The Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote to approve the nomination of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel highlighted another ideological difference between New Jersey’s two Democratic United States Senators. Bob Menendez, who chaired the panel when his party controlled the Senate, voted yes on Friedman. Cory Booker voted no, along with the rest of the Democrats on the committee.
Booker has voted against fifteen of the eighteen Trump administration appointments who have come to the Senate for a confirmation vote. Only Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) has opposed more (sixteen); Bernie Sanders (VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) have also opposed fifteen nominees. Menendez has voted against twelve nominees.
James Mattis (Defense), David Shulkin (Veterans Affairs) and Nikki Haley (United Nations) got yes votes from Booker. Menendez also supported those three, plus John Kelly (Homeland Security), Elaine Chao (Transportation), Linda McMahon (Small Business).
In January, Booker joined Senate Republicans in opposing an amendment sponsored by Sanders that would have allowed Americans to purchase cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. That got him panned by some progressive leaders, like gubernatorial candidate John Wisniewski. A month later, Booker, a possible 2020 presidential candidate, adjusted his position and co-sponsored Sanders legislation to allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and elsewhere.
Booker and Menendez may disagree on certain aspects of Middle East foreign policy, but the former Newark Mayor is being careful not to poke the bear on Cuba – opposition to normalization of relations while the Castro regime remains in power is a third-rail issue for Menendez.