Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 27, 2015

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

27 Posts

March 2, 2015

DHS Funding Battle Reveals a Republican House Divided

Boehner has to figure out a path forward to avoid a DHS shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress returns this week facing yet another Department of Homeland Security funding deadline — but the appropriations squabble has suddenly become overshadowed by an increasingly bitter internal fight among House Republicans for the soul of the party.

House conservatives sank the GOP leadership’s plan for a three-week continuing resolution for DHS while an appeals court rules on an injunction blocking the administration from implementing the president’s executive action on immigration — but the victory was short-lived. The Senate sent over a one-week CR. The House passed it. And, with just minutes to spare before a lapse in appropriations at DHS, President Barack Obama signed the bill.

Now, with a House and Senate seemingly out of sync, and with a House GOP that’s becoming more splintered by the day, Republican leaders are squaring off this week for a battle that could set the tone for the rest of the 114th Congress.

Full story

February 28, 2015

How an Obscure Rule Could Give Boehner a Way Out of DHS Mess (Updated)

John Boehner DHS funding homeland security House rules

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:57 p.m. | A provision tucked deep in the House rule book could provide a way out of the Homeland Security funding mess for Speaker John A. Boehner — without the Ohio Republican actually having to do anything.

With rumblings about a full-scale revolt from within the ranks should Boehner put a funding bill on the floor that doesn’t explicitly block implementation of President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions, there was talk Friday night from senior House Democratic aides of Republicans having found a face-saving procedural gambit that would ultimately end in full funding for Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Full story

February 26, 2015

GOP Leadership Floats 3 More Weeks of DHS Funding (Video)

House Republican leadership plans to move forward with another stopgap spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security, in a move sure to draw additional criticism from Democrats.

Rep. Darrell Issa said he supports a three-week clean continuing resolution for DHS funding, and he suggested that’s the plan leaders will move forward with. Issa said Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, proposed such a plan to the conference during a special meeting Thursday afternoon.

Full story

February 10, 2015

House Says, Senate Says: GOP Split on Next DHS Move (Updated)

McCarthy said it's up to the Senate. Cornyn suggests it's up to the House.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCarthy said it’s up to the Senate. Cornyn suggests it’s up to the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:28 p.m. | When it comes to Department of Homeland Security funding, the ball is still in the Senate’s court, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“A hundred senators got elected to say they wanted to solve problems,” McCarthy told a small group of reporters Tuesday morning. “They didn’t get elected to say, ‘we’ll wait and see what the House does.’ They should show us where they stand.” Full story

December 29, 2014

What Scalise and Vitter Told Roll Call About David Duke in 1999

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Back in 1999, Roll Call interviewed white supremacist leader David Duke about the possibility he would seek the House seat vacated by the resignation of Republican Rep. Bob Livingston. As part of that report, reporter John Mercurio also talked to up-and-coming Louisiana politicians, current Sen. David Vitter and current House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

“I honestly think his 15 minutes of fame have come and gone,” said state Rep. David Vitter (R), a wealthy Metairie attorney who holds Duke’s old seat in the state House and is “seriously considering” a Congressional bid. “When he’s competed in a field with real conservatives, real Republicans, Duke has not done well at all.”

Another potential candidate, state Rep. Steve Scalise (R), said he embraces many of the same “conservative” views as Duke, but is far more viable.

“The novelty of David Duke has worn off,” said Scalise. “The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected. Duke has proven that he can’t get elected, and that’s the first and most important thing.”

Full story

December 2, 2014

Sources: Senate, House Republicans Set Joint Retreat in Pennsylvania

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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

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)

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

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

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

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

(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.
Republicans

August 22, 2014

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

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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′

Boehner Bowe Bergdahl statement

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

Oberstar in 2009. (Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly File Photo)

(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

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