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April 24, 2014

Posts in "GOP Brand"

April 11, 2014

Highway Bill Could Consume Petri’s Last Months in Congress

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Rep. Tom Petri (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tom Petri announced Friday that he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he’s poised to go out with a legislative bang — or a whimper.

The 73-year-old Wisconsin Republican’s last eight months on Capitol Hill will likely be consumed with negotiations over legislation to reauthorize funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs in his role as chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction.

The stakes are high for a six-year reauthorization after 2012 efforts to pass a long-term transportation bill fell short and the fiscal health of the Highway Trust Fund is in deep peril. 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:

House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

irs hearing020 052213 445x296 House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

The vote, coming as Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess, is the latest chapter in a year-long probe that has sparked some of the fiercest partisan clashes among panel members in recent memory — from cutting off the ranking member’s microphone as he sought to speak to comparing the chairman to Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.

Full story

Breaking Down the 12 Republican ‘No’ Votes on the Ryan Budget (Updated)

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Broun joined 11 other Republicans voting against the Ryan budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 3:51 p.m. | This year saw more Republicans than ever vote against Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint, which passed the House Thursday 219-205. Here is a breakdown of the 12 Republicans who voted against the Wisconsin Republican’s budget and why.

Full story

April 9, 2014

House Republicans Ask Holder to Pursue Criminal Charges for Ex-IRS Official (Updated)

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Lerner (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday in support of launching a criminal investigation into the woman at the center of the IRS scandal — just one day before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to vote on holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

In a 23-14 party line vote, the Ways and Means panel approved submission of a formal letter to Eric H. Holder Jr., asking that the attorney general pursue charges against the former IRS official using evidence uncovered during the committee’s year-long investigation.

Wednesday’s action — coming after a rare closed-to-the-press meeting — is the latest salvo in what has rapidly escalated into a fiercely partisan battle over the extent to which lawmakers should probe Lerner’s actions. Full story

April 8, 2014

Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a “war on women,” with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as “pawns” to score political points.

Republican leaders wouldn’t say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they’d bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats’ “Equal Pay Day” criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman. 

“Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Let’s focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities … for a better life we all want.” Full story

April 7, 2014

Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budget’s Impact on Poverty

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The latest Ryan budget is no more likely than its predecessors to become law. But as with those those earlier documents, this year’s spending blueprint is giving both parties plenty of election-year ammunition.

Democrats, looking for some policy heft to leverage their political talking points, have asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the impact on poverty of Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal 2015 budget.

“Our budgets serve as an important tool for expressing Congress’s level of support for domestic anti-poverty initiatives and prioritizing investments in opportunity,” Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wrote in a Monday letter to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. “Such an analysis will aid Members of Congress in making an informed decision on whether Chairman Ryan’s budget will improve or worsen the state of poverty in America.”trans Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budgets Impact on Poverty

Full story

April 4, 2014

With an Eye on the Party’s Image, House GOP Puts Women Front and Center

jenkins 154 112812 445x313 With an Eye on the Partys Image, House GOP Puts Women Front and Center
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There are 19 women in the House Republican Conference, and on Thursday, 11 of them came to the chamber floor in support of a bill they said was a woman’s issue at its core.

The spotlight on GOP women came as part of a debate over changing the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full-time job from 30 hours a week to 40.

The bill, which passed 248-179, is destined to be ignored by the Senate. But the vote offered Republicans a chance to push back against the Democrats’ election-year narrative that the GOP is just a club for powerful old white men.

That Democratic line of attack has been fueled by embarrassing reports that the GOP party establishment has coached male candidates on how to run against women without being sexist or offensive.

Full story

April 3, 2014

Denham Sees Defense Bill as Vehicle for ENLIST Act Immigration Vote (Updated)

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Denham wants an immigration vote in the HASC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4 p.m. | Rep. Jeff Denham wants a vote on his bill that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to gain permanent residence in the United States in exchange for military service — and he’s got a plan in the works.

The California Republican is looking for Democrats and Republicans who are members of the House Armed Services Committee to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, a House GOP aide familiar with Denham’s efforts told CQ Roll Call.

“We are working to gather co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle,” Denham spokeswoman Jordan Langdon said in a statement.

The panel is set to mark up the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead and Denham, who is not himself a HASC member, needs to shore up support among committee members who would be willing to vote on the ENLIST Act if it were offered as an amendment to the underlying bill.

Denham also needs a lawmaker on the committee to introduce the amendment, which shouldn’t be a problem: Of the 42 co-sponsors of the ENLIST Act, 11 of them are HASC members, including the chairman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.

McKeon, however, has not yet committed to supporting efforts to place the amendment into the bill, either in advance of or during the course of the markup, a Republican committee aide told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.

The aide noted that any member of the panel is free to offer an amendment during the full committee markup so long as the language was “solely the jurisdiction” of the Armed Services Committee. Denham’s bill has only been referred to one committee, Armed Services, and would only change U.S. military code, not immigration law — which falls under the purview of the Judiciary Committee.

Full story

April 1, 2014

Ryan Says Budget Roadmap Will Pass House

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan defended his spending blueprint Tuesday and said he is confident the House will pass it, despite GOP opposition to the underpinning bipartisan budget agreement last year.

The Wisconsin Republican, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said the resolution will likely draw enough votes to pass, despite 62 Republican defections to a deal he struck in December with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. That deal set spending levels for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, to which Ryan’s budget conforms.

“Members who may not have supported the Ryan-Murray deal see that this is an entirely different deal and a different perspective in the context of actually balancing the budget and paying off our debt,” Ryan said. “Our colleagues who we have visited with frequently are pleased to support this budget because of its overall goals. The good clearly outweighs any other concerns that they had.” Full story

March 18, 2014

When the Speaker Calls: How McMorris Rodgers Was Picked for SOTU Response

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers was back in Spokane, Wash., for the holidays, hosting her district staff Christmas party at the local Old Spaghetti Factory, when she heard she’d missed a call from Speaker John A. Boehner.

“It was late enough that I decided to wait until the next day to return his call, the next morning,” the Washington Republican recalled in a recent sit-down interview with CQ Roll Call. “But everything runs through your mind as to why Speaker Boehner would be calling.”

A pitch to deliver the official GOP rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address was certainly “not on the list,” McMorris Rodgers said.

But that was exactly what Boehner was calling to discuss.

“He simply said that he and [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell had been talking, and they thought that I was the one that they’d like to see deliver the response to —” McMorris Rodgers stopped herself. “The Republican address. We didn’t call it a response. The Republican address following the State of the Union.”

The work started right away.

Full story

March 17, 2014

RSC Chairman: ‘We’re Not Done’ Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

scalise 038 020514 445x296 RSC Chairman: Were Not Done Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House GOP leadership intends to put forward a formal framework for repealing and replacing Obamacare, but has so far stopped short of promising to turn that framework into actual legislative text.

Should leaders decline to take that next step, it won’t sit well with Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.

“I feel good about where we are right now,” the Louisiana Republican told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview on Monday, “but we’re not done until we get a bill on the floor. Full story

March 14, 2014

Hispanic Caucus Regroups as Obama Promises Deportation Review

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Becerra said he expects the CHC to meet with the secretary of Homeland Security. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus will hold off on pursuing a resolution calling for the White House to take action to decrease deportations after President Barack Obama on Thursday evening promised to closely examine the issue.

Such a resolution coming from his own base would have been politically embarrassing for Obama, who has already come under fire from Democratic allies for suggesting his hands are tied when it comes to revising his administration’s deportation policies.

Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., even went so far as to call Obama on the House floor last week the “Deporter-in-Chief” and “dishonest.”

But Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, stressed on Friday that the resolution was not off the table entirely.

“Action on the resolution is deferred,” Castro told reporters. “It’s not dead.” Full story

March 13, 2014

Pelosi: Obamacare Not to Blame for Alex Sink’s Defeat

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rejected the premise that Democrat Alex Sink’s loss to Republican David Jolly in Tuesday night’s Florida special election was a referendum on Obamacare.

“I’m very proud of our House Democrats, not only how they’ve embraced the Affordable Care Act, because they helped create it, but how proud they are of it,” the California Democrat said at her weekly news conference Thursday morning. “I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their election issue and they will find that out.”

Pelosi also praised Sink, noting that the race was close and it was a district Republicans had held for 50 years.

“Our candidate Alex Sink, she was so excellent, she was so superb, and she said it just right: There are many good things about the Affordable Care Act that are good for the health and wellbeing for the American people, there are some things that need to be fixed,” Pelosi countered. “And that is the message of our members.” Full story

March 12, 2014

Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After two trips to the Deep South alongside civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat John Lewis, the pressure is on Eric Cantor to deliver on the Voting Rights Act.

The majority leader has made a major, personal investment in connecting to the civil rights movement — something that ultimately could prove important for a GOP that regularly polls in the single digits among African-Americans and poorly among other minorities.

But translating participation in the Faith and Politics Institute’s annual pilgrimage into legislative text that can win support from the bulk of the Republican Conference isn’t an easy task.

And so far, Cantor hasn’t laid out a clear path for a bill nine months after declaring his support for a congressional response to the Supreme Court decision striking down the VRA’s core enforcement mechanisms.

Democrats have signaled that they trust Cantor, a Virginia Republican, on this issue, and that the extent to which he is able to help advance a VRA fix depends largely on his ability to mobilize his flock, many of whom are hostile to the idea.

“A lot of what is happening on the other side of the aisle wouldn’t be happening if it were up to Cantor,” said the House’s No. 3 Democrat, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, adding that many far-right Republicans “relish in gumming up the works.”
Full story

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