Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2014

Posts by Matt Fuller

November 13, 2014

Indiana’s Messer Wins Republican Policy Committee Gavel (Updated)


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Indiana’s Messer, center, will take over the Republican Policy Committee. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images File Photo)

Updated 4:18 p.m. | In the one competitive race for a leadership spot, House Republicans elected Luke Messer to serve as GOP Policy Committee chairman.

The Indiana lawmaker beat out Republicans Tom Reed of New York and Rob Woodall of Georgia.

The Policy Committee chairman — the only competitive leadership race as Rep. James Lankford leaves the spot to become Oklahoma’s next senator — is tasked with equipping members with research and aiding committees as they draft legislation. The chairman also gets a spot at the leadership table and a vote on the Steering Committee. Full story

Scalise Wins Full Term As GOP Whip in 114th Congress

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Scalise wins a full term as GOP whip in the 114th. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise won a full term Thursday as the GOP’s No. 3-ranked leader.

The Louisiana Republican, who moved into the post after former Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., became majority leader earlier this year, said in a statement he looks forward to “working with one of the largest and most dynamic Republican majorities in history to pass legislation that advances the conservative principles that unite us to solve our nation’s problems … .” Full story

GOP Caucus Picks McCarthy for Full Term as Majority Leader

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Republican Conference Thursday gave Kevin McCarthy a full term as majority leader for the 114th Congress.

McCarthy took over for Eric Cantor after the former leader retired this summer, after losing a GOP primary race.

The California Republican was elected by voice vote and members reported the decision was unanimous. Full story

Boehner Wins GOP Nod for Third Term as Speaker

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Boehner won the nod from his caucus Thursday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans renominated John A. Boehner as speaker Thursday, putting the Ohio Republican in line for a third term in January, when the entire House will vote on leadership positions. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:12 p.m.

As Obama Weighs Executive Action on Immigration, Is Government Shutdown Possible? (Video)

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Rogers, left, said a government shutdown is off the table. But some Republicans disagree. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While House Republicans consider how to fund the government beyond December and how to stop President Barack Obama’s expected executive action on immigration, there are two words that have suddenly, unexpectedly re-entered the GOP lexicon: government shutdown.

Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon has penned a letter, with more than 50 Republican co-signers, to House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky and ranking Democrat Nita M. Lowey of New York asking them to include a rider on a bill to fund the government — either an omnibus or another continuing resolution — that would block funds for the purpose of implementing any executive action on immigration. Full story

Midterm GOP Wave Quells Talk of Anti-Boehner Vote

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Boehner has a lot to smile about these days. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republican leaders who have faced opposition from the most conservative wing of their own caucus in recent years may have stumbled across the best way to quash an intraparty revolt: Win.

Last week’s Election Day gains have quieted the talk of a mutiny against John A. Boehner that has obsessed some conservatives since a failed attempt to dethrone the speaker at the start of the 113th Congress. Even tea party members who have long spouted anti-Boehner bombast and candidates who hinted on the trail they would look elsewhere for leadership are sounding pleased with the status quo.

“I like what I’m seeing,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said Wednesday of Boehner. Full story

November 12, 2014

GOP Policy Chairman Race Divides Conference

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Woodall is one of three vying for the top seat on the GOP Policy Committee (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans hold their leadership elections Thursday, and while the top spots will almost certainly stay the same, there is one race that’s actually a real contest: GOP Policy Committee chairman.

Tom Reed of New York, Rob Woodall of Georgia and Luke Messer of Indiana are all vying for the spot, which heads up the partisan committee that hands out policy research to Republicans. The position is being vacated by James Lankford of Oklahoma, who is headed to the Senate.

All three candidates have a real shot, according to members, but Woodall may be the slight front-runner — just by virtue of the fact he will draw heavy support from the conservative wing of the party. The happy-go-lucky Woodall served as interim chairman of the massive Republican Study Committee after Steve Scalise left that position to become majority whip in June.

Still, Messer and Reed are both respected members of the conference with sharp speaking skills and plenty of support. Full story

House Expediting Vote on Cassidy’s Keystone Pipeline Bill (Updated) (Video)

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The House is preparing to vote on a Keystone Pipeline bill from Cassidy, shown here on the campaign trail earlier this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:27 p.m. | In a bid to help their Republican colleague Bill Cassidy of Louisiana bolster his Senate chances, Republicans in the House are moving forward with a bill that would once again approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Cassidy, who is currently in a runoff election with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, is the sponsor of the legislation. And aides say Cassidy’s bill is the same as a bill before the Senate.

The House Rules Committee will meet on the bill Wednesday night, and a vote on the measure looks like it will occur Thursday, aides said. Full story

November 10, 2014

‘Net Neutrality’ Is Latest Obama Overreach, GOP Says

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Issa and other Republicans are calling “net neutrality” another example of presidential overreach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After consistently accusing President Barack Obama of overstepping his executive authority on issues such as immigration, health care and the environment, Republicans ramped up their rhetoric on another front: the Internet.

The GOP criticism came after the White House released a statement Monday morning — complete with a YouTube video — affirming the president’s support for the concept of net neutrality, the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally and that Internet service providers should not be able to charge more for faster access to some sites.

That principle has the support of voters — at least among the minority who actually know what net neutrality means — and it’s a contrast with Republicans that Democrats and the White House have been eager to embrace.

Still, Republicans argue net neutrality amounts to a massive federal takeover of a huge sector of the economy — in this case, the Internet — a la the Affordable Care Act.

Full story

November 6, 2014

Boehner on Obama’s Immigration Action: ‘He’s Going to Burn Himself’ (Video)

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Boehner, in his first post-election press conference, warned the president against unilateral action on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In his first news conference after Tuesday’s elections, Speaker John A. Boehner had stern words for President Barack Obama and his expected executive action on immigration, telling the president he was inviting “big trouble” if he continued to act without Congress on issues such as immigration.

Asked whether the president would be “poisoning the well” with Congress if he issued an executive action on immigration, Boehner offered this advice: ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself. And he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Full story

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

The Boehner-McConnell Relationship: Mutual Respect, Low Drama

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McConnell, celebrating Tuesday’s Republican wave with his wife, has a track record of working with Boehner. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

John A. Boehner and Mitch McConnell have never been best friends.

But they aren’t enemies, either. Far from it, say staffers and sources who know both lawmakers. The speaker and the Senate’s presumptive new majority leader have built, over the years, a solid professional relationship based on a sturdy sense of mutual respect.

That relationship is in the spotlight now more than ever, with Republicans emboldened in the wake of Tuesday’s wave election that saw the GOP pick up at least eight seats in the Senate and more than a dozen in the House.

Sources told CQ Roll Call that Boehner and McConnell don’t have to be close personally to get things done.

“While they’ve never played horseshoes on the speaker’s lawn, they spend a lot of time together, speak regularly and have demonstrated an unprecedented working relationship between the leaders of the House and Senate,” Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, told CQ Roll Call. Full story

November 5, 2014

Despite Drubbing, Pelosi and Hoyer Plan to Stick Around

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Pelosi and Hoyer: Not stepping aside. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not 24 hours after Tuesday’s elections, congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle were looking to get out in front of their bids to stay in leadership.

Despite a Democratic drubbing, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland both intend to remain leaders of their caucus in the 114th Congress. Pelosi was first on the draw, sending a “Dear Colleague” letter Wednesday announcing her intent to remain minority leader. Hoyer wasn’t far behind; he sent his “Dear Colleague” letter announcing his bid to remain in the whip post a few hours later.

Hoyer highlighted his ability in the 113th Congress to keep Democrats united on key fights, from the farm bill to legislation reopening the government after a 2-week partial shutdown. Among the priorities he promised to fight for were voter protection, a sustainable fiscal path and deficit reduction that does not “come on the backs of the most vulnerable.”

Pelosi and Hoyer have filled the No. 1 and 2 Democratic spots since 2003. Full story

October 30, 2014

GOP: Obama’s Immigration Action Will Cripple 2016 Democrats

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Diaz-Balart said Obama’s promised unilateral action on immigration will backfire in 2016. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans have an immigration problem, and Democrats may have an answer.

When President Barack Obama, as expected, moves ahead with an executive action on immigration, he could be handing Republicans the out they need on an issue that is expected to plague the GOP in national elections for years.

By acting on his own, politicians and pollsters told CQ Roll Call, Obama may take immediate pressure off Congress to address the nation’s immigration system while also giving Republicans a legitimate reason to bash the overhaul. Republicans — particularly those with 2016 aspirations — can slam the immigration action as an executive overreach.

Congressional Democrats are already playing defense against that line of attack. On Thursday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi penned an op-ed with Illinois Democrat Luis V. Gutiérrez and California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, arguing that the president’s authority to defer removal of illegal immigrants has precedent.

Of course, there are plenty of questions remaining regarding the president’s executive order — who will be included, how the action will impact enforcement and the extent of the deferments. But Democrats and Republicans are already starting to ask the question that’s always most important in Washington: How does this affect the next election?

Republicans contend — perhaps a bit hopefully — that unilateral action will backfire on Obama and the Democrats.

Pro-immigration overhaul Republican Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida told CQ Roll Call that, “short-term,” the president might receive a bump from voters. “But, I think, long-term, it’s going to be devastating.”

There are videos, the Miami congressman said, of Obama arguing that he lacks the legal authority to act alone on immigration. And when the public is inundated with those videos, Diaz-Balart predicted, they’ll turn on a unilateral immigration action.

“I think it will personally destroy him,” Diaz-Balart said of Obama. Full story

October 23, 2014

GOP Gavel Fights: 11 House Committee Chairmanships In Play

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Hensarling may have a challenger for the Financial Services’ gavel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Almost every House member is on the stump this month, wrapping up re-election bids, with most cruising to new terms and a handful on both sides of the aisle scrambling to hang on to their jobs. But for a select few GOP lawmakers — those actively seeking committee chairmanships — the final days before Nov. 4 are as much about lining up support among colleagues as they are about connecting with voters.

Every two years, after the Election Day dust settles, members return to Capitol Hill for a lame-duck session that includes the selection of colleagues to serve as senior lawmakers on the chamber’s standing committees during the new Congress.

Republicans, widely expected to retain the majority this cycle, will be particularly busy during the lame duck, scheduled to begin Nov. 12, when it comes to doling out committee leadership appointments. Thanks to retirements, possible assignment shuffles and a 20-year rule capping panel leadership at three terms, as many as 11 out of 21 committees could see new chairmen in the 114th Congress.

A twelfth committee could even be at play, if term-limited Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma decides to challenge Jeb Hensarling’s grip on the Financial Services gavel, as he recently suggested he might.

For the decidedly open chairmanships, some lawmakers are expected to win their desired posting without competition, while others will be facing off against their peers. All of the slots are filled by a secret ballot vote of members on the Republican Steering Committee, comprised of party leaders, top-tier panel chairmen and regional representatives.

Here’s a rundown of 11 committee gavels that are up for grabs, and which members stand to snag them. Full story

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