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April 19, 2014

Posts in "Robert Goodlatte"

March 28, 2014

Judiciary Committee Tries to Assert Jurisdiction on FISA Rewrite

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Goodlatte is the chairman of the judiciary committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are trying to assert jurisdiction over legislation revamping the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs — days after the bipartisan leadership of the Intelligence Committee outlined its own plan.

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Robert C. Scott, D-Va., issued a cautionary joint statement about President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to end the government’s bulk collection of telephone records and make other changes to intelligence gathering.

Full story

March 14, 2014

Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish Push for Immigration Overhaul

Can the luck of the Irish help overhaul America’s immigration system?  Irish leaders and members of the Irish American community think so.

In a St. Patrick’s Day lunch hosted by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, stressed his support for restructuring the American immigration system.

Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., Chair of the Friends of Ireland who attended the lunch, told Roll Call, “John brought up the fact how the Taoiseach was hammering him on immigration.”

King said the Irish prime minister responded, saying the Irish support Boehner’s immigration principles and “will do whatever they can” to advance them.

However, there appears to be little support for Boehner’s immigration principles among his GOP colleagues.

Despite this obstacle, some believe the Irish lobbying effort can have some effect on immigration policy. Full story

March 12, 2014

Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

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(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.”
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February 25, 2014

Republican Tally on Immigration Principles an Evolving Project

CQ Roll Call published a list of where House Republicans stand on the immigration principles released by GOP leadership, and initial responses make clear the issue is still one that allows for nuance and creates stress for the party.

We have updated the list, and found 19 House Republicans say “yes” they support the principles, two Republicans could possibly support them. There are 34 Republicans in the “no” category. Three have qualified their answers. The tally stands at 26 Republicans either undecided or with no position yet and 21 who have declined to comment. And 127 have not responded to our queries made over a two-week period.

Those figures were calculated as we heard from a number of lawmakers’ offices who wanted to be moved from one category to another, as well as by fixing a few of our own mistakes, all clearly documented in the story.

Full story

Few Willing to Publicly Back GOP Leaders’ Immigration Principles

Updated: Feb. 25, 7:21 p.m. | While Speaker John A. Boehner says his conference “by and large” backs the immigration outline the leadership presented in January at the GOP retreat, a poll of every House Republican conducted by CQ Roll Call found only 19 who would confirm their support.

We surveyed Republican lawmakers’ offices and combed through member statements to see if they supported the immigration principles, which include a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants and a pathway to citizenship for children brought here illegally. The tally found 19 backing leadership’s standards, two more who said “possibly yes,” 30 Republicans openly opposing the principles, 22 who refused to say and 25 who were undecided. Three others had nuanced responses. The other 131 did not respond to calls or emails over a two-week period.

Given the number of Republicans who declined to answer or wouldn’t give a binary response, it’s possible Republicans see support for the broadly worded principles as a proxy for supporting an immigration overhaul this year. But with such a seeming dearth of support, the likelihood Republicans could move legislation — in this Congress or the next — seems bleak.

Boehner and GOP leadership have already put an immigration overhaul on ice for now, blaming a lack of trust in President Barack Obama within the conference. But the threshold question remains: Are Republicans willing to support any broad immigration legislation along the lines of what GOP leadership laid out?

Most lawmakers contacted by CQ Roll Call simply aren’t ready to answer.

Full story

January 16, 2014

Champions of Voting Rights Act Compromise Are Cautiously Optimistic

An eclectic group of House and Senate lawmakers expressed cautious optimism Thursday afternoon that their proposed “modernization” of the historic Voting Rights Act would become law this year. Full story

January 15, 2014

Democratic Women Clog Rayburn Hallway to Protest Anti-Abortion Bill

Close to 100 people, some waving orange index cards asking, “Where are the women?” crowded the hallway outside the House Judiciary Committee room in the Rayburn Office Building on Wednesday morning.

Among those waving the tiny signs were Democratic committee members Judy Chu of California and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. They stood alongside female colleagues and abortion rights protesters for a makeshift protest of the markup of a bill to restrict funding for the procedure.

“It’s increasingly evident that the only women’s agenda that the Republicans have put forward is to take away your health care rights and then tell you to get lost,” said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., who criticized the fact that there are no female members of the committee’s GOP majority. She vowed to take the issue up with House leadership.

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From left, Chu, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Slaughter participate in a news conference outside of the House Judiciary Committee to protest the markup of legislation to restrict abortion funding. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

January 9, 2014

Boehner Says GOP Immigration Principles Will Be Released Soon

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner confirmed Thursday that he is preparing to release a set of “principles” and “standards” to guide the House GOP’s path forward on overhauling the nation’s immigration system.

“[House Judiciary] Chairman [Robert W.] Goodlatte has been working with the leaders, really, over the course of the last year, as we listen to our members and discuss this issue,” the Ohio Republican at his weekly news conference. “We thought it would be appropriate to outline standards, principles, that would guide us in a common sense, step-by-step approach to immigration.”

As for a timeline, Boehner said: “I would expect in the coming weeks to have those available.” Full story

November 6, 2013

Resolution to Impeach Holder Being Drafted, Yoho Says

Some House Republicans are talking impeachment these days, but not of President Barack Obama. The scalp they’re looking for is that of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

From Operation Fast and Furious to the wiretapping of Associated Press phone calls, Holder has been under fire from Republicans for some time. The House voted last year to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Now, Omar Raschid, a spokesman for Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho, has confirmed to CQ Roll Call that a formal resolution calling for Holder’s impeachment is in the works.

It won’t be coming through Yoho’s office, Raschid said, but the Florida Republican will surely be a leader in the effort. Raschid declined to name the member who is taking the lead out of respect for that office’s rollout of the resolution.

On Tuesday evening, Yoho appeared at a town hall meeting with constituents in Chiefland, Fla., where he said he and his colleagues would attempt to launch impeachment proceedings against Holder in the weeks ahead.

“It will be before the end of the year,” Yoho said, according to local news reports. “It will probably be when we get back. … It will be before the end of the year. This will go to the speaker and the speaker will decide if it comes up or not.”

The press office of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to comment, and the offices of several members who have been Holder’s major critics on Capitol Hill did not respond to queries as to whether they knew about the resolution or were behind the effort. 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

August 21, 2013

Goodlatte Hints at Approach to Immigration Bill

The fate of an immigration overhaul in the House has become a guessing game, but in two separate statements this week, one Republican lawmaker with significant influence over how the process will unfold hinted at what could — or won’t — come to pass.

First, in an interview on Monday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., said he supported providing legal status for “Dreamers,” the children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country illegally by their parents. He wouldn’t, however, support a pathway to citizenship, which Democrats say is a sticking point for them in any comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration system. Goodlatte said:

“If you were to do something, I would start first of all with children who were brought here illegally by their parents. They’ve grown up here. They’ve been educated here. They are ready to face the world and they have no documents. I think there’s a more compelling argument to be made for them. But, even for them, I would say that they get a legal status in the United States and not a pathway to citizenship that is created especially for them. In other words, they get that legal status if they have an employer who says I’ve got a job which I can’t find a U.S. citizen and I want to petition for them, ah, they can do that, but I wouldn’t give them the pathway to a Green Card and ultimately citizenship based simply on their entering the country illegally.”

The sentiment could foreshadow the final version of the so-called Kids Act, a forthcoming bill being drafted by Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., as part of the GOP’s piecemeal approach to an immigration overhaul that addresses the Dreamers.

On Wednesday afternoon, Goodlatte sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano weighing in on another aspect of the immigration debate: reports of a surge of undocumented immigrants coming into the country claiming asylum under false pretenses “to game the system by getting a free pass into the U.S. and a court date that they do not plan to show up for.”

Goodlatte and other Republicans have said that any immigration overhaul effort must not be tantamount to an “amnesty” bill for the 11 million undocumented citizens living in the United States. Underscoring this, some Republicans have pledged not to support any bill that provides a pathway to citizenship or legal status until legislation is first passed to secure the border.

Some Republicans say that now is the not the time to pass an immigration bill because President Barack Obama has indicated his unwillingness to uphold the law and respect the checks and balances of Congress.

Goodlatte signaled in his letter to Napolitano that he shared some of these concerns about the White House’s trustworthiness, noting administration inconsistencies with how the law is followed and a pattern of using executive actions to ignore the law.

“Once again the Administration has chosen to turn the immigration enforcement switch off in a manner contrary to the intent of Congress, by simply enforcing the immigration laws when, where, and as it is deemed fit,” Goodlatte wrote. “Such actions are the primary reason why our immigration system is broken today. We plan to conduct oversight of this issue and address concerns via the House’s step-by-step approach to reforming our immigration system.”

August 20, 2013

‘Defund Obamacare’ Letter to Be Unveiled After Heritage Push

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Meadows is circulating a petition to defund Obamacare that will be made public Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Heritage Action for America has a message for 100 House Republicans: You want to sign freshman Rep. Mark Meadows’ letter.

The advocacy group launched a $550,000 online ad campaign Monday that targets GOP lawmakers who haven’t yet signed on to the petition being circulated by the North Carolina Republican.

The full text of the letter and final list of co-signers won’t be made public until Thursday, Meadows’ office told CQ Roll Call. But when it is sent to House Republican leaders, it will demand that they “take the steps necessary to defund Obamacare in its entirety, including on a year-end funding bill like a continuing resolution.”

Spokesman Dan Holler wouldn’t confirm whether the 133 members not included on Heritage Action’s target list are ones who have already signed Meadows’ letter, saying only that “a bunch of these folks come from conservative districts, and they have conservative constituents who aren’t having their views represented in Washington.”

Meadows’ congressional office also demurred but did tell CQ Roll Call on Tuesday morning that, since Monday, “between four and eight” lawmakers had committed to attaching their names to the effort.

On Monday, the Heritage Action list of holdouts included Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and his top lieutenants: Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford of Oklahoma and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.

Boehner said before the August recess that “no decisions have been made on the CR” in regard to whether the leadership would make its support for funding the government past Sept. 30, when current appropriations expire, conditional on defunding the 2010 health care law simultaneously.

But when Meadows’ letter is released later this week, it could become clear whether some of Boehner’s allies not on the Heritage Action list have “gone rogue.”

The target list, for instance, does not include the names of 11 of the 21 chairmen of the House’s standing committees, including Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa of California.

Also absent from Heritage’s target list is the eighth member of Boehner’s official House GOP leadership team, Conference Secretary Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

Foxx’s spokeswoman, Ericka Perryman, told CQ Roll Call that the congresswoman had not signed on to the Meadows letter, while still remaining “absolutely committed to stopping Obamacare and working toward its full repeal.”

The Heritage Action target list also includes the names of some, but not all, of the House Republicans who have said publicly they don’t support threatening to shut down the government over defunding Obamacare.

Reps. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska expressed incredulity about the tactic earlier this month, as did Robert Pittenger of North Carolina and Frank R. Wolf of Virginia.

Cole and Fortenberry appear on Heritage Action’s list; Pittenger and Wolf do not.

NPR earlier reported that Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint saying “we don’t know that” on the question of whether Obama would sign a defunding bill into law.

DeMint dismissed the potential for a government shutdown if Obama didn’t sign on to undoing his signature health care law.

“The risk of that is so much less than the risk to our country, if we implement Obamacare. And so, I’m not as interested in the political futures of folks who think they might lose a showdown with the president.”

DeMint told NPR that he thinks Obama thinks Republicans are afraid of a showdown. “And if they are, they need to be replaced,” he said.


June 5, 2013

A House-Senate Budget Deal Isn’t Unthinkable, Price Says

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., indicated Wednesday that a budget conference between the House and Senate is not out of the question, but that the House wants to set some ground rules before agreeing to make any formal moves.

In a wide-ranging discussion at the Christian Science Monitor’s recurring breakfast with policymakers, the five-term lawmaker, who sits on the powerful House Budget and Ways and Means committees, also provided his thoughts about the trajectory of an immigration overhaul and what the GOP might put on the table as part of a deal on raising the debt limit.

Here are the highlights from the hourlong discussion at a conference room in the St. Regis Hotel.

1. The Budget. Political watchers and frequent readers of our sister blog, #WGDB, are familiar by now with Democratic senators’ frequent unanimous consent requests to go to conference on the budgets both chambers passed earlier this year, but which Senate Republicans have blocked every time. The task of merging two very different budget frameworks is going to be a major challenge, and Price said on Wednesday that the delay can be traced to House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and others, who are hoping to lay down some conference “ground rules” before opening up the process for “demagoguery.”

“It’s important for people to know that [Senate Budget Chairwoman and Washington Democrat Patty] Murray and Chairman Ryan are, indeed, meeting and talking with great regularity and trying to come to an agreement on the parameters of a budget conference,” Price said. “It’s important to develop that framework before we sit down … so it’s not a free-for-all … [with] partisan back and forth that won’t reach any solutions.

“Chairman Ryan is very wise in laying out the goal of defining those parameters,” he said.

2. The Debt Limit. Even though President Barack Obama has said he won’t negotiate with Republicans on raising the debt limit, Price said there were certain things he’d like to see that, while controversial, could provide some opportunity for bipartisan discussion and probably represents a more realistic sampling of what the majority of his colleagues would like to see come out of the looming negotiations.

“I think it’s important for us to put an array of options out there,” he said, and they included entitlement changes, embracing the dollar-for-dollar “Boehner rule,” and what Price called “pro-growth tax reform.”

He added that he suspects any debt limit deal would be a part of the budget conference report, if and when that happens.

3. Overhauling the tax code. After years of lawmakers bemoaning the state of the current code, Price says he thinks the time is finally right to draft and pass a substantive bill — by the end of the year, in fact.

The scandal with the IRS has provided an impetus for action, he said.

“I’m not one of those who believes this puts the kibosh on tax reform,” Price explained. “I think it gives us a greater opportunity and we embrace this greater opportunity. When all folks look at this issue, recognize it’s this huge monolith and frightening to many Americans and anything we can do to simplify the tax code and make the [IRS] less threatening … would be a good thing.”

4. Immigration overhaul. Price — like some of his House GOP colleagues, including Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va. — wants to see Congress take a piecemeal approach to overhauling the nation’s immigration system, while the Senate is on track to begin floor debate on a comprehensive bill next week.

This approach, Price suggested, would allow lawmakers to pass what would be tantamount to comprehensive immigration changes without letting one or two unpopular provisions sink the entire effort, though senators and most House Democrats would like to address many facets of a “broken” system in one go.

And in the event that a House bipartisan working group delivers such a bill to the Judiciary Committee, Price predicted on Wednesday that Goodlatte would just break down the bill into self-contained measures to pass separately.

“That’s not any internal knowledge, that’s just my sense of what would occur because that holds the greatest amount of promise for moving something forward,” Price offered by way of a caveat.

One area in which Price expressed considerable skepticism, however, was in Congress’ ability to pass, as any part of its immigration overhaul efforts, legislation providing pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“I think at this point that would be highly unlikely because I don’t think there is any trust,” he said, “and not just [of] of this administration, it’s been previous administrations as well. American people don’t trust Washington because they broke a promise that was made in 1986″ to allow undocumented immigrants to be naturalized while at the same time controlling the borders.

“The first step in regaining that trust is living up to the promise,” he said.

June 4, 2013

20-Week Abortion Ban Advances in House

A bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation across the country advanced from a subcommittee Tuesday, but it’s still not clear if House leadership will want the bill to come to the floor.

The approval of the bill by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice wasn’t a surprise; the measure’s author, Rep. Trent Franks, is the panel’s chairman.

“I understand the unfortunate reality that today’s markup will be surrounded by some degree of controversy,” the Arizona Republican said as a statement. “But we, as a nation, find ourselves at a point at which we don’t offer unborn children even the most basic protections — even protections we extend to animals and property. The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide. I pray we use this as a ‘teachable moment,’ in the words of President Obama, and can agree that, at the very least, we are better than dismembering babies who can feel every excruciating moment,” he said.

Full story

May 23, 2013

GOP Leaders Vow House Will ‘Work Its Will’ on Immigration

House Republican leaders on Thursday made it clear that their chamber will proceed with an immigration overhaul on its own terms.

With the Senate set to consider its tenuously negotiated immigration rewrite as early as the first week of June, the top four House Republicans — Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington — issued a joint statement Thursday that was co-signed by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia.

The statement appeared to be an effort to tamp down the widely held notion in the Senate that passage of that chamber’s bill would put inordinate pressure on the House to take it up and approve it.

“While we applaud the progress made by our Senate colleagues, there are numerous ways in which the House will approach the issue differently,” they leaders said. “The House remains committed to fixing our broken immigration system, but we will not simply take up and accept the bill that is emerging in the Senate if it passes.

“Rather, through regular order, the House will work its will and produce its own legislation,” they continued, adding that each chamber should “engage in a robust debate and amendment process.”

“Our nation’s immigration processes, border security, and enforcement mechanisms remain dysfunctional [and] the House goal is enactment of legislation that actually solves these problems,” they concluded.

But while the Senate managed in a days-long markup to advance its immigration bill, the House still appears to be struggling to settle on a strategy.

A bipartisan group of House members, mirroring the Senate’s “gang of eight,” has been meeting consistently over the past several weeks to craft a broad-sweeping overhaul measure. But on Thursday, as members prepared to leave town for the recess, it seemed unlikely they would meet their self-imposed deadline to work out an agreement before Republicans strike out on their own, Idaho Republican Rep. Raúl R. Labrador suggested. Labrador has been a key negotiator in that group.

Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers have embraced a piecemeal approach to immigration policy changes, which they say yields a better chance of success than a huge bill where a single unpopular provision could bring the whole thing crashing down.

“I think everyone, if they really think about it, supports [this approach],” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who, as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a member of the Judiciary Committee, joined Goodlatte on Thursday in introducing legislation to improve high-skilled immigration programs. “You shouldn’t have a bad item traded for another item in another part of the bill.”

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