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November 22, 2014

Posts in "Mitch McConnell"

November 6, 2014

The Boehner-McConnell Relationship: Mutual Respect, Low Drama

mcconnell110514 445x296 The Boehner McConnell Relationship: Mutual Respect, Low Drama

McConnell, celebrating Tuesday’s Republican wave with his wife, has a track record of working with Boehner. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

John A. Boehner and Mitch McConnell have never been best friends.

But they aren’t enemies, either. Far from it, say staffers and sources who know both lawmakers. The speaker and the Senate’s presumptive new majority leader have built, over the years, a solid professional relationship based on a sturdy sense of mutual respect.

That relationship is in the spotlight now more than ever, with Republicans emboldened in the wake of Tuesday’s wave election that saw the GOP pick up at least eight seats in the Senate and more than a dozen in the House.

Sources told CQ Roll Call that Boehner and McConnell don’t have to be close personally to get things done.

“While they’ve never played horseshoes on the speaker’s lawn, they spend a lot of time together, speak regularly and have demonstrated an unprecedented working relationship between the leaders of the House and Senate,” Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, told CQ Roll Call. Full story

June 24, 2014

‘Cruz Caucus’ Talks Leadership Elections in Both Chambers

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Cruz met again Tuesday with House conservatives. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz held another closed-door meeting with House conservatives Tuesday night, sitting down with insurgents over pizza in his office for a free-flowing discussion about immigration, leadership elections, the IRS and recent changes at the Republican Study Committee.

Over the course of about an hour and a half, 14 of the most conservative members of the House piled into Cruz’s Dirksen office for what was described in an email as an off-the-record gathering of “discussion and fellowship.”

The attendees were, in the order in which they arrived: Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Trent Franks of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, John Fleming of Louisiana, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Steve Stockman of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Ted Yoho of Florida, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. (Lamborn was facing a primary back home.)

This isn’t the first time Cruz has met quietly with House conservatives. He met in the basement of Tortilla Coast with 15 to 20 House Republicans during the government shutdown in October. He also met with a similar group of House Republicans in his office in April.

The topics of conversation at these meetings have been the subject of vivid speculation.

But Tuesday night, Cruz looked to downplay the whole affair as he entered the meeting at 7:09 p.m.

“You guys have made a mountain out of a molehill,” the Texas Republican told CQ Roll Call. He noted that he had met with conservatives “periodically,” and he implied such gatherings aren’t a big deal. Full story

May 16, 2014

Gallup Poll: Congressional Leaders Remain Unpopular

dome 085 111913 445x296 Gallup Poll: Congressional Leaders Remain Unpopular

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Americans are still unhappy with John A. Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, according to a Gallup poll that showed all four top leaders garnering net negative scores.

Pelosi, the House minority leader, remains the most polarizing and best-known leader, with the highest unfavorability — 49 percent — and favorability ratings — 33 percent. Only about 1 in 5 respondents said they had never heard of or had no opinion of her.

Boehner has recovered some favorability in the eyes of the electorate from his low during the end of last year, around the time of the partial government shutdown. His unfavorability came in at 45 percent, while 31 percent of respondents said they view him favorably. About 1 in 4 said they had never heard of or had no opinion on the speaker. Full story

March 18, 2014

When the Speaker Calls: How McMorris Rodgers Was Picked for SOTU Response

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers was back in Spokane, Wash., for the holidays, hosting her district staff Christmas party at the local Old Spaghetti Factory, when she heard she’d missed a call from Speaker John A. Boehner.

“It was late enough that I decided to wait until the next day to return his call, the next morning,” the Washington Republican recalled in a recent sit-down interview with CQ Roll Call. “But everything runs through your mind as to why Speaker Boehner would be calling.”

A pitch to deliver the official GOP rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address was certainly “not on the list,” McMorris Rodgers said.

But that was exactly what Boehner was calling to discuss.

“He simply said that he and [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell had been talking, and they thought that I was the one that they’d like to see deliver the response to —” McMorris Rodgers stopped herself. “The Republican address. We didn’t call it a response. The Republican address following the State of the Union.”

The work started right away.

Full story

January 23, 2014

McMorris Rodgers to Deliver GOP Response to SOTU

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington will deliver the annual GOP response to the State of the Union, party leaders announced Thursday.

McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, will deliver the response address directly after President Barack Obama speaks on Jan. 28.

“I am honored to speak with Americans in every corner of the country on Tuesday and to share our Republican vision for a better future – one that trusts the American people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement.

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced the address in a statement, along with a biographical video, highlighting the congresswoman’s family — she has a son, Cole, who has Down syndrome — and her humble beginnings, including the fact that she was the first member of her family to graduate from college.

In an election year during which Democrats want to make hay of income inequality and how government policies can help the middle class, McMorris Rodgers will deliver the GOP side of the narrative, focusing on self-determination and small government.

“Cathy McMorris Rodgers is proof that with humility, hard work and dedication, you can overcome any obstacle – a story to which many Americans can relate,” Boehner said in the statement. “Through the lens of her family’s experiences, Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class, guided by a fierce belief in life and liberty, and grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government.”

“Cathy McMorris Rodgers is an excellent choice to present the Republican Address and share an alternative approach to the President’s plans to grow an already enormous federal bureaucracy,” McConnell said. “Her experience, hard work and commitment to family provide an example that Americans outside the halls of Congress understand. A strong advocate of empowering citizens rather than just the federal government, Cathy is the right choice to deliver this important address.”

McMorris Rodgers first rose to prominence as the conference vice chairwoman during the 112th Congress, and ascended in the party ranks to claim the chairmanship in this Congress, despite a heated challenge from Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. Her allies at the time spoke of the importance of lifting a GOP woman into leadership, particularly as they tried to weather Democratic attacks that the party is out of touch on policy affecting women.

This is not the first time a Republican woman delivered the State of the Union response. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee for the response in 2000.

November 19, 2013

McConnell Stands By Sequester Level in House GOP Meeting

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell paid a visit to the House Republican Conference’s weekly meeting Tuesday morning to reiterate his support for hanging tough on the $967 billion sequester spending level in negotiations with the Democrats.

The Kentucky Republican has long held the view that the $967 billion discretionary figure is the right position for the GOP, and he’s fought against deals that would increase revenue for additional spending.

Some GOP lawmakers, particularly defense hawks and appropriators, are eager for a deal that would allow more spending this year.

If Republicans and Democrats can’t reach an agreement, that could lead to a yearlong CR that under the sequester law would cut spending to $967 billion — even less than the $986 billion in the CR that ended the government shutdown — with defense absorbing the extra cuts.

A House GOP leadership aide said that while McConnell did not specifically say he supported a yearlong CR, he implied that he would.

A spokesman for McConnell did not address whether he said he supported a CR specifically.

“Sen. McConnell appreciates the efforts of Speaker Boehner and Rep. McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Republican Conference, to make time for his remarks today to the Conference,” a McConnell spokesman said in an emailed statement to CQ Roll Call. “He provided an update on the Senate and had a chance to hear directly from his House colleagues.”

At a news conference immediately following the closed-door meeting, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said he hopes that budget conferees can agree to a common topline number for appropriations bills well in advance of the conference’s Dec. 13 deadline to strike a deal — and avoid a CR.

“It’s important that we do appropriations bills here to fund the government,” Boehner told reporters. “The idea that we should operate under what are called continuing resolutions is a poor way to do business.

“So I understand the frustration of appropriators. They want regular order,” Boehner continued. “Until there’s an agreement out of the budget conference on a discretionary spending number for the year, they are unable to do their work. And frankly, that’s not fair. So I’m hopeful.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

October 17, 2013

Paul Ryan’s ‘No’ Vote Concerns Pelosi, Hoyer

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Ryan, left, walks to Wednesday’s House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On Thursday morning, the four leading budget conferees ate breakfast together and told reporters afterward that they were committed to engaging in good-faith negotiations on a whole host of pressing fiscal concerns between now and mid-December.

The House’s two top Democrats, however, are already concerned that those crucial talks could be tainted by the fallout over the government shutdown and the near-missed deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., both expressed consternation Thursday about the overwhelming House GOP opposition to the Senate’s compromise legislation to reopen government extend the debt ceiling until early next year: 144 Republicans voted “no.”

“Everyone described it as, ‘Oh, it’s just a few, it’s 30-some,’” Pelosi said at her Thursday press briefing, referring to the number of House Republicans who wanted to tie government funding to defunding Obamacare. “But 62 percent of their caucus voted to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.”

“The significant majority of Republicans voted to keep government shut down and bypass [Oct.] 17th without fully paying our debts. I thought, ‘That’s not a good sign,’” Hoyer told CQ Roll Call in an interview.

But the center of their worries is House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., a leader of the bicameral, bipartisan budget conference who also voted “no” on the Senate deal.
Pelosi and Hoyer fear that Ryan’s unwillingness to vote for the Senate-negotiated fiscal package on Wednesday could portend an unwillingness to engage in the kind of frank, bipartisan compromise necessary to finalize a fiscal 2014 budget by the Dec. 13 deadline.

“I was very disappointed that Paul Ryan voted against keeping the government open and paying our bills. It was a tough vote, but this time he took a hard-line path,” Hoyer said. “I hope after he goes into negotiations with [Senate Budget Chairwoman] Patty Murray and others in the conference, he will take a more constructive, positive solution.”

Pelosi agreed, adding that she was also bothered by the “no” vote of Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a leader on the budget conference as well.

“They did not vote for this bill that takes us to the table,” Pelosi said. “So, [it will be] interesting to see what that means, what is to be inferred.”

In a statement following the Wednesday night vote, Ryan called the bill “a missed opportunity.”

“To pay our bills today — and to make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow — we must make a down payment on the debt. Today’s legislation won’t help us reduce our fast-growing debt,” he continued. “In my judgment, this isn’t a breakthrough. We’re just kicking the can down the road.”

On Thursday, at the budget conference’s post-breakfast news conference, Ryan was asked to explain his reason for voting against the legislation, hashed out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“Look, we want to have smart deficit reduction. We want to grow the economy. We think the budget process is the way to do that,” Ryan said. “I put a statement out last night explaining exactly my concerns. That speaks for itself.”

He added, “I want to have a budget agreement that gets this debt and deficit under control. … And we’re going to try and figure out if we can find an agreement to do that.”

Of the four House Republicans who were appointed to serve on the budget conference, Ryan was not the only one to vote against the bill, despite GOP leadership’s encouragement to vote in favor. Conferees Diane Black of Tennessee and Tom Price of Georgia both voted “no,” while Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, an ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, backed the measure.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday morning, Cole appeared hopeful that a budget agreement was within reach.

“I actually think from a Republican standpoint, we’re on very strong ground here with the sequester being something honestly that both sides want to get rid of and with the president having put some entitlement reform in his budget. I can see the elements of a deal here and I hope we can keep working and find that deal,” he said.

October 14, 2013

Obama Dropped House GOP ‘Like a Hot Potato’

House Republicans are mulling their next move as Senate leaders look to jam them with a watered-down package far weaker than the lofty concessions Republican leaders once demanded for raising the debt limit and reopening the government.

At the end of a huddle in Speaker John A. Boehner’s office Monday, most Republican leaders remained mum on details — although one ripped President Barack Obama for doing an end run around the House GOP.

“I would say that we believed that we could have worked with the president, and then the president dropped us like a hot potato, because our deal, he didn’t want to deal with,” said Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions R-Texas. “He wanted to deal with the senators, so that’s what he’s done.” Full story

May 9, 2013

GOP Leaders Refuse to Name Obamacare Board Members

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., notified the president today that they will not participate in one of the more controversial parts of the health care law, known as Obamacare.

In a letter, the two GOP leaders said they would not submit Republican appointees to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created to try to rein in the costs of Medicare. Critics worry the board has too much power to possibly cut payments to doctors or limit the types of care seniors can get.

Full letter after the jump:

Full story

April 11, 2013

Camp Takes Aim at Romney’s Favorite Tax Break

Eliminating the carried interest provision from the U.S. tax code is on the table as a part of comprehensive tax overhaul, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp confirmed on Thursday.

In a brief interview following the Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing with reporters, the Michigan Republican would not rule out eliminating the loophole, which famously allows hedge funds but also the more standard category of investor to pay the capital gains tax rate on their earnings, rather than the standard (and higher) income tax rate. Camp also confirmed that he favors repealing the health care law’s medical device tax through comprehensive tax overhaul, rather than as a stand-alone bill.

“We’re going to look at all of the tax code and I’ve got a working group looking at [carried interest.] And, I’m going to let them make their report to the committee and have the joint committee analyze what they’ve come up with,” Camp told CQ Roll Call. “Everything’s on the table because we’re still doing our analysis of it. … It is a very intricate set of issues. I’ve got working groups that haven’t completed their work and I’m going to let them do that.”

Full story

April 4, 2013

McConnell’s Obamacare Tax Repeal Stalls in House

House Republicans appear unlikely to move a repeal of Obamacare’s medical device tax as a standalone bill, according to multiple GOP sources.

This could disappoint Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican is lobbying House GOP leaders — both publicly and privately — to act in the wake of the Senate’s overwhelming, though nonbinding, bipartisan vote to repeal the tax, which functions as a key funding mechanism for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That vote, passed as an amendment to the nonbinding fiscal 2014 budget resolution, was 79–20 for repeal, with 33 Democrats voting in favor.

“The House is not ready to send any tax vehicle to the Senate right now,” a Republican lobbyist with relationships on both ends of Capitol Hill said.

Full story

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