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

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

22 Posts

December 2, 2014

Sources: Senate, House Republicans Set Joint Retreat in Pennsylvania

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McMorris Rodgers announced a joint retreat for Capitol Hill Republicans, according to sources. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House and Senate Republicans expect to hold a joint retreat early in the next Congress in Hershey, Pennsylvania, sources in both chambers said Tuesday. Full story

November 14, 2014

Next Congress to Formally Convene on Jan. 6, 2015

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Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, received the gavel from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the first day of the 113th Congress. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Mark your calendars: The 114th Congress is planning to convene just a few days late.

The House on Friday agreed to a joint resolution setting the convening date for Jan. 6, 2015, which is three days after the date specified in the Constitution. The change, which must also be endorsed by the Senate and signed into law by President Barack Obama, comes as no surprise since next Jan. 3 falls on a Saturday.

Full story

October 29, 2014

Boehner, White House Spar Over ‘Chickenshit’ Comment

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Netanyahu addressed Congress in 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The reported description of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit” by a senior administration official has set off a rhetorical exchange between Speaker John A. Boehner and the White House.

That unnamed official was quoted by The Atlantic as having said, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.”

“I am tired of the administration’s apology tour.  The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not,” Boehner said in a statement Wednesday. “It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Boehner has had previous “salty” word choices of his own.

“It’s an interesting observation by the speaker of the House who, you all know, has a penchant for using some pretty salty language himself. So, it’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the speaker of the House,” Earnest said, referring to reported comments Boehner made about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during the fiscal cliff battle.

Full story

September 8, 2014

Dingell Hospitalized in Detroit

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The longest serving member in the history of the House has been hospitalized in Detroit, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.

The office of Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., said Monday the 88-year old congressman and dean of the House experienced abdominal pain.

“Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI12) was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit with abdominal pain. Dingell is doing well, is receiving an IV treatment of antibiotics, and remains in good spirits. Doctors expect him to be released in a few days, and Dingell expects to be in Washington for Congressional session next week,” Dingell’s office said in a statement.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Rep. Andy Harris Mourns Wife’s Sudden Death

The office of Rep. Andy Harris announced on Thursday the unexpected death of the Maryland Republican’s wife.

“Sylvia ‘Cookie’ Harris, beloved wife of over 30 years to Congressman Andy Harris, devoted mother of five and grandmother to two, and devout Catholic, unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, August 28,” the statement said. “The family is thankful for the thoughts and prayers that so many have offered already and appreciates privacy during this time.”

WBAL-TV reported that Cookie Harris, a well-known figure in the state capital of Annapolis, died after a heart attack. Before Andy Harris was elected to the House in 2010, the politician served in the Maryland Senate for more than a decade, include a tenure as Republican whip. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 7:47 p.m.

August 22, 2014

Boehner Calls Bergdahl Swap ‘Potentially Serious Lapse in Judgment’ (Updated)

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Boehner says GAO ruling confirms Obama overstepped his authority in  approving Bergdahl prisoner swap. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:15 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday that the news the Obama administration ignored the power of the purse in a national security matter should be no surprise.

The Ohio Republican was responding to a Government Accountability Office finding, issued a day earlier, that the Obama administration acted outside federal law in the swap of five Taliban members for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Full story

August 8, 2014

Congressional Leaders Back Iraq Airstrikes; Hawks Push for Broader War on ISIL

Updated 11:22 a.m. | Congressional leaders are backing President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize air strikes in Iraq as the first bombs began falling, although hawks are pushing for a far broader military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also knowns as ISIS.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced Friday morning that the U.S. had dropped bombs on assets of the group.

“Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located,” Kirby said. “The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief.”

Full story

June 3, 2014

Boehner Backs Hearings on Bergdahl Swap for ‘Taliban 5′

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Boehner (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:11 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner charged the Obama administration with intentially keeping the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress ahead of time and backed a push for hearings by Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon Tuesday.

The Taliban officials were transferred to Qatar from the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without the legally required 30 days Congressional notification.

The Ohio Republican acknowledged Tuesday that an exchange like the one that took place Saturday had been previously discussed years ago.

But he said that while Congress kept the idea secret despite concerns about the wisdom of a transfer, the administration intentionally kept them in the dark.

“There was every expectation that the administration would re-engage with Congress, as it did before, and the only reason it did not is because the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition,” Boehner charged.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel also pointed to a statement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on June 21, 2013 when asked about the possibility of exchanging five Guantanamo prisoners for Bergdahl.

“We would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress,” Carney said, per the White House transcript.

The White House and President Barack Obama have contended the lack of notice was due to the desire to complete the deal and get Bergdahl home safely, and the White House has contended the lack of notice was lawful.

Full story

May 3, 2014

Oberstar, Longtime Congressman and Transportation Expert, Dead at 79

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(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. James L. Oberstar, a fixture on Capitol Hill for decades, has died, according to local media reports and members of the Minnesota delegation. He was 79.

WDIO-TV reported that Oberstar died in his sleep sometime Friday night.

A Democrat from Minnesota, he rose to serve as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, having previously been a House staffer and the staff administrator for the predecessor Committee on Public Works prior to winning election to his seat in 1974.

Oberstar was defeated for re-election by Republican Chip Cravaack during the 2010 tea party wave.

Full story

March 5, 2014

House Will Vote Thursday on Ukraine Aid

The House will vote Thursday on legislation extending financial aid to Ukraine, while a vote on a resolution supporting sanctions on Russia could follow next week.

Members and aides told CQ Roll Call there is little to no pushback against voting on the loan legislation and they expect it to pass easily.

“Clearly there is a dire situation unfolding, so the House is moving as quickly as possible to provide the administration with authority to issue loan guarantees for Ukraine,” said Rory Cooper, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

The bill would come up under suspension of the rules, meaning it would need a two-thirds majority of the House.

Action in the Senate won’t be quite so swift, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday. Full story

December 5, 2013

Farm Bill Deal Still Doable, Lucas Insists

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee reiterated Thursday that it would be correct to say he doesn’t want to see a one-month extension of existing farm programs, but he stopped well short of saying House and Senate conferees had an agreement.

“I think it’s fair to say in a number of areas we are moving towards consensus. I’m not comfortable enough yet just to say what those consensus points are,” Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., told reporters.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said earlier in the day that he had ”not seen any real progress,” and the House would be prepared to move forward with a one-month stopgap farm bill.

Full story

November 20, 2013

Don’t Expect Tom Cole — or Anyone Else — to Tip the Budget Conference

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats have floated the idea that the House-Senate Budget conference could reach an agreement if just one House Republican switched sides and signed off on a conference report, but don’t expect that to happen — the likeliest candidate, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, has no plans to do so.

Cole, the newly anointed chairman of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, would be the obvious choice as a member of the Appropriations Committee who wants to get to work on the nuts-and-bolts of a fiscal 2014 spending package.

He joined the other House cardinals in a Monday letter to the bipartisan leadership of the conference committee seeking two years of top-line spending levels to allow the appropriators and their staffs to get to work on a funding package for the rest of the fiscal year. The appropriators want their numbers by no later than the beginning of December.

The self-imposed “deadline” for the conference is not until Dec. 13. Because there are only seven House conferees, a single member could tip the scale in either direction.

Full story

October 30, 2013

Peterson Will Fight ‘Tooth and Nail’ to Prevent Budget, Farm Merger

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Peterson (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee pledged Wednesday to seek to derail any effort to package a five-year farm bill conference agreement into an omnibus budget deal.

“I will fight that tooth and nail,” Rep. Collin C. Peterson told reporters outside the conference meeting. “Even if they get a budget deal, if they put the farm bill in there, I will do everything I can to kill it, and it probably won’t take much to kill the budget deal.”

The Minnesota Democrat said such a move could further undermine the autonomy of the Agriculture panel within the House.

“I might as well just retire and go home,” Peterson said. “If we’re going to get a position where they’re going to put the farm bill into some other bill, then what are we doing? You know, I mean that’s a very dangerous precedent to start and to accept. That’s my problem. It might be a great bill, but it’s just the wrong thing to do because then the next thing you know, next time that’s going to be what they’re going to start out working on.

“The trouble with this place is the committees are not allowed to operate. Everything is driven from the top, and this is what’s wrong with Congress,” Peterson added, reminiscing about the way the House operated before a series of changes in 1974, which included internal caucus rule changes and the Budget Act that now governs operations. Full story

October 10, 2013

Paul Ryan Wants Budget Conference (Updated)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:42 p.m. | House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Thursday morning that he intends to go to conference on the budget, signaling the end to one of the year’s greatest impasses between the two parties and chambers.

“We’re gonna start negotiations,” Ryan said. “I intend to go to conference.

“I think when Leader Pelosi said that they would remove all the motions to instruct, that was a good-faith effort to get serious negotiations going,” he continued. “We intend to go to conference on that. As you know, a budget resolution is not sufficient to do all that we need to do, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., flanked by other members of Democratic leadership, announced Oct. 5 that her party was prepared to forfeit its right to offer “motions to instruct” should Republicans name conferees to merge the House and Senate budgets. That removed the threat of forcing Republicans having to take numerous politically difficult but nonbinding votes.

Full story

October 4, 2013

White House Announces Support for Back Pay for Workers (Updated)

Updated 1:27 p.m. | The White House on Friday backed a bipartisan House bill to to make sure furloughed federal workers get back pay.

The bill stands out on a long list of measures the House plans to take up that would reopen the government.

“Federal workers keep the Nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families. The Administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill’s swift passage,” said a Statement of Administration Policy. “This bill alone, however, will not address the serious consequences of the funding lapse, nor will a piecemeal approach to appropriations bills.”

The support from the White House should also clear the way for Senate passage. A senior Senate Democratic aide said that Democrats were discussing the matter with the White House and would likely take it up if the White House is on board.

Full story

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