Robert Menendez

Mixed Messages: Trump Offers Platitudes, Warnings on Iran at UN
President says Rouhani is a ‘lovely man’ and ‘sows death and destruction’

President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He spent much of Tuesday sending mixed signals to Iranian leaders. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s second day at a United Nations conference in New York began with mixed signals from the U.S. diplomat-in-chief on Iran — including platitudes and warnings.

Trump’s second address to the UN General Assembly featured plenty of vintage moments, with tough rhetoric for friends and foes alike. His message for North Korea was one of partnership a year after he declared its leader, Kim Jong Un, was on a “suicide mission.” He threatened to slash U.S. aid to many UN members and declared China’s trade practices will not be tolerated much longer.

Lawmakers Unhappy With Pompeo’s Lowered Cap on Refugees
New cap of 30,000 is a historic low

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez called the Trump administration’s decision to lower the annual refugee cap “truly repugnant.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers of both parties are criticizing the Trump administration’s decision to lower the annual refugee cap to 30,000 people for fiscal 2019 — a sharp decrease from the 45,000 cap set for fiscal 2018, and also a historic low.

“At a time when we should be defending our values and ideals as Americans and working to alleviate the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, it is truly repugnant to see the Trump administration double down on its efforts to reject our foundational values and humanitarian duty of providing those escaping persecution the opportunity to seek protection and safe haven,” Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Monday.

Trump Signs Election Meddling Order, But No Mention of Russia
White House says they will keep talking to lawmakers as Senate bill lingers

Voting signs at One Judiciary Square in Washington in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at punishing foreign actors that interfere with U.S. elections, senior administration officials said Wednesday.

National security adviser John Bolton said Trump and his team decided to move ahead with the order to show he has “taken control” of efforts to prevent, stop and punish election meddling like that conducted by Russia in 2016. Though there is a bipartisan Senate bill focused on combating meddling, the administration moved the order now to put a “mechanism” in place that marshals all federal efforts under Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Cory Gardner Renews Call for Russia to Be Declared Sponsor of Terrorism After Reports on Sonic Attacks
Colorado Republican also wants floor time for Russia sanctions package

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is making another push to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A recent report that Russia is likely behind mysterious “sonic attacks” on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Cuba and China has led a Republican senator to renew his call to designate Russia a state sponsor of terror.

Sen. Cory Gardner has introduced legislation that would require the State Department to make such a determination about the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rand Paul Skeptical of Letting Macedonia Into NATO, Questions Montenegro’s Accession Last Year
Continues blasting bipartisan Graham-Menendez Russia sanctions proposal

Sen. Rand Paul raised further questions Wednesday about the size of NATO. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday questioned the wisdom of last year’s accession of Montenegro to NATO.

The Kentucky Republican spoke at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee focused on the value of the alliance, and in particular the U.S. role.

Senate Quandary: How to Sanction Russia Without Harming Europe
Foreign Relations chairman predicts resolution in coming weeks

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As senators deliberate over legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia, former government officials warned against any action that would harm European allies that rely on gas imports from Russia.

“It’s very difficult with some of the bills that have been laid out to only punish Russia without punishing our European friends,” said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., at a Wednesday hearing on the importance of NATO.

Senate Should Honor John McCain By Getting Tougher on Russia, Says Graham
Comments on next steps followed emotional floor tribute to his dear friend

Sen. Lindsey Graham, seen here embracing Sen. John McCain at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, spoke Tuesday afternoon about his late friend and mentor. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a tear-filled floor speech, Sen. Lindsey Graham said one of the first things the Senate should do to honor the legacy of his late dear friend John McCain would be to pass new sanctions against Russia.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, pointed to the enthusiastic response that Russian state television had to McCain’s passing.

On Immigration, McCain Leaves a Roadmap
2005 McCain-Kennedy bill has been foundation for most bipartisan overhaul efforts

From left, Sens. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., John McCain, R-Ariz., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J. attend a Capitol Hill press conference on June 27, 2013, after the Senate passed historic immigration legislation. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Supporters of a bipartisan overhaul of the country’s immigration laws lost a standard-bearer in Sen. John McCain, who died at 81 on Saturday following a battle with brain cancer.

Still, the Arizona Republican left an indelible mark on the hyperpartisan debate that could offer current and future lawmakers an eventual blueprint for passing a sweeping immigration law.

Ted Cruz Opts for Campaign Trail Instead of Senate Votes
Texas Republican to miss Monday vote, missed parts of last week as well

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has missed votes lately in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nixed much of the August recess, it raised the prospect that vulnerable Democrats might miss valuable campaign time, but it appears to also be having an effect on Republicans. Case in point: Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Texas Republican is not expected at the Senate vote that has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday to limit debate on the nomination of President Donald Trump’s choice to be assistant secretary for family support at the Health and Human Services Department, Lynn A. Johnson.

State Department Hedges on Proposed New Russia Sanctions
Trump administration “needs discretion”

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., questioned a senior State Department official Tuesday about sanctions against Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior State Department official on Tuesday urged senators to give the Trump administration considerable leeway as lawmakers contemplate new punitive sanctions against Russia.

“We need discretion with those sanctions,” testified Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on relations with Russia. “Sanctions without discretion, in my mind, is the antithesis of diplomacy.”