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March 6, 2015

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March 1, 2015

Boehner Says House Will ‘Follow Regular Order’

Boehner is in a tough spot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Boehner is in a tough spot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House will reconvene Monday with little sense of how the dynamics will play out in the quest to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year, but Speaker John A. Boehner said he intends to follow “regular order.”

In an interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday, the Ohio Republican was asked what promise he made Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that secured enough votes from House Democrats Friday night to pass a one-week extension of DHS funding, just hours before the agency was due to shutter.

Boehner chose his words carefully: “The promise I made to Ms. Pelosi is the same promise I made to Republicans, that we would follow regular order.” Full story

January 29, 2015

Obama Fires Up House Democrats (Updated)

US President Barack Obama delivers the State of The Union address on January 20, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.  Credit: Mandel Ngan / Pool Copyright ©2015 Agence France Presse Photos

Obama told Democrats to take credit for the improving economy (Mandel Ngan/AFP File Photo)

Updated 10:55 p.m. | PHILADELPHIA — A fiery President Barack Obama addressed House Democrats Thursday night, saying while there’s more work to do in restoring the economy, Democrats can’t be shy about what they’ve already accomplished.

His remarks, delivered in the ballroom of a Sheraton hotel on the second evening of the House Democratic retreat, were tailored to the caucus’s new strategy: Focus the party’s message on growing the middle class and take full credit for the nation’s economic recovery of the past six years.
Full story

January 27, 2015

House Democrats Brace for Potentially Tense Retreat

elosi, D-Calif., arrives for her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, January 22, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi’s Democrats head to Philadelphia looking for unity. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The official theme of the House Democrats’ annual “issues conference” this week is “Grow America’s Economy, Grow American Paychecks.”

But the three-day retreat in Philadelphia, which kicks off Wednesday afternoon, could be a test of whether leaders and rank-and-file members can return to Washington, D.C., having found some common ground. Full story

January 12, 2015

Democrats Shocked by Giffords Aide’s Decision to Join McSally Staff

martha mcsally

Barber, center, and Giffords, right, attend an event in the Capitol Visitor Center to dedicate the Gabe Zimmerman Meeting Room to a staffer of Giffords who was killed in the 2011 Tucson shootings that also injured Giffords and Barber. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

C.J. Karamargin isn’t the first congressional staffer to cross the partisan aisle, but some Democrats are shocked this former staffer to Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is working for the new Republican congresswoman in Arizona’s 2nd District.

On Jan. 9, in a hiring coup, freshman GOP Rep. Martha E. McSally announced Karamargin as her new district director. Karamargin was communications director for Giffords at the time of the Tucson shootings before handling media relations for Pima Community College. The timing of the hiring — just one day after the four-year anniversary of the Tucson tragedy — also gnawed at still-raw wounds among Giffords’ allies. Full story

December 23, 2014

In New Role on Capitol Hill, Duppler Goes From ‘Outsider’ to ‘Insider’

House Republicans hired Duppler away from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans hired Duppler away from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a town where everyone wants to be heard, a big part of Mattie Duppler’s job is to listen.

Duppler, who made a name for herself as the director of budget and regulatory policy for Americans for Tax Reform, is the new coalitions director for the House Republican Conference. Full story

December 19, 2014

The Friday Before Christmas, a Quieter House

pitol grounds crew workers prepare the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in preparation for the lighting ceremony scheduled for Dec. 2nd. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2014 CQ Roll Call, Inc.

It was the week before Christmas, and things were quiet all through the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Incoming Rep. Barry Loudermilk said he was surprised anybody at all was on Capitol Hill on Dec. 19, the last Friday before Christmas.

The Georgia Republican, who had returned to the gift shop in the Longworth House Office Building hoping to retrieve some misplaced paperwork, told CQ Roll Call he was only around to do a bit of housekeeping in advance of the first day of the 114th Congress in January. Full story

December 3, 2014

Jeff Shockey Goes for the Reverse Revolving Door Again

Shockey, left, was Lewis' staff director on the Appropriations Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Shockey, left, was Lewis’ staff director on the Appropriations Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Veteran appropriations aide and lobbyist Jeff Shockey has been appointed staff director of the House Intelligence Committee under incoming Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. The move marks the second time Shockey has left a lobbying gig to take a senior position with a House Committee.

Shockey, a perennial on the Roll Call Fabulous 50 list of top staffers, spent about six years as the Republican staff director and deputy staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, where he managed the committee’s professional staff and oversaw the twelve annual appropriations bills, supplemental appropriations bills and continuing resolutions. Most recently, he’s been in business at Shockey Scofield Solutions, a lobby shop he founded in 2011 with John Scofield, a one-time Republican communications director for the House Appropriations Committee. Full story

November 19, 2014

Major Players From Team Cantor to Open Lobbying Shop

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cantor joined the private sector recently, and some of his former staffers are following suit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Months after Cantorland was turned upside down by their boss’ stunning primary defeat, two key members of the ex-majority leader’s team are returning to the workforce, opening a lobbying firm with another prominent former Hill staffer.

Steve Stombres — a longtime chief of staff to ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor — is starting a government affairs shop with Kyle Nevins, Cantor’s former deputy chief of staff, and John O’Neill, a former counsel and policy director for Trent Lott when he was the Senate GOP whip.

The firm, Harbinger Strategies, is still coming together, but the partners say they’ll officially be open for business by Jan. 1. “We’re on the sublet tour of Washington, D.C.,” Stombres said of finding office space.

He’s already hunting for clients, and said Nevin and O’Neill will officially join him at the start of 2015.

Full story

November 17, 2014

High Stakes for Pelosi, Party With Energy and Commerce Fight

Eshoo and Pallone are locked in a race for the Energy and Commerce ranking member slot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Eshoo and Pallone are locked in a race for the Energy and Commerce ranking member slot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:50 a.m. | It started as a race to choose the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; it could ultimately end as a referendum on the status quo.

When House Democrats finally settle the score this week, their choice between Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California could send a strong message about how deeply members still hew to the seniority system.

And in a caucus growing increasingly antsy over the stasis at the leadership table, this ranking member election could be the closest thing to an up-or-down vote on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that members get for the next two years.

Pelosi, who has repeatedly endorsed her close friend Eshoo, is expected to run unopposed for a sixth full term as the House’s top Democrat.

Lawmakers will not say so publicly, but many of them think that if Eshoo loses, it will be because she became a casualty of greater frustrations within the caucus.

The fight sparked by California Democrat Henry A. Waxman’s retirement announcement in January became so dramatic because there was never a clear front-runner or an easy choice. Stakeholders agree Pallone and Eshoo’s policy positions are nearly identical, and their legislative records are unblemished.

So members were forced to consider other factors: Who called them first to ask for their vote? Who gave them money in a tough re-election bid? Who has always been their friend? Full story

November 3, 2014

New Republicans Will Strengthen Boehner’s Hand in 114th

The anti-Boehner wing in the House plans to try again to unseat the speaker next January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The anti-Boehner contingent will add a few new faces Tuesday, but overall the speaker stands to gain more control. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican gains in the House Tuesday aren’t expected to top what the party was able to accomplish in 2010, but even modest inroads will change the status quo on Capitol Hill.

Here’s a rundown of how the 114th Congress will be different if House Republicans, as expected, expand their majority. Full story

October 16, 2014

The Softer Side of Don Young: A Counterpoint

Young shows off his softer side while working with Cao in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Young shows off his softer side while working with Cao in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Adjectives such as “kind,” “caring,” “fatherly” and “honest” wouldn’t prompt most people to conjure up an image of Rep. Don Young.

Indeed, anyone familiar with Capitol Hill lore connects the Alaska Republican with tales of bad behavior — pulling a knife on a colleague, tracking asbestos through the halls of Congress and allegedly violating House rules for 12 years.

But Young has a softer side, according to a former colleague, two ex-aides and even a one-time political adversary who talked with CQ Roll Call as we profiled the ornery congressman.

Ex-Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, a Louisiana Republican ousted after just one term in Congress, spent nearly every vote series seated beside Young on the chamber floor. “I found him to be a very warm-hearted individual, a very straightforward individual and an outspoken individual,” Cao said about Young.

Cao said he never heard one complaint “about Young from any of his colleagues” — except, he conceded, for the story “about how he maybe pulled a knife, something along those lines.”

Full story

September 17, 2014

Parties’ Shared Benghazi Goals: Win the Hearings, Control the Narrative

 Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks during the Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the eve of a new round of hearings, Cummings made it clear Democrats intend to defend the Obama administration’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Trey Gowdy and Elijah E. Cummings say they don’t want the Select Committee on Benghazi to be driven by partisanship, and both have made overtures over the past four months to prove they mean it.

But no matter how many times the South Carolina Republican and Maryland Democrat huddle in the Speaker’s Lobby and pledge to treat the committee’s mission with dignity, the chairman and ranking member probably won’t be able to drown out the partisan voices on sidelines just 48 days from the midterm elections.

On the eve of the committee’s first public hearing, set for Wednesday morning, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, on Capitol Hill and off, were already drawing battle lines. Full story

August 28, 2014

Army Veteran Shane Scherer Joins Roskam’s Staff as Constituent Advocate | Hill Climber

Roskam announced Friday that U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Shane Scherer is joining his district office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Roskam has hired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Scherer is joining his district office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As President Barack Obama addressed the American Legion Wednesday and stressed the importance of regaining veterans’ trust after the Veterans Affairs health care crisis, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Scherer was in the middle of his second week as a congressional staffer.

Scherer recently began his new role as veterans constituent advocate for Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the former chief deputy whip. Scherer will be based in Roskam’s district office in Illinois.

“I wanted to continue doing my duty for the public, so this is an opportunity to jump back in that role in a different setting,” Scherer told CQ Roll Call in a Wednesday phone interview.

The retired sergeant is part of the Wounded Warrior Program, which awards two-year fellowships in House offices to disabled veterans who have served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

According to Patricia Orsini, the director of the Wounded Warrior Program, a total of 135 veterans have participated in the program since it began in 2008. There are currently 40 Wounded Warrior fellows in the House.

“We just target disabled veterans who want to get hired and have an opportunity to really make a difference,” Orsini said Wednesday. She added that many fellows go on to become permanent staffers in Congress or at the VA. “It really opens doors, especially for those who want to stay in the advocacy field,” she said.

Scherer said that he was enjoying his experience working for Roskam so far, particularly “the opportunity to help people once again.”

Scherer was deployed in Afghanistan from July 2008 to May 2009. Eleven days before he was scheduled to return home, Scherer suffered life-threatening injuries during an attack on his base. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and spent months recovering and re-learning basic functions, such as walking and talking. Today he does not have any feeling in his left foot and hand.

“His remarkable recovery is a testament to his strength, resilience, and unparalleled determination to help the country he nearly lost his life defending,” Roskman said in a statement announcing Scherer’s hire.

According to Roskam, Scherer “will be responsible for helping our local veterans receive the care and attention they deserve.”

Scherer said his personal experience receiving care at a VA hospital will be beneficial in his new role, which will involve helping fellow veterans navigate the VA and other federal agencies.

“I understand the ins and outs in what it’s like to be involved in all levels of care in the VA,” said Scherer. “I relate and can connect on a very personal level, having the same experience.”

August 22, 2014

Gowdy Hires Top Lawyer for Benghazi Committee

Gowdy leads the Benghazi select committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gowdy’s Benghazi select committee will hold its first hearing next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After an extended period of quiet, the special committee for investigating the attacks in Benghazi may be readying for action.

Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. announced Friday he has hired a retired three-star general to lead the panel’s legal team.

Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman was the senior military lawyer for the Army for four years as judge advocate general at the Pentagon, Gowdy’s office said. He retired last November after 33 years on active duty.

Full story

August 19, 2014

Veteran Staffer to Head Port of Pittsburgh Commission | Hill Climber

Martinko of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will become executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Martinko will become the executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy staff director is leaving Congress to become executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.

Stephen Martinko was the lead House negotiator for the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act, one of the few pieces of legislation enacted by Congress this year.

“His ability to understand and then explain complex policies to members of Congress, staffers, and stakeholders on both sides of the aisle has helped transform the way the Committee does business,” committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said of the deputy staff director in a press release.

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 12:25 p.m.
Hill Climber, Staff

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