Benjamin L Cardin

Senators Look to Supreme Court Nuclear Winter
With rule change seemingly inevitable, senators look to what’s next

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Judge Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court, one way or another. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Republicans’ deployment of the “nuclear option” to change the chamber’s rules and confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is so inevitable that senators are already moving on to the next debate.

“We’re on this spiral downward, and obviously, the next thing to go likely the next time there’s a big issue that comes up legislatively will be the legislative filibuster,” Sen. Bob Corker said Tuesday.

Getting Metro Safety Back on Track
New commission will be empowered to adopt tough safety rules

Democratic lawmakers from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are calling for Congress to approve the Metro Safety Commission promptly. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Washington Metro system has its good days and its bad ones. On its best, it carries hundreds of thousands of commuters and visitors around our metro area. On its worst, maintenance and safety issues have caused enraging delays and even heartbreaking accidents. The people living in our region and those visiting our nation’s capital deserve to know that when they get on Metro they will arrive at their destinations safely.

That’s why we introduced legislation last week to establish a new Metro Safety Commission, putting Metro on a path to safer operations. And today, we are sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office, asking them to analyze the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s funding and governance structure and issue recommendations for changes. WMATA is distinct among transit agencies in that it is governed by four separate entities, creating unique challenges for collective action on fundamental questions such as how to fund the system. A GAO deep-dive on these questions could yield valuable and objective insight.

Why Democrats Didn’t Go to the Mat on Linda McMahon
Former WWE chief breezed to confirmation

Blumenthal, left, and McMahon, right, previously ran against each other for the Connecticut Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees have sparked fierce fights in the Senate, but Democrats declined to go to the mat on one of his picks: former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon. 

The businesswoman and two-time Republican Senate nominee from Connecticut was easily confirmed Tuesday morning to lead the Small Business Administration, with 81 senators voting in her favor. On the surface, that may seem surprising, given that Democrats have decried Trump’s nominees’ exorbitant wealth and their lack of governing experience.

Senators to Unveil Effort to Check Trump on Russia Sanctions
Graham and Cardin say release of sanctions oversight bill is imminent

Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are expected to be among those introducing Russia sanctions legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Key senators plan to release bipartisan legislation Wednesday that would give Congress a say in any effort to ease sanctions against Russia.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said just after President Donald Trump took office that such a bill would be developed, and two senators expected to spearhead the measure have told Roll Call that release is imminent.

Travel Ban Fuels Slowdown of Trump Nominees
Democrats call on Cabinet picks to take positions on executive order

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer attempted to delay a vote on Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be secretary of State over President Donald Trump’s executive order. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats are willing to drag out Senate consideration of Cabinet nominees over President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order, and they wasted no time doing so as the week began. 

On Monday afternoon, Democrats objected to a request for committees to meet two hours after the Senate convened, a routine unanimous request that typically sails through with nary a whisper of dissent. Blocking the daily procedure showed Democrats were stepping up their slowdown efforts.

Attempts to Find Bipartisan Mood Challenged at Start
Despite hope among both parties, partisanship rears ugly head

President Donald J. Trump addresses the crowd after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the West Front of the Capitol, January 20, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s inauguration ushered in hopes from both sides of the aisle for some bipartisan comity. But shortly after Trump departed the Capitol Friday, those feelings ran headfirst into the partisan scars of the previous Congress.

Some Democrats see the GOP reaping the rewards of what they call a strategy of obstruction in the last Congress, and it might be difficult for them to heed calls for bipartisanship, even if it’s something they might believe needs to happen. 

Photos of the Week: Confirmation Hearing Frenzy on Capitol Hill
The week of Jan. 9 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, prepare for Sessions’ Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Russell Building’s Kennedy Caucus Room on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A total of seven confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks kicked off on the Hill this week. Meanwhile, a back-and-forth erupted between the parties over a student painting being taken down from the Cannon House Office Building.

Vote-A-Rama: Democrats State Their Case, But Resolution Passes
Feinstein missing from votes; Sessions arrives at last minute

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, at top, rises to explain why he was voting against the budget resolution early Thursday morning. (C-SPAN)

At 1:05 a.m., Republicans began the final vote of a seven-hour Vote-A-Rama — the budget resolution that would begin the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act, then departed the chamber as Democrats remained silently in their chairs.

But Senate Democrats didn't go quietly into the night. At 1:11 a.m., Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer stood up and stated his opposition to adopting the resolution. Other Democrats followed in what appeared to be an unprecedented move of rising to explain their opposition before casting their votes. 

Tillerson Grilled on Russia at Confirmation Hearing
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pose questions about sanctions

Secretary of State-designee Rex Tillerson arrives for his confirmation hearing on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State-designee Rex Tillerson faced questions on Russia throughout a lengthy confirmation hearing Wednesday, but the most aggressive exchange came from a Republican senator who could sink his nomination in committee: Marco Rubio.

At the Senate Foreign Relations hearing, the fast-talking Floridian and former presidential candidate grilled the former Exxon Mobil CEO on sanctions against Russia and whether Russian president Vladimir Putin was a war criminal who murders his political opponents.

Senators Warn Tillerson About Backing New Russia Sanctions
Secretary of State nominee will face questions about Russian hacking Wednesday

Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin, John McCain and Lindsey Graham attended a news conference in the Capitol to introduce a bipartisan bill increasing sanctions on Russia.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson might face hurdles to getting confirmed if he does not back a bipartisan plan to impose new sanctions on the Russian Federation.

Foreign Relations Ranking Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland led a bipartisan group of 10 senators in introducing expanded Russian sanctions legislation Tuesday in response to what the intelligence community has concluded was Kremlin hacking of the Democratic National Committee and military actions including the incursion into Ukraine.