Boehner said the House has formally filed a lawsuit against the president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Four months after the chamber authorized a lawsuit against President Barack Obama — and on the third try with an attorney after the first two lawyers bailed — the GOP-controlled House has formally filed its case, Speaker John A. Boehner announced Friday.
“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work.
“If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said. Full story
Immigration activists gathered at the White House on Thursday in the wake of Obama’s announcement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker John A. Boehner said “the House will, in fact, act” to respond to President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action Friday morning.
In a 4-minute news conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation’s immigration system is “broken,” and “the American people expect us to work together to fix it.
“And we ought to do it in a Democratic process,” he continued, “moving bills through the people’s House, through the Senate and to the president’s desk.”
But Boehner also accused Obama of trying to “deliberately sabotage” the prospects for congressional action by issuing his executive orders and “making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do.”
Boehner said, “I warned the president over and over again.” Full story
Defunding Obama won’t work, said Rogers. (CQ Roll Call File Photo/Bill Clark)
Hours before President Barack Obama finally presses the “go” button on executive actions to change the nation’s immigration laws, House Republicans were not any closer to coalescing around a strategy to fight back.
House GOP leaders have made it clear they want to pursue some legislative response to block Obama’s orders, which Democrats say they should have expected after stonewalling consideration in the 113th congress of Senate-passed immigration overhaul legislation.
“All options are on the table,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Boehner and his allies haven’t, however, figured out how to pacify a rank-and-file that would like to tie the president’s hands by attaching some kind of defunding language to a must-pass piece of legislation. Full story
Pelosi praised previous Republican presidents on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Nancy Pelosi, defending Barack Obama, praised Republican presidents who historically took unilateral action on immigration — with the minority leader even drawing parallels between Obama’s proposed executive order and Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
“Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Pelosi asked during a news conference Thursday. “People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country.”
The California Democrat cited the history of U.S. presidents making significant changes without going through Congress, and she brought up the pattern of Republican presidents in the past 50 years exerting their executive authority to act on immigration.
Asked whether Republicans had a case that what the president was proposing was unconstitutional, Pelosi said Obama’s action was “absolutely, positively” not outside his constitutional bounds. Full story
Cassidy is facing Landrieu in a runoff next month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
In a bid meant to bolster the campaign of bill sponsor Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is in a runoff election for a Louisiana Senate seat, the House voted 252-161 on Friday to once again approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
It was the ninth time the House has passed a measure authorizing the construction of the pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to Texas. But this time, with an election far off in the distance, 31 Democrats voted with 221 Republicans in favor of the bill. One Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted present, as he has previously done on such votes.
“It has been 539 days, a year and half, since the House first sent a Keystone approval bill to the Senate in this Congress,” Cassidy said Thursday night when the House debated the bill, noting that multiple Keystone measures had been collecting proverbial dust on the proverbial desk of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Full story
Gutierrez wants GOP leadership to allow a House vote on an immigration bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, the Illinois Democrat who has been at the forefront of efforts to overhaul immigration in Congress, said Friday there are enough votes in the House Republican caucus now to pass a bipartisan bill.
“There are 40, 50, 60 … Republicans” who will join Democrats to pass a bill, Gutiérrez said in an appearance on MSNBC. The congressman and other Democrats, frustrated with lack of action from GOP leaders, are urging on President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will take unilateral action on immigration perhaps as early as next week.
“The problem is they won’t give us a vote on all of the wonderful work. I don’t want to mention the names of my Republican colleagues that I worked with but you know who they are,” the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, whose brother is a Republican congressman from Miami. “There are dozens of them.”
Diaz-Balart’s brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told CQ Roll Call earlier this year that he was close to having enough Republican votes to pass a bipartisan immigration overhaul in the House that would balance GOP demands for border security with Democratic calls for legal status for the undocumented.
But Republicans backed off the issue this summer after an unprecedented surge of Central-American children and women crossing illegally into Texas and the primary loss of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who previously had indicated some support for an overhaul.
Rogers, left, said a government shutdown is off the table. But some Republicans disagree. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
While House Republicans consider how to fund the government beyond December and how to stop President Barack Obama’s expected executive action on immigration, there are two words that have suddenly, unexpectedly re-entered the GOP lexicon: government shutdown.
Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon has penned a letter, with more than 50 Republican co-signers, to House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky and ranking Democrat Nita M. Lowey of New York asking them to include a rider on a bill to fund the government — either an omnibus or another continuing resolution — that would block funds for the purpose of implementing any executive action on immigration. Full story
Salmon and other GOP lawmakers want to ban funding for executive action on immigration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A movement is growing among rank-and-file House Republicans to explicitly ban funding for White House executive actions on immigration.
Just one day after the chamber returned from a seven-week recess, more than 50 GOP lawmakers have signed on to a letter asking House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking member, to include a rider on the upcoming government funding bill that would essentially block implementation of the executive actions that could come as early as next week.
Specifically, the letter calls for banning funding for enacting “current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside the scope prescribed by Congress.”
In the letter, lawmakers led by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., call for including the language in all relevant appropriations legislation for fiscal 2015. Full story
The House Armed Services Committee holds a 10 a.m. hearing on the U.S. war against the Islamic State terror group, also know as ISIS or ISIL. Last week, the Obama administration committed 1,500 additional troops to Iraq and requested $5.6 billion more to fund the military campaign.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify.
Pelosi and her leadership team face questions about their handling of the midterms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 3:34 p.m. | House Democrats came back to work Wednesday still reeling from last week’s bruising election results — and looking for answers about what went wrong.
For many lawmakers, it wasn’t enough to blame the loss of at least a dozen House seats on an unpopular president, gerrymandered districts and a host of other factors beyond the party’s control. Going forward, they say they want their leadership to do some soul-searching, and so far it hasn’t happened.
A few members challenged Pelosi for her suggestion that voter suppression accounted for low Democratic turnout, a source on the call said.
A handful of Democratic aides said there was general frustration that the DCCC, at the eleventh hour, had to shift precious dollars around to help incumbents who should have been safe — or should have been warned by the DCCC much earlier to get back to their districts and protect their seats.
Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., was telling his local newspaper the party’s messaging needed to change. Democrats wouldn’t win elections, he said, talking about Pelosi’s favored “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” agenda.
“Where the hell were the Democrats? What were we talking about?” he asked. “We’re losing white men. Why are we not talking about that? Why are we always concerned with what’s the politically correct thing to say?”
“Where’s the humility?” a senior Democratic aide lamented. “Don’t we want to self-assess here?”
Over the weekend, it looked like party leaders were starting to come around to the idea about how the elections went for Democrats on a national leavel. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida announced that a special panel of “key party stakeholders and experts” would perform a “top-to-bottom assessment” of what went wrong this cycle and how to do better next time.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., tweeted that Wasserman Schultz “is right: Dems need a thorough, honest analysis of what went wrong. … Business as usual is not the clarion call we need now.”
Even the House’s third-ranking Democrat, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, acknowledged there should be some examination of how the messaging strategy was executed.
“A couple of weeks before the election, my travels around the country, in and out of these congressional districts, led me to the conclusion that our message, or a lack thereof, was causing a problem,” Clyburn told CQ Roll Call on Monday. “Where was the Democratic message in this campaign? People couldn’t tell you.”
A leadership aide pushed back against the thesis that House Democrats lacked a compelling narrative on the campaign trail, and that leaders are required to self-flagellate to prove they’re disappointed.
The aide told CQ Roll Call that the caucus had numerous opportunities to collaborate on a party platform ahead of the midterms, with Pelosi and Israel holding listening sessions to hone talking points and messaging strategy. The result was the “Middle Class Jumpstart” economic agenda, which House Democrats promised to implement within their first 100 days of regaining control of the chamber.
Attendance was always high at these special planning meetings, the leadership aide continued; if members now are saying they didn’t like the message or appreciate the tone, it’s not because they never had the chance to make their feelings known. Also, grousing about a lack of message, the aide said, is par for the course for Democrats every two years.
“I think we went beyond doing enough,” Rep. Jose E. Serrano of New York said Wednesday, in defense of the caucus’s strategy this election cycle.
At least one tradition, however, is missing from this year’s election aftermath: Calls for an imminent change at the leaders’ table. It’s a far cry from 2010 when Democrats lost control of the chamber and there was considerable chatter about whether it the time had come for Pelosi to step aside after 12 years in leadership.
“It does not just fall on Nancy,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona told CQ Roll Call Wednesday, adding that responsibility for what went wrong on Election Day was a “shared one” among the whole House Democratic Caucus.
So for the time being, even ambitious lawmakers clamoring to move up in the House’s party power structure are keeping their powder dry, perhaps expecting 2016 to be the year where a sea change finally takes place at the very top.
There are also fewer members in elected office willing to risk even a symbolic challenge of Pelosi, Clyburn or Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. There is now a shortage of fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats willing to “take one for the team,” as ex-Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina did four years ago.
But it doesn’t mean that Democrats don’t want to see some changes. That’s especially true for the dozens of members who were elected in 2012 eager to compromise and get things done, even if it meant working with Republicans.
One member of that class, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said there needs to be a “whole different level of engagement” between members and leadership going forward, and she predicted the caucus would be confronted with the challenge of evaluating the status quo.
“I am ready to talk and have an action plan ready on Wednesday,” Lujan Grisham told CQ Roll Call on Nov. 8, adding that she wanted to see the 2016 cycle built around talking points that focused more on positive ideas and less on partisan finger-pointing.
In a separate interview on Tuesday, first-term Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the cycle, said members were undeniably getting antsy with business-as-usual in the senior ranks.
“I think you’re going to have some of the more senior members frustrated about when we’re going to get the House back,” said Murphy, “and you got some younger, newer members who kind of want to be set free and don’t want to be tied down as much.
“They want to talk about the things that got them elected in the first place,” he continued. “This is a new generation of leadership.”
Correction 4:26 p.m.
An earlier version of this post misstated the state that Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. represents in Congress. He represents New Jersey.
Pelosi, who is running to keep her job, is telling her shrinking caucus she can keep showing them the money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 9:39 p.m. | In a private call with her restive — and shrinking — flock — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to her fundraising prowess as a reason to keep her post — while some of her top allies blamed President Barack Obama for the party’s woes.
Pelosi hopes to continue leading the caucus although many members are privately discussing when there will be a change in senior leadership ranks.
“I know where the money is,” the California Democrat said, according to sources on the call. “I know where to get it.”
As the party looks ahead to the 2016 presidential election cycle, perhaps Pelosi’s best argument in her favor despite Republicans taking the biggest majority in decades is her fundraising ability. In the last 12 years, she has raised more than $400 million, a staggering sum that no other lawmaker can begin to match. Full story
McConnell, celebrating Tuesday’s Republican wave with his wife, has a track record of working with Boehner. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
John A. Boehner and Mitch McConnell have never been best friends.
But they aren’t enemies, either. Far from it, say staffers and sources who know both lawmakers. The speaker and the Senate’s presumptive new majority leader have built, over the years, a solid professional relationship based on a sturdy sense of mutual respect.
That relationship is in the spotlight now more than ever, with Republicans emboldened in the wake of Tuesday’s wave election that saw the GOP pick up at least eight seats in the Senate and more than a dozen in the House.
Sources told CQ Roll Call that Boehner and McConnell don’t have to be close personally to get things done.
“While they’ve never played horseshoes on the speaker’s lawn, they spend a lot of time together, speak regularly and have demonstrated an unprecedented working relationship between the leaders of the House and Senate,” Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, told CQ Roll Call. Full story
Netanyahu addressed Congress in 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The reported description of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit” by a senior administration official has set off a rhetorical exchange between Speaker John A. Boehner and the White House.
That unnamed official was quoted by The Atlantic as having said, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.”
“I am tired of the administration’s apology tour. The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not,” Boehner said in a statement Wednesday. “It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Boehner has had previous “salty” word choices of his own.
“It’s an interesting observation by the speaker of the House who, you all know, has a penchant for using some pretty salty language himself. So, it’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the speaker of the House,” Earnest said, referring to reported comments Boehner made about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during the fiscal cliff battle.
President Barack Obama hasn’t yet made public his pick for a replacement for outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has: It wants current Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez to take the job.
“Secretary Perez has a proven record of championing and defending the rights of all Americans,” Chairman Rubén Hinojosa said in a statement. “The CHC supported Tom Perez in his nomination to the Department of Labor, and the Caucus will continue to support him if he is formally nominated for the position of U.S. Attorney General.”
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the first vice chairman of the CHC, announced that group has endorsed Perez for attorney general. The endorsement comes as Obama considers a nominee to head the Department of Justice.
“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus proudly endorses Secretary Tom Perez to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States,” said Hinojosa, the Texas Democrat who chairs the 27-member caucus. “We hope Secretary Perez will be the President’s nominee of choice to head the Department of Justice.”
“Throughout a distinguished career that includes Secretary of Labor and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Tom Perez has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice and civil rights,” said Luján, a New Mexico Democrat. “As a dedicated public servant, he has stood up for working families and advocated for the rights of all Americans — especially the most vulnerable.”
Perez, a Harvard Law School graduate who served as a deputy assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration before returning to the Justice Department in 2009, is the son of Dominican immigrants. He was confirmed as labor secretary in July 2013.
The White House said earlier this month that Obama will not name a nominee after the midterm elections.