Robert Menendez

What’s in a vote? In the Senate, it’s in the eye, or ear, of the clerk
A look at the more common voting gestures seen on the chamber floor

In the Senate, there are a lot of ways to register your vote. The classic thumbs-up, seen here, is one way to vote no. But that is just the beginning. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

How do I vote thee? Let me count the ways. 

Unlike the House, where the utilitarian electronic voting card does all the work, senators have so, so many ways to say “yes” or “no.”

When sanctions become weapons of mass disruption
A popular foreign policy tool can often have unintended consequences

Russian state energy firm Gazprom is leading work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is the target of a sanctions bill by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Ted Cruz. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

These days, it seems lawmakers believe every foreign policy challenge can be resolved by imposing sanctions.

Worried that Russia will interfere in the 2020 presidential election? Concerned about the international community bringing Syria’s Bashar Assad in from the cold? Horrified by China’s mistreatment of its Uighur Muslim community? There are sanctions bills for all of them.

U.N. pick asked why almost half her days as Canada’s ambassador were spent elsewhere
Menendez noted the U.N. ambassador was away from her post for 300 days from Oct. 23, 2017, to June 19, 2019

Kelly Knight Craft, nominee to be ambassador to Canada, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017. She was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.N. ambassador, who is also a close friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada.

Kelly Knight Craft, a longtime Republican Party fundraiser and business consultant from Kentucky whose billionaire husband’s fortune comes from the coal business, does not have the diplomatic resume typical for envoys to the U.N. But her friendship with Kentucky Republican McConnell virtually guarantees her confirmation.

Senate rejects Paul bid to block arms sales to Bahrain, Qatar

A bid by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to block arms sales to Qatar and Bahrain fell short on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday rejected a bid by Sen. Rand Paul to block arms sales to Qatar and Bahrain even as senators brace for a more contentious debate next week over proposed weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The vote Thursday means the proposed sales — a $3 billion Apache Helicopter package for Qatar and a $750 million munitions package to support Bahrain’s F-16 fleet — can go forward.

Democrats spar with State official over arms sales maneuver

Rep. David Cicilline accused a senior State Department official of gas-lighting Congress in his assertions about why the administration needed to subvert Congress on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior State Department official on Wednesday appeared to blame Democrats for the administration’s decision last month to declare a state of emergency over Iran to avoid congressional review of billions of dollars of weapon sales to Arab Gulf states.

R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, attributed the emergency order to holds placed in spring 2018 by Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez on $2 billion in proposed precision-guided missile sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Menendez, D-N.J., placed the holds in response to the many civilian casualties in the Yemen civil war, in which the two Gulf nations are fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents.

Saudi arms resolutions are within rules, McConnell says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the effort to contest arms sales to Saudi Arabia is in line with Senate rules and procedures. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he believes a bipartisan effort to force floor votes contesting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states is in line with Senate rules and procedures, despite the State Department’s declaration last month of an emergency situation in order to skirt congressional oversight.

“My understanding is there would still be a vote triggered no matter which path the administration chose to go forward on the sales,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in response to a question by CQ Roll Call. “Presumably, it will be very similar to a resolution of disapproval under a more traditional approach. At least, that’s what we think the parliamentarian believes.”

Senators seek another way to push back on Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy
Bipartisan group announces resolution to require report on the kingdom’s human rights record

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., is helping to lead the push for more congressional oversight of foreign assistance to Saudi Arabia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators are continuing to look for creative ways to push back against the Trump administration’s foreign policy initiatives, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

The latest bipartisan effort seeks to force a floor vote to request Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress on the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, under a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act.

Bipartisan Senate group seeks to block Saudi arms sales as Trump administration tries to avoid congressional review
Top Democrat on Foreign Relations Menendez formally announces 22 separate disapproval measures

Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez, D-N.J., right, is leading a bipartisan effort to push back on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's use of an emergency declaration for arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bipartisanship is breaking out in the Senate to push back on yet another emergency declaration from the Trump administration.

This time, the rebuttal comes over announced arms sales, including to Saudi Arabia, under the auspices of an emergency declaration from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

US could be at war by the time Congress returns from recess, Udall says
Democrats force votes on approving war with Iran, but come up short in the Senate

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is worried that the United States may be at war with Iran by the time Congress returns from recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.

Are lawmakers ‘supercitizens’? Constitutional question could delay Rep. Chris Collins case
Collins accused of securities fraud related to his investment in a biotech company

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., faces 11 felony charges. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A question over the legal privileges granted to members of Congress threatens to delay the insider trading case against Rep. Chris Collins.

The New York Republican faces trial in February on 11 felony charges stemming from millions of dollars he poured into an Australian biotech company, Innate Immunotherapeutics. After Collins, a member of the board, discovered the company's sole drug failed a key clinical trial, the 27th District congressman tipped off his son, warning him to unload his stock, according to the federal indictment.