- Both Parties Brace for Obama Immigration Decision
- Iowa Lawmaker Guilty of Receiving Illegal Payments
- The ISIS Economy
- Walker Holds Edge in Wisconsin
- Deadlocked in Iowa
Posts by Steven Dennis
August 27, 2014
A former Iowa state senator pleaded guilty to concealing payments he received from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign to switch his support from Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Kent Sorenson, 42, of Milo, Iowa, entered the guilty plea for one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures and one count of obstruction of justice.
According to a Department of Justice release, Sorenson admitted he had supported one campaign for the 2012 presidential election, but from October to December 2011, “he met and secretly negotiated with a second political campaign to switch his support to that second campaign in exchange for concealed payments that amounted to $73,000.”
Updated 5:27 p.m. | A longtime former aide and political consultant for Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., has pleaded guilty to a number of federal charges in campaign finance fraud schemes.
Gregory Naylor, 66, pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple counts for his “participation in two campaign finance-related schemes initiated by a long-time friend and former employer” identified as “Elected Official A.”
But court documents posted online by Joel Mathis of PhillyMag.com describe in detail Naylor’s work on a failed 2007 Philadelphia mayoral campaign — when he was working on Fattah’s failed bid. Documents also describe a $500,000 contribution to a higher education conference named for an elected official that was then diverted to to pay off part of an illegal $1 million loan to the elected official’s failed mayoral campaign from an unnamed benefactor.
Fattah has annually held the “Fattah Conference on Higher Education” and a press release from the time touts a $500,000 contribution from Sallie Mae to the conference.
According to the Department of Justice release, Naylor helped conceal the theft of federal grants and private charitable funds to repay an illegal campaign debt from a 2007 campaign. Full story
August 5, 2014
Speaker John A. Boehner says it’s time for President Barack Obama to reassess his strategy for withdrawing from Afghanistan after an attack left a general dead.
“What happened today is not only a personal tragedy, but a setback that demands leaders in Washington and Kabul take time to assess the state of our shared campaign and the necessary steps forward,” the Ohio Republican said. “The Taliban’s recent campaign of high-profile attacks is calculated to accompany a global PR strategy highlighting the fact that U.S. and coalition forces will soon be leaving Afghanistan and abandoning its weak and ineffective government. The Taliban wants everyone to know it will soon dominate all aspects of life in Afghanistan once again.
“I have told the President privately and publicly that my biggest concern is that America will end its mission in Afghanistan just short of the goal line. After my visit there in May, I warned that if we did not demonstrate a determination to finish the job, we would be looking at a reversal of progress similar to what we have seen in Iraq. The national security interests of our country are too high, and too much sacrifice has been made to watch that happen. So let me reiterate: if the President decides to re-think his strategy, including withdrawals, deadlines, and policy restraints, particularly on certain associated terrorist networks, he will have my support.” Full story
August 2, 2014
Tea party firebrand Michele Bachmann suggested late Friday on the House floor that Congress should put handcuffs on the “lawless president’s hands” — a remark that brought a rebuke from the chair and appears to violate House rules.
The Minnesota Republican made the figurative remark while speaking on the floor during debate on legislation ending the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program granting deportation relief and work permits to some children brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The legislation also would prohibit President Barack Obama from expanding the program to other illegal immigrants as the president reportedly is considering whether to expand the program to as many as 5 million people.
Bachmann said House passage of the bill would “put a handcuff on one of the president’s hands” and said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should bring the Senate back and pass the bill.
“He needs to put the other handcuff on this lawless president’s hands,” she said as she grabbed one of her wrists.
The chair admonished Bachmann immediately after she was finished speaking: “The chair wishes to remind members to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president.” Full story
August 1, 2014
Updated 8:54 a.m. | Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective Aug. 18, he said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch posted at midnight.
The Virginia Republican, newly deposed as House majority leader after losing his primary to Dave Brat, said he has asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election on Nov. 4, ensuring that the district will be represented in the lame duck.
“I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor told his hometown newspaper. Cantor said that will also give his replacement additional seniority in the next Congress.
News of Cantor’s quick exit came hours after he delivered a farewell speech as leader, and caps a stunning fall for the man who had been preparing to succeed John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker. He had previously said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term.
Leaving allows him to avoid awkward months serving as a back-bencher in a House he had once helped rule. It also gives him a chance to quickly move on to what will likely be a lucrative career in the private sector.
July 31, 2014
Updated 4:52 p.m. | House GOP leaders ditched their plans to vote on a border supplemental Thursday after failing to secure the votes to pass it — but plan to try again Friday before jetting out of town for the August recess.
“We will stay until we vote,” Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told reporters after an emergency meeting held at 3 p.m. Another GOP conference meeting was called for 9 a.m Friday, a GOP leadership aide said.
Asked if talks would continue Thursday night, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters “Oh, yeah.”
Earlier, chaos reigned in the House as GOP leaders’ carefully crafted gambit to win conservative votes fell apart.
“We don’t think we have the votes,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, one of the architects of the bill. But she said the whip count was “very close” with about 214 supporters, including Democrats.
“There are people who just don’t want to do anything,” she said. “They don’t want to spend the money.”
While GOP leaders initially indicated they would not vote on the border supplemental, a number of lawmakers pushed them to reconsider.
“I’m going to talk to the whip and the leaders to try and talk them into doing something else,” said Rep. John Carter, R-Texas on his way to the whip’s office.
Carter said he’s been telling his GOP colleagues, “60 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.”
The $659 million bill intended to deal with the crisis of child migrants coming across the border would have been followed by a vote on separate legislation prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief and work permits to any more illegal immigrants.
GOP leaders, led by Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, issued a joint statement pinning the blame for pulling the bill on Obama. Full story
July 29, 2014
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blistered the GOP’s border bill as “unjust and inhumane” in a statement Tuesday.
“We must have a heart, and look into our souls to guide us in our treatment of these desperate children,” the California Democrat said of the tens of thousands of unauthorized migrants who have flooded the border. “While we are reminded of the critical importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform, we must do so much more than the Republicans’ unjust and inhumane proposal.”
It’s not unusual for Pelosi to blast a Republican measure, but in this case, it’s not clear Republicans can pass their bill if Pelosi puts the hammer down on Democrats who cross party lines. Full story
A Congress known for its dysfunction and acrimony may be on the verge of a rare triple combo — passing major bills addressing the border crisis, the Veterans Affairs scandal and the Highway Trust Fund in one week. But if it happens, it’s going to be like the rest of the 113th: ugly.
The pre-August sprint got off on the right foot with the announcement Monday of a $17 billion deal to slash wait times at the Department of Veterans Affairs, followed Tuesday by the 97-0 confirmation of former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary.
A highway patch seemed likely too, although not without last-minute wrangling between the two chambers over the fine print. Full story
Speaker John A. Boehner vowed the House would not allow the Senate to add any “comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act” to the House’s $659 million border bill Tuesday.
“Senator Reid, embarrassed that he cannot strong-arm the Senate into passing the blank check President Obama demanded, is making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House’s common-sense solution,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement aimed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., after Reid suggested he could add immigration to the border bill.
“So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion,” he said. “Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis. Such measures have no place in the effort to solve this crisis, and any attempt to exploit this crisis by adding such measures will run into a brick wall in the People’s House.” Full story
July 10, 2014
House Republicans plan to sue President Barack Obama for failing to enforce the Affordable Care Act, according to a resolution authorizing the lawsuit posted on the House Rules Committee website.
The president’s failure to enforce the employer mandate will be the focus of the lawsuit, Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement.
“In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it,” the Ohio Republican said. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”
Ironically, Boehner will be suing Obama to enforce the law even though the House has voted to delay or repeal the employer mandate itself. Full story
June 26, 2014
June 20, 2014
Defying the Obama administration, a bipartisan veto-proof House majority voted to rein in NSA surveillance of Americans late Thursday.
The 293-123 vote on the amendment by libertarian-minded Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., had majority support in both parties, although a number of leaders in both parties and chairmen opposed it. Some 135 Republicans and 158 Democrats backed it.
The amendment would prohibit the National Security Agency and the CIA from placing surveillance backdoors on commercial tech products and prohibit warrantless collection of Americans’ online data. Full story
June 12, 2014
Rep. Steve King said Thursday GOP leaders are “stacking the deck” with a snap election to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader and urged the Republican Conference to slow down and elect an “anti-amnesty” majority leader.
“At a time when Republicans in Congress are fighting the Obama Administration to oppose snap elections for unions on American employers, Republican Leadership is trying to do the same in the United States House of Representatives,” the Iowa Republican said in a statement. “This snap election has the effect of stacking the deck.
“Unfortunately, while both current candidates benefit from the hasty timeframe prescribed by leadership, neither opposes amnesty legislation being brought to the floor of the House. The primary election in Virginia 7 that led to this leadership vacuum turned on the electorate’s opposition to amnesty. Have we learned nothing? Let’s take more time to get our heads clear and elect a staunch conservative, anti-amnesty candidate to step up and lead the Majority.”
King has frequently criticized GOP leaders for pursuing immigration legislation. Conservatives, meanwhile, were trying to coalesce around a candidate to take on Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.
Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas has announced his interest, and lawmakers are looking at two other conservatives, Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho and former Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia has decided not to run for leadership in the wake of Eric Cantor’s pending resignation as majority leader.
Price said Thursday he’s focused on succeeding Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., atop the Budget Committee.
“The encouragement I’ve received from colleagues over these past couple of days has been humbling,” he said. “My position has always been that I’m ready to serve in whatever capacity might best help unify our team, promote our conservative principles and, above all, pursue positive solutions on behalf of our constituents. To that end, at this time, my focus is on the opportunity to serve as the next chairman of the House Budget Committee.”
Cantor’s resignation has set off a massive leadership scramble for power ahead of a June 19 vote to replace him.
June 11, 2014
Speaker John A. Boehner urged his flock to unify Wednesday after Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning downfall at a meeting in the Capitol late Wednesday.
Here’s a portion of the Ohio Republican’s remarks, according to a source in the room:
This is a speech I never expected to give. I want to start by offering a heartfelt thanks to Eric and his staff for their service to our conference, our institution and our country.
We’ve been through a lot together.
When I was elected majority leader eight and a half years ago, Eric was there, as the chief deputy whip. He’s always been there.
There’s no one who works harder, or puts more thought, into advancing our principles and the solutions we want to enact for the American people.
Winston Churchill once famously said: ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’
As one who suffered a tough defeat myself in 1998, I can tell you there’s plenty of wisdom in that statement.
Eric, we salute you, and we thank you, and your amazing staff as well.
We’re losing a leader, but you’ll never stop being our colleague and our friend.
This is the time for unity; the time for focus – focus on the thing we all know to be true: the failure of Barack Obama’s policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future.
Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.