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December 19, 2014

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December 18, 2014

‘Do-Nothing Congress’ Rewrites Legacy With ‘Cromnibus’

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Johnson called the 113th the “Do-Nothingest Congress,” but that label may not fit in the wake of a far-reaching “cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 6:37 p.m. | They say numbers don’t lie. But in this case, numbers don’t tell the whole truth, either.

The 113th Congress wrapped up this week with 285 pieces of legislation signed into law by the president as of Thursday — one more than the 284 measures enacted in the 112th, which was previously the modern era’s least productive Congress. Both two-year terms end up well below the average from the preceding 20 Congresses, which typically produced 564 bills signed into law. (The median number of laws enacted for the past 20 Congresses is 604.) Full story

December 16, 2014

Chaffetz Lays Out Different Direction for Oversight

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Chaffetz offered a preview of what’s in store for Oversight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If incoming Chairman Jason Chaffetz made just one thing clear Tuesday, it’s this: The Oversight and Government Reform Committee is not Darrell Issa’s anymore — in fact, Issa won’t even be on the committee next year.

Chaffetz gathered roughly a dozen reporters in his new Rayburn office Tuesday to discuss the 114th Congress and his vision for the Oversight panel, one that focuses less on political scandals and more on the “government reform” part. And it was evident to everyone present the Utah Republican has a dramatically different vision for the panel than that of his predecessor. Full story

December 15, 2014

Defiant Pelosi Stands Firmly on Left

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Pelosi signals she’d rather fight than move to the middle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Wide swaths of House Democrats have said they attribute Election Day losses to the caucus’s lack of a unified message, a strong pitch they can sell to voters and, above all else, a true sense their actions will match up with their rhetoric.

So when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi broke with the White House last week and fought against a trillion-dollar spending package containing policy riders abhorred by her caucus, progressives cheered the return of their liberal champion. Full story

December 12, 2014

House Passes Second CR in Near-Empty Chamber

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With Messer presiding over a near-empty chamber, the House approved a continuing resolution to keep the government running. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House quietly passed another continuing resolution Friday that would fund the government through Wednesday, providing the Senate more time, if needed, to pass the longer-term “cromnibus” — but also raising questions about the procedure for a bill that was unexpectedly passed in a nearly empty House chamber.

With just three members on the floor — GOP Policy Chairman Luke Messer of Indiana in the presiding officer’s chair, senior Republican appropriator John Culberson of Texas making the motion, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores of Texas standing by — the House passed a new continuing resolution Friday that would extend government funding through Dec. 17. Full story

December 11, 2014

Breaking Down the ‘Cromnibus’ Vote (Updated)

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Clyburn and 56 other Democrats backed the “cromnibus.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:18 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12: The House passed the cromnibus Thursday night 219-206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting for the bill, and 67 Republicans and 139 Democrats voting against. While the vote was close, the breakdown split along familiar lines. But there were some interesting trends and deviations in the vote. Full story

Obama, Hoyer Split With Pelosi on ‘Cromnibus’ (Video)

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Hoyer could be the key to finding enough Democrats to pass the “cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just hours from a government shutdown that everyone once insisted would never happen, House Democrats emerged from an emergency caucus meeting Thursday night much the same way they walked in: without a unified strategy.

Democrats are split on the “cromnibus” spending plan agreed upon by Republican House and Democratic Senate negotiators. The White House and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland want the cromnibus to pass. But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is against it, and she has significant backing from her caucus. Those who might be inclined to vote “yes” are keeping quiet, dodging reporters or saying they are still undecided.

Full story

Lacking Sufficient Support, House GOP Leaders Delay ‘Cromnibus’ Vote (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:09 p.m. | Unsure whether they have the votes to pass a trillion-dollar federal spending package, House GOP leaders on Thursday afternoon delayed a final vote on the “cromnibus.”

They did so with mere hours to go until the government is set to run out of funding, and just before the House was scheduled to vote.

Full story

Nail-Biting Vote Moves ‘Cromnibus’ Closer to House Passage (Video)

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Waters and other Democrats slammed “last-minute” riders in the “cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The product of hours and hours of hard-fought negotiations could be lost Thursday if House Democrats decide, just hours before the government is to due to shut down, to band together and rebuff a trillion-dollar federal spending bill over two so-called “poison pill” policy riders.

Judging by a nail-bitingly close vote on a procedural measure to bring the legislation to the floor for full consideration, Democrats could have leverage to get the riders scrapped, or at least kill the bill and force what could be a better or worse deal, depending who’s being asked: A three-month continuing resolution that would fund government operations into the new year.

“If we don’t get finished today, we’re going to be here until Christmas,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, warned. In a rare move for the House’s most senior lawmaker, Boehner voted on the rule to give his party another “yes.”

Full story

Boehner Backs Bill, Condemns ‘Cromnibus’ Process (Video)

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Boehner acknowledged frustrations with “cromnibus” process. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The “cromnibus” came together with a last-minute backroom deal between Republicans and Democrats that forced the House to vote on the 1,603-page measure before anyone could reasonably read it, and plenty of lawmakers are upset — including Speaker John A. Boehner.

“This is exactly the way I don’t want to do business,” Boehner said Thursday, just hours before the House was slated to vote on the funding package.

The Ohio Republican campaigned for the speaker’s gavel by pledging to give lawmakers 72 hours before voting on pieces of legislation, and he’s previously been an opponent of pieces of thousand-page legislation.

Full story

‘Cromnibus’ Strains GOP Principles on Open Process

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Boehner put a brave face on the accelerated “cromnibus” process Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the House prepares to pass a trillion dollar, 1,603-page “cromnibus” Thursday, at least one criticism can be applied to both Republicans and Democrats when the bill comes to a vote: few lawmakers — if any — will have read the entire thing.

It’s not that a $1.1 trillion piece of legislation can — or should — be written in 140 characters like a tweet, or as a 4,543-word document, such as the Constitution. But the cromnibus, coming in at 289,861 words, represents a particularly challenging public relations moment for members of Congress. Full story

December 10, 2014

GOP to Bring Up Bill Blocking Obama Immigration Action — Next Year

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Heather Pina-Ledezma, 6, attends a Wednesday news conference in the Capitol with Democratic senators and families impacted by Obama’s executive action on undocumented immigrants and to call on Republicans to pass immigration legislation. Heather’s mother, Madai, is from Mexico but Heather was born in Annapolis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While it may be little consolation to conservatives, House Republicans announced their intention Wednesday to vote on an amendment — in January, when the new Congress is sworn in — that would block the president’s executive action on immigration.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions said during a panel hearing on the “cromnibus” Wednesday that Republicans plan to bring up legislation similar to an amendment offered by Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina that would prohibit the president from carrying out his immigration action. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 6:13 p.m.
Uncategorized

Gowdy Indicates Monthly Benghazi Hearings Until ‘Questions Answered’

 

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Gowdy said hearings will take place in January, February, March, and until questions are answered. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pushing back at critics who contend it’s time to move on from Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy opened Wednesday’s House hearing on the 2012 terror attack with a promise of more action next year.

“I remain keenly aware that there are those on both sides of the aisle who have concluded that all questions have been answered, there is nothing left to do, no more witnesses left to talk to, no more documents to review,” said Gowdy, who was chosen by Speaker John A. Boehner last spring to consolidate multiple ongoing House probes of the incident. Full story

Democrats’ Discontent on ‘Cromnibus’ Bubbles to Surface

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Israel characterized House Democrats’ reaction to the spending bill as grim. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republican leaders try to shore up support for the “cromnibus” on their side of the aisle, it’s becoming less of a sure bet that House Democrats can be relied upon to make up for the shortfall if need be.

After taking a “wait-and-see” approach over the past week on the massive appropriations bill needed to fund the government past Thursday, Democrats on Wednesday began staking out positions — from consternation to flat-out opposition — to the 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion measure unveiled the night before. Full story

House Republicans Scattered on ‘Cromnibus’ Support

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How many Republicans will bolt on Boehner? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just hours after releasing the text of a 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to fund the government, House GOP leaders stood before their members Wednesday morning to sell the plan.

Lawmakers emerging from the closed-door meeting offered a checkered assessment of the collective response among the rank-and-file, and a true read on the level of support for the bill within the conference might not come until the formal whipping begins later Wednesday afternoon. Full story

December 9, 2014

House to Move TRIA Bill Separately

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McCarthy and the House GOP plan to move a separate terrorism insurance bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a gambit to jam the Senate, House Republicans are moving ahead with a standalone Terrorism Risk Insurance Act bill they intend to pass in the coming days, taking TRIA out of cromnibus negotiations and risking the program’s future.

As of Tuesday afternoon, TRIA was one of the major remaining roadblocks in cromnibus negotiations, with House Republicans insisting on changes to the Dodd-Frank Act that would alter collateral rules for certain companies trading derivatives.

According to an aide for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House is now moving forward with a plan to pass a separate TRIA bill and take the issue out of cromnibus negotiations. The House Rules Committee posted language of the TRIA bill Tuesday afternoon.

With the House and Senate unable to come to a compromise on TRIA, House Republicans are hoping they can force the Senate’s hand by passing the terrorism risk insurance legislation with their Dodd-Frank changes.

But as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether such a tactic would work — or whether it would derail TRIA.

“This is an attempt to kill the bill, pure and simple,” a Senate Democratic aide told CQ Roll Call. “Adding in an extraneous, unrelated Dodd-Frank issue that Democrats, and the administration, oppose to a bipartisan TRIA bill that has been carefully negotiated puts the future of TRIA in doubt.”

Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 1:20 p.m.
Uncategorized

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