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January 30, 2015

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January 5, 2015

GOP Ready to Move On From Scalise Scandal

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., participates in the press conference announcing House GOP leadership for upcoming session of Congress  on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans are sticking with Scalise. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders are hopeful there will be enough distractions at the start of the 114th Congress to deflect attention from Majority Whip Steve Scalise and his 2002 meeting with a white supremacist group.

But just how quickly the embarrassment goes away depends on how much members in both parties insist on talking about it — and whether there are any details of the incident that have yet to be uncovered. Full story

December 23, 2014

In New Role on Capitol Hill, Duppler Goes From ‘Outsider’ to ‘Insider’

House Republicans hired Duppler away from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans hired Duppler away from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a town where everyone wants to be heard, a big part of Mattie Duppler’s job is to listen.

Duppler, who made a name for herself as the director of budget and regulatory policy for Americans for Tax Reform, is the new coalitions director for the House Republican Conference. Full story

December 19, 2014

The Friday Before Christmas, a Quieter House

pitol grounds crew workers prepare the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in preparation for the lighting ceremony scheduled for Dec. 2nd. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2014 CQ Roll Call, Inc.

It was the week before Christmas, and things were quiet all through the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Incoming Rep. Barry Loudermilk said he was surprised anybody at all was on Capitol Hill on Dec. 19, the last Friday before Christmas.

The Georgia Republican, who had returned to the gift shop in the Longworth House Office Building hoping to retrieve some misplaced paperwork, told CQ Roll Call he was only around to do a bit of housekeeping in advance of the first day of the 114th Congress in January. Full story

November 20, 2014

New RSC Chairman: Don’t Look for Public Fights With Boehner

UNITED STATES - JUNE 12: Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to introduce border security legislation titled "Support More Assets, Resources and Technology on the Border of 2013." The bill would allow for the employment of additional border officers and a temporary deployment of the National Guard if Congress deems that operational control of the U.S. southern borders is not established. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Flores envisions a less combative RSC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Good news for Speaker John A. Boehner: The next Republican Study Committee chairman wants to work with him — and he doesn’t want any public fights.

In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday, newly elected RSC Chairman Bill Flores laid out a vision for a more collaborative, less publicly combative RSC. For a preview of how he intends to run the conservative group, he points to the mission statement: The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government, a strong national defense, the protection of individual and property rights, and the preservation of traditional family values.

Time and again, Flores returned to the mission statement as the guiding document of his chairmanship. The RSC creed has been a hot topic for Flores since he told Breitbart News that, according to the mission statement, it’s not the RSC chairman’s role to hold the greater GOP caucus leadership accountable.

The 170-member caucus of conservative Republicans in the House has been a springboard in recent years for former chairmen — such as Louisian’s Steve Scalise, who is now House GOP whip, and Texas’ Jeb Hensarling, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Flores, a 60-year-old Texas Republican, ran for RSC chairman on a platform of working with leadership. And now that he’s been elected to the position over his more conservative competition — Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Louie Gohmert of Texas — he is further emphasizing his less confrontational approach.

“To the extent that we have differences with our leadership, rather than airing those differences in public, we will keep those private,” Flores said.

The incoming chairman said there was “pretty good alignment” between what GOP leadership wants to do and what the RSC wants to do. “And so our goal is to put forth the most positive, achievable solutions and ask our leadership to do that,” Flores said. “And we’ll be pushy. I just don’t intend to do it in a public forum, unless our membership desires that we do that publicly.”

Asked about the members of the RSC who might want to see their chairman publicly prodding leadership toward more conservative proposals, Flores returned to the mission statement.

“If the membership of the Republican Study Committee wants to change the mission statement to say that part of our mission is to be publicly pushy with our leadership, I’m willing to fulfill the mission statement,” he said. “I signed on as chair to fulfill the mission statement, whatever it is.”

He reiterated that the 34-word proclamation, as it is currently written, is not to be “pushy” with leadership, “or to be banging on our leadership,” and he returned to the document of intent when asked about outside conservative groups that have sometimes been a thorn in Boehner’s side.

“The mission statement doesn’t say anything about working with the outside groups,” Flores said.

He said some of these groups were doing “great work” for the country and had missions to advance a conservative vision.

“But, in some ways, I think that they are — some of them, I believe, have other missions,” he said. “And that is to raise money. They have missions to primary Republicans.”

Flores noted that he’d like to work with them as much as he can, but said his “primary responsibility” was to work with our RSC membership, “not to work with the outside groups.”

Pressed on whether groups such as Heritage Action and Club for Growth had been forces for good for Republicans in Congress, Flores gave a mixed message: “Sometimes they have and sometimes they’ve been less helpful.”

Overall, Flores emphasized advocating for achievable solutions, and he said the RSC would put forward proposals that would appeal to more than just conservatives.

He argued that Republicans needed to address sequestration to protect the Defense Department from the automatic spending cuts, and he said that he, personally, would like to see some sort of border security bill.

“The challenge as the chair is to be able to get as many of what I think will be 185 members on our roster, to come to a common set of ideals as we move forward in the next Congress,” he said.

 

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November 19, 2014

Messy Fight for Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Slot (Updated)

Brown, left, and Walz, center, are vying for the ranking member position on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Brown, left, and Walz, center, each are vying for the ranking member position on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:28 a.m. | Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota thought there would be a vote after Thanksgiving on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member race. As it turns out, his face-off against Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida will happen on Wednesday.

It gives Walz less time than he and his allies said they anticipated to build support around his uphill challenge of Brown, who benefits from seniority and the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member.

Before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee can meet to vote on a recommendation to the full House Democratic Caucus, Walz will have to clear an additional hurdle: A vote on whether he is even eligible to hold the post.

Walz is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress and has had a seat at the Veterans’ Affairs Committee table since 2007. He is, however, on the committee via waiver, and his opponents say it doesn’t qualify him to run against Brown, who after nearly two decades on the committee is next in line to succeed the current retiring ranking member, Michael H. Michaud of Maine. Full story

October 15, 2014

Retiring Bachmann Signals She’s Still in the Game

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann spoke Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Michele Bachmann may be retiring at the end of this year, but the woman who rose to prominence by founding the Congressional Tea Party Caucus in 2010 and running for president in 2012 isn’t leaving Washington, D.C., quietly.

In a speech and brief question-and-answer session Wednesday morning at the Heritage Foundation — billed as one of her last public speaking engagements as a member of the House of Representatives — the Minnesota Republican refreshed her audience on the history of the tea party movement and made a case for continuing the fight against higher taxes and bigger government.

But Bachmann also made a handful of policy recommendations that indicate she plans to remain engaged in the political debate, albeit from outside Capitol Hill.

Full story

September 17, 2014

Pelosi Backs Obama, but Says ‘We Just Don’t Whip War Votes’ (Video)

 UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 11: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly on camera press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi: “We just don’t whip war votes.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders aren’t whipping votes on the continuing resolution and an amendment to give President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the terrorist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi used her regularly-scheduled Wednesday morning news conference to make an impassioned case for members to support their president.

“I don’t know how the vote will turn out,” the California Democrat said. “It’s not a vote we whip. We just don’t whip war votes. But I do think that, as members weigh the factors, that they will, I think, give points to the president for all that he has done, diplomatically, politically, humanitarian-wise and ask for this distinct piece.” Full story

August 20, 2014

Paul Ryan Rules Out Another Government Shutdown

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wi. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call Fast File)

Ryan, kicking off his book tour in Philadelphia, ruled out another government shutdown. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

PHILADELPHIA — House Republicans won’t shut down the government in September, Heritage Action is “constructive at the end of the day” and a person can write a book without necessarily running for president.

Those were some of the points Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., hit home during an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call Wednesday afternoon from the ornate Union League Building in downtown Philadelphia.

The House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee was in the city to kick-off a 10-day national tour promoting his new book, which hit the stands Tuesday.

“The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” is part-memoir, part-sweeping policy proposal, and Ryan will be spending some of the waning days of August recess touting it in Wisconsin, Chicago, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and California.

Full story

August 4, 2014

Marlin Stutzman’s Long Game

Stutzman arrived in 2010, and is building relationships with years in mind. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Stutzman first arrived in 2010, and has bigger-picture goals that are years in the making. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Marlin Stutzman knows how to plant seeds.

When the Indiana Republican mounted his campaign for majority whip, it was such a long shot he didn’t expect to win — at least not this time.

No one else really expected Stutzman to prevail in the three-way leadership contest, either. But he’s looking years down the road, and is glad he took the gamble.

“Some people are afraid to lose. … Sometimes you have to lose in order to build something for the future,” Stutzman told CQ Roll Call during an hourlong interview in his 7th floor Longworth office.

It’s a lesson he knows well, as a member who entered the House in November 2010 after losing the Indiana Republican Senate primary to Dan Coats in May of that year.

Stutzman, who calls himself “an overachieving farmer,” didn’t see much downside to running and losing. This race was more about getting his name out there to let his colleagues know he’s interested in leadership.

His goal was to build relationships within the GOP conference. Stutzman said a lesson he learned from his scramble into leadership elections was that the conference is not as divided as many think, that the differences are more over strategy than policy.

So what does Stutzman want? The fourth-generation soybean, green bean and seed corn farmer doesn’t exactly seem to know.

Full story

July 9, 2014

Uncertain Future for Next Week’s Highway Trust Fund Extension Vote

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Camp, R-Mich., will lead a Thursday markup of legislation to extend the Highway Trust Fund (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House GOP leadership is prepared to push ahead on legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund from looming insolvency, with a vote expected on the chamber floor next week.

It all depends, however, on the reception to the new proposal, already being met with some skepticism from key lawmakers and influential outside groups. The House will also have to reconcile its work with that of the Senate, which is taking a different track.

And the clock is ticking quickly down to the August recess. Full story

June 23, 2014

Jockeying Begins for Republican Study Committee (Updated)

Mulvaney is one of the candidates hoping to run the Republican Study Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mulvaney is among the lawmakers mounting a bid for the Republican Study Committee chairmanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:58 p.m. | Two high-profile GOP leadership races have just ended, but a new one’s just getting started.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was elected on June 19 to ascend to the majority whip’s office on Aug. 1, which means the Republican Study Committee will have an opening for a new chairman — and ambitious candidates hoping to emerge as the House’s next conservative leader are ready to start campaigning. Full story

June 17, 2014

Hoyer: Only Hensarling Blocking Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

Hensarling (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hensarling, R-Texas, doesn’t like the Export-Import Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s only “one member of the Republican Party” holding up reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, according to Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer: Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt [he’s] the one holding it up,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters at his weekly press briefing Tuesday morning. “It’s not an impression. It’s a fact.”

Hoyer went on to say that House GOP leaders, particularly outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, want to reauthorize the institution designed to help U.S. companies finance goods for sale overseas. The two lawmakers actually worked closely together at the time of the last reauthorization to bring a bill to the floor, Hoyer said.

Opponents of the Ex-Im Bank dismiss the institution as an anachronistic corporate slush fund rife with cronyism, and they have an ally in Hensarling, who heads up the committee of jurisdiction.

Full story

June 13, 2014

FreedomWorks Wants Labrador for Majority Leader

Rep. Raul Labrador said he's "actually" proud of Speaker Boehner's handling of the shutdown and debt limit crisis. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Raul R. Labrador, R-Idaho, could run for majority leader. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Momentum is growing for a Majority Leader Raúl R. Labrador.

The Idaho Republican and current rank-and-file congressman is being courted by conservative colleagues and outside groups to get into the race for the No. 2 House Republican slot.

On Friday, the tea party affiliated advocacy group FreedomWorks entered the fray, calling on its members to rally together to urge Labrador to take on Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., currently the only declared candidate to succeed outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who unexpectedly lost his primary Tuesday night. 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

June 9, 2014

What’s Next for Pot in Congress?

This photo from the Roll Call archives showcases how long legalized pot advocates have been pushing for medical marijuana.

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

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