The Cable

SFRC gets four new Republicans

The GOP side of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be drastically altered in the new Congress that began today, with four new members on the minority side led by Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the new ranking Republican.

Corker takes over for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), and he will have a roster of Republican members on the committee that is diverse and powerful. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joins the committee for the first time. McCain is no longer the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, due to term limits, but remains on SASC as a rank and file member. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the new ranking Republican on SASC, relinquished his SFRC seat to make room for McCain.

Three active SFRC Republicans have left the committee. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) resigned to take over the helm of the Heritage Foundation. DeMint had been the ranking Republican on the international organizations subcommittee. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the committee's ranking Republican on the Africa subcommittee, also will not return to SFRC. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who has been a vocal critic of the State Department's handling of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, has also left the committee.

Replacing them will be Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY), and newly minted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Paul has been a thorn in the State Department's side since he came to the Senate, pushing for drastic cuts in U.S. foreign aid and holding up several State Department nominees. His new SFRC perch will allow him to ramp up those activities.

Paul is also one of the two potential 2016 presidential contenders now on the committee, along with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who will retain his post as ranking Republican on the Western Hemisphere subcommittee and is sure want to increase his profile on foreign policy in preparation for a run at the White House.

Corker has repeatedly pledged to work to return the SFRC to a position of relevance by increasing its oversight of the State Department and completing a State Department authorization bill for the first time in several years. Several aides said Corker has been hiring minority committee staff at a steady pace under the leadership of Les Munson, previously chief of staff to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

But Corker faces a GOP membership that will be decidedly split between hawks such as McCain and Rubio on one side, and isolationists like Paul, Johnson, and Flake on the other.

"It's a fascinating dynamics set," one senior GOP Senate aide said. "Corker is going to have his hands full."

The Cable

Clinton returning to work next week, for real this time

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will return to work next week, after a being released from the hospital following a blood clot in her brain, the State Department said today.

Clinton, who has not been seen in public since she originally fell ill with a stomach virus Dec. 7, was originally scheduled to return to work this week. Her illness was compounded when she was fainted and sustained a concussion. She was admitted to the hospital Dec. 30 after the blood clot was discovered. She was treated with anti-coagulants at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and was released Wednesday morning.

Clinton is now resting at her home in Chappaqua, NY, and is getting ready to return to Washington and be back at her desk at the State Department next week, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said today.

"She's looking forward to getting back to the office. She's very much planning to do so next week," Nuland said.

There's no date yet for Clinton to testify before the Senate and House foreign relations committees on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, but those details are being worked out now.

"She is committed to testifying and we are working with the relevant committees to find an appropriate date," said Nuland

Clinton has been taking calls from senior State Department officials and receiving papers at home and officials who have spoken with her have described her as "sounding upbeat" and "raring to go," according to Nuland.

Her doctors have still advised her to hold off on international travel for the time being, which will come as a disappointment to the Korean and Japanese governments, who had been expecting a visit from Clinton this month, although that trip had never been officially announced.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), was at the State Department for a series of briefings Wednesday and was sent home with reams of briefing books as part of his preparation for confirmation hearings to become the next secretary of state.

Clinton's doctors Lisa Bardack of the Mt. Kisco Medical Group and Gigi El-Bayoumi of the George Washington University, released a statement on Clinton's condition Tuesday, prior to her release.

"In the course of a routine follow-up MRI on Sunday, the scan revealed that a right transverse sinus venous thrombosis had formed. This is a clot in the vein that is situated in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear.  It did not result in a stroke, or neurological damage.  To help dissolve this clot, her medical team began treating the Secretary with blood thinners. She will be released once the medication dose has been established. In all other aspects of her recovery, the Secretary is making excellent progress and we are confident she will make a full recovery. She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family, and her staff," they said.

On Wednesday, Clinton aide Philippe Reines released a statement confirming her release from the hospital.

"Secretary Clinton was discharged from the hospital this evening.  Her medical team advised her that she is making good progress on all fronts, and they are confident she will make a full recovery.  She's eager to get back to the office, and we will keep you updated on her schedule as it becomes clearer in the coming days," he said. "Both she and her family would like to express their appreciation for the excellent care she received from the doctors, nurses and staff at New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia University Medical Center."