Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 26, 2014

Posts by Steven Dennis

85 Posts

July 10, 2014

House Resolution Authorizes Suing Obama Over Affordable Care Act

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Boehner says the House lawsuit will focus on Obama’s changes to the Affordable Care Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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

Looking for Work: Top Cantor Aides on the Market

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Cooper, left, and Heye, seen here during the State of the Union, are in Cantor’s communications shop. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s leadership aides are on the job market after his stunning primary defeat. They also happen to be some of the sharpest people on Capitol Hill.

Among Cantor’s top staffers are:

Full story

June 20, 2014

House Votes to Limit NSA Surveillance on Americans

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The House passed Massie’s bill late Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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

By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:30 a.m.
Appropriations, NSA

June 12, 2014

Steve King Blasts Snap Election to Replace Eric Cantor

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King, shown here Wednesday amid a throng of reporters, wants to elect an “anti-amnesty” majority leader. (Tom William/CQ Roll Call)

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.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:55 a.m.
Kevin McCarthy

Tom Price Won’t Run for Leadership

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Price leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.


10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker

June 11, 2014

Boehner Urges Unity After Cantor’s Defeat

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Cantor Announces He’s Stepping Down, Backs McCarthy for Leader (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced Wednesday afternoon he will resign his leadership post and endorsed Kevin McCarthy of California to replace him.

“Effective July 31st, I will be stepping down as majority leader,” Cantor told reporters after an emotional meeting of House Republicans in the Capitol. His defeat has already touched off a massive leadership scramble to replace him.

But Cantor said that he would back his fellow “Young Gun” McCarthy if he runs for leader with his “full support.”

Full story

June 2, 2014

Dingell: Clean Air Act Not Intended to Regulate Climate Change

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Dingell says the Clean Air Act is not the best way to address climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The dean of the House, Rep. John D. Dingell, said Monday that the Obama administration isn’t using the Clean Air Act as it was intended by imposing new rules regulating greenhouse gases to combat climate change.

The Michigan Democrat, who helped write the Clean Air Act, said climate change is real and needs to be addressed, and dinged Congress for failing to act.

“Although I do not believe the Clean Air Act is intended, or is the most effective way, to regulate greenhouse gases, I nevertheless appreciate the need to take action to protect human health and the environment for the generations who come after us, especially in the absence of a Congress that is willing and able to work together on legislation to address this very real problem,” Dingell said in a statement Monday.

“I look forward to working with the Administration on this matter and hope any final rule will be written and implemented in a fashion that balances the need to reduce carbon pollution with the very real need to promote economic growth.”

Dingell supported the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill when it passed the House in 2009.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 6:36 p.m.

May 27, 2014

Isla Vista Shooting Prompts Consideration of Mental Health Bills

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Murphy is among the Republicans calling for action on mental health legislation after the shootings in California. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Mental health bills are getting a fresh look after the Isla Vista massacre, with lawmakers in both chambers and both parties pushing Congress to act.

In the aftermath of the killing spree blamed on Elliot Rodger, Democrats activated, issuing what seem like ritual news releases and tweets ripping Congress for failing to act on gun legislation, particularly in the wake of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn.

But few expect Congress to resurrect a gun debate in the shadow of the midterm elections. Full story

By Steven Dennis and Emma Dumain Posted at 5:34 p.m.

May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger Sparks New Call for Mental Health Bill

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The case of Elliot Rodger sparked a renewed call for a mental health bill from Murphy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Elliot Rodger — the man accused by police of committing a massacre Friday night in California — sparked a renewed call to pass a mental health bill in Congress.

“Our hearts break for the victims and families affected by the tragedy near Santa Barbara. We pray for their souls to find peace. But I am also angered because once again, our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

“How many more people must lose their lives before we take action on addressing cases of serious mental illness?” Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:17 a.m.
Guns, Health Care

May 12, 2014

Boehner Aide Brendan Buck Will Be Top Spokesman for Health Insurance Industry (Updated)

Boehner 2 021413 445x255 Boehner Aide Brendan Buck Will Be Top Spokesman for Health Insurance Industry (Updated)

Buck, left, walks with Boehner and fellow Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:31 p.m. | Brendan Buck, a longtime spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, is leaving Capitol Hill to become the chief spokesman for the health insurance industry.

Buck will become the vice president of communications at America’s Health Insurance Plans, per a statement from AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni. AHIP is the main lobby for the health insurance industry.

Buck spent three years with the Ohio Republican — leaving for a stint as press secretary for Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., during his run for vice president. He’s also been a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.

AHIP’s positions don’t always match up with the GOP’s. The insurance industry group backed universal coverage during the 2009 health care debate, backed up by a stiff individual mandate to buy insurance. But the group spent millions opposing Democratic efforts — and especially the public insurance option before it was scuttled. It continues to fight various provisions in the law, including a tax on insurance premiums and a cut in subsidies for private Medicare Advantage plans.

It has opposed efforts — including by Boehner’s GOP, to delay or repeal the individual mandate.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 8:57 a.m.
John Boehner

May 7, 2014

Not Just Benghazi Committee: Iran-Contra Had Partisan Makeup Too

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are demanding equal representation on the new Benghazi Committee, but Congress has a history of giving the majority not only the gavel but the power to wield it.

In 1987, when Congress investigated the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal, the partisan makeup of the House select committee had nine Democrats to six Republicans, CQ reported at the time, with Democrat Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana named the chairman and Dick Cheney of Wyoming the ranking Republican. (Yes, that Dick Cheney).

That’s a more partisan split than the seven to five being proposed by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, for the Benghazi Committee. Full story

April 29, 2014

Unemployment Extension Negotiations Continue: Boehner Gives Heller His Demands (Updated)

Unemployment Benefits 13 010814 445x295 Unemployment Extension Negotiations Continue: Boehner Gives Heller His Demands (Updated)

A January press conference asking Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:20 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner talked to the leading Republican pushing for an unemployment insurance extension, telling Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada on Tuesday that he won’t budge from demands for add-ons that would create jobs before he will put the measure on the House floor.

“The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in a statement. “Unfortunately, Senator Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions.”

The Ohio Republican has been consistent since December in demanding some concession from Democrats and the White House in return for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits — although without naming what, exactly, would be enough for him to bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Full story

April 26, 2014

Obama Pressures GOP on Unemployment Extension, Minimum Wage

President Barack Obama continues to keep up the drumbeat for an unemployment extension and a minimum wage hike, but neither issue appears any closer to a reality in Congress.

The president is taking his case to the airwaves and social media, using his advocacy arm, Organizing for Action, to try and pressure the GOP. Full story

April 25, 2014

Rep. Michael Grimm Expected to Be Indicted (Updated)

grimm010 071910 445x296 Rep. Michael Grimm Expected to Be Indicted (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo via Getty Images)

Updated 7:36 p.m. | Rep. Michael G. Grimm is expected to be indicted on federal charges in New York, his attorney and a source familiar with the case confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

“After more than two years of investigation plagued by malicious leaks, violations of grand jury secrecy, and strong-arm tactics, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has disclosed its intent to file criminal charges against Congressman Grimm,” said Grimm’s attorney, William McGinley of Patton Boggs LLP, in an emailed statement.

The New York Times reported a source said charges will include mail fraud and wire fraud and focus on his conduct in connection with a health food restaurant he owned on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006. A source familiar with the case confirmed that to CQ Roll Call, and said tax-related charges are also expected to be filed by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta E. Lynch.

“We are disappointed by the government’s decision, but hardly surprised,” McGinley said. “From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth. Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing. When the dust settles, he will be vindicated. Until then, he will continue to serve his constituents with the same dedication and tenacity that has characterized his lifetime of public service as a Member of Congress, Marine Corps combat veteran, and decorated FBI Special Agent.”

The indictment of the New York Republican would come nearly two years after the Justice Department first launched a formal investigation into Grimm’s campaign finances. It began the summer of 2012, several months after revelations first surfaced in a New York Times article that the lawmaker, then a freshman, might have bolstered his first bid for congressional office by filing erroneous campaign finance reports and offering to help get a green card for a non-citizen on condition that the individual help raise money on Grimm’s behalf. Full story

By Emma Dumain and Steven Dennis Posted at 4:44 p.m.
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