Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 19, 2014

Posts by Matt Fuller

March 14, 2014

CBC Chastises Ryan Remarks on Poverty (Updated)

fudge 134 062513 445x296 CBC Chastises Ryan Remarks on Poverty (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:39 p.m. | The Congressional Black Caucus has invited Rep. Paul D. Ryan to a CBC meeting to discuss their perspectives on poverty after the House Budget chairman made some self-described “inarticulate” remarks on the subject.

Ryan recently said there was a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” On Thursday, the Wisconsin Republican clarified those remarks.

But CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, thinks this might be a teachable moment — or at least an opportunity to grab some more headlines.

On Friday, she wrote that CBC members were “deeply troubled” by Ryan’s remarks, characterizing them as “highly offensive.”

Fudge  and fellow CBC member Gwen Moore, D-Wis., also indicated that Ryan’s apology, in which he said the government’s response to poverty had “inadvertently created a poverty trap,” continued to offend CBC members.

Update: After the letter was released, Ryan was spotted on the House floor sitting between Moore and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., another Black Caucus member who had criticized Ryan’s remarks.

From the letter:

The problem many people in poverty face is not isolation, but rather the lack of resources to help ensure all people have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to society, such as adequate transportation, infrastructure, job training programs and other resources to search for jobs and become gainfully employed. A serious policy conversation on poverty should not begin with assumptions or stereotypes. Poverty in our nation is a critical problem that must be approached with diligence and the utmost respect for those who are trapped by poverty’s grasp.

Fudge invited Ryan to review the CBC budget with members and to attend one of the group’s weekly meetings “to discuss our perspectives on poverty in search of finding constructive common ground.”

The letter was signed by Fudge and Moore.

Ryan’s office has not responded publicly to the letter.

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

By Matt Fuller Posted at 11:24 a.m.
Democrats, Paul Ryan

March 13, 2014

Republicans Block Democratic Attempt to Force Public Issa Apology on House Floor (Updated) (Video)

DCbuildings 007 120213 445x289 Republicans Block Democratic Attempt to Force Public Issa Apology on House Floor (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:12 p.m. | Republicans once again blocked a Democratic resolution demanding a House floor apology from Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa for silencing Rep. Elijah E. Cummings last week during an IRS hearing.

The nearly party line vote to table the privileged resolution came after a theatrical display of protest on the floor, with Democrats refusing to give up on the issue.

“This was not just a violation of Mr. Issa’s treatment of Mr. Cummings,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., a freshman lawmaker who introduced the resolution on Thursday. “My resolution was about Mr. Issa’s offense against the House.”

“If we don’t enforce the rules,” Kildee said, “where do we go?”

As Kildee and his Democratic colleagues offered the resolution, they defiantly held pictures of Issa making the throat-cutting motion, displaying the image on iPads, iPhones and paper. A floor procedure kerfuffle, in which a new House precedent may have been established, ensued.

Presiding officer Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, insisted that that “House will not proceed” as long as Democrats continued to hold up their iPads displaying the image.

“Regular order would be putting the iPads down,” Simpson said.

When Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., made a parliamentary inquiry as to where in the House rules it stated members could not hold up iPads, Simpson said the ruling was at the discretion of the chair.

Democrats moaned, but eventually, begrudgingly, put down their iPads and iPhones. (Rules Committee ranking Democrat Louise M. Slaughter quietly held up her phone even after Simpson’s ruling.)

Members continued holding up the pictures that Democrats had printed out, but Simpson wasn’t having that either.

The presiding officer declared that “only the member under recognition can hold up the display,” and eventually, after the theatrics and rules were settled, the Democrats put down their pictures and offered the resolution.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., promptly moved to table it, both sides screamed a voice vote, a roll call vote was ordered, and the House voted 217-173 in favor of tabling the resolution, with six Republicans and four Democrats voting present. (The present votes came from the nine members of the Ethics Committee and Issa. The Ethics Committee may yet have to consider the issue.)

(On Thursday evening, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, reiterated Boehner’s continued support for Issa.)

One Democrat, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, voted with Republicans in favor of tabling.

While Democrats offered the resolution, Cummings quietly sat separated from his Democratic colleagues beside Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va. As the vote took place, Cummings quickly and quietly slipped out of the chamber.

Issa already apologized personally to Cummings, the ranking member of Issa’s panel, last week, and Cummings accepted the apology.

But that’s not enough for many of Cummings’ colleagues.

“Ranking Member Cummings accepted Chairman Issa’s apology, but it is clear that the Chairman has violated House rules and seriously offended a lot of other Members of Congress in the process, and they are not satisfied with the way he is conducting the committee,” a Democratic committee aide told CQ Roll Call.

Democrats could continue to offer similar resolutions, trying to grab more headlines and increasingly paint Issa as a chairman tyrant, but Republicans look poised to just as quickly shelve the resolutions and move on.

Fellow Oversight and Government Reform Committee colleague Gerrold Connolly, D-Va., hopes Democrats continue to press the issue.

“Even if Elijah didn’t want us to do this, this is on behalf of the institution,” Connolly told CQ Roll Call after the vote, adding that he hopes House GOP leaders ultimately decide to push Issa to make amends publicly.

“He privately apologized to Mr. Cummings, then went on Fox News and accused him of having a ‘hissy fit,’” Connolly said. “How sincere was that apology?”

(The “hissy fit” interview was pretaped before the apology, Issa’s office noted last week.)

The House voted on party lines to shelve another resolution condemning Issa’s conduct last week.

Here’s the text of the resolution provided via email by Democratic aides: Full story

Ethics Committee Gets New Staff Director

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Conaway had plenty of praise for Rust. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Ethics Committee announced a major staffing decision Thursday, with a longtime committee staffer becoming the staff director and chief counsel.

Tom Rust, who has served in a number of roles on the Ethics panel since 2009 — including as a nonpartisan staff attorney, a member of several units on the committee, and as interim staff director and chief counsel — fills the shoes of former staff director and chief counsel Dan Schwager, who left last November. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:06 p.m.

March 11, 2014

Issa Issues Report Ripping Lois Lerner

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Darrell Issa has apologized to Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings for cutting off his mic, but the chairman isn’t changing the course of his committee.

The California Republican issued a 141-page report Tuesday on the involvement of Lois Lerner, the former director of IRS exempt organizations, in the targeting of prospective tax-exempt organizations. 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

Boehner Rips Obama Policies as Emboldening Putin on Ukraine

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner ripped years of President Barack Obama’s policies for failing to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to encroach into Ukraine.

“The steps that had not been taken over the last three or four years by the president allowed Putin to believe that he could do what he’s doing without any reaction from us,” Boehner said Wednesday morning.

The Ohio Republican said his conference and Democrats were “trying to work with the president to strengthen his hand.” Full story

March 3, 2014

Ryan Calls for Overhaul of Anti-Poverty Programs

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A 204-page report released Monday by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan provides ammunition for critics of government anti-poverty programs — but could also provide fodder for Democrats looking for an election-year bludgeon against Republicans.

“For too long, we have measured compassion by how much we spend instead of how many people get out of poverty,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “We need to take a hard look at what the federal government is doing and ask, ‘Is this working?’”

The Wisconsin Republican said the report would “help start the conversation” and that the report “shows that some programs work; others don’t.” He also said that for many other anti-poverty programs, “we just don’t know.” Full story

February 27, 2014

Pelosi Says Her Work in Congress Isn’t Finished

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Pelosi, left, says she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Amid a fresh round of retirement rumors, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday she isn’t done in Congress.

Many have wondered whether the retirements of some of the California Democrat’s allies would make it too lonely at the top.

But even though some of her closest colleagues are leaving Capitol Hill — including Energy and Commerce ranking Democrat Henry A. Waxman of California and Pelosi’s “consigliere,”  George Miller of California — Pelosi said she isn’t going anywhere.

“They go at their pace, I go at mine,” she said.

She waxed poetic about her colleagues who have announced they won’t be seeking re-election including her California pals and the House dean, Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan — calling them “fabulous members” and “legislative virtuosos” — but she said she has not reached the sunset of her career.

“When it is, you’ll know,” Pelosi said. “I’m too busy, as long as there is 1 in 5 children in America who lives in poverty.”

Pelosi said it was “very sad” that these Democrats were leaving, but the House is a “constantly reinvigorated body — that’s what our founders intended.”

You can find the Roll Call Casualty List here.

Boehner Says Tea Party Is Raising Money ‘Beating Up on Me’ (Video)

boehner 061 020614 445x296 Boehner Says Tea Party Is Raising Money Beating Up on Me (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner gave a nice assessment of the tea party Thursday on its unofficial five year anniversary, but stressed he isn’t exactly happy with groups like the Tea Party Patriots who are trying to fire him.

“My gripe is not with the tea party; my gripe is with some Washington organizations who feel like they got to go raise money by beating up on me and others,” Boehner told reporters.

The Ohio Republican also said he has ”great respect for the tea party and the energy they have brought to the electoral process.”

As we wrote today, Congress seems to have a mostly mixed assessment of the conservative movement.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday morning also fielded questions about the tea party and its legacy.

The California Democrat said the tea party had “hijacked” the Republican Party, and that tea partyers “considered it a success when they shut down government.”

Pelosi said her message to Republicans was this: “Take back your party, this isn’t who you are.”

Tea Party Pointing Fingers at GOP Leadership, 5 Years In

bachmann 160 022614 445x296 Tea Party Pointing Fingers at GOP Leadership, 5 Years In

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Rick Santelli rant heard ’round the world five years ago is credited with starting the tea party, and if you ask Republicans in Congress, the conservative movement has a mixed legacy.

“There’s a reality that we have a president that is further left than any president we’ve ever had in history, and there’s a reality that Harry Reid is a compliant, willing accomplice of the president to accomplish his agenda,” Rep. Michele Bachmann told CQ Roll Call. “So knowing that, I think the tea party is doing as well as it can.”

The Minnesota Republican founded and is still serving as chairwoman of Congress’ Tea Party Caucus, but she is calling it quits this year instead of seeking re-election.

Bachmann identified the 2010 election as “clearly” the “high-water mark” for the movement: “The tea party was responsible for removing the gavel from Nancy Pelosi’s hands and putting it in John Boehner’s hand and making him speaker. That effectively put the brakes on the Obama agenda in a very forthright way.”

But five years in, the political movement is not easy to evaluate. Among the sentiments we heard from Republican lawmakers as we assessed the tea party over the past week were that it’s been successful, that it’s pushed legislative change on spending issues, that it’s still experiencing growing pains, and even that it’s “dangerous.”

Full story

February 25, 2014

Republican Tally on Immigration Principles an Evolving Project

CQ Roll Call published a list of where House Republicans stand on the immigration principles released by GOP leadership, and initial responses make clear the issue is still one that allows for nuance and creates stress for the party.

We have updated the list, and found 19 House Republicans say “yes” they support the principles, two Republicans could possibly support them. There are 34 Republicans in the “no” category. Three have qualified their answers. The tally stands at 26 Republicans either undecided or with no position yet and 21 who have declined to comment. And 127 have not responded to our queries made over a two-week period.

Those figures were calculated as we heard from a number of lawmakers’ offices who wanted to be moved from one category to another, as well as by fixing a few of our own mistakes, all clearly documented in the story.

Full story

Few Willing to Publicly Back GOP Leaders’ Immigration Principles

Updated: Feb. 25, 7:21 p.m. | While Speaker John A. Boehner says his conference “by and large” backs the immigration outline the leadership presented in January at the GOP retreat, a poll of every House Republican conducted by CQ Roll Call found only 19 who would confirm their support.

We surveyed Republican lawmakers’ offices and combed through member statements to see if they supported the immigration principles, which include a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants and a pathway to citizenship for children brought here illegally. The tally found 19 backing leadership’s standards, two more who said “possibly yes,” 30 Republicans openly opposing the principles, 22 who refused to say and 25 who were undecided. Three others had nuanced responses. The other 131 did not respond to calls or emails over a two-week period.

Given the number of Republicans who declined to answer or wouldn’t give a binary response, it’s possible Republicans see support for the broadly worded principles as a proxy for supporting an immigration overhaul this year. But with such a seeming dearth of support, the likelihood Republicans could move legislation — in this Congress or the next — seems bleak.

Boehner and GOP leadership have already put an immigration overhaul on ice for now, blaming a lack of trust in President Barack Obama within the conference. But the threshold question remains: Are Republicans willing to support any broad immigration legislation along the lines of what GOP leadership laid out?

Most lawmakers contacted by CQ Roll Call simply aren’t ready to answer.

Full story

February 24, 2014

Steve King: Too Liberal for Club for Growth? (Updated)

sotu tw026 012814 445x305 Steve King: Too Liberal for Club for Growth? (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Steve King, apparently, isn’t conservative enough for the Club for Growth.

He may be a tea party firebrand and, traditionally, one of the most conservative members of the House, but Club for Growth says that on votes they scored, King was wrong 29 percent of the time in 2013.

The Iowa Republican has a 91 percent lifetime score with Club for Growth, and he was actually endorsed by the Club in his 2012 race. But, this year, King ranked right in the middle of Republicans with a 71 percent score. That’s well short of the 90 percent threshold needed to win the group’s “Defender of Economic Freedom” award. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:07 p.m.
Club for Growth

February 19, 2014

Lawmakers Call on Obama to Impose Sanctions on Ukraine

457537041 russian president vladimir putin and gettyimages 445x325 Lawmakers Call on Obama to Impose Sanctions on Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Yanukovych attend a Russian-Ukrainian Summit in December, where the latter signed a series of agreements to boost trade and industrial cooperation with Russia, refusing to strengthen cooperation with the EU. (Kommersant via Getty Images)

Updated 5:57 p.m. | The eruption of violence in Ukraine has several lawmakers calling on President Barack Obama to impose “targeted sanctions” on the country.

Both the chairman and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Ed Royce of California and Democrat Eliot L. Engel of New York, respectively, issued separate statements Wednesday calling on the president to immediately act to mitigate violence in Ukraine — and Capitol Hill has found its buzz phrase for action in Kiev.

“Targeted sanctions” has emerged as the immediate step lawmakers seek, and the White House seems to increasingly be heading that direction as violence continues between protesters and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government.

“Last week, the House of Representatives went on record, calling for the ‘utmost restraint’ and avoidance of confrontation in Ukraine,” Royce said in a statement Wednesday, referring to a House-passed resolution that encourages financial sanctions on some government actors and encourages the Ukrainian government to repeal anti-democratic measures enacted in January that sparked the protests in the first place.

“Significantly,” Royce wrote, “the resolution called for the Administration to impose additional ‘targeted sanctions’ against those individuals responsible for the violence. Today, the White House indicated that it is considering doing just that.” Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:49 p.m.
Foreign Policy

February 18, 2014

CBO Minimum Wage Report Portends Poorly for Democratic Discharge Petition

A Congressional Budget Office report on the minimum wage has posed an old question to Capitol Hill: Are you willing to cut hundreds of thousands of jobs to give higher wages to millions?

The CBO report, which was released Tuesday and has drawn criticism from some Democrats and the White House, said increasing the minimum wage would have two main effects on low-wage workers:

“Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.”

The report, at the request of lawmakers, studied the effects of raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour — as the president proposed a year ago — and $10.10 per hour as he proposed this year and as the so-called “Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013″ would do after two years, subsequently indexing the minimum wage to inflation.

The effect of raising the wage to $9 per hour, according to the CBO, would be a net loss of 100,000 jobs but higher wages for approximately 7.6 million people. In turn, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would result in 500,000 jobs lost but raise wages for 16.5 million, according to the analysis. Full story

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