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April 16, 2014

Posts in "Government Shutdown"

February 27, 2014

Boehner Says Tea Party Is Raising Money ‘Beating Up on Me’ (Video)

boehner 061 020614 445x296 Boehner Says Tea Party Is Raising Money Beating Up on Me (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner gave a nice assessment of the tea party Thursday on its unofficial five year anniversary, but stressed he isn’t exactly happy with groups like the Tea Party Patriots who are trying to fire him.

“My gripe is not with the tea party; my gripe is with some Washington organizations who feel like they got to go raise money by beating up on me and others,” Boehner told reporters.

The Ohio Republican also said he has ”great respect for the tea party and the energy they have brought to the electoral process.”

As we wrote today, Congress seems to have a mostly mixed assessment of the conservative movement.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday morning also fielded questions about the tea party and its legacy.

The California Democrat said the tea party had “hijacked” the Republican Party, and that tea partyers “considered it a success when they shut down government.”

Pelosi said her message to Republicans was this: “Take back your party, this isn’t who you are.”

February 14, 2014

Obama Credits Democratic Unity for Debt Limit Victory

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — President Barack Obama credited House Democrats’ party unity for getting Republican leaders to back off debt limit brinkmanship at the caucus’s annual retreat here.

“This caucus has shown, time and time again, under the most difficult circumstances, the kind of courage and unity and discipline that has made me very, very proud,” Obama said on Friday morning.

There’s no better example, Obama said, than the vote to raise the debt ceiling earlier this week, which passed the House with all but two Democrats voting “yes” — and only 28 Republicans.

“I was just talking to [Minority Leader] Nancy [Pelosi] before I came out here,” he continued. “The fact that we are no longer going to see, I believe, anybody try to hold our government hostage and threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to contract policy concessions, the fact that we were able to pass a clean debt limit, is just one example of why, when you guys are unified, you guys stick together, this country is better off, and I could not be more proud.”

Obama’s comments followed remarks by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was originally slated to address the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday but had to reschedule due to inclement weather.

While Biden delivered something of a pep talk to Democrats framed in the context of the 2014 election cycle, Obama steered clear of such rhetoric; in fact, he made no mention at all of the November elections.

But Obama did energize the crowd of lawmakers assembled in a Hyatt Regency ballroom on Friday morning by promising to continue to sign executive orders on specific policy issues on which House Republican refused to budge.

“I want to work with Congress, but I’m not gonna wait, because there’s too much to do,” he said.

Obama conceded that there are some areas in which he could not enact change through his now-infamous “pen and phone” strategy, such as an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system and an increase in the minimum wage across all work sectors.

In those areas, Democrats would have to show resilience on their own.

“Punting and putting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people, it hurts our economies, it hurts families and part of what I like to think makes us Democrats is not simply some abstract ideological set of beliefs but the fact that we’re reminded every single day that we’re here to help a whole bunch of folks out there, our neighbors, our communities who are struggling still and need our help and they’re counting on us,” Obama said.

“Good thing is, they got some outstanding members of Congress who are willing to fight for them,” he continued, “regardless of the political costs.”

February 7, 2014

Steve Scalise Collects Conservative Victories, Looks to Health Care

scalise 040 020514 445x296 Steve Scalise Collects Conservative Victories, Looks to Health Care

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In his Rayburn office on Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve Scalise has a case of triumphs.

The Louisiana Republican exhibits an impressive array of corks under glass in a custom-made display-box coffee table. Each was popped from a Champagne bottle to mark a momentous occasion: averting the New Year’s 2013 fiscal cliff, personal achievements such as becoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee and local legislative milestones such as funding for the Gulf Coast recovery.

A Sharpie pen marks the date of consumption, and the corks rest near small gold plates inscribed with the events that called for the bubbly.

With more than a dozen in all, Scalise hopes he’ll add to the collection in the months he has left before the end of his term leading the influential RSC.

Scalise’s broad mission, he told CQ Roll Call, is “to help move leadership to a more conservative place.”

And while that could easily be the stated goal of every RSC chairman, Scalise now has an even bigger task before him: offering the American voting public a glimpse of what kind of policy Congress could send to the president’s desk if only there were a Republican Senate to help.

“It’s important what we do the rest of the year,” Scalise said in the course of two more-than-20-minute sit-down interviews. “I want us to be bold.”

Full story

January 24, 2014

Boehner Tells Leno Government Shutdown a ‘Predictable Disaster’

In between quips about his tan complexion and common mispronunciations of his name, Speaker John A. Boehner acknowledged, in a Thursday evening interview with comedian Jay Leno, that Republicans were to blame for the government shutdown.

“It was a very predictable disaster, and the sooner we got it over with, the better,” the Ohio Republican said during his televised appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

“I told my colleagues in July I didn’t think shutting down the government over Obamacare would work because the President said, ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’” Boehner continued. “And so I told them in August ‘Probably not a good idea.’ Told them in early September. But when you have my job, there’s something you have to learn … When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. And you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk … So I said, ‘You want to fight this fight? I’ll go fight the fight with you.’” Full story

January 15, 2014

Appropriations Chairman ‘Giddy’ Over Blowout Omnibus Vote

rogers 018 070913 330x219 Appropriations Chairman Giddy Over Blowout Omnibus Vote

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said he was “almost giddy” after the strong bipartisan vote to pass the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

“This gives us a big boost here, this vote, this big vote,” said the Kentucky Republican, “this spirit and attitude that prevailed.” Full story

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

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 23, 2013

The Year According to Tom Cole

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The consensus among Capitol Hill reporters these days is that Rep. Tom Cole is a member worth chasing down a hall.

There’s no telling what he might say. Just this year, he said certain factions in the House GOP were acting like drunk “Uncle Joe” ruining the family Christmas party, called the coup to unseat Speaker John A. Boehner “amateur night at the Bijou,” and said shutting down the government was the “political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum.” But what makes Cole the must-have voice in any story about House Republicans is this: He brings the plainspoken, down-home Oklahoma truth.

“I’m a little bit old to not say what I think,” he told CQ Roll Call over the phone after the House adjourned for the year. “You only got so many years left — and I intend to make them count.” Full story

December 10, 2013

33 House Republicans Want a Sequester-Level CR, Just in Case

Thirty-three conservative House Republicans — including one committee chairman — have signed onto a letter urging leadership to bring to the floor a “clean” one-year continuing resolution that funds the government at sequester levels.

But don’t construe this plea as a coordinated assault on a budget deal that could emerge as soon as Tuesday afternoon, according to Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, who spearheaded the letter along with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.

And don’t use it to characterize how all the lawmakers would vote should the deal replace the sequester, as expected.

“The letter is not, ‘What are we going to vote for, what can we support?,’” Mulvaney told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview. “All we’re saying is, ‘Look, if we don’t get anything we can support, we are not going to tolerate a government shutdown.’” Full story

December 5, 2013

Boehner: Budget and Farm Bill Deals Are Not Imminent

boehner110413 445x302 Boehner: Budget and Farm Bill Deals Are Not Imminent

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner tempered expectations for deals on the budget and the farm bill Thursday, saying neither issue appears to be poised for conclusion.

At his weekly press conference, the Ohio Republican told reporters “there’s clearly no agreement” on a budget from the two chief negotiators, House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Their self-imposed deadline to reach a deal is Dec. 13, and sources indicated on Wednesday that an agreement could be announced in the coming days.

Boehner didn’t say whether he planned to move forward with passing a short-term continuing resolution next week to float government funding past Jan. 15, though he told his members last week that he would do so if necessary in order to take the threat of another government shutdown off the table.

As for the farm bill, Boehner said, “I’ve not seen any real progress,” and signaled that the House was prepared to pass a one-month extension of current funding for agriculture and nutrition programs to buy farm bill conferees more time. Full story

December 3, 2013

Budget Deal Optimism Emanates From Top House Appropriator

rogers 018 070913 445x296 Budget Deal Optimism Emanates From Top House Appropriator

Rogers is not preparing a fallback plan in case budget conferees fail to reach a deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said Tuesday that he is “somewhat optimistic” that the members of a bipartisan, bicameral budget conference committee will deliver on a broad spending agreement by their Dec. 13 deadline.

Fearing a broad budget deal might ultimately elude conferees, House GOP leaders are reportedly mulling a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government through Jan. 15, when the current CR expires — but the Kentucky Republican doesn’t think that will be necessary.

A House-Senate budget agreement would provide higher spending caps at which to write the twelve appropriations bills, which have been stymied by political fighting over the austere sequestration levels.

Those caps, Rogers said, would allow appropriators to come up with an omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal 2014, negating the need for any stopgap spending measure to float government operations in the interim. Full story

Is a Budget Deal Close? Depends on Whom You Ask

murray ryan 323 103013 445x315 Is a Budget Deal Close? Depends on Whom You Ask

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leadership’s decision to call the chamber back into session next Monday for legislative business — a change to the set 2013 congressional calendar — is sparking all kinds of speculation about what it might mean for fiscal 2014 budget prospects.

Namely, is the budget conference committee nearing a deal to replace the sequester and provide higher spending levels for appropriations bills? Or will the committee’s Dec. 13 deadline come and go with an agreement still elusive?

While some speculation has centered on a possible plan to move a continuing resolution to fund the government, one GOP leadership aide told CQ Roll Call that the chamber was likely set to be in session on Dec. 9, so that the Rules Committee could pave the way for a House vote on a deal secured by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Full story

November 12, 2013

Heritage, Club Back in Leadership’s Corner on Obamacare

If you like GOP leadership’s health care plan, so too does the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America.

The two conservative groups, known better of late for their troublemaker opposition to the Republican leadership’s strategies, are back on board as leadership looks to strike at smaller chunks of Obamacare and highlight Democratic divisions.

“It’s a no-brainer for Republicans to spend every day talking about a law that is incredibly unpopular with Americans and getting more unpopular every day,” said Barney Keller, the communications director of the Club for Growth. “It’s a political winner for Republicans, and we’ve said that all along.”

Full story

October 23, 2013

Boehner: ‘We’re Gonna Be Fine’

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner expressed confidence that the GOP will retain control of the House in the 114th Congress at his first news conference since the end of the government shutdown — and a cascade of horrible polling for him and his party.

“I think as long as we stay focused on the priorities of the American people, I think we’re gonna be fine,” the Ohio Republican said Wednesday morning. “What are they concerned about? They’re concerned about their jobs. They’re concerned about their income. They’re concerned about their own health insurance and how they’re going to be able to afford it and how they’re going to navigate through this bizarre plan that they now have to deal with.

“So our job is to stay focused on the issues the American people are most concerned about,” Boehner said, “and I think if we do that, we’ll be just fine.”

In the wake of the shutdown and the possibility that Congress would fail to raise the debt ceiling by the deadline, Gallup reported on Oct. 9 that the Republican Party’s favorability rating had fallen to 28 percent — down 10 points from one month earlier. Several other polling firms have reported record-low approval ratings for the party.

With the GOP ultimately unable to extract concessions on the 2010 health care law from President Barack Obama as a condition of funding government and raising the debt limit, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said in recent interviews that the Obamacare defunding strategy was a “tactical error” and that “there’ll not be another government shutdown.”

When a reporter asked whether Boehner agreed with McConnell that the defund strategy was ultimately not a good play, he demurred.

“We fought the fight,” he said. “We didn’t win, but we live to fight another day.”

Boehner also took a question on whether a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws is still a priority for House Republican leadership.

“I still think that immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed,” he said. “I’m hopeful.”

October 22, 2013

Hoyer Optimistic — but Cautiously So — on Budget Conference

As the first bicameral, bipartisan budget conference committee gets under way, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said he had both high hopes and tempered expectations.

The Maryland Democrat wants a “big deal,” one that would last 10 years — but he’s not sure if that’s achievable.

“It’s certainly not achievable without revenues, in my view,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing, “and we [Democrats] are for revenues.”

Republicans, by and large, are not.

Maybe, Hoyer continued, conferees could move on a spending framework that runs through fiscal 2015 at least, because a budget that only lasts through the remainder of fiscal 2014 is “unacceptable.”

The debt limit should be extended through March 31, 2015, Hoyer said, and the sequester should be eliminated.

But the 33-year House veteran conceded that he may not get everything that he wants out of this extensive wish list — or anything at all.

“I am hopeful that the budget conference will be successful,” Hoyer said. “Past history tells us it has been very difficult.”

Hoyer added that any initial optimism that an agreement could be reached across the aisle and between the two chambers was somewhat diminished by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s vote against the compromise bill to reopen government and raise the debt limit.

He expressed similar sentiments to CQ Roll Call last week, just hours after the fiscal impasse had been resolved.

“I was very disappointed that Paul Ryan voted against keeping the government open and paying our bills. It was a tough vote, but this time he took a hard-line path,” Hoyer said last week. “I hope after he goes into negotiations with [Senate Budget Chairwoman] Patty Murray and others in the conference, he will take a more constructive, positive solution.”

Budget conferees have until Dec. 13 to come up with a deal, and while the four leaders met for breakfast last week to get the conversation going, formal meetings have yet to be announced.

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