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September 22, 2014

Posts in "Conservatives"

September 22, 2014

113th Congress Could Yield Fewest Laws in 60 Years

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House members leave for recess on Aug. 18. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Say this about the 113th Congress: It’s managed to live down to low expectations.

With only a lame-duck, post-Election Day mop-up session left before a new Congress takes office in January, the 113th is on track to be one of the least productive congresses — in terms of laws passed and signed by the president — in 60 years.

The 113th Congress, which passed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 before heading out of town, has seen just 163 pieces of legislation enacted.

That total, from the House Clerk, tracks only through August, but it’s more than 100 pieces of legislation below the 283 measures enacted in the 112th Congress and well below the 383 in the 111th Congress.

Another handful of bills, including the continuing resolution, have been sent to the president, but unless the 113th has an unprecedented burst of productivity when members return for the lame duck, the die is cast.

As Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson told CQ Roll Call last week, “This has been the most do-nothingest Congress.”

It’s a distinction Democrats insist is a disgrace and an abdication of the responsibility of governing. Full story

September 18, 2014

Party Like it’s 1994: Gingrich, DeLay Reunite With ‘Greatest Class’

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Ginghrich arrives for the reception celebrating the anniversary of the 1994 Contract with America. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While most of Congress trekked down Pennsylvania Avenue Wednesday night to the annual White House picnic, a select group of current and former members took a trip down Memory Lane instead, converging on the Hill to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic House GOP class of 1994. 

A half-dozen lawmakers joined nearly 40 former colleagues, including former speaker Newt Gingrich, inside the National Resources Committee hearing room to reminisce about one of the biggest “wave” elections in congressional history.

In the midterms that year, the party recaptured power in the chamber, with new members having campaigned successfully on what would become the 104th Congress’s defining document: The Contract with America.

“You are going to go down in history … as the greatest freshman class, at least in the last century, to walk into this House of Representatives,” said Tom DeLay of Texas, who in 1995 was the House majority whip before going on to serve as majority leader. “You are people of incredible character and incredible strength and you stood on your principles.” Full story

September 17, 2014

Odd Coalitions, Unusual Fractures in Syria, Continuing Resolution Votes (Video)

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House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller was one of the highest-ranked Republicans to vote no on the amendment to arm Syrian rebels. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House fractured along untraditional lines Wednesday, voting 319-108 to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government and 273-156 to adopt an amendment arming Syrian rebels.

Neither vote was typical. Roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats voted against both proposals. But there were some interesting trends hidden in both votes.

On the vote to fund the government, 143 Democrats joined 176 Republicans in support of the CR, while 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.

On the vote to arm Syrian rebels, 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats voted for the proposal, while 85 Republicans and 71 Democrats voted against. Full story

Pelosi Backs Obama, but Says ‘We Just Don’t Whip War Votes’ (Video)

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Pelosi: “We just don’t whip war votes.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders aren’t whipping votes on the continuing resolution and an amendment to give President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the terrorist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi used her regularly-scheduled Wednesday morning news conference to make an impassioned case for members to support their president.

“I don’t know how the vote will turn out,” the California Democrat said. “It’s not a vote we whip. We just don’t whip war votes. But I do think that, as members weigh the factors, that they will, I think, give points to the president for all that he has done, diplomatically, politically, humanitarian-wise and ask for this distinct piece.” Full story

Watch Live: Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing (Video)

The House Select Committee on Benghazi holds its inaugural hearing, titled “Implementation of the Accountability Review Board recommendations.” The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

 

Related stories:

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

ISIS Puts Spotlight Back on Terror as Benghazi Hearings Kick Off

Gowdy Hires Top Lawyer for Benghazi Committee

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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 16, 2014

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

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Despite reservations, Democrats are lining up behind the House GOP’s proposed continuing resolution and an underlying amendment on Syria, Hoyer said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite lingering reservations on both sides of the aisle, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats is coming together behind proposals to arm Syrian rebels and fund the government beyond Sept. 30.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that, despite some provisions his colleagues don’t like — namely a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank through only June 30, 2015 — Hoyer and a significant bloc of Democrats would not withhold their support on the continuing resolution. “You don’t get perfect,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.

The Maryland Democrat also said Democrats would support an amendment proposal from Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., that would give the Obama administration the authority it requested to arm and train Syrian rebels in order to combat Islamic terrorists.

With the support from Democrats, passage of the CR and adoption of the Syria amendment look increasingly assured. There are plenty of remaining concerns regarding the trustworthiness of the Syrian rebels. But with Republican and Democratic leadership supporting the measure — not to mention the White House, which has been calling members to drum up support for the proposal — passage of the CR does not appear to be in doubt. Full story

September 15, 2014

McCarthy Suggests Post-Election Vote Authorizing Military Force

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McCarthy signals a post-election vote authorizing use of military force. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Emerging from a GOP leadership meeting Monday evening, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy signaled that, after the midterm elections, there’s a decent chance the House holds a new vote authorizing military force in the Middle East.

Asked during an impromptu hallway interview with a gaggle of reporters whether the House would be working on a new Authorization for Use of Military Force to combat Islamic State terrorists, McCarthy said that “after November,” he thought there would be an “opportunity” to at least debate an AUMF.

“I know a lot of members would want start to have that debate, or at least have that discussion, but I think everyone needs to have more information,” the California Republican said. Full story

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

Gingrich, DeLay and Republicans of ’94 to Reunite on Capitol Hill

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Gingrich is part of a Wednesday panel looking back on 1994′s “Contract With America.” (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay had a rocky relationship when they served together in House GOP leadership nearly two decades ago.

But on the occasion of the 20-year anniversary of the historic 1994 elections that swept their party into power, the two former congressmen are getting the band back together.

On Wednesday evening, they will reunite on Capitol Hill to participate in a panel discussion looking back on that cycle and the history of the Contract With America, the document of campaign promises that helped Republicans cruise to victory. Full story

September 12, 2014

Hoyer: Give McCarthy and Scalise ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ on Leadership Process

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Hoyer said he’s optimistic Democrats can work with the new GOP leadership team. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House’s inability to pass an emergency border funding bill last month left critics on both sides of the aisle wondering whether the new members of the GOP leadership team, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, can bring order to an unruly conference

But House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said to give the new guys some time.

“I’m willing to give Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Scalise the benefit of the doubt,” Hoyer said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program set to air in full Sunday morning. Full story

September 11, 2014

Inhofe: Obama Speech Prompts ‘Sigh of Relief’ From ISIS

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Inhofe was not a fan of the president’s Wednesday address on combating ISIS. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reaction to the president’s prime-time speech on ramping up efforts to take on the terror group ISIS ranged, not surprisingly, from very supportive — loyal huzzahs from Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Richard J. Durbin — to openly dismissive: Sen. Ted Cruz called the president “unserious.”

“Tonight’s speech was disappointing, but not surprising. The President’s approach to ISIS has been – and remains – fundamentally unserious,” the Texas Republican said in a statement.

An even more withering assessment of President Barack Obama’s address came from Oklahoma Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe.

“Tonight, the President’s strategy re-plowed the ground of what he has already done and requested what Congressional leaders have already offered. At ISIL headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, you can hear a sigh of relief.” Full story

House GOP ISIS and CR Strategy Still in Flux

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Boehner and other House GOP leaders are reportedly on board with adding to the spending bill the president’s request for authority to go after ISIS.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House GOP leaders are advocating for giving President Barack Obama some authority within the continuing resolution to arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS, according to several Republican lawmakers present at a Thursday morning members’ meeting.

But those lawmakers also cautioned that discussions on how to proceed were far from over.

Some Republicans say as long as there is a decisive vote on a response that will adequately address the growing threat of ISIS at home and abroad, they don’t care what legislative vehicle is used.

“At the end of the day, whether it ends up as a standalone or in the CR, I don’t really understand what the big controversy is over that,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a veteran. “I think it’s a timing issue, I think it’s to get it done … we don’t leave next week without getting it done.” Full story

September 10, 2014

Obama Calls House Appropriations Chairman, Asks for ISIS Authority in CR (Updated)

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Rogers got a call from the president on the continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said Wednesday that President Barack Obama — not known for reaching out to Republicans personally — called him Tuesday to ask that authority to take action against ISIS be added to the GOP’s proposed continuing resolution.

The Kentucky Republican said the president called at 5 p.m., asking that he include in the CR the authority to arm Syrian rebels who are fighting the jihadi insurgents in control of parts of that country and Iraq.

Rogers expressed frustration that the president waited so long to make that request.

“Obviously we’re having briefings on what the president requested last night,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “However, they have known about this problem for over a year. They knew that we were getting ready to do a CR, and just as I was getting ready to drop it in the hopper the president calls and asks if we would consider it.”

Rogers said he would prefer the language related to ISIS, or ISIL as the group is also known, not be placed in the CR, which GOP leaders originally intended to be a streamlined spending bill that would, with minimal debate, clear both chambers and defuse the government shutdown looming at the end of the month.

Though consideration of the CR has now been postponed to allow lawmakers to reach a deal on the matter, Rogers maintained that the spending bill’s passage was never contingent upon inclusion of ISIS language.

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Is Special GOP Conference Meeting an Early Sign of CR Discontent?

House Republicans have announced a special conference meeting for Thursday, reportedly to address members’ questions about the White House’s strategy for taking on the Islamic State, the terror group in control of parts of Iraq and Syria.

But the meeting could also be the first sign of trouble for the pending bill to fund the government past Sept. 30.

Republican leadership has scheduled a 9 a.m. members-only gathering on the same day the House is slated to vote on the continuing resolution. According to a memo obtained by CQ Roll Call, the special meeting is on ISIS or ISIL, as the insurgents are also known.

“With the president’s speech tonight, we wanted to make sure we had an scheduled opportunity for members to discuss the strategy we anticipate he will lay out as it relates to ISIL,” a Republican aide with knowledge of the conference meeting told CQ Roll Call in an email.

However, with conservatives already voicing opposition to a number of components in the continuing resolution — namely that the funding goes until Dec. 11, and that the Export-Import Bank is funded until June 30 — the votes could also be looking tight. Republicans are expected to whip check the CR during Wednesday afternoon votes, so they will have a better sense of the vote count then. But a vote delay could still be in the cards if members want to add provisions regarding ISIL.

Having sufficient Republican votes lined up is crucial for House passage, as Democrats are signaling that they might not be willing to help unless certain changes get made. Regarding ISIL, House Democrats are pushing for the inclusion of language giving the Obama administration authority for training and arming Syrian rebels.

And in terms of the Ex-Im Bank, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., showed early signs Tuesday that Democrats may band together in opposition over a short-term extension of the Ex-Im Bank. Hoyer says he wants a five-year extension at a minimum.

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