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September 1, 2014

Posts in "Nancy Pelosi"

July 29, 2014

Pelosi: GOP Border Bill ‘Unjust and Inhumane’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blistered the GOP’s border bill as “unjust and inhumane” in a statement Tuesday.

“We must have a heart, and look into our souls to guide us in our treatment of these desperate children,” the California Democrat said of the tens of thousands of unauthorized migrants who have flooded the border. “While we are reminded of the critical importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform, we must do so much more than the Republicans’ unjust and inhumane proposal.”

It’s not unusual for Pelosi to blast a Republican measure, but in this case, it’s not clear Republicans can pass their bill if Pelosi puts the hammer down on Democrats who cross party lines.  Full story

Advocates Grade Congress on Immigration (Updated)

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Immigration overhaul advocates hold a large rally in front of the White House Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Frustrated by lack of action and unfulfilled promises on the immigration overhaul front, a coalition of 10 advocacy groups is out to hold House members accountable for the extent to which they were unhelpful to the cause.

A new scorecard for all 435 members’ immigration votes, statements and co-sponsorships aims to draw a stark portrait of “who stands with us and who does not,” said Hispanic Federation President José Calderón. The rankings come as Congress nears a boiling point on an emergency funding request from President Barack Obama intended to mitigate the crisis at the border as children cross illegally into the United States.

The first-of-its-kind scorecard was released Monday, as advocates gathered a stone’s throw from the Capitol for the grand unveiling, calling for action and scolding lawmakers for what they see as stonewalling on a critical issue.

“Every ‘zero’ you see in that scorecard is personal to us,” said Rocio Sáenz, a member of the board of directors for Mi Familia Vota.

“There is some explaining that needs to be done as to why they said to us in private that they supported immigration reform, yet their report card says different,” said Tony Suárez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Republicans received significantly lower rankings than Democrats. Clarissa Martínez de Castro, the deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, said the discrepancy reflected a “Republican leadership failure,” though the organizations behind the scorecard insist the results are based on the facts and aren’t motivated by party preference.

Here’s a look at the rankings, based on members’ positions in 11 different areas over the past several months: Full story

July 25, 2014

Pelosi: Don’t Tack Expedited Deportations to Border Bill (Video)

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Pelosi says changes to speed up deportations shouldn’t be a part of the House border bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday morning that a bill to provide emergency funding for the child migrant crisis at the Southern border should not be tied to changes in a 2008 human trafficking law.

“You want to have a separate bill on 2008? Discuss it there. But don’t hold the children hostage to the cosmetics of how tough you are on the border,” Pelosi said at a news conference Friday morning.

The trafficking law is a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans arguing that changes in the law would expedite deportations of the tens of thousands of children at the border and Democrats saying such changes would infringe upon a child’s right to due process.

“There’s no reason why they have to be tied and I hope that the Republicans will come to that conclusion,” Pelosi said. She later added, “I very firmly believe that it would be a mistake to do immigration law on a supplemental bill.” Full story

July 22, 2014

Boehner Puts Onus on Democrats for Tenuous Status of Border Funding Bill

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Boehner says Democrats’ rejection of changes to 2008 trafficking law could complicate passage of border funding bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Republican Conference on Wednesday will hear task force recommendations on dealing with the surge of migrant children on the Texas border, Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday — but he cautioned that the president’s request for emergency funds will go nowhere if Democrats backpedal on support for expedited deportations.

“In order to resolve this crisis in a timely manner, however, the White House must engage both parties on constructive solutions,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement. “After first supporting common-sense changes to the 2008 law that is making it more difficult to resolve this crisis, the White House backpedaled and failed to include those changes in its formal request to Congress. Meanwhile, many Democrats in Congress have reversed themselves and now say no changes to the 2008 law are acceptable.

“As I said last week, I don’t believe the American people will support sending more money to the border unless both parties work together to address these policies and actually solve this problem,” he said.

“The lack of leadership from this White House, and President Obama’s refusal to stand up to critics in his own political party, are jeopardizing our ability to find common ground and help the kids who are caught in the middle of this crisis.” 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

Pelosi Still Supports Senate-Passed ENDA Despite Diminishing LGBT Support (Video)

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Pelosi still supports ENDA, despite the withdrawl of LGBT community support. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As advocacy groups withdraw support for a Senate-passed bill to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered employees from discrimination in the workplace, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signaled on Thursday that she was still prepared to support the legislation should it come to the House floor.

“I think it would be a great advancement,” the California Democrat said at her weekly news conference. “Everybody has to make an accommodation.”

A coalition of influential LGBT rights organizations jointly pulled endorsements earlier this week of the legislation, partly in protest of the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision. The Senate bill’s “conscience clause,” they said, is now too bitter a pill to swallow. Full story

Pelosi Slams Boehner Lawsuit of Obama (Video)

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Pelosi said the proposed Obama lawsuit is “subterfuge.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had stern words for Speaker John A. Boehner’s, R-Ohio, developing lawsuit targeting the president Thursday, dismissing the proposed action as “subterfuge” and “totally irresponsible.”

“It’s a distraction,” Pelosi said of an intended lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of overstepping his constitutional authority with the use of executive actions.

Boehner and House Republicans are still deciding which executive action they will sue the president for, but some conservatives are pushing House leaders to go a step further and bring forward articles of impeachment.

Pelosi, who noted she dealt with similar calls from Democrats in the later years of George W. Bush’s presidency, said she decided not to bring forward articles of impeachment on Bush because “it wasn’t something I wanted to put the country through.”

The California Democrat said Thursday that Bush had “sent us into war based on a false representation,” something she called “shameful, irresponsible and wrong,” but she said did not want to move forward with impeachment, “because of what it would mean for the American people.” Full story

July 2, 2014

Congressman: We Can’t Just Kick Them Off a Bus in Guatemala

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Farenthold, R-Texas, wants Congress to respond to the surge of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama deserves blame for much of the misery in overcrowded illegal immigrant facilities on the Southwest border, a conservative Texas congressman told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.

But “instant deportation,” Republican Blake Farenthold said, is no answer to the crisis.

The second-term congressman is part of a group of lawmakers taking a firsthand look this week at Texas facilities that have been stretched to the breaking point in recent weeks as thousands of Central American children and mothers have streamed across the border seeking asylum.

The sudden surge of young immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is a direct result of the president’s rhetoric on immigration, Farenthold said.

“He telegraphed a message that if you’re a kid, you’re gonna get to stay,” Farenthold explained.

But the Corpus Christi lawmaker, who before 2012 redistricting represented the area now at the center of national scrutiny, is also frustrated with many of his constituents — and even with some of his colleagues — who call for instant deportation of “alien” children.

“We can’t just take them to the town square in Guatemala and kick them off the bus,” Farenthold said. “I also make the point that, if I were to send my child on a journey this perilous, child protective services would be knocking on my door trying to take away custody of my children.

“Here’s the thing with border security,” he continued. “Let’s assume it’s 100 percent secure, we catch anybody who crosses the border within a mile of the border, alright? Even if we capture a child, we still have to do something with that child.”

The “national security” and “humanitarian crisis” elements of the child migrant border surge are different, according to Farenthold — a distinction that needs to be clear for both Republicans and Democrats as Congress reconvenes next week with just 16 legislative work days scheduled before the August recess.

Full story

July 1, 2014

Pelosi, Government Watchdogs Slam Ethics Committee Disclosure Change (Updated)

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Pelosi is critical of new rules on House travel. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:58 p.m. | Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on the House Ethics Committee to reverse a change regarding travel disclosure requirements, characterizing the new rule as a step in the direction of less transparency.

The statement came Tuesday afternoon, after a National Journal report on a change to members’ annual financial disclosure forms. Under the new guidance, members do not have to say on their yearly disclosure forms what trips they took and how much they cost.

Members still have to get pre-approval from the Ethics Committee before taking privately funded trips, and they have to fill out a post-travel disclosure form 15 days after a trip; that information is available in searchable form on the House Clerk’s website.

But Pelosi said Tuesday that while the Ethics Committee seems to want to simplify the disclosure process, “Congress must always move in the direction of more disclosure, not less.”

“If the Ethics Committee does not act, then we will call upon the Speaker to allow a vote on legislation to reverse this decision,” Pelosi said in her statement. “In the meantime, Members are encouraged to disclose such trips to both the Clerk and in their annual disclosures.”

But Speaker John A. Boehner’s staff didn’t think Pelosi or her staff had done their research.

A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, said Pelosi’s staff “needs to talk to her representative on the Ethics Committee, who signed off on this bipartisan change to reduce duplicative paperwork.”

In a rare public statement, the Ethics Committee staff director, Tom Rust, noted that members still needed prior approval from the Ethics Committee and still needed to file paperwork after the trip.

“Neither of those requirements has been changed or diluted in any way,” Rust said.

He also noted that it was the Committee’s nonpartisan staff who recommended the change to the financial disclosure forms. ”The Committee adopted these changes and publicly highlighted them on page 2 of the financial disclosure instructions, which were provided to all financial disclosure filers and posted on the Committee’s public web site months ago,” Rust said. “The Committee is committed to effective and efficient public disclosure, and will continue to look for opportunities to improve the public filings required of Members and staff.”

But even before the Ethics Committee could defend itself, government watchdog groups were already having a field day with the new guidance.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called the change a ”blatant attempt to avoid accountability.”

“The only Americans who would possibly be in favor of this change are members of Congress,” Sloan said in a release.

On the phone Tuesday, Sloan explained that she doesn’t believe the clerk’s office forms are as easily accessible as the financial disclosure forms. She also wasn’t buying the explanation that the annual forms were duplicative and therefore unnecessary, noting in an ironic tone that, “there’s never any duplication in the government.”

In 2007, the House mandated that members disclose their travel to the House clerk. Before that, the yearly report was the only official reporting mechanism available to the public.

Part of the reasoning for the Ethics Committee change may have its roots in those House rules adopted in 2007. House Rule XXV states that these trips should be considered gifts to the House, not individual members.

Still, Sloan wasn’t buying the argument.

“Whatever explanation they’re giving, the point is to decrease the accountability for these trips,” she said.

 

June 27, 2014

Members of Congress Heading for Border to Witness Child Migrant Crisis

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Goodlatte is taking a bipartisan delegation to the border next week to witness the child migrant crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The surge of unaccompanied immigrant children illegally crossing the southern border is drawing House lawmakers to the region for fact-finding visits during the July Fourth recess week.

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., a former immigration lawyer whose panel just convened a hearing on the issue, will lead a bipartisan group on a trip to the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border next week.

“Word has spread around the world about the Obama Administration’s lax immigration enforcement and administration legalization programs and it has encouraged thousands of children, teenagers, and families from Central America to come to the United States illegally and take advantage of this situation,” Goodlatte said in a statement announcing his upcoming visit. “Law enforcement officials who testified at the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week state that this surge shows no signs of stopping.” Full story

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

June 25, 2014

Voting Rights Rally Calls on Congress to Act

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Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., presides over the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Voting Rights Amendment Act on Wednesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One year after the Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, activists gathered outside the House to implore Congress to act.

Several House Democrats joined roughly 100 activists on a hot Wednesday afternoon to voice support for the Voting Rights Amendment Act. The rally followed a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill’s Senate counterpart.

“This court made a destructive and bad decision one year ago today,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as she gestured across First Street towards the Supreme Court.

“Within our power we have a bipartisan bill that doesn’t do everything,” said Pelosi, “But it does correct the decision of the court. We’re calling upon the Speaker of the House to give us our vote on this bill.”

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, told the crowd that the majority of the House would support the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., in January.

The bill addresses the high court’s 5-4 ruling that essentially struck down the core of the VRA pre-clearance requirement. Under the provision, several states, counties and cities were required to have any changes to election laws pre-approved by a federal court. The Supreme Court ruled that the method to determine which states were subject to pre-clearance was outdated and unconstitutional, putting the onus on Congress to modernize the formula.

Amending the VRA gained a surprising ally in Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The Virginia Republican voiced his support of congressional action to address the court’s decision shortly after the ruling.

But Cantor’s shocking loss earlier this month dampened prospects that a VRA rewrite will come to the floor of the House.

“I think Eric Cantor would have stepped forward in the best traditions of Judaism and tried to give people rights and opportunities,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., told CQ Roll Call after he spoke at the rally. “I think his defeat makes it less likely that Republicans will have that voice within their caucus.”

However, Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn, said Cantor’s defeat does not affect the likelihood of the VRA bill coming to the floor because Republicans generally oppose the legislation.

“I think he was slow-walking this thing the whole time,” said Clyburn, “and having him where he is helps the country focus the attention that it wasn’t Eric Cantor, it is the Republican philosophy” that kept this bill from advancing.

Throughout the rally, Democratic House members and activists focused their attention on Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, calling on him to hold a hearing on the bill.

“I think he is the stick in the spokes at this point in time,” Clyburn said of Goodlatte. The South Carolina Democrat said that he had not spoken with the chairman, but Goodlatte’s fellow Virginian, Democratic Rep. Robert C. Scott, has been talking with the chairman about the VRA issue.

 

Boehner Confirms He’ll Sue Obama Over Executive Actions (Video) (Updated)

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Boehner says the House will file a lawsuit to rein in Obama executive actions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 2:57 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio confirmed Wednesday that he will initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the House against President Barack Obama over the administration’s use of executive actions.

Boehner, saying he believes the president is ignoring laws passed by Congress, cast the move toward a lawsuit, which was first reported by Roll Call, as a continuation of the age-old struggle over the balance of powers among the three branches of government.

“This is about defending the institution in which we serve,” Boehner told reporters. “What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch. I believe the president is not faithfully executing the laws of our country, and behalf of the institution and our constitution, standing up and fighting for this is in the best long-term interest of the Congress.”

Full story

June 19, 2014

As Iraq Unravels, Boehner Calls for Obama’s Middle East Strategy (Video)

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Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday the White House needs a strategy to stop the violence in Iraq. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said he is looking to the White House to craft an overall strategy to quell the spread of terrorism in Iraq and the Middle East, which he said has been “exponentially” on the rise during President Barack Obama’s presidency.

His comments come a day after he met with the president at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., along with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and the top two Senate leaders, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Full story

Pelosi Downplays Missing IRS Emails While Boehner Calls for Answers (Video)

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Pelosi, D-Calif., says revelations that the IRS lost emails sought by Congress likely means the tax agency needs better computer equipment. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t appear to think that there was foul play in the Internal Revenue Service’s misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official at the center of the ongoing IRS scandal.

At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, the California Democrat said her takeaway from reports that Lerner’s emails have been lost forever was simply that the IRS needs to upgrade its technology infrastructure.

Full story

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