Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2014

Posts in "Midterms"

July 10, 2014

Diaz-Balart’s Immigration Overhaul Effort Is Dead for Now

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Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will no longer seek to advance his draft immigration bill (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a year and a half of stops and starts, unbridled optimism and hints of inevitable defeat, Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart has declared his efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system officially dead for the 113th Congress.

“Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year,” the congressman told reporters at a hastily convened press conference in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday afternoon. “It is disappointing and highly unfortunate.”

Later, Diaz-Balart repeated, “I don’t think I can hide my disappointment.” Full story

July 9, 2014

GOP Plan to Save Highway Trust Fund May Win By Default

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Camp, R-Mich., and Levin, D-Mich., preside over a Ways and Means Committee meeting (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Republican plan to prevent, through the middle of next year, the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund is drawing grumbles from both the left and the right, but there is increasing recognition that Congress has little choice but to enact it, or something like it.

Resignation that passing a short-term extension is likely the only way to avoid an August shutdown of transportation projects across the country was on full display Wednesday, the eve of a markup of the new proposal in the House Ways and Means Committee.

“It’s the only proposal out there,” Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., told reporters Wednesday afternoon in defense of his bill.

Full story

July 3, 2014

Goodlatte: Border Crisis ‘Disaster of President Obama’s Own Making’

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Goodlatte, R-Va., says the president must take responsibility for the border crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After concluding a bipartisan, fact-finding tour of the immigrant crisis on the Southwest border, House Judiciary Committee Republicans said Thursday the onus is on President Barack Obama — not Congress — to address the surge of Central American women and children entering the country illegally.

In a conference call with a small group of reporters, Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said that while there were may be some things the House could do to confront the matter head-on, this was a crisis of Obama’s making and he should be the one to fix it.

Full story

June 16, 2014

Labrador Appeals Directly to Colleagues for Support in Majority Leader Race

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Labrador has written a letter to his House colleagues, asking for them to support him to be the next majority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador is running a high-profile campaign to be the next House majority leader, appearing on nationally-syndicated talk shows, obliging interview requests from Capitol Hill scribes and penning a personal appeal to his colleagues.

In advance of the Thursday election that will decide who gets to replace outgoing majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Idaho Republican sent a brief letter to members of the GOP conference late Monday to ask for their support.

Labrador, who is running largely as the conservative alternative to his opponent, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said that his seat at the leadership table would mark both a departure from the “status quo” and a return to a time where senior lawmakers sought to unify the rank and file. Full story

Roskam-Scalise Whip Race Heats Up, Gets Ugly

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From left, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Roskam, R-Ill., and Scalise, R-La., talk earlier this year. Scalise and Roskam are now rivals for the house whip post. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The two front-runners in the race to become the next House majority whip spent the weekend shoring up support with potential allies — and, through staff, taking swipes at each other.

A source close to Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, in an emailed memo to CQ Roll Call, said the 90-plus members in the House who have pledged to vote for the Illinois Republican are “rock solid,” while Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise’s numbers are “soft” and “all over the place since Thursday — at 100, 120, over 100, etc. etc.

“No one wants a whip who can’t count,” the source continued, “and no one wants a whip who overpromises and under-delivers.” Full story

June 11, 2014

Cantor Loss ‘Was a 10 on the Stun Scale’

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Israel was among those stunned by the Cantor loss. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“I’m giving a speech. I have no time for jokes,” Steve Israel told Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Kelly Ward when she emailed to suggest there were signs something was happening in Virginia’s 7th District.

It was 7:15 p.m. and Israel had just left an event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He passed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as she arrived.

The New York Democrat was on his way to address the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, and Ward flagged that with 30 percent of the primary vote in, it seemed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor might be in peril. He wasn’t interested. Polls, after all, had just closed.trans Cantor Loss Was a 10 on the Stun Scale

Full story

June 10, 2014

Boehner Statement on Cantor’s Defeat

House GOP leaders weren’t expecting Majority Leader Eric Cantor to lose his primary Tuesday night against Tea Party-backed challenger Dave Brat, so nobody had statements ready when the race was called shortly after 8 p.m.

Reflections on the Virginia Republican’s defeat only began to filter in during the very late hours of the evening.

All were brief, free of political rancor for Brat and of any hints at personal ambitions to climb the ranks with the House’s No. 2 GOP lawmaker out of the picture in the 114th Congress.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., widely considered to now be angling for Cantor’s job, said “every single Member of this conference is indebted to Eric’s graciousness and leadership.”

Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called Cantor “a great friend and colleague.”

Perhaps the most revealing assessment of the evening’s turn of events came from Speaker John A. Boehner. Earlier, he exited from a local Italian restaurant and declined to speak with reporters who were waiting for him.

Full story

Stunner: Cantor Upset Changes Everything

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Cantor appeared at a leadership press conference Tuesday, hours before losing his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in a Republican primary Tuesday, conceding his Virginia seat to a local activist after a stunning loss with possibly dramatic consequences for leadership, the chances of any immigration overhaul passing Congress and the future of his party.

He is the first majority leader ever to fall in primary defeat — the position was created in 1899.

Cantor, toppled by college economics professor Dave Brat, 56 percent to 44 percent, conceded just after The Associated Press declared the race over.

Democratic and Republican leadership aides expressed total disbelief and dumbfoundedness Tuesday night. Political operatives in the Old Dominion and organizers in Washington quickly studied election law to see if he could run as a write-in.

With his wife, Diana Fine Cantor, at his side, Cantor choked back emotion and did not sound like a man aiming to stage a comeback.

Full story

Eric Cantor’s Defeat Was in the Immigration Tea Leaves (Video)

Many immigration advocates thought Eric Cantor’s expected primary victory against his challenger opposed to an immigration overhaul would embolden the House majority leader to put an immigration bill on the floor this summer.

That theory, or at least that closely held hope, was obliterated Tuesday evening, as the Virginia Republican suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of university professor Dave Brat.

The tea leaves for Cantor’s fate might have been read by the most prescient political observers two weeks ago in his home district of Richmond, where Brat held a press conference on the steps of the state capitol building to denounce the House’s No. 2 Republican for having the “most liberal” record on immigration of any sitting GOP lawmaker in Congress.

“Eric Cantor has been the No. 1 cheerleader in Congress for amnesty,” said Brat on May 28 to half a dozen reporters, referencing Cantor’s stated support for overhauling the nation’s immigration system and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, especially those brought into the country illegally by their parents.

“There is no Republican in this country,” Brat continued, “who is more liberal on immigration than Eric Cantor.” 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 6, 2014

June Agenda: Read Cantor’s Memo on House GOP Plan

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy legislative agenda for the remainder of June in a memo to House Republicans sent Friday, scheduling floor time to address issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs, three appropriations bills, three tax extender bills, and legislation to make gas and other energy prices cheaper. Notably absent from the agenda: any mention of immigration, an unemployment extension or the expiring Export-Import Bank.

First up as the House returns for its “summer stretch into the swampy heat of Washington, D.C.,” the Virginia Republican said the House will consider three tax extender bills next week. One bill (HR 4457) would make the 2013 small-business expensing levels permanent. Another (HR 4453) would reduce the built-in gains tax holding period to five years from its current 10. The third bill (HR 4454) would make certain charitable giving rules permanent.

Full story

June 4, 2014

House GOP Leaders Call for Obama to Be Active in Fixing VA System

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top four House Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter on Wednesday morning, making requests and seeking solutions in the aftermath of the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Speaker John A. Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers wrote that, less than a week after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, Obama must now make short- and long-term plans to address the systemic failures that led to the patient backlogs at veterans’ hospitals around the country.

In doing so, they formalized in writing many of the complaints they have already been making regarding the Obama administration’s handling of veterans’ issues and continued to put pressure on the president as the midterm elections approach. Full story

May 28, 2014

On Immigration, the Pressure Mounts for Eric Cantor

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The pressure is on for Cantor, as political factions from both sides of the aisle clamor for action on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — Political forces from the left and the right gathered at the Virginia state Capitol Wednesday with a shared objective: Ratchet up the immigration pressure on Eric Cantor.

On one side were the pro-immigration activists — led by an Illinois Democrat — calling for the House majority leader to at least allow legislation an up-or-down vote. On the other was a political rival all-too-ready to hang the word “amnesty” around the Virginia Republican’s neck.

In the middle of the debate, walking a political tightrope with less than two weeks to go before a closely-watched primary and as the clock steadily ticks down on the 113th Congress, is Cantor.

“We have come here to say … stop being an obstacle. Stop standing in the way,” said Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., a leader in the national fight to pass an immigration overhaul bill who was invited to speak at Wednesday’s event by the group CASA de Virginia. “Become a hero of our community and become someone who can help the tens of thousands of Virginians who need help because of this broken immigration system.”

Half an hour earlier, Cantor’s June 10 primary opponent David Brat held a brief outdoor news conference on the steps of the building, where he had a different perspective on Cantor.

“Eric Cantor has been the No. 1 cheerleader in Congress for amnesty,” Brat told a half-dozen reporters. “Eric Cantor has spearheaded the amnesty push in the House. … There is no Republican in this country who is more liberal on immigration than Eric Cantor.”

Conservatives’ biggest turncoat? Immigration’s most stubborn opponent?

It wouldn’t seem Cantor could be both, but the No. 2 Republican in the House has tripped alarms on both sides of the sprawling, complicated and emotional debate in recent weeks. Full story

May 20, 2014

Republicans Buck Heritage Action and Advance Water Resources Bill

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Gingrey, R-Ga., was one of many Republicans who voted for the conference report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Heritage Action strongly recommended  “no” votes on a major reauthorization of water infrastructure projects around the country; on Tuesday, few members heeded the advice.

The bipartisan, bicameral conference report for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA, passed on the House floor in an overwhelming 412-4 vote.

The holdouts — GOP Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Matt Salmon of Arizona — all have high scorecards with Heritage Action and represent the most conservative factions of the House Republican Conference.

Full story

May 19, 2014

Shinseki, VA Scandal Has Obama on Defense, Lawmakers Angry

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Shinseki (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As outcry over the still-unfolding veterans scandal grew Monday, the White House offered a muted defense of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, while House Republicans and Democrats planned to take quick action.

Five days after Shinseki was called before the Senate to testify about allegations that the VA falsified wait times for veterans seeking treatment, the House will vote Tuesday on a bill that would give the VA secretary greater authority to fire the entrenched bureaucrats responsible for the scandal.

The bill currently has 118 co-sponsors, including five Democrats, but reaction from the White House was cool Monday. Full story

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