Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 18, 2014

Posts in "2014 Midterm Elections"

September 17, 2014

Parties’ Shared Benghazi Goals: Win the Hearings, Control the Narrative

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On the eve of a new round of hearings, Cummings made it clear Democrats intend to defend the Obama administration’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Trey Gowdy and Elijah E. Cummings say they don’t want the Select Committee on Benghazi to be driven by partisanship, and both have made overtures over the past four months to prove they mean it.

But no matter how many times the South Carolina Republican and Maryland Democrat huddle in the Speaker’s Lobby and pledge to treat the committee’s mission with dignity, the chairman and ranking member probably won’t be able to drown out the partisan voices on sidelines just 48 days from the midterm elections.

On the eve of the committee’s first public hearing, set for Wednesday morning, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, on Capitol Hill and off, were already drawing battle lines. Full story

September 15, 2014

Path Forward on CR, Title 10 Authority Starts to Crystalize

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After postponing consideration last week of a stop-gap spending measure to fund the government past Sept. 30, House GOP leaders are poised in the days ahead to bring that same piece of legislation to the floor.

That vote, however, will now likely be coupled with consideration of an amendment to the underlying bill that would authorize the Obama administration to train and arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist organization known as the Islamic State or ISIS.

This bifurcated approach would make it considerably easier for members — on both sides of the aisle — to vote against the ISIS language but not the continuing resolution, taking off the table the threat of a revolt large enough to risk another government shutdown. Full story

September 11, 2014

No. 2 House Democrat Predicts Two-Part Vote on ISIS Request

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Hoyer predicts two House votes on the president’s ISIS authority request. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Thursday afternoon that he expects Congress will vote next week to grant President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS.

But the Maryland Democrat also said he expected that that vote wouldn’t be Congress’s last word on the subject.

“I believe a two-step process is what we will, I think, pursue,” Hoyer told CQ Roll Call and the Washington Post on Thursday during a taping of the C-SPAN program “Newsmakers,” set to air on Sunday morning. “I think there will be consideration of the president’s request to train and equip regional players.”

Then, after the elections, Hoyer said he anticipated “consideration of a larger authorization for the use of military force.”

Full story

September 8, 2014

September Congressional Agenda: Must-Pass Bills and Messaging Gambits

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Boehner wants to contrast House action with Senate inaction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Congress back in town Monday after five weeks off, plenty of Republicans and Democrats have made it clear the session’s No. 1 priority is passing a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

There’s also a lot of bipartisan consensus, it turns out, on No. 2 — which can be summed up fairly neatly under the heading “Make the Other Guys Look Bad Ahead of the Elections.”

In a final, jam-packed sprint to Nov. 4 — the House is in session just 12 days, the Senate 15 — members in both chambers will be scrambling to check off those top two items, and a few others as well.

First Things First. No one wants another government shutdown. Federal funding runs out on Sept. 30, so Congress has to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep agencies operational or risk a repeat of last year’s disaster that put congressional approval ratings at an all-time low. Leaders on both sides of the aisle and rotunda say they want a policy-rider free CR that runs through early December, but some Republicans could revolt over immigration executive orders or reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Which Leads Us to … Reauthorizing the Ex-Im. Funding for the institution that underwrites sales of U.S. goods abroad will expire at the end of the month, and its future is shaky: Far-right lawmakers say the Export-Import Bank represents corporate welfare, while other Republicans say that dissolving the institution would be catastrophic for small businesses. There’s growing interest in extending the bank’s charter for just a few months to buy Congress more time to reach a long-term agreement, but aides to senior GOP lawmakers caution that a deal on how to proceed is still elusive.

War on ISIS. It’s not clear whether Congress will be compelled to act on legislation authorizing air strikes in the region following the execution by Islamic extremists of two American journalists. But calls are coming from both sides of the aisle for Congress to definitively authorize President Barack Obama to use force against ISIS, the group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq. For the time being, the only planned House response is in the form of committee hearings. In the Democratic-controlled Senate, an aide said that “we are many steps away from knowing whether this is going to be an issue to come to Congress or not.”

The GOP ‘Closing Argument.’ Republicans intend to pass a number of jobs and energy bills over the next few weeks in what Speaker John A. Boehner referred to recently as a “closing argument” before the midterms: The GOP is working for Americans, while “the leader of the dysfunctional, do-nothing Senate plans to spend the final legislative days before November talking about the Koch brothers.”

Spotlight on Benghazi. Along with taking already-passed bills and re-bundling them to send over to the Democratic Senate a second time, House Republicans will also remind voters that they are paying attention to national security concerns: South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the specially-created committee to probe the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will convene the panel’s first hearing this month.

Pelosi’s Aces: UI, Immigration. Democrats don’t control the legislative agenda in the House, but they have a couple of cards they can play to try and spare their party of some bloodletting this fall. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s troops will likely continue to support White House plans to use executive orders to grant more stays of deportation to undocumented immigrants in light of the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive overhaul legislation. They will also undoubtedly focus on the GOP’s refusal to extend the emergency unemployment insurance program, nine months after funding lapsed.

Speaking of the Koch Brothers … In the Senate, Democrats will kick off their first day back by proceeding with a vote to cut off debate on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and individuals. They are banking that Republicans filibuster the effort so they can spend their remaining weeks before the midterms reconsidering items from Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “fair shot” agenda, the first of which would be a bill to improve college affordability. A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage would follow.

Senate Republicans Playing It Safe. Reid’s Republican colleagues, anticipating a banner year at the polls in November, have not tipped their hands as to how they want to spend September. To thwart Reid’s wish to force politically loaded votes on the Senate floor, GOP leaders could urge members to allow debate on the campaign finance bill — the quintessential symbolic messaging measure that will never advance.

Humberto Sanchez and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS

House GOP Plan for September: Shame the Senate

Boehner Defers to Hensarling on Export-Import Bank (Updated)

McConnell, Reid Spar Over Campaign Financing

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 5, 2014

The Complexity of the U.S. Border Crisis, in 7 Photos

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A migrant trail near Nogales, Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NOGALES, Ariz. — Didn’t get to the border during your August recess to do research for your boss? We have you covered.

In the days before they last left town, the House rallied to pass an appropriations bill aiming to curtail the influx of child migrants — legislation that’s going to hit a wall in the Senate whether or not the president takes any executive action.

RollCall On the Road Logo150x150 The Complexity of the U.S. Border Crisis, in 7 Photos

CQ Roll Call toured the southern border with Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. and the congressman’s staff on Aug. 8. Their goal? Showcasing the difficult situation in person.

“There are so many layers to the border,” Grijalva said from the backseat of a 4×4 truck as it climbed over the desert mountains en route to a migrant trail crossroads. “There are so many layers to immigration. It’s a very complex issue.”

These seven photos illustrate why legislating the border has become increasingly difficult.

Full story

September 4, 2014

McCarthy: ‘Friends Don’t Trust Us, Enemies Don’t Fear Us’

 

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McCarthy said Obama needs to step up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress is working on legislation that would authorize more aggressive military action against terror group ISIS — but President Barack Obama has to step up and take the lead in the fight, said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The California Republican, in a Tuesday interview on conservative talker Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, said he supports efforts to give the president authority to pursue Islamic extremists across borders. But he cautioned against Congress conducting foreign policy.

“We don’t need 535 foreign policy experts trying to run the military,” McCarthy told guest host Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif. “First and foremost, this president has to have a strategy. I mean, what is our foreign policy? I mean, I don’t know what it is. And if we don’t know what it is, our allies don’t know, and our enemies don’t know, so they’re pushing the envelope. Full story

September 3, 2014

House GOP Plan for September: Shame the Senate

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Boehner told Republicans the House will be busy in September. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner outlined the September legislative agenda in a Wednesday afternoon conference call with House Republican lawmakers, describing a scheduled 12-day session that will be “brief, but busy.”

The most pressing item on the agenda is a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30, but Boehner also spoke strongly and at length, according to a read-out from a source on the call, in favor of using the remaining legislative days before the November elections to draw “a very stark contrast between ourselves and the Democrats who run Washington.”

The Republican-led House, Boehner said, “is going to spend September focused on American solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home and restore opportunity for all Americans.”

House Republicans’ “closing argument” before they depart for the campaign trail ahead of Election Day, Boehner said, will be moving legislation designed to have tangible results for the American people, while the “do-nothing Senate plans to spend the final legislative days before November talking about the Koch brothers.”

Boehner’s comments mirrored an early August memo from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., alerting members that leadership would be taking dozens of jobs and energy bills that have already been passed individually by the House and bundling them together in packages to send over to the Senate again — a move intended to put more pressure on the chamber’s Democratic leadership.

With the GOP almost certain to retain control of the House in the 114th Congress, the chamber’s Republicans now appear to be rallying to help tilt the balance of power in the Senate.

 

Related:

Gutieérrez, Activists Urge Obama to Act on Immigration Before Elections

House, Senate Lay Groundwork for War on ISIS

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 2, 2014

Cantor’s New Gig Will Pay More Than $1M Per Year

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Cantor makes his way to the House floor in the Capitol on his last day as leader, (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

That didn’t take long.

Just weeks after Rep. Eric Cantor resigned from Congress — which was just days after he stepped down as House majority leader following his stunning primary defeat in June — the Virginia Republican has a new job.

He’ll be the vice chairman and managing director of Moelis & Company, which describes itself as “a leading global investment bank.” Cantor will also be elected to the bank’s board of directors, according to an official press release that went out Tuesday morning. Full story

August 28, 2014

Dreamers Ambush Paul Ryan at Colorado Book Signing (Video)

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Protesters confronted Ryan at his book signing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:56 p.m. | THORNTON, Colo. — Immigration protesters ambushed Rep. Paul D. Ryan Wednesday as the Wisconsin Republican signed books at a Barnes & Noble here.

Ryan was confronted by Greisa Martinez, a national organizer with United We Dream. Martinez and three companions bought books and waited in line for Ryan. But once Martinez reached the front of the line, she asked Ryan questions about the lack of congressional action on immigration.

Full story

August 14, 2014

Cantor Voting Rights Act Legacy is Failure to Deliver, Democrats Say

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Democrats wonder if Cantor was all talk on the Voting Rights Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year.

Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.

Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.”

But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”

It’s a disappointing turn that has some Democrats wondering if Cantor ever deserved the benefit of a doubt on minority voting rights. Full story

August 1, 2014

Eric Cantor Skips Final Immigration Votes

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Cantor walking through the halls of the Capitol for what could quite likely be the last time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Eric Cantor bid the House farewell in a floor speech Thursday, he apparently meant it.

At the time, Cantor had not yet disclosed his intent to resign his seat as of Aug. 18. He was merely ending his tenure as majority leader a little less than two months after his sudden primary defeat in June, handing the gavel off to his successor, Kevin McCarthy of California.

But when it came time for a major test for Cantor’s House Republicans, the ousted Virginian was already long gone.

Cantor was among the 20 lawmakers who did not vote Friday night, on what was meant to be the first official date of the five-week August recess. The House, like the Senate, was scheduled to go home the day before, but lawmakers were forced to stay an extra day to get consensus on legislation to address the child migrant border surge at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Full story

July 31, 2014

House Moves Ahead on New Border Funding Gambit

Just hours after shifting gears on a strategy to pass a $659 million appropriations bill to bolster resources at the U.S.-Mexico border, House Republicans are moving ahead, more confident they have the votes.

Rank-and-file members emerged from a GOP Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Thursday morning with a sense that the gambit — giving conservatives a standalone vote to stop the expansion of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program after they pass the border funding bill — would be enough to bring conservative holdouts on board.

Many Republicans argue that DACA, the 2012 executive order granting stays of deportation to young undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents, is responsible for the influx of child migrants who have come to believe that if the can get over the border and into the United States, they will be allowed to stay and put on a path to legal status. They insisted that any legislation to stem the tide of the border surge would have to address that executive action, especially after news reports Obama is considering expanding the program to as many as five million more immigrants here illegally. Full story

July 29, 2014

Advocates Grade Congress on Immigration (Updated)

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Immigration overhaul advocates hold a large rally in front of the White House Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Frustrated by lack of action and unfulfilled promises on the immigration overhaul front, a coalition of 10 advocacy groups is out to hold House members accountable for the extent to which they were unhelpful to the cause.

A new scorecard for all 435 members’ immigration votes, statements and co-sponsorships aims to draw a stark portrait of “who stands with us and who does not,” said Hispanic Federation President José Calderón. The rankings come as Congress nears a boiling point on an emergency funding request from President Barack Obama intended to mitigate the crisis at the border as children cross illegally into the United States.

The first-of-its-kind scorecard was released Monday, as advocates gathered a stone’s throw from the Capitol for the grand unveiling, calling for action and scolding lawmakers for what they see as stonewalling on a critical issue.

“Every ‘zero’ you see in that scorecard is personal to us,” said Rocio Sáenz, a member of the board of directors for Mi Familia Vota.

“There is some explaining that needs to be done as to why they said to us in private that they supported immigration reform, yet their report card says different,” said Tony Suárez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Republicans received significantly lower rankings than Democrats. Clarissa Martínez de Castro, the deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, said the discrepancy reflected a “Republican leadership failure,” though the organizations behind the scorecard insist the results are based on the facts and aren’t motivated by party preference.

Here’s a look at the rankings, based on members’ positions in 11 different areas over the past several months: Full story

July 10, 2014

Diaz-Balart’s Immigration Overhaul Effort Is Dead for Now

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Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will no longer seek to advance his draft immigration bill (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a year and a half of stops and starts, unbridled optimism and hints of inevitable defeat, Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart has declared his efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system officially dead for the 113th Congress.

“Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year,” the congressman told reporters at a hastily convened press conference in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday afternoon. “It is disappointing and highly unfortunate.”

Later, Diaz-Balart repeated, “I don’t think I can hide my disappointment.” Full story

July 9, 2014

GOP Plan to Save Highway Trust Fund May Win By Default

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Camp, R-Mich., and Levin, D-Mich., preside over a Ways and Means Committee meeting (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Republican plan to prevent, through the middle of next year, the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund is drawing grumbles from both the left and the right, but there is increasing recognition that Congress has little choice but to enact it, or something like it.

Resignation that passing a short-term extension is likely the only way to avoid an August shutdown of transportation projects across the country was on full display Wednesday, the eve of a markup of the new proposal in the House Ways and Means Committee.

“It’s the only proposal out there,” Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., told reporters Wednesday afternoon in defense of his bill.

Full story

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