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October 31, 2014

Posts in "Pete Sessions"

September 30, 2014

Texas Congressman: More Doctors Needed in Congress

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Burgess wants more doctors participating in the nation’s health care decisions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael C. Burgess has a new goal: Bring more doctors to Congress.

Burgess, who is a doctor himself, is redirecting his Lone Star Leadership PAC to focus on helping doctors — and other health care professionals, such as nurses and hospital administrators, Burgess half-begrudgingly notes — become lawmakers.

Burgess told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday doctors need to take on a bigger role in health care policy decisions.

“Not only do they not have a seat at the table, they’re not even in the room,” Burgess said. “And they don’t even understand that they need to be in the room.”

To that end, the Texas Republican has launched what he is calling the “STAT Initiative.” (The name, he said, is meant to “imply the immediacy.”) Full story

July 24, 2014

After Fights Over Cuckoo Clocks and Billable Hours, Rules Panel Backs Resolution Allowing House to Sue Obama

rules005 071614 445x300 After Fights Over Cuckoo Clocks and Billable Hours, Rules Panel Backs Resolution Allowing House to Sue Obama

Slaughter and McGovern saw their attempts to amend the resolution rebuffed in the Rules Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Rules Committee, already known for not being a bastion of cross-party comity, devolved into significant partisan rancor Thursday morning over a resolution to allow the House to sue the president of the United States.

The panel advanced consideration of the measure in a party-line, 7-4, vote after nearly two hours of debate, with Democrats and Republicans accusing each other in turn of playing political games.

Democrats said Republicans’ pursuit of a lawsuit against Barack Obama for making unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act after the law was passed, with Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts accusing his GOP counterparts of acting out of “hatred” for the president and at one point calling the Republicans “cuckoo clocks.” Full story

July 16, 2014

Watch Live: House Rules Committee Hearing on Proposed Lawsuit of President Barack Obama

The House Rules Committee holds a hearing on initiating a House lawsuit against President Barack Obama over failing to enforce the Affordable Care Act.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. and you can watch live below:

June 13, 2014

FreedomWorks Wants Labrador for Majority Leader

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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 12, 2014

Pete Sessions Drops Out of Majority Leader Race, Clearing Way for Kevin McCarthy (Updated)

sessions 312 102913 445x296 Pete Sessions Drops Out of Majority Leader Race, Clearing Way for Kevin McCarthy (Updated)

House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions in his office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:49 p.m. | Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas has dropped out of the race to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader, helping clear a path for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California to ascend to the No. 2 post in the House.

Sessions stressed party unity in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

“After thoughtful consideration and discussion with my colleagues, I have made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader. Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party. At this critical time, we must remain unified as a Republican Conference. As always, I stand ready and willing to work with our team to advance the conservative agenda that the American people demand and deserve.”

McCarthy was heavily favored to beat Sessions in the race, quickly lining up support while the Texas delegation wrangled over whether to back Sessions or Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling.

Hensarling announced Thursday morning that he wouldn’t be running for the position.

A group of conservative lawmakers told CQ Roll Call Thursday they still wanted an alternative candidate to McCarthy — and Sessions for that matter — and were expecting to announce one soon.

When CQ Roll Call raised the possibility of Raúl R. Labrador, one lawmaker in the group called it “an astute guess.”

A source familiar with Labrador’s thinking said a lot of members were encouraging the Idaho Republican to run for the position.

But any bids at this point would be very long shots at best — and the focus will now turn to the wide open races down ballot — especially for McCarthy’s whip job.

Sessions’ campaign started just hours after Cantor’s stunning primary loss Tuesday to Dave Brat.

Sessions, who has a deep contact list from his two stints as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was texting members past 2 a.m., asking for their early support.

By Wednesday, he was the first candidate officially in the race to be majority leader, and he was already looking to cast himself as the conservative alternative to McCarthy, who had not announced his candidacy for Majority Leader but was all-but-certain to jump in the race as soon as Cantor announced his resignation.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon in his Rules Committee office, Sessions told CQ Roll Call that he already had a whip team, and he was already lining up commitments.

But looming over his candidacy was Hensarling, who was largely seen as a more conservative and viable opponent to McCarthy.

Sessions made it clear from the outset that he had no interest in squaring off against his fellow Texan.

“Certainly,” Sessions said of Hensarling Wednesday afternoon, “it’s not in our best interest to run against each other.”

The Texas GOP delegation, a close-knit group which operates more like a family, decided to hold a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the race. Both Sessions and Hensarling said their piece, and members left it up to them to decide who would run.

But by Thursday morning, Hensarling had decided it was not the “right office at the right time,” clearing the way for Sessions to be the Texas candidate.

Sessions went before a group of Southern Republicans to make his pitch, and his campaign was in full swing.

Still, speculation swirled throughout the Capitol that Sessions might still step aside. McCarthy was piling up commitments, and his ascension to the Majority Leader post looked imminent.

Sessions stayed positive, however. He met with his fellow Texans at their weekly Thursday lunch, and his fellow Texans emerged from their lunch of Tortilla Coast and Blue Bell ice cream swearing monolithic support for Sessions.

“Pete Sessions is running for Majority Leader, and I think Pete Sessions will be the next Majority Leader,” said the delegation’s dean, Joe L. Barton.

When a reporter asked him if all 24 Texas Republicans would be voting for Sessions, Barton declared that question “asinine.”

In Barton’s mind, there was no question that they would all support Sessions.

As the day went on, however, the math looked worse for Sessions. McCarthy continued to collect votes, with allies claiming the California Republican already had a majority of the conference solidly swearing their support.

Sessions began to see the writing on the wall. And, according to his staff, ever the good Eagle Scout, Sessions sought unity over division, and he didn’t think his continued presence in the race would help the party.

He decided to call it quits.

Related stories:

Cantor Quake Sets of GOP Leadership Fights

Leadership Shuffle Begins After Cantor Shocker

Dave Brat: 11 Things to Know

Republican Senate Primary Challengers Jump on Eric Cantor Loss

Eric Cantor’s Defeat Was in the Immigration Tea Leaves

10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker

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Paul Ryan Endorses McCarthy for Majority Leader

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Ryan is endorsing McCarthy to succeed Cantor. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is quickly sweeping up endorsements a week ahead of elections to succeed outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

On Thursday morning, Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said he would put his support behind McCarthy for the job, a Ryan spokesman confirmed to CQ Roll Call. His seal of approval will go a long way, as Ryan is one of the most influential members of the House Republican Conference who has himself been vaunted as a plausible candidate to fill Cantor’s shoes — including by the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

McCarthy has already been publicly backed by Cantor, as the current No. 2 Republican answered questions from reporters following his press conference Thursday afternoon.

It is looking like McCarthy will be facing off against House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who might get strong showings of support from the sizable delegation of the Lone Star State, after Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, dropped out of the running.

Hensarling Won’t Run for Leadership, Leaving Sessions to Take on McCarthy

Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas will not run to be majority leader, disappointing many House members who saw him as the conservative and Southern alternative to the current slate of elected leaders. His fellow Texan, Pete Sessions, is still in the race against Kevin McCarthy of California.

“Although I am humbled by the calls, emails, and conversations from my colleagues encouraging me to return to leadership for the remainder of the 113th Congress, I will not be a candidate for Majority Leader next week,” Hensarling said in a statement.  “After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family. I look forward to working with the new Majority Leader to fight for a freer, stronger, more prosperous America as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and the Representative of the Fifth District of Texas.”

Hensarling’s decision to bow out of the race strengthens McCarthy’s hand. The majority whip has already established a strong whip operation touting his candidacy, and secured the backing of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as Hensarling dropped out. The other man in the race is Sessions, the Rules Committee chairman. Although he can likely attract votes from his sizable home-state delegation, it will be difficult for him to overcome McCarthy’s supporters, who are already swarming Capitol Hill on his behalf. Full story

June 11, 2014

Cantor Quake Sets Off GOP Leadership Fights

House Republicans quickly sloughed off the shock of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat and were immediately thrust into a weeklong, all-out sprint for power.

Next Thursday’s vote for new leadership will have ripple effects that touch every aspect of House policymaking, messaging and scheduling.

Republicans are hoping for a quick transition, counting on the chaos of this week’s unexpected primary results to give way to unity and a new leadership team. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio called on his conference to come together, even as internal elections are sure to tear them apart for the next week.

“This is the time for unity; the time for focus — focus on the thing we all know to be true: The failure of Barack Obama’s policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future,” he told his conference in a private meeting Wednesday night. Full story

Immigration Overhaul Prospects Dim in Wake of Cantor’s Defeat (Video)

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Immigration overhaul may be on life support after Cantor’s loss. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The jury’s still out on whether Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary Tuesday night because he was perceived by voters to be in support of rewriting the country’s immigration laws.

But by Wednesday afternoon, there was at least growing consensus that the Virginia Republican’s defeat at the hands of tea-party-backed challenger Dave Brat significantly complicated prospects for passing overhaul legislation this year.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., one of the GOP’s most dogged and optimistic advocates for moving on the issue in the 113th Congress, suddenly said he had no idea how to go forward, with members spooked and the leadership structure suddenly in flux.

“This clearly doesn’t help our cause,” he told reporters. “It throws a wrench in it.”

Full story

Sessions Ramps Up Campaign for Majority Leader

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House Rules Committee Chairman Sessions is lobbying to replace Cantor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As of Wednesday afternoon, there was only one member officially in the race to be the next majority leader: Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas.

Sessions sat down with CQ Roll Call in his Rules Committee office Wednesday afternoon for about a half hour to discuss the race and his desire to be majority leader — and it’s clear that his campaign operation is in full swing.

Sessions was up past 2 a.m. texting members, asking for their support — he already has a whip team — and members were calling during the interview to discuss the race.

“Our conference wants and needs to be successful,” Sessions said. “This is a period of time that we have not chosen, it happened to us, and we are substantially seen in favorable terms against the Democrats, and we need to continue listening to the American people and responding accordingly to win their confidence.”

But Sessions’s campaign may be short-lived, if another Texan like Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling gets in the mix. The Texas Republicans, who meet every Thursday for lunch, were holding a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss the race.

“Certainly,” Sessions said of Hensarling, “it’s not in our best interest to run against each other.”

Still, Sessions said, “As a result of my work last night, I’ve received a gracious number of people that I thought were available and, in fact, have come to my side.” Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:04 p.m.
Pete Sessions

May 30, 2014

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

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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

May 7, 2014

House Rules Committee Hearing on Benghazi Select Committee (Live Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Rules Committee holds a hearing on establishing a special committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

You can watch the hearing, which begins at 2 p.m. today, below:



Democrats Split on Benghazi Panel, GOP Full Speed Ahead

Benghazi Panel Will Have 7 Republicans, 5 Democrats

Benghazi Committee: Democrats Warn Boehner About Partisan Makeup

Reid Says There Will Be No Senate Committee to Investigate Benghazi (Video) 

DNC Chairwoman: Benghazi Committe a ‘Political Ploy’

December 30, 2013

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.

Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story

November 6, 2013

A Conversation With Pete Sessions — 7 Outtakes

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, sat down with your 218 hosts last week to talk shutdown policy, electoral politics, Eagle Scouts and bipartisan pie. It was an hour full of colorful anecdotes and noteworthy perspectives laid out against the backdrop of a roaring fire — but not everything could make it into our profile of the Rules Committee chairman.

So the blog is sharing seven outtakes, which we hope give you an even deeper look at the lawmaker.

1) On the reports that he told President Barack Obama, in a closed-door meeting at the White House, “I cannot even stand to look at you”:

“I didn’t ask for an apology,” Sessions said. “I didn’t ask for anything.”

Calling the event “most regrettable” and “untrue,” he paraphrased what he really told the president.

“It’s just real simple. I told the president I believe that leaders, this issue, will require leadership, and that means a person bringing their full attention to the matter. … You lead people away from danger. You lead people away from chaos. You lead people to consensus. You lead people to where they can be successful.”

2) On the differences between being the Rules Committee chairman and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, a role he held for two terms:

“[As NRCC chairman] you tend to look at everybody’s votes. I look at the demeanor of the floor now. I’d like us to keep this to where we aren’t viewed in a way that’s a fist fight. And I think what we do up here has a direct relationship to the floor. … With every new job comes a new responsibility. And I think my responsibility is to a collegiality on the floor of the House of Representatives. And you will rarely see me lead an attack or an assault. You will see me on the floor trying to work with people, trying to acknowledge ideas.”

3) Sessions thinks how he runs the Rules Committee has a direct correlation to public opinion of the House of Representatives, but he said low approval ratings might have to do with the days of Democratic control.

“That’s why I so desperately wanted to replace the Democrats who wouldn’t allow debate, who would pass bills without reading them, who would not allow the debate nor allow members to come up and give testimony and would announce ahead of time what the outcome would be. So yeah, I hated it, I detested that as a member.”

4) On the question of whether Rules is Session’s committee or leadership’s committee:

“This team here is the speaker’s team, but it’s my team, too, and it’s up to me to get us to understand what we’re doing. There’s nothing worse than doing something where you can’t ask questions or you don’t know what it is, and we’ve got a very smart and savvy group of people. Look, we may be up here to bust a lot of rocks but I want us to understand why we’re up here what we’re doing and what the practical effect is. … No one else has to do this and these men and women are on the firing line. You bet they are.”

5) On his relationship with Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., the Rules Committee ranking member and who was a longtime panel chairwoman:

“I believe that Louise and I sincerely have a good understanding about what her role was and what my role is and I respect the heck out of her. And I know she knows I want to work with her. I’ll even show up down at her office to meet with her … [and] she brought a pie up here to us. Notwithstanding she’s married, I am too, we like each other.”

6) Protesting the rejection of his amendment to the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, Rules Committee Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts demanded the panel take roll call votes on 86 separate amendments he wanted considered on the House floor. Late into the night and halfway through the exercise, Sessions said McGovern’s behavior “makes me wonder if someone has been drinking tonight.”

Sessions immediately remembered the incident:

“I encouraged somebody to be less agitated and more thoughtful. That’s all I was trying to do. At the end of the hour, I figured out he was in it for the long haul. So I kind of, I guess you could say, I cut through the bullshit real fast, didn’t I? I will cut through bullshit real fast. Well, I’ll call bullshit where it exists.”

7) On being an Eagle Scout and being inspired by the resilience and determination of his son who has Down syndrome:

“There are qualities of leadership that were learned there about how you work with people, how you set standards, how you are honest about what you’re doing, and if you’re a leader, you lead. You’ve been given that responsibility, otherwise call yourself just a normal person. If you’re a leader, you have to do things. My scouting background taught me of how important people are. Diversity of views. Having a disabled son. He wanted things just as much as I did.”

He pointed to a picture of his son on his office wall.

“I mean, back there, see, where he’s got that sash on? He wanted that sash because big boys wear it. But he had to earn it. And he wanted that sash more than anything. And he, even as a young man who may not be able to think and do things, he was really focused on that. And really proud of that.”

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

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