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April 20, 2014

Posts in "Foreign Policy"

April 18, 2014

Cantor Leads CODEL to Asia

GOP Caucus 3 010814 445x295 Cantor Leads CODEL to Asia

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on Friday began a congressional delegation trip to Asia, where he will meet with the prime minister of Japan and the president of South Korea as well as key U.S. ambassadors in the region.

Cantor and a group of members, including House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., will visit Japan, South Korea and China, meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, as well as ex-Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is now the U.S. Ambassador to China, and Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

Cantor will focus on economics, national security and regional stability, his office said, following a speech he gave in February at the Virginia Military Institute where he called for more engagement in the region.

“While the situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has raised new concerns about security in Europe, the United States must also remain engaged in promoting peace and stability in Asia,” Cantor said in a statement.

Cantor and Ryan are joined by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who will likely head the Armed Services Committee next year; also on the trip are Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., Kay Granger; R-Texas, Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; Paul Cook, R-Calif.; and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

 

Correction, 6:53 p.m.: A previous version of this story misidentified the South Korean president.  She is Park Geun-hye.

April 14, 2014

Boehner Leads Delegation to Afghanistan to Observe Presidential Elections

boehner 197 022714 445x296 Boehner Leads Delegation to Afghanistan to Observe Presidential Elections

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner kicked off the two-week congressional recess with a visit to Afghanistan to observe the historic presidential election there.

According to a statement and press release from the Ohio Republican’s office Monday morning, datelined from Kabul, Boehner was accompanied by Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline, R-Minn.; Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash.; Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.; and National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Also in attendance were some of the Speaker’s friends and allies: Republican Reps. Tom Latham of Iowa, Devin Nunes of California and Steve Womack of Arkansas.

House GOP leadership aides could not shed light on why this particular “Gang of Eight” had been assembled — it could just be that Boehner wanted to bring lawmakers with whom he has a good rapport. 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:

April 3, 2014

Obama Talks Pope, Ukraine, IMF With Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell

Updated 10 a.m. | President Barack Obama discussed the crisis in Ukraine, his visit with Pope Francis and other issues with congressional leaders Thursday evening at the White House, according to a readout from a White House official.

The meeting with Congress’s big four — Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — was called by Obama to discuss his big overseas trip and Ukraine.

The White House readout noted the president’s discussion with Pope Francis of immigration and reducing inequality. UPDATE: A Boehner aide said Friday, however, that there was no discussion of immigration at Thursday’s meeting.

Immigration has stalled in the House, and the leaders have been far apart on the president’s agenda to combat inequality, including a minimum wage hike and an extension of unemployment benefits.

Obama also once again urged the leaders to pass IMF legislation, which Boehner has refused to bring to the House floor, and updated the leaders on nuclear security and Saudi Arabia.

Here’s the full White House readout: Full story

March 21, 2014

Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to ‘Spending Limits’ (Updated)

boehner 144 0312141 445x307 Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to Spending Limits (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. |Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.

“We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget,” Cantor wrote Friday to House Republicans.

The Virginia Republican noted that President Barack Obama’s budget “blows past” the spending caps previously agreed to for fiscal 2015, but the the House GOP’s budget will conform to the agreed upon “spending limits.”

The pluralization of that last word is key: There are rumors that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan intends to offer a budget that would adhere to the overall spending limit, but would exceed the defense spending caps, which are unpopular with a number of Republicans. Full story

New Bipartisan Ukraine Sanctions Bill Introduced — Without IMF Language (Updated)

Updated 2:06 p.m. | A House bill introduced Friday imposing sanctions on Russia and providing economic aid to Ukraine would closely mirror legislation up for consideration in the Senate next week — but without language sought by the White House that would open the spigots for International Monetary Fund loans.

Like the Senate bill, it would authorize direct loan guarantees for Ukraine and impose sanctions against officials in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government tied to the crisis.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has all but put the kibosh on bringing legislation to the floor including IMF language.

Introduced by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and co-sponsored by his ranking member, Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., the new measure could represent an attempt to align both chamber’s efforts to provide the White House with the tools to move forward in a rapidly escalating diplomatic standoff between the two nations.

Royce released the following statement after the introduction of the legislation during Friday’s pro forma session of the House:

“Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and intimidation of Ukraine should be a wakeup call. The U.S. and our European friends should be bolstering the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. That means aiding Ukraine’s fledging democracy, with its May elections looming, and bolstering its economy, including by helping Putin’s energy grip over Eastern Europe. The U.S. should act immediately to increase natural gas exports to Europe, undermining Russia’s monopoly, and creating American jobs. Strong sanctions against those Russians responsible for this aggression against Ukraine are critical.”

Engel also put out a statement:

“The United States must stand with the people of Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s attack on and occupation of Crimea. This important legislation supplements the President’s efforts to impose sanctions on those responsible for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, looting Ukraine’s economy, and violating human rights in Ukraine. It sends a clear message to President Putin and his corrupt cronies that we will not tolerate Russian aggression. The bill also provides assistance to support the people of Ukraine as they work to rebuild their economy and prepare for democratic elections, and reaffirms our commitment to the security of our NATO partners in East and Central Europe.”

The committee has scheduled a mark-up of the legislation for Tuesday.

By Emma Dumain Posted at 11:54 a.m.
Foreign Policy

March 18, 2014

Cantor Looks to Confront Putin, Impose Costs on Russia

cantor062513 445x296 Cantor Looks to Confront Putin, Impose Costs on Russia

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is looking to retaliate against Russia after it moved to annex Crimea Tuesday.

“I’ve asked House Committees to examine additional steps that can be taken to impose greater costs to Russia,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

He added that he also would “look forward to working with President Obama and his Administration to confront the brazen challenge to international security posted by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression.” Full story

March 12, 2014

Boehner: IMF Aid to Ukraine Isn’t Necessary (Updated) (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner said authority sought by President Barack Obama to extend IMF loans to Ukraine isn’t needed.

“This IMF money isn’t necessary for dealing with this Ukraine crisis,” the Ohio Republican told reporters at his weekly press conference Wednesday. “So I think what the Senate ought to do is take up the House-passed loan guarantee package and they could move it today. Beyond that, we’ll see what the Senate actually does.”

March 5, 2014

House Will Vote Thursday on Ukraine Aid

The House will vote Thursday on legislation extending financial aid to Ukraine, while a vote on a resolution supporting sanctions on Russia could follow next week.

Members and aides told CQ Roll Call there is little to no pushback against voting on the loan legislation and they expect it to pass easily.

“Clearly there is a dire situation unfolding, so the House is moving as quickly as possible to provide the administration with authority to issue loan guarantees for Ukraine,” said Rory Cooper, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

The bill would come up under suspension of the rules, meaning it would need a two-thirds majority of the House.

Action in the Senate won’t be quite so swift, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday. Full story

Boehner Rips Obama Policies as Emboldening Putin on Ukraine

boehner 197 022714 445x296 Boehner Rips Obama Policies as Emboldening Putin on Ukraine

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner ripped years of President Barack Obama’s policies for failing to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to encroach into Ukraine.

“The steps that had not been taken over the last three or four years by the president allowed Putin to believe that he could do what he’s doing without any reaction from us,” Boehner said Wednesday morning.

The Ohio Republican said his conference and Democrats were “trying to work with the president to strengthen his hand.” Full story

March 3, 2014

Cantor and Hoyer Reunite to Push Obama on Iran Nuclear Talks

cantor121013 445x295 Cantor and Hoyer Reunite to Push Obama on Iran Nuclear Talks

Cantor, above, is teaming up with Hoyer on the issue of Iran. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer are together again, jointly urging the Obama administration to take a hard line on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while supporting the administration’s diplomatic effort.

The Virginia Republican and Maryland Democrat on Monday afternoon released the text of a letter to President Barack Obama that urges him to “keep all options on the table to prevent this dangerous regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Notably, they say they support Obama’s diplomatic effort, although they had split over strategy last year.

Cantor and Hoyer had been working together on a nonbinding resolution expressing a sense of the House that any nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Iran should prevent Iran from ever obtaining such weapons.

But Hoyer ultimately split from Cantor, citing a desire to let the administration see negotiations through amidst the White House’s strong opposition to any new legislative effort while talks were ongoing. Many of Hoyer’s fellow House Democrats decried what they called partisan GOP efforts to undermine Obama’s diplomatic overtures and White House foreign policy generally.

Hoyer and Cantor will be circulating the letter among their colleagues over the next few days before sending it to the White House next week, according to both the leaders’ press offices.

Full story

February 19, 2014

Lawmakers Call on Obama to Impose Sanctions on Ukraine

457537041 russian president vladimir putin and gettyimages 445x325 Lawmakers Call on Obama to Impose Sanctions on Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Yanukovych attend a Russian-Ukrainian Summit in December, where the latter signed a series of agreements to boost trade and industrial cooperation with Russia, refusing to strengthen cooperation with the EU. (Kommersant via Getty Images)

Updated 5:57 p.m. | The eruption of violence in Ukraine has several lawmakers calling on President Barack Obama to impose “targeted sanctions” on the country.

Both the chairman and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Ed Royce of California and Democrat Eliot L. Engel of New York, respectively, issued separate statements Wednesday calling on the president to immediately act to mitigate violence in Ukraine — and Capitol Hill has found its buzz phrase for action in Kiev.

“Targeted sanctions” has emerged as the immediate step lawmakers seek, and the White House seems to increasingly be heading that direction as violence continues between protesters and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government.

“Last week, the House of Representatives went on record, calling for the ‘utmost restraint’ and avoidance of confrontation in Ukraine,” Royce said in a statement Wednesday, referring to a House-passed resolution that encourages financial sanctions on some government actors and encourages the Ukrainian government to repeal anti-democratic measures enacted in January that sparked the protests in the first place.

“Significantly,” Royce wrote, “the resolution called for the Administration to impose additional ‘targeted sanctions’ against those individuals responsible for the violence. Today, the White House indicated that it is considering doing just that.” Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:49 p.m.
Foreign Policy

January 14, 2014

Cantor Eyes Iran Bill as Democrats Splinter

House Democrats’ top foreign policy legislator slammed Republican leaders on Tuesday, calling talk of bringing up a Senate bill to toughen sanctions on Iran a political move.

Foreign Affairs ranking member Eliot L. Engel, who with the panel’s chairman co-sponsored the more stringent House-passed Iran sanctions bill, said GOP leaders are simply trying to undermine President Barack Obama and prove that they are more supportive of Israel.

“Republican leadership in the House ought to be more concerned with implementing the sanctions than concerned with trying to embarrass the administration,” the New York Democrat said. “I’m interested in a real coalition. I think sometimes the Republicans are more interested in scoring brownie points against the administration, trying to box the administration into a corner.”

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., defended the deliberations, telling CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that there has been “a lot of pressure building that we should act,” despite warnings from the administration that doing so could undermine diplomatic talks with Tehran, splinter the international coalition and increase the likelihood of war.

“I believe strongly that we ought to have in place sanctions that will occur when the Iranians inevitably break their word. We can’t trust the Iranians,” Cantor said. “This president has continued to say, ‘Now’s not the time.’ So I’m hopeful we can work with our Democratic counterparts both in the House and the Senate to get something done.” Full story

January 13, 2014

House GOP May Act on Senate Iran Sanctions Bill

With White House pushback against an Iran sanctions bill keeping the Senate at bay, House GOP leaders are considering taking up the Senate version of the bill this month to pressure the chamber to act, according to a source familiar with GOP leadership and committee thinking.

The discussion comes only a day after President Barack Obama announced the first step in a multilateral agreement mandating that beginning Jan. 20, Iran would begin dismantling its higher-level enriched uranium and enrichment infrastructure. 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

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