Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

Cantor to Resign From Congress

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Cantor makes his way to the House floor in the Capitol on his last day as leader, (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective Aug. 18, he said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch posted at midnight.

The Virginia Republican, newly deposed as House majority leader after losing his primary to Dave Brat, said he has asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election on Nov. 4, ensuring that the district will be represented in the lame duck.

“I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor told his hometown newspaper. Cantor said that will also give his replacement additional seniority in the next Congress.

Cantor did not reveal what he plans to do after Congress.

Brat is set to face off against Democrat Jack Trammell in a race that is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Related:

Cantor Delivers Final Speech as Majority Leader (Video)

The Almost Invisible Final Days of a Once-Forceful Leader

Republicans Honor Eric Cantor With Tribute Video

McCarthy Inherits Top Cantor Aides

Stunner: Cantor Upset Changes Everything

Brat Takes Center Stage

Cantor Loss ‘Was a 10 on the Stun Scale’

Eric Cantor: A Brief Biography

Eric Cantor Loses Primary in Massive Upset (Video)

By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:19 a.m.
Eric Cantor

July 31, 2014

Republicans Regroup on Border Funding Bill

The House will hold off on leaving town for its five-week August recess until Republicans find the votes to pass legislation addressing the border crisis.

It could happen as early as Friday morning — the GOP will gather at 9 a.m. to discuss new policy proposals to accompany a $659 million appropriations bill they abruptly yanked from consideration Thursday. Republicans departing from an emergency conference meeting Thursday afternoon told reporters they felt confident that, through a process of educating colleagues and agreeing to make some changes to existing legislative language, they could muster enough votes to pass the new measure.

If a deal isn’t reached by then, said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., “I think we’ll be back here the next day.”

“If we have to work longer or through the weekend, I think there’s a genuine desire to do that,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador told reporters he was prepared to stay in town to hash out an agreement, even if it meant missing a religious ritual on Saturday back home in Idaho in anticipation of his son’s upcoming nuptials.

It remains to be seen how party leaders expect to come up with any new proposal that sufficiently addresses the demands of some of the conference’s most conservative hold-outs.

Full story

House Sends Highway Bill Back to Senate

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Blumenauer expressed his dissatisfaction with the House’s move. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the frenetic legislative run-up to the August recess, House lawmakers sent their version of a highway bill back to the Senate after voting to disagree with that chamber’s amendment to the legislation.

The House voted 272-150 to send the original $10.8 billion House bill back to the Senate, with 227 Republicans and 45 Democrats once again supporting the measure. Democrats had been considering voting down the highway bill in a gambit meant to force Republicans to accept the Senate changes, but that plan never quite materialized.

Still, significantly more Democrats voted against the House bill this time. On July 15, the House passed the bill 367-55, with 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats voting against it. This time, both Republicans and Democrats cracked down on their members to vote with their party.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 79-18 to change some of the offsets in the bill and the length of the measure from May to December. The idea with changing the term of the bill is to force Congress to find a more permanent solution in the lame-duck session.

House Democrats came to the House floor Thursday to express their dissatisfaction with the patch.

Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said that by insisting on the House bill, Congress would be denying certainty to the highway and construction industry.

“They are going to slide into the next Congress,” Blumenauer said. “We are going to duck all the tough issues. We haven’t heard anything that deals with how we are going to move forward.”

Fellow Oregon Democrat Peter A. DeFazio noted that the United States was now 26th in infrastructure in the world, and he said as former bicycle mechanic, he knew how to patch a tube. “But if you get to the point where you can’t see the tube anymore for the patches, then it’s time for a new tube.”

The bill now goes back to the Senate.

House Leaders Postpone Border Supplemental, Delay Recess, Blame Obama (Updated) (Video)

boehner009 072414 445x302 House Leaders Postpone Border Supplemental, Delay Recess, Blame Obama (Updated) (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:52 p.m. | House GOP leaders ditched their plans to vote on a border supplemental Thursday after failing to secure the votes to pass it — but plan to try again Friday before jetting out of town for the August recess.

“We will stay until we vote,” Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told reporters after an emergency meeting held at 3 p.m. Another GOP conference meeting was called for 9 a.m Friday, a GOP leadership aide said.

Asked if talks would continue Thursday night, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters “Oh, yeah.”

Earlier, chaos reigned in the House as GOP leaders’ carefully crafted gambit to win conservative votes fell apart.

“We don’t think we have the votes,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, one of the architects of the bill. But she said the whip count was “very close” with about 214 supporters, including Democrats.

“There are people who just don’t want to do anything,” she said. “They don’t want to spend the money.”

While GOP leaders initially indicated they would not vote on the border supplemental, a number of lawmakers pushed them to reconsider.

“I’m going to talk to the whip and the leaders to try and talk them into doing something else,” said Rep. John Carter, R-Texas on his way to the whip’s office.

Carter said he’s been telling his GOP colleagues, “60 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.”

The $659 million bill intended to deal with the crisis of child migrants coming across the border would have been followed by a vote on separate legislation prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief and work permits to any more illegal immigrants.

GOP leaders, led by Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, issued a joint statement pinning the blame for pulling the bill on Obama. Full story

Cantor Delivers Final Speech as Majority Leader (Video)

Eric Cantor delivered a somber farewell as majority leader Thursday, telling his House colleagues that he has “truly lived the American Dream.”

In a “one-minute” speech that lasted nearly 10 minutes — the standing ovation alone stretched to 60 seconds — Cantor delivered a doleful goodbye from his leadership post.

In his farewell as majority leader, Cantor touched on his background and his legislative accomplishments, noting one of his “proudest moments” was watching the president sign the “Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.” He outlined the direction he thought the country needed to go, and he thanked some of his colleagues and staff.

Presiding over the chamber, Speaker John A. Boehner dabbed at tears with a handkerchief as Cantor recognized him for showing “us all your kind heart and soft spot from time to time.” Cantor said that he and Boehner met at least once a day every day the House had been in session for the past five years — a testament to a relationship that saw its share of tumultuous moments but had been greatly repaired in recent years.

Already Cantor has slowly faded to the exit, stepping aside for new leaders after his surprise primary defeat in June to Republican challenger Dave Brat.

Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 12:45 p.m.
Eric Cantor

House Moves Ahead on New Border Funding Gambit

Just hours after shifting gears on a strategy to pass a $659 million appropriations bill to bolster resources at the U.S.-Mexico border, House Republicans are moving ahead, more confident they have the votes.

Rank-and-file members emerged from a GOP Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Thursday morning with a sense that the gambit — giving conservatives a standalone vote to stop the expansion of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program after they pass the border funding bill — would be enough to bring conservative holdouts on board.

Many Republicans argue that DACA, the 2012 executive order granting stays of deportation to young undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents, is responsible for the influx of child migrants who have come to believe that if the can get over the border and into the United States, they will be allowed to stay and put on a path to legal status. They insisted that any legislation to stem the tide of the border surge would have to address that executive action, especially after news reports Obama is considering expanding the program to as many as five million more immigrants here illegally. Full story

July 30, 2014

Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End ‘Obama’s Amnesty’

cruz001 052114 445x298 Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End Obamas Amnesty

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz rallied conservatives Wednesday to “end President Obama’s amnesty” in a meeting late Wednesday — as GOP leaders agreed to vote on legislation Cruz is backing to do just that.

Meeting in Cruz’s Dirksen office over We, The Pizza; Starburst; Skittles; Shiner Bock beer; Yuengling; white wine; and three selections of Dr. Pepper — Diet Dr. Pepper, Dr. Pepper Ten, and the original, full-flavored stuff — 13 House Republicans stopped by the Cruz gathering, which lasted more than an hour and 40 minutes.

The members, in the order in which they arrived, were: Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, Steve Stockman of Texas, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, Todd Rokita of Indiana, John Fleming of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and finally Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who showed up for the last 10 minutes of the meeting.

The major topic of discussion, members said, was opposition to the $659 million border supplemental bill if it did not include legislation Cruz wants ending President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants deportation relief to children brought here illegally by their parents. Full story

Facing Immigration Revolt, Republicans Plan Vote to Ban ‘Administrative Amnesty’ (Updated)

judiciary007 052114 445x291 Facing Immigration Revolt, Republicans Plan Vote to Ban Administrative Amnesty (Updated)

Cruz, who has proposed legislation prohibiting Obama from expanding deportation relief for illegal immigrants, met with House conservatives late Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:07 p.m. | In a bid to shore up votes for their border supplemental, Republican leaders plan to give conservatives a vote Thursday prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to more illegal immigrants.

One vote will be on the $659 million appropriations bill aimed at curbing the flow of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes policy riders that have alienated nearly all Democrats.

On the condition of that bill passing, members would then be allowed to a vote on standalone language prohibiting the expansion of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granting deportation relief and work permits to children brought here illegally by their parents. Republicans charge that DACA has acted as a magnet for unaccompanied children to come to the United States, although recent immigrants are not eligible.

Obama has promised to do all he can on his own on immigration by the end of the summer — and recent news reports that he may expand DACA’s deportation relief to as many as 5 million additional illegal immigrants have roiled the GOP.

Language targeting DACA would be similar to legislation pushed in the Senate by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who, as negotiations were ongoing, was hosting conservative House members in his Capitol Hill office to discuss strategy on the matter. Cruz’s bill has a companion in the House, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The legislation would prohibit the administration from granting deportation and other relief to any more illegal immigrants. It does not target people who have already enrolled in DACA.

The Rules Committee finalized the plan late Wednesday on a party line vote.

Ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., offered an amendment to strike the language that would bar Obama from continuing or expanding DACA. It was defeated along party lines, 3-8.

Rules Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts took issue with the timing of the proposal’s introduction, which coincided with Cruz’s dinner.

“Mr. Cruz has considerably more sway than some of the leaders in the House,” he quipped.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, took issue with the criticism, saying there has been “a continuing dialogue within our conference about what would and would not be in [the bill], and yesterday we became aware of what was in, and that created a set of circumstances where there were certain discussions.”

The plan would force conservatives — many of whom have a history of voting for amendments and then voting against the underlying bill — to back the supplemental first if they want a chance to constrain what some conservatives, like Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, have blasted as “administrative amnesty.”

The plan also came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., roiled conservatives by suggesting the House’s bill could be used to conference a comprehensive immigration bill. That prompted Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to blast Reid and vow no “immigration reform” of any kind would be added to the bill.

It’s not clear what will happen if the House border makes it to the Senate. Although the rule doesn’t combine the border bill with the DACA language — as leadership at one point considered — the White House earlier Wednesday threatened a veto of the border bill on its own.

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

Related:

$659 Million Border Bill Planned by GOP

Pelosi: Don’t Tack Expedited Deportations to Border Bill (Video)

HSS: Ignoring Border Crisis is Not an Option for Congress (Video)

The Border Supplemental and ‘the Height of Irresponsibility’

Boehner Puts Onus on Democrats for Tenuous State of Border Bill

The Other Side of the Border: CQ Roll Call’s Special Report from Guatemala

President’s Party Asks Why He’s Avoiding the Border

Obama ‘Happy to Consider’ Sending National Guard to Border to get Votes on Supplemental

A Tale of Two Congressional Visits to the Southwest Border

Obama Asking Congress for $4.3 Billion for Border Crisis, Wildfires

Alone, Illegal and Underage: The Child Migrant Crisis

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House Votes to Sue Obama (Updated) (Video)

The House voted mostly along party lines Wednesday to authorize suing President Barack Obama, which Republicans called a principled move to rein in an increasingly lawless president and Democrats and the White House dismissed as a taxpayer-financed political stunt.

The resolution, adopted 225-201, would authorize a lawsuit against the president over his implementation of the Affordable Care Act, with five Republicans joining all the Democrats in opposition — Paul Broun of Georgia, Steve Stockman of Texas, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina.

GOP leaders plan to sue over his decision to delay the employer mandate without authorization from Congress.

Republicans say the unilateral employer mandate delay is just one example of the White House’s disregard for the rule of law. Indeed, when Speaker John A. Boehner first announced his intent to sue the president, Republicans weren’t sure which action they would target. They had a menu of options to chose from, which Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, highlighted during the floor debate Wednesday.

“By circumventing Congress, the president’s actions have marginalized the role that the American people play in creating the laws that govern them,” said Sessions. “Specifically, the president has waived work requirements for welfare recipients, unilaterally changed immigrations laws, released the ‘Gitmo Five’ without properly notifying Congress — which is the law — and ignored the statutory requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Full story

VA Health Care Overhaul Passes House

Updated 5:04 p.m. | The House voted overwhelmingly to pass the compromise health care overhaul aimed at slashing wait times at Veterans Affairs facilities. The bill is expected to easily pass the Senate and head to President Barack Obama’s desk before Congress leaves for the August recess.

The bill — crafted by House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. — proved so popular that leaders brought it to the floor under suspension of the rules, an expedited floor procedure requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. It passed 420-5, despite the conservative group Heritage Action for America announcing it would key vote against its package on its annual scorecard.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, cheered the rare bipartisan achievement:

“Allowing the lives of our nation’s veterans to slip through the cracks of a broken bureaucracy is not just unacceptable, it’s immoral,” he said in a statement. “Making sure veterans have timely access to care is one of the first things we must do to address the crisis at the VA.  We also need real accountability, and making it easier to fire or demote the senior managers who are not doing their jobs is a positive step forward.  But, this agreement is just the beginning. Much more work needs to be done to fix the widespread problems at the VA, and it’s going to require the president to outline a long-term plan.”

The easy passage marked a major turnaround from late last week, when talks stalled.

Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 4:45 p.m.
Veterans Affairs

House Democrats Weigh Voting Down Highway Bill

Democrats are apparently considering a tactic of voting down the House highway bill in hopes that Republicans would have to accept the Senate measure that offers a different timeline for funding construction projects. Asked whether there would be new Democratic opposition to the bill on Wednesday, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland suggested it is possible.

“We think the Senate bill is far better policy, and we’re discussing now our response to that,” Hoyer told reporters.

The Senate passed an amended form of the bill Tuesday, 79-18, changing some of the offsets in the bill and the length of the measure from May to December. Though the Senate bill is a shorter term, the idea is to force Congress to find a more permanent solution in the lame-duck, not in May, at “the beginning of the next construction season,” as Hoyer put it.

Democrats overwhelmingly supported the House version of the bill on July 15 when the measure passed 367-55. There were 45 Republicans voting against the measure. If those same 45 Republicans maintain their opposition, Democrats could force the GOP’s hand. At the very least, some of the Republican dissenters would need to flip their vote to help the measure pass the chamber.

The same would be true of the Democrats who voted for the bill, which Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel was happy to point out.

Full story

Majority Leader-Elect McCarthy Inherits Top Cantor Aides

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four Eric Cantor aides will keep their jobs but have a new boss by the end of the week. Neil Bradley, Rob Borden, Robert Story Karem and Roger Mahan will work for incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Bradley will remain deputy chief of staff, a position he also held for two years when Cantor was the minority whip and when Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was House majority whip.

Full story

Majority Whip-Elect Steve Scalise Staffs Up

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Scalise staffers took stock of his leadership bid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The new House GOP leadership team is staffing up.

On Tuesday evening, just days before he officially assumes the rank of No. 3 House Republican with Kevin McCarthy poised to take on the post of No. 2, Majority Whip-Elect Steve Scalise, R-La., released the names of the aides who will either join his office or follow him into his new suite in the Capitol proper.

Many of the men and women currently on his payroll — either in his personal office or at the Republican Study Committee where he served as chairman — will stay on board, assuming equivalent titles or taking on new ones. Full story

Bill Foster, Congress’ Science Guy

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Foster in his Longworth office on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Not everyone gets cards from Fermilab.

Democrat Bill Foster’s Longworth office is a modest one, its small waiting area festooned with the requisite Lincolnia befitting a House member from Illinois.

Amid the Land of Lincoln regalia is a more personal effect of the man who represents the 11th District, offering a hint of his role as Congress’ science guy. Displayed on the shelves are greetings and salutations from his friends at Fermilab, the national laboratory where Foster helped hunt down the top quark and pursue other experimental physics for nearly a quarter century. The snow-scaped image of Fermilab’s upside-down-Y-shaped Wilson Hall helps define who Foster is: a man whose scientific acumen has informed his life as an entrepreneur, physicist and public servant.

Foster has been proudly flying the science flag in the halls of Congress. On the floor, he’s gleefully pushed for the House’s science measures, even working in references to Star Wars.

In June he hobnobbed with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the White House Maker Faire, a kind of summit to push innovative entrepreneurship.

This is a man who seems comfortable verging into science geekiness.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 5 a.m.
Democrats

July 29, 2014

Pelosi: GOP Border Bill ‘Unjust and Inhumane’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blistered the GOP’s border bill as “unjust and inhumane” in a statement Tuesday.

“We must have a heart, and look into our souls to guide us in our treatment of these desperate children,” the California Democrat said of the tens of thousands of unauthorized migrants who have flooded the border. “While we are reminded of the critical importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform, we must do so much more than the Republicans’ unjust and inhumane proposal.”

It’s not unusual for Pelosi to blast a Republican measure, but in this case, it’s not clear Republicans can pass their bill if Pelosi puts the hammer down on Democrats who cross party lines.  Full story

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