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Posts by David Eldridge
January 27, 2015
Well, that honeymoon is over. After months of public deference toward one another, the top Republican and the ranking Democrat on the House Benghazi committee put on the gloves Tuesday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., accused Chairman Trey Gowdy of violating repeated promises to conduct a nonpartisan investigation into the 2012 terror attack in Libya that cost the lives of four Americans. The South Carolina Republican fired back that Obama administration officials are deliberately wasting the panel’s time. Full story
January 22, 2015
“Selma” may have been snubbed by the Oscars, but Rep. James E. Clyburn gave the civil-rights movie a very personal endorsement Wednesday during a Democratic Party news conference on voting rights.
The South Carolina Democrat, introduced at the event by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the chairman of a new task force charged with increasing voter participation, shared an anecdote about how the movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1960s resonated with one of his younger relatives:
I have now seen the movie, “Selma,” twice and I plan to see it again in this building next Tuesday evening. The second time I watched it was last week and I watched it sitting with my just-turned 18-year-old granddaughter. I didn’t say anything to her about the movie. I just told her that I was sponsoring the movie for members of — of my staff and others in the community.
We rented out a theater of 120 seats. Within two hours, we had to go back and get a 300-seat theater. But I was really focusing on my granddaughter, so I sat next to her during the movie. She was — she had her iPhone, doing what 18-year-olds do.
I’m — like a granddaddy; I’m scared to look at see what was going on on that iPad, so I kept looking forward. But she stayed, when even the movie came on, she didn’t turn off that iPhone until those little four girls was walking down the staircase in the church, going to their Sunday School room and the bomb went off.
At that point, she turned off her iPhone and intently watched the movie; even asked me at one point, a question about who that person was that was having a little interchange with John Lewis about whether or not to march, James Foreman, who was one of my best friends in the movement.
And I explained who James Foreman was and she was a little bit surprised to know that I — I knew him and he was a friend. But the next morning, when the movie was over, she went home. I got a call the next morning. She wanted to have lunch. And so I said OK.
And she told me what time and I — I objected to the time. And I said, ‘Well — well, can’t we do it a little earlier?’ She says, ‘No, because I’m going to register to vote. And when I finish my registration, I want to come and have lunch with you.’
And she brought some of her friends with her. And we talked about the movie. And we talked about voting. And when lunch was over, the rest of her friends; they left and went to the voter registration office.
I think that we’re at a time that young people, who seem not to be participating at the same level as young people did when I was young; that we can get people re-engaged once again. And that’s what this task force is all about.
Clyburn, the House’s No. 3 Democrat, will head the 11-person Democratic Outreach & Engagement Task Force, which will also include California’s Lucille Roybal-Allard and Barbara Lee; New York’s Nydia Velázquez, Hakeem Jeffries and Grace Meng; Indiana’s André Carson; Louisiana’s Cedric Richmond; Pennsylvania’s Matt Cartwright and Brendan Boyle; and New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham.
January 21, 2015
Updated, 2:26 p.m. | House Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on Feb. 11 — an invitation the White House called a breach of normal protocol.
The invitation comes just hours after President Barack Obama, in his Tuesday night State of the Union address, warned lawmakers in both chambers he would veto any attempts to increase sanctions against Iran while the administration is involved in negotiations to limit the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
Boehner said at a press conference that he did not consult the White House prior to sending out the invitation, as is customary when it comes to coordinating such joint sessions.
January 20, 2015
Speaker John A. Boehner’s list of invitees to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address includes two prominent Cuban dissidents, Jorge Luis García Pérez (known as Antúnez) and Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera.
Pérez is a leader of the Cuban resistance movement who was jailed for 17 years for publicly denouncing the Castro regime. He was released in 2007. Full story
January 7, 2015
Louie Gohmert, the Texas Republican who came up short in his bid to wrest the speaker’s gavel from John A. Boehner a day earlier, asked Wednesday if leadership staff has too much authority in running Congress.
In an appearance on Fox News to talk about the aftermath of Tuesday’s failed revolt against Boehner, Gohmert criticized the removal of Reps. Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent, who voted against the speaker, from the Rules Committee in the 114th Congress. Full story
January 6, 2015
Team Boehner marked the first day of the Ohio Republican’s third term as speaker by posting a documentary-style, 10-minute film on the congressman’s life that features a crucial 2006 pep talk from former Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust.
John A. Boehner reclaimed the speaker’s gavel Tuesday, despite opposition from 25 Republicans who have long argued that Boehner is too much of a Washington insider for their taste.
But the short film, “John Boehner: The Longest Shot,” makes the case that the son of a bartender and the second-oldest of 12 siblings remains a man of the people.
At one point in the video, Boehner talks about getting an unexpected phone call from Faust, who was his high school football coach.
Faust, who went on to coach Notre Dame, appears in the clip and remembers telling Boehner in 2006 not to let temporary setbacks deter him in what was then a long-shot bid to succeed Tom DeLay as House majority leader.
“I told him, ‘I want to tell you something. You’re going for the majority leader. Don’t quit. You never quit in high school,'” the legendary coach said. “You may not get it the first time. Just like football, you may have to long snap it more than once to punt but eventually you’re going to win the game. You stick with it.’ He said, ‘I will coach.'”
Boehner tells the camera, “God’s never talked with me directly, but this is about as close as I’ve ever been.”
The entire clip, which also includes testimonials from Boehner’s wife, Debbie, and numerous childhood friends, is online.
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December 23, 2014
Updated 11:05 a.m. | House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi became the first member of leadership on either side of the aisle to call for Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s ouster from Congress.
Amid reports that Grimm, a New York Republican, hopes to remain in Congress if he escapes jail time in an expected plea deal in a felony tax evasion case, Pelosi said Tuesday that Speaker John A. Boehner must act. Full story
December 18, 2014
Updated: 6:37 p.m. | They say numbers don’t lie. But in this case, numbers don’t tell the whole truth, either.
The 113th Congress wrapped up this week with 285 pieces of legislation signed into law by the president as of Thursday — one more than the 284 measures enacted in the 112th, which was previously the modern era’s least productive Congress. Both two-year terms end up well below the average from the preceding 20 Congresses, which typically produced 564 bills signed into law. (The median number of laws enacted for the past 20 Congresses is 604.) Full story
December 16, 2014
Retiring Rep. John D. Dingell, hospitalized last week after a hip fracture, will likely spend the holidays at George Washington University Hospital recuperating, according to a Facebook update from the congressman’s wife.
The 88-year-old Michigan Democrat, the nation’s longest-serving congressman ever (he took office in 1955), is “making steady progress and is far better than when he was admitted,” Debbie Dingell wrote Tuesday. Full story
December 12, 2014
You didn’t really think House Republicans were done with Jonathan Gruber, did you?
No, of course not.
Outgoing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa late Thursday issued a subpoena for the Obamacare consultant who testified earlier this week before the panel on his comments about “the stupidity of the American voter.” Full story
December 10, 2014
Pushing back at critics who contend it’s time to move on from Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy opened Wednesday’s House hearing on the 2012 terror attack with a promise of more action next year.
“I remain keenly aware that there are those on both sides of the aisle who have concluded that all questions have been answered, there is nothing left to do, no more witnesses left to talk to, no more documents to review,” said Gowdy, who was chosen by Speaker John A. Boehner last spring to consolidate multiple ongoing House probes of the incident. Full story
December 9, 2014
Updated: 10:50 a.m. | Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare consultant who has become a lightning rod for critics of the health care law for his comments about “the stupidity of the American voter,” apologized again on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped write the Affordable Care Act was summoned to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer for controversial comments that have surfaced in recent weeks on the Internet.
As the hearing got underway Tuesday, Gruber admitted missteps in talking about the passage of the 2010 law. Full story
December 3, 2014
“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” as a symbol of protest against injustice is here to stay, Rep. Al Green said Wednesday on the floor of the House.
“This is not going to go away,” the Texas Democrat said during a short, public response to critics — chiefly MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough — who have taken issue with Green’s and other black lawmakers’ use, during congressional proceedings two days earlier, of a gesture that has come to symbolize frustration over the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Green said the “Hands Up” movement that has germinated in the wake of last summer’s shooting is the latest in a long line of historic protests, including the Boston Tea Party, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Selma march and Rosa Parks’ refusal to sit at the back of the bus in Montgomery. Full story
December 2, 2014
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration before skeptical Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Johnson, who has become the administration’s point person on immigration, told the House Homeland Security Committee that the president’s order to stay the deportations of millions of illegal immigrants is “simple common sense.”
“The reality is that, given our limited resources, these people are not priorities for removal. It’s time we acknowledge that and encourage them to be held accountable,” Johnson said. Full story
November 26, 2014
Ah, Thanksgiving: football, parades, turkey and stuffing, Rep. Alan Grayson going after Wal-Mart.
The Florida Democrat, who is one of the retail giant’s biggest critics on Capitol Hill, renewed what has become his annual Thanksgiving tradition Wednesday, taking on Wal-Mart for its treatment of workers.
“Thanksgiving was once a holiday reserved for spending time with our loved ones — families across America gathered around the table to enjoy a meal … and give thanks,” Grayson said in a statement.
“But Thanksgiving’s importance has faded in recent years. The holiday is now merely a precursor to Black Friday — the day in which stores like Walmart slash prices to attempt to generate larger profits for themselves, at the expense of their employees. For Walmart’s corporate owners, Thanksgiving has become ‘Black Friday Eve’ — a day to pry families apart and work employees to the bone for next to nothing in wages.”
Grayson wrapped up with a vow of support for Wal-Mart employees staging Black Friday protests of wages and working conditions across the country Wednesday.
In 2012, Grayson was escorted out of an Orlando Wal-Mart by security guards after participating in a Thanksgiving protest at the store.
After protesting Wal-Mart workers were arrested on Black Friday last year, Grayson told Salon that, “Wal-Mart is a machine that exists solely for the purpose of enriching its owners and … the top managers of Wal-Mart, and in so doing wreaks havoc on the lives of both workers and suppliers.”