Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2014

Posts in "Progressives"

July 29, 2014

Advocates Grade Congress on Immigration (Updated)

immigration 306 072814 445x313 Advocates Grade Congress on Immigration (Updated)

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 23, 2014

House GOP Forges Ahead on Border Funding Legislation With No Clear Endgame

rogers091013 445x317 House GOP Forges Ahead on Border Funding Legislation With No Clear Endgame

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:06 p.m. | House Republicans laid out their requirements for President Barack Obama’s border crisis spending request Wednesday: National Guard troops, more judges for expedited deportations and changes to a 2008 trafficking law that would make it easier to send Central American minors home.

But with little more than a week before lawmakers are supposed to leave town for the August recess, Democrats digging in against changing the 2008 law, and some conservatives complaining the deportation provisions aren’t harsh enough, it’s not clear GOP leaders have the votes needed to send their bill to the Senate.

Throughout the day Wednesday, GOP leaders, appropriators and stakeholder members huddled with colleagues to corral support for a possible $1.5 billion bill — the White House originally asked for $3.7 billion — to fund enforcement agencies that have been stretched thin by the overwhelming surge of Central American migrants in southern Texas.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, no formal piece of legislation had been introduced and no decisions had been made as to whether the GOP’s funding proposal and its separate policy provisions would be contained in one package or two.

Appropriations Democrats had not even been briefed on the details of a spending package, according to a Democratic committee aide.

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., told reporters: “When the leadership lays out the plans for timing of what we do, we’ll be ready. … It’s pretty close to being ready.”

Meanwhile, a sizable number of rank-and-file Republicans said Wednesday that doing nothing at all would be better than passing legislation the Democrat-controlled Senate would likely make more lenient on undocumented immigrants — or that Obama would just ignore like he has, they say, with other laws on the books.

“We like her ideas,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., of the recommendations put forth by Kay Granger, R-Texas, the chairwoman of the specially appointed GOP working group tasked with coming up with the border recommendations. “The problem is, if we pass them, they’ll be gone.” Full story

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 16, 2014

One Day Closer to Recess and Still No House Border Funding Bill

rogers 018 070913 445x296 One Day Closer to Recess and Still No House Border Funding Bill

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House wrapped up Wednesday, one day closer to the August recess and still with no clear indication of when Republicans will unveil their response to President Barack Obama’s emergency funding request for $3.7 billion for the Texas border crisis.

But lawmakers insisted the framework for their border funding bill is beginning to crystallize.

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., confirmed that the plan was still to move through the chamber a single package providing both policy changes and financial assistance.

“We’re ready on the money part,” Rogers told reporters. “We’ve got to craft it, we’ve got to get it scored and do all of those things, but as soon as we get the final policy inserts, we can go pretty quick.”

Full story

July 15, 2014

Border Funding Request Takes Shape in House

granger 194 052014 330x236 Border Funding Request Takes Shape in House

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

June 26, 2014

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 11, 2014

Watch Live: House Armed Services Hearing on Bowe Bergdahl Exchange

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing Wednesday on President Barack Obama’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Department of Defense General Counsel Stephen Preston will testify about the swap.

The hearing, “The May 31, 2014 Transfer of Five Senior Taliban Detainees,” begins at 10 a.m.

May 8, 2014

DCCC Chairman Ponders His Future — With No Clear Seat at Leadership Table

israel001 040214 445x292 DCCC Chairman Ponders His Future — With No Clear Seat at Leadership Table

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Israel doesn’t want another tour of duty as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Let me think about it,” the New York Democrat told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview, feigning indecision for just an instant before delivering the punch line. “No! No. No. No.”

He exhaled with a long, loud laugh, and then grew serious.

“I very much want to continue being in leadership,” he said. “But three terms is a bad idea for our caucus. You need fresh blood.”

Israel has registered these sentiments with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but conversations have pretty much ended there for the time being. After all, Israel said, he has a majority to try and win back in November before he can stop and think about what might come next for him.

But once the dust settles from Election Day, Israel will be left at a career crossroads. He wants a seat at a leadership table without an empty chair: The “Big Five” slate of caucus chairman, vice chairman, whip, leader and assistant leader is likely to remain static in the 114th Congress.

Pelosi could use her influence to keep Israel relevant through the next few years by securing him a special position, but sources tell CQ Roll Call she could face backlash from members growing uneasy about her pattern of playing favorites.

Ultimately, it might be Israel’s choice: taking on another grueling two years of activity at the DCCC through what might be a better cycle in a presidential election year, or return to being a member of the rank and file.

While he insists he isn’t kept awake at night obsessing over the if-then’s, he must know that his short-term political future is drawing a blank — and that he could become a cautionary tale for what happens to ambitious members of the House Democratic Caucus who suddenly find themselves with little room to grow.

Full story

April 29, 2014

Rangel: Tea Party Does Not ‘Believe the Union Won’ Civil War (Video)

rangel013 020414 Rangel: Tea Party Does Not Believe the Union Won Civil War (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

During the Congressional Black Caucus’ special order hour on the House floor Monday night, Rep. Charles B. Rangel hammered the tea party not only for embracing the Confederate flag, but also for hating President Barack Obama “as much as their [Dixiecrat] predecessors probably hated Abe Lincoln.”

“[In] some parts of the United States of America they don’t believe that the Union won. The reason I come to that conclusion is that … I have never seen so many Confederate flags that represent groups that are proud of the fact that they call themselves the Tea Party,” the New York Democrat said during his 10-minute floor speech, referring to an event he attended with President Ulysses S. Grant’s great-great-grandson. “They’re from that part of the country that the states owned slaves.”

 

 

Rangel, the second most senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has pushed the White House to do more to combat poverty and inequality. The Senate recently passed an extension of unemployment benefits and there are new signs  the House may take up legislation on an immigration overhaul.

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

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