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April 21, 2014

Posts in "Congressional Operations"

April 16, 2014

Eshoo Raises Money From Tech Industry Ahead of Ranking-Member Battle With Pallone

armenian presser006 040814 445x297 Eshoo Raises Money From Tech Industry Ahead of Ranking Member Battle With Pallone

Rivals for the ranking member slot, Eshoo and Pallone chatted earlier this month at a news conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo’s leadership political action committee raised $203,000 — mostly from high-tech and telecommunication firms — as she bids to be ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is the first leadership PAC of the California Democrat’s nearly 22-year congressional career. First-quarter numbers for Eshoo’s main rival for the post, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., were not yet available.

The burgeoning war chest provides leverage for Eshoo in the closely-contested ranking member race to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., when the new Congress convenes.

Eshoo’s PAC was bolstered by contributions from the PACs of some powerful industry players who could come before the Energy and Commerce Committee, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast and NBC Universal, Google and Microsoft.

Leadership PACS are not just about receiving money, but about being able to spend cash, too, specifically in support of colleagues whose relationships could be professionally beneficial.

In her quarterly report, Eshoo revealed that she made donations to a number of her colleagues, including many in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for vulnerable members. Members who received donations from Eshoo’s PAC include Rep. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, Raul Ruiz of California, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Ami Bera of California.

Full story

April 10, 2014

Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi, IRS (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.

During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.

The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.

Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.

Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.

Watch the full press conference below:

House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

irs hearing020 052213 445x296 House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

The vote, coming as Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess, is the latest chapter in a year-long probe that has sparked some of the fiercest partisan clashes among panel members in recent memory — from cutting off the ranking member’s microphone as he sought to speak to comparing the chairman to Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.

Full story

April 9, 2014

House Republicans Ask Holder to Pursue Criminal Charges for Ex-IRS Official (Updated)

irs hearing020 052213 445x296 House Republicans Ask Holder to Pursue Criminal Charges for Ex IRS Official (Updated)

Lerner (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday in support of launching a criminal investigation into the woman at the center of the IRS scandal — just one day before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to vote on holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

In a 23-14 party line vote, the Ways and Means panel approved submission of a formal letter to Eric H. Holder Jr., asking that the attorney general pursue charges against the former IRS official using evidence uncovered during the committee’s year-long investigation.

Wednesday’s action — coming after a rare closed-to-the-press meeting — is the latest salvo in what has rapidly escalated into a fiercely partisan battle over the extent to which lawmakers should probe Lerner’s actions. Full story

April 8, 2014

Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a “war on women,” with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as “pawns” to score political points.

Republican leaders wouldn’t say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they’d bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats’ “Equal Pay Day” criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman. 

“Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Let’s focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities … for a better life we all want.” Full story

April 4, 2014

Moran Reignites Perennial Pay Raise Debate

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., isn’t the only lawmaker to spark a national debate over congressional pay in recent years.

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy took flak in 2011 when he said he was struggling to pay his bills.

Last year, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the second richest member of Congress, complained on the House floor about having to pay higher health insurance premiums.

And Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., got into hot water during last year’s shutdown when she initially refused to give up her pay. “I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line,” she said, before later backtracking.

The issue, of course has perennially been a thorny one for members of Congress. Decades ago, a freshman Moran and a freshman Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, were among the 35 new lawmakers who banded together to push pay raise reform.

Over the years, leaders in both parties have worked across the aisle to protect their pay raises, although in recent years, congressional pay has been frozen, including with a provision in the fiscal cliff deal.

With an Eye on the Party’s Image, House GOP Puts Women Front and Center

jenkins 154 112812 445x313 With an Eye on the Partys Image, House GOP Puts Women Front and Center
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There are 19 women in the House Republican Conference, and on Thursday, 11 of them came to the chamber floor in support of a bill they said was a woman’s issue at its core.

The spotlight on GOP women came as part of a debate over changing the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full-time job from 30 hours a week to 40.

The bill, which passed 248-179, is destined to be ignored by the Senate. But the vote offered Republicans a chance to push back against the Democrats’ election-year narrative that the GOP is just a club for powerful old white men.

That Democratic line of attack has been fueled by embarrassing reports that the GOP party establishment has coached male candidates on how to run against women without being sexist or offensive.

Full story

April 3, 2014

Fort Hood Shooting Reopens Unresolved Issues

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Carter and his Texas colleagues want to recognize victims of the 2009 Fort Hood massacre. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Another deadly shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas has pushed still unresolved issues related to the massacre there nearly five years ago back to the congressional forefront.

Even before Wednesday’s incident that reportedly left four dead and 14 wounded, Texas lawmakers in particular have been continuing to push for victims from the November 2009 tragedy to be recognized by the federal government. Nidal Malik Asan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood — an incident that shocked the nation and kicked off debate inside and outside of Washington.

For one, there were issues with the compensation benefits for the veterans wounded and the families of those killed — and the Texas delegation has fought for years to award Purple Hearts to the soldiers killed or wounded.

Another debate has centered on exactly how to classify the shooting: was it a terrorist attack, or an act of work-place violence?

Earlier this week, Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, issued a press release detailing his intentions to question Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. over why the Obama administration did not label the shooting an act of terror.

Late Wednesday as more information about the shootings was revealed, Carter issued a statement pointedly referencing the 2009 incident.

“The idea that a second attack could happen at Fort Hood is heartbreaking not only to the victims, but to the survivors. The knowledge that a soldier could attack another soldier is devastating to the emotional wellbeing of our troops, which is why in the aftermath of this tragedy support for our troops is more important than ever,” Carter said. “We need to rally around the community and provide the safety and security these people deserve. It is my mission in Congress to ensure that the victims of the 2009 attack and today’s attack are protected and helped from this point forward. While we do not know the motives of the shooter at this time, I will continue to investigate this crisis until all the facts are known. But for now the best we can do is to pray and support the community.”

Full story

April 1, 2014

Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

dems004 011414 445x305 Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, April 2, 1:15 p.m. | In 2001, just shy of a decade in the House, Rep. Xavier Becerra suggested he was more of a policy wonk than a power broker.

“I understand the politics,” he told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “I’m not the best at playing the game.”

Thirteen years later, whether he was being self-effacing or somewhat disingenuous is debatable. But one thing’s become clear in the intervening decade: As a political operator, Becerra’s come into his own.

Full story

March 24, 2014

Pelosi Brings George Miller Back to the Steering and Policy Committee

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is reinstalling fellow California Democrat George Miller as co-chairman of the Steering and Policy Committee, a Democratic leadership aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call on Monday evening.

Miller, now the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, is retiring at the end of this year after four decades in Congress. He replaces Rep. Robert E. Andrews, D-N.J., who resigned last month to take a job at a Philadelphia law firm amid an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation. Miller will serve as co-chairman alongside another Pelosi ally, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

 ”With only six months left in this session, the Leader felt it was best for someone who knows the job to be in the role,” said a Pelosi aide.

Miller stepped aside at the start of the 113th Congress to allow for new some new blood at the top of the Steering and Policy Committee, which is responsible for doling out committee assignments and advising party leaders on a range of issues.

Pelosi’s decision to bring her close friend back into the fold might surprise some colleagues who expected the lawmaker to use the open slot to elevate some younger Democrat with ambitions to move up the leadership ranks, or at least a member who has been waiting in the wings for an opportunity to take on more responsibilities within the House Democratic Caucus.

Mullin Facing Ethics Inquiry for Plumbing Business Ties

Freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., might have collected outside earnings in 2013 that exceeded the cap for sitting members of Congress as he maintained a relationship with his business that he was supposed to largely sever upon being elected to office, the House Ethics Committee divulged on Monday.

The bipartisan panel announced that it would continue to review whether Mullin violated House rules before determining whether to launch an official investigation.

In making that announcement, the committee also released the findings of a 66-page report detailing, for the first time, the charges Mullin faces. That report was prepared by the quasi-independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which conducted the preliminary investigation before referring the case to the standing committee of House lawmakers.

In addition to questioning whether Mullin earned a $600,000 salary through his long-held, Oklahoma-based plumbing business — exceeding the legal limit of $26,955 as a member of the House — the OCE recommended that the Ethics Committee probe whether Mullin violated chamber rules by endorsing his business’s services in TV, radio and internet advertisements. Full story

March 21, 2014

Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to ‘Spending Limits’ (Updated)

boehner 144 0312141 445x307 Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to Spending Limits (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. |Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.

“We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget,” Cantor wrote Friday to House Republicans.

The Virginia Republican noted that President Barack Obama’s budget “blows past” the spending caps previously agreed to for fiscal 2015, but the the House GOP’s budget will conform to the agreed upon “spending limits.”

The pluralization of that last word is key: There are rumors that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan intends to offer a budget that would adhere to the overall spending limit, but would exceed the defense spending caps, which are unpopular with a number of Republicans. Full story

March 11, 2014

Hoyer Cautious on Feinstein’s CIA Charges

The House’s No. 2 Democrat spoke carefully on Tuesday when addressing Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s accusations that the CIA tapped into Senate Intelligence Committee computer files.

“First of all, it’s a serious allegation, and Sen. Feinstein is a serious legislator, so I don’t think she made it lightly” said Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., of Feinstein, a California Democrat who serves as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence panel.

“On the other hand,” Hoyer continued, “John Brennan, director of the CIA … specifically and categorically said, ‘This did not happen.‘ But it’s a serious allegation, and it would be a serious breach between the executive and legislative branches if this in fact occurred.

“I haven’t made a conclusion that, ‘yes or no,’ but I do believe, when Sen. Feinstein, who is a very responsible legislator, asserts this, then it bears very careful investigation and scrutiny and determination as to whether it’s true,” said Hoyer. “If it’s true, it’s very serious.” Full story

March 4, 2014

Pelosi-Hoyer Rivalry Flares Anew With Eshoo-Pallone Fight

The long-running leadership rivalry between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is flaring anew as the two Democrats take different sides in the fight over who will be the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee

On Tuesday, Hoyer said he would back New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California as the panel’s top Democrat in the 114th Congress.

“I’m not going to get into this publicly other than to say that I have historically been for the ranking member, the senior member, if that member is capable and able and if that member has contributed significantly to the legislative product, to the party efforts, and I think Frank Pallone has done all of those, but I’m not going to get into it further than that,” Hoyer said in his weekly media briefing. Pallone is the No. 3 Democrat on the committee.

Word had been circulating that Hoyer was supporting Pallone behind the scenes. The Maryland Democrat’s delicate articulation of support for Pallone is in stark contrast to Pelosi’s endorsement last week of fellow California Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, which she made with significant fanfare in a strongly worded letter circulated among her colleagues. Eshoo is No. 5 in seniority on the panel.

It’s uncommon for party stalwarts to insert themselves in committee races, particularly this early in the game — members won’t vote on committee assignments until after the midterm elections. It was also another break from the party’s usual deference to seniority.

But Pelosi’s unexpected decision to intervene on Eshoo’s behalf was a game-changer: What was at first a face-off between Eshoo and Pallone could now become another showdown between Pelosi and Hoyer, rivals who have often fought for the most influence among members of the House Democratic Caucus.

March 3, 2014

With Snow Delays, House Set for Shorter, Busier Week

The House was scheduled to vote over the next four days on no fewer than 12 bills and resolutions, including ones to overhaul national flood insurance, suspend for a year the individual mandate tax under Obamacare and revisit coal mining regulations.

Then it started snowing.

With a late-winter storm pummeling the region, key legislative business was canceled for Monday afternoon and evening. The House is now not expected to reconvene until 2 p.m. Tuesday, with votes scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, the chamber is still set to finish up for the week no later than 3 p.m. Thursday.

And all that could change if the snow prompts delays and cancellations in members’ travel arrangements from their districts back to Washington, D.C., according to official guidance from House Republican leadership on Monday morning.

But one GOP leadership aide told CQ Roll Call that, so far, nothing has been dropped from the floor calendar. We’ll update this post when we hear more.

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