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December 26, 2014

Posts in "Howard “Buck” McKeon"

November 13, 2014

Watch: House Committee Holds Hearing on ISIS Military Campaign

The House Armed Services Committee holds a 10 a.m. hearing on the U.S. war against the Islamic State terror group, also know as ISIS or ISIL. Last week, the Obama administration committed 1,500 additional troops to Iraq and requested $5.6 billion more to fund the military campaign.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify.

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October 23, 2014

GOP Gavel Fights: 11 House Committee Chairmanships In Play

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Hensarling may have a challenger for the Financial Services’ gavel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Almost every House member is on the stump this month, wrapping up re-election bids, with most cruising to new terms and a handful on both sides of the aisle scrambling to hang on to their jobs. But for a select few GOP lawmakers — those actively seeking committee chairmanships — the final days before Nov. 4 are as much about lining up support among colleagues as they are about connecting with voters.

Every two years, after the Election Day dust settles, members return to Capitol Hill for a lame-duck session that includes the selection of colleagues to serve as senior lawmakers on the chamber’s standing committees during the new Congress.

Republicans, widely expected to retain the majority this cycle, will be particularly busy during the lame duck, scheduled to begin Nov. 12, when it comes to doling out committee leadership appointments. Thanks to retirements, possible assignment shuffles and a 20-year rule capping panel leadership at three terms, as many as 11 out of 21 committees could see new chairmen in the 114th Congress.

A twelfth committee could even be at play, if term-limited Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma decides to challenge Jeb Hensarling’s grip on the Financial Services gavel, as he recently suggested he might.

For the decidedly open chairmanships, some lawmakers are expected to win their desired posting without competition, while others will be facing off against their peers. All of the slots are filled by a secret ballot vote of members on the Republican Steering Committee, comprised of party leaders, top-tier panel chairmen and regional representatives.

Here’s a rundown of 11 committee gavels that are up for grabs, and which members stand to snag them. Full story

September 17, 2014

House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels; CR Passes (Updated) (Video)

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Boehner, left, and McCarthy pushed through a continuing resolution that includes support for the president’s request to train and arm Syrian rebels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:03 p.m. | After voting to give President Barack Obama the authority to arm and train Syrian rebels, the House passed legislation Wednesday to fund the government until Dec. 11, moving the bill to avoid a government shutdown and address Islamic State organizations to the Senate.

House lawmakers voted 319-108 to pass the continuing resolution, with 143 Democrats joining 176 Republicans in support of the measure. 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.

A vote on the spending bill, which will continue government spending through Dec. 11 at a $1.012 trillion level, was delayed last week so lawmakers could attach a request from the president to give him Title 10 authority to fight the Islamic State group.

That authority would allow the Obama administration to equip Syrian rebels for the intended purpose of fighting ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Obama praised the House and urged the Senate to follow suit on the legislation, which he reiterated is not an authorization for the use of U.S. troops in Syria.

“Today’s vote is another step closer to having the authorization to train and equip vetted elements of the moderate Syrian opposition so they can defend themselves against, and ultimately push back on, ISIL forces,” he said in a statement.  Full story

September 16, 2014

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

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Despite reservations, Democrats are lining up behind the House GOP’s proposed continuing resolution and an underlying amendment on Syria, Hoyer said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite lingering reservations on both sides of the aisle, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats is coming together behind proposals to arm Syrian rebels and fund the government beyond Sept. 30.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that, despite some provisions his colleagues don’t like — namely a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank through only June 30, 2015 — Hoyer and a significant bloc of Democrats would not withhold their support on the continuing resolution. “You don’t get perfect,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.

The Maryland Democrat also said Democrats would support an amendment proposal from Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., that would give the Obama administration the authority it requested to arm and train Syrian rebels in order to combat Islamic terrorists.

With the support from Democrats, passage of the CR and adoption of the Syria amendment look increasingly assured. There are plenty of remaining concerns regarding the trustworthiness of the Syrian rebels. But with Republican and Democratic leadership supporting the measure — not to mention the White House, which has been calling members to drum up support for the proposal — passage of the CR does not appear to be in doubt. Full story

September 9, 2014

Boehner Says House Will Wait to Hear Obama’s ISIS Plan

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Boehner said the House will wait to hear the president’s plan on ISIS. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner repeatedly refused to say Tuesday whether he supports more U.S. troops in the Middle East or if Congress should authorize military action against ISIS, telling reporters the House needs to hear from President Barack Obama.

Boehner is scheduled to visit the White House later Tuesday — along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — and the president may very well ask for congressional authorization to ramp up action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

But that doesn’t mean he’d get it — at least not anytime soon.

House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said Tuesday he didn’t think the House even has time to debate and vote on an authorization for military force before leaving for the pre-election recess in early October. Even if there were time, it’s unclear if there would be the votes.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney came before House Republicans Tuesday in a closed-door meeting to discuss the terrorist threat in the Middle East. And while many Republicans were quick to show deference to one of the major architects of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan — “He’s a man of great gravitas and poise,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. — many other Republicans were taking Cheney’s words with more than a grain of salt.

Justin Amash, R-Mich., said it was time for the GOP to stop listening to Cheney, particularly on foreign policy. ”Because Republicans don’t agree with him,” Amash said.

Cheney’s message to Republicans, according to members exiting the meeting, was that a strong America would provide for a stable world environment.

“And that the president’s failure of leadership, and incompetence in leadership, has put us into — put the world into — a very unstable position, has imperiled the security of the United States, and that we need to rebuild our military and have a better foreign policy so that we can restore the stability to the world,” said Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, summing up Cheney’s warning to lawmakers.

Regardless of Cheney’s message, both parties are concerned about the possibilities of a another long and costly war in the Middle East. But they are also concerned about doing nothing.

Long one of the most hawkish members of the House, Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., told reporters that Obama has the authority to act without congressional authorization, and that the White House should execute a military response to ISIS, the insurgent group in control of parts of Iraq and Syria, without waiting for consent from Capitol Hill.

“I think it’s better if Congress would give approval,” King said. But he added that it would be better to give authorization “after the fact.”

King explained that debate could slow down action and distract from the task at hand, and he recalled the messiness of last year’s debate over whether to take military action in Syria.

“It would complicate the message,” King said. “I know allies were very disappointed last year when [Obama] was lining up support and then he pulled the rug out.”

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said he looked forward to hearing what Obama had to say regarding a strategy to combat ISIS, both in his scheduled address on Wednesday evening and after the White House meeting with House and Senate leaders later on Tuesday.

“If the president does not lay out a clear policy that members of Congress and the American people and our military and our enemies understand, then I don’t think there’ll be any action taken,” Sessions said. “If there’s no clear plan, what would the president be asking us to do?”

Related:

McCarthy: ‘Friends Don’t Trust Us, Enemies Don’t Fear Us’

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS 

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August 27, 2014

Armed Services Chairman Calls for Strategy to Combat ISIS

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McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is calling for the president to consult Congress on the U.S. response to jihadists in Iraq and Syria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More House lawmakers are warning President Barack Obama he needs to articulate a broader anti-terrorism strategy — and consult with Congress on that plan — before ramping up military action against anti-U.S. jihadists in northern Iraq and Syria.

Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. is the most recent member to release such a statement after the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria executed American photojournalist James Foley last week.

“I challenge the President to engage Congress,” McKeon said in his statement Wednesday. “I’m willing to work with him.”

McKeon added, however, that while a plan to address ISIS’s growing power “may well require additional authorities from Congress … speculation about that before the President has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse.”

Barack Obama, McKeon continued, “need[s] … to explain to the American people what is at stake, what our objectives are, and the strategy for how to achieve them. Only after we understand all this can we contemplate what new authorities might be needed.” Full story

August 8, 2014

Congressional Leaders Back Iraq Airstrikes; Hawks Push for Broader War on ISIL

Updated 11:22 a.m. | Congressional leaders are backing President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize air strikes in Iraq as the first bombs began falling, although hawks are pushing for a far broader military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also knowns as ISIS.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced Friday morning that the U.S. had dropped bombs on assets of the group.

“Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located,” Kirby said. “The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief.”

Full story

June 11, 2014

Hagel: President Made Final Decision on Bergdahl Swap (Video)

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Hagel testified that the final decision on the Bergdahl swap rested with Obama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee, told lawmakers that the Obama administration could have done a better job communicating with Congress on the decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“Wars are messy, and they’re full of imperfect choices,” Hagel told the panel in his opening remarks. But he defended the White House decision to make the trade without notifying Congress, and he made it clear the decision came from the top.

Full story

Watch Live: House Armed Services Hearing on Bowe Bergdahl Exchange

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing Wednesday on President Barack Obama’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Department of Defense General Counsel Stephen Preston will testify about the swap.

The hearing, “The May 31, 2014 Transfer of Five Senior Taliban Detainees,” begins at 10 a.m.

June 9, 2014

House Republicans Stress Concerns Over Bergdahl, Prisoner Swap

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Bachmann and others still skeptical after briefing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans made one thing clear Monday evening: They would not soon abandon calls for congressional oversight into the Obama administration’s decision to swap five Guantánamo Bay Taliban prisoners for U.S. prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl.

Emerging from their first briefing from White House officials on the details of Army Sgt. Bergdahl’s May 31 release from Taliban custody, GOP lawmakers’ tempers were running high.

Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., said he was “not satisfied” by the information he received. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., scoffed at the premise that the briefing was “classified” because, she said, no new information was disseminated to members. And veteran Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said the officials were “trying to put lipstick on a pig.”

Above all, members appeared to be most upset that no member of Congress in either chamber was consulted prior to the transfer of the Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, arguing that President Barack Obama acted unilaterally and, perhaps, in violation of the law. Full story

June 3, 2014

Boehner Backs Hearings on Bergdahl Swap for ‘Taliban 5′

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Boehner (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:11 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner charged the Obama administration with intentially keeping the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress ahead of time and backed a push for hearings by Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon Tuesday.

The Taliban officials were transferred to Qatar from the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without the legally required 30 days Congressional notification.

The Ohio Republican acknowledged Tuesday that an exchange like the one that took place Saturday had been previously discussed years ago.

But he said that while Congress kept the idea secret despite concerns about the wisdom of a transfer, the administration intentionally kept them in the dark.

“There was every expectation that the administration would re-engage with Congress, as it did before, and the only reason it did not is because the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition,” Boehner charged.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel also pointed to a statement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on June 21, 2013 when asked about the possibility of exchanging five Guantanamo prisoners for Bergdahl.

“We would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress,” Carney said, per the White House transcript.

The White House and President Barack Obama have contended the lack of notice was due to the desire to complete the deal and get Bergdahl home safely, and the White House has contended the lack of notice was lawful.

Full story

June 2, 2014

McKeon: Obama Broke Law in Bergdahl-Guantanamo Prisoner Swap (Updated)

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McKeon said Monday the administration broke the law with Bergdahl swap. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:45 p.m. | The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Monday there will be hearings on whether the Obama administration broke the law in trading five Guantánamo Bay detainees for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who’d been held by the Taliban for five years.

“My perception is he broke the law by not informing Congress 30 days before,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said in an appearance on MSNBC, referring to a 2013 law that requires the administration to notify Congress before detainees from the detention camp are released.

“We will be holding hearings. I’m sorry that this is being portrayed as a Republican issue. Democrats also voted for this law. It was important for our national security.” he said. “This is not a partisan issue.

“We passed a law last year,” he said. “It passed overwhelmingly on the floor and through the Senate and the president signed it. And although he said now he had a disclaimer along with it that he apparently didn’t support the law, he did sign it.” Full story

May 30, 2014

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

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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 15, 2014

Conservatives Prepare to Go to Battle Over ENLIST Act

 

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Denham’s ENLIST Act is seen by some as an immigration overhaul that Republicans could support, though others dismiss the proposal as “amnesty.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Heritage Action for America isn’t the only conservative advocacy group prepared to go to the mattresses over possible efforts in the House next week to tack an immigration-related provision onto the defense authorization bill.

Shortly after Heritage announced it would score lawmakers’ votes on the National Defense Authorization Act if it includes language to allow certain illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through military service, the Madison Project also weighed in.

The group, which backs conservative candidates for office and fights for conservative causes on Capitol Hill, warned that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., plans to offer the legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, as an amendment to the NDAA that’s due on the floor in the coming days.
Full story

May 5, 2014

Steny Hoyer’s Theory on Benghazi Committee: Slap at Issa?

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Hoyer and an aide (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer has a theory on the Benghazi special select committee — and the announcement that Rep. Trey Gowdy will lead it — that is sure to roil Republicans: The Maryland Democrat suggests the new panel may be a rebuke of House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa.

“Either they think Issa is a competent chairman, and has been pursuing a competent investigation, or they don’t,” Hoyer said to reporters during his weekly pen-and-pad briefing. “He’s had subpoena power.”

Hoyer noted that the California Republican has held numerous hearings on Benghazi and has found “no smoking gun, no wrongdoing.”

During Hoyer’s briefing, Speaker John A. Boehner announced that Gowdy would lead the proposed Benghazi committee — and Issa was one of the first to praise the move.

“Speaker Boehner could not have chosen a Member more committed to getting the full truth about the before, during, and after of the Benghazi terrorist attacks than Congressman Trey Gowdy,” Issa said in a statement issued five minutes after Boehner made his announcement.

“Trey has been an integral contributor to the Oversight Committee investigation and takes the knowledge we have gained, through subpoenas and individual testimony, to his new role leading the new Select Committee,” Issa said of the South Carolina Republican. “I look forward to continuing to work with him as he leads the effort, across committee jurisdictions, to find facts, accountability, and needed reforms.”

Of course, if you didn’t buy the theory Republicans were displeased with Issa’s performance on Benghazi, Hoyer offered an alternative narrative why GOP leadership was creating a special committee.

“Political pressure from the base, people who simply want to, for political sake solely, pursue this matter, apparently have availed upon the speaker to change his mind,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer noted that Boehner said less than a month ago that a special committee on Benghazi was unnecessary, and he noted that Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said he was satisfied with the investigation.

White House emails revealed last week that administration adviser Ben Rhodes sent a previously unrevealed email to then-U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice shortly after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi urging Rice to emphasize that the attack was “rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

A senior GOP aide told CQ Roll Call that Boehner was “furious” to learn the Obama administration had withheld that email from a congressional subpoena, and that it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Still, Hoyer didn’t seem to buy it, and though he said he didn’t know what presence Democrats would have on the committee, he expected Democrats to vote against the creation of it.

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