Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014

Hoyer: ‘Atlas Shrugged’ No Way to Run a Country

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Hoyer says don’t count on the Senate switching hands. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Five weeks and one day before the midterm elections, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer made the case for Democrats to retake control of the House, delivering a scathing takedown of Republican leadership in the process.

In a Monday morning speech at the National Press Club, the House’s No. 2 Democrat mocked Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, for recently boasting that the House under GOP rule is so transparent “you can even bring your iPad on the floor.”

“That may be the case,” Hoyer scoffed, “but you can’t bring a bill to raise the minimum wage to the floor. Or to extend unemployment insurance. Or to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. You can’t bring a bipartisan bill to fix our broken immigration system.” Full story

September 28, 2014

Boehner ‘Absolutely’ Confident GOP Would Back Immigration Overhaul (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:15 a.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner says it’s still time to do an immigration overhaul, and believes “absolutely” he can convince the GOP to do it.

“I said the day after the 2012 election it was time to do immigration reform. I meant it then and I mean it today,” the Ohio Republican said on ABC News’  ”This Week.” Full story

September 27, 2014

James Traficant Dies Following Tractor Accident

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James Traficant in 2002. He died Saturday at the age of 73. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

James A. Traficant Jr., an Ohio Democrat whose career as a colorfully combative congressional gadfly ended in 2002 when he became the fifth House member ever expelled, died Saturday at a hospital in his native Youngstown. He was 73 and had been critically injured Sept. 23, when the tractor he was driving at his family farm flipped over.

That horse farm was a central location along the trail of low-impact corruption that caught up with Traficant 17 years after he started playing the part of the most bombastic populist at the Capitol. He was convicted of conspiring to commit bribery, seeking and taking illegal gratuities, racketeering, obstructing justice and lying on his tax returns. Among Traficant’s crimes were having members of his House staff do work on the farm (and the boat he kept there) while on congressional time, and doing official-business favors for a pair of construction contractors in return for their sprucing up his 76-acre spread.

Almost all members convicted of felonies have decided to resign rather than endure the additional humiliation of expulsion. But Traficant refused to depart sooner than he had to, wanting the last word in front of the TV cameras — and the maximum number of paydays — before his colleagues voted 420-1 to kick him out of the House.

His final appearance in the well was characteristic of his rhetorical style, that is, long on flamboyance but lacking any sustained effort to change minds. He returned to several of his favorite tropes: Vast federal conspiracies, unproven cover-ups, the unfairly long arm of the IRS and the government disinterest’s in the fading lot of the Rust Belt working man.

Full story

By David Hawkings Posted at 2:27 p.m.
Members

September 25, 2014

Lawmakers Weigh In on Holder Resignation (Updated) (Video)

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Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill earlier this year. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Update 5:05 p.m. | Even before Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s resignation was officially announced, House and Senate lawmakers were sending out statements reacting to the news.

The sentiments broke down neatly along party lines, with Republicans openly cheering an end to Holder’s six years atop the Justice Department and Democrats just as enthusiastically expressing appreciation for the nation’s first black attorney general.

The statements signaled just how polarizing Holder has become on Capitol Hill.

For many GOP lawmakers who had clashed with Holder, it was simply a matter of good riddance.

“I can’t think of any AG in history who has attacked Louisiana more than Holder,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who was first out with a release headed, “Vitter Welcomes News of Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., proclaimed, “Eric Holder is the most divisive U.S. Attorney General in modern history and, in a vote supported by 17 Democratic House Members, has the dubious historic distinction of being the first Attorney General held in criminal contempt by the U.S. House of Representatives.” Full story

Boehner: Don’t Expect War Authorization Vote in Lame-Duck Session

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Boehner says the new Congress, not the lame duck, should vote on war authorization for operations in Syria. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner thinks Congress should debate authorizing use of force against the Islamic State in Syria — but not until new members of the House and Senate take office in January.

The Ohio Republican told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday morning the lame-duck session following the midterms in November would not be an appropriate time to make those decisions.

“Doing this with the whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” Boehner told the Times.

That statement is sure to rankle many members on both sides of the aisle who had hoped the House would weigh in as soon as possible on President Barack Obama’s decision to use airstrikes to target the terrorist organization, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Full story

September 24, 2014

Rep. Henry Cuellar: ‘I Will Die As a Democrat’

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Cuellar on switching to the GOP: Not going to happen. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a summer spent defending himself against criticism from Democratic colleagues, Rep. Henry Cuellar was defiant Wednesday when his party affiliation was called into question.

“I’m a Democrat, and I will die as a Democrat,” the Texas lawmaker told Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith in an interview.

During an interview conducted before an audience at the University of Texas’s San Antonio campus, Smith was asking Cuellar specifically about his collaboration with Republicans during the debate on legislation to address the child migrant crisis at the southwest border. Full story

Bipartisan Quartet Ratchets Up Congressional Pressure on NFL

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Costa and three House members are upping the pressure on sports leagues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional pressure for the NFL and other major sports leagues to get a handle on domestic violence continues to ratchet up.

A week after one senator proposed stripping the National Football League of its antitrust exemptions, a bipartisan quartet of House members is circulating a petition calling for football, baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball executives to review policies and take “the strongest possible stance” against violence directed at women and children.

The group — Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Ted Poe, R-Texas; Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.; and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. — is asking colleagues to sign the petition by Friday. Full story

September 23, 2014

Congress in No Rush to Return for ISIS War Authorization

The United States has begun a bombing campaign in Syria, but don’t bet on Congress returning to Washington to vote on a new war authorization anytime soon.

Shortly after airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria started, some lawmakers started pushing again for an authorization vote. But so far, leaders aren’t gearing up to bring their members back to town.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted Monday night it was “irresponsible and immoral” that congressional leaders had chosen to recess for nearly two months instead of debating and voting on war. And the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, released a statement saying it’s “time for Congress to step up and revise the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force in a way that supports the targeted actions underway, but also prevents the deployment of American ground forces that would drag us into another Iraq War.”

Van Hollen tweeted that Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, should call the House back to debate a new Authorization to Use Military Force.

Boehner’s office deferred to the White House when asked about the issue. Full story

September 22, 2014

Republicans to Obama: Show Us How You’ll Change Immigration Law

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Goodlatte wants Obama to share his plans for executive action on immigration reform. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama has said he won’t make sweeping changes to immigration policy until after the midterm elections in order to protect vulnerable Democrats in tight races, but House Republicans don’t want to wait to see what the president has up his sleeve.

On Monday, all 22 Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Obama demanding that he make public “the recommendations he has received for the anticipated executive actions he will take to further dismantle our nation’s immigration laws.”

Disclosing the suggestions for how he would overhaul the nation’s immigration system without the participation of Congress, the 22 lawmakers argued, “could go some way toward repairing the damage to the American political process caused by the secrecy with which your Administration has considered changes to our immigration system.”

Read the full letter here: Full story

Pushing for Minimum Wage Boost, Nader Decries Vacationing Congress

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Nader criticized Congress’ small number of working days this fall in a letter. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Between Aug. 1 and Nov. 12, the House will have only been in session for eight days — translating to a $788 per hour wage for Speaker John A. Boehner.

For an Ohio minimum-wage earner who wants to match the sum of that hourly paycheck, he or she will have to work 99 hours.

That’s all according to consumer-rights activist Ralph Nader, who sent a letter to Boehner on Monday stating his grievances. He also said that the average rank-and-file lawmaker will make $614 an hour.

Lawmakers from both parties point out that just because they aren’t in session doesn’t mean they aren’t working, but Nader said he crunched the numbers to prove a point: House lawmakers make substantially more than the average American, yet work substantially fewer hours.

And still, Nader bemoans, Republican leadership refuses to allow a vote to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Full story

The Oklahoma Guide to Getting Along

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Derick Brock, right, from Mercy Chefs helps a man fold a flag he found in the debris after the May 2013 tornado. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

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OKLAHOMA CITY — This is a state that knows what it’s like to recover from a disaster.

From the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, to the destruction wreaked by two of the largest tornadoes ever recorded tearing through its suburbs, there has been a thread running through the tragedies: Oklahomans pull together.

Revisiting the areas most devastated by the deadly Moore tornado in 2013, it’s clear rubble is not the only thing that’s lingered. At the busy intersection of Telephone Road and Southwest Fourth Street in Moore, signs of rebuilding are slowly starting to appear. The tornado leveled part of the neighborhood and a gas station, ripped through a medical complex and crumpled cars from the nearby highway, tossing them in another direction.

More than a year later, slabs of concrete are all that remain of large buildings. Wreaths and crosses still dot the ground where some didn’t survive. But new shops and buildings have opened, presenting physical evidence of Oklahomans’ resilience in times of disaster.

The sense of community here goes far beyond the usual camaraderie in which any state could express pride. The Oklahoma congressional delegation likes to express that pride, and some have given the deep bonds within the community a name.

“Oklahoma has a respect for our neighbors,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin told CQ Roll Call in an interview. “That’s the Oklahoma standard.”

Full story

113th Congress Could Yield Fewest Laws in 60 Years

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House members leave for recess on Aug. 18. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Say this about the 113th Congress: It’s managed to live down to low expectations.

With only a lame-duck, post-Election Day mop-up session left before a new Congress takes office in January, the 113th is on track to be one of the least productive congresses — in terms of laws passed and signed by the president — in 60 years.

The 113th Congress, which passed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 before heading out of town, has seen just 165 pieces of legislation enacted.

The total from the House Clerk tracks only through August and lists 164 measures — more than 100 pieces of legislation below the 283 measures enacted in the 112th Congress and well below the 383 in the 111th Congress.

Another handful of bills have been sent to the president, but unless the 113th has an unprecedented burst of productivity when members return for the lame duck, the die is cast.

As Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson told CQ Roll Call last week, “This has been the most do-nothingest Congress.”

It’s a distinction Democrats insist is a disgrace and an abdication of the responsibility of governing. Full story

September 18, 2014

Pelosi Pens Second Endorsement Letter for Eshoo

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Eshoo (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nancy Pelosi is making another play for her fellow Californian and close friend, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, to be ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Minority Leader sent a letter to colleagues on Thursday afternoon, just as the House was finishing legislative business before November. That’s when the full Democratic Caucus will vote for either Eshoo or her colleague, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., to win the party’s top spot on the powerful committee.

With competition stiff between the two lawmakers, Pelosi stunned colleagues once already back in late February, in the very early days of the campaign to succeed retiring ranking member Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., by penning a letter in support of Eshoo. Full story

Energy and Commerce Race Heats Up as Election Nears

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Ranking member rivals Eshoo and Pallone chatted earlier this year at a press conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a quiet couple of months, the race to be the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee is heating up again.

As the November election nears, the two Democrats vying for the party’s top spot on the panel are stepping up efforts to show off their clout.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey made the bolder move on Thursday, releasing a letter signed by 50 of his supporters that outlines why they think he should be given the assignment over his opponent, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California. Full story

Boehner Lists Tax Reform Among House GOP’s Top Priorities for 2015

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Boehner at the Capitol Tuesday (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In what was hyped as a potential road map for House Republicans in the 114th Congress, Speaker John A. Boehner laid out a five-point vision for creating growth and mobility in America on Thursday.

On the 12th floor suite of the American Enterprise Institute, Boehner pushed tax reform, reduced spending, and improvements to the legal, regulatory and education systems as items Congress needed to address in order to make America “the best place to work, save and invest.”

The Ohio Republican said Congress could do it “the Washington way” — “move around some dirt, see what happens” — or they could “lay a solid foundation for growth and mobility, not pick one thing over the other.” Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 3:27 p.m.
Uncategorized

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