Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 21, 2014

November 21, 2014

House Finally Files Affordable Care Act Lawsuit Against Obama

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Boehner said the House has formally filed a lawsuit against the president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four months after the chamber authorized a lawsuit against President Barack Obama — and on the third try with an attorney after the first two lawyers bailed — the GOP-controlled House has formally filed its case, Speaker John A. Boehner announced Friday.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work.

“If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said. Full story

Boehner: ‘House Will Act’ in Response to Obama’s Immigration Orders (Video)

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Immigration activists gathered at the White House on Thursday in the wake of Obama’s announcement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner said “the House will, in fact, act” to respond to President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action Friday morning.

In a 4-minute news conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation’s immigration system is “broken,” and “the American people expect us to work together to fix it.

“And we ought to do it in a Democratic process,” he continued, “moving bills through the people’s House, through the Senate and to the president’s desk.”

But Boehner also accused Obama of trying to “deliberately sabotage” the prospects for congressional action by issuing his executive orders and “making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do.”

Boehner said, “I warned the president over and over again.” Full story

November 20, 2014

New RSC Chairman: Don’t Look for Public Fights With Boehner

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Flores envisions a less combative RSC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Good news for Speaker John A. Boehner: The next Republican Study Committee chairman wants to work with him — and he doesn’t want any public fights.

In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday, newly elected RSC Chairman Bill Flores laid out a vision for a more collaborative, less publicly combative RSC. For a preview of how he intends to run the conservative group, he points to the mission statement: The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government, a strong national defense, the protection of individual and property rights, and the preservation of traditional family values.

Time and again, Flores returned to the mission statement as the guiding document of his chairmanship. The RSC creed has been a hot topic for Flores since he told Breitbart News that, according to the mission statement, it’s not the RSC chairman’s role to hold the greater GOP caucus leadership accountable.

The 170-member caucus of conservative Republicans in the House has been a springboard in recent years for former chairmen — such as Louisian’s Steve Scalise, who is now House GOP whip, and Texas’ Jeb Hensarling, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Flores, a 60-year-old Texas Republican, ran for RSC chairman on a platform of working with leadership. And now that he’s been elected to the position over his more conservative competition — Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Louie Gohmert of Texas — he is further emphasizing his less confrontational approach.

“To the extent that we have differences with our leadership, rather than airing those differences in public, we will keep those private,” Flores said.

The incoming chairman said there was “pretty good alignment” between what GOP leadership wants to do and what the RSC wants to do. “And so our goal is to put forth the most positive, achievable solutions and ask our leadership to do that,” Flores said. “And we’ll be pushy. I just don’t intend to do it in a public forum, unless our membership desires that we do that publicly.”

Asked about the members of the RSC who might want to see their chairman publicly prodding leadership toward more conservative proposals, Flores returned to the mission statement.

“If the membership of the Republican Study Committee wants to change the mission statement to say that part of our mission is to be publicly pushy with our leadership, I’m willing to fulfill the mission statement,” he said. “I signed on as chair to fulfill the mission statement, whatever it is.”

He reiterated that the 34-word proclamation, as it is currently written, is not to be “pushy” with leadership, “or to be banging on our leadership,” and he returned to the document of intent when asked about outside conservative groups that have sometimes been a thorn in Boehner’s side.

“The mission statement doesn’t say anything about working with the outside groups,” Flores said.

He said some of these groups were doing “great work” for the country and had missions to advance a conservative vision.

“But, in some ways, I think that they are — some of them, I believe, have other missions,” he said. “And that is to raise money. They have missions to primary Republicans.”

Flores noted that he’d like to work with them as much as he can, but said his “primary responsibility” was to work with our RSC membership, “not to work with the outside groups.”

Pressed on whether groups such as Heritage Action and Club for Growth had been forces for good for Republicans in Congress, Flores gave a mixed message: ”Sometimes they have and sometimes they’ve been less helpful.”

Overall, Flores emphasized advocating for achievable solutions, and he said the RSC would put forward proposals that would appeal to more than just conservatives.

He argued that Republicans needed to address sequestration to protect the Defense Department from the automatic spending cuts, and he said that he, personally, would like to see some sort of border security bill.

“The challenge as the chair is to be able to get as many of what I think will be 185 members on our roster, to come to a common set of ideals as we move forward in the next Congress,” he said.

 

Related:

Pallone Defeats Eshoo for Energy and Commerce Slot (Updated)

Messy Fight for Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Slot

Eshoo Wins Backing of Steering and Policy Committee Over Pallone

Democrats Re-Elect Pelosi, Leadership Team for 114th Congress

Democrats Fume in Caucus as Duckworth Denied Vote

With New House Democratic Leadership Team, Pelosi Looks Out for Her Own

Chaffetz Wins Four-Way Showdown for Oversight Gavel

New RSC Chair Flores: ‘I’m No Shill for Leadership’

Power Plays: House Gavel and Ranking Member Battles (Updated)

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

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GOP Still Fuzzy on Strategy to Block Obama’s Immigration Move

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Defunding Obama won’t work, said Rogers.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo/Bill Clark)

Hours before President Barack Obama finally presses the “go” button on executive actions to change the nation’s immigration laws, House Republicans were not any closer to coalescing around a strategy to fight back.

House GOP leaders have made it clear they want to pursue some legislative response to block Obama’s orders, which Democrats say they should have expected after stonewalling consideration in the 113th congress of Senate-passed immigration overhaul legislation.

“All options are on the table,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Boehner and his allies haven’t, however, figured out how to pacify a rank-and-file that would like to tie the president’s hands by attaching some kind of defunding language to a must-pass piece of legislation. Full story

Pelosi Praises Republican Presidents of Yore on Immigration (Video)

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Pelosi praised previous Republican presidents on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nancy Pelosi, defending Barack Obama, praised Republican presidents who historically took unilateral action on immigration — with the minority leader even drawing parallels between Obama’s proposed executive order and Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Pelosi asked during a news conference Thursday. “People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country.”

The California Democrat cited the history of U.S. presidents making significant changes without going through Congress, and she brought up the pattern of Republican presidents in the past 50 years exerting their executive authority to act on immigration.

Asked whether Republicans had a case that what the president was proposing was unconstitutional, Pelosi said Obama’s action was “absolutely, positively” not outside his constitutional bounds. Full story

November 19, 2014

Major Players From Team Cantor to Open Lobbying Shop

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Cantor joined the private sector recently, and some of his former staffers are following suit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Months after Cantorland was turned upside down by their boss’ stunning primary defeat, two key members of the ex-majority leader’s team are returning to the workforce, opening a lobbying firm with another prominent former Hill staffer.

Steve Stombres — a longtime chief of staff to ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor — is starting a government affairs shop with Kyle Nevins, Cantor’s former deputy chief of staff, and John O’Neill, a former counsel and policy director for Trent Lott when he was the Senate GOP whip.

The firm, Harbinger Strategies, is still coming together, but the partners say they’ll officially be open for business by Jan. 1. “We’re on the sublet tour of Washington, D.C.,” Stombres said of finding office space.

He’s already hunting for clients, and said Nevin and O’Neill will officially join him at the start of 2015.

Full story

Walz Gets VA Committee Spot After Messy Process

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Walz will serve again on Veterans’ Affairs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sometimes a consolation prize makes all the difference, Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz learned Wednesday.

After party leaders appeared to have blocked the Minnesota Democrat from running for ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Walz — who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress — ended up getting much of what he wanted anyway.

He will be on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the 114th Congress, and he will have a larger role with veterans service organizations. Full story

CBC Rallies to Defend Brown, Democrats’ Seniority System

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Brown, who had the most seniority, is the new ranking member of the VA Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday was a good day for the Congressional Black Caucus: In just a matter of hours, the powerful group saw Democrats’ seniority system — a tradition that has long protected minority lawmakers from being passed over for leadership positions — prevail not once, but twice.

First, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. — the No. 3 Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee — beat the No. 5 panel Democrat, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California, in the race to be ranking member.

He’s not a member of the CBC, but Pallone showed that lawmakers had no intention of bowing to pressure from some party leaders, such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to disregard the House Democratic Caucus’s deference to the decades-old seniority precedent. Full story

Pallone Defeats Eshoo for Energy and Commerce Slot (Updated)

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Pallone topped Eshoo, 100-90. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:57 p.m. | In a triumph for the seniority system and a blow to Nancy Pelosi’s clout, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey beat Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California in a hard-fought race for ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Eshoo had Pelosi’s support and won the backing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Tuesday afternoon, but the full caucus early Wednesday morning voted to give the plum assignment to Pallone.

The final tally was 100-90. Full story

Next Congress Has a Schedule: McCarthy Releases 2015 House Calendar

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McCarthy posted the 2015 legislative calendar. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy released the legislative calendar for 2015, and Republicans aren’t deviating from the familiar formula of giving members plenty of time in their districts.

Overall, the House is slated to be in session 132 days next year, without a single five-day week scheduled.

That’s not unprecedented. The House was in session 135 days during the first session of the 113th Congress (after being scheduled to be in session for only 126 days — the extra work days a result of that whole government shutdown thing). Full story

Messy Fight for Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Slot (Updated)

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Brown, left, and Walz, center, each are vying for the ranking member position on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:28 a.m. | Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota thought there would be a vote after Thanksgiving on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member race. As it turns out, his face-off against Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida will happen on Wednesday.

It gives Walz less time than he and his allies said they anticipated to build support around his uphill challenge of Brown, who benefits from seniority and the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member.

Before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee can meet to vote on a recommendation to the full House Democratic Caucus, Walz will have to clear an additional hurdle: A vote on whether he is even eligible to hold the post.

Walz is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress and has had a seat at the Veterans’ Affairs Committee table since 2007. He is, however, on the committee via waiver, and his opponents say it doesn’t qualify him to run against Brown, who after nearly two decades on the committee is next in line to succeed the current retiring ranking member, Michael H. Michaud of Maine. Full story

Luján Pledges to Bring Farmer’s Work Ethic to DCCC

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Luján, right, will bring a quiet intensity to his job as Israel’s replacement at the DCCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has ruffled plenty of feathers lately, reclaimed some goodwill with her caucus Monday, bypassing more established members to name Ben Ray Luján the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It won’t erase all of the negativity percolating among her flock — demoralized after Election Day and antsy over the stasis at the leadership table — but the decision to elevate the New Mexico Democrat is being called “smart” and “savvy,” even by those who count themselves among Pelosi’s critics.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the top Democrat on Financial Services, said Pelosi’s pick was “refreshing” and “lovely.” Full story

November 18, 2014

Eshoo Wins Backing of Steering and Policy Committee Over Pallone

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Eshoo and Pallone are vying for the ranking membership of the Energy and Commerce Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California has won the recommendation of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee to be the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee — but she’s not out of the water yet.

At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the full caucus will vote between her and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, closing the chapter on what has been the most fraught committee leadership race of the cycle. Full story

Chaffetz Wins Four-Way Showdown for Oversight Gavel

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Chaffetz will take over Oversight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There were hardly any surprises among the Republican Steering Committee’s picks for chairmen in the 114th Congress, but the one major question decided on Tuesday was who would lead the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. And the answer is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

The GOP Steering Committee announced their picks Tuesday night as Republicans gear up for a Congress in which they’ll hold their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president.

There were few real decisions for the committee to make, but the biggest was who — Chaffetz, Michael R. Turner of Ohio, Jim Jordan of Ohio or John L. Mica of Florida — would pick up the gavel at the Oversight with Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stepping down.

Chaffetz emerged earlier this fall as the slight favorite in the gavel fight after strong performances on oversight issues at the Secret Service. His argument for being the next chairman of the committee centered on his undivided attention on the committee. Full story

New RSC Chairman Flores: ‘I’m No Shill for Leadership’

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Flores edged two more conservative rivals for the RSC chairmanship. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a hotly contested battle over the direction of the Republican Study Committee, Texas Republican Bill Flores beat out his more conservative rivals, South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney and Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, to become the new RSC chairman.

While Mulvaney ran on reasserting a conservative direction at the RSC and Gohmert ran on asserting an entirely new, dramatically more conservative vision, Flores ran as someone who could work with leadership.

“I campaigned on being a collaborative leader,” Flores told reporters after he won.

“By trying to advance the perfect conservative solution, nobody wins,” he said. Full story

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