Benjamin L Cardin

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.

Bipartisan Mood as Congress Sworn in
Hugs, greetings across the aisle as contentious issues loom

Rep.-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., waves to the gallery as she arrives on the House floor to take the oath of office on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For many, their first day of work in Washington was dreary and puddle-filled, but in the Senate, there were no political parties for a brief moment.

During a full day of rain in the nation’s capital, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. returned to the Senate perhaps for the last time to swear in the 27 re-elected senators and seven newly elected ones.

Senate Foreign Relations Divided Over Tillerson Tax Returns
Cardin, the ranking Democrat, has requested three years of filings

Corker, left, and Cardin, right, are the top senators on Foreign Relations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are squaring off over whether the committee should examine Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson’s tax returns as part of the confirmation process.

Tillerson, the chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, is set to face the committee in January and, following tradition, will submit financial disclosure forms and ethics documents. But the committee’s ranking Democrat has also requested to see the nominee’s tax returns.

Warren Pushes for Presidential Divestment Bill
Democrats say a blind trust is the only way

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says it has been the standard for presidents to divest themselves from financial interests, “and our bill makes clear the continuing expectation that President-elect Trump do the same.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Thursday that Senate Democrats will introduce legislation that would require President-elect Donald Trump to divest from any financial entanglements that could conflict with his presidential duties.

The bill more strictly codifies the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and would force the president, vice president, their spouses and any dependent family members to place their financial assets in a blind trust. 

GOP Readies Cuts to Federal Workforce Under Trump
Reductions part of long-sought civil service overhaul

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is readying a plan that would likely make big changes to federal workers’ generous retirement benefits (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For years, Republicans in Congress have been eyeing an overhaul of the federal workforce — by reducing the number of workers and curtailing benefits and pay while making it easier to fire bad employees.

Now, with a president-elect who has promised to do much the same, 2017 could be the best time in recent memory to make sweeping changes affecting those who work for the bureaucracy.

Will the Senate Keep Montenegro Out of NATO?
Democrats question if Corker is slowing the Senate’s advice and consent

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker made a campaign appearance with President-elect Donald Trump this summer in neighboring North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump’s election may have put a Balkan state’s admission to NATO on ice.

President Barack Obama has sent the Senate a proposed protocol to approve the accession of Montenegro to the alliance. But adopting the new protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization requires the advice and consent of the Senate, and work on a resolution supporting ratification appears to have stalled.