0543 GMT January 21, 2019
Menendez was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 1 for using his influence to illegally benefit Salomon Melgen, a Florida doctor and longtime political donor, Press TV reported.
However, he has pleaded not guilty to 14 federal charges of corruption which include conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud and violating the Travel Act.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), announced that Cardin will take over as the ranking member "temporarily."
Cardin’s replacement can have a new impact on the future of a newly-reached framework agreement between Iran and the P5+1 as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to contemplate two separate measures that could put at risk Obama’s nuclear framework with Tehran.
On Thursday, the P5+1 group – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – reached an outline of a potentially historic agreement with Iran over its civilian nuclear work that would lift all international sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic in exchange for certain steps Tehran will take with regard to its nuclear program.
Cardin has voiced his willingness to give the White House space over Iran and also has not signed on as a co-sponsor to sanctions legislation backed by Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
Although he has offered public support for the sanctions against Iran, he signed on to a letter earlier this year in which Democrats in the Senate vowed to give the Obama administration time to negotiate with the Islamic Republic and other countries.
He has also showed support for but not signed on as a co-sponsor to another Iran bill Foreign Relations is scheduled to consider on April 14. The bill from Menendez and Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) would allow Congress to review any deal with Iran.
Following the announcement of his new position, Cardin did not signal if he would change his stance but called on Congress to have a role in the process, according to The Hill.
“Congress has a role to play in this process and I look forward to reviewing all the details of this long-sought agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry and our allies have negotiated,” he said.
Cardin, 71, is a Washington insider who served in the US House for two decades before he was elected to the Senate in 2006.