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August 1, 2014

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July 31, 2014

Republicans Regroup on Border Funding Bill

The House will hold off on leaving town for its five-week August recess until Republicans find the votes to pass legislation addressing the border crisis.

It could happen as early as Friday morning — the GOP will gather at 9 a.m. to discuss new policy proposals to accompany a $659 million appropriations bill they abruptly yanked from consideration Thursday. Republicans departing from an emergency conference meeting Thursday afternoon told reporters they felt confident that, through a process of educating colleagues and agreeing to make some changes to existing legislative language, they could muster enough votes to pass the new measure.

If a deal isn’t reached by then, said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., “I think we’ll be back here the next day.”

“If we have to work longer or through the weekend, I think there’s a genuine desire to do that,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador told reporters he was prepared to stay in town to hash out an agreement, even if it meant missing a religious ritual on Saturday back home in Idaho in anticipation of his son’s upcoming nuptials.

It remains to be seen how party leaders expect to come up with any new proposal that sufficiently addresses the demands of some of the conference’s most conservative hold-outs.

Full story

House Leaders Postpone Border Supplemental, Delay Recess, Blame Obama (Updated) (Video)

boehner009 072414 445x302 House Leaders Postpone Border Supplemental, Delay Recess, Blame Obama (Updated) (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:52 p.m. | House GOP leaders ditched their plans to vote on a border supplemental Thursday after failing to secure the votes to pass it — but plan to try again Friday before jetting out of town for the August recess.

“We will stay until we vote,” Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told reporters after an emergency meeting held at 3 p.m. Another GOP conference meeting was called for 9 a.m Friday, a GOP leadership aide said.

Asked if talks would continue Thursday night, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters “Oh, yeah.”

Earlier, chaos reigned in the House as GOP leaders’ carefully crafted gambit to win conservative votes fell apart.

“We don’t think we have the votes,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, one of the architects of the bill. But she said the whip count was “very close” with about 214 supporters, including Democrats.

“There are people who just don’t want to do anything,” she said. “They don’t want to spend the money.”

While GOP leaders initially indicated they would not vote on the border supplemental, a number of lawmakers pushed them to reconsider.

“I’m going to talk to the whip and the leaders to try and talk them into doing something else,” said Rep. John Carter, R-Texas on his way to the whip’s office.

Carter said he’s been telling his GOP colleagues, “60 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.”

The $659 million bill intended to deal with the crisis of child migrants coming across the border would have been followed by a vote on separate legislation prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief and work permits to any more illegal immigrants.

GOP leaders, led by Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, issued a joint statement pinning the blame for pulling the bill on Obama. Full story

July 30, 2014

Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End ‘Obama’s Amnesty’

cruz001 052114 445x298 Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End Obamas Amnesty

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz rallied conservatives Wednesday to “end President Obama’s amnesty” in a meeting late Wednesday — as GOP leaders agreed to vote on legislation Cruz is backing to do just that.

Meeting in Cruz’s Dirksen office over We, The Pizza; Starburst; Skittles; Shiner Bock beer; Yuengling; white wine; and three selections of Dr. Pepper — Diet Dr. Pepper, Dr. Pepper Ten, and the original, full-flavored stuff — 13 House Republicans stopped by the Cruz gathering, which lasted more than an hour and 40 minutes.

The members, in the order in which they arrived, were: Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, Steve Stockman of Texas, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, Todd Rokita of Indiana, John Fleming of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and finally Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who showed up for the last 10 minutes of the meeting.

The major topic of discussion, members said, was opposition to the $659 million border supplemental bill if it did not include legislation Cruz wants ending President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants deportation relief to children brought here illegally by their parents. Full story

Facing Immigration Revolt, Republicans Plan Vote to Ban ‘Administrative Amnesty’ (Updated)

judiciary007 052114 445x291 Facing Immigration Revolt, Republicans Plan Vote to Ban Administrative Amnesty (Updated)

Cruz, who has proposed legislation prohibiting Obama from expanding deportation relief for illegal immigrants, met with House conservatives late Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:07 p.m. | In a bid to shore up votes for their border supplemental, Republican leaders plan to give conservatives a vote Thursday prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to more illegal immigrants.

One vote will be on the $659 million appropriations bill aimed at curbing the flow of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes policy riders that have alienated nearly all Democrats.

On the condition of that bill passing, members would then be allowed to a vote on standalone language prohibiting the expansion of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granting deportation relief and work permits to children brought here illegally by their parents. Republicans charge that DACA has acted as a magnet for unaccompanied children to come to the United States, although recent immigrants are not eligible.

Obama has promised to do all he can on his own on immigration by the end of the summer — and recent news reports that he may expand DACA’s deportation relief to as many as 5 million additional illegal immigrants have roiled the GOP.

Language targeting DACA would be similar to legislation pushed in the Senate by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who, as negotiations were ongoing, was hosting conservative House members in his Capitol Hill office to discuss strategy on the matter. Cruz’s bill has a companion in the House, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The legislation would prohibit the administration from granting deportation and other relief to any more illegal immigrants. It does not target people who have already enrolled in DACA.

The Rules Committee finalized the plan late Wednesday on a party line vote.

Ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., offered an amendment to strike the language that would bar Obama from continuing or expanding DACA. It was defeated along party lines, 3-8.

Rules Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts took issue with the timing of the proposal’s introduction, which coincided with Cruz’s dinner.

“Mr. Cruz has considerably more sway than some of the leaders in the House,” he quipped.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, took issue with the criticism, saying there has been “a continuing dialogue within our conference about what would and would not be in [the bill], and yesterday we became aware of what was in, and that created a set of circumstances where there were certain discussions.”

The plan would force conservatives — many of whom have a history of voting for amendments and then voting against the underlying bill — to back the supplemental first if they want a chance to constrain what some conservatives, like Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, have blasted as “administrative amnesty.”

The plan also came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., roiled conservatives by suggesting the House’s bill could be used to conference a comprehensive immigration bill. That prompted Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to blast Reid and vow no “immigration reform” of any kind would be added to the bill.

It’s not clear what will happen if the House border makes it to the Senate. Although the rule doesn’t combine the border bill with the DACA language — as leadership at one point considered — the White House earlier Wednesday threatened a veto of the border bill on its own.

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

Related:

$659 Million Border Bill Planned by GOP

Pelosi: Don’t Tack Expedited Deportations to Border Bill (Video)

HSS: Ignoring Border Crisis is Not an Option for Congress (Video)

The Border Supplemental and ‘the Height of Irresponsibility’

Boehner Puts Onus on Democrats for Tenuous State of Border Bill

The Other Side of the Border: CQ Roll Call’s Special Report from Guatemala

President’s Party Asks Why He’s Avoiding the Border

Obama ‘Happy to Consider’ Sending National Guard to Border to get Votes on Supplemental

A Tale of Two Congressional Visits to the Southwest Border

Obama Asking Congress for $4.3 Billion for Border Crisis, Wildfires

Alone, Illegal and Underage: The Child Migrant Crisis

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July 29, 2014

Advocates Grade Congress on Immigration (Updated)

immigration 306 072814 445x313 Advocates Grade Congress on Immigration (Updated)

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

Watch Live: Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Testifies Before House Committee

The House Judiciary Committee holds a 10 a.m. oversight hearing questioning Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who was sworn in on July 9.

July 28, 2014

Conservatives: Obama Impeachment Effort ‘Futile’

 

2impeach072814 445x301 Conservatives: Obama Impeachment Effort Futile

Protestors call for Obama’s impeachment while demonstrating outside of the White House in October. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

There’s no shortage of House conservatives who think President Barack Obama has broken the law — or is simply not enforcing it. But none of these brash right-wingers slamming the president for executive overreach are stepping up to offer articles of impeachment. Why?

“Because it is unwise,” said Rep. Mo Brooks. The Alabama Republican was like many others CQ Roll Call attempted to pin down, and wouldn’t comment on whether he thinks the president deserves to be impeached. “It does not make any difference what I think,” Brooks said, identifying the major procedural hurdle facing any such effort — there is “no chance” the Senate would impeach the president.

Calling it a “moot point,” Brooks pulled out the Serenity Prayer from his wallet and read: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Similar sentiments came from even the most ardent anti-Obama flamethrowers, with Steve Stockman of Texas calling it a “futile endeavor.”

“Not going anywhere with the Senate,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. “It sucks all the air out of the room.”

Even Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a few months ahead of her retirement, didn’t want to talk about impeachment, literally making a shooing motion with her hands when CQ Roll Call raised the question.

Full story

July 25, 2014

New GOP Optimism for Border Supplemental Before August (Updated)

House Republican Conference 22 120313 445x295 New GOP Optimism for Border Supplemental Before August (Updated)

Granger said the GOP plans to pass a border bill next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:01 p.m. |Republican lawmakers emerged from a special conference meeting Friday morning with renewed optimism that they could pass a slimmed-down border supplemental package before the August recess. But passage still may not be as easy as some expect.

House Republicans are looking at a less than $1 billion package, according to lawmakers leaving the meeting, though no legislative text has been released. Appropriators were previously aiming for a package at about $1.5 billion — already down from the the $3.7 billion the president proposed to address the flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest border.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, the leader of a Republican working group on the crisis, said Friday morning that the measure Republicans aim to pass next week would still look similar to the recommendations she and her working group recently released.

“I really feel very, very hopeful,” Granger said at the prospect of passing a bill next week. “I just think we had a chance to present our findings and our recommendations. We came back today and explained more and listened to people.”

The border group’s plan drew a lukewarm response Wednesday when Granger presented the proposal to the conference. Apparently some lawmakers were still concerned that the president or the Senate could negate whatever legislation they pass. But, as Granger said, “there were far fewer problems today than there were yesterday.”

Granger said the package would retain the “major pieces” of the working group’s recommendations: “Change the 2008 law, secure the border and send the children back in an organized way working with the countries.”

A key piece of the GOP proposal — and a key sticking point with Democrats — is the revision of a 2008 law on human trafficking. Republicans want to amend the law to allow for the speedy deportation of children coming from Central America. Under the current law, those children are entitled to an immigration hearing to determine whether they can get refugee status.

On Friday, during her weekly news conference, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pleaded with Republicans to not “hold the children hostage to the cosmetics of how tough you are on the border.

Pelosi had initially seemed open to the idea of making changes to the 2008 law, but she quickly changed her mind after many Democrats expressed opposition to that idea. “There’s no reason why they have to be tied and I hope that the Republicans will come to that conclusion,” Pelosi said Friday.

Pelosi’s comments were echoed by 13 members of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform — all Democrats — who sent a letter Friday to Boehner asking the speaker to submit a supplemental bill without the riders Republicans are almost certain to attach.

Changing the 2008 law seems like it almost definitely would be part of a Republican border proposal.

What’s “up in the air,” according to Indiana Republican Marlin Stutzman, is whether Republicans try to end the president’s executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, more commonly referred to as DACA. Stutzman said he’d be surprised if Republicans try to end DACA in this package, but that “it was suggested a couple of times.”

There were an estimated 30 Republicans who spoke during the conference meeting, so a few voices on DACA would not be a significant call for immediate action.

Still, Republicans have very few votes they can lose on the measure before it’s in serious trouble of not passing. Democrats are unlikely to bail them out with more than a handful of votes — if any at all — and there are more than a few hard-line Republicans on the border supplemental.

“I think that we’re still very divided,” John Fleming, R-La., said. “I think that — I know that — there’s a number in there that didn’t speak up at all and feel as I do: that, at most, we should call the president out through a resolution that he must act, and that we can’t act until he does.”

Many lawmakers apparently thought it would be a good idea to adopt a resolution stating that it was the sense of the House that the president ought to enforce immigration laws. That could win some more votes for Republicans. But that doesn’t seem like it would appease Fleming.

“Because the idea that we’re going to pass legislation and it’s actually going to be signed into law is just nonsense,” Fleming said. “It isn’t going to happen. Everybody in that room knows that, at most, this would be, cover-your-butt kind of legislation.”

Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp expressed a similar sentiment.

“You can’t trust this president,” he said. “I mean, he could go in and do an executive order again next week.”

Huelskamp said he wanted to see the legislative text before he made his decision on the supplemental, but he seemed to suggest it was on the president, not Congress, to act to address the border.

“At the end of the day, this is the president’s border crisis, and he has to show how he’s going to solve it,” Huelskamp said.

But many Republicans seem to see the need to pass something before the August recess.

Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said it seemed like every Republican was coalescing around “some type of Granger-modified plan.” And Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said there was “growing consensus that the House will act, not to merely manage the problem, as the president wants, but to stop the problem.”

Brady added that, “if we worried about what the Senate does or doesn’t do, this House would not have sent over 300-plus bills on the jobs, the economy and getting the budget under control.”

And as Stutzman said: “We got to find a way to get there. I think we do. You talk to — you listen to some of the members, especially down on the border states, they don’t want to have to go home and deal with this all summer long.”

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

July 24, 2014

Texas GOP Delegation to Obama: Enforce Immigration Law

smith 027 030613 330x221 Texas GOP Delegation to Obama: Enforce Immigration Law

Smith took the lead on sending a letter to Obama on the border crisis (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House and Senate Republicans of the Texas congressional delegation are the latest contingent to stake out a position on the border crisis as time left to act on the issue before the August recess recedes.

On Thursday, all 26 Lone Star State Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill — 24 in the House and two in the Senate — signed on to a letter to President Barack Obama that lays out actions they want him to take to respond to the surge of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Full story

After Fights Over Cuckoo Clocks and Billable Hours, Rules Panel Backs Resolution Allowing House to Sue Obama

rules005 071614 445x300 After Fights Over Cuckoo Clocks and Billable Hours, Rules Panel Backs Resolution Allowing House to Sue Obama

Slaughter and McGovern saw their attempts to amend the resolution rebuffed in the Rules Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Rules Committee, already known for not being a bastion of cross-party comity, devolved into significant partisan rancor Thursday morning over a resolution to allow the House to sue the president of the United States.

The panel advanced consideration of the measure in a party-line, 7-4, vote after nearly two hours of debate, with Democrats and Republicans accusing each other in turn of playing political games.

Democrats said Republicans’ pursuit of a lawsuit against Barack Obama for making unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act after the law was passed, with Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts accusing his GOP counterparts of acting out of “hatred” for the president and at one point calling the Republicans “cuckoo clocks.” Full story

July 23, 2014

House GOP Forges Ahead on Border Funding Legislation With No Clear Endgame

rogers091013 445x317 House GOP Forges Ahead on Border Funding Legislation With No Clear Endgame

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:06 p.m. | House Republicans laid out their requirements for President Barack Obama’s border crisis spending request Wednesday: National Guard troops, more judges for expedited deportations and changes to a 2008 trafficking law that would make it easier to send Central American minors home.

But with little more than a week before lawmakers are supposed to leave town for the August recess, Democrats digging in against changing the 2008 law, and some conservatives complaining the deportation provisions aren’t harsh enough, it’s not clear GOP leaders have the votes needed to send their bill to the Senate.

Throughout the day Wednesday, GOP leaders, appropriators and stakeholder members huddled with colleagues to corral support for a possible $1.5 billion bill — the White House originally asked for $3.7 billion — to fund enforcement agencies that have been stretched thin by the overwhelming surge of Central American migrants in southern Texas.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, no formal piece of legislation had been introduced and no decisions had been made as to whether the GOP’s funding proposal and its separate policy provisions would be contained in one package or two.

Appropriations Democrats had not even been briefed on the details of a spending package, according to a Democratic committee aide.

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., told reporters: “When the leadership lays out the plans for timing of what we do, we’ll be ready. … It’s pretty close to being ready.”

Meanwhile, a sizable number of rank-and-file Republicans said Wednesday that doing nothing at all would be better than passing legislation the Democrat-controlled Senate would likely make more lenient on undocumented immigrants — or that Obama would just ignore like he has, they say, with other laws on the books.

“We like her ideas,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., of the recommendations put forth by Kay Granger, R-Texas, the chairwoman of the specially appointed GOP working group tasked with coming up with the border recommendations. “The problem is, if we pass them, they’ll be gone.” Full story

July 22, 2014

Johnson: Ignoring Border Crisis is Not an Option for Congress (Updated) (Video)

johnson 240 052914 445x311 Johnson: Ignoring Border Crisis is Not an Option for Congress (Updated) (Video)

Homeland Security Secretary Johnson says Congress can’t ignore the administration’s request for emergency funds on the border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:54 p.m. | “Doing nothing in Congress is not an option,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday, as the clock ticks down out for Congress to provide emergency funding to address the influx of migrant children at the Texas border.

Johnson echoed a warning that he stressed at a July 10 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, saying that the emergency funding from President Barack Obama is critical to addressing the crisis.

“At the current burn rate, given the capacity we’ve had to surge to deal with this issue, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will run out of money in August. Customs and Border Protection will run out of money in mid September,” Johnson said at a press conference at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters Tuesday afternoon. Full story

Chaffetz on Oversight: More Results, Less Confrontation

chaffetz 254 052914 445x299 Chaffetz on Oversight: More Results, Less Confrontation

Chaffetz, R-Utah, would be among only a handful of House members who have earned a full chairmanship in less than five terms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the past 89 years, there have been four members of Congress who became committee chairmen in their fourth term. Rep. Jason Chaffetz is trying to become the fifth.

Chaffetz hasn’t even banked six full years in the House yet. But with Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa term-limited after this session, the 47-year-old Utah Republican is making a bid to head the chamber’s most powerful investigatory panel.

Like his top rival for the gavel, Michael Turner of Ohio, Chaffetz says he wants to move Oversight in a new direction. But Chaffetz, like Issa, still wants to go “full throttle” on the executive branch.

“I’m very grateful to Darrell Issa,” Chaffetz told CQ Roll Call. “He’s been very good to me, he’s given me a great opportunity, but we’d all do things a little bit differently.” Full story

July 21, 2014

Oklahoma Republicans to Obama: No More Child Migrants at Fort Sill

inhofe 029 060314 445x298 Oklahoma Republicans to Obama: No More Child Migrants at Fort Sill

Seven Oklahoma Republicans, led by Sen. Inhofe, called for the administration to end its practice of detaining illegal immigrants at Fort Sill.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Oklahoma congressional delegation is proud of its Fort Sill Army Base, but that doesn’t mean it wants to play host to thousands more unaccompanied child migrants awaiting deportation proceedings.

On Monday, one of the state’s two GOP senators and all six Republican congressmen called on the Obama administration to reverse its decision to send up to 5,000 more “unaccompanied alien children,” or UAC, to the Lawton army base on top of the countless children already being held there. They also want the administration to rethink plans to keep Fort Sill an active detention center through January 2015. Full story

July 17, 2014

Carter and Goodlatte Put Down Their Own Markers to Solve Border Crisis

carter011314 445x291 Carter and Goodlatte Put Down Their Own Markers to Solve Border Crisis

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The specially appointed House GOP border surge working group is poised to submit its formal policy recommendations to party leaders, while two of its members appear to be pursuing alternate tracks.

On Thursday, Reps. John Carter of Texas and Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia introduced separate bills that would make more conservative revisions to current immigration law than many of their peers on either side of the aisle would prefer.

The bills would also tack farther to the right than the set of recommendations expected to be put forth by the GOP working group to address the child migrant crisis at the Southwest border.

Full story

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