Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2015

Posts in "Debt Ceiling"

April 29, 2015

Abe Speech Checks All but 1 Conspicuous Box

The Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues Inc. holds a rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, calling for "Japan's Official Apology" for the "comfort women" who were imprisoned and forced into sexual slavery during World War II. The rally was timed to coincide with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's address to the U.S. Congress. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues, Inc. rallies Wednesday outside the Capitol during Abe’s address to Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was a perfectly acceptable address: reverent, touching, even a little funny. But Shinzō Abe’s speech to Congress Wednesday will be remembered less for any applause line and more for what was left unsaid.

The Japanese prime minister avoided the most contentious issue surrounding the speech, namely: demands for an overt apology for Japan’s sexual enslavement of “comfort women” during World War II.

Abe acknowledged the controversy with only a passing reference.

Full story

April 16, 2015

All the Budget Conference’s a Stage

Price, R-Ga., chairman of the House Budget Committee, talks with reporters after a news conference with members of the committee in the Capitol Visitor Center to introduce the FY2016 budget resolution and discuss ways to balance the budget, March 17, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After wrangling a Republican budget through the House, House Budget Committee Chairman Price now has to find common ground with Republicans — and maybe a few Democrats — in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

How do Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate conference a partisan budget that is little more than a messaging document? They don’t — at least, not really.

No one truly expects both sides to come to a consensus agreement on the budget. No one even really expects Democrats to play much of a role in the budget conference. It could be, as one Democratic aide with knowledge of the situation predicted, one public meeting “just for show, just to check that box.”

But there are plenty of House and Senate differences on the budget that will need to be worked out between Republicans and, well, Republicans. Full story

January 5, 2015

5 Legislative Hurdles for New House GOP

use John Boehner, R-Ohio, makes his way to his news conference following the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 20

Boehner has more Republicans in the 114th, but still may need help from Democrats on some of the stickier votes coming this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

John A. Boehner’s first test in the 114th Congress comes Tuesday, when he could face as many as 20 defections to his speakership.

He’s ultimately expected to win a third term as the House’s top Republican, but the level of opposition could be an early indicator of how difficult a time he’ll have corralling the necessary number of votes for a whole host of sticky legislative items — from extending the debt limit sometime midyear to giving President Barack Obama ground rules for negotiating a new trade agreement. Full story

January 2, 2015

GOP’s New Freshman President Ready for Collaboration — or Confrontation

Ken Buck, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Colorado, speaks with editors at Roll Call newspaper on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2010. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Rep.-elect Ken Buck hasn’t been sworn in yet, but he’s already a leader in the House, having been named GOP freshmen class president. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Corrected, Jan. 10, 11:48 p.m.: Colorado Republican Ken Buck turned in his district attorney’s badge on Friday morning.

“That’s an emotional thing,” said the nearly 30-year local law enforcement veteran.

But Buck added that his tenure as D.A. has prepared him for the new job he starts on Tuesday: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m not gonna look at a party label when I sit down and talk to somebody about the need to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no,'” Buck pledged in an interview with CQ Roll Call and the Washington Examiner for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, set to air Sunday. “I just think it’s so important that we approach this job as problem solvers, not as partisans.” Full story

December 5, 2014

Pelosi Warns GOP: Tread Carefully With ‘Cromnibus’ (Video)

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 04: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., makes her way to a news conference at the House Triangle to call on House Republicans to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, December 4, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi warns GOP on spending bill riders. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is still keeping her powder dry when it comes to staking out a position on the House GOP’s fiscal 2015 spending bill, due to be revealed on Monday.

The California Democrat said no policy riders currently on the negotiating table were “deal breakers” on their own.

“Let’s look at the full package,” she said.

But the riders currently being discussed, she said, were cause for concern among members of her caucus.

If she made one thing clear at her weekly press conference on Friday, it was this: If Republicans want and need Democrats’ help in shoring up the votes on the so-called “cromnibus” to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 11, the GOP is going to have to make some compromises.

“We have extended the hand of friendship once again to say, ‘Let us help,'” Pelosi said of Democrats’ outreach to Republican leaders. “We haven’t heard back. We haven’t seen the bill. But there are some very destructive riders in it that would be unacceptable to us and unacceptable to the American people.” Full story

December 1, 2014

House GOP Races Against Clock to Unveil Spending Bill Gambit

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his first press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, following the Republican wave midterm elections. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner faces another shutdown scenario. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The internal struggle in the GOP over whether to flirt with another government shutdown could come down to the Tuesday morning House Republican Conference meeting.

Only 10 days before the current continuing resolution expires, House Republican leaders are trying to strike a balance between the conservatives determined to stop President Barack Obama’s immigration order and other lawmakers just as determined to avoid another politically damaging shutdown.

GOP aides said leadership will solicit feedback on the subject at the conference’s regularly scheduled closed-door meeting Tuesday. The gathering will be pivotal in determining how to proceed, but regardless of the strategy they land on, timing will play an important role.

Should Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and his top lieutenants not lay out a concrete proposal Tuesday — or if he fails to get members to coalesce around a strategy — Republicans could be inching toward being jammed by Democrats with a full, “clean” omnibus.

Sources say Republican leaders could float a proposal to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year, but sunset spending for immigration-related activities by a date in the near future.

Ultimately, that could mean short-term funding for the whole Department of Homeland Security. That plan is being called a “cromnibus,” a combination of a continuing resolution, or a CR, and an omnibus, which refers to a legislative package that includes all or most parts of the 12 annual appropriations bills.

It would buy the GOP more time to figure out a long-term strategy to hold Obama’s feet to the fire, take the fight outside the confines of must-pass legislation and avoid a lapse in spending when current funding expires on Dec. 11. Full story

February 14, 2014

Obama Credits Democratic Unity for Debt Limit Victory

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — President Barack Obama credited House Democrats’ party unity for getting Republican leaders to back off debt limit brinkmanship at the caucus’s annual retreat here.

“This caucus has shown, time and time again, under the most difficult circumstances, the kind of courage and unity and discipline that has made me very, very proud,” Obama said on Friday morning.

There’s no better example, Obama said, than the vote to raise the debt ceiling earlier this week, which passed the House with all but two Democrats voting “yes” — and only 28 Republicans.

“I was just talking to [Minority Leader] Nancy [Pelosi] before I came out here,” he continued. “The fact that we are no longer going to see, I believe, anybody try to hold our government hostage and threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to contract policy concessions, the fact that we were able to pass a clean debt limit, is just one example of why, when you guys are unified, you guys stick together, this country is better off, and I could not be more proud.”

Obama’s comments followed remarks by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was originally slated to address the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday but had to reschedule due to inclement weather.

While Biden delivered something of a pep talk to Democrats framed in the context of the 2014 election cycle, Obama steered clear of such rhetoric; in fact, he made no mention at all of the November elections.

But Obama did energize the crowd of lawmakers assembled in a Hyatt Regency ballroom on Friday morning by promising to continue to sign executive orders on specific policy issues on which House Republican refused to budge.

“I want to work with Congress, but I’m not gonna wait, because there’s too much to do,” he said.

Obama conceded that there are some areas in which he could not enact change through his now-infamous “pen and phone” strategy, such as an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system and an increase in the minimum wage across all work sectors.

In those areas, Democrats would have to show resilience on their own.

“Punting and putting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people, it hurts our economies, it hurts families and part of what I like to think makes us Democrats is not simply some abstract ideological set of beliefs but the fact that we’re reminded every single day that we’re here to help a whole bunch of folks out there, our neighbors, our communities who are struggling still and need our help and they’re counting on us,” Obama said.

“Good thing is, they got some outstanding members of Congress who are willing to fight for them,” he continued, “regardless of the political costs.”

February 12, 2014

House Democrats Kick Off Retreat in Cambridge

Cambridge, Md. — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted that her House Democrats weren’t gathered here for a retreat to discuss politics.

“What we’re here to do this week is to talk policy,” she told reporters who asked her predictions for Election Day.

But Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York went right at the politics and the news Rep. Gary G. Miller is retiring. Israel said Democrats will be asking their Republican colleagues again and again before November, “Whose side are you on?”

“Gary Miller … decided he was on the wrong side and jumped ship,” Israel continued of the California Republican Rep. who announced his retirement earlier in the day. “He knows you cannot continue to defend the indefensible. You can’t continue to defend the wrong priorities and the wrong values in front of the American people.”

Israel told reporters covering the House Democrats’ annual retreat that kicked off on Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency resort that the question would be the dominant theme.

“On every one of [these] issues — rising wages, pay equity, immigration reform, a fair tax code — we’re on the side of the American people,” Israel said Wednesday evening.

Full story

February 11, 2014

Breaking Down the Debt Ceiling Vote

The House voted 221-201 to pass a clean debt ceiling hike for more than a year — and there are a few interesting trends hidden in the breakdown. (The Senate then passed the increase on Wednesday.)

Twenty-eight Republicans voted for the bill, which means this debt ceiling vote was the most extreme example of violating the principle that the speaker does not bring a bill to the floor without a “majority of the majority” — the so-called Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who broke that principle 12 times himself.

Before Tuesday, the greatest number of majority defections on a bill that passed the House was 41. (Coincidentally, Democrats and Republicans both achieved that same watermark. Democrats in 2007 with the “Protect America Act” and Republicans in 2002 with the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.”)

But Tuesday’s debt limit vote now stands alone with the fewest number of votes from a majority on a bill that passed the House since at least 1991, when digital records of roll call votes became available. Full story

The End of Debt Limit Brinkmanship? (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio took the podium Tuesday at a private Republican Conference meeting across the street from the Capitol, well aware that he was out of options.

His flock had once again left him, and so a bill suspending the nation’s borrowing cap until March 2015 would come to the floor without preconditions, he announced. Then, shunning questions, he hastily walked offstage to stunned silence.

A moment later, he reconsidered and returned.

“You’re not even going to clap for me for getting this monkey off of our backs?” he implored, drawing applause from many of his rank-and-file members, still loyal to the embattled House figurehead.

The debt ceiling has become more burden to Boehner than boon. The exchange, reiterated by several sources inside the room, points to a fundamental shift in dynamics in the debate over how to extend the nation’s borrowing authority. Boehner’s defeatist approach and the tepid, mixed reaction of his membership underscore a growing realization in the conference that the tactic of attaching legislative demands to a debt limit increase is simply unsustainable.

Full story

Republicans Plan ‘Clean’ Debt Limit Vote Today (Updated)

Updated 11:42 a.m. | Unable to sell their conference on their latest plan to raise the debt limit, Republican leaders plan to vote today on a “clean” debt limit increase.

“We don’t have 218 votes,” Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters. “When you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing.”

Boehner said he expects nearly every Democrat to back the clean debt limit increase and said he had spoken to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and she agreed they would.

“Let his party give him the debt ceiling he wants,” the Ohio Republican said of President Barack Obama, who had vowed not to negotiate on the debt limit again.

But some Republicans will still have to vote for the bill.

“We’re going to have to find ’em, I’ll be one of them,” Boehner said.

Boehner, who has long sought to use the debt limit as a leverage point to move other priorities, called the party’s inability to agree on a plan a “lost opportunity” and “a disappointing moment.”

The plan released last night would have restored military pensions that were cut in last year’s budget deal. Republicans now plan to vote on that issue separately — with both votes planned to be held later today to get ahead of a snowstorm expected later this week, GOP leadership aides said.

The military pension plan was only the latest of many Republican leader trial balloons to get shot down by their rank and file — including proposals to attach the Keystone XL pipeline and repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act.

Republican leaders were caught between White House and Democratic demands for a clean hike and Republican conservatives who didn’t want to vote for anything, and others who were angry that they would have to choose whether to vote to support the troops or vote against raising the debt limit. Other Republicans complained that the plan would effectively increase spending for nine years only to cut it in the 10th year by extending part of the sequester — when many wanted more cuts sooner.

The difficulty of the task was noted by Boehner last week when he said attaching the canonization of Mother Teresa to the debt limit hike probably wouldn’t be enough to get enough Republican votes to pass a debt limit hike.

“Listen: You’ve all known that our members are not big about voting for an increase in the debt ceiling,” Boehner said today.

Republican were “upset” with Obama’s insistence that he would not negotiate on the issue.

And so, Boehner said, Republicans were asking, “‘Why should I have to deal with his debt limit?

“And so the fact is: We’ll let the Democrats put the votes up. We’ll put a minimum number of votes up to get it passed.”

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said Democrats would provide 180 or more votes. “We’ll see how many Republicans act responsibly,” he said.

But Hoyer reacted incredulously to the GOP leadership’s inability to find 218 Republican votes for any plan.

“Isn’t that pathetic? Isn’t that pathetic? Isn’t that pathetic?” Hoyer said.

Earlier, Boehner left his news conference today singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

Emma Dumain, Daniel Newhauser and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

February 10, 2014

House GOP to Huddle Today on Debt Ceiling Strategy

House Republican leadership will gather the troops this evening to plot debt ceiling strategy, aides confirmed Monday morning.

It’s still not clear, however, what that strategy will look like, with some GOP sweeteners off the table and others that could attract Republican support outside the realm of possibility given the Democratic Senate and White House.

But the 5:30 p.m. meeting of the whole House Republican Conference in the basement of the Capitol highlights an increasing sense of urgency in reaching a deal to avoid default before the Feb. 27 deadline — the House is in recess starting Thursday and, along with the Senate, all through next week for the Presidents Day holiday.

If members can agree on terms for raising the debt ceiling and leadership feels confident it has 218 votes to proceed on the House floor, the Monday meeting could set the gears in motion for a vote on Wednesday before the chamber breaks to allow House Democrats to hold their yearly retreat in Cambridge, Md.

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

By Emma Dumain Posted at 12:01 p.m.
Debt Ceiling

February 6, 2014

Boehner on Debt Ceiling: ‘Still Looking for the Pieces to This Puzzle’ (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:37 p.m. | While conceding to a deadline of “before late February” to raise the debt ceiling, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said he still doesn’t have a plan for getting the votes from his conference.

“I think we are still looking for the pieces to this puzzle,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference Thursday. “But we do not want to default on our debt, and we’re not going to default on our debt.”

Throughout the week, GOP leaders floated several bills they offered to tack on to a vote to lift the cap on the nation’s $17 trillion debt. In each case, they were rebuffed by the their rank and file, many of whom refuse to vote for a debt limit increase at all.

“Mother Teresa is a saint now, but if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attach that to the debt ceiling, we probably couldn’t get 218 votes,” Boehner told reporters.

Full story

February 4, 2014

Republicans Looking for the Exit on Debt Limit

Once considered a leverage point to extract massive concessions from President Barack Obama, the debt ceiling has all but been scratched from House Republicans’ negotiating playbook this year.

Put simply, the GOP has lost its willingness to fight on the issue — negotiation fatigue over a once-reviled hike to the nation’s borrowing limit that may best be summarized by Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio.

“There’s no sense picking a fight we can’t win,” he told his rank and file in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, sources in the room told CQ Roll Call.

That is a sharp contrast from past years, when Republicans considered demanding elements of Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint or a full repeal of the health care law in exchange for a temporary hike to the debt limit.

Full story

January 31, 2014

Boehner Wants to Go Big, but Will His Rank and File Follow?

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CAMBRIDGE, Md. – Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and his lieutenants came to the GOP retreat looking to convince the conference to go big and back an immigration overhaul, a real health care alternative and more. They left with mixed results.

For three years, Republicans have struggled to coalesce around an alternative to Obamacare. This year, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia vowed his party would finally vote on its own health care plan — something easy to say and harder to do. And Boehner tried to unite the restive conference around a controversial rewrite of the nation’s immigration policy, something that could actually become law.

Of course, it’s no secret that the GOP hasn’t been able to unify on much other than opposition to the president — something President Barack Obama alluded to in a sit-down interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday and in his State of the Union address, when he challenged Republicans to bring forward their own ideas.

“In order to maximize our year, it’s important that we show the American people we’re not just the opposition party, we’re actually the alternative party,” Boehner told reporters Thursday morning.

Cantor and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon both served up variations of the Boehner line to the press.

The GOP push for the year is twofold: show they can govern on the major issues of the day while tamping down on GOP infighting and present a unified face to win control of the Senate.

“We know we’re inextricably bound to them,” Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said of the Senate. “We certainly don’t want to do things that make it harder for them.”

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California began the Thursday retreat meetings by presenting a breakdown of House Republican voting patterns by committee, class and geographic region, an attempt to show that dissent of the past years has not been exclusive to the younger, more tea-party-infused classes of 2010 and 2012.

Republicans generally coalesced around the idea of presenting their own health care bill, so it is now leadership’s task to consolidate the ideas and decide whether to move forward with one or several bills.

“I think it’s real important we spell out we have an alternative to this terrible thing called Obamacare,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.  “As the only part of the federal government that’s currently in Republican hands, I think it’s important we lay out a vision for how we think the country can go.”

But the conference remains bitterly split on an immigration overhaul. Those divisions manifested Thursday, when Republicans held an open debate on principles handed down by Boehner.

Republicans lined up behind three microphones to deliver their thoughts on immigration in one-minute bursts: one microphone for those who support an overhaul, another for those who support the effort but think it’s the wrong time to act, and the third for Republicans who just outright oppose a policy rewrite.

The three-microphone setup may have established the GOP middle ground on the issue as pro-overhaul, but anti-action this year — a dilemma some members said may prevent leadership from pushing ahead.

“The majority of us are for immigration reform,” Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho said Thursday night after the immigration discussion. “But they understand: not with this president and not with this Senate.”

Boehner and his team believe Republicans would be served well by an overhaul, but as he is wont to say, a leader without a flock is just a man out for a walk. So the speaker told members that the discussion is ongoing and no decisions have been made on any step of an immigration rewrite.

Members repeatedly voiced concerns that Obama could not be trusted to apply tighter border enforcement laws. “The challenge is can we deal with that, can we deal with forcing an administration that nobody trusts to deal with the things that we think need to be dealt with?” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, a proponent of acting this year.

A number of members also voiced concern that Republicans would open themselves up to political attacks from both Democrats and Republican opponents by acting in 2014.

And they are divided over the political risks of an immigration overhaul not just in the short term — Walden told reporters that a proposed policy rewrite would come after the majority of GOP primaries had already taken place — but over the long haul as well.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota asked her colleagues on Thursday if Republicans thought Democrats would support an immigration overhaul if 80 percent of those immigrants who would be “granted amnesty” would vote Republican.  She said an immigration overhaul in this fashion would create a “permanent Democrat majority bloc.”

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Bachmann said multiple members told the conference behind closed doors that an immigration overhaul was “a suicide mission.”

One of those members, Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, said he thought leadership would cool its efforts to push an immigration rewrite this year.

“My sense is that the consensus here is that we should not move forward and that leaders will abide by that,” Fleming told CQ Roll Call. “On a political basis, this is a suicide mission for Republicans. Why would we want to change the topic for a very toxic problem Democrats have with Obamacare?”

Fleming said Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Science Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas, and Budget Vice Chairman Tom Price of Georgia — all of whom are influential in conservative circles — spoke in front of the conference to say an overhaul should not move forward this year.

In the near term, Republicans will have to tackle a hike to the debt ceiling. The retreat ended without a resolution on how leaders can sell the vote to their members.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...