Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 23, 2014

Posts by JM Rieger

14 Posts

April 10, 2014

Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi, IRS (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.

During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.

The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.

Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.

Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.

Watch the full press conference below:

Boehner Says Unemployment Extension Is Up to White House (Video) (Updated)

boehner 197 022714 445x296 Boehner Says Unemployment Extension Is Up to White House (Video) (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:20 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday it’s up to the White House to make a new proposal before he’ll consider an unemployment benefits extension, as the House left town for two weeks without acting on a bipartisan Senate bill.

The Senate’s passage of an unemployment benefits extension earlier this week doesn’t change the House’s stand on the issue, the Ohio Republican said Thursday morning.

Boehner said he had made it clear to the president in December that an unemployment insurance extension would “have to be paid for and would have to include things that would help get our economy moving.”

“They have not put forward anything with regard to how we would create more jobs,” Boehner said. “And so the ball’s still in their court.” Full story

April 9, 2014

Holder Testifies Before House Judiciary: What You Missed (Video) (Updated)

Marijuana, accusations of perjury, election integrity and asparagus were the range of topics covered in Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.  Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the committee in a hearing designed for oversight on the Department of Justice. Holder and members of the committee had some tense exchanges as congressmen tried to nail down the attorney general on specific enforcement of laws. Check out Roll Call’s top moments below:

As Hannah Hess reported, Holder was asked by members from both sides of the aisle about the current marijuana laws and if the Obama administration has any plans to change how they classify drug offenses:

Holder also said the DOJ won’t scale back marijuana punishments by rescheduling the drug, as House Democrats have been pushing President Barack Obama to do, saying he was “satisfied” with what the department is doing.

“The notion that somehow we have retreated from our enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act with regard to marijuana is not accurate,” Holder told the House Judiciary Committee. He reiterated a DOJ memo laying out eight areas of priority for pot prosecutions, including marketing to minors, driving under the influence and criminal cartels.

“That’s not inconsistent with, I think, the way in which the Justice Department was acting before,” Holder continued in response to a question from Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C. “We remain committed to enforcement of marijuana laws that would involve those eight factors,” he added.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., asked Holder if he was planning to investigate Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper for alleged perjury. As Roll Call previously reported, Holder declined to confirm or deny that the director was under investigation:

“Director Clapper’s perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.

“I’m really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate,” Holder said.

Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-VA., started off the hearing saying he was “concerned” about directives issued by the Department of Justice about the President’s ability to determine which laws to prosecute. “I am concerned about some of the decisions and some of the directives that have been issued by you and others in the Department of Justice,” Goodlatte said. “Is it your view that there is any limit to the president’s prosecutorial discretion?”

Holder said that the discretion must be done in a “constitutional way” and added that there is a “vast amount of discretion.”

“…[D]iscretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that you’re acting consistent with the aims of the statute,” Holder said. “But at the same time, making sure that you are acting in a way that’s consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people.”

Representative Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and the Attorney General had a very tense exchange during the hearing. The two have a long history of tense committee banter and Holder took the chance to remind the Texas Republican of their previous history when he ended their Tuesday exchange with, “good luck with your asparagus.”

Watch the full hearing below and visit Roll Call’s YouTube page for previous hearings and full weekly leadership pressers.

By Meredith Dake and JM Rieger Posted at 12:11 p.m.

April 8, 2014

Holder to Gohmert: ‘You Don’t Want To Go There, Buddy’ (Video)

Things got heated Tuesday between Rep. Louie Gohmert and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department.

Gohmert, who was questioning the attorney general about releasing documents relating to the Holy Land Foundation’s 2008 conviction of providing financial assistance to Hamas, then suggested contempt was “not a big deal” to Holder.

“You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder quickly shot back. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. … Don’t ever think that.”

The Texas Republican was quick to respond.

“So we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of [Operation] Fast and Furious where people died … and we can’t get the information to get to the bottom of that, so I don’t need lectures from you about contempt,” he said.

Gohmert, who last May told Holder not to cast “aspersions on [his] asparagus,”  was at the butt end of the joke Tuesday, when Holder got the last word.

“Good luck with your asparagus,” Holder said.

Sensenbrenner: Intelligence Director Committed Perjury (Video)

During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper’s refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans’ communications had been conducted was perjurious after Clapper appeared to concede the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.

“Director Clapper’s perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.

“I’m really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate,” Holder said. Full story

March 26, 2014

Boehner on Obamacare Delay: ‘What The Hell Is This, a Joke?’ (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner lambasted the Obama administration again Wednesday over the Affordable Care Act, this time for extending the health care insurance enrollment period beyond March 31 for individuals who had begun, but not completed enrollment.

“Last night brought us yet another delay of Obamacare,” the Ohio Republican said at his weekly press conference. “Another deadline made meaningless. The administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it. What the hell is this, a joke?”

As enrollment has surged on the federal exchanges over the last few weeks, House Republicans continue to work on an alternative to the Democrats’ law.

“I’ve got to live by the law, you’ve got to live by the law, the American people have to live by the law and guess what? The president needs to live by the law as well.”

February 6, 2014

Cantor Places Onus of Immigration Rewrite on White House (Video)

cantor062513 445x296 Cantor Places Onus of Immigration Rewrite on White House (Video)

Cantor said there needs to be trust between Congress and the administration before there can be an immigration overhaul. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The GOP talking point on why House Republicans will not move forward with an immigration overhaul this year has emerged: Republicans don’t trust President Barack Obama to implement a policy rewrite as intended.

The line was first delivered Thursday morning by Speaker John A. Boehner during his weekly press conference with reporters. “The American people, including many of my members, don’t trust that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as intended to be,” Boehner said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor expanded upon that point Thursday afternoon with Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer during their weekly colloquy.

“I think the fundamental issue right now is there is doubt cast on this White House, this president, this administration’s willingness to implement the laws, given the track record we have seen on laws like Obamacare and others,” Cantor said.

The Virginia Republican affirmed that he believes the immigration system is “broken” and “there needs to be reform.”

“But before we can even get there,” Cantor said, “there needs to be some trust, there needs to be some trust built by this president with this Congress, because it seems that the track record is full of examples of the White House and the administration picking and choosing in terms of the regulations, the laws and the provisions that it wants implemented.”

Hoyer said “in light of the fact” that there is acknowledgment the immigration system is broken, “I don’t place much stock in this, what I would call, a rationalization of trust.”

The Maryland Democrat said Obama has enforced immigration laws. He said there were fewer people who had come over the border illegally and more people deported in the first five years of the Obama administration than during the entirety of George W. Bush’s presidency.

“So with all due respect to this, frankly, trying to distract us on this trust issue, this is not a trust issue; this is an issue of law,” Hoyer said.

February 5, 2014

Boehner Challenges Obama to Push Democrats on Trade (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday called on President Barack Obama to use his bully pulpit to push Senate Democrats to back fast-track trade rules.

“I hope he will help us move this bill forward on behalf of the American workers,” the Ohio Republican said, saying that trade promotion authority would make it easier for American workers to compete with China and boost jobs.

January 15, 2014

Boehner Calls on Obama, Senate to Act on Jobs (Video)

One day after House Speaker John A. Boehner hammered President Barack Obama at the Republican Conference’s weekly closed-door meeting, the Ohio Republican riffed on the president’s economic “Year of Action.”

“The middle class is getting squeezed, and the policies from this administration have not worked,” Boehner said. “Unfortunately, instead of helping to create jobs, the president is focused on making it easier to live without one. We’ve passed dozens of bills that are sitting over in the Senate. The president says he wants to make this year a year of action; sounds good to me.”

January 8, 2014

Engel Likens Rodman’s North Korea Trip to Taking ‘Hitler to Lunch’ (Video)

Turns out members of Congress are just as irked by Dennis Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” as everyone else.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel criticized the former NBA star Tuesday on the House floor.

“Bringing American basketball to North Korea … and sitting down with a dictator like Mr. Kim would be the equivalent of taking Adolf Hitler to lunch,” the New York Democrat said. “We shouldn’t be clicking glasses with him or playing basketball with this dictator, we should be demanding that an American citizen who committed no crime be released.”

Rodman, who first visited North Korea last February, sang “Happy Birthday” to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday. Engel was referring to Kenneth Bae at the end of his statement, an American citizen who has been held in North Korea for more than a year.

By JM Rieger Posted at 11:47 a.m.
Democrats, Videos

December 12, 2013

Republicans Unite on Budget Rule, Beat Back Push on Unemployment Benefits (Video)

Plenty of Republicans might not like the budget deal, but only one of them, apparently, despises the deal enough to side against GOP leadership on the procedural votes for the bill — perhaps the last best chance for conservative members to sink the budget compromise.

Indeed, the rule for floor debate on the budget was adopted 226-195, with Walter B. Jones of North Carolina as the only Republican to break with his party and vote against the rule.

Voting against the previous question would have given Democrats control of the floor to potentially add a vote on an unemployment insurance extension. But Republicans weren’t going to let that happen. Once again, Jones was the only member to break with his leadership to vote against the previous question, which was ordered on an otherwise party-line vote of 227-194.

Now the only obstacle to passage of the budget in the House is a single vote expected for later Thursday.

Full story

By Matt Fuller and JM Rieger Posted at 3:17 p.m.
Federal Budget

December 5, 2013

Hoyer Tries to Pin Cantor Down on Immigration Reform (Video)

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer on Thursday tried to get an answer from Majority Leader Eric Cantor on when Republicans would bring up an immigration overhaul.

While Hoyer criticized Republicans for not bringing up their own piecemeal legislation for a vote on the House floor, the Virginia Republican repeatedly tried to shift the conversation to the President’s healthcare law. The Maryland Democrat was unbowed, however, even as he acknowleged and mocked the Republicans’ opposition to Obamacare.

The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee said last month that immigration reform would happen in late 2014.


December 4, 2013

‘Do-Nothing’ Label Belongs to Democrats, Boehner Says (Video)

One day after Speaker John A. Boehner told Senate Democrats to “get serious” about negotiations over the farm bill and a budget agreement, the Ohio Republican gave a defensive speech on the House floor blaming Democrats for Congress’ lack of legislative accomplishments this year.

“The Senate and the president continue to stand in the way of the American people’s priorities,” Boehner said. “When will they learn to say ‘yes’ to common ground? When will they start listening to the American people?”

Boehner seemed to be responding to various news reports that the first year of the 113th Congress has been the least productive in modern congressional history.

That will likely still be true even if Congress is able to craft a budget agreement, as well as a farm bill deal before leaving town for the holidays. The top four farm bill conference committee members are scheduled  to meet Wednesday and budget negotiators have until Dec. 13 to deliver a budget agreement for fiscal 2014.

October 30, 2013

Best Moments From the Sebelius Obamacare Hearing (Video)

From quoting the “Wizard of Oz” to comparing red Solo cups and wine glasses, House Republicans grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday, questioning the website as well as the underlying law.

The hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last more than three and a half hours. Watch the best moments from today:

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