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party
Party voices in favor of Palestinian rights, BDS are getting louder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, here at the Capitol in March, has backed several of President Donald Trump’s domestic policies, further contributing to his country’s divide with Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the surface, it looks like the U.S.-Israel relationship is having its best year ever. In May, President Donald Trump fulfilled Israel’s dream of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his administration is preparing a Middle East peace plan that will almost certainly have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blessing. Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.

But there are political undercurrents that spell trouble for what has traditionally been unquestioned U.S. support for Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party on the eve of a midterm election that could swing the balance of power in one or both chambers of Congress and perhaps profoundly and permanently change the dynamic between the longtime allies.

More U.S.-Born Children Could Be Separated From Immigrant Parents
Trump administration wants to terminate TPS status for hundreds of thousands

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., says he wants to protect Temporary Protected Status immigrants who came to the United States legally.  (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers try to find a legislative solution to keep immigrant families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, an even bigger family separation challenge looms next year when thousands of parents with temporary residency status will face deportation and separation from their U.S.-born children.

The Trump administration has said it will terminate so-called Temporary Protected Status for nearly 60,000 Haitians in July 2019, more than 262,000 Salvadorans in September 2019 and 57,000 Hondurans in January 2020.

Analysis: Trump Trip Showed New Approach to Presidency
But lawmakers doubt future presidents will follow such a path

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participate in a Tuesday signing ceremony during a meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

First, Donald Trump remade the Republican Party in his own image. And after his double-dip of G-7 and North Korea nuclear diplomacy, it’s even more obvious he’s doing the same to the presidency.

Some congressional Democrats are worried the former reality television star’s eagerness to break with decades-old norms and traditions is soiling the office and influencing future chief executives to mirror Trump’s ways. And though a handful of Republican members publicly share those concerns, most are helping him transform the highest — and long the most revered — job in the land.

With No D.C. Representation, Virginia and Maryland Senators Step Up for the Capitals
Senators who represent the city built on betting have no one to bet with

Flags of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders hang in Nevada Sen. Dean Heller’s office in the Hart Building on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Las Vegas loves to gamble, but it’s not so easy for those who represent it this Stanley Cup final.

Members of Congress often make friendly wagers on sports championships, but so far they’ve managed only one bet on the Washington Capitals-Las Vegas Knights series. That’s because there’s only one person who represents D.C.

‘Campaign Widows’ Explores Life of a Staffer’s Significant Other
Aimee Agresti’s new novel gives a voice to spouses during election season

Aimee Agresti, author of “Campaign Widows,” says she put a little of herself in all the characters. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Every election season, some Washingtonians head for the campaign trail while their significant others remain in the city. Author Aimee Agresti has a name for this niche population left behind: campaign widows.

That’s also the name of her new novel, out on May 22, that explores how couples, in different phases of their relationships, cope with election season.