In just six short weeks in office, President Joe Biden has bombed Syria, sanctioned Saudi Arabia and Myanmar, and taken steps to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. But if Biden thinks he can make foreign policy decisions without consulting New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, he’s got another thing coming.
The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been in this role before, and he didn’t much like the way the Obama administration conducted international affairs. In Menendez’s view, Obama treated foreign policy as if it were the sole discretion of the White House. As a result, he often made things more difficult for former President Barack Obama, especially in areas that required congressional approval.
The 67-year-old third-term senator and former longtime House member told POLITICO that he was often frustrated by Obama, who would simply notify Congress of his decisions rather than consult with lawmakers beforehand. Menendez ultimately came down on opposite sides of the White House on several issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and Obama’s bid to reset relations with Cuba.
He’s hopeful, though, that things will change under Biden — and that he can be the person to get Congress to fall in line.
“Beyond the realities of a 50-50 Senate, when we talk about foreign policy, whenever we can get a bipartisan basis for something — maybe not absolute, 100 members — we are stronger in the world,” Menendez (D-N.J.) said in an interview. “And I believe President Biden believes that”.
Read more: Politico