- Democrats Court Ex-Congressman for Rematch
- Why Even Democrats Love Talking About Joni Ernst
- Senators Confirm Re-Election Bids for 2016
- Jerry Moran Kicks Off 2016 Cycle With $1.4 Million War Chest
- Exclusive: DSCC Hires National Political Director, Press Secretary
Posts in "Kevin McCarthy"
January 29, 2015
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent House Republicans a legislative memo Thursday, laying out a February agenda of repealing Obamacare, taking on unfunded mandates, and permanently providing a tax deduction for charitable giving.
But more than messaging, McCarthy may have also begun planting the seed that Republicans might need a different vehicle to fight President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration other than the Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Full story
January 27, 2015
With inclement weather grounding planes across the country Monday, GOP leaders pulled a border security bill from the floor schedule this week, citing the weather and an already condensed schedule.
One day later, though there are no blizzards conveniently scheduled for next week, Speaker John A. Boehner wasn’t about to commit to a timeline for resurrecting the border bill — a delay that some hard-line conservatives are already chalking up as a victory.
January 22, 2015
A significant contingent of women and moderate members of the House Republican Conference prevailed Wednesday, convincing GOP leadership that the political blowback for voting to ban abortions after 20 weeks could far outweigh any favor curried with the anti-abortion base of the party.
It wasn’t clear Thursday whether the decision to swap out the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” for less controversial legislation to prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion services signaled a permanent shift back toward the middle for House Republicans. Full story
January 15, 2015
Updated 2:44 p.m. | HERSHEY, Pa. — Republican lawmakers from the House and Senate came to Hershey for a joint retreat, to get on the same page and get away from Washington for a few days. But they won’t be getting away from lobbyists.
Quite the contrary, actually. According to a GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity to speak more candidly about the retreat, lobbyists — “for those who paid enough, I guess,” the lawmaker said — will be meeting with House Republicans later Thursday, once GOP senators have left after 5:30 p.m.
According to the member, plenty of House Republicans are scratching their heads at that decision. “What are lobbyists going to be doing up here?” the member said.
The president of the Congressional Institute, Mark Strand, who is part of the planning for the GOP retreat, told CQ Roll Call it was “not true” that House Republicans would be meeting with lobbyists at 5:30 p.m. Apparently, there are breakout sessions at that time. But Strand did confirm that “private sector supporters of the institute, some of whom are lobbyists, will attend a reception and dinner later tonight.”
In effect, yes, lobbyists will be meeting lawmakers in Hershey.
That’s nothing new, according to a senior GOP aide.
“While Democrats use taxpayer funds to sponsor their retreats, Republicans have had a long partnership with the bipartisan Congressional Institute to use private funds to organize our issues conferences,” said Nate Hodson, who is the deputy chief of staff for Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
A Democratic leadership aide, asked for a response to the news that Republicans would meet with lobbyists, said the purpose of House Democrats’ Caucus-wide conference was to formulate policy and legislative goals for the year. “Unlike our Republican counterparts, we don’t solicit or accept lobbyist and special interest money to host these working sessions, nor do we invite lobbyists or special interests to attend our conference.”
Overall, the lawmaker who spoke on background said the GOP retreat, which was supposed to put the House and Senate on the same page, had been somewhat disappointing. “It’s all branding, supposedly bigger picture stuff,” the lawmaker said.
“I’ve never been to marriage counseling, but I’m guessing you go there and everyone talks about all these grand things, and then you go back home and do the same old stuff you’ve been doing,” the member said.
The GOP lawmaker told CQ Roll Call that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had given a “pretty good speech” — saying, “he’s a pretty good speaker compared to Boehner” — that was mostly about what Republicans need to get out of Hershey, how they need to work together and with the states.
But the lawmaker questioned the wisdom of always consulting with the states. “Now wait a minute, you came from California: Everything fails there for Republicans,” the member said of McCarthy.
Still, the lawmaker said Republicans were discussing their 100-day strategy, how they have to get the Department of Homeland Security funding bill through, how they’ll start appropriations in February and how Republicans plan to get a budget done.
But the lawmaker was disappointed that Republicans seemed to want to only “nibble around on Obamacare” — and there didn’t seem to be any intention of using the budget reconciliation process to tackle the health care law.
“That to me is going to be the big one,” the lawmaker said. “You know, what’s going to happen with the reconciliation, if we’re going to use it for [Obamacare]. And McCarthy made no indication they’d use reconciliation for taking on Obamacare. They’re setting the basis for tax reform.”
Florida Republican Daniel Webster, fresh off his unsuccessful bid for the speaker, told CQ Roll Call Thursday afternoon that Republicans were getting ready to go into a session entirely on budget reconciliation. Earlier Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave a speech about managing expectations. According to Webster, McConnell told Republicans, “Look: Here’s how our process works. It’s pretty rough. We don’t have 60 votes. There are a lot of things that we’re going to have to work on with coalitions.”
Webster said the reaction to the speech was warm. “People get it,” he said. A former speaker of the Florida statehouse and state Senate majority leader, Webster said Congress works the same way that state legislatures work: “House proposes, Senate disposes.”
On the whole, lawmakers said the retreat had a definite ’90s theme, with speakers such as comedian Jay Leno, pollster Frank Luntz, columnist Peggy Noonan, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Arizona Republican Matt Salmon — who was in Congress in the ’90s, left in 2001, and came back in 2012 — compared the retreat to the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
On the topic of jokes, Leno spoke to members Thursday night for about an hour, and according to the member who spoke on background, the joke that got the biggest laugh was that President “Barack Obama had so messed up this country, that Republicans aren’t even safe in their own country clubs.”
“That’s a joke, it means so much, because so many people still think that we go to exclusive resorts and don’t let people in to see what — oh, that’s kind of what we’re doing,” the lawmaker said ironically, aware that reporters would get limited access to lawmakers while Republicans met behind-closed-doors at a resort spa with a nine-hole golf course.
The lawmaker also said Republicans had a “big long spiel” on how the welfare overhaul happened in the ’90s.
“Find out what was the most popular song in 1995, and that’s the one they’re playing in there,” the lawmaker said.
For the record, Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was No. 1 that year.
Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.
January 13, 2015
Activists plan to protest a private fundraising event for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Tuesday afternoon, trying to keep pressure on the Louisiana Republican weeks after the revelation that he addressed a meeting of white supremacists in 2002.
“We’re trying to protest racism in the system,” said Pete Haviland-Eduah of Million Hoodies, one of the groups that will organize outside the Capitol Hill Club. “This is a congressman that has known ties to a racist [organization]. We want to make it well known to leaders in both parties that the people are not supporting of this.” Full story
January 7, 2015
The morning after Reps. Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent were kicked off the Rules Committee, freshly re-elected Speaker John A. Boehner left the door open to possibly reinstating the two Florida Republicans.
Webster launched a surprise challenge to Boehner in Tuesday’s leadership election, garnering 12 votes — including his own and one from Nugent. Twenty-three other Republicans also defected, voting present or for Webster or other candidates, including Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Ted Yoho of Florida and Jim Jordan of Ohio.
January 5, 2015
House Republican leaders are hopeful there will be enough distractions at the start of the 114th Congress to deflect attention from Majority Whip Steve Scalise and his 2002 meeting with a white supremacist group.
But just how quickly the embarrassment goes away depends on how much members in both parties insist on talking about it — and whether there are any details of the incident that have yet to be uncovered. Full story
John A. Boehner’s first test in the 114th Congress comes Tuesday, when he could face as many as 20 defections to his speakership.
He’s ultimately expected to win a third term as the House’s top Republican, but the level of opposition could be an early indicator of how difficult a time he’ll have corralling the necessary number of votes for a whole host of sticky legislative items — from extending the debt limit sometime midyear to giving President Barack Obama ground rules for negotiating a new trade agreement. Full story
December 31, 2014
Rep. Tom Cole, the unofficial spokesman of the GOP rank and file in the House, has never been shy about telling the truth — at least the truth as the Oklahoma Republican sees it — with anyone who’ll listen.
Continuing a tradition that began last year, Cole got on the phone recently with CQ Roll Call for more than an hour to review the ups and downs of 2014 (something he also did in a recent column). Like last year, the 65-year-old former history professor thinks Republicans — and especially Speaker John A. Boehner — enter the new year with momentum. Full story
December 30, 2014
Pressure was building on Majority Whip Steve Scalise Tuesday in the wake of revelations the Louisiana congressman spoke at a meeting of white supremacists in 2002 — but Speaker John A. Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are standing by the No. 3 Republican in the House.
“More than a decade ago, Representative Scalise made an error in judgment, and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate,” Boehner said in a statement Tuesday. “Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know Steve to be a man of high integrity and good character. He has my full confidence as our Whip, and he will continue to do great and important work for all Americans.”
Not every member of Congress had an A+ year.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., became the first majority leader in decades to go down in a primary; Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., only barely avoided being explicitly implicated for campaign finance fraud.
December 11, 2014
Updated 1:18 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12: The House passed the cromnibus Thursday night 219-206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting for the bill, and 67 Republicans and 139 Democrats voting against. While the vote was close, the breakdown split along familiar lines. But there were some interesting trends and deviations in the vote. Full story
As the House prepares to pass a trillion dollar, 1,603-page “cromnibus” Thursday, at least one criticism can be applied to both Republicans and Democrats when the bill comes to a vote: few lawmakers — if any — will have read the entire thing.
It’s not that a $1.1 trillion piece of legislation can — or should — be written in 140 characters like a tweet, or as a 4,543-word document, such as the Constitution. But the cromnibus, coming in at 289,861 words, represents a particularly challenging public relations moment for members of Congress. Full story
December 10, 2014
Just hours after releasing the text of a 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to fund the government, House GOP leaders stood before their members Wednesday morning to sell the plan.
Lawmakers emerging from the closed-door meeting offered a checkered assessment of the collective response among the rank-and-file, and a true read on the level of support for the bill within the conference might not come until the formal whipping begins later Wednesday afternoon. Full story
November 24, 2014
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.