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April 24, 2014

Posts in "Republicans"

April 22, 2014

Brain Drain: Self-Imposed Term Limits Shuffle Committees, House GOP Leadership

 

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Kline is among the Republicans who could be forced to hand over a gavel given self-imposed term limits, though he may receive a waiver. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans are facing a brain drain of historic proportions atop their committees — as many as half of their chairmen could be forced to step down next year, thanks to a 20-year-old rule.

The shakeup is due mostly to the GOP’s self-imposed limit, adopted in 1994, on how long a Republican congressman can chair a committee. It’s a policy that is widely popular within the Republican Conference, but is increasingly being questioned by members losing their gavels.

The impending shuffle will do little to change the demographics of the Republican leadership structure — almost all of the white men leading the committees will be replaced by other white men. But critics say the debate is about more than optics. Term limits, they say, effectively sideline some of the party’s most effective legislators.  

“You want the best person in the job and I just think to have an arbitrary term limit cuts into that,” said Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., a former Homeland Security Committee chairman and a longtime opponent of the practice. “Term limits are anti-democratic. You’re telling voters they can’t vote for someone they want to vote for.”

Proponents, however, say the negatives associated with limiting chairmen or ranking members to three terms are outweighed by the positives  of keeping committees vital with fresh ideas and preventing a small group of members from consolidating too much power. Full story

April 17, 2014

Pelosi: Republican Inaction on Unemployment Extension ‘Immoral’

 

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called House Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on extending unemployment benefits “unconscionable” and “immoral.”

In a letter thanking Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, for their support on the issue, Pelosi, D-Calif., urged the House to take action on a bill that passed the Senate last week.

“It is unconscionable that the House has not acted to renew emergency unemployment insurance,” she wrote. “Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high.”

Full story

April 11, 2014

Highway Bill Could Consume Petri’s Last Months in Congress

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Rep. Tom Petri (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tom Petri announced Friday that he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he’s poised to go out with a legislative bang — or a whimper.

The 73-year-old Wisconsin Republican’s last eight months on Capitol Hill will likely be consumed with negotiations over legislation to reauthorize funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs in his role as chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction.

The stakes are high for a six-year reauthorization after 2012 efforts to pass a long-term transportation bill fell short and the fiscal health of the Highway Trust Fund is in deep peril. Full story

April 10, 2014

Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi, IRS (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.

During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.

The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.

Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.

Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.

Watch the full press conference below:

Jindal Calls on McAllister to Resign

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McAllister, as his family looks on, at his mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The chorus calling on Rep. Vance McAllister to resign is growing.

First, on Thursday, it was Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who said McAllister has “got decisions to make,” then it was the chairman of the Louisiana GOP, Roger F. Villere Jr., who released a statement saying “a breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation,” and now it’s Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Jindal released a statement Thursday that said McAllister had “embarrassed” the party and that it was time for him to resign.

“The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress,” Jindal said. Full story

House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

The vote, coming as Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess, is the latest chapter in a year-long probe that has sparked some of the fiercest partisan clashes among panel members in recent memory — from cutting off the ranking member’s microphone as he sought to speak to comparing the chairman to Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.

Full story

House Approves Ryan Budget

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(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House narrowly approved Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint Thursday, 219-205. It’s an important symbolic victory for the Wisconsin Republican and potential GOP presidential contender.

No Democrats voted for the 10-year-spending plan and the bill won’t go anywhere in the Senate, but the document has come to represent a marker for where the Republican Party, its leaders and rank-and-file House members stand on fiscal policy.

Full story

April 9, 2014

House Republicans Ask Holder to Pursue Criminal Charges for Ex-IRS Official (Updated)

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Lerner (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday in support of launching a criminal investigation into the woman at the center of the IRS scandal — just one day before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to vote on holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

In a 23-14 party line vote, the Ways and Means panel approved submission of a formal letter to Eric H. Holder Jr., asking that the attorney general pursue charges against the former IRS official using evidence uncovered during the committee’s year-long investigation.

Wednesday’s action — coming after a rare closed-to-the-press meeting — is the latest salvo in what has rapidly escalated into a fiercely partisan battle over the extent to which lawmakers should probe Lerner’s actions. Full story

Update: McAllister’s Request for FBI Probe One Option

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McAllister, as his family looks on, at his mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 10:18 a.m. | Rep. Vance McAllister’s Washington staff said Wednesday that asking the FBI to investigate the leak of a video that has landed the freshman congressman in an infidelity scandal is one of several options the Louisiana Republican is weighing.

The News Star, the congressman’s home-town newspaper in Monroe, La., reported that McAllister planned to send a letter Wednesday morning to Speaker John A. Boehner,  R-Ohio, asking that the FBI open an investigation into who leaked the surveillance camera video.

But the congressman’s communications director, Jennifer Dunagin, said the decision to appeal to the speaker has not yet been made.

“At this point, there has not been a letter sent to Speaker Boehner,” she told CQ Roll Call. “Right now, the congressman is exploring the option. This security breach is something that warrants an investigation, but how we go about doing that is yet to be determined.”

Read The News Star story here.

Related stories:

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky-Panky

8 Things to Know About Rep.-Elect Vance McAllister

Vance McAllister Kissing Video Could Prompt Flood of GOP Challengers

April 8, 2014

As McAllister Skips Vote, Angry Husband Says His Family Is Destroyed

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McAllister, right, talks with Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., before McAllister’s swearing in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vince McAllister missed another roll call vote in the House on Tuesday as fallout from his infidelity scandal continued to escalate, with the husband of the staffer involved in the caught-on-camera incident telling the media that he’s leaving his wife and accusing the congressman of destroying his family.

Heath Peacock told “Inside Edition” that the conservative freshman lawmaker, who ran for the northeast Louisiana seat as a devoted Christian father of five, is to blame for the problems in his marriage.

“He’s had a hand in not only turning my life upside down, but my son’s also. He doesn’t care. He thinks he’s untouchable,” Peacock said, according to a press release from the syndicated tabloid-news program. Full story

Holder to Gohmert: ‘You Don’t Want To Go There, Buddy’ (Video)

Things got heated Tuesday between Rep. Louie Gohmert and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department.

Gohmert, who was questioning the attorney general about releasing documents relating to the Holy Land Foundation’s 2008 conviction of providing financial assistance to Hamas, then suggested contempt was “not a big deal” to Holder.

“You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder quickly shot back. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. … Don’t ever think that.”

The Texas Republican was quick to respond.

“So we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of [Operation] Fast and Furious where people died … and we can’t get the information to get to the bottom of that, so I don’t need lectures from you about contempt,” he said.

Gohmert, who last May told Holder not to cast “aspersions on [his] asparagus,”  was at the butt end of the joke Tuesday, when Holder got the last word.

“Good luck with your asparagus,” Holder said.

Sensenbrenner: Intelligence Director Committed Perjury (Video)

During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper’s refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans’ communications had been conducted was perjurious after Clapper appeared to concede the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.

“Director Clapper’s perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.

“I’m really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate,” Holder said. Full story

Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a “war on women,” with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as “pawns” to score political points.

Republican leaders wouldn’t say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they’d bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats’ “Equal Pay Day” criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman. 

“Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Let’s focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities … for a better life we all want.” Full story

McAllister Admits Infidelity, Tells Louisiana Paper He Won’t Resign

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McAllister, as his family looks on, at his mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister, embroiled in an infidelity scandal, told The News Star, a Monroe, La., newspaper, that he has no plans to step down from the seat he won in a special election last fall.

According to the paper’s exclusive report, the 40-year-old Louisiana Republican said he plans to run for re-election next fall “unless there is an outcry for me not to serve, and so far there has been an outpouring of support, not for my actions, but for me to continue to represent the people.”

He said the improper relationship that became public after footage from a surveillance camera in his district office was posted online Monday was the first infidelity in his marriage.

He told the paper he confessed to his wife earlier this year, “before the video came out.”

Related stories:

8 Things to Know About Rep.-Elect Vance McAllister

Vance McAllister Kissing Video Could Prompt Flood of GOP Challengers

McAllister Skips Votes After Kissing Video Blows Up

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McAllister, left, invited Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty to join him at the State of the Union address earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister, embroiled in a scandal over a video allegedly showing the married Republican kissing an employee, did not vote when the House reconvened Monday night.

The Louisiana Republican was among 36 lawmakers who did not cast votes on the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, which had two roll calls Monday night around 7 p.m. when the House returned from the weekend.

McAllister earlier in the day had issued a short statement apologizing and asking for privacy for his family, but didn’t show up for votes and his office door in the Cannon Building was locked. Phone calls to the office went straight to voicemail.

The lights inside were on, but no one so much as opened the door for hours, despite reporters camping out there for a stakeout.

Full story

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