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September 18, 2014

Posts in "Democrats"

September 18, 2014

After Today, House Is Done Through the Elections

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Reps. Ruiz and Young check their phones as they walk down the House steps following a series of votes on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s official: The House is closing up shop until after the midterm elections.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office announced Thursday there will be no votes on Friday and said the four-day session originally scheduled to begin on Sept. 29 has been canceled, pending Senate approval of the continuing resolution that passed the House Wednesday.

That means lawmakers will be sprinting to the exits — and the quick trip to the airport — after the close of business Thursday. Full story

ISIS or ISIL? On the Hill, Depends on Whom You Ask

 

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One protester used ISIL at a congressional hearing, but the term ISIS is more common. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Is it “ISIS,” “ISIL,” or something else entirely? On Capitol Hill, the answer depends on whom you ask — and neither party labels nor ideological leanings seem to have any bearing on the answer.

For many lawmakers, broadcasters and the reprehensible group itself, the term of choice is clearly ISIS, which stands for the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” The terrorists rebranded themselves as the “Islamic State” in July, and the acronym ISIS has grown exponentially in notoriety and infamy in the wake of the brutal videotaped beheadings of three Westerners, including two Americans. Full story

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

House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels; CR Passes (Updated) (Video)

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Boehner, left, and McCarthy pushed through a continuing resolution that includes support for the president’s request to train and arm Syrian rebels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:03 p.m. | After voting to give President Barack Obama the authority to arm and train Syrian rebels, the House passed legislation Wednesday to fund the government until Dec. 11, moving the bill to avoid a government shutdown and address Islamic State organizations to the Senate.

House lawmakers voted 319-108 to pass the continuing resolution, with 143 Democrats joining 176 Republicans in support of the measure. 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.

A vote on the spending bill, which will continue government spending through Dec. 11 at a $1.012 trillion level, was delayed last week so lawmakers could attach a request from the president to give him Title 10 authority to fight the Islamic State group.

That authority would allow the Obama administration to equip Syrian rebels for the intended purpose of fighting ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Obama praised the House and urged the Senate to follow suit on the legislation, which he reiterated is not an authorization for the use of U.S. troops in Syria.

“Today’s vote is another step closer to having the authorization to train and equip vetted elements of the moderate Syrian opposition so they can defend themselves against, and ultimately push back on, ISIL forces,” he said in a statement.  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.

 

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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

Could Democrats Blindside GOP on the Continuing Resolution?

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Pelosi said Democrats have leverage on the continuing resolution and should seek a longer extension of the Ex-Im Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:28 p.m. | Democrats have indicated numerous times that they support — perhaps a bit reluctantly — the continuing resolution. But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seems to be having second thoughts about giving in so easily.

Asked Tuesday afternoon why Democrats wouldn’t withhold their support on the continuing resolution to get a better deal on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, Pelosi responded that she was “all for that.”

“I would like to see us use our leverage,” Pelosi said.

Republicans are relying on Democrats to help them pass the continuing resolution. But if Democrats voted no and made Republicans pass the spending bill on their own, GOP leaders would almost certainly be short on the votes needed.

Pelosi said she thought Republicans “probably” had the votes. Pressed on whether Republicans had the votes without Democrats, Pelosi said she didn’t know. But she did seem supportive of using Democratic leverage, though she did say running up against a government shutdown “weakens our leverage.”

Just minutes before Pelosi entered the Democratic briefing, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., seemed resigned to accept the current bill Republicans had put forth, and earlier in the day, during his weekly pen-and-pad briefing, Hoyer said Democrats wouldn’t withhold their support on the CR for a better deal on the Ex-Im Bank. “You don’t get perfect,” Hoyer said.

Democrats uniting behind a strategy that sinks the CR still seems unlikely, but it seems to still be an option Democratic leaders are mulling over.

Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, shared his reaction to the Pelosi comments with CQ Roll Call via email:

“Did Rep. Pelosi tell President Obama she is threatening to shut down the government over an unrelated issue after he said he needs the authority to train properly-vetted Syrian rebels in the CR as soon as humanly possible?” he asked.

A spokesman for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had a similar question.

“Has the Minority Leader spoken to the President today?” asked Mike Long.

 

Related:

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

McCarthy Suggests Post-Election Vote Authorizing Military Force

Path Forward on CR, Title 10 Authority Starts to Crystalize

Obama Asserts Authority to Take on ISIS Without Congress

Congress Locked in ISIS War Muddle

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

Obama Speech Excerpt: We’re Going to (Air) War Against ISIS

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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

ISIS Puts Spotlight Back on Terror as Benghazi Hearings Kick Off

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Gowdy leads the Benghazi select committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:16 p.m. | After months of behind-the-scenes work that saw the House Benghazi Select Committee virtually disappear from the media landscape, the much-hyped investigatory panel returns to the spotlight this week with its first public hearing.

The 10 a.m. Wednesday hearing comes less than a week after the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya that killed four Americans and at a time when the rise of ISIS has refocused much of the country’s attention on terror and the Middle East.

The Benghazi committee, announced with great fanfare in May by House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and immediately dismissed as a political stunt by Democrats, has spent the summer hiring staff and reviewing evidence.

There was — and still is — an expectation among Republicans that Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former prosecutor, will go after top administration officials involved in the handling of the incident and its aftermath, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and current Secretary John Kerry.

But neither of those two political heavyweights will appear this week, and Wednesday’s hearing looks to be more deliberative than explosive — which may be a sign that Gowdy is determined to deliver on promises to the Democrats on the committee that he would not politicize the investigation.

Wednesday’s hearing focuses on the implementation of recommendations from an independent review board and recommendations from the Benghazi Independent Panel on Best Practices.

The committee will hear from Greg Starr, the assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security, Mark Sullivan, the former director of the Secret Service, and Todd Keil, the former assistant secretary of infrastructure protection for the Department of Homeland Security.

Sullivan and Keil served on the Independent Panel of Best Practices, which issued 40 recommendations for increased diplomatic security a little over a year ago — chief among them being the creation of Starr’s job.

The hearing, based on the prospective agenda, seems less focused on Benghazi and more focused on a forward-looking approach to security management practices — a topic that has taken on new importance with the emergence of ISIS, the jihadist insurgents who control parts of Syria and Iraq.

Congress will also weigh a request this week from President Barack Obama to authorize broader military action against the group, which has captured the ire of the American public by posting videos of the beheadings of two U.S. journalists.

The Benghazi attack, of course, will be a topic of discussion Wednesday, and the public will get its first look at whether Gowdy, a prosecutor for 16 years before coming to Congress, can keep the hearing from bogging down in the partisan bickering that plagued the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which had been conducting its own Benghazi probe.

Amanda Duvall, the new committee’s deputy communications director, told CQ Roll Call that Gowdy has long said there would be public hearings. “But the work of an investigation involves depositions and witness interviews that, by nature of what those are, are not public,” Duvall said.

Gowdy announced last month that retired three-star general Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman would serve as chief counsel for the panel.

Chipman was the senior military lawyer for the Army for four years as judge advocate general at the Pentagon before he retired last November after 33 years on active duty.

CQ Roll Call reported in July that security clearance backlogs had slowed hiring for the panel.

Republicans provided $3.3 million for the 12-member committee to spend by the end of the year, more than the budgets of at least two House standing committees. The panel can keep working in 2015 with a renewed budget.

The other Republicans on the panel are Reps. Martha Roby of Alabama, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.

The Democrats are Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Adam Smith of Washington, Adam Schiff of California, Linda T. Sánchez of California, and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Correction 12:30 p.m.

An earlier version of the post incorrectly identified Amanda Duvall. She’s the deputy communications director.

 

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Meet the Members of the Benghazi Committee

Gowdy Names Phil Kiko as Staff Director for Benghazi Committee

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Benghazi Committee: Democrats Warn Boehner About Partisan Makeup

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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

No. 2 House Democrat Predicts Two-Part Vote on ISIS Request

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Hoyer predicts two House votes on the president’s ISIS authority request. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Thursday afternoon that he expects Congress will vote next week to grant President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS.

But the Maryland Democrat also said he expected that that vote wouldn’t be Congress’s last word on the subject.

“I believe a two-step process is what we will, I think, pursue,” Hoyer told CQ Roll Call and the Washington Post on Thursday during a taping of the C-SPAN program “Newsmakers,” set to air on Sunday morning. “I think there will be consideration of the president’s request to train and equip regional players.”

Then, after the elections, Hoyer said he anticipated “consideration of a larger authorization for the use of military force.”

Full story

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