Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 21, 2014

Posts by Emma Dumain

477 Posts

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

Party Like it’s 1994: Gingrich, DeLay Reunite With ‘Greatest Class’

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Ginghrich arrives for the reception celebrating the anniversary of the 1994 Contract with America. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While most of Congress trekked down Pennsylvania Avenue Wednesday night to the annual White House picnic, a select group of current and former members took a trip down Memory Lane instead, converging on the Hill to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic House GOP class of 1994. 

A half-dozen lawmakers joined nearly 40 former colleagues, including former speaker Newt Gingrich, inside the National Resources Committee hearing room to reminisce about one of the biggest “wave” elections in congressional history.

In the midterms that year, the party recaptured power in the chamber, with new members having campaigned successfully on what would become the 104th Congress’s defining document: The Contract with America.

“You are going to go down in history … as the greatest freshman class, at least in the last century, to walk into this House of Representatives,” said Tom DeLay of Texas, who in 1995 was the House majority whip before going on to serve as majority leader. “You are people of incredible character and incredible strength and you stood on your principles.” Full story

September 17, 2014

Pelosi Backs Obama, but Says ‘We Just Don’t Whip War Votes’ (Video)

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Pelosi: “We just don’t whip war votes.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders aren’t whipping votes on the continuing resolution and an amendment to give President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the terrorist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi used her regularly-scheduled Wednesday morning news conference to make an impassioned case for members to support their president.

“I don’t know how the vote will turn out,” the California Democrat said. “It’s not a vote we whip. We just don’t whip war votes. But I do think that, as members weigh the factors, that they will, I think, give points to the president for all that he has done, diplomatically, politically, humanitarian-wise and ask for this distinct piece.” Full story

Parties’ Shared Benghazi Goals: Win the Hearings, Control the Narrative

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On the eve of a new round of hearings, Cummings made it clear Democrats intend to defend the Obama administration’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Trey Gowdy and Elijah E. Cummings say they don’t want the Select Committee on Benghazi to be driven by partisanship, and both have made overtures over the past four months to prove they mean it.

But no matter how many times the South Carolina Republican and Maryland Democrat huddle in the Speaker’s Lobby and pledge to treat the committee’s mission with dignity, the chairman and ranking member probably won’t be able to drown out the partisan voices on sidelines just 48 days from the midterm elections.

On the eve of the committee’s first public hearing, set for Wednesday morning, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, on Capitol Hill and off, were already drawing battle lines. Full story

September 15, 2014

Path Forward on CR, Title 10 Authority Starts to Crystalize

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After postponing consideration last week of a stop-gap spending measure to fund the government past Sept. 30, House GOP leaders are poised in the days ahead to bring that same piece of legislation to the floor.

That vote, however, will now likely be coupled with consideration of an amendment to the underlying bill that would authorize the Obama administration to train and arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist organization known as the Islamic State or ISIS.

This bifurcated approach would make it considerably easier for members — on both sides of the aisle — to vote against the ISIS language but not the continuing resolution, taking off the table the threat of a revolt large enough to risk another government shutdown. Full story

Gingrich, DeLay and Republicans of ’94 to Reunite on Capitol Hill

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Gingrich is part of a Wednesday panel looking back on 1994′s “Contract With America.” (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay had a rocky relationship when they served together in House GOP leadership nearly two decades ago.

But on the occasion of the 20-year anniversary of the historic 1994 elections that swept their party into power, the two former congressmen are getting the band back together.

On Wednesday evening, they will reunite on Capitol Hill to participate in a panel discussion looking back on that cycle and the history of the Contract With America, the document of campaign promises that helped Republicans cruise to victory. Full story

September 12, 2014

Hoyer: Give McCarthy and Scalise ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ on Leadership Process

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Hoyer said he’s optimistic Democrats can work with the new GOP leadership team. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House’s inability to pass an emergency border funding bill last month left critics on both sides of the aisle wondering whether the new members of the GOP leadership team, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, can bring order to an unruly conference

But House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said to give the new guys some time.

“I’m willing to give Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Scalise the benefit of the doubt,” Hoyer said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program set to air in full Sunday morning. Full story

September 11, 2014

No. 2 House Democrat Predicts Two-Part Vote on ISIS Request

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Hoyer predicts two House votes on the president’s ISIS authority request. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Thursday afternoon that he expects Congress will vote next week to grant President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS.

But the Maryland Democrat also said he expected that that vote wouldn’t be Congress’s last word on the subject.

“I believe a two-step process is what we will, I think, pursue,” Hoyer told CQ Roll Call and the Washington Post on Thursday during a taping of the C-SPAN program “Newsmakers,” set to air on Sunday morning. “I think there will be consideration of the president’s request to train and equip regional players.”

Then, after the elections, Hoyer said he anticipated “consideration of a larger authorization for the use of military force.”

Full story

House GOP ISIS and CR Strategy Still in Flux

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Boehner and other House GOP leaders are reportedly on board with adding to the spending bill the president’s request for authority to go after ISIS.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House GOP leaders are advocating for giving President Barack Obama some authority within the continuing resolution to arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS, according to several Republican lawmakers present at a Thursday morning members’ meeting.

But those lawmakers also cautioned that discussions on how to proceed were far from over.

Some Republicans say as long as there is a decisive vote on a response that will adequately address the growing threat of ISIS at home and abroad, they don’t care what legislative vehicle is used.

“At the end of the day, whether it ends up as a standalone or in the CR, I don’t really understand what the big controversy is over that,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a veteran. “I think it’s a timing issue, I think it’s to get it done … we don’t leave next week without getting it done.” Full story

September 10, 2014

House Postpones Vote on Continuing Resolution (Video)

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McCarthy announced the House Republicans would delay the continuing resolution vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House will postpone its scheduled Thursday vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made the announcement during the afternoon vote series on Wednesday, saying the delay was needed to give members time to reach an agreement on whether to include Obama administration-requested language to aid Syrian rebels against terrorist insurgents operating under the name the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Full story

Obama Calls House Appropriations Chairman, Asks for ISIS Authority in CR (Updated)

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Rogers got a call from the president on the continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said Wednesday that President Barack Obama — not known for reaching out to Republicans personally — called him Tuesday to ask that authority to take action against ISIS be added to the GOP’s proposed continuing resolution.

The Kentucky Republican said the president called at 5 p.m., asking that he include in the CR the authority to arm Syrian rebels who are fighting the jihadi insurgents in control of parts of that country and Iraq.

Rogers expressed frustration that the president waited so long to make that request.

“Obviously we’re having briefings on what the president requested last night,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “However, they have known about this problem for over a year. They knew that we were getting ready to do a CR, and just as I was getting ready to drop it in the hopper the president calls and asks if we would consider it.”

Rogers said he would prefer the language related to ISIS, or ISIL as the group is also known, not be placed in the CR, which GOP leaders originally intended to be a streamlined spending bill that would, with minimal debate, clear both chambers and defuse the government shutdown looming at the end of the month.

Though consideration of the CR has now been postponed to allow lawmakers to reach a deal on the matter, Rogers maintained that the spending bill’s passage was never contingent upon inclusion of ISIS language.

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In a Partisan Climate, 2 Lawmakers Try to Talk Past Climate Change

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Welch is helping draft a climate change bill that, he contends, even Republicans can get behind. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two House lawmakers are about to find out whether Congress can solve a problem precipitated, in part, by concerns over climate change — without devolving into a fight over climate change.

It’s a politically perilous exercise for Reps. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. They both acknowledge that many of their colleagues can’t help turning a discussion on environmental policy into a bitterly partisan debate, and it’s made it hard to effectively tackle any issue that’s even tangentially related.

But McKinley and Welch, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, are laying the groundwork for a piece of legislation they hope will change the tone.

Full story

Is Special GOP Conference Meeting an Early Sign of CR Discontent?

House Republicans have announced a special conference meeting for Thursday, reportedly to address members’ questions about the White House’s strategy for taking on the Islamic State, the terror group in control of parts of Iraq and Syria.

But the meeting could also be the first sign of trouble for the pending bill to fund the government past Sept. 30.

Republican leadership has scheduled a 9 a.m. members-only gathering on the same day the House is slated to vote on the continuing resolution. According to a memo obtained by CQ Roll Call, the special meeting is on ISIS or ISIL, as the insurgents are also known.

“With the president’s speech tonight, we wanted to make sure we had an scheduled opportunity for members to discuss the strategy we anticipate he will lay out as it relates to ISIL,” a Republican aide with knowledge of the conference meeting told CQ Roll Call in an email.

However, with conservatives already voicing opposition to a number of components in the continuing resolution — namely that the funding goes until Dec. 11, and that the Export-Import Bank is funded until June 30 — the votes could also be looking tight. Republicans are expected to whip check the CR during Wednesday afternoon votes, so they will have a better sense of the vote count then. But a vote delay could still be in the cards if members want to add provisions regarding ISIL.

Having sufficient Republican votes lined up is crucial for House passage, as Democrats are signaling that they might not be willing to help unless certain changes get made. Regarding ISIL, House Democrats are pushing for the inclusion of language giving the Obama administration authority for training and arming Syrian rebels.

And in terms of the Ex-Im Bank, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., showed early signs Tuesday that Democrats may band together in opposition over a short-term extension of the Ex-Im Bank. Hoyer says he wants a five-year extension at a minimum.

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September 9, 2014

Hoyer: Democrats Want ‘Minimum’ 5-Year Extension for Ex-Im Bank

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Hoyer said Democrats want, at minimum, a five-year extension of the Ex-Im Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the House looking more likely to include some reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in the text of a continuing resolution this week, the fight could now turn on the length of the extension.

Convention wisdom holds that Republicans will tuck a short-term extension of the institution that underwrites the sales of U.S. goods overseas, which is set to expire at the end of the month, into the stopgap government spending bill needed to avert a shutdown.

With many Republicans on and off Capitol Hill arguing for the bank’s termination, extending its charter for the next few months — either into December or through mid-way next year — will buy the party more time to agree on a long-term solution, plus postpone a politically divisive squabble just weeks before the midterm elections. Full story

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