Benjamin L Cardin

Roy Who? Trump, GOP Quickly Pivot From Alabama to Taxes
Democrats characterize Alabama result as repudiation of president

Republican Roy Moore rides his horse across a field on his way to vote at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday’s Senate special election in Alabama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers tried Wednesday to pin blame for Roy Moore’s special Alabama Senate race loss on the controversial former judge, but Democrats contend the president owns the bruising defeat after his full-throated endorsement. 

At the White House, the message was all about a GOP tax overhaul bill following Democrat Doug Jones’ stunning upset win in a state that had not put a member of that party in the Senate since 1992. On Capitol Hill, Republican members admitted relief that Moore would not be bringing his sexual misconduct allegations to Washington — and they asserted neither Trump nor the GOP were damaged by the Alabama race, despite the embrace of Moore by Trump and the Republican National Committee.

A Huge Congressional Settlement Involving Sexual Harassment — And Hardly Anyone Knew
Lawmakers on Helsinki Commission blindsided by report of $220K payout

Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings has denied allegations of sexual misconduct that led to a $220,000 payment to a former congressional staffer. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The $220,000 paid to former staffer Winsome Packer in 2014 is by far the largest known settlement involving Congress and accusations of sexual harassment in recent years.

But few, if any, of the lawmakers who served on the congressional commission where Packer worked seem to have been informed about it until the sum was reported by Roll Call on Friday.  

Exclusive: Taxpayers Paid $220K to Settle Case Involving Rep. Alcee Hastings
Former commission staffer alleged sexual harassment by Florida Democrat

Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings was accused of sexual misconduct by a former staff member of the Helsinki Commission. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury Department paid $220,000 in a previously undisclosed agreement to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment that involved Florida Democrat Alcee L. Hastings, according to documents obtained by Roll Call.

Winsome Packer, a former staff member of a congressional commission that promotes international human rights, said in documents that the congressman touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job. At the time, Hastings was the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Packer worked.

Democratic Senators Pressure House Counterparts on Tax Overhaul
29 GOP House members represent states with no Republican senator

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic senators from Maryland, New York, California and New Jersey are pressuring their Republican counterparts in the House to reject the GOP tax bill if it comes back up for a vote in the chamber.

The group, in a letter sent Monday, highlighted provisions in both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill that would allow individuals to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes but would otherwise repeal the popular state and local tax deduction.

Trump Executive Actions a ‘Disruptive’ Lot
Full effects of president’s unilateral moves still years away, experts say

President Donald Trump after signing an executive order Oct. 12 targeting the 2010 health care law. Experts and lawmakers say his executive actions are among the most “disruptive” of any president. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

The executive actions President Donald Trump has signed have the potential to be among the most “aggressive” and “disruptive” ever issued by a chief executive, according to lawmakers and experts.

Trump and his top aides often describe his use of executive orders, actions and memoranda as the president using his constitutional authorities to “put America first” and plot a policy course to benefit the country’s forgotten men and women. Both were major themes of his 2016 campaign.

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.