Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 23, 2014

Posts in "Health Care"

October 17, 2014

GOP Lawmakers: Congress Should Pass Ebola Travel Ban

king020514 445x312 GOP Lawmakers: Congress Should Pass Ebola Travel Ban

King wants a vote banning flights from Ebola-stricken countries. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Will the House interrupt its recess to vote on a travel ban or visa suspensions to prevent the further spread of Ebola on U.S. soil?

Highly unlikely.

After all, as airstrikes began in Syria earlier this month to combat the Islamic State terror group, members on both sides of the aisle were calling for Congress to return and vote on a formal Authorization for Use of Military Force measure.

GOP leadership didn’t bite, with Speaker John A. Boehner saying he would only be inclined to reconvene the House if President Barack Obama sent Congress the AUMF language.

In the case of Ebola, senior House Republicans are also downplaying the need to rush back to Washington for a vote on restricting travel from affected African countries to the United States. The Obama administration, they argue, should be taking such action without being compelled to by Congress.

“Let’s first see if the president is willing to work with us to do [a travel ban] now,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told a small group of reporters Thursday. “He loves to brag about how he can do things with a pen and a phone. … He can approve a travel ban. Today. And we’ve called on him to do that. So let’s see what he says.”

Scalise, a member of the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, was back on Capitol Hill to participate in a special hearing to probe the Ebola response by the federal government. The occasion pulled many members off the campaign trail, including Senate hopefuls Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.

But a subcommittee hearing during a recess, when participation is voluntary, isn’t the same as recalling the House to take a recorded vote, a precarious exercise just weeks before the midterm elections.

Regardless, a handful of lawmakers were clamoring for just that Friday.

 

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., joined forces with Sen. David Vitter, R-La., sending a letter to Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging emergency sessions on both sides of the Rotunda to institute travel bans while “the Obama administration has failed to recognize this public health threat.” Vitter’s Senate colleague, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, also wants members back on Capitol Hill to confront the issue.

Another Florida Republican, Rep. Dennis A. Ross, already has legislative text ready to go that would bar commercial flights to and from Ebola-affected countries until the virus is no longer a threat.

He’ll introduce it when Congress returns for next month’s lame-duck session, Ross said in a statement, though he added that he holds out hope Boehner would “quickly call Congress back into session to debate my legislation.”

 

Related:

Ebola Sparks Obama to Shake Up Leadership Style

For Senate Candidates, Ebola Hearing Takes Precedence Over Stump

As Ebola Crisis Escalates, Lawmakers on Both Sides Turn Up Heat

Murphy: CDC Needs Tighter Ebola Screening Rules

Ohio Senators Seek Information as Cleveland Faces New Ebola Risk

Democratic Senator: Restrict Africa Visas Due to Ebola

 

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October 16, 2014

Republicans, Democrats Trade Punches Over CDC, NIH Ebola Funding

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Scalise says Democrats are politicizing Ebola.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House majority whip lashed out at Democrats Thursday for trying to blame Republicans for sanctioning cuts to medical research that might have helped curb the spread of Ebola in the United States.

“It’s a ludicrous attack,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., told a small group of reporters following an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the Obama administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis.

“You had a hearing today with a number of officials … and not one person asked for an additional dime of money,” Scalise went on. “[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas] Frieden himself has actually made public comments that he has the resources they need.” Full story

For Senate Candidates, Ebola Hearing Takes Precedence Over Stump

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Gardner took time off from the stump to return to Washington for the Ebola hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Ebola dominating the news just weeks before the mid-term election, every member of Congress is feeling pressure to get to the bottom of federal missteps in responding to the health crisis — including the two House members looking to move up to Senate.

Both lawmakers, Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Bruce Braley of Iowa, took time off from the stump to participate Thursday in the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee’s hearing on Ebola.

The hearings, broadcast nationwide on C-SPAN and covered wall-to-wall online and on virtually every broadcast news outlet, offered each would-be senator — both members of the subcommittee — a chance to raise their respective profiles.

gm hearing012 040114 445x289 For Senate Candidates, Ebola Hearing Takes Precedence Over Stump

Braley followed suit with Gardner and took time off to return to D.C. for the Ebola hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Gardner, a Republican looking to unseat Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, that meant coming down hard on the witnesses and bolstering his case for a travel ban — a key difference that has emerged between him and Udall.

For Braley, a Democrat who is running for an open Senate seat in Iowa, that meant clearly stating that his No. 1 priority is defending Americans from the disease and publicly advocating for an Ebola-related drug produced in his home state. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:56 p.m.
Health Care

Watch Live: CDC Director Returns to Testify on Ebola Threat

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a noon hearing on the U.S. response to the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 4,000 people since the outbreak began in December 2013.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will testify on what the World Health Organization on Monday called “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.”

Additional witnesses include representatives from Texas Health Resources, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security.

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September 30, 2014

Texas Congressman: More Doctors Needed in Congress

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Burgess wants more doctors participating in the nation’s health care decisions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael C. Burgess has a new goal: Bring more doctors to Congress.

Burgess, who is a doctor himself, is redirecting his Lone Star Leadership PAC to focus on helping doctors — and other health care professionals, such as nurses and hospital administrators, Burgess half-begrudgingly notes — become lawmakers.

Burgess told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday doctors need to take on a bigger role in health care policy decisions.

“Not only do they not have a seat at the table, they’re not even in the room,” Burgess said. “And they don’t even understand that they need to be in the room.”

To that end, the Texas Republican has launched what he is calling the “STAT Initiative.” (The name, he said, is meant to “imply the immediacy.”) Full story

August 7, 2014

Watch Live: CDC Director Testifies on Ebola Threat Before House Committee

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations holds a 2 p.m. hearing on the Ebola virus, which has reportedly killed more than 900 people.

Witnesses include: Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, the assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and representatives from the State Department, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM.

 

July 22, 2014

Boehner on Obamacare: ‘It Cannot Be Fixed’

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Boehner and other Republicans said the court ruling is an indication Obamacare is broken. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On the same day a federal appeals court upheld an IRS subsidy for Obamacare, GOP lawmakers seized on the opportunity of a conflicting ruling — Halbig v. Burwell — to make the point that the 2010 health care law is broken.

After a 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the government could not subsidize insurance in the 36 states that defaulted to the federal health care exchanges, Speaker John A. Boehner offered one of his harshest rebukes of the Affordable Care Act yet, saying the ruling was further proof the law is “completely unworkable.”

“It cannot be fixed,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Chairman Joe Pitts, R-Pa., sent out a joint press release that called the Halbig ruling “a clear rebuke of the administration’s effort to extend subsidies where the law did not provide them.”

“The ruling also dramatically limits the IRS’ legal authority to enforce the individual and employer mandates,” the missive said.

That is true — or, at least, it could be true, if the rest of the D.C. Circuit Court agrees. The administration has asked the rest of the court — all 11 judges — to review the decision “en banc,” and even if the liberal-leaning court agrees, there are other cases before other courts that could undermine the decision. Full story

July 7, 2014

Boehner Moving Toward Late-July Obama Lawsuit Vote

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Boehner plans a late-July vote on the Obama lawsuit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is moving cautiously toward a late-July vote to authorize a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, juggling legal and political considerations as he tries to check executive power and stoke the Republican base.

Committee staffers are discussing several executive actions Boehner could target in a lawsuit and trying to whittle the list down to the fewest number of actions that would give the suit the best chance of being heard by a skeptical judiciary.

In a Sunday op-ed on CNN.com, Boehner came no closer to defining which specific executive action he would scrutinize, but he did outline a few broad areas where he believes the president has overstepped his authority.

“The Constitution makes it clear that the President’s job is to faithfully execute the laws,” Boehner wrote. “And, in my view, the President has not faithfully executed the laws when it comes to a range of issues, including his health care law, energy regulations, foreign policy and education.”

Notably, Boehner did not make explicit mention of immigration law, the arena in which Obama took one of his most well-known executive actions. The administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memorandum directs immigration officials to use prosecutorial discretion when dealing with undocumented immigrants who came to the country as young children. Full story

June 9, 2014

What’s Next for Pot in Congress?

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This photo from the Roll Call archives showcases the many decades that legalized pot advocates have been fighting for medical marijuana. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Activists cheered a House vote last month to bar the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. It was a watershed moment for pro-marijuana advocates — and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — who have been waiting for years for Congress to take an affirmative up-or-down vote on any related issue.

But in the afterglow of this long-sought legislative victory, it’s not clear just what comes next. Will bipartisan support for the measure, adopted as an amendment to the House’s fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill, inspire future action in the chamber? Will the Senate, poised in the weeks ahead to consider its own C-J-S bill, follow the House’s lead?

Full story

June 5, 2014

Activists Target House Members Who Oppose Medical Marijuana

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Pro-marijuana forces are now targeting House members who vote against medical use. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Advocates for expanding access to medical marijuana plan to turn up the pressure on members of Congress who aren’t supporting their cause.

They’re starting with two House members who voted last week against an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would bar federal government interference on state-approved pot and hemp laws.

The amendment passed 219-189, a victory for the bipartisan House coalition that sponsored the measure and supporters of the issue off Capitol Hill — but activists aren’t letting detractors off the hook.

Over the next few days, the “Vote Medical Marijuana” campaign, housed within the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, will run 30-second TV spots on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida, the homes of two of the members who voted “no” — Republican Andy Harris and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Full story

May 30, 2014

House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

Taxation of marijuana 25 091213 445x312 House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

Rohrabacher helped steer the medical marijuana amendment through the House. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a series of late-night votes that marijuana-rights advocates say reflect a nation’s changing attitudes, the Republican-controlled House moved early Friday  to block the federal government from interfering with state laws on pot and hemp.

The most far-reaching of the votes — a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations — passed 219-189 on the strength of an unusual coalition that cut across traditional partisan lines.

The medical marijuana measure was offered by conservative Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California as an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. 

There were 49 Republicans who voted “yes” on the medical marijuana amendment, jointly sponsored by Rohrabacher; Sam Farr, D-Calif.; Don Young, R-Alaska; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Paul Broun, R-Ga.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; and Dina Titus, D-Nev. Full story

May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger Sparks New Call for Mental Health Bill

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The case of Elliot Rodger sparked a renewed call for a mental health bill from Murphy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Elliot Rodger — the man accused by police of committing a massacre Friday night in California — sparked a renewed call to pass a mental health bill in Congress.

“Our hearts break for the victims and families affected by the tragedy near Santa Barbara. We pray for their souls to find peace. But I am also angered because once again, our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

“How many more people must lose their lives before we take action on addressing cases of serious mental illness?” Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:17 a.m.
Guns, Health Care

May 8, 2014

Veterans Affairs Committee Subpoenas Shinseki

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to answer questions about an unfolding waiting-list scandal that some critics of the Obama administration claim contributed to the deaths of 40 veterans at a VA facility in Phoenix.

The subpoena, only the second in the history of the committee, seeks emails and written correspondence sent to or received by Shinseki and a number of other VA officials since April 9.

Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., noted that the committee had contacted the VA numerous times before sending a letter on May 1 asking for any material related to wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital. Full story

DCCC Chairman Ponders His Future — With No Clear Seat at Leadership Table

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DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Israel doesn’t want another tour of duty as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Let me think about it,” the New York Democrat told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview, feigning indecision for just an instant before delivering the punch line. “No! No. No. No.”

He exhaled with a long, loud laugh, and then grew serious.

“I very much want to continue being in leadership,” he said. “But three terms is a bad idea for our caucus. You need fresh blood.”

Israel has registered these sentiments with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but conversations have pretty much ended there for the time being. After all, Israel said, he has a majority to try and win back in November before he can stop and think about what might come next for him.

But once the dust settles from Election Day, Israel will be left at a career crossroads. He wants a seat at a leadership table without an empty chair: The “Big Five” slate of caucus chairman, vice chairman, whip, leader and assistant leader is likely to remain static in the 114th Congress.

Pelosi could use her influence to keep Israel relevant through the next few years by securing him a special position, but sources tell CQ Roll Call she could face backlash from members growing uneasy about her pattern of playing favorites.

Ultimately, it might be Israel’s choice: taking on another grueling two years of activity at the DCCC through what might be a better cycle in a presidential election year, or return to being a member of the rank and file.

While he insists he isn’t kept awake at night obsessing over the if-then’s, he must know that his short-term political future is drawing a blank — and that he could become a cautionary tale for what happens to ambitious members of the House Democratic Caucus who suddenly find themselves with little room to grow.

Full story

April 25, 2014

In Ranking Member Race, Follow the Money … Spent on Others

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Ranking member rivals Eshoo and Pallone chatted recently at a news conference.
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the campaign finance game, much hay is made over how much money a candidate can raise; in the race to be the next ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, however, it’s just as important how much money a candidate can spend on friends.

Rivals Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., showed in recent filings with the Federal Election Commission that they have raked in significant contributions from downtown donors in K Street lobby shops, in industries like technology and health care. But in their bids to succeed retiring California Rep. Henry A. Waxman as the powerful panel’s top Democrat, showing their clout and increasing their viability among their peers depends largely on how generous they can be with their checkbooks.

After all, when the time comes to chose the next ranking member of Energy and Commerce after the midterm elections, it won’t be outside interests, but the other 190 members of the House Democratic Caucus who will ultimately vote for either Pallone or Eshoo.

Full story

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