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April 25, 2014

Posts in "Progressives"

April 7, 2014

Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budget’s Impact on Poverty

hoyer093013 445x296 Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budgets Impact on Poverty

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The latest Ryan budget is no more likely than its predecessors to become law. But as with those those earlier documents, this year’s spending blueprint is giving both parties plenty of election-year ammunition.

Democrats, looking for some policy heft to leverage their political talking points, have asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the impact on poverty of Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal 2015 budget.

“Our budgets serve as an important tool for expressing Congress’s level of support for domestic anti-poverty initiatives and prioritizing investments in opportunity,” Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wrote in a Monday letter to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. “Such an analysis will aid Members of Congress in making an informed decision on whether Chairman Ryan’s budget will improve or worsen the state of poverty in America.”trans Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budgets Impact on Poverty

Full story

April 1, 2014

Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

dems004 011414 445x305 Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, April 2, 1:15 p.m. | In 2001, just shy of a decade in the House, Rep. Xavier Becerra suggested he was more of a policy wonk than a power broker.

“I understand the politics,” he told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “I’m not the best at playing the game.”

Thirteen years later, whether he was being self-effacing or somewhat disingenuous is debatable. But one thing’s become clear in the intervening decade: As a political operator, Becerra’s come into his own.

Full story

March 12, 2014

Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

GOP Caucus 3 010814 445x295 Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After two trips to the Deep South alongside civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat John Lewis, the pressure is on Eric Cantor to deliver on the Voting Rights Act.

The majority leader has made a major, personal investment in connecting to the civil rights movement — something that ultimately could prove important for a GOP that regularly polls in the single digits among African-Americans and poorly among other minorities.

But translating participation in the Faith and Politics Institute’s annual pilgrimage into legislative text that can win support from the bulk of the Republican Conference isn’t an easy task.

And so far, Cantor hasn’t laid out a clear path for a bill nine months after declaring his support for a congressional response to the Supreme Court decision striking down the VRA’s core enforcement mechanisms.

Democrats have signaled that they trust Cantor, a Virginia Republican, on this issue, and that the extent to which he is able to help advance a VRA fix depends largely on his ability to mobilize his flock, many of whom are hostile to the idea.

“A lot of what is happening on the other side of the aisle wouldn’t be happening if it were up to Cantor,” said the House’s No. 3 Democrat, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, adding that many far-right Republicans “relish in gumming up the works.”
Full story

February 24, 2014

Dingell Retirement Clears Way for Energy and Commerce Fight

Rep. John D. Dingell’s retirement clears the way for a head-to-head battle between Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California to ascend to the top slot of the Energy and Commerce Committee that Dingell held for decades.

The spot came open when Henry A. Waxman of California announced his own retirement. Dingell expressed a possible interest in running while Pallone and Eshoo quickly released statements saying they were in the race.

Dingell would have had an advantage in seniority but would have faced a tough fight. One reason his colleagues ousted him in exchange for Waxman in 2008 was because they preferred the latter lawmaker’s more liberal policy agenda, particularly on climate legislation.

Incidentally, Pallone was the first of the two to release a statement praising Dingell’s tenure — particularly his legislative milestones on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

“I wish him the best of luck and look forward to continuing to work together to improve public health and protect consumers and the environment,” Pallone said.

 

February 20, 2014

Steve King: I Was Right and I Won’t Apologize

king 052 100413 445x312 Steve King: I Was Right and I Wont Apologize

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve King not only isn’t sorry about his controversial comments about illegal immigrants, he’s taking credit for correcting other lawmakers’ statements.

In a recent interview with his local newspaper, the Spencer Daily Reporter, King deflected all criticism waged against him and stuck by his attempts to thwart efforts by House leaders on both sides of the aisle to move forward with an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

“I’m not going to apologize. What I’ve said is objectively true, and any time that Republicans have criticized me, it’s not because of what I said, it’s because they disagree with my agenda,” said King, whose interview was broadcast Thursday by the liberal blog Right Wing Watch.

He was responding to a reporter’s question about what King might say to fellow Republicans who are “upset with what they term the ‘harsh rhetoric’ of the strong right.”

King got considerable flak for comments he made this past summer about the immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents, the “DREAMers.”

“For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King told the conservative website Newsmax in July.

King alluded to that episode in his Daily Reporter interview, saying that the statement actually played a role in shaping the immigration rhetoric of the left.

“I’ve laid out, and sometimes I’ve made the point for years, and they weren’t listening,” King explained, “so I found another way to get them to pay attention. So for example, [Senate Majority Whip] Dick Durbin, as far as I know, no longer describes the dreamers as valedictorians. We’ve corrected that major flaw and sometimes we have to, otherwise it distorts the public’s understanding.”

He also likened pressure from his peers to soften his tone with a confrontation with a constituent during his days as an Iowa state senator:

“They cannot make a point about anything I’ve said that was anything other than true … I just remember when I was in a debate at Iowa State University back when I was in the State Senate, and it was about same-sex marriage. And one of the people … went to the microphone and he said, ‘why don’t you just be progressive and get with it like Holland?’ … And I said, ‘you’re asking me to emulate Holland? Why would I emulate Holland? … They have euthanasia and abortion and legalized drugs and prostitution,’ and when I said that he gasped into the microphone and I said, ‘what’s the matter? It’s true, isn’t it?’ And he kind of whimpered, ‘you didn’t have to say it that way.’

“Is it really true that we’re to this point in society that now if you disagree with someone, you don’t have the argument … you have to instead call names and criticize the utilization of the language?”

January 31, 2014

Gutierrez ‘Delighted’ by Boehner Immigration Push

gutierrez 028 100313 330x219 Gutierrez Delighted by Boehner Immigration Push

Gutierrez (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner’s immigration push was met with mixed reaction in his conference, but he has won over a key Democratic advocate for an overhaul: Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois.

Gutierrez said he was “delighted” to see the Republican push for an overhaul and called Boehner’s immigration principles “an excellent starting point” during a conference call Friday.

He cautioned his Democratic colleagues that they aren’t going to get everything they want, and if they press too hard for changes, they will wind up with ”no immigration reform at all.”

“Democrats are not the majority of the House of Representatives,” he noted. Full story

Waxman’s Retirement Spurs Race for his Committee Slot and a Slew of Speculation

waxman010914 330x212 Waxmans Retirement Spurs Race for his Committee Slot and a Slew of Speculation

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At the end of this year, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will lose another close ally — and fellow Californian, no less — in 40-year House veteran Henry A. Waxman.

Sources close to Democratic leadership say they don’t suspect that Waxman’s retirement, announced Thursday morning, will leave the same gaping hole in Pelosi’s carefully-curated inner circle as will the year-end departure of another 20-term California Rep., Education and the Workforce ranking member George C. Miller.

But his retirement will set off what Democratic aides expect to be a fierce competition for the party’s top seat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Full story

January 22, 2014

Polis Extends Colorado Cannabis Invite to Obama, Reid

polis0123141 445x295 Polis Extends Colorado Cannabis Invite to Obama, Reid

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Jared Polis wants President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to come see how Colorado is implementing its new marijuana legalization laws.

Polis, a Colorado Democrat and cheerleader of his state’s new legalized marijuana laws, told CQ Roll Call he wants the two leaders to “visit a regulated store and a growing operation with me to see our Colorado laws enforced. It’ll only reinforce their emerging beliefs when see what we’re doing in Colorado.”

In a letter that will be sent on Thursday, Polis extends the invite and thanks Obama and Reid for their “recent comments regarding your shifting positions on the regulation and legalization of marijuana.”

Obama recently said marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, and noted that minorities and low-income populations are disproportionately affected by marijuana criminalization. Reid last week said, “We waste a lot of time and law enforcement” on marijuana.

While Polis agrees that marijuana legalization is “not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution to the most pressing social problems of the day, and that it is a vice with potential negative health effects,” he did write that he was “confident that when you see Colorado’s work to implement the law while protecting children and raising revenue for our schools firsthand, we can begin to make similar efforts on a federal level.”

Polis ended his letter by noting that he looks forward to the president’s and the majority leader’s responses.

January 13, 2014

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

pelosi011314 445x296 With George Millers Retirement, Pelosi Will Lose Her Consigliere

(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.

November 15, 2013

House Passes Upton’s ‘If You Like It’ Obamacare Fix

cantor111513 445x294 House Passes Uptons If You Like It Obamacare Fix

A Republican proposal by Upton, second from right, to allow insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year passed the House on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House easily passed Republican legislation on Friday allowing insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year in response to President Barack Obama’s broken “if you like it, you can keep it” promise.

The bill passed 261-157 with all but four Republicans joined by 39 Democrats backing the bill sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. Those Democrats defected despite strong opposition from their party leadership and President Barack Obama, who, hours after the White House announced an administrative fix Thursday, vowed he would veto the Upton bill. Full story

November 13, 2013

House Democrats’ Frustration With Obamacare Rollout Reaches Fever Pitch

House Democrats emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning worn thin from arguing with White House officials over the bumpy rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

One source in the room described Democratic lawmakers from across the political spectrum — from moderates in vulnerable districts to progressives in safe seats — as frustrated with the administration in equal measure.

They pushed David Simas, the White House deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy, to account for the glitches on the enrollment website and for President Barack Obama’s unfulfilled promise to Americans that if they liked their health insurance policies, they could keep them, regardless of what changes would be ushered in by the new health care law.

“I think in diplomatic terms we had a frank discussion,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said. “I think there was a lot of frustration and in some cases anger vented towards the White House for their continued ham-fisted approach. It’s not just their credibility that’s on the line, but it’s our credibility.”

“Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it,’” said Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’ Full story

October 11, 2013

House Centrists Emerging From the Shadows

dent 285 093013 445x293 House Centrists Emerging From the Shadows

Dent is working with Democrats to attempt to get the two sides closer to a deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Late into the second week of the government shutdown, factions of House Democrats and Republicans were planting their flags all over Capitol Hill, holding noisy news conferences and staging elaborate demonstrations.

Drowned out from the warring rhetoric, however, were members of what Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., recently called “the political endangered species of Washington, D.C.”

He was talking about moderates, the members of both parties who have been squeezed from the negotiating tables since the 2010 election cycle, which shifted Republicans farther to the right and wiped out the once-prominent contingent of centrist Democrats.

The result, Costa and others agree, has been the breakdown of bipartisanship — a virtue extolled by Democrats and Republicans alike, but one that is difficult to achieve in such a partisan political environment.

It doesn’t mean lawmakers aren’t trying, especially after finding themselves in the midst of government shutdown and looming default.

New Democrat Coalition Chairman Ron Kind of Wisconsin and leading GOP moderate Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania rallied roughly 35 Democrats and Republicans around a proposal to pass a six-month continuing resolution at sequester levels while repealing the medical device tax created by the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition released a statement Wednesday calling on Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to “attack our nation’s larger debt and deficit problems head on.” Full story

September 27, 2013

Democrats Show Wiggle Room on CR Spending Level

pelosi009 092713 445x291 Democrats Show Wiggle Room on CR Spending Level

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats who once vigorously asserted that they would oppose the spending level in the House-passed continuing resolution are now signaling some flexibility.

It’s a sign of the political realities settling in, that the clock is ticking swiftly toward a potential government shutdown on Oct. 1 and neither party can identify how a compromise is reached.

At a news conference Friday morning, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reiterated that she and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., were in favor of passing a short-term spending bill above the CR’s current sequester level of $986 billion.

When asked how she felt about passing a bill at the sequester level even for 45 days, however, Pelosi demurred: “We’ll see what the Senate sends back to us.”

The Senate voted shortly after the conclusion of Pelosi’s briefing on legislation that would maintain those spending levels, run through Nov. 15 and omit language to defund the 2010 health care law. Full story

September 26, 2013

Democrats Struggle for Consensus on Immigration Strategy

House Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to introduce an amended version of the Senate-passed immigration overhaul bill in the coming weeks despite worries the move could alienate Republicans.

Though the strategy is designed to unite the minority party in building pressure on House Republican leadership, it is actually causing some fissures in the Democratic Caucus.

“I will join 200 other Democrats on a proposal, but let us understand something: If it is a proposal to unify Democrats, it’s a proposal to unify Democrats. It’s not bipartisan,” Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., said. “I want to continue to work with other Republicans … because we know this won’t be the ultimate bill.” Full story

September 23, 2013

Senators Should Replace Sequester, Progressive Caucus Leaders Urge

The co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus oppose the House-passed continuing resolution at $986 billion — and they want Democratic senators to join them.

As the Senate began consideration Monday of a CR to fund the government past Sept. 30, Democratic Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The letter, obtained by CQ Roll Call, urges senators to send back to the House a spending bill that, unlike the House measure, replaces automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.

“We join our leadership and colleagues in strong opposition to the sequester and the CR level that locks it in,” they wrote. “We urge you to do the same.”

McConnell is unlikely to heed the call. And while Reid doesn’t need to be convinced that the sequester is bad and the GOP is to blame, he has given no sign that he is looking to change the spending level in the bill. Instead, he is focused on removing House language defunding Obamacare. Plus, the White House signaled last week that it would sign a stopgap spending measure at sequester levels, providing some political cover for Democrats.

But the letter shows how hard a fight this could be in the House, where Democratic votes could make the difference between passage of a “clean” CR and a shutdown. Grijalva and Ellison are prepared to whip votes against a sequester-level CR among the 70-plus members of the Progressive Caucus, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., have also said they oppose the $986 billion level.

The full letter is here:

Full story

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