Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 1, 2015

April 1, 2015

Immigration Advocates Rush to Menendez’s Defense

Bob Menendez

Fellow immigration overhaul advocates remain behind Menendez. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two longtime allies released statements of support within minutes of the announcement of New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez’s 14-count federal indictment Wednesday.

Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, a fellow Democrat, and America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry both praised the Garden State senator’s character and his work on issues important to the immigrant community. Full story

In Israel, Boehner Dials Down Anti-Iran Nuclear Deal Rhetoric

Netanyahu and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left, walk through Statuary Hall, after the PM addressed a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber, March 3, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Boehner, left, and Netanyahu last month in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Speaker John A. Boehner announced he would lead a congressional delegation to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, many believed it was another effort to undermine the efforts of President Barack Obama’s administration to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.

But fans of the Boehner-Netanyahu bromance might have been disappointed by the two leaders’ news conference Wednesday; it lasted all of four minutes, and Boehner said less than 200 words — none of them in opposition to an Iranian nuclear deal, and hardly any of them even substantive.

Boehner avoided the word “Iran,” opting for a more ambiguous allusion to threats in general. (The Ohio Republican, who has been leading a congressional delegation around the Middle East, said the message members received while in the region was, “You can’t continue to turn your eye away from the threats that face all of us.”)

But Boehner didn’t exactly offer his most full-throated defense of Netanyahu’s position that a nuclear deal with Iran is a bad idea. In fact, Boehner noted the United States and Israel “may have political disagreements from time to time,” though he immediately followed that pronouncement by saying, “the bonds between our two nations are strong and they’re going to continue to be strong.”

Netanyahu, for his part, was characteristically chummy with Boehner — he repeatedly referred to him as “John” — and the recently re-elected prime minister hammered home the strong, special bond between Israel and the United States.

“In this violent and unstable region, where states are imploding and fanaticism is exploding, one thing remains rock solid: Our friendship, our alliance, our partnership,” Netanyahu said.

“So let me use this opportunity of your visit to reiterate something that I’ve said before but needs to be said again and again,” Netanyahu said. “The people of Israel know that we have no better friend in the world than the United States of America. And the American people should know that they have no better friend in the world than the state of Israel.”

Meanwhile, nuclear negotiations with Iran continue and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday the United States would not “abruptly” walk away from Iran talks for sake of arbitrary deadline if progress continues to be made.

The United States and Iran are part of a group of nations discussing a more permanent loosening of sanctions against Iran in return for downgrading much of its most enriched uranium and opening up nuclear facilities to inspections.

Netanyahu thrashed that potential agreement during his joint address to Congress in March, and Boehner has previously signaled he is skeptical of any deal that could be reached between Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Boehner, House Delegation to Meet Netanyahu in Israel (Updated)

Netanyahu Speech Lives Up to Controversial Expectations (Video)

Democrats Facing Choice Between Obama, Netanyahu (Updated)

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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Col. John G. Keliher, Arms-Control Pioneer, Dead at 82

Colonel John Graham Keliher, during his time working for Congressman Dave McCurdy, D – Okla. in the 1980s.

Col. John Graham Keliher during his time working for Rep. Dave McCurdy, D-Okla., in the 1980s.

Col. John Graham Keliher, an Army veteran, former Hill staffer and Department of Energy employee, died on March 7. He was 82.

With his drive, experience and education, Keliher was for years an invaluable resource in Washington efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, secure arms-control agreements and define national security policies. Full story

March 31, 2015

Gowdy Requests ‘Transcribed Interview’ With Clinton Over Emails

hairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi hearing on "Implementation of the Accountability Review Board Recommendations" on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ R

Gowdy (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy wants answers — and the truth, presumably — from Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email address and server during her time as secretary of State, and he wants those answers no later than May 1.

On Tuesday, Gowdy wrote a letter to Clinton’s lawyer requesting that the former secretary of State appear before the Bengahzi Committee for a “transcribed interview.” Full story

March 30, 2015

CODELs: Boehner to Israel, McCarthy to Tunisia, Pelosi to Asia

McCarthy, R-Calif., participates in the press conference announcing House GOP leadership for upcoming session of Congress on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

McCarthy and his delegation were in Tunisia before heading to Ukraine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not everybody gets to travel overseas during the two-week House recess  just ask Louie Gohmert.

However, many of those lawmakers who are participating in high-profile congressional delegations, or CODELs, will come back to Capitol Hill armed with new insights into some of the biggest policy issues facing Congress this year. Full story

March 29, 2015

Boehner Promises Sanctions Action if Iran Talks Fail

Boehner is in a tough spot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Boehner said he’ll remain speaker “until I’ve had enough.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner, in an interview that aired Sunday, said the House will act quickly to tighten sanctions on Iran should the administration’s nuclear talks with the Islamic republic fail.

The Ohio Republican told CNN he’s skeptical the Obama administration will reach a deal with Iran to rein in the country’s nuclear program. Full story

March 27, 2015

The Speaker Strikes Back: Boehner Cancels Gohmert’s Travel (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference at the House Triangle announcing the formation of a Caucus on Egypt, July 16, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner’s playing hardball, says Gohmert (nTom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe in retribution against the GOP lawmakers who didn’t vote for him to be speaker. But he increasingly seems to believe he doesn’t exactly have to reward those members either.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a member who has made no secret of his opposition to many of Boehner’s plans, has found himself kicked off two upcoming congressional trips during the House’s two week recess. Full story

Did Van Hollen Miss a Layup Opportunity With Progressives? (Updated)

UNITED STATES - JUNE 17: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., participates in the National Press Club Newsmaker Program with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on "future federal budget priorities and methods to achieve them" at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Van Hollen surprised some progressives when he didn’t vote for their budget this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:42 p.m. | Congressional Progressive Caucus members were emboldened this week.

Their fiscal 2016 budget proposal won 96 votes on the floor, which translates into half of all House Democrats endorsing the policy platform of one third of the whole House Democratic Caucus — plus a higher threshold than for any CPC budget ever before.

Full story

Warm Fuzzies After Boehner-Pelosi SGR Deal Not Likely to Last (Video)

Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., run into each other in the green room in between their weekly news conferences in the Capitol Visitor Center's Studio A, July 10, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner and Pelosi, right, came together for the Medicare fix, but don’t expect the togetherness to last. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House lawmakers left for a two-week recess on a high note Thursday, with members of both parties banding together in nearly equal measure to pass a substantive piece of legislation.

But unlike the longevity of the bill that permanently ends the “sustainable growth rate” used to calculate doctors’ payments for Medicare, and extends for two years the Children’s Health Insurance Program, it’s highly doubtful the bipartisan comity will endure. Full story

March 26, 2015

Boehner: Obama Is ‘Anti-War President’ Unwilling to Lead (Video)

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks back to his office after leaving the House floor on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner slammed the president Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner dismissed Barack Obama Thursday as an “anti-war president” unwilling to lead an international coalition against the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL; al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

“The world is starving for American leadership, but America has an anti-war president. We have no strategy, overarching strategy, to deal with a growing terrorist threat, and it’s not just ISIS or al-Qaida and all of their affiliates,” the Ohio Republican said at his weekly news briefing.

“If America leads, our allies would be tickled to death and be happy to join our coalition.”

Full story

House Passes SGR Deal in Big, Bipartisan Fashion (Video)

Boehner and Pelosi got the 'doc fix' deal done in a big fashion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Boehner and Pelosi got the ‘doc fix’ deal done. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On Thursday, the House touched the third rail. Lawmakers didn’t punt. They didn’t kick the can down the road. And they were bigger than the clichés that have come to describe the predictable patterns of Congress.

In a bipartisan vote, 392-37, House lawmakers passed a bill to end the “sustainable growth rate” used to calculate doctor’s payments for Medicare. After extending the program 17 times with only partial offsets, the House sent a bill to the Senate that would eliminate the need for patches and would pay for at least some of it by changing how much wealthy seniors pay for their Medicare prescriptions and doctors visits, and by instituting a $147 deductible for supplemental Medicare coverage (Medigap). Full story

March 25, 2015

GOP Defense Hawks Trump Conservatives as House OKs Budget

Scalise posed a question about marijuana legalization in a recent email survey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday’s budget vote was a win for Scalise and the rest of the GOP leadership team. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After months of leadership’s best-laid plans falling apart on the floor and behind the scenes, House GOP leaders eked out a much-needed victory Wednesday, with Republicans endorsing a budget that added even more defense dollars to the blueprint reported out committee.

The House voted 228-199 to adopt the budget resolution, after first endorsing that budget in a closer 219-208 vote. Full story

New Jersey Republicans Set Stage for Fight on U.S.-Cuba Relations

Garrett, R-N.J., joins House Republicans to speak during a news conference in opposition to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) decision on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Garrett and other New Jersey Republicans want Cuba to hand over an escaped fugitive before relations are normalized. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers are always eager to use appropriations bills to make political statements; this year, House Republicans are using the power of the purse to weigh in on President Barack Obama’s move to normalize U.S. and Cuba relations.

GOP lawmakers began to set the stage Wednesday, when New Jersey Republican Reps. Scott Garrett, Leonard Lance and Tom MacArthur officially asked senior appropriators to withhold necessary funding to fulfill the diplomatic process unless the Cuban government agrees to extradite copkiller Joanne Chesimard, an enemy of the Garden State and a longtime fixture on the FBI’s “most wanted” list. Full story

Watch Live: Tom Wheeler Testifies on FCC Net Neutrality Rules

The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rules. Officials from the FCC, including Chairman Tom Wheeler, and the Federal Trade Commission will testify. Coverage begins at 2 p.m.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

March 24, 2015

Boehner ‘Baffled’ by Reports of Israeli Intelligence Leaks to House Members (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner said he was “a bit shocked” by Wall Street Journal reports that Israeli officials were actively working to undermine U.S. efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy.

In particular, Boehner said he was “baffled” by allegations Israelis were spying on closed-door talks and leaking intelligence to members of Congress. Full story

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