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January 27, 2014
A former whip team member and current senator has a No. 1 draft pick on the short list of names to ascend to the top of the House Republican Conference: Peter Roskam of Illinois.
Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., who spent a decade in the House, said in a wide-ranging interview with CQ Roll Call that he believes Roskam has what it takes to lead the party.
“My hope would be, yes,” Kirk said, when asked if Roskam, the chief deputy whip, one day would be speaker. “I think Petey has a great career ahead of him. I thought when he got elevated to the position, with the normal churning of leadership, that someday Roskam could be speaker.”
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Roskam is from the Land of Lincoln, home of three former speakers: Joseph Gurney Cannon, Henry Thomas Rainey and Dennis Hastert.
“I would certainly be very biased toward a speaker from Illinois,” Kirk said.
December 11, 2013
House Democratic leaders responded Wednesday with reservations to the emerging budget deal, as few would commit publicly to the framework and none would say how many rank-and-file members would support it.
Only Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., stated his outright support for the agreement, which would shrink the sequester for two years but without raising any tax revenue. Most Democrats are concerned about extending unemployment benefits set to expire Dec. 28. But while leaders decried Republicans for not wanting to pass UI, they also largely declined to acknowledge in front of the cameras the political reality: Without a must-pass vehicle, jobless benefits are all but impossible to pass.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would not say how she plans to vote but did not have many positive takes on the deal. According to aides, Republicans are going to need a good chunk of votes to approve the agreement, as they expect to lose quite a few Democrats.
October 22, 2013
The House is honoring former Speaker Thomas S. Foley by draping black fabric over his portrait in the Speaker’s Lobby and the speaker’s chair in the chamber every legislative day until a memorial service is held in his honor.
The 84-year-old Washington Democrat died last week after battling aspirational pneumonia for a year. Foley served as speaker from 1989 to 1995.
The Office of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, announced the tributes Tuesday in a blog post and included the following pictures:
“This is a fitting tribute to a man Speaker Boehner called of the House’s ‘most devoted servants’ whose ‘solid sense of fairness … remains a model for any Speaker or representative,’” the post from the speaker’s office read.
October 13, 2013
President Barack Obama spoke to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a phone call Sunday, days before a potential default deadline and as the House remained out of session.
The White House released a readout of the call between the two leaders, which indicated that both would be willing to negotiate a longer-term budget deal after the shutdown was ended and the debt ceiling raised:
This afternoon the President spoke with Leader Pelosi over the phone. The President and Leader Pelosi discussed the way forward on the pressing fiscal matters facing Congress today. They reinforced that there must be a clean debt limit increase that allows us to pay the bills we have incurred and avoid default, and that the House needs to pass the clean continuing resolution to open up the government and end the shutdown that is hurting middle class families and businesses across the country. The President and the Leader also discussed their willingness, once the debt limit is raised and the government reopened, to negotiate on a longer term budget solution that will grow our economy and create jobs. The President also thanked Leader Pelosi for her efforts to move forward with a clean CR and a one-year clean debt limit increase that would prevent a first-ever default of our nation’s credit.
At this point, if Senate Republicans and Democrats were to strike a deal to reopen the government, Pelosi likely would have to deliver nearly her entire caucus to send that legislation to the president’s desk, given House GOP discontent with the idea of continuing to fund the Democrats’ health care law, among other things.
July 9, 2013
House GOP leaders head into a crucial immigration meeting with their rank and file Wednesday without a clear strategy for passing a bill and a host of competing factions to corral.
Though the afternoon conference is being heralded as a step toward building consensus within the rank and file, members acknowledge it’s unlikely to produce a unified path forward.
“It’s all over the place,” Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho, said in describing the multitude of conflicting interests being pushed by his Republican colleagues. “I don’t know if that one-hour conference is going to be enough.”
Speaker John A. Boehner’s challenge is to get the majority of his members to support either one comprehensive immigration bill or, more likely, a series of stand-alone measures that, when grouped together, would be comparable to the massive overhaul the Senate passed last month.
The Ohio Republican has promised not to bring legislation to the floor that would violate the “Hastert rule,” but pursuing a strategy that keeps that promise will be a delicate balancing act.
Most Republicans say they won’t support a broad immigration overhaul without assurances that the president will sign legislation that strengthens border security. Boehner said Monday that he would insist on rigorous border security measures before any efforts to legalize undocumented immigrants.
Democrats signaled at a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, however, that they would not vote for any stand-alone bill without voting first on a pathway to citizenship, according to sources in the room.
But Democrats are, for now, the least of Boehner’s worries. Some GOP lawmakers have said they won’t support any immigration bill at all because they fear a pathway to citizenship — or “amnesty” as they call it — will ultimately be lumped into the final package that emerges out of a House-Senate conference committee.
If a significant number of Republicans withhold their votes because of that possibility, Boehner would need Democrats to help pass a bill. That may be a bridge too far, however, for Boehner, given that he would likely have to abandon the Hastert rule and, possibly, his border security vow to get their votes.
So in passing an immigration overhaul, it could become a game of who blinks first in the House.
Labrador, who with a group of “a few” other House Republicans is working on a new immigration rewrite to propose to leadership, said he thinks Democrats will cave.
“It has to be a Republican bill that the Democrats would accept,” said Labrador, who added that Democrats were being unreasonable. “If it doesn’t … we might as well just go home right now if we’re going to do whatever the Democrats want to do.”
But Democrats say they are confident that Boehner will be the one to renege on his pledge, and the minority’s strategy of demanding a pathway to citizenship hinges on whether they are doing the right math, according to senior Democratic aides present during Tuesday’s meeting.
“The operating theory is that we’re not going to make this easy for them,” one Democratic aide said about Republicans, “and if they want our votes, they are going to have to give us something for it. … With enough pressure, we can get them to violate the Hastert rule.”
Though it may not be clear who has sway over the House Republican Conference heading into the Wednesday meeting, it is clear who doesn’t: Senate Republicans.
The perception on the House side of the Dome is that the 14 Senate Republicans who voted for the immigration rewrite are to the left of the conference, and none really have a lot of clout across the Capitol.
Of those 14 members, three have recent House experience, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dean Heller of Nevada and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois. Yet House GOP sources don’t expect any of those three lawmakers to be able to sell their former colleagues on the bill.
Of course, Senate Republicans have tried to reach out to influential House conservatives. Several House and Senate Republicans met Monday night. The guest list included former vice presidential nominee and current House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican also met Tuesday with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to discuss immigration, according to the senator. Hoeven, along with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., wrote the “border surge” amendment that was instrumental to securing GOP votes for — and therefore passage of — the Senate bill.
Though Boehner has insisted on tough border security measures first, Corker said he believes such demands reveal that House Republicans don’t understand what the Senate bill does.
“I think once they realize what this bill says, the border security issue goes away. And I think what the speaker has brought up is the sequencing,” Corker said. “If the House passes any kind of border bill, or security bill, or any other element, it still gives an opportunity for a conference to occur. And I think if a conference occurs, we still have a chance at getting a more comprehensive piece of legislation, and I hope we will.”
May 30, 2013
Congressional leaders announced Thursday that they plan to honor Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., next month in a ceremony commemorating his place as the longest-serving member in the history of Congress.
The celebration is set to take place June 13 in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. On June 7, Dingell will have served for 57 years, five months and 26 days, surpassing the service record of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the plans to celebrate Dingell and noted more details would be made available closer to the event’s date.
May 24, 2013
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., sent a “Dear Colleague” letter on Friday thanking his fellow representatives for their support in the days since a tornado hit his hometown of Moore and declaring that leaders have “assured” him the Sooner State will have the resources it needs to rebuild.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund has approximately $11.5 billion, which would be enough to cover the damage in Oklahoma unless other disasters hit. Cole was one of two members of Oklahoma’s 7-person congressional delegation to vote in favor of a disaster relief bill that provided funds to the Northeast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. As CQ Roll Call first reported earlier this week, Oklahoma’s two Republican senators, Tom Coburn and James M. Inhofe, would like to see any future disaster bill offset.
Cole has been one of the rare voices in the Republican party to speak out in favor of disaster assistance even if it is not paid for by cutting elsewhere from the federal budget. Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y — who told GOP donors to quit giving to the party as it blocked Sandy relief — also said earlier this week that Oklahoma tornado relief should be approved without commensurate savings if needed.
Read the key sections of Cole’s letter after the jump.
April 30, 2013
Former GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., now supports the rights of gay Americans to adopt children, though he still believes marriage “is between a man and a woman.”
In a town hall meeting with constituents in Wisconsin on Monday, the House Budget Committee chairman said he has changed his mind on the adoption issue, even though his opinions on other aspects of gay rights have remained unchanged. To date, two Republican senators — Rob Portman of Ohio, who had been in the mix for Mitt Romney’s No. 2 spot, and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois — have come out in support of gay marriage.
“Adoption, I’d vote differently these days. That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period,” Ryan said in a video posted by the liberal website Think Progress. “I would vote that way. I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, we just respectfully disagree on that issue.” Full story