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November 27, 2014

Posts in "Democrats"

November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Shouldn’t Be About Wal-Mart, Says Florida Congressman

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Grayson slammed Wal-Mart for commercializing Thanksgiving Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ah, Thanksgiving: football, parades, turkey and stuffing, Rep. Alan Grayson going after Wal-Mart.

The Florida Democrat, who is one of the retail giant’s biggest critics on Capitol Hill, renewed what has become his annual Thanksgiving tradition Wednesday, taking on Wal-Mart for its treatment of workers.

“Thanksgiving was once a holiday reserved for spending time with our loved ones — families across America gathered around the table to enjoy a meal … and give thanks,” Grayson said in a statement.

“But Thanksgiving’s importance has faded in recent years. The holiday is now merely a precursor to Black Friday — the day in which stores like Walmart slash prices to attempt to generate larger profits for themselves, at the expense of their employees. For Walmart’s corporate owners, Thanksgiving has become ‘Black Friday Eve’ — a day to pry families apart and work employees to the bone for next to nothing in wages.”

Grayson wrapped up with a vow of support for Wal-Mart employees staging Black Friday protests of wages and working conditions across the country Wednesday.

In 2012, Grayson was escorted out of an Orlando Wal-Mart by security guards after participating in a Thanksgiving protest at the store.

After protesting Wal-Mart workers were arrested on Black Friday last year, Grayson told Salon that, “Wal-Mart is a machine that exists solely for the purpose of enriching its owners and … the top managers of Wal-Mart, and in so doing wreaks havoc on the lives of both workers and suppliers.”

 

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November 25, 2014

Don’t Count on Democrats to Help Pass GOP ‘Cromnibus,’ Says Pelosi

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Pelosi says Democrats won’t support the “Cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders and incoming Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia are floating a plan to fund immigration-related activities separately from an all-encompassing government spending bill — and for a shorter length of time.

It’s a plan still very much in flux. However, if the Republicans want to go through with it, they had better have enough of their own members ready and able to vote “yes,” because Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has it made it clear she won’t be offering assistance from her side of the aisle.

On Tuesday afternoon, the California Democrat slammed the emerging gambit known as a “Cromnibus” — part short-term continuing resolution, or CR, and part long-term omnibus — saying it would be tantamount to a “partial” government shutdown.

“House Democrats have fought against Republican attempts to shut down the government,” the California Democrat said in a written statement. “Now, House Republicans are seeking to disguise their efforts, threatening our national security in order to undermine the President’s clear legal authority. We will not be enablers to a Republican Government Shutdown, partial or otherwise.” Full story

Congressional Black Caucus Members React to Decision in Ferguson

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Fudge calls the grand jury’s action a “slap in the face.”  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just as America seems divided on the death of a young black man in Ferguson, Mo., members of the Congressional Black Caucus are showing their own divisions over the racially charged incident that has prompted many in Congress to wonder how they should respond.

A CBC spokesperson told CQ Roll Call Tuesday that the special orders hour on the first day the House is back, Monday Dec. 1, would be on Ferguson, but knew of no legislative response lawmakers were planning to take, including legislation to address the militarization of police. There were calls for hearings this summer on the Pentagon-to-police weapons program after the initial protests erupted in Ferguson, but there were no such calls Tuesday — at least not yet.

Instead, it’s been words — statements and tweets — that have marked the different approaches to Ferguson. And Monday night, after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the police offer who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown this summer, members further showed their divisions. Full story

November 24, 2014

Democrats Praise Obama for Immigration Action, but Wanted More

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Fasting immigration reform activists in front of the White House listen to President Barack Obama’s speech on his executive action on immigration policies Nov. 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While Republicans in Congress aren’t holding back on their criticism of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, some Democrats are trying to navigate a more difficult position: Supporting the president’s action while also arguing he could have gone further.

Some of the strongest congressional proponents of an immigration overhaul — Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Sen. Robert J. Menendez, D-N.J. — held a conference call Monday to discuss the president’s action. And while all three were effusive in their praise, it was also clear they believe Obama could have put forward a more ambitious executive order.

“We made the argument that he could go further,” Gutierrez said on the conference call. “We lost that argument.” Full story

November 21, 2014

Boehner: ‘House Will Act’ in Response to Obama’s Immigration Orders (Video)

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Immigration activists gathered at the White House on Thursday in the wake of Obama’s announcement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner said “the House will, in fact, act” to respond to President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action Friday morning.

In a 4-minute news conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation’s immigration system is “broken,” and “the American people expect us to work together to fix it.

“And we ought to do it in a Democratic process,” he continued, “moving bills through the people’s House, through the Senate and to the president’s desk.”

But Boehner also accused Obama of trying to “deliberately sabotage” the prospects for congressional action by issuing his executive orders and “making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do.”

Boehner said, “I warned the president over and over again.” Full story

November 20, 2014

GOP Still Fuzzy on Strategy to Block Obama’s Immigration Move

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Defunding Obama won’t work, said Rogers.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo/Bill Clark)

Hours before President Barack Obama finally presses the “go” button on executive actions to change the nation’s immigration laws, House Republicans were not any closer to coalescing around a strategy to fight back.

House GOP leaders have made it clear they want to pursue some legislative response to block Obama’s orders, which Democrats say they should have expected after stonewalling consideration in the 113th congress of Senate-passed immigration overhaul legislation.

“All options are on the table,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Boehner and his allies haven’t, however, figured out how to pacify a rank-and-file that would like to tie the president’s hands by attaching some kind of defunding language to a must-pass piece of legislation. Full story

Pelosi Praises Republican Presidents of Yore on Immigration (Video)

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Pelosi praised previous Republican presidents on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nancy Pelosi, defending Barack Obama, praised Republican presidents who historically took unilateral action on immigration — with the minority leader even drawing parallels between Obama’s proposed executive order and Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Pelosi asked during a news conference Thursday. “People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country.”

The California Democrat cited the history of U.S. presidents making significant changes without going through Congress, and she brought up the pattern of Republican presidents in the past 50 years exerting their executive authority to act on immigration.

Asked whether Republicans had a case that what the president was proposing was unconstitutional, Pelosi said Obama’s action was “absolutely, positively” not outside his constitutional bounds. Full story

November 19, 2014

Walz Gets VA Committee Spot After Messy Process

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Walz will serve again on Veterans’ Affairs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sometimes a consolation prize makes all the difference, Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz learned Wednesday.

After party leaders appeared to have blocked the Minnesota Democrat from running for ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Walz — who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress — ended up getting much of what he wanted anyway.

He will be on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the 114th Congress, and he will have a larger role with veterans service organizations. Full story

CBC Rallies to Defend Brown, Democrats’ Seniority System

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Brown, who had the most seniority, is the new ranking member of the VA Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday was a good day for the Congressional Black Caucus: In just a matter of hours, the powerful group saw Democrats’ seniority system — a tradition that has long protected minority lawmakers from being passed over for leadership positions — prevail not once, but twice.

First, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. — the No. 3 Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee — beat the No. 5 panel Democrat, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California, in the race to be ranking member.

He’s not a member of the CBC, but Pallone showed that lawmakers had no intention of bowing to pressure from some party leaders, such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to disregard the House Democratic Caucus’s deference to the decades-old seniority precedent. Full story

Pallone Defeats Eshoo for Energy and Commerce Slot (Updated)

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Pallone topped Eshoo, 100-90. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:57 p.m. | In a triumph for the seniority system and a blow to Nancy Pelosi’s clout, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey beat Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California in a hard-fought race for ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Eshoo had Pelosi’s support and won the backing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Tuesday afternoon, but the full caucus early Wednesday morning voted to give the plum assignment to Pallone.

The final tally was 100-90. Full story

Next Congress Has a Schedule: McCarthy Releases 2015 House Calendar

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McCarthy posted the 2015 legislative calendar. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy released the legislative calendar for 2015, and Republicans aren’t deviating from the familiar formula of giving members plenty of time in their districts.

Overall, the House is slated to be in session 132 days next year, without a single five-day week scheduled.

That’s not unprecedented. The House was in session 135 days during the first session of the 113th Congress (after being scheduled to be in session for only 126 days — the extra work days a result of that whole government shutdown thing). Full story

Messy Fight for Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Slot (Updated)

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Brown, left, and Walz, center, each are vying for the ranking member position on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:28 a.m. | Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota thought there would be a vote after Thanksgiving on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member race. As it turns out, his face-off against Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida will happen on Wednesday.

It gives Walz less time than he and his allies said they anticipated to build support around his uphill challenge of Brown, who benefits from seniority and the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member.

Before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee can meet to vote on a recommendation to the full House Democratic Caucus, Walz will have to clear an additional hurdle: A vote on whether he is even eligible to hold the post.

Walz is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress and has had a seat at the Veterans’ Affairs Committee table since 2007. He is, however, on the committee via waiver, and his opponents say it doesn’t qualify him to run against Brown, who after nearly two decades on the committee is next in line to succeed the current retiring ranking member, Michael H. Michaud of Maine. Full story

Luján Pledges to Bring Farmer’s Work Ethic to DCCC

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Luján, right, will bring a quiet intensity to his job as Israel’s replacement at the DCCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has ruffled plenty of feathers lately, reclaimed some goodwill with her caucus Monday, bypassing more established members to name Ben Ray Luján the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It won’t erase all of the negativity percolating among her flock — demoralized after Election Day and antsy over the stasis at the leadership table — but the decision to elevate the New Mexico Democrat is being called “smart” and “savvy,” even by those who count themselves among Pelosi’s critics.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the top Democrat on Financial Services, said Pelosi’s pick was “refreshing” and “lovely.” Full story

November 18, 2014

Eshoo Wins Backing of Steering and Policy Committee Over Pallone

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Eshoo and Pallone are vying for the ranking membership of the Energy and Commerce Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California has won the recommendation of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee to be the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee — but she’s not out of the water yet.

At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the full caucus will vote between her and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, closing the chapter on what has been the most fraught committee leadership race of the cycle. Full story

Democrats Fume in Caucus as Duckworth Denied Vote

House Democrats are continuing to criticize Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to allow Rep. Tammy Duckworth — a double amputee Iraq War veteran whose pregnancy has made her unable to travel — to vote by proxy in leadership elections this week.

Pelosi and her allies have been saying since Nov. 13, when the issue first came up, that House Democratic Caucus rules prohibit proxy votes, and that allowing exceptions for the Illinois Democrat would create a slippery-slope scenario.

Members and aides are privately seething over what they see as Pelosi’s latest attempt to stack the deck against Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., who is running for ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee against Pelosi’s closest friend and fellow Californian, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo.

Full story

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