Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

Posts by Emma Dumain

60 Posts

December 12, 2014

Marlin Stutzman Claims He Was Hoodwinked

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Stutzman suggests he was misled. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After the “cromnibus” passed Thursday night, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., made the rather shocking claim that GOP leadership convinced him to vote for the rule allowing the bill to get to the floor by telling him they were pulling the bill anyway.

“Earlier today, I supported the Rule because I was informed by Leadership that the CROmnibus was dead and a short term CR would take its place,” Stutzman said in a news release. “I was very surprised and even more disappointed to see the CROmnibus back on the floor. The American people deserve better.”

Full story

By Matt Fuller and Emma Dumain Posted at 12:03 a.m.
Republicans

December 11, 2014

Breaking Down the ‘Cromnibus’ Vote (Updated)

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Clyburn and 56 other Democrats backed the “cromnibus.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:18 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12: The House passed the cromnibus Thursday night 219-206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting for the bill, and 67 Republicans and 139 Democrats voting against. While the vote was close, the breakdown split along familiar lines. But there were some interesting trends and deviations in the vote. Full story

Obama, Hoyer Split With Pelosi on ‘Cromnibus’ (Video)

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Hoyer could be the key to finding enough Democrats to pass the “cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just hours from a government shutdown that everyone once insisted would never happen, House Democrats emerged from an emergency caucus meeting Thursday night much the same way they walked in: without a unified strategy.

Democrats are split on the “cromnibus” spending plan agreed upon by Republican House and Democratic Senate negotiators. The White House and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland want the cromnibus to pass. But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is against it, and she has significant backing from her caucus. Those who might be inclined to vote “yes” are keeping quiet, dodging reporters or saying they are still undecided.

Full story

December 9, 2014

Lawmakers Release Massive ‘Cromnibus’ 2 Days Ahead of Shutdown

With roughly 51 hours left before the government runs out of cash, lawmakers released the text Tuesday night of a massive 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to keep federal agencies running past Dec. 11.

The spending package, a carefully negotiated piece of legislation between the Republican House and Democratic Senate, would fund the vast majority of government operations through September with the notable exception of the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans, frustrated by President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, want to tighten the purse strings on the DHS, which the bill funds only to Feb. 27. DHS is the agency charged with carrying out much of the president’s immigration orders. Full story

December 8, 2014

Cromnibus Stalling Behind Closed Doors (Updated)

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It appears Rogers has a little more work to do. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:37 p.m. | With “cromnibus” negotiations bogging down in the House Monday, lawmakers pressing up against their self-imposed deadline were preparing a one- to two-day temporary spending bill that would fund the government until they resolve their differences.

Both the House and Senate want to wrap up the 113th Congress Thursday, the day government runs out of cash, with a final vote on the cromnibus (a combination of a continuing resolution for the Homeland Security department and an omnibus to fund all other federal operations) — but negotiators hit a host of snags Monday afternoon.

“The playing field of questions is much larger than we previously realized,” one senior Republican aide told CQ Roll Call.

GOP aides said the sticking points were forcing changes to the schedule. The situation and target adjournment date were fluid late Monday, with the measure’s original release likely delayed at least to Tuesday, which would push the planned House vote to later in the week. That could mean Senate action on the bill may not come until Friday or the weekend.

“Thursday will not be the last day of the session,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Monday. “That much I’m confident [about]. This Thursday? Not a chance. Maybe this Saturday.”

Others, though, were more optimistic the work would be done on schedule.

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said she and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., have come to an agreement on their parts of the spending bill and that House and Senate leadership negotiators are hammering out remaining issues. She said she still hoped the bill would be filed Monday night.

“Everything is a sticking point until we can get it unstuck and filed,” she said.

Leaving the House floor in the afternoon, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he had to “catch up with” Rogers. The California Republican said negotiators appeared to be “closing in on some final points” and “finishing out final details.” McCarthy, however, wouldn’t commit to a timeline for filing the cromnibus, though he did predict the House, at least, would finish its work by Thursday. Full story

November 6, 2014

Power Plays: House Gavel and Ranking Member Battles (Updated)

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Utah’s Chaffetz is one of dozens of lawmakers jockeying for leadership roles on House committees. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Nov. 17, 11:18 a.m. | As the 114th Congress begins to take shape, members of the House from both parties are angling for new roles on committees. CQ Roll Call is following every twist and turn in this running tally.

Get started with our guide to the GOP chairmanship fights. Check out our reporting from last week on House GOP leadership elections and stay tuned for the results of the Democrats’ leadership votes this week.

We’ve been chronicling the Energy and Commerce ranking member race all year, and the exciting conclusion is now just days away. But with a strengthened Republican majority, it’s a whole new landscape for Democrats — who might remain in the minority for awhile.

Here’s a list of who wants what and the contests shaping up for open committee seats on both sides of the aisle. We’ll update it frequently to reflect the races where two or more candidates have emerged — and instances where challengers have dropped their bids.

Armed Services 

— Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, for chairman, possibly fielding a challenge from J. Randy Forbes R-Va.

Energy and Commerce

— Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., vs. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., for ranking member.

Financial Services

— Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. (Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., at one point had said he was considering a challenge, but he has since decided against it.) Full story

October 16, 2014

Don Young: the Kodiak Bear of Capitol Hill (Video)

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Colorful iconoclast or uncaring jerk? Young marches to his own beat, and Alaska voters don’t really seem to mind. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

He’s flouted ethics rules. Twisted a staffer’s arm. Even allegedly threatened a life, telling his Democratic challenger this fall that the last person to touch him “ended up on the ground dead” — a fact he told CQ Roll Call there was “some truth” to.

And yet, for 20 elections now, voters in Alaska have sent him back to Washington, D.C.

Rep. Don Young, the House’s longest-serving Republican, has survived more than four decades in Congress despite a reputation for being ornery, aggressive — and maybe even a little unstable.

In many ways, his confrontational style fits the personality of his far-flung state. Young’s press secretary, Matt Shuckerow, said Alaskans face some of the most severe difficulties in the country, and they count on Young to be a “loud voice.”

But at what point does the “Last Frontier” mentality become too much — even for the Last Frontier?

Young isn’t shy about his abrasive style. He told CQ Roll Call last week that most other folks on Capitol Hill are “cookie cutters.” He said while he’s always been himself, it’s rare his colleagues actually believe in their actions. “It’s all done for that TV camera,” he said.

As for himself, he’s “a big teddy bear” — up to a point.

“As long as you don’t cross that line,” he said. “If you cross the line, I’m not a teddy bear.”

He’s more like a grizzly.

Full story

By Matt Fuller and Emma Dumain Posted at 2:18 p.m.
Members

October 6, 2014

‘Contract With America’ Set High-Water Mark for GOP Unity

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DeLay, left, chats with Chabot during a Sept. 17 reception marking the anniversary of the 1994 “Contract With America.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay — or “The Hammer,” as he was known in his leadership days — recently called the GOP Class of 1994 “the greatest freshman class … to walk into the House of Representatives.”

Newt Gingrich, who won the speaker’s gavel in 1995 as a reward for orchestrating the first House Republican takeover in four decades, agreed.

“This is not just a game,” he said last month. “This is about how the free people govern themselves, and [that] class was as fine an example of that as I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

The men, from Texas and Georgia respectively, were preaching to the choir: They’d been invited back to Capitol Hill to deliver remarks to more than 40 members of the ‘94 class who reunited to celebrate the fast-approaching 20th anniversary of the historic election.

But the praise did more than just puff the egos of former and current lawmakers attending the event. It unplugged a spigot of nostalgia for what many of the Republicans on hand recalled as halcyon days of legislating. Full story

September 16, 2014

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

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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 9, 2014

Boehner Says House Will Wait to Hear Obama’s ISIS Plan

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Boehner said the House will wait to hear the president’s plan on ISIS. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner repeatedly refused to say Tuesday whether he supports more U.S. troops in the Middle East or if Congress should authorize military action against ISIS, telling reporters the House needs to hear from President Barack Obama.

Boehner is scheduled to visit the White House later Tuesday — along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — and the president may very well ask for congressional authorization to ramp up action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

But that doesn’t mean he’d get it — at least not anytime soon.

House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said Tuesday he didn’t think the House even has time to debate and vote on an authorization for military force before leaving for the pre-election recess in early October. Even if there were time, it’s unclear if there would be the votes.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney came before House Republicans Tuesday in a closed-door meeting to discuss the terrorist threat in the Middle East. And while many Republicans were quick to show deference to one of the major architects of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan — “He’s a man of great gravitas and poise,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. — many other Republicans were taking Cheney’s words with more than a grain of salt.

Justin Amash, R-Mich., said it was time for the GOP to stop listening to Cheney, particularly on foreign policy. ”Because Republicans don’t agree with him,” Amash said.

Cheney’s message to Republicans, according to members exiting the meeting, was that a strong America would provide for a stable world environment.

“And that the president’s failure of leadership, and incompetence in leadership, has put us into — put the world into — a very unstable position, has imperiled the security of the United States, and that we need to rebuild our military and have a better foreign policy so that we can restore the stability to the world,” said Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, summing up Cheney’s warning to lawmakers.

Regardless of Cheney’s message, both parties are concerned about the possibilities of a another long and costly war in the Middle East. But they are also concerned about doing nothing.

Long one of the most hawkish members of the House, Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., told reporters that Obama has the authority to act without congressional authorization, and that the White House should execute a military response to ISIS, the insurgent group in control of parts of Iraq and Syria, without waiting for consent from Capitol Hill.

“I think it’s better if Congress would give approval,” King said. But he added that it would be better to give authorization “after the fact.”

King explained that debate could slow down action and distract from the task at hand, and he recalled the messiness of last year’s debate over whether to take military action in Syria.

“It would complicate the message,” King said. “I know allies were very disappointed last year when [Obama] was lining up support and then he pulled the rug out.”

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said he looked forward to hearing what Obama had to say regarding a strategy to combat ISIS, both in his scheduled address on Wednesday evening and after the White House meeting with House and Senate leaders later on Tuesday.

“If the president does not lay out a clear policy that members of Congress and the American people and our military and our enemies understand, then I don’t think there’ll be any action taken,” Sessions said. “If there’s no clear plan, what would the president be asking us to do?”

Related:

McCarthy: ‘Friends Don’t Trust Us, Enemies Don’t Fear Us’

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS 

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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July 9, 2014

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

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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

June 18, 2014

2010 Class Plots Comeback Strategy in Late-Night Meeting

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The newly elected members of Congress pose for the freshman class photo on the House steps of the Capitol in 2010. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

They said it wasn’t a meeting about leadership races.

At 9 p.m. Tuesday night, between 30 and 40 members of the House Republican class of 2010 met in the drafty Ways and Means Committee room in the Longworth House Office Building for roughly an hour. And while leadership races weren’t the main topic of the discussion, one can’t help but wonder how such a meeting will affect the bids of 2010 members Raúl R. Labrador to be majority leader and Marlin Stutzman to be majority whip — both of whom were present for the meeting.

Over offerings of cheese, hummus and craisins, members said they discussed how the 2010 tea party wave could reassert the dominance it had when lawmakers first came to Washington — and a meeting agenda obtained by CQ Roll Call seemed to back that up.

At the top of that agenda, a question is posed in a large font: “Will anyone remember the class of 2010?”

The agenda goes on to discuss strategies for improving communication within the 2010 class, including conducting a monthly meeting and potentially starting a political action committee to help 2010 class members.

Indeed, members repeatedly insisted the meeting wasn’t about the leadership elections. Full story

By Matt Fuller and Emma Dumain Posted at 12:13 a.m.
Conservatives

May 27, 2014

Isla Vista Shooting Prompts Consideration of Mental Health Bills

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Murphy is among the Republicans calling for action on mental health legislation after the shootings in California. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Mental health bills are getting a fresh look after the Isla Vista massacre, with lawmakers in both chambers and both parties pushing Congress to act.

In the aftermath of the killing spree blamed on Elliot Rodger, Democrats activated, issuing what seem like ritual news releases and tweets ripping Congress for failing to act on gun legislation, particularly in the wake of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn.

But few expect Congress to resurrect a gun debate in the shadow of the midterm elections. Full story

By Steven Dennis and Emma Dumain Posted at 5:34 p.m.
Guns

May 23, 2014

Ethics Committee Decides to Investigate Grimm, Then Waits

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The Ethics committee opted to wait until Grimm’s indictment is resolved. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Ethics Committee announced it established a special subcommittee to investigate Rep. Michael G. Grimm, already under federal indictment for allegations of misconduct, but the subcommittee members unanimously voted to wait as the Feds pursue the case against the New York Republican.

Ethics Chairman Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, was named chairman of the subcommittee and ranking Democratic Rep. Linda T. Sánchez of California will hold the same role. Also serving on the panel are Ethics members Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla.

The committee issued a brief statement Friday suggesting they will hold off in deference to the Justice Department:

Full story

May 9, 2014

Democrats Still Undecided on Benghazi Committee Response

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On the Benghazi panel, Israel said Democrats are waiting on Speaker Boehner (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Despite several private meetings on the issue, House Democrats remained undecided Friday morning about how to respond to the GOP’s special investigative committee formed to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Initial reports coming out of the room at a caucus meeting Friday morning signaled that they were far from reaching consensus about whether to fully engage, ignore the committee altogether — or something in between.

From rank-and-filers such as Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia to members of leadership such as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, the line was, “We’re still waiting on the speaker.” Full story

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