Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2015

November 24, 2015

Congress Largely Cut Out of Refugee Certification

UNITED STATES - JUNE 31: Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Babin wants Republican leaders to address the refugee situation through the appropriations process, but the tools for doing so are limited. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican lawmakers who see the year-end omnibus spending bill as a vehicle to slow the flow of Syrian refugees to the United States might need to get creative. Why? The certification process for refugees critics are concerned about is funded by fees, not appropriated by Congress.

In the week following the terrorist attacks in Paris, Republicans called for a pause in the program that allows Syrians to flee their civil war and see refuge in the United States, arguing there are gaps in the process used to verify and certify refugees. Full story

November 23, 2015

Republicans to Pentagon: Consult Lawyers Before Following Obama on Gitmo

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 22: Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., attends a House Select Committee on Benghazi in Longworth Building featuring testimony by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, October 22 2015. The 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pompeo is behind a letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A group of House Republicans wants uniformed military leaders to consult with attorneys before carrying out executive orders from President Barack Obama related to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) contemplates that with respect to enlisted personnel and officers in the United States armed forces, when an order given by one’s superiors comes into conflict with the laws of this nation, the latter prevail. We believe that in our democracy — in which governance is undertaken, in the words of Founding Father John Adams, by ‘…a government of laws, and not of men…’ – that understanding necessarily applies equally to orders given by the Commander-in-Chief,” writes the group of 16 House members who are all military veterans.

Full story

Ryan-Related Lawsuit Refiled, But Not Against Speaker

Ryan speaks to reporters.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ryan speaks to reporters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two men who sued Speaker Paul D. Ryan — and then agreed to drop the case in March — have refiled their lawsuit over a car crash on I-395 involving Ryan’s then-D.C. chief of staff.

This time, however, Santos Perez and Adan Cajas declined to list Ryan and his staffer, Kevin Seifert, as defendants in the case. Full story

By Todd Ruger Posted at 3:04 p.m.

Staffer Lawsuit Hits Benghazi Committee, Gowdy

Gowdy and the Benghazi Committee have been hit with a lawsuit alleging mistreatment by a fired staffer. (Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gowdy and the Benghazi Committee have been hit with a lawsuit alleging mistreatment by a fired staffer. (Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | Former staffer Bradley F. Podliska filed a lawsuit on Monday against the House Select Committee on Benghazi for unlawful termination and against its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., for defamation.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that Podliska was unlawfully fired by the committee in June 2015 following months of hostility against him because he took leave from his job to fulfill his obligations as an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve. It asks that Podliska be reinstated “into a position at the level of seniority, status, and pay that he would have enjoyed had the Benghazi Committee neither discriminated nor retaliated against him” and that he be compensated for lost pay and benefits in addition to damages. Full story

By Lindsey McPherson Posted at 2:18 p.m.

November 20, 2015

In the House, Personal Debates on Refugees

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., speaks with a reporter outside of the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Amash has family ties to the Middle East. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House debate on refugees and national security this week took a turn for the personal and for good reason: Several members are refugees or the children of refugees, have family ties to the Middle East or were imprisoned in U.S. internment camps on the basis of their ethnicity.

After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, House Republicans drafted legislation requiring the FBI to certify background checks for U.S.-bound Syrian and Iraqi refugees and U.S. national security agencies to vouch that they are not security threats. The final vote in the House on Thursday was 289-137, a veto-proof margin. Full story

November 19, 2015

House Staffer Takes Stand in Capitol Arrest Hearing

Eidinger was charged with "unlawful entry," (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Eidinger was charged with unlawful entry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A House staffer took the witness stand in District of Columbia court Thursday, in a case that has raised questions about Capitol Police policy toward protesters.

Outgoing House Oversight and Government Reform staff director Sean McLaughlin testified that he acted in his professional capacity when telling protesters they would be asked to leave if they were disruptive, in a case stemming from an April arrest of D.C. activist Adam Eidinger during a committee markup.

“Generally I’m the person who is in control of the committee room,” McLaughlin, who has worked as staff director for about one year, told the court. Full story

White House Loses Votes to GOP on Syrian Refugee Bill

syrian refugees

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democratic leadership braced Thursday for at least 60 defections on the Republican bill to strengthen the vetting of Syrian refugees seeking resettlement in the United States.

It wasn’t quite that high, but 47 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with nearly every Republican for Congress’ first legislative response to the terrorist attacks in Paris — despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama. The coalition of Democrats supporting the measure, which passed 289-137, wasn’t atypical of previous votes for which leadership could not justify opposition. Full story

Ethics Committee Defers to DOJ on Pittenger Probe

UNITED STATES - MAY 20: Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C,, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pittenger is under a cloud related to possible ethics violations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:43 p.m. | The House Ethics Committee voted Wednesday to establish an investigative subcommittee to look into allegations that Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., “received compensation for his involvement with a fiduciary business, a real estate investment firm known as Pittenger Land Investments, Inc.” But, at the request of the Justice Department, the committee has recommended the subcommittee defer its investigation. Full story

Democrats Slam White House Messaging On Refugee Bill

Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly on camera news conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi, D-Calif. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In 24 hours, House Democrats have gone from opposing the GOP  proposal to tighten the United States’ screening of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to supporting the bill in large numbers.

The shift is due to a number of factors, including pressure from constituents to take action this week — as well as frustration with the White House’s inability to offer a compelling reason to wait. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 12:07 p.m.
Foreign Policy

House Republicans OK Changes to Steering Panel

Ryan speaks with his chief of staff, Hoppe, following the Senate GOP's policy luncheon last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan, R-Wis., center, speaks with his chief of staff, David Hoppe, following the Senate GOP’s policy luncheon last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans passed changes to overhaul the Steering Committee by voice vote Thursday.

It’s the first of what could be several changes to how the conference operates, and a sign that new Speaker Paul D. Ryan was serious when he promised to take members’ complaints seriously. Full story

Watch Live: House Judiciary Hearing on Syrian Refugee Crisis

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security holds a hearing on the Syrian refugee crisis and the U.S. admission program for refugees. Officials from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are expected to testify.

Coverage begins at 9 a.m.

See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site.

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November 18, 2015

Farenthold Sexual Harassment Case Is Settled Out of Court

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 27: Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, October 27, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Farenthold and Greene have settled their case out of court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sexual harassment case against Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, halted Wednesday because an agreement was reached by the two parties.

The details of the resolution that led to the parties’ suggestion the case be dismissed, which was first reported by the National Law Journal, are unclear. The lawyer for Lauren Greene, the former staffer who alleged harassment and discrimination, and Farenthold’s office, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday night. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 7:30 p.m.

House Honors Victims of Beirut Bombings

Issa led a moment of silence. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Issa led the moment of silence for the Beirut victims. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House paused Wednesday night to pay tribute to the lives lost at the hands of the Islamic State terror group in Beirut, Lebanon.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stood with members of the US-Lebanese Friendship Caucus, which he chairs, in the Well of the House to lead lawmakers in a moment of silence to honor the 43 victims who were killed when two suicide bombers attacked Beirut on Nov. 12. Full story

These Eight Republicans Could Save the Conference From Breaking

Price, left and Ryan are longtime allies.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Price, left and Ryan are longtime allies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul D. Ryan was pushed to run for speaker because members believed he could unite House Republicans, but he will share some of that responsibility with some select colleagues.

The Wisconsin Republican has tapped eight members to serve on an “advisory group” that will meet regularly to discuss House matters and serve as Ryan’s sounding board for leadership ideas. The group, according to names obtained by CQ Roll Call, includes two members from each of the three main Republican voting blocs — as well as two of Ryan’s closest allies. Full story

House Democrats Plan Alternative to Syrian Refugee Bill

3: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lofgren tried to get changes made to the GOP refugee bill due on the floor Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:15 p.m. | House Democrats will use procedural gambits to get a vote on their proposal aimed at easing concerns about Syrian refugees coming to the United States but without completely blocking their resettlement.

The partisan maneuvering has the potential to weaken support for a Republican-backed bill set to come to the floor Thursday. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, but the bill is expected to pass with GOP votes and some from fiscally conservative Democrats.

Full story

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