Benjamin L Cardin

Republican Senators Mostly Silent After Trump’s North Korea Threat
President would hit regime, military targets - not civilians, White House says

Republican Sens. Bob Corker (center), Marco Rubio (seated right) and Jim Risch (standing right) all declined to comment on GOP President Donald Trump's threat to "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks the United States. Also pictured are GOP Sens. Cory Gardner (standing left) and Ron Johnson (seated left). (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker hurried into an elevator. Sen. Marco Rubio quickly ducked into the Capitol Visitor Center television studio. And Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain shut down reporters’ repetitive questions.

No Republican senator could be found Tuesday who was willing to question President Donald Trump’s threat before the United Nations General Assembly to “totally destroy” North Korea unless it gives up its nuclear arms and long-range missile programs, which he views as a direct threat to the sovereignty and security of the United States and its allies.

Trump’s Ambassador Pick Says Russia Meddled in US Election
Jon Huntsman receives friendly reception at Foreign Relations Committee

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. arrives Tuesday for his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become ambassador to Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Analysis: Why Won't Trump Discuss Troop Numbers?

President Donald Trump has delegated much of the troop deployment details on Afghanistan to Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Pentagon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a speech to the nation on Aug. 21, President Donald Trump issued a clarion call on Afghanistan, effectively asking Americans to indefinitely extend their longest war at untold additional cost in lives and money. But he declined to say how many of America’s sons and daughters he plans to deploy there.

Trump did not quantify the military deployment even though it has been widely reported that he has already authorized the Pentagon to augment its nearly 8,500 strong force in Afghanistan with almost 4,000 additional service members. The first of the extra troops could arrive within days or weeks, and those numbers could grow depending on conditions in Afghanistan, officials have said.

Beefing Up Afghan Troop Level Would Be Major Shift for Trump
In 2012, he called conflict ‘complete waste,’ adding, ‘Time to come home!’

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Melissa Fusco gives candy to an Afghan boy on the streets in Logar Province in Afghanistan in 2009. President Donald Trump will address the nation Monday night on his plan for U.S. military operations there. (Courtesy Spc. Richard Jones/Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Monday night that he is sending thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, breaking with his yearslong disdain for the nearly 16-year-old conflict there.

As a candidate, Trump rarely talked about the Afghanistan War and stability operation other than to disparage it. He used it as an example of why his nationalistic approach would be better than any of his Republican or Democratic foes, arguing the George W. Bush and Obama administrations had wasted billions of dollars there for little strategic gain.

Timing Issues Complicate North Korea Sanctions
Adding language to Russia sanctions bill could delay Senate consideration

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is working with House lawmakers on potentially adding North Korea sanctions to legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran and Russia. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By JOE WILLIAMS and REMA RAHMAN, Roll Call

House and Senate lawmakers have run into timing issues in trying to add language imposing new sanctions on North Korea to a bill already passed by the Senate that would place new sanctions on Iran and Russia.

EPA Inhofe Alumni Group Closer to Expanding

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has seen a number of former staffers head to the EPA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s nominations for an assistant EPA administrator and two members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were advanced Wednesday by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Lawmakers on the panel voted, 11-10, to move forward with the nomination of Susan Bodine to become the EPA’s assistant administrator of enforcement and compliance assurance. The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance enforces EPA’s rules and oversees the agency’s environmental justice and compliance.

Democrats Propose Topics for Trump-Putin Meeting
Don’t let Putin make 2018 campaign his playground, senators say

Sens. Mark Warner, Charles E. Schumer and Benjamin L. Cardin were among the signatories on a new letter to President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats have some friendly suggestions for topics that President Donald Trump should discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Germany, scheduled for Friday.

In a letter sent to Trump just as he landed in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday, five senior Democrats make the case that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election should be at the top of the agenda.

Russia and Iran Sanctions Effort Hits Constitutional Snag
House will not take up Senate bill as written

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says there is a procedural issue with the Senate’s sanctions bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

BY NIELS LESNIEWSKI and LINDSEY McPHERSON, CQ ROLL CALL

What may be a small procedural obstacle has some senior Democrats crying foul over the House’s plans for new sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Harriet Tubman Statue May Come to Capitol
Maryland wants to add abolitionist to the halls of Congress

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen is working to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in the Capitol (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The state of Maryland is moving closer to having a statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman built for display in the United States Capitol.

The state’s junior senator, Democrat Chris Van Hollen, said at a recent hearing that his staff has been working with the Architect of the Capitol to plan for the creation and donation of the sculpture.

Tillerson Says He Still Believes in Paris Pact, But Backs Trump
‘My views were heard out. I respect that the president heard my views.’

Secretary of State nominee Rex Wayne Tillerson testifies during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has previously backed the U.S. staying in the Paris climate agreement, told lawmakers on Tuesday that his views have “never changed” but that he respects President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international accord aimed at slowing global warming.

Tillerson was speaking at a budget hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where the panel’s top Democrat, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, asked if he had changed his position on the agreement ahead of the president’s decision or whether the move was “just a political decision” by the administration.