ben cardin

35 Years Later, Former Hostages, Lawmakers Cheer Restitution

Isakson led a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to secure restitution for former Iranian hostages. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In 1979, Johnny Isakson was just one of many Americans tuning in to Ted Koppel's late night reports on the status of Americans taken hostage in Iran — what became the 444 day saga.  

"I was one of the people that was alive when 'Nightline' got started," the Republican senator from Georgia recalled Wednesday. "I took an interest when it happened. Never knew that I would get to the United States Senate, and when I got there on the Foreign Relations Committee, I came to appreciate the work that had been done in the past by people who tried to make compensation happen."  

Senators in Paris for Climate Conference Will Tell France, 'We Have Your Back'

Sen. Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, organized a CODEL to the U.N.'s climate change conference. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Barring a scheduling meltdown, a delegation of Democratic senators will break from debates over the health care law, government spending and highway funding to fly to Paris for the U.N. climate change conference. Some of those who plan to make the trip said they're going not only to show support for the Obama administration's climate agenda, but to stand with France following terror attacks that killed 130 people last month.  

"I think it's also important that our government officials say to the French people that we have their back, that we are with them, that we'll give them the help they need even as they have just suffered this grievous loss which we feel deeply is a crime against all humanity," said Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. "It's an important message to send."  

Corker, Cardin Seek Answers From Chinese President

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, flanked from left by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Mazie Hirono pose for photographers before their meeting Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

China's President Xi Jinping on Friday tried to assuage concerns from the two top Senate Foreign Relations Committee members over cyberthreats and actions in the South China Sea.  

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CQ Roll Call that Xi, in a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, responded to Corker’s concerns by saying “the kinds of things you expect to be said,” on “these types of trips."  

Foreign Relations Leaders Still Question Human Trafficking Report

Corker, left, and Cardin met Thursday with State Department officials and the full Foreign Relations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State Department still has some explaining to do after a closed briefing Thursday with Senate Foreign Relations Committee members over allegations that a report vital to several administration initiatives was watered down for political purposes.  

Committee members have cried politics since July when the annual Trafficking in Persons report was released. After Thursday's briefing, senators called for more transparency in the process that saw Malaysia and Cuba upgraded from the lowest ranking in terms of human-trafficking conditions. “My concerns were not alleviated in any way,” Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. “I don’t think there is anybody who was there that didn’t feel even more firmly that politics played a major role in determining some of the upgrades in the TIP report.”  

Where Committee Leaders Land on Iran Deal

Corker and Cardin are two of the relevant committee leaders opposed to the Iran deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker made an interesting point on Sept. 4 : The two Democrats who have spent the most time studying the issues surrounding Iran are against the deal.  

The Tennessee Republican was applauding ranking member Benjamin L. Cardin's opposition to the Iran nuclear deal; the news of which broke at the end of last week. Corker also opposes the deal, like every other Senate Republican with the exception of Susan Collins of Maine, who hasn't announced a position yet. "The fact that the two Democrats who have spent the most time in understanding the details and impact of this deal do not support it speaks volumes," Corker said in a statement.  

After the Iran Deal: Cardin, Bennet Look to Pass New Enforcement Bill

Cardin and Bennet are proposing a bill aimed at strengthening the Iran deal. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While Democratic Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Michael Bennet announced opposite positions on the Iran deal Friday, they were united in their support for legislation they'll introduce to strengthen it.  

Cardin, ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee, announced his opposition to the deal in an op-ed , while Bennet backed the deal in a statement to The Denver Post. But the deal itself is already a fait accompli given that the White House has already lined up enough support to sustain a veto of a disapproval resolution, and that has Cardin of Maryland and Bennet of Colorado looking ahead.  

Iran Deal Filibuster Watch — Bennet's Support Means 3 to Go

Bennet backed the Iran deal Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:22 p.m. | The White House added a 38th Senate Democratic backer of the Iran deal Friday — even as it lost the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.  

The support of Michael Bennet of Colorado brings the deal potentially within three votes of being filibustered in the Senate, and the new opposition by ranking Foreign Relations Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin  of Maryland stems what had been total momentum in favor of the deal. According to the Denver Post, Sen. Michael Bennet plans to announce  his support for the deal, along with an additional plan to "strengthen the deal while steering more money to Israel for its national defense."  

Foreign Relations Panel Blasts Human-Trafficking Report

Corker and Cardin prepare for a committee hearing on the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Testimony from a State Department official Thursday did little to dispel claims that an annual human-trafficking report was driven by politics.  

State Department Undersecretary Sarah Sewall defended the integrity of the report, which upgraded the status of Malaysia and Cuba, to three members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by citing the report’s criteria, Secretary of State John Kerry's public comments, and her own assessment  but occasionally declined to comment on internal deliberations. The committee was unconvinced.