Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 29, 2015

Posts by Bridget Bowman

22 Posts

March 13, 2015

Scalise Asks Marijuana Legalization Question in Email Survey

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

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

As more states consider measures to legalize marijuana, one prominent congressional Republican wants to know what his constituents think about the issue.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., posed the question, “Do you support the legalization of marijuana at the federal level?” to constituents Wednesday. The survey was first reported by Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell, who found the poll embedded on the congressman’s website as part of a Google alert that notifies him when a “.gov” page contains the word “marijuana.” Full story

January 13, 2015

Pelosi: GOP Effort to Defund Obama Immigration Moves ‘Frivolous’

 Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference at the House Triangle to call on House Republicans to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, December 4, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi called the attempts to defund the president’s immigration initiatives “frivolous.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats gathered on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday morning with a group of immigration activists to voice their opposition to a Republican tactic to defund the president’s executive actions on immigration.

Republicans plan to attach five amendments to a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security to target the president’s executive actions, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and other practices that loosen enforcement of some immigration laws. The House is expected to vote on the funding bill Wednesday. Full story

January 8, 2015

‘Main Street’ Republicans Detail Policy Agenda

Upton's first challenge will be approving the Keystone XL pipeline. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Upton laid out his policy agenda Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While some conservative members of the Republican Party caused a stir during the speaker election this week, other members of the party appeared eager to move on and start governing, laying out their policy priorities Thursday.

Four members of the GOP spoke at a Capitol Hill Club event hosted by the Republican Main Street Partnership Thursday morning, explaining their agenda for energy, trade and education policies, and their goal of broadening the Republican base to attract more women. Full story

December 30, 2014

Rep. John Dingell Released From Washington Hospital

John Dingell and Debbie Dingell last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

John Dingell and Debbie Dingell last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., was released from George Washington University Hospital Tuesday afternoon after recuperating from a hip fracture.

“I’m out of here. My sincere thanks to @GWHospital for their wonderful care, and to ALL for your thoughts & prayers,” Dingell tweeted just after 2 p.m.

According to a Facebook post earlier this month from Dingell’s wife, Debbie, the outgoing Dean of the House suffered a hip fracture after falling, though the injury did not require surgery. The 88 year-old congressman, who is also the longest-serving member of Congress, was not allowed to travel due to the injury and spent the Christmas holiday in the Washington hospital.

Debbie Dingell will succeed her husband in Congress and will be sworn in on Jan. 6 along with her fellow freshman lawmakers.

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

RELATED:

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The Dean Is Done: 59 Years Will Be Enough for the Cunning and Complex John Dingell

Rep. Dingell Makes History

December 23, 2014

Rep. Michael Grimm Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion (Updated)

UNITED STATES - JULY 11: Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., walks to the Capitol for a vote on Friday, July 11, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Grimm said he won’t step down, despite pleading guilty to a felony tax evasion charge Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:21 p.m. | NEW YORK — Rep. Michael G. Grimm said he won’t step down, despite pleading guilty Tuesday to one of the 20 felony tax fraud charges he’s been battling since April — immediately raising questions about whether the New York Republican will be forced to resign his seat in Congress.

A two-term lawmaker who won re-election in November by steadfastly maintaining his innocence, Grimm entered a Brooklyn courthouse on Tuesday afternoon and admitted to tax evasion in connection to the health food restaurant he owned and operated prior to serving in Congress. Full story

September 16, 2014

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks during the House Democrats' news conference to discuss Republican lawsuit against President Obama and the House Democrats' focus on the economy on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Despite reservations, Democrats are lining up behind the House GOP’s proposed continuing resolution and an underlying amendment on Syria, Hoyer said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite lingering reservations on both sides of the aisle, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats is coming together behind proposals to arm Syrian rebels and fund the government beyond Sept. 30.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that, despite some provisions his colleagues don’t like — namely a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank through only June 30, 2015 — Hoyer and a significant bloc of Democrats would not withhold their support on the continuing resolution. “You don’t get perfect,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.

The Maryland Democrat also said Democrats would support an amendment proposal from Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., that would give the Obama administration the authority it requested to arm and train Syrian rebels in order to combat Islamic terrorists.

With the support from Democrats, passage of the CR and adoption of the Syria amendment look increasingly assured. There are plenty of remaining concerns regarding the trustworthiness of the Syrian rebels. But with Republican and Democratic leadership supporting the measure — not to mention the White House, which has been calling members to drum up support for the proposal — passage of the CR does not appear to be in doubt. Full story

September 11, 2014

Deadline for Obama’s Immigration Action Hard to Pin Down (Video)

 Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., speaks during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus news conference on the child migrant humanitarian situation on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, as House Republicans work to come up with immigration legislation to pass before the August recess. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Grisham and other Hispanic lawmakers took their immigration overhaul concerns to the administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

End of the year? By Christmas? By Thanksgiving?

There seems to be some disagreement among the supporters of immigration rights as to when, exactly, President Barack Obama will step in with his promised unilateral action.

But overall, frustrated advocates seemed more optimistic Thursday after a clear-the-air session with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

McDonough told reporters that the president would act on immigration “before the end of the year” as he left a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

CHC Whip Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said McDonough told them the president would act “by the holiday season.”

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill. who attended the meeting, talked about a “Thanksgiving blessing” a day earlier in an interview on MSNBC, but on Thursday, he was referring to a “holiday season” deadline as well.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WiG1U95Dn4#t=20

“We are moving forward. And this will be a season, the season, you know, I’ve said this: The holiday season must be a blessing for millions of undocumented families across America,” Gutiérrez said, “where they too can, you know, reap the rewards of their bountiful work for the year.”

The talk of immigration action around the holidays mirrored a statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Thursday that there would be movement “by Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

The CHC members said they expressed their frustration with the president delaying action until after the November elections.

“There were a range of emotions expressed, including frustration and anger,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said.

The members leaving the meeting would not talk in detail about how exactly McDonough said the president is willing to address the immigration system.

However, one member, who asked to speak on background to discuss the meeting, said it was clear “the president’s going to go as far as he can under the law.”

Gutiérrez and other advocates have suggested the president has the authority to at least temporarily defer the deportation of up to as many as 5 million of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

CHC members will convene Tuesday to discuss their official caucus response to the immigration developments.

Related stories:

Obama Hasn’t Decided When to Act on Immigration

House Republicans Rally to Pass Border Funding Bill

Senate Fails to Pass Border Supplemental

Republicans Regroup on Border Funding Bill

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

White House Excoriates GOP Deportation Demands

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 10, 2014

House Members Dominate 50 Richest List

The House dominates the 2014 richest members of Congress list.

The House dominates the 2014 richest members of Congress list.

Members of the House outnumbered their Senate counterparts on Roll Call’s 50 Richest Members of Congress list by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

A total of 35 representatives made the list, 22 Republicans and 13 Democrats. The combined minimum net worth of those lawmakers totaled $1.28 billion.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Army Veteran Shane Scherer Joins Roskam’s Staff as Constituent Advocate | Hill Climber

Roskam announced Friday that U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Shane Scherer is joining his district office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Roskam has hired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Scherer is joining his district office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As President Barack Obama addressed the American Legion Wednesday and stressed the importance of regaining veterans’ trust after the Veterans Affairs health care crisis, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Scherer was in the middle of his second week as a congressional staffer.

Scherer recently began his new role as veterans constituent advocate for Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the former chief deputy whip. Scherer will be based in Roskam’s district office in Illinois.

“I wanted to continue doing my duty for the public, so this is an opportunity to jump back in that role in a different setting,” Scherer told CQ Roll Call in a Wednesday phone interview.

The retired sergeant is part of the Wounded Warrior Program, which awards two-year fellowships in House offices to disabled veterans who have served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

According to Patricia Orsini, the director of the Wounded Warrior Program, a total of 135 veterans have participated in the program since it began in 2008. There are currently 40 Wounded Warrior fellows in the House.

“We just target disabled veterans who want to get hired and have an opportunity to really make a difference,” Orsini said Wednesday. She added that many fellows go on to become permanent staffers in Congress or at the VA. “It really opens doors, especially for those who want to stay in the advocacy field,” she said.

Scherer said that he was enjoying his experience working for Roskam so far, particularly “the opportunity to help people once again.”

Scherer was deployed in Afghanistan from July 2008 to May 2009. Eleven days before he was scheduled to return home, Scherer suffered life-threatening injuries during an attack on his base. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and spent months recovering and re-learning basic functions, such as walking and talking. Today he does not have any feeling in his left foot and hand.

“His remarkable recovery is a testament to his strength, resilience, and unparalleled determination to help the country he nearly lost his life defending,” Roskman said in a statement announcing Scherer’s hire.

According to Roskam, Scherer “will be responsible for helping our local veterans receive the care and attention they deserve.”

Scherer said his personal experience receiving care at a VA hospital will be beneficial in his new role, which will involve helping fellow veterans navigate the VA and other federal agencies.

“I understand the ins and outs in what it’s like to be involved in all levels of care in the VA,” said Scherer. “I relate and can connect on a very personal level, having the same experience.”

August 19, 2014

Veteran Staffer to Head Port of Pittsburgh Commission | Hill Climber

Martinko of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will become executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Martinko will become the executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy staff director is leaving Congress to become executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.

Stephen Martinko was the lead House negotiator for the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act, one of the few pieces of legislation enacted by Congress this year.

“His ability to understand and then explain complex policies to members of Congress, staffers, and stakeholders on both sides of the aisle has helped transform the way the Committee does business,” committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said of the deputy staff director in a press release.

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 12:25 p.m.
Hill Climber, Staff

July 25, 2014

Paul Ryan Unveils Anti-Poverty Program

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wi. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call Fast File)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled a sweeping anti-poverty proposal Thursday, which aims to streamline federal funding to states.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Ryan proposed a pilot program that would give participating states an “opportunity grant.” The grant would consolidate funding for 11 federal programs, such as food stamps, housing assistance, child care, etc., into one funding stream to the state.

“In effect, the state would say, give us some space and we can figure this out,” the Wisconsin Republican said Thursday.

Ryan said states could volunteer to participate in the program and would have to agree to a number of conditions, including allowing a neutral third party to track their program’s progress. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 3:03 p.m.
Paul Ryan

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

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pelosi says changes to speed up deportations shouldn’t be a part of the House border bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday morning that a bill to provide emergency funding for the child migrant crisis at the Southern border should not be tied to changes in a 2008 human trafficking law.

“You want to have a separate bill on 2008? Discuss it there. But don’t hold the children hostage to the cosmetics of how tough you are on the border,” Pelosi said at a news conference Friday morning.

The trafficking law is a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans arguing that changes in the law would expedite deportations of the tens of thousands of children at the border and Democrats saying such changes would infringe upon a child’s right to due process.

“There’s no reason why they have to be tied and I hope that the Republicans will come to that conclusion,” Pelosi said. She later added, “I very firmly believe that it would be a mistake to do immigration law on a supplemental bill.” Full story

July 22, 2014

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

UNITED STATES - MAY 29: Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the United States Department of Homeland Security" on Thursday, May 29, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Homeland Security Secretary Johnson says Congress can’t ignore the administration’s request for emergency funds on the border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:54 p.m. | “Doing nothing in Congress is not an option,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday, as the clock ticks down out for Congress to provide emergency funding to address the influx of migrant children at the Texas border.

Johnson echoed a warning that he stressed at a July 10 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, saying that the emergency funding from President Barack Obama is critical to addressing the crisis.

“At the current burn rate, given the capacity we’ve had to surge to deal with this issue, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will run out of money in August. Customs and Border Protection will run out of money in mid September,” Johnson said at a press conference at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters Tuesday afternoon. Full story

July 11, 2014

Hispanic Caucus Lobbying to Block Trafficking Change

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The CHC held a news conference Friday to discuss changes to a trafficking law. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Democrats are growing increasingly concerned about Republican calls to revise a 2008 human trafficking law in exchange for approving President Barack Obama’s $3.8 billion supplemental funding request to address the child migrant crisis at the Southwest border.

Liberals are doubling down on their efforts to fight for passage of what they call a “clean” supplemental, as some of their colleagues signal they are open to making concessions.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at her weekly news conference Thursday that revisiting the 2008 trafficking law was “not a deal breaker” when it came to her vote on the funding request, with Obama having already said he was open to it, too.

But at a Friday immigration-focused news conference convened by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, members directed their ire at fellow CHC colleague, Rep. Henry Cuellar. Full story

July 9, 2014

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

Cuellar said Obama needs to see the crisis at the border firsthand. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cuellar joined other Democrats saying Obama needs to see the crisis at the border firsthand. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 8 p.m. | With ongoing protests in California, business leaders in Washington calling for a legislative overhaul and lawmakers trading barbs on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama heard from all sides of the immigration debate Wednesday — including some particularly pointed criticism from a member of his own party.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a fifth-term Democrat from the Texas border town of Laredo, ripped Obama for not scheduling a visit to the Rio Grande Valley while on a two-day fundraising swing through the state.

The president, speaking to reporters Wednesday evening after meeting in Dallas with Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas leaders on the crisis, defended his decision not to visit the border.

“This isn’t theater,” he said. “I’m not interested in photo-ops. I’m interested in solving the problem.”

Lawmakers from both parties want Obama to take charge of a more robust federal response — though there is wide disagreement as to what that response should be — to the surge of tens of thousands of central American women and children who have illegally crossed the Texas border in recent months.

Obama said in Dallas that Perry suggested moving forward with steps to secure the border with or without congressional approval.

“He suggested maybe you just need to go ahead and act,” Obama said. “And I had to remind him I am getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner, apparently, for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress.”

Full story

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