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September 2, 2014

Posts by Emma Dumain

50 Posts

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.

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.

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

Dozens of Democrats Defect, Join GOP on Research Tax Cut

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Despite Pelosi’s admonishments, 63 Democrats crossed party lines to back a research and development tax cut. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Scores of Democrats rebuffed the White House and their own leadership on Friday, voting for a bill to permanently extend a tax cut encouraging companies to invest in research and development.

The vote passed 274-131, with 62 Democrats breaking with their party to vote with all but one Republican to pass the bill.

President Barack Obama’s administration and House Democratic leaders had panned the bill because it does not offset the cost of the tax credits. The administration issued a veto threat earlier this week.

The defections are particularly striking because at a private meeting immediately preceding the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen of Maryland sharply admonished Democrats planning to vote for the bill.

Voting “yes,” they argued, sets a precedent for a half-dozen more tax extenders Republicans plan to bring to the floor without offsets, and the budget cuts needed to pay for them will ostensibly come from Democratic priorities. Full story

May 8, 2014

Democrats Consider Naming Just One Member to Benghazi Committee

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DeLauro suggested having Pelosi name just one Democrat to the Benghazi committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats are considering naming just one person to the special committee investigating the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, a move that would serve as a symbolic protest of the panel’s creation, but would also allow Democrats access to information obtained by committee Republicans.

The Benghazi committee proposal was floated late Thursday in a letter to Democratic members from Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the co-chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and a trusted member of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s inner circle.

Members had discussed naming five members, or not naming any at all. Calling the creation of the committee “deeply partisan,” the Connecticut Democrat suggested a compromise.

“If there is a sense of the caucus that we should participate, I suggest you consider a third option: naming just one Democratic member as an official panel participant,” she wrote in the letter obtained by CQ Roll Call. “Such a participant could maintain Democratic access to committee proceedings and material, question witnesses, monitor the House Majority’s activities and provide a powerful voice to raise issues and make appropriate public comments.”

DeLauro did not suggest who that member could be. Democrats plan to meet Friday morning to discuss their options.

Democrats have objected to the creation of the committee, in part, because it provides seven slots for Republicans and five for Democrats, a move they have said portends a partisan bent to the proceedings. In a meeting earlier this week, many Democrats thought they should boycott the committee outright. Still other Democrats believe they should fully participate.

For instance, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., another member of Pelosi’s inner circle, on Thursday reiterated his support for appointing a full slate of Democrats to the committee, but dismissed suggestions that Democrats opt in with partial participation by naming just one of their own to go up against Republicans.

“I think we ought to participate with all five,” Waxman told reporters. “The problem with [having one] is you get all the Republicans asking questions and then you have one Democrat.”

Waxman said ideally both sides would have equal representation, which Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., asked Speaker John A. Boehner for on Tuesday, but ultimately five was better than none.

“Whenever you have people forming a special committee for an investigation, especially with Republicans, there’s a tendency to overreach,” he argued. “Democrats ought to be there to call them out on it if they do.”

Meanwhile, Boehner’s and Pelosi’s camps are trying to hash out an agreement in which Democrats would participate in the panel, and in exchange would have a say in decisions about issuing subpoenas and other things usually in the majority’s power, according to senior aides. It is not clear, however, what extra powers Boehner could grant the minority.

Boehner is expected to name his remaining slots on Friday. He has already chosen Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. to chair the committee.

April 30, 2014

Cantor to Meet With Grimm Wednesday

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will meet with recently-indicted Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., on Wednesday, a GOP leadership aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

The meeting will be pivotal for Grimm, who is battling 20 federal charges of misconduct related to the ownership and operation of a health food restaurant prior to his election to Congress in 2010.

It also will be pivotal for Cantor: GOP leaders have so far been mum on how they will deal with their scandal-plagued colleague in an election year.

Cantor took a firm stance Tuesday regarding Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., who said he will not seek re-election after surveillance footage revealed the married father of five kissing a married staffer.

McAllister’s plan to serve out the remaining months of his term didn’t sit well with Cantor, who told the Louisiana Republican to resign now.

Grimm has not only said he won’t resign, he’ll seek a third term. Cantor’s response to that plan could chart the course for Grimm’s ultimate political survival.

By Emma Dumain Posted at 10:54 a.m.
Eric Cantor, Ethics

April 29, 2014

Boehner Walks Back Immigration Comments (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:26 p.m. | John A. Boehner in a closed-door meeting with Republicans Tuesday morning apologized for comments over the recess that some in the GOP Conference perceived as mocking opponents of comprehensive immigration overhaul — and the speaker reassured lawmakers there is no conspiracy to bring up such a bill over their objections.

Boehner said he meant to make a joke, but not at his members’ expense, when he flippantly noted at a Rotary Club meeting in his district last week that some Republicans are reluctant to consider an immigration rewrite.

At a press conference after the meeting, Boehner told reporters the same thing.

“There was no mocking,” Boehner said. “Listen, you all know me. You tease the ones you love. But some people misunderstood what I had to say. And I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform forward is [the president]. Full story

Boehner Mum on Grimm’s Pursuit of Another Term

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner made his first public comments Tuesday on the indictment of Rep. Michael G. Grimm on fraud and tax evasion charges, telling reporters he thinks the New York Republican was right to resign his committee post.

“Listen,” the Ohio Republican said at his weekly press conference. “He has stepped down from his committee assignment last night. I think he made the right decision.”

Pressed further, Boehner stressed, “I think all members should be held to the highest ethical standard. Mr. Grimm is under indictment. He resigned from his committee assignment and I think he made the right decision.” Full story

April 28, 2014

Reports: Michael Grimm Arrested Monday

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael G. Grimm surrendered to the FBI Monday morning to face federal fraud charges relating to a health food restaurant he owned prior to serving in Congress, The Washington Post and other news organizations are reporting.

A source told CQ Roll Call that there is expected to be an 11 a.m. news conference at the headquarters of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which has prosecutorial jurisdiction over the matter.

The New York Republican, who represents Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn, opened Healthalicious in 2006 after he left an FBI posting as an undercover agent looking to suss out white-collar crime on Wall Street.

Grimm’s campaign finances have been the subject of an ongoing investigation for years, but prosecutors have focused on his involvement with the restaurant. Charges from a grand jury indictment are expected to be unsealed today, the New York Daily News reported. Mail and wire fraud and tax-related charges are expected, another source told CQ Roll Call.

Grimm’s lawyer pre-emptively denied the charges on April 25, and Grimm’s legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday morning, nor did spokesmen with the U.S. Attorney’s office or the FBI.

The main switchboard at Grimm’s Capitol Hill office went straight to voicemail on Monday morning, and an email to his chief of staff went unanswered at the time of this report.

Republicans are probably stuck with Grimm’s name on the November ballot because the filing deadline has passed in New York. Jerry H. Goldfeder, an attorney specializing in election law, wrote that there appears to be only one way for Grimm to be removed from the ballot if Republicans want to run someone else: have the GOP nominate him to become a New York Supreme Court justice.

Related Stories:

Grimm Expected to Be Indicted

GOP Could Be Stuck With Grimm, Despite Expected Indictment

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

By Emma Dumain Posted at 8:38 a.m.

April 2, 2014

Democrats Force Immigration Vote at Budget Hearing

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Democrats, who recently gathered on the Capitol steps in support of immigration, are using committee hearings to continue to push for the issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats Wednesday used a meeting intended to advance House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint to force Republicans into a symbolic vote on immigration reform.

Freshman Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., used an all-day markup convened by the Budget committee to force the roll call vote on the Democrats’ immigration legislation. Cardenas offered the text of the immigration bill as an amendment to Ryan’s proposed 2015 budget.

“This is the only amendment that would create jobs and reduce the deficit in one amendment,” Cardenas argued.

He added, “this is the only vote we can get.”

Full story

March 5, 2014

Issa, Cummings Feud Boils Over

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The committee dustup between Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings has Democrats and Republicans at each other’s throats and demanding apologies.

On Wednesday, Issa cut off Cummings’ microphone after abruptly adjourning a hearing with IRS official Lois Lerner. Issa spent about 15 minutes asking Lerner questions, even though she made it clear she would be invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But before Cummings could speak, Issa adjourned the committee.

When Cummings protested and asked for the chance to ask a procedural question, Issa gave him a moment to do so. But when the Maryland Democrat launched into statement attacking Republicans, Issa cut him off.

“We’re adjourned. Close it down,” Issa told committee staff.

Full story

February 26, 2014

Flood Insurance Bill Goes Back to Rewrite

Updated 1:29 p.m. | House Republican leaders announced Wednesday that a vote on a flood insurance bill would be put off until next week while members negotiate language that can pass the chamber.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told his conference in a private meeting that he will work with Democrats in order to advance the measure. “We are moving it to next week to work on a few remaining technical issues,” he said, according to source in the room.

The bill was expected to come up on Thursday under suspension of the rules, meaning it would need a two-thirds majority vote to pass. But members coming out of the GOP meeting Wednesday morning said they did not think it had enough votes to clear that hurdle.

A GOP leadership aide said Democrats asked leaders to delay consideration of the bill to give them more time to explain it to their members to round up support in their caucus. On Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., confirmed his understanding that votes were at issue, adding that House Financial Services ranking member Maxine Waters, D-Calif., was closely involved in tweaking language.

“This measure remains a work in progress,” Waters said in a statement Wednesday. “We continue to work in good faith with Republican leadership to address a number of technical and substantive issues related to the legislation, with the ultimate goal of correcting the unintended consequences of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. This could not be done overnight.”

Waters was a champion in 2012 of bipartisan legislation with then-Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., dubbed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which reduced subsidies for homeowners to shore up the cash-strapped National Flood Insurance Program.

With flood insurance premiums now skyrocketing, however, lawmakers — particularly in flood-prone states and districts — are clamoring to revisit that law. The Senate last month passed legislation that would effectively halt implementation of Biggert-Waters for four years, but House Republican leaders said that measure was, for them, a non-starter.

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., insisted that truly bipartisan negotiations were under way on the new, House GOP leadership-blessed flood insurance bill.

“Literally, as we speak, minor edits are being made to the bill so that we can make this a truly bipartisan bill,” said Grimm, who is helping spearhead the effort, in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call. “I personally think, when this comes to the floor … people are going to be surprised that there’s going to be overwhelming support.”

Grimm named Waters and Reps. Gregory W. Meeks of New York and Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana as Democrats at the negotiating table.

The fate of flood insurance legislation in the House hinges, however, on Republican support, too. The Club for Growth is launching a full-scale campaign to bring down the bill on grounds that it does not fully repeal the National Flood Insurance Program and that it reverts to a time when taxpayers fronted high costs for individuals’ insurance policies.

Seeking to appeal to conservative lawmakers in particular, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola released a statement on Wednesday afternoon praising House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, for his opposition to the flood insurance bill currently pending in the House.

“House Republican Leadership wants to stick taxpayers with the bill for higher subsidies to beach-front properties, but Congressman Hensarling took a principled stand,” said Chocola. “Hensarling has long advocated for reforming the Flood Insurance program, so it’s no surprise that GOP leaders are refusing to run the bill through his committee, and instead, are negotiating directly with the Democrats.

“Republicans in the House could learn a lot by following Congressman Hensarling’s lead when it comes to protecting taxpayers and increasing economic freedom,” Chocola said.

February 13, 2014

Biden to Join Obama at House Democrats’ Retreat

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cambridge, Md. — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will rally House Democrats after all.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters Thursday that even though weather forced Biden to scrap his planned address, he would make the trip with President Barack Obama on Friday.

“He’s coming in the morning,” the Democratic National Committee chairwoman confirmed.

As we reported, Biden had been scheduled to attend the retreat Thursday but canceled. Thomas Freidman also was dropped from the agenda.

For more coverage of the retreat, see here and here.

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