Benjamin L Cardin

Corker, Cardin See Little ‘Firm’ in Latest Trump North Korea Shift
President told of peaceful path, ‘maybe it sunk in,’ Cardin says

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, left, speaks with ranking member Ben Cardin during a hearing earlier this year. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senior Senate Foreign Relations Committee members aren’t quite sure what to make of the White House’s dramatic shift on North Korea during President Donald Trump’s recent Asia tour

Before the president departed on the 12-day trip, he and his senior aides ruled out negotiations with North Korea. But during the Asia swing, he invited the North’s government to the negotiating table, and Trump’s senior staff spoke openly about the president’s terms for the very talks he for months had said would not work.

Senate GOP Throws Health Care Curveball Into Tax Debate
Bid to repeal individual mandate to pay for tax cuts roils Capitol

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch is presiding over a tension-filled committee markup of the GOP’s tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A complicated tax overhaul debate got more complicated Tuesday when Senate Republicans injected health care politics into the equation. 

With a growing number of Senate Republicans seeking bigger tax cuts for individuals and families, but short of ways to finance it, GOP leaders gave the go-ahead to repeal the 2010 health care law’s mandate to purchase insurance to pay for their wish list

Cardin: Trump Not Authorized to Nuke North Korea
But adds when Trump ‘makes orders obviously the military will follow those orders’

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin , left, spoke about the president's trip to Asia, which involves Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says Congress has not granted authorization for a pre-emptive first strike on North Korea.

“Congress has not authorized the use of force, so the president does not have the authority to pre-emptively use force,” Maryland Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said when asked during an interview about legislative proposals from some Democrats to bar nuclear strikes against Kim Jong-un.

Bipartisan Tax Bill More Durable, GOP Says After White House Meeting
Toomey sees overlap, but Democrats show little enthusiasm

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, seated left, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, seated center, and Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, standing center, were among the Finance Committee members who met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday about a tax overhaul bill. Also pictured, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, standing right. (Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call File Photo)

After huddling Wednesday with President Donald Trump and a handful of Democrats, Senate Republican tax writers said an overhaul bill that secures bipartisan support would be more “durable” than a GOP-only path. 

Senate Republicans are moving ahead with plans to ensure a tax bill could pass with as few as 50 GOP votes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. But after a White House meeting with Trump and five Senate Finance Committee Democrats, three GOP members on that panel said they agree with the president that a bipartisan bill is preferable.

What Happens When Corker Lays Down His Foreign Relations Gavel?
Tennessee Republican leaves a committee far from what it used to be

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is the first senator to announce his retirement this Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Neither Peyton Manning nor Reese Witherspoon is going to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next year. Not Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton or Samuel L. Jackson, either.

The most clear-cut reason is that none of those celebrity Tennesseans is likely to end up running to become a senator, much to the disappointment of Beltway insiders starved for glitzy, if harmless, political distractions in the Trump era and already enthralled by Kid Rock’s flirtation with a Senate run in Michigan.

Word on the Hill: Cousins Bernie and Larry
Airbnb surge, and Pet Night results

Sen. Bernie Sanders reacts as his distant cousin is revealed. (PBS.org)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and comedian Larry David, who portrayed him on “Saturday Night Live” last season, are reportedly distant cousins.

The two found out on PBS’ “Finding Your Roots,” which released a preview of its Season 4 premiere, People reported. In the preview, David is told researchers matched his DNA against others who have appeared on the show, turning up a cousin.

On North Korea, Some Lawmakers See Scattershot Trump Approach
‘It’s hard to figure out what the consistent message or the priority is’

People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, watch a television showing President Donald Trump on Aug. 9. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

One day, aggressively enforcing sanctions is the key to solving the North Korea issue. The next, President Donald Trump threatens to “totally destroy” the country. And some senior lawmakers are troubled by what they see as a lack of consistency from the commander in chief.

As the president vacillates between a sanctions-based approach that presses North Korea’s allies to do more and threats to take down the Kim Jong Un government along with its nuclear and missile programs, some top Democrats want Trump and his team to settle on a consistent strategy. But it appears there is little they can do to bring that about.

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.