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April 18, 2014

Posts in "Messaging"

April 16, 2014

Obama Calls Cantor After Day of Immigration Sparring

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:05 p.m. | President Barack Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday to implore House Republicans to hold a vote on the Senate-passed  immigration overhaul, prompting Cantor to say the president hasn’t learned how to work with Congress.

The Virginia Republican’s retort came in the form of a statement on a day of nasty back and forth between the president, Democrats and House GOP leadership over immigration legislation.

Full story

Eshoo Raises Money From Tech Industry Ahead of Ranking-Member Battle With Pallone

armenian presser006 040814 445x297 Eshoo Raises Money From Tech Industry Ahead of Ranking Member Battle With Pallone

Rivals for the ranking member slot, Eshoo and Pallone chatted earlier this month at a news conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo’s leadership political action committee raised $203,000 — mostly from high-tech and telecommunication firms — as she bids to be ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is the first leadership PAC of the California Democrat’s nearly 22-year congressional career. First-quarter numbers for Eshoo’s main rival for the post, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., were not yet available.

The burgeoning war chest provides leverage for Eshoo in the closely-contested ranking member race to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., when the new Congress convenes.

Eshoo’s PAC was bolstered by contributions from the PACs of some powerful industry players who could come before the Energy and Commerce Committee, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast and NBC Universal, Google and Microsoft.

Leadership PACS are not just about receiving money, but about being able to spend cash, too, specifically in support of colleagues whose relationships could be professionally beneficial.

In her quarterly report, Eshoo revealed that she made donations to a number of her colleagues, including many in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for vulnerable members. Members who received donations from Eshoo’s PAC include Rep. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, Raul Ruiz of California, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Ami Bera of California.

Full story

April 11, 2014

Highway Bill Could Consume Petri’s Last Months in Congress

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Rep. Tom Petri (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tom Petri announced Friday that he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he’s poised to go out with a legislative bang — or a whimper.

The 73-year-old Wisconsin Republican’s last eight months on Capitol Hill will likely be consumed with negotiations over legislation to reauthorize funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs in his role as chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction.

The stakes are high for a six-year reauthorization after 2012 efforts to pass a long-term transportation bill fell short and the fiscal health of the Highway Trust Fund is in deep peril. Full story

April 10, 2014

House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

The vote, coming as Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess, is the latest chapter in a year-long probe that has sparked some of the fiercest partisan clashes among panel members in recent memory — from cutting off the ranking member’s microphone as he sought to speak to comparing the chairman to Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.

Full story

April 9, 2014

House Republicans Ask Holder to Pursue Criminal Charges for Ex-IRS Official (Updated)

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Lerner (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday in support of launching a criminal investigation into the woman at the center of the IRS scandal — just one day before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to vote on holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

In a 23-14 party line vote, the Ways and Means panel approved submission of a formal letter to Eric H. Holder Jr., asking that the attorney general pursue charges against the former IRS official using evidence uncovered during the committee’s year-long investigation.

Wednesday’s action — coming after a rare closed-to-the-press meeting — is the latest salvo in what has rapidly escalated into a fiercely partisan battle over the extent to which lawmakers should probe Lerner’s actions. Full story

April 8, 2014

Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a “war on women,” with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as “pawns” to score political points.

Republican leaders wouldn’t say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they’d bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats’ “Equal Pay Day” criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman. 

“Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Let’s focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities … for a better life we all want.” Full story

April 7, 2014

Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budget’s Impact on Poverty

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The latest Ryan budget is no more likely than its predecessors to become law. But as with those those earlier documents, this year’s spending blueprint is giving both parties plenty of election-year ammunition.

Democrats, looking for some policy heft to leverage their political talking points, have asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the impact on poverty of Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal 2015 budget.

“Our budgets serve as an important tool for expressing Congress’s level of support for domestic anti-poverty initiatives and prioritizing investments in opportunity,” Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wrote in a Monday letter to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. “Such an analysis will aid Members of Congress in making an informed decision on whether Chairman Ryan’s budget will improve or worsen the state of poverty in America.”trans Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budgets Impact on Poverty

Full story

April 4, 2014

Gutierrez: Obama Ready to Halt Deportations With Executive Orders

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has given the White House six pages of recommendations on how the Obama administration might proceed with executive orders to curb deportations of illegal immigrants.

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., a leading advocate for rewriting the nation’s immigration laws on Capitol Hill, told reporters during a conference call Friday that the CHC had “adopted a very strong memo” of suggestions the day before in advance of a scheduled meeting next Wednesday with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Full story

April 3, 2014

Denham Sees Defense Bill as Vehicle for ENLIST Act Immigration Vote (Updated)

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Denham wants an immigration vote in the HASC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4 p.m. | Rep. Jeff Denham wants a vote on his bill that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to gain permanent residence in the United States in exchange for military service — and he’s got a plan in the works.

The California Republican is looking for Democrats and Republicans who are members of the House Armed Services Committee to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, a House GOP aide familiar with Denham’s efforts told CQ Roll Call.

“We are working to gather co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle,” Denham spokeswoman Jordan Langdon said in a statement.

The panel is set to mark up the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead and Denham, who is not himself a HASC member, needs to shore up support among committee members who would be willing to vote on the ENLIST Act if it were offered as an amendment to the underlying bill.

Denham also needs a lawmaker on the committee to introduce the amendment, which shouldn’t be a problem: Of the 42 co-sponsors of the ENLIST Act, 11 of them are HASC members, including the chairman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.

McKeon, however, has not yet committed to supporting efforts to place the amendment into the bill, either in advance of or during the course of the markup, a Republican committee aide told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.

The aide noted that any member of the panel is free to offer an amendment during the full committee markup so long as the language was “solely the jurisdiction” of the Armed Services Committee. Denham’s bill has only been referred to one committee, Armed Services, and would only change U.S. military code, not immigration law — which falls under the purview of the Judiciary Committee.

Full story

Pelosi: Campaign Cash Ruling an ‘Existential Threat’ (Video)

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is one of the most prolific fundraisers in congressional history. But that doesn’t mean she’s a fan of Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the aggregate limit on campaign contributions.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday that the court decision was “suffocating the voice of the many.”

The 5-4 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling overturned the overall limit on what an individual may collectively donate to parties, candidates and political action committees in one election. The limit used to be $123,200. While the Supreme Court didn’t touch so-called base limits — such as the $2,600 cap on contributions to candidates per election or the $74,600 limit for political parties per an election cycle — the ruling allows individuals to give the maximum amount to an unlimited number of candidates.

“The Supreme Court decided to pour even more money into our politics and our process,” Pelosi said.

The California Democrat added that she was not surprised by the ruling, given the Citizens United v. FEC case, but the McCutcheon ruling “adds great insult to terrible injury to our democracy.”

“This is a very existential threat to who we are and how we do our campaigning and our government — and it should be something that should be roundly rejected,” Pelosi said.

But, as one reporter pointed out, Democrats can take advantage of this ruling just as much as Republicans.

“It doesn’t make it right,” Pelosi responded.

Pelosi, who raises millions for congressional Democrats, said she wasn’t thinking politically about this. “I’m thinking about our democracy,” she said. “Is this just supposed to be a money war?”

Pelosi agreed that candidates have to raise money to win elections, but she characterized the ruling as “an unlimited, constant spigot of undisclosed, God-knows-from-where-and-from-whom supply of money into the system.”

“It’s just plain wrong,” she said.

Eliza Newlin Carney contributed to this report.

April 1, 2014

Van Hollen Rips 2015 Ryan Budget as ‘The Worst’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s no surprise the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, didn’t like the Republican budget proposal from the Budget Chairman, Paul D. Ryan. But it might be a surprise exactly how much Van Hollen hates it.

“This is the worst budget for America that we’ve seen,” Van Hollen said as he began a pen-and-pad briefing on the blueprint Tuesday.

Ryan officially released his 2015 budget proposal Tuesday morning, and it was clear from the outset that Democrats were not going to like the Wisconsin Republican’s spending vision.

While the budget abides by the defense and non-defense caps laid out in the recent budget deal for fiscal 2015, Ryan’s newest blueprint proposes raising defense spending by $483 billion over 10 years and cutting non-defense spending by $791 billion in that same period.

“It takes that area to sequester levels,” Van Hollen said of non-defense spending, “then doubles the sequester cut to those non-defense areas — and then goes beyond that.” Full story

Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

dems004 011414 445x305 Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, April 2, 1:15 p.m. | In 2001, just shy of a decade in the House, Rep. Xavier Becerra suggested he was more of a policy wonk than a power broker.

“I understand the politics,” he told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “I’m not the best at playing the game.”

Thirteen years later, whether he was being self-effacing or somewhat disingenuous is debatable. But one thing’s become clear in the intervening decade: As a political operator, Becerra’s come into his own.

Full story

March 25, 2014

House Democrats to Try and Force Floor Vote on Immigration Overhaul

House Democrats are poised to offer their third discharge petition of 2014 Wednesday, this one to force a floor vote on an immigration overhaul bill.

They’ll need to get 218 signatures on the petition in order to compel GOP leadership to bring up their legislation, which mirrors the Senate-passed immigration bill, except for some tweaks in the border security language.

The likelihood of that outcome is approximately zero: Even the few House Republicans who have broken with their leaders to sign on as co-sponsors to the House bill are not expected to embrace a procedural tactic that would embarrass the majority party.

A CQ Roll Call whip count also shows that there are few members of the House GOP willing to even put their necks out for their leadership’s broad immigration “principles.”

No Republicans have signed onto the Democratic discharge petitions to force votes on bills to raise the minimum wage and extend emergency unemployment insurance, either.

But Democrats will also be touting a Congressional Budget Office report reaffirming that overhauling the nation’s immigration system would cut the deficit by about $900 billion over twenty years, a figure that had lawmakers crowing Tuesday. Full story

March 21, 2014

Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to ‘Spending Limits’ (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. |Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.

“We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget,” Cantor wrote Friday to House Republicans.

The Virginia Republican noted that President Barack Obama’s budget “blows past” the spending caps previously agreed to for fiscal 2015, but the the House GOP’s budget will conform to the agreed upon “spending limits.”

The pluralization of that last word is key: There are rumors that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan intends to offer a budget that would adhere to the overall spending limit, but would exceed the defense spending caps, which are unpopular with a number of Republicans. Full story

March 17, 2014

RSC Chairman: ‘We’re Not Done’ Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

scalise 038 020514 445x296 RSC Chairman: Were Not Done Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House GOP leadership intends to put forward a formal framework for repealing and replacing Obamacare, but has so far stopped short of promising to turn that framework into actual legislative text.

Should leaders decline to take that next step, it won’t sit well with Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.

“I feel good about where we are right now,” the Louisiana Republican told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview on Monday, “but we’re not done until we get a bill on the floor. Full story

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