John Fetterman is escalating a push to ensure fellow Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) faces consequences for his indictment on bribery charges.
Fetterman (D-Pa.) on Thursday proposed internal sanctions for any senator who is indicted for offenses such as mishandling classified information, being charged as a foreign agent or compromising national security. His resolution would strip any senator facing those charges of their committee assignments, access to classified information or briefings, power to request earmarks and power to use government funds for international travel.
The progressive’s plan, first shared with POLITICO, doesn’t mention Menendez’s name. But its meaning is clear.
“It’s important to make a statement and to force people to come down on: is it appropriate for a man who’s been accused of acting as a foreign agent [to be] receiving [that] kind of classified briefings,” Fetterman said, referencing secret information such as details on Israel’s activity against Gaza following last month’s Hamas attacks.
“It’s astonishing to me how anyone would be okay with that,” Fetterman added.
A Menendez spokesperson declined to comment on Fetterman’s resolution.
Menendez — who has been charged as an alleged foreign agent for the Egyptian government — has given up his Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship but still holds his committee seats. And while he skipped one intelligence briefing in October, which he claimed was his own decision, Menendez attended a different classified briefing this week with no restrictions.
Fetterman’s resolution does stop short of expulsion for Menendez, which the Pennsylvanian has advocated for. That approach hasn’t picked up steam among fellow Senate Democrats, even the group of them who have called on Menendez to resign. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is still not going that far, casting doubt on the prospects of booting Menendez altogether.
Asked if his resolution amounted to an attempted compromise that bridges the gap between his hardline Menendez position and that of other Democrats, Fetterman replied: “Whatever could get him out, and promote him to leave, that’s what I support.”
Menendez has shown no interest in resigning and is leaving the door open to reelection. While Fetterman’s resolution remains a long shot, if enacted, it could dramatically change the incumbent’s ability to hang on to his seat. No matter what he does this Congress, though, Menendez faces a steep climb to reelection next year.
He already has a primary challenger in Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) and interest from other potential rivals, including Tammy Murphy, the wife of Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.).