Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 22, 2014

Posts in "2014 Midterm Elections"

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

July 3, 2014

Goodlatte: Border Crisis ‘Disaster of President Obama’s Own Making’

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Goodlatte, R-Va., says the president must take responsibility for the border crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After concluding a bipartisan, fact-finding tour of the immigrant crisis on the Southwest border, House Judiciary Committee Republicans said Thursday the onus is on President Barack Obama — not Congress — to address the surge of Central American women and children entering the country illegally.

In a conference call with a small group of reporters, Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said that while there were may be some things the House could do to confront the matter head-on, this was a crisis of Obama’s making and he should be the one to fix it.

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 24, 2014

Boehner Planning House Lawsuit Against Obama Executive Actions

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told Republicans Tuesday he could have an announcement within days on whether the House will file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, challenging the executive actions that have become the keystone of the administration.

The lawsuit could set up a significant test of constitutional checks and balances, with the legislative branch suing the executive branch for ignoring its mandates, and the judiciary branch deciding the outcome.

Boehner told the House Republican Conference during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he has been consulting with legal scholars and plans to unveil his next steps this week or next, according to sources in the room.

(Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.)

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said further action is necessary because the Senate has not taken up bills passed by the House targeting executive actions. The House has passed a bill expediting court consideration of House resolutions starting lawsuits targeting executive overreach and another mandating that the attorney general notify Congress when the administration decides to take executive action outside of what has been authorized by Congress.

“The president has a clear record of ignoring the American people’s elected representatives and exceeding his constitutional authority, which has dangerous implications for both our system of government and our economy,” Steel said. “The House has passed legislation to address this, but it has gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate, so we are examining other options.” Full story

June 20, 2014

House Democrats Overwhelmingly Vote Against Funding Combat Operations in Iraq (Updated)

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Lee is leading the antiwar effort in the House. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:57 | With President Barack Obama grappling with how to respond to the escalating violence in Iraq and the rapid rise of an insurgent terrorist organization there, House Democrats have spoken: They overwhelmingly want to cut off funding for combat in the region, especially boots on the ground.

Late Thursday, 142 Democrats and a handful of Republicans joined forces behind an amendment to the fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill that would have barred any spending on combat operations in Iraq.

The amendment failed 165-250, but the overwhelming Democratic support for the provision signals a Congress increasingly weary of war. Full story

June 16, 2014

Roskam-Scalise Whip Race Heats Up, Gets Ugly

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From left, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Roskam, R-Ill., and Scalise, R-La., talk earlier this year. Scalise and Roskam are now rivals for the house whip post. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The two front-runners in the race to become the next House majority whip spent the weekend shoring up support with potential allies — and, through staff, taking swipes at each other.

A source close to Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, in an emailed memo to CQ Roll Call, said the 90-plus members in the House who have pledged to vote for the Illinois Republican are “rock solid,” while Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise’s numbers are “soft” and “all over the place since Thursday — at 100, 120, over 100, etc. etc.

“No one wants a whip who can’t count,” the source continued, “and no one wants a whip who overpromises and under-delivers.” Full story

June 11, 2014

Cantor Loss ‘Was a 10 on the Stun Scale’

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Israel was among those stunned by the Cantor loss. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“I’m giving a speech. I have no time for jokes,” Steve Israel told Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Kelly Ward when she emailed to suggest there were signs something was happening in Virginia’s 7th District.

It was 7:15 p.m. and Israel had just left an event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He passed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as she arrived.

The New York Democrat was on his way to address the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, and Ward flagged that with 30 percent of the primary vote in, it seemed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor might be in peril. He wasn’t interested. Polls, after all, had just closed.trans Cantor Loss Was a 10 on the Stun Scale

Full story

June 10, 2014

Boehner Statement on Cantor’s Defeat

House GOP leaders weren’t expecting Majority Leader Eric Cantor to lose his primary Tuesday night against Tea Party-backed challenger Dave Brat, so nobody had statements ready when the race was called shortly after 8 p.m.

Reflections on the Virginia Republican’s defeat only began to filter in during the very late hours of the evening.

All were brief, free of political rancor for Brat and of any hints at personal ambitions to climb the ranks with the House’s No. 2 GOP lawmaker out of the picture in the 114th Congress.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., widely considered to now be angling for Cantor’s job, said “every single Member of this conference is indebted to Eric’s graciousness and leadership.”

Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called Cantor “a great friend and colleague.”

Perhaps the most revealing assessment of the evening’s turn of events came from Speaker John A. Boehner. Earlier, he exited from a local Italian restaurant and declined to speak with reporters who were waiting for him.

Full story

Stunner: Cantor Upset Changes Everything

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Cantor appeared at a leadership press conference Tuesday, hours before losing his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in a Republican primary Tuesday, conceding his Virginia seat to a local activist after a stunning loss with possibly dramatic consequences for leadership, the chances of any immigration overhaul passing Congress and the future of his party.

He is the first majority leader ever to fall in primary defeat — the position was created in 1899.

Cantor, toppled by college economics professor Dave Brat, 56 percent to 44 percent, conceded just after The Associated Press declared the race over.

Democratic and Republican leadership aides expressed total disbelief and dumbfoundedness Tuesday night. Political operatives in the Old Dominion and organizers in Washington quickly studied election law to see if he could run as a write-in.

With his wife, Diana Fine Cantor, at his side, Cantor choked back emotion and did not sound like a man aiming to stage a comeback.

Full story

Eric Cantor’s Defeat Was in the Immigration Tea Leaves (Video)

Many immigration advocates thought Eric Cantor’s expected primary victory against his challenger opposed to an immigration overhaul would embolden the House majority leader to put an immigration bill on the floor this summer.

That theory, or at least that closely held hope, was obliterated Tuesday evening, as the Virginia Republican suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of university professor Dave Brat.

The tea leaves for Cantor’s fate might have been read by the most prescient political observers two weeks ago in his home district of Richmond, where Brat held a press conference on the steps of the state capitol building to denounce the House’s No. 2 Republican for having the “most liberal” record on immigration of any sitting GOP lawmaker in Congress.

“Eric Cantor has been the No. 1 cheerleader in Congress for amnesty,” said Brat on May 28 to half a dozen reporters, referencing Cantor’s stated support for overhauling the nation’s immigration system and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, especially those brought into the country illegally by their parents.

“There is no Republican in this country,” Brat continued, “who is more liberal on immigration than Eric Cantor.” Full story

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