Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 17, 2014

Posts by Matt Fuller

258 Posts

April 16, 2014

Obama Calls Cantor After Day of Immigration Sparring

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:05 p.m. | President Barack Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday to implore House Republicans to hold a vote on the Senate-passed  immigration overhaul, prompting Cantor to say the president hasn’t learned how to work with Congress.

The Virginia Republican’s retort came in the form of a statement on a day of nasty back and forth between the president, Democrats and House GOP leadership over immigration legislation.

Full story

April 15, 2014

Immigration Overhaul: Democrats Look to Flip 30 House Republicans

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are holding out hope that their discharge petition on a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill can still work — or at least be used as election-year ammo.

House Democrats held a conference call Tuesday to announce their intention to distribute a memo in the districts of 30 House Republicans who have signaled support for an immigration overhaul previously. Democrats are calling on these Republicans, and others, to “put their pen where their mouth is,” as Colorado Democrat Jared Polis put it, and sign the discharge petition for HR 15, the companion bill to the Senate-passed immigration bill.

The discharge petition for the House bill currently has 191 Democratic signatures, meaning nine Democrats still haven’t signed on to the effort. There are, however, 200 co-sponsors for the bill, including three Republicans: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California. Full story

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:

Jindal Calls on McAllister to Resign

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McAllister, as his family looks on, at his mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The chorus calling on Rep. Vance McAllister to resign is growing.

First, on Thursday, it was Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who said McAllister has “got decisions to make,” then it was the chairman of the Louisiana GOP, Roger F. Villere Jr., who released a statement saying “a breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation,” and now it’s Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Jindal released a statement Thursday that said McAllister had “embarrassed” the party and that it was time for him to resign.

“The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress,” Jindal said. Full story

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

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(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

Pelosi: ‘Race’ Part of the Reason GOP Won’t Act on Immigration (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that “race” is one reason Republicans are avoiding an immigration overhaul.

During her weekly press conference, the California Democrat implied there were ulterior reasons Republicans weren’t addressing immigration.

“I think race has something to do with them not bringing up the immigration bill,” Pelosi said. “I’ve heard them say to the Irish, ‘If it was just you, it would be easy.’”

Full story

April 8, 2014

McAllister Skips Votes After Kissing Video Blows Up

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McAllister, left, invited Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty to join him at the State of the Union address earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister, embroiled in a scandal over a video allegedly showing the married Republican kissing an employee, did not vote when the House reconvened Monday night.

The Louisiana Republican was among 36 lawmakers who did not cast votes on the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, which had two roll calls Monday night around 7 p.m. when the House returned from the weekend.

McAllister earlier in the day had issued a short statement apologizing and asking for privacy for his family, but didn’t show up for votes and his office door in the Cannon Building was locked. Phone calls to the office went straight to voicemail.

The lights inside were on, but no one so much as opened the door for hours, despite reporters camping out there for a stakeout.

Full story

April 7, 2014

McAllister, Caught on Tape With Staffer, Asks for ‘Forgiveness’

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McAllister and his family at the Republican’s mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister, a conservative Louisiana Republican who was sworn-in five months ago, asked for privacy for his children and forgiveness from constituents Monday, acknowledging the validity of a video showing him kissing one of his employees.

In a short statement issued a few hours after the Ouachita Citizen, a West Monroe, La., newspaper posted what appeared to be surveillance video, McAllister gave no indication he would resign.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” McAllister said in a statement. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

Full story

April 4, 2014

Steve King: Illegal Immigrants Kill Americans Every Day (Video)

Rep. Steve King has been known to make, from time to time, some controversial remarks about immigration — and his floor speech on Friday was no exception.

Speaking to a nearly empty chamber, the Iowa Republican said the result of an immigration overhaul would be more dead Americans.

“Because there’s not a day that goes by in this country that there isn’t at least one American citizen that dies at the hands of someone who’s unlawfully present in the United States, whether it is an act of homicide or it’s an act of willful manslaughter, whether it’s an [Operating While Intoxicated] in the streets of America, hardly anybody has gone through the last 10 years and doesn’t at least show that up in their local newspaper, if it doesn’t show up in their neighborhood. And so Steve King’s not dead wrong. Let’s keep more Americans alive.”

The statement was nothing new for King. He made similar remarks to an Omaha, Nebraska crowd in September, estimating that “multiples of the victims of Sept. 11″ had been killed by illegal immigrants, and in 2006, King somehow calculated that 12 Americans die every day because of illegal immigrants. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 7:11 p.m.
Immigration

April 3, 2014

Pelosi: Campaign Cash Ruling an ‘Existential Threat’ (Video)

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is one of the most prolific fundraisers in congressional history. But that doesn’t mean she’s a fan of Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the aggregate limit on campaign contributions.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday that the court decision was “suffocating the voice of the many.”

The 5-4 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling overturned the overall limit on what an individual may collectively donate to parties, candidates and political action committees in one election. The limit used to be $123,200. While the Supreme Court didn’t touch so-called base limits — such as the $2,600 cap on contributions to candidates per election or the $74,600 limit for political parties per an election cycle — the ruling allows individuals to give the maximum amount to an unlimited number of candidates.

“The Supreme Court decided to pour even more money into our politics and our process,” Pelosi said.

The California Democrat added that she was not surprised by the ruling, given the Citizens United v. FEC case, but the McCutcheon ruling “adds great insult to terrible injury to our democracy.”

“This is a very existential threat to who we are and how we do our campaigning and our government — and it should be something that should be roundly rejected,” Pelosi said.

But, as one reporter pointed out, Democrats can take advantage of this ruling just as much as Republicans.

“It doesn’t make it right,” Pelosi responded.

Pelosi, who raises millions for congressional Democrats, said she wasn’t thinking politically about this. “I’m thinking about our democracy,” she said. “Is this just supposed to be a money war?”

Pelosi agreed that candidates have to raise money to win elections, but she characterized the ruling as “an unlimited, constant spigot of undisclosed, God-knows-from-where-and-from-whom supply of money into the system.”

“It’s just plain wrong,” she said.

Eliza Newlin Carney contributed to this report.

Fort Hood Shooting Reopens Unresolved Issues

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Carter and his Texas colleagues want to recognize victims of the 2009 Fort Hood massacre. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Another deadly shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas has pushed still unresolved issues related to the massacre there nearly five years ago back to the congressional forefront.

Even before Wednesday’s incident that reportedly left four dead and 14 wounded, Texas lawmakers in particular have been continuing to push for victims from the November 2009 tragedy to be recognized by the federal government. Nidal Malik Asan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood — an incident that shocked the nation and kicked off debate inside and outside of Washington.

For one, there were issues with the compensation benefits for the veterans wounded and the families of those killed — and the Texas delegation has fought for years to award Purple Hearts to the soldiers killed or wounded.

Another debate has centered on exactly how to classify the shooting: was it a terrorist attack, or an act of work-place violence?

Earlier this week, Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, issued a press release detailing his intentions to question Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. over why the Obama administration did not label the shooting an act of terror.

Late Wednesday as more information about the shootings was revealed, Carter issued a statement pointedly referencing the 2009 incident.

“The idea that a second attack could happen at Fort Hood is heartbreaking not only to the victims, but to the survivors. The knowledge that a soldier could attack another soldier is devastating to the emotional wellbeing of our troops, which is why in the aftermath of this tragedy support for our troops is more important than ever,” Carter said. “We need to rally around the community and provide the safety and security these people deserve. It is my mission in Congress to ensure that the victims of the 2009 attack and today’s attack are protected and helped from this point forward. While we do not know the motives of the shooter at this time, I will continue to investigate this crisis until all the facts are known. But for now the best we can do is to pray and support the community.”

Full story

April 1, 2014

Van Hollen Rips 2015 Ryan Budget as ‘The Worst’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s no surprise the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, didn’t like the Republican budget proposal from the Budget Chairman, Paul D. Ryan. But it might be a surprise exactly how much Van Hollen hates it.

“This is the worst budget for America that we’ve seen,” Van Hollen said as he began a pen-and-pad briefing on the blueprint Tuesday.

Ryan officially released his 2015 budget proposal Tuesday morning, and it was clear from the outset that Democrats were not going to like the Wisconsin Republican’s spending vision.

While the budget abides by the defense and non-defense caps laid out in the recent budget deal for fiscal 2015, Ryan’s newest blueprint proposes raising defense spending by $483 billion over 10 years and cutting non-defense spending by $791 billion in that same period.

“It takes that area to sequester levels,” Van Hollen said of non-defense spending, “then doubles the sequester cut to those non-defense areas — and then goes beyond that.” Full story

March 27, 2014

Secret ‘Doc Fix’ Deal Angers Rank and File (Video)

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(Screengrab)

The House on Thursday passed a bill that likely did not have the votes to pass.

It was clear that a bill to avert a pay hike for doctors was short on support, so Republican leaders struck a closed-door agreement with Democrats to pass the bill by voice vote while members were not yet in the chamber, according to members and aides from both parties.

The bipartisan power move to hold a voice vote allowed members to avoid a tough roll call, which would have forced them either to vote for a bill they do not support or allow doctors who treat Medicare patients to take a pay cut, incensing powerful outside interests.

The tactic flies in the face of Speaker John A. Boehner’s pledge to be a transparent and rule-abiding Congress, members and aides said.

“I’ve seen a lot of dumb things, but I’ve never seen anything quite as comical as this,” Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving member in the history of Congress, told CQ Roll Call.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said House leaders essentially passed the bill while members’ backs were turned. “No one objected. No one was there to object,” he said.

Full story

March 24, 2014

Hoyer Renews Call for ‘Grand Bargain’

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer really wants a grand bargain, and he says now, “when we don’t have a crisis breathing down our necks,” is the time to do it.

At a Third Way event at the Columbus Club, tucked into one of the more opulent corners of Union Station — the Maryland Democrat delivered an address Monday morning calling on Republicans and Democrats to come to the table and change America’s long-term fiscal outlook. Full story

March 21, 2014

Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to ‘Spending Limits’ (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. |Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.

“We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget,” Cantor wrote Friday to House Republicans.

The Virginia Republican noted that President Barack Obama’s budget “blows past” the spending caps previously agreed to for fiscal 2015, but the the House GOP’s budget will conform to the agreed upon “spending limits.”

The pluralization of that last word is key: There are rumors that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan intends to offer a budget that would adhere to the overall spending limit, but would exceed the defense spending caps, which are unpopular with a number of Republicans. Full story

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