Benjamin L Cardin

White House Presses Vulnerable Dems on Pompeo Nomination
Sen. Cotton dubs Foreign Relations Democrats ‘two-bit Talleyrands’

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., right, meets with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, in the Capitol on March 19. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House circled the wagons Wednesday around CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become secretary of State, arguing vulnerable red-state Democrats will feel “consequences” in November if they vote against him.

The Trump administration dispatched Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to argue Pompeo is highly qualified for the top State Department position and to press Democrats running for re-election in states won by President Donald Trump to vote in favor of his nomination.

Corker Releases AUMF Without an Expiration Date
Prospects for approval uncertain with expected opposition within Foreign Relations panel

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is not concerned that the new force authorization measure does not have a commitment from leadership for a floor vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-awaited draft authorization to set new guidelines on the 17-year-old war on terrorism was released Monday night by senators and, to the displeasure of some Democrats, it would not impose significant restrictions on military operations, such as an expiration date.

The bipartisan Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2018 would repeal and replace the 2001 AUMF, which has been increasingly criticized for its expansive justification of all kinds of military actions against extremist groups that did not exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The new AUMF would also repeal the 2002 authorization that enabled the 2003 Iraq War.

Pompeo Confirms Mueller Interview
Secretary of state nominee testified before Senate Foreign Relations panel

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, right, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, greets Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo told senators at his confirmation hearing Thursday he has been questioned by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Specifically, Mueller questioned the current CIA chief on a West Wing conversation last March with President Donald Trump and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in which the president reportedly asked Coats to get then-FBI head James B. Comey to drop his investigation into  former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar
Weeks in April and May could be consumed by State, CIA nominations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to clear some floor time for the nominations of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to run the CIA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whatever the Senate might have wanted to focus on in April and May will now have to compete for time with a new priority thrust upon it by President Donald Trump.

Once senators got past the initial shock of Trump’s Twitter announcement Tuesday that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they quickly moved toward paving the way to debate and confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor, as well as Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead that agency.

Photos of the Week: Graham Lies in Honor, Gun Control Bills and #Windmageddon
The week of Feb. 26 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

A Secret Service uniformed officer uses his foot to stop a trash can lid as it blows down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House during the high winds warning in Washington on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A powerful storm hit the East Coast on Friday causing wind advisories and debris to fly around the White House and the Capitol Building.

Earlier in the week, the House canceled votes on Wednesday and Thursday as Rev. Billy Graham, a prominent religious leader and adviser to 12 consecutive U.S. presidents, was lying in honor. He died Feb. 21 at the age of 99. 

Senators Rebuke GSA, FBI Over Handling of FBI Headquarters
Abrupt abandonment of years-long process to relocate miffs lawmakers

The front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday blasted the General Services Administration and the FBI over costs, press leaks and changes in security requirements in its redrawn plan for a new FBI headquarters.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso complained at a hearing that senators learned of the GSA’s abrupt cancellation of a previous FBI plan last year through press reports rather than from the agencies. He also cited the missed deadlines on that plan, which had been more than a decade in the making.

Maryland Democrats Blast FBI HQ Plan
Cardin, Hoyer concerned about effort to put new FBI building at current location

Maryland lawmakers are criticizing the GSA and FBI plan to rebuild the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on its current site. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s proposal to keep the FBI headquarters adjacent to the president’s hotel complex in downtown D.C., has raised the ire of Maryland lawmakers.

“Throughout the Bush and Obama Administrations, the FBI and GSA repeatedly told Congress that the FBI needs a new, fully consolidated headquarters, going so far as to stress the need for selecting a new site because the existing location does not allow the FBI to consolidate the almost 11,000 headquarters employees into one facility,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement

Cleared of Corruption Charges, Robert Menendez Regains Top Foreign Relations Post
New Jersey Democrat stepped aside in 2015 after indictment

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez will resume his duties as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee after being cleared in his federal corruption case. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Robert Menendez is resuming his duties as the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, with the Senate Democratic Conference reaffirming his position now that he has been cleared of federal corruption charges. The New Jersey Democrat might not be out of the woods yet, though, because the Senate Ethics Committee is free to look into his case now that federal prosecutors are done with him. 

According to multiple Democratic senators, the conference acted to restore Menendez’s position during Tuesday’s policy lunch.

Maryland, Virginia Senators Want More Money for Metro in Infrastructure Plan
Trump announced his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in his State of the Union

WMATA is still making improvements to the safety of its trains. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After President Donald Trump called for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in his State of the Union address, senators from states surrounding Washington, D.C., said it should include money for the city’s public transportation system.

Four Democratic senators — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — wrote a letter to the administration on Friday asking it not only to maintain the funding already in place for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, known locally as Metro, but to add more for improvements.

Senate Democrats Ask Why Trump Let Russian Spy Chief Into United States
Also question Treasury secretary on Russia sanctions implementation

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about Russian sanctions Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Leading Senate Democrats want to know why the Trump administration allowed a top Russian spy onto U.S. soil.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer led other Democrats in raising concerns Tuesday about a reported visit by Sergey Naryshkin, Russia's foreign spy chief and an ally of President Vladimir Putin.