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November 27, 2014

Posts in "John Boehner"

November 25, 2014

Don’t Count on Democrats to Help Pass GOP ‘Cromnibus,’ Says Pelosi

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Pelosi says Democrats won’t support the “Cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders and incoming Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia are floating a plan to fund immigration-related activities separately from an all-encompassing government spending bill — and for a shorter length of time.

It’s a plan still very much in flux. However, if the Republicans want to go through with it, they had better have enough of their own members ready and able to vote “yes,” because Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has it made it clear she won’t be offering assistance from her side of the aisle.

On Tuesday afternoon, the California Democrat slammed the emerging gambit known as a “Cromnibus” — part short-term continuing resolution, or CR, and part long-term omnibus — saying it would be tantamount to a “partial” government shutdown.

“House Democrats have fought against Republican attempts to shut down the government,” the California Democrat said in a written statement. “Now, House Republicans are seeking to disguise their efforts, threatening our national security in order to undermine the President’s clear legal authority. We will not be enablers to a Republican Government Shutdown, partial or otherwise.” Full story

The Anti-Cantor: Dave Brat on Bringing Rationality to Washington

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Brat raises his right hand as his wife Laura looks on during the ceremonial swearing-in Nov. 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s 7:49 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21 — the first day of Congress’ Thanksgiving recess — and Dave Brat is 11 minutes early.

The man who unseated former Majority Leader Eric Cantor is meeting me at a Starbucks in Navy Yard before driving down to the Richmond suburbs for his first constituent town hall as a congressman. It’s part of a pledge he made to visit all nine counties in his district every month, and Brat has every intention of keeping his word.

He genuinely doesn’t seem to know exactly why or how he beat Cantor — “There’s no perfect interpretation on this, right?” — and he seems less interested in changing Washington than he is in making sure Washington doesn’t change him.

He orders a chocolate croissant, a Venti mocha latte for his campaign manager-turned-senior-adviser who’s also in attendance, and a Venti half-and-half mocha latte for himself. “Extra hot,” he tells the barista. Apparently, Dave Brat knows something about lattes we didn’t. He may be new to Congress, but he’s not new to Starbucks.

He pays $9.68 for the order, sits down in the quietest corner we can find, and begins telling — between bites of pastry — his life story.

“After the primary, when I got all the attention, people said, ‘Who’s Dave Brat?’ All these stories,” he says. “And so then I went around to all these business leaders and said, ‘Hey, I got a thing called a biography!’ You know, please check it out. The press, you know, they want to pigeonhole ya.”

Brat, 50, explains that he grew up in Alma, Mich.; went to high school in Minneapolis; graduated from Hope College; and then worked for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in Detroit and Chicago before going to Princeton Seminary. “I was going to teach systematic theology, be a professor,” he says.

He speaks in the gravel-voiced tones of western Michigan, and in his frameless glasses, with his hair slicked back, he walks the line of looking like the proverbial Washington wonk and Congress’ version of Gordon Gekko.

But despite the outsider image cultivated in his campaign, Brat is no stranger to D.C. During his time at Princeton, he did a semester in Washington at Wesley Seminary and realized just how much economic policy drove “everything up here.”

He shifted his focus, received a doctorate in economics from American University, and then worked a few years in Washington — first at the World Bank and then for the Army before he took a teaching job 90 miles south at Randolph-Macon College.

He spent 19 years at the school, eventually becoming the college’s Economics Department chairman before deciding to use his experience in local politics to challenge Cantor. (Brat had previously served on a number of state advisory boards and had unsuccessfully run for a Virginia House seat.)

His congressional campaign is now the stuff of political legend. Cantor outspent him nearly 40 to 1, and yet Brat emerged on June 10 as the winner of the GOP primary by 12 points. It was the first time a sitting majority leader had lost in a primary since the position was created in 1899.

He went on to beat Democrat Jack Trammell in the general election by 24 points.

Now that he’s sworn in, Brat is treated like a mini-celebrity at the Capitol. Members of Congress flock to him on the House floor to introduce themselves. Reporters swarm him in the halls to give him their cards. And constituents flood email him with messages that say, “Keep being Dave.”

“There’s been outpouring, yeah,” Brat says, almost surprised to hear that not all members of Congress are greeted with a such hoopla.

“I don’t know what’s normal,” he says. “Everybody’s been totally gracious.”

When asked who specifically has tried to befriend him, he mentions Bill Huizenga — the Republican who represents a part of Michigan where Brat still has family — and conservative MIT-graduate Thomas Massie of Kentucky. He also enumerates fellow GOP members of the Virginia delegation Reps. Robert W. Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and J. Randy Forbes.

Even GOP leadership has been nice to him. “Boehner’s got just a tremendous personality,” he says.

Asked what it’s like to be “the-guy-who-knocked-off-Cantor,” Brat says he doesn’t view it that way — and he wants to look forward, not backwards. “That’s all in the rearview mirror,” he says.

While immigration was seen as the central issue in Brat’s campaign, and thus the key reason he beat Cantor, Brat thinks his success was more about fiscal issues, actually.

“I think that was the central message, that the economics is broken,” he says. “And then immigration also fits in there, right? So when your labor markets are already broken, it seems to me the answer isn’t to import, you know, 10 million new people.”

On the morning after President Barack Obama’s immigration announcement, Brat calls the executive action “the height of cynicism.” But he stops short of calling it unconstitutional. When asked about impeachment, Brat says he’ll go through the executive order in “slow motion” with “the smartest lawyers in the room and navigate that.

“And then, based on my principles, nobody gets to violate the Constitution,” he says. “If, in fact, anyone has violated the Constitution, yeah, then we have serious, serious issues to deal with.”

And that’s how Dave Brat wants to deal with issues: slowly, methodically, like a rational economist.

According to Brat, the press made fun of him for doing 20-minute stump speeches entirely on economic theory. “They’d say ‘Brat’s going off on his lectures, and da da da da da, and make fun of the things. But the people liked it!”

And he says the voters saw his honesty, his “economic homilies,” and they recognized that the issues he was talking about were the issues he was genuinely most concerned about — and that’s what worked for him.

“I didn’t pick ‘em because they were political winners,” he says.

“I don’t think they want red meat, you know, cage rattlin’, that kind of thing,” Brat says. “They just want rational people to go up and say, ‘Hey, I’m an economist. Here’s exactly what this does. There’s better ways to do it.’”

And he married that economic message with an ethical one.

“My whole life has been putting economics and ethics together,” he says. “And I made it very clear: Ethics, in a nutshell, is where you put the rules down ahead of time.”

Brat made three campaign pledges: To meet with constituents from every county every month; to limit himself to 12 years in Congress; and to put in a “fair” or flat tax.

He knows he can’t really promise that sort of tax overhaul — “I’m not a utopian,” Brat, ever the academic, says — but he does promise he’ll work toward moving the tax needle in that direction.

And he hopes the voters will recognize that he’s advancing the conversation. But if voters are such rational actors, was it a rational decision for his district to throw out someone with as much political clout as Eric Cantor?

Brat pauses, considering the question for five seconds.

“I mean, obviously, I think the answer is yes, because I’m running on Ph.D.-level economic rationality,” he says. “That was the premise of my entire campaign.”

November 24, 2014

Boehner Reappoints Gowdy to Head Benghazi Panel

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Gowdy, left, was reappointed to his Benghazi panel role as Chaffetz said he will mount further probes into the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner announced Monday he will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy as chairman of the Select Committee on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in the 114th Congress.

“On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Libya. Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s why I will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Republican members of the House Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi in the 114th Congress. I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the Select Committee will present to the American people.”

Gowdy, R-S.C., told CQ Roll Call Nov. 14 that the committee, which has maintained a low profile since its creation last spring, would meet “in public and in private” before the end of December’s lame-duck session, which is currently open-ended. Full story

Paul Ryan Woos Ex-Boehner Aide Back to Capitol Hill

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Ryan and Brendan Buck worked together on the Wisconsin congressman’s 2012 vice-presidential run. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call Fast File)

Rep. Paul D. Ryan must have made Brendan Buck a pretty strong case to leave his still-new K Street gig to come back to Capitol Hill.

The Wisconsin Republican and incoming chairman of the Ways and Means Committee announced Monday that Buck, a former spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, will be coming on board as the panel’s communications director.

Buck left his job as a congressional aide six months ago to be the vice president of communications at America’s Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance industry’s lobby. When he joins the GOP Ways and Means team at the start of the 114th Congress, he’ll be in a position to help message on Ryan’s ambitious goals, like a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code.

Full story

November 21, 2014

House Finally Files Affordable Care Act Lawsuit Against Obama

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Boehner said the House has formally filed a lawsuit against the president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four months after the chamber authorized a lawsuit against President Barack Obama — and on the third try with an attorney after the first two lawyers bailed — the GOP-controlled House has formally filed its case, Speaker John A. Boehner announced Friday.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work.

“If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said. Full story

Boehner: ‘House Will Act’ in Response to Obama’s Immigration Orders (Video)

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Immigration activists gathered at the White House on Thursday in the wake of Obama’s announcement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner said “the House will, in fact, act” to respond to President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action Friday morning.

In a 4-minute news conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation’s immigration system is “broken,” and “the American people expect us to work together to fix it.

“And we ought to do it in a Democratic process,” he continued, “moving bills through the people’s House, through the Senate and to the president’s desk.”

But Boehner also accused Obama of trying to “deliberately sabotage” the prospects for congressional action by issuing his executive orders and “making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do.”

Boehner said, “I warned the president over and over again.” Full story

November 20, 2014

GOP Still Fuzzy on Strategy to Block Obama’s Immigration Move

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Defunding Obama won’t work, said Rogers.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo/Bill Clark)

Hours before President Barack Obama finally presses the “go” button on executive actions to change the nation’s immigration laws, House Republicans were not any closer to coalescing around a strategy to fight back.

House GOP leaders have made it clear they want to pursue some legislative response to block Obama’s orders, which Democrats say they should have expected after stonewalling consideration in the 113th congress of Senate-passed immigration overhaul legislation.

“All options are on the table,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Boehner and his allies haven’t, however, figured out how to pacify a rank-and-file that would like to tie the president’s hands by attaching some kind of defunding language to a must-pass piece of legislation. Full story

Pelosi Praises Republican Presidents of Yore on Immigration (Video)

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Pelosi praised previous Republican presidents on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nancy Pelosi, defending Barack Obama, praised Republican presidents who historically took unilateral action on immigration — with the minority leader even drawing parallels between Obama’s proposed executive order and Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Pelosi asked during a news conference Thursday. “People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country.”

The California Democrat cited the history of U.S. presidents making significant changes without going through Congress, and she brought up the pattern of Republican presidents in the past 50 years exerting their executive authority to act on immigration.

Asked whether Republicans had a case that what the president was proposing was unconstitutional, Pelosi said Obama’s action was “absolutely, positively” not outside his constitutional bounds. Full story

November 19, 2014

Next Congress Has a Schedule: McCarthy Releases 2015 House Calendar

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McCarthy posted the 2015 legislative calendar. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy released the legislative calendar for 2015, and Republicans aren’t deviating from the familiar formula of giving members plenty of time in their districts.

Overall, the House is slated to be in session 132 days next year, without a single five-day week scheduled.

That’s not unprecedented. The House was in session 135 days during the first session of the 113th Congress (after being scheduled to be in session for only 126 days — the extra work days a result of that whole government shutdown thing). Full story

November 18, 2014

Chaffetz Wins Four-Way Showdown for Oversight Gavel

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Chaffetz will take over Oversight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There were hardly any surprises among the Republican Steering Committee’s picks for chairmen in the 114th Congress, but the one major question decided on Tuesday was who would lead the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. And the answer is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

The GOP Steering Committee announced their picks Tuesday night as Republicans gear up for a Congress in which they’ll hold their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president.

There were few real decisions for the committee to make, but the biggest was who — Chaffetz, Michael R. Turner of Ohio, Jim Jordan of Ohio or John L. Mica of Florida — would pick up the gavel at the Oversight with Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stepping down.

Chaffetz emerged earlier this fall as the slight favorite in the gavel fight after strong performances on oversight issues at the Secret Service. His argument for being the next chairman of the committee centered on his undivided attention on the committee. Full story

New RSC Chairman Flores: ‘I’m No Shill for Leadership’

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Flores edged two more conservative rivals for the RSC chairmanship. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a hotly contested battle over the direction of the Republican Study Committee, Texas Republican Bill Flores beat out his more conservative rivals, South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney and Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, to become the new RSC chairman.

While Mulvaney ran on reasserting a conservative direction at the RSC and Gohmert ran on asserting an entirely new, dramatically more conservative vision, Flores ran as someone who could work with leadership.

“I campaigned on being a collaborative leader,” Flores told reporters after he won.

“By trying to advance the perfect conservative solution, nobody wins,” he said. Full story

November 14, 2014

New House GOP Rules Impact Medals, Gavels — and Paul Ryan?

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Ryan and other potential GOP House chairmen will have to seek a waiver if they want to keep their gavels while seeking another office. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will operate the 114th Congress under essentially the same rules as the 113th — with two exceptions, including one that could have big implications for Rep. Paul D. Ryan.

Republicans voted Friday on conference rules for the 114th, approving a proposal that would allow Congress to hand out more medals and one that would require committee chairmen running for other office to hand over their gavel.

That proposal, from Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, calls for chairmen — of committees, of subcommittees, ad hoc committees or joint committees — to step down if they run for another office. Full story

Gutiérrez: There Are ’40, 50, 60′ GOP Votes in House for Immigration

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Gutierrez  wants GOP leadership to allow a House vote on an immigration bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, the Illinois Democrat who has been at the forefront of efforts to overhaul immigration in Congress, said Friday there are enough votes in the House Republican caucus now to pass a bipartisan bill.

“There are 40, 50, 60 … Republicans” who will join Democrats to pass a bill, Gutiérrez said in an appearance on MSNBC. The congressman and other Democrats, frustrated with lack of action from GOP leaders, are urging on President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will take unilateral action on immigration perhaps as early as next week.

“The problem is they won’t give us a vote on all of the wonderful work. I don’t want to mention the names of my Republican colleagues that I worked with but you know who they are,” the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, whose brother is a Republican congressman from Miami. “There are dozens of them.”

Diaz-Balart’s brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told CQ Roll Call earlier this year that he was close to having enough Republican votes to pass a bipartisan immigration overhaul in the House that would balance GOP demands for border security with Democratic calls for legal status for the undocumented.

But Republicans backed off the issue this summer after an unprecedented surge of Central-American children and women crossing illegally into Texas and the primary loss of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who previously had indicated some support for an overhaul.

Related:

GOP: Obama’s Immigration Action Will Cripple 2016 Democrats

Obama Hasn’t Decided When to Act on Immigration 

Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End ‘Obama’s Amnesty’

White House Excoriates GOP Deportation Demands

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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November 13, 2014

Indiana’s Messer Wins Republican Policy Committee Gavel (Updated)

 

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Indiana’s Messer, center, will take over the Republican Policy Committee. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images File Photo)

Updated 4:18 p.m. | In the one competitive race for a leadership spot, House Republicans elected Luke Messer to serve as GOP Policy Committee chairman.

The Indiana lawmaker beat out Republicans Tom Reed of New York and Rob Woodall of Georgia.

The Policy Committee chairman — the only competitive leadership race as Rep. James Lankford leaves the spot to become Oklahoma’s next senator — is tasked with equipping members with research and aiding committees as they draft legislation. The chairman also gets a spot at the leadership table and a vote on the Steering Committee. Full story

McMorris Rodgers Re-Elected as GOP Conference Chairwoman

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McMorris Rodgers retains her post on the House GOP leadership team.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday won her second term as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

The Washington congresswoman, the No. 4-ranked Republican in the House and the highest-ranked woman in the conference, begins her sixth term in Congress in January. Full story

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