Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman introduced a resolution on Thursday that would strip fellow Democrat Bob Menendez and others indicted for alleged corruption of their committee assignments.
The resolution doesn’t directly name Senator Menendez, who was federally indicted in October for allegedly acting as an unregistered agent of the Egyptian government, following previous charges he accepted bribes.
But Senator Fetterman has made it clear that the measure is targeted at his New Jersey colleague.
“When you find gold bars stuffed in a mattress, the jokes write themselves. But our national security isn’t funny, it’s often life or death,” Mr Fetterman told NBC News in a statement, referencing investigators’ discovery of gold bars and half a million dollars in cash at Senator Menendez’s home.
The measure would bar those indicted for alleged crimes affecting national security from serving on committees, receiving classified information, submitting appropriations requests, and using government funds for travel.
The New Jersey senator has stepped down as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, but has continued to receive classified briefings on subjects like Ukraine.
He dismissed the Pennsylvania senator’s resolution.
“This is nothing more than a publicity stunt that disregards core constitutional principles of American democracy — due process, the presumption of innocence, and the rule of law,” he told Politico in a statement. “Instead of focusing on generating clickbait, he should channel his efforts toward legislating and delivering results for the people of Pennsylvania.”
More than half of Democrats in the Senate have called on Senator Menendez to resign.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and denies any wrongdoing.
John Fetterman was the first US Senator to call for the New Jersey Democrat’s resignation.
“He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations,” he said in a statement at the time. “I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial.”