Robert Menendez

From front-runner to also-ran: Looking back on the Dean ‘scream’
Staffers with 2020 contenders should prepare to put aside hard feelings, focus on Trump, former Howard Dean spokeswoman says

Tricia Enright, center, talks with Sen. Cory Booker, left, as he and her boss, Sen. Robert Menendez, arrive at a 2013 immigration event. Enright was communications director for Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, which never recovered from an Iowa speech that ended in “the scream.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It was the second time Tricia Enright had seen a campaign fly high and crash hard. 

Presidential contender and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean had just finished a disappointing third in the 2004 Iowa caucuses when a pep talk urging supporters to keep up the fight ended with an otherworldly yell.

White House threatens to veto resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales
Senate sends 22 resolutions disapproving of sales to Saudis and UAE to the House where they have good prospects for passage

President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office in 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

The White House said Thursday it would veto Senate-passed measures to block its proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.

“The transfer of these capabilities and services to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan directly supports the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of friendly countries that continue to be important forces for political and economic stability in the Middle East,” according to a statement of administration policy memo.

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.