Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 25, 2014

Posts by Steven Dennis

70 Posts

April 24, 2014

Video Shows Boehner Mocking Colleagues on Immigration

A video clip has been posted of Speaker John A. Boehner mocking his colleagues’ reluctance to take on an immigration overhaul today while campaigning for re-election in Ohio:

“As the speaker often says to his colleagues, you only tease the ones you love,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in an email.

Boehner tried to rally his troops earlier this year to support leadership’s immigration principles, but less than 10 percent of his conference has publicly supported them according to our immigration whip count.

Boehner’s broader comments today on health care, immigration, the tea party and more are covered here.

April 23, 2014

Obama’s Drug Clemency Push Slammed by House GOP Chairman

goodlatte 071 011514 261x335 Obamas Drug Clemency Push Slammed by House GOP Chairman

Goodlatte (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte ripped President Barack Obama’s new plans to grant clemency to potentially thousands of nonviolent drug offenders Wednesday.

The Virginia Republican says Congress, not the president, should determine the length of sentences. But the president has absolute authority under the Constitution to issue pardons — though Obama has to date used that authority sparingly.

The administration has noted that thousands of prisoners could be affected by the drug clemency push, especially those sentenced under laws older and harsher than the guidelines set down in a 2010 sentencing rewrite signed by Obama. If those prisoners were sentenced today, many would already be free.

But Goodlatte ripped the idea.

“In an unprecedented move to dramatically expand the clemency process for federal drug offenders, President Obama has again demonstrated his blatant disregard for our nation’s laws and our system of checks and balances embedded in the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “This new clemency initiative applies to current federal inmates, including drug offenders with prior felony convictions or drug offenders who may have possessed a firearm during the commission of their offense. Members of gangs and drug trafficking organizations could also be eligible for commutation under President Obama’s subjective determination. Full story

April 21, 2014

White House, Perez Continue Unemployment Extension Push (Updated)

Labor 01 040913 238x335 White House, Perez Continue Unemployment Extension Push (Updated)

Perez is Labor secretary. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:40 p.m. | The White House and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez continue to press the House to pass an unemployment benefits extension — but so far there’s no word of a new offer to sweeten the pot for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

“We continue to press Congress to take action to restore those benefits,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. “Extending them would be, of course, hugely impactful to the families who receive them directly, but also of great benefit to the economy, and Congress ought to take action.”

Carney said he didn’t have an update on what the White House might be willing to offer Boehner. Full story

April 9, 2014

GOP Post: Unemployment Extension Won’t Create Jobs

A Wednesday afternoon blog post by Ways and Means Republicans suggests that blocking an unemployment benefits extension may have boosted the economy.

“What Happened Since Extended Unemployment Benefits Ended?” the post asks. “More Jobs and Less Long-Term Unemployment, for Starters.”

The post said the emergency unemployment compensation program assisted 24 million people over 5.5 years at a cost of more than $260 billion.

“Despite Democrat claims that spending on unemployment benefits ‘creates jobs faster than almost any initiative you can name,’ all this record-setting benefit spending has bought in recent years is the slowest jobs recovery on record,” the post said. Full story

April 7, 2014

Unemployment Extension: Senate Passage Puts Bill in Boehner’s Court

GOP Caucus 21 121113 445x315 Unemployment Extension: Senate Passage Puts Bill in Boehners Court

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate’s vote late Monday to pass an unemployment extension doesn’t mean the more than 2 million people who have lost their benefits can rest easy — the House isn’t likely to touch the issue until the end of the month, if at all.

While a band of House moderates have written to leaders asking them to consider the issue promptly — either with the Senate’s bill or an alternative — Speaker John A. Boehner has been clear that the Senate measure fails to meet his tests of creating jobs and being fiscally responsible. The Ohio Republican hasn’t put forward an alternative of his own.

The real question for House Republicans seems to be this — is there something they can get out of the White House and congressional Democrats in return for releasing benefits to the unemployed? Full story

April 4, 2014

Moran Reignites Perennial Pay Raise Debate

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., isn’t the only lawmaker to spark a national debate over congressional pay in recent years.

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy took flak in 2011 when he said he was struggling to pay his bills.

Last year, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the second richest member of Congress, complained on the House floor about having to pay higher health insurance premiums.

And Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., got into hot water during last year’s shutdown when she initially refused to give up her pay. “I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line,” she said, before later backtracking.

The issue, of course has perennially been a thorny one for members of Congress. Decades ago, a freshman Moran and a freshman Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, were among the 35 new lawmakers who banded together to push pay raise reform.

Over the years, leaders in both parties have worked across the aisle to protect their pay raises, although in recent years, congressional pay has been frozen, including with a provision in the fiscal cliff deal.

‘Underpaid’ Jim Moran One of the Poorest Members of Congress

moran 030 030114 445x296 Underpaid Jim Moran One of the Poorest Members of Congress

(By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James P. Moran, who has sparked a national debate after saying that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are “underpaid,” is one of the poorest members of Congress after decades in office and a host of financial troubles over the years.

Moran’s latest financial disclosure statement lists a single reportable financial asset to his name — a money market account with $1,000 to $15,000. He doesn’t list any liabilities.

In fact, Moran has been pulling down a second job of sorts, making $10,000 in 2012 for teaching at George Mason University.

He’s not quite poor enough to land him on this year’s Top 10 ‘Poorest’ list, however.

The longtime appropriator has had plenty of financial difficulties in the past — but has at times been a millionaire too, thanks to marriage.

(Related: Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen)

Moran in 2004 described himself as “the poorest member of Congress” after he racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from options trading. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:35 p.m.
Ethics

April 3, 2014

Obama Talks Pope, Ukraine, IMF With Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell

Updated 10 a.m. | President Barack Obama discussed the crisis in Ukraine, his visit with Pope Francis and other issues with congressional leaders Thursday evening at the White House, according to a readout from a White House official.

The meeting with Congress’s big four — Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — was called by Obama to discuss his big overseas trip and Ukraine.

The White House readout noted the president’s discussion with Pope Francis of immigration and reducing inequality. UPDATE: A Boehner aide said Friday, however, that there was no discussion of immigration at Thursday’s meeting.

Immigration has stalled in the House, and the leaders have been far apart on the president’s agenda to combat inequality, including a minimum wage hike and an extension of unemployment benefits.

Obama also once again urged the leaders to pass IMF legislation, which Boehner has refused to bring to the House floor, and updated the leaders on nuclear security and Saudi Arabia.

Here’s the full White House readout: Full story

March 28, 2014

Judiciary Committee Tries to Assert Jurisdiction on FISA Rewrite

goodlatte 071 011514 261x335 Judiciary Committee Tries to Assert Jurisdiction on FISA Rewrite

Goodlatte is the chairman of the judiciary committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are trying to assert jurisdiction over legislation revamping the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs — days after the bipartisan leadership of the Intelligence Committee outlined its own plan.

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Robert C. Scott, D-Va., issued a cautionary joint statement about President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to end the government’s bulk collection of telephone records and make other changes to intelligence gathering.

Full story

Mike Rogers Retirement Leaves Big Hole in the House

rogers ruppersberger 178 032514 445x296 Mike Rogers Retirement Leaves Big Hole in the House

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The retirement announcement of Intelligence Chairman Mike J. Rogers Friday morning leaves a big hole for the House — and the Sunday talk show circuit — to fill.

Rogers, who will become a radio talk show host, had become in some ways the face of the intelligence community on television, racking up more Sunday show appearances than any other member of Congress each of the last two years. The telegenic former FBI agent repeatedly defended the National Security Agency against attacks following the avalanche of leaks by Edward Snowden, often taking a harder line than the White House.

Rogers had been a hawk against leaks — at one point suggesting the death penalty should be considered for Chelsea Manning for leaking documents to Wikileaks. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:15 a.m.
NSA

March 25, 2014

CBO Reaffirms: Immigration Bill Cuts Deficit $900 Billion Over 20 Years

tree lighting009 120313 445x288 CBO Reaffirms: Immigration Bill Cuts Deficit $900 Billion Over 20 Years

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the immigration overhaul being pushed by House Democrats — and nearly identical to the version that passed out of committee in the Senate — would slice the deficit by about $900 billion over 20 years.

In a letter to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., CBO Executive Director Douglas Elmendorf essentially reiterated the CBO’s earlier forecast for the Senate’s overhaul, while noting that the House version, H.R. 15, does not include $38 billion for border security in the first 10 years like the bill that passed the Senate. The CBO has estimated nearly $200 billion in cost savings in the first decade and about $700 billion in the second. Full story

March 24, 2014

Tax Reform to Start With Baby Steps in the House

camp 177 022614 445x296 Tax Reform to Start With Baby Steps in the House

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is pushing ahead with an incremental approach on tax reform for now.

In a memo to committee colleagues on Monday, the Michigan Republican said he planned to take several steps over the next several months, “pav[ing] the way for tax reform by making incremental progress towards full reform.”

In addition to holding “bipartisan meetings with the staff of the [Joint Committee on Taxation] until we have walked through the entire draft” and convening “public hearings on specific portions of the bill,” Camp said that the panel would mark up “permanent legislation” to address the so-called tax extenders which expire every year. Full story

March 13, 2014

Obama Considering New Immigration Enforcement Changes (Updated)

Updated 10:18 p.m. | President Barack Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus leadership Thursday evening he’s considering more changes to the enforcement of immigration laws, amid growing unrest among his allies over his deportation record.

“The President emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting. “He told the members that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the Department’s current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law.” Full story

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

Dingell Has ‘Minimally Invasive’ Heart Procedure in Detroit Hospital (Updated)

Updated 12:55 p.m. | Rep. John D. Dingell underwent a “minimally invasive” heart procedure today at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and is “resting comfortably,” according to his office.

“He recently developed atrial fibrillation, and the procedure will seek to find the source of the abnormal heart rhythm and correct it. He is expected to stay in the hospital overnight and be released Friday,” his office said in a statement.

The Michigan Democrat plans to have a light workload during next week’s recess and plans to return to work when Congress reconvenes March 24.

Dingell recently announced that he would not run for re-election.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 8:54 a.m.
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