Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 25, 2014

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July 17, 2014

Carter and Goodlatte Put Down Their Own Markers to Solve Border Crisis

carter011314 445x291 Carter and Goodlatte Put Down Their Own Markers to Solve Border Crisis

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The specially appointed House GOP border surge working group is poised to submit its formal policy recommendations to party leaders, while two of its members appear to be pursuing alternate tracks.

On Thursday, Reps. John Carter of Texas and Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia introduced separate bills that would make more conservative revisions to current immigration law than many of their peers on either side of the aisle would prefer.

The bills would also tack farther to the right than the set of recommendations expected to be put forth by the GOP working group to address the child migrant crisis at the Southwest border.

Full story

July 15, 2014

Border Funding Request Takes Shape in House

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Granger is leading a GOP task force to make recommendations on the child migrant border surge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | House Republicans could, by the week’s end, unveil their legislative response to the president’s $3.7 billion request to bolster resources at the southwest border.

The response is likely to cost less and incorporate policy riders sure to rile up Democrats on the left — but still might not be stringent enough to satisfy members on the hard right.

Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the chairwoman of a special GOP working group convened by Speaker John A. Boehner to make policy recommendations on the child migrant border surge, told reporters Tuesday her group is focused on increasing border security funding, adding National Guard troops on the border and having more immigration judges to preside over deportation hearings and asylum requests.

With a formal report not yet public at the time she spoke with the press, Granger also said the group supported tweaking a 2008 trafficking law to allow all unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border to choose to return to their home countries rather than await trial to be deported, a right currently afforded only to children from countries contiguous to the United States.

“Tweak it, not change it, not repeal it,” Granger stressed, “but to treat all children the same.” Full story

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 7, 2014

Congressman: American Drug Use Fueling Immigration Crisis

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Gutierrez, shown here at a recent immigration rally, said America’s drug trade is  fueling the surge of children and women crossing the southern border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez said Monday the U.S. has a responsibility to care for the women and children surging across southern border because American drug use has fueled the rise of violent cartels in Central America.

Gutiérrez, who has led efforts in the House to bring Republicans and his fellow Democrats together on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, said those calling for deportation of the recent immigrants should be ashamed.

“Shame on people for simply ignoring the law to score cheap political points against children and minors arriving in the Unites States of America,” the Illinois Democrat said in an appearance on MSNBC.

“I think we have a great responsibility in the debilitating of those countries,” Gutiérrez said. “How do the drug cartels maintain their power? With American guns. Bought with American dollars because of American consumption of the drugs. The drugs don’t stay in Honduras … they come straight to the streets of the United States of America.”

Gutiérrez’s comments came as Republican congressmen, including Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, are urging the White House to step up deportation proceedings against the flood of Central Americans who have strained resources along the Texas border.


Diaz-Balart: ‘Boehner’s Never Told Me’ Immigration Overhaul Is ‘Dead’

Goodlatte Warns Deportation Changes Hurt Immigration Overhaul Prospects

Immigration Protests Focus on 22 Republicans Across Country

Immigration Overhaul for 2014: Decidedly Not Dead

Boehner Walks Back Immigration Comments

Video Shows Boehner Mocking Colleagues on Immigration

Where Do House Republicans Stand on Immigration Principles? (Updated Whip Count)


June 26, 2014

Pelosi Asks Boehner for Bipartisan Response to Border Crisis

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Border crisis: Pelosi says Republicans need to include Democrats in discussions on how to address the surge of illegal immigrant children along the Southwest border. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Republicans need to consult with Democrats in their formal examination of the surge of immigrant children attempting to cross the Southwest border.

In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, the California Democrat implored Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, not to shut Democrats out of the process of looking critically at the issues and making informed policy recommendations to the Congress.

Her pleas for cross-party collaboration come two days after Boehner announced he would convene an all-Republican “working group” on what members on both sides of the aisle have characterized as a “national security and humanitarian crisis” — a crisis the GOP increasingly is blaming on President Barack Obama.

Full story

Luis Gutiérrez: House GOP Role in Immigration Overhaul Is ‘Over’ (Video)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., slammed Republicans on the floor Wednesday, renewing calls for the House of Representatives to take action to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws nearly one year after the Senate passed bipartisan immigration legislation.

“Republicans have failed America, and failed themselves,” he said.

Gutiérrez’s comments came after Speaker John A. Boehner’s announcement Tuesday of a GOP task force to address the crisis of illegal immigrant children surging across the southern border.

“I gave you the warning three months ago, and now I have no other choice; you’re done,” Gutiérrez said, addressing House Republicans. “Your chance to play a role in how immigration and deportation policies are carried out this year is over.”

Full story

June 18, 2014

McCarthy Cruises; Whip Race Still a Tossup

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Stutzman and others made their final pitch to Republicans ahead of Thursday whip race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Candidates for House Republican leadership made their final pitches Wednesday morning, pressing for unity while leading their factions into what will be a divisive Thursday vote to decide the future of the conference.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California retained his position as a lock to become majority leader, although Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho is mounting an upstart challenge, driven by a simmering dissatisfaction with leadership.

But the race to replace McCarthy remains fluid. Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana got a boost Wednesday morning. Reps. Joe Pitts and Bill Shuster, both of Pennsylvania, pledged their support to Scalise and said they would whip their 11 GOP Keystone State colleagues, many of whom remain undecided, according to a source familiar with the group.

Full story

June 17, 2014

Would-Be Whips Woo Conservatives, Reassure Moderates

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Majority whip race contender Roskam says he can tame the House Republican Conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Candidates for House majority whip are pushing their cases hard in the last hours of the race, each promising to heal a party scarred by infighting and at the same time, wrangle the conference into a united voting bloc.

In the run-up to Thursday’s pivotal vote, Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip, is touting himself as the most experienced candidate — and the only one who will be a disciplinarian toward rambunctious members who vote out of step with leadership.

The Illinois Republican said he would punish members who vote against leaders’ priorities, according to a member familiar with his pitch. Although that is much more difficult in a post-earmark world, Roskam laid out a slate of ideas, including refusing to take up unruly members’ bills, withholding plum committee assignments and even banishing rebels from the weekly conference breakfast, denying them a free meal if they do not play with the rest of the team. Full story

June 15, 2014

With Whip Race Heating Up, Roskam Makes His Case

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Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., one of the three members currently vying for House majority whip. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Peter Roskam, campaigning for the House GOP whip post, has promised fellow Republicans he’ll choose a deputy whip from a red state if he comes out ahead in what is shaping up to be a competitive three-way race.

On Friday evening, the Illinois Republican and chief deputy whip sent a letter to colleagues asking for their support over rivals Steve Scalise, R-La., and Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind.

They all want to succeed the current whip, Kevin McCarthy of California, should he, as many expect, win the race to replace outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. McCarthy himself is going up against conservative favorite Raul R. Labrador of Idaho.

Candidates have until Thursday to make their case to members; on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., they will participate in a special forum to address the full House Republican Conference directly.

In a lengthy memo, Roskam made reference to his roots in the historic state of Illinois, home most famously to President Abraham Lincoln, and he reminded colleagues that he succeeded another well-known and respected Illinois Republican: Former Rep. Henry Hyde. Roskam highlighted his accomplishments working with McCarthy to advance the House GOP’s legislative agenda and promised to continue fighting for the right causes. He even threw in a shout-out to founding father Thomas Jefferson.

Here’s the full letter Roskam circulated on Friday: Full story

May 30, 2014

House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

Taxation of marijuana 25 091213 445x312 House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

Rohrabacher helped steer the medical marijuana amendment through the House. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a series of late-night votes that marijuana-rights advocates say reflect a nation’s changing attitudes, the Republican-controlled House moved early Friday  to block the federal government from interfering with state laws on pot and hemp.

The most far-reaching of the votes — a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations — passed 219-189 on the strength of an unusual coalition that cut across traditional partisan lines.

The medical marijuana measure was offered by conservative Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California as an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. 

There were 49 Republicans who voted “yes” on the medical marijuana amendment, jointly sponsored by Rohrabacher; Sam Farr, D-Calif.; Don Young, R-Alaska; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Paul Broun, R-Ga.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; and Dina Titus, D-Nev. Full story

April 3, 2014

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

energy presser008 032912 445x304 Denham Sees Defense Bill as Vehicle for ENLIST Act Immigration Vote (Updated)

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

January 15, 2014

Blue Dogs Add Four Members

The embattled House Blue Dog Coalition of centrist Democrats has added four members, its co-chairmen announced Wednesday.

Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber, both of Arizona, along with Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia joined the group, bringing its ranks to 19 members, according to a release from the group, up from its lowest-ever level of just 15 members.

The once-powerful group has seen its influence on Capitol Hill wane along with its ranks in recent years. Peaking at 54 members in the 111th Congress, its ranks of moderate and conservative Democrats were decimated by Republicans in 2010. Full story

January 13, 2014

With George Miller’s Retirement, Pelosi Will Lose Her ‘Consigliere’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senior House Democrat George Miller announced on Monday that he would retire at the end of this Congress, unearthing a flurry of questions over what it might mean for the party ahead of the November elections. Are more retirements imminent? Is Congress’ liberal presence in peril?

Sources close to the nerve center of the House Democratic Caucus caution against rampant speculation, but they do acknowledge there’s one person who stands to lose the most from the 20-term lawmaker’s departure: his fellow Californian, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Over their years serving together in the House, Miller has been one of Pelosi’s very closest allies. He has remained an adviser and a confidant, even as Pelosi surpassed him in the leadership ranks and shattered the glass ceiling as the first female speaker.

In 2010, as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, Miller helped pass Pelosi’s legacy bill, the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, Miller continues to hold an honorary leadership position despite lacking a formal title within the power structure.

In Miller, Pelosi is losing one of her best vote-counters, said one Democratic chief of staff. She’s also, in the words of one senior Democratic aide, losing her “consigliere.”

“He’s something greater than an ally,” the aide said. “He’s her conscience. … He can make or break a decision for her. She listens to him.”

Another senior Democratic aide likened Pelosi’s relationship with Miller to the one she had with Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., who died in office in February 2010.

“I definitely think, with Murtha and Miller being gone, she’s lost both of her heavies,” said that aide.

This aide added that Pelosi needs her progressive lieutenants with institutional knowledge more than ever, now, as she seeks to lead a large freshman class of moderate members who aren’t always amenable to voting the party line. “She’s definitely weaker,” he said.

When Miller leaves at the end of the year, Pelosi will need to look elsewhere for members who can help fill the void, and sources say she has already started to elevate more junior members into positions of power.

Perhaps in a sign that she anticipated Miller’s impending retirement, Pelosi in December 2012 installed Rep. Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey as a co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a post that had been held by Miller for a decade.

Pelosi has also embraced Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, as a de facto member of her leadership team.

But neither lawmaker — nor any of the others with whom Pelosi is close, professionally and personally, like Steering and Policy Co-Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut — might be able to really take Miller’s place.

“They don’t necessarily have the gravitas among members to play that role,” said a senior Democratic staffer. “Miller is Pelosi’s stick: Keep folks in line. I’m not sure either [Van Hollen] or Andrews could play that role.”

Aides close to Pelosi say that, at the end of the day, the House’s top Democrat is resilient, with no plans to step down or step aside later this year or anytime in the immediate future.

And as for the impact Miller’s departure will have on her day-to-day operations?

“It’s a personal loss,” said a Democratic leadership aide, “and that’s the extent of it.”

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

January 10, 2014

House Passes First Anti-Obamacare Bill of 2014

More Democrats defected on the House’s first anti-Obamacare bill of 2014 than on any other Obamacare-related vote to date, a blow to party unity and leadership’s advice that rank-and-file members stand strong against GOP “gotcha” bills.

The legislation, which would require victims of security breaches through the insurance exchanges to be notified within two days, passed 291-122. Sixty-seven Democrats joined Republicans to vote for the bill.

Democratic leaders were expecting defections from the rank and file, particularly from more moderate and vulnerable incumbents. But it wasn’t immediately clear whether they were expecting fractures of this magnitude. Even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, Steve Israel, D-N.Y., voted for the bill. Democratic leaders had encouraged a “no” vote. Full story

January 9, 2014

New Year, Old Headaches for Democrats on Obamacare Bills

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At a closed-door caucus meeting, Waxman urged his Democratic colleagues to vote against the bills coming to the floor Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democratic leaders, busy with a public relations blitz over Republicans’ refusal to extend expired unemployment insurance, aren’t terribly preoccupied with the pair of Republican bills coming on the floor Friday to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

They aren’t whipping colleagues against the measures, nor are they spending time running interference among the moderate members who might want to vote “yes” to score political points back home.

“There is a long list of critical items the House should take action on … rather than wasting time on unnecessary bills,” shrugged a senior Democratic leadership aide.

Democrats might be able to ignore the bills this time around, but they are up for 11 months of intermittent headaches over the same issues: House Republicans say they have no plans to let up their attack on Obamacare anytime soon, and Democrats should be prepared to confront many uncomfortable votes on the law between now and the midterm elections.

“Holding Democrats accountable for their support for this awful program is part of our responsibility,” said an aide with House Republican leadership. Full story

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