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March 30, 2015

Posts in "Federal Deficit"

March 27, 2015

Did Van Hollen Miss a Layup Opportunity With Progressives? (Updated)

UNITED STATES - JUNE 17: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., participates in the National Press Club Newsmaker Program with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on "future federal budget priorities and methods to achieve them" at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Van Hollen surprised some progressives when he didn’t vote for their budget this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:42 p.m. | Congressional Progressive Caucus members were emboldened this week.

Their fiscal 2016 budget proposal won 96 votes on the floor, which translates into half of all House Democrats endorsing the policy platform of one third of the whole House Democratic Caucus — plus a higher threshold than for any CPC budget ever before.

Full story

March 25, 2015

GOP Defense Hawks Trump Conservatives as House OKs Budget

Scalise posed a question about marijuana legalization in a recent email survey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday’s budget vote was a win for Scalise and the rest of the GOP leadership team. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After months of leadership’s best-laid plans falling apart on the floor and behind the scenes, House GOP leaders eked out a much-needed victory Wednesday, with Republicans endorsing a budget that added even more defense dollars to the blueprint reported out committee.

The House voted 228-199 to adopt the budget resolution, after first endorsing that budget in a closer 219-208 vote. Full story

March 24, 2015

House GOP Leaders Prepare For Budget Battle (Updated)

Scalise posed a question about marijuana legalization in a recent email survey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Scalise denied he had a whipping problem. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:54 p.m. | At their weekly news conference Tuesday morning, House Republican leaders went on the offensive to sell their budget resolution.

One aspect of the pitch — along with the fact that their budget balances and doesn’t raise taxes — focuses on the spending plan’s proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In the event the House and Senate go to conference on their two fiscal blueprints, a procedural gambit known as “reconciliation” could, they argue, accomplish that goal. Full story

March 23, 2015

Quirky ‘Queen of the Hill’ Rule Could Solve GOP Budget Impasse

Flores, R-Texas, attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to introduce border security legislation titled "Support More Assets, Resources and Technology on the Border of 2013." The bill would allow for the employment of additional border officers and a temporary deployment of the National Guard if Congress deems that operational control of the U.S. southern borders is not established. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Flores, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said his group’s proposed budget sets out markers for the GOP. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are breaking out their procedural rulebooks for the House budget resolution, with leadership getting creative to appease defense hawks who want additional spending and conservatives who are apt to reject more military dollars that aren’t offset.

The House Rules Committee Monday set up a series of votes this week on six budget proposals: The one reported out of committee, the version reported out of committee with an additional $2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, a leaner Republican Study Committee budget, a House Democratic Caucus budget, a proposal from the Progressive Caucus, and one from the Congressional Black Caucus. Full story

Make-or-Break Week for Republicans on ‘Doc Fix,’ Budget

Boehner, R-Ohio, conducts his weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, March 19, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) boehner008_031915.JPG

Boehner and the leadership team face two big tests this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As the House returns Monday, Speaker John A. Boehner faces two big tests of his hold on the ever-unruly Republican Conference: pushing through the GOP budget and putting the final touches on a speaker-approved Medicare “doc fix.”

After days of closed-door whip checks and haggling on amendments, the House Budget Committee advanced its fiscal 2016 budget on March 19 by a 22-13 vote. Every Republican supported the measure in committee, but GOP leaders are unlikely to be so lucky if the bill comes to the floor next week, as leaders said it would.

Full story

March 19, 2015

Fiscal Conservatives Buck Leadership, Send Tighter Budget to Floor (Updated)

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)

Price’s budget goes to the House floor without the additional defense spending national security hawks had insisted upon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:02 p.m. | House fiscal conservatives took the upper hand — for the moment — Thursday in their struggle with Republican defense hawks for control of the GOP’s 2016 federal budget proposal.

After 24 hours of uncertainty and stops and starts, the House Budget Committee voted along party lines, 22-13, to send a leaner spending plan to the House floor for a vote. Full story

House Republicans Stymied Over Own Budget

Tom Price, R-Ga., chairs the House Budget Committee hearing on "The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Budget and Economic Outlook" on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Price said the votes weren’t there. So far, he’s right. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A marathon markup of House Republicans’ proposed 2016 federal budget ended after midnight Wednesday with no resolution between the two GOP factions — defense hawks on one side, fiscal conservatives on the other — determined to put their own, seemingly incompatible stamps on the largely symbolic spending plan.

Members and aides weren’t immediately sure early Thursday if or when the House Budget panel would reconvene to try again to move the budget out of committee and onto the floor. Full story

March 18, 2015

Quiet Win for Boehner? Bending the Entitlement Curve

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks back to his office after leaving the House floor on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner is close to an elusive deal on a small piece of what allies are calling entitlement reform. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If the phrase “sustainable growth rate” sounds like it might be useful in putting you to sleep, you might have missed it.

Speaker John A. Boehner is quietly putting the finishing touches on a legacy item that generations of high school civics teachers insist is the third rail of politics: “entitlement reform.” 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

April 10, 2014

Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi, IRS (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.

During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.

The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.

Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.

Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.

Watch the full press conference below:

January 13, 2014

A Few Highlights — Or Lowlights — From the Omnibus

On Monday evening, appropriators from both chambers unveiled a massive omnibus spending bill to fund the government through the end of September, the culmination of just a few weeks of work and bipartisan negotiations.

The House is expected to pass the 1,582-page package of all 12 appropriations bills this week, if for no other reason than to dispel anxiety over another government shutdown and encourage a return to the age of “regular order.”

But, as with any major piece of legislation, the final product necessitated some compromises, and there are policy riders that are sure to ruffle feathers from members on both sides of the aisle — even if they won’t be enough to sink the whole ship.

Here are a handful of the provisions House lawmakers will have to swallow in the name of passing the spending bill: Full story

January 8, 2014

Anniversary of War on Poverty Splits GOP, Democrats

Lee, second from left, gathered with other Democratic lawmakers and Lynda Johnson Robb, center, for an event to mark the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's "declaration of the War on Poverty" on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lee, second from left, gathered with other Democratic lawmakers and Robb, center, for an event to mark the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of the “war on poverty” on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats may have taken up income inequality as their election-year campaign platform, but Republicans appear determined to not let their counterparts own the subject.

To the annoyance of some Democrats, six members of the conservative Republican Study Committee held a news conference Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty” and to call for a different tactic to address indigence in this nation — one that is leaner on direct aid and more robust in job creation.

“While this war may have been launched with the best of intentions, it’s clear we’re now engaged in a battle of attrition that has left more Americans in poverty than at any other point in our nation’s history,” Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., said at the beginning of the news conference, noting that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty today. He did not point out, however, that even though the raw number of poverty-stricken people has increased, the percentage of poor Americans has fallen from 19 percent when President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “unconditional war on poverty” in 1964 to about 15 percent today.

Southerland, the chairman of the RSC’s anti-poverty initiative, said that in the 50 years of the war on poverty, the government has spent more than $15 trillion on programs designed to combat those issues.

“Clearly, the big government ideas of the past need to be improved and aren’t working to the extent that they should,” Southerland said. “We have a moral obligation to break the mold.”

Southerland said there were three pillars to fighting poverty: two-parent families, quality education and a stable job.

“Over the next year, we will be bringing interested members together to discuss conservative solutions that empower individuals and not the federal government,” he said. Full story

January 3, 2014

Cantor Lays Out January Legislative Agenda

Cantor, center, outlined the House's January legislative agenda on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Cantor, center, outlined the House’s January legislative agenda on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House will have a busy January judging by the lengthy legislative agenda Majority Leader Eric Cantor circulated among his colleagues on Friday.

The Virginia Republican’s memo, obtained by 218, lays out the obvious items of business: passing conference reports for the farm bill and for legislation funding the nation’s water programs, plus an appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal 2014.

The GOP-run House will also continue to assail the president’s health care law, starting next week with a measure to address potential security breaches on HealthCare.gov. Cantor released a memo on that specific priority on Thursday.

Cantor also told lawmakers to familiarize themselves with other initiatives that could come to the floor in the weeks ahead, such as a possible Iran sanctions resolution that has been on the back-burner since late last year.

Full story

December 30, 2013

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.

Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story

December 12, 2013

On the Budget Vote, Watch the Rule

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The bipartisan budget deal might have a tougher time passing than Republican or Democratic leaders first thought.

Although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she didn’t think her members would “let this bill go down,” she also said Democrats are likely to vote against the rule — the procedural vote that brings the bill to the floor.

If that’s the case, and Democrats remain unified in that effort, it won’t take many in the GOP to sink the rule.

There are many more than 20 Republicans who hate this deal. A group of them assembled at a monthly “Conversations with Conservatives” event Wednesday, where Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho, said the only part of him that was “undecided” on this vote was “whether I’m a strong no or a really strong no.”

”I think it’s a terrible plan,” he said.

Indeed, plenty of conservatives — who have exhibited willingness in the past to play politics with the procedural rule vote — are wondering what’s in this deal for them.

To make matters worse, those Republican members are frequently in contact with the outside conservatives groups that Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has blasted for two consecutive days. And given the news releases and Twitter fights, conservative groups such as Heritage Action for America abhor this deal and GOP leadership more than ever before. (To make matters even worse, a top conservative staffer beloved by the groups was forced to resign Wednesday amid charges that he was leaking member-level conversations to the groups.)

If the conservative groups and the band of Republicans can mount a speedy offensive, they can sink the rule, and, potentially, the budget deal.

For Democrats, there’s a calculated risk in allowing that to happen. On one hand, this is probably just about the only budget deal they’re going to get. Allowing it to go down could prevent any sort of relief from the sequester. On the other, if Republicans need help on the rule, Democrats might — just might — be able to extract some other legislative concessions, and tops on their wish list is an extension of unemployment insurance.

Democrats have made it clear that the absence of an unemployment insurance extension is a major issue for them. Pelosi herself has issued less than lukewarm words on the deal because it does not include it.

Boehner has signaled that Republicans could be open to dealing with that issue separately from the budget, but he has made no firm commitment. Democrats, meanwhile, are insistent Congress extend the benefits.

On Thursday, Pelosi said she didn’t “even think it should be paid for,” a reference to the Republican insistence that such an extension have an offset.

Either way, the rule is due up for consideration on Thursday afternoon. It’s an open question how it plays out. Will Republicans be able to pass the rule on their own? Will any Republicans break from their ranks? Will Democrats help at all? And what might the legislative implications be if Democrats have to help?

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