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August 2, 2015

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July 30, 2015

Democrats’ August Messaging Plan: ‘Call a Fork a Fork’

 Israel, D-N.Y., talks with press after a meeting with House Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center that featured a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, July 15, 2015. Biden was on the Hill to brief members on the nuclear deal with Iran. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Israel’s DPCC says Democrats too often over-explain. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As House Democrats head back to their districts for the August break, the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee’s 12-page “August Playbook” gives a key messaging strategy: Communicate more like Republicans.

Remember the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee?  Full story

July 29, 2015

Anti-Boehner Motion Muddies GOP’s Recess Messaging (Video)

UNITED STATES - JULY 29: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his weekly on camera media availability in the Capitol on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:53 p.m. | House Republicans may have left Washington for the next five weeks, but the divided conference’s problems will be tagging along with them.

The GOP conference reached a new point of division this week, when North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows offered a resolution to remove John A. Boehner as speaker. Full story

Pelosi Cites Fattah’s Service, Calls Charges ‘Saddening’ (Updated) (Video)

UNITED STATES - JULY 16: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds up a copy of the Iran nuclear deal as she speaks during her weekly on camera media availability on Thursday, July 16, 2015.  (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2 p.m. | House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released the following statement Wednesday after news that Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., has been indicted on 29 counts of racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud as part of an FBI and IRS probe.

Full story

Republicans Enter Policing Debate With New Task Force

UNITED STATES - JULY 28: Rep. David Reichert, R-Wash., left, and Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., speak during an interview in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Reichert is the previous Sheriff of King County, Wash. and is working to improve community policing. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Reichert and Messer. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans have, for the most part, avoided one of the thorniest debates roiling the country in recent months: How does the United States begin to address the crisis of people, often minorities, being killed in violent encounters with police?

Now, 11 House GOP lawmakers think it’s time Republicans enter the fray. Full story

July 28, 2015

Meadows Explains Effort to Overthrow Boehner

Meadows, R-N.C., is taking his dissatisfaction with GOP leadership to the next level (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Meadows,is taking his dissatisfaction with leadership to the next level. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

So why exactly did Rep. Mark Meadows offer a resolution to strip Speaker John A. Boehner of his gavel?

Holding court with reporters Tuesday night, nearly an hour after stunning colleagues by filing a motion to “vacate the chair,” the North Carolina Republican’s message was simple: He was left with no choice. Full story

Mark Meadows: A Brief Biography

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A member of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus, Meadows has fought his battles with House Republican leaders, but he remains unbowed. After Meadows voted against the rule setting up debate on the fast-track Trade Promotion Authority bill, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz took away his gavel as chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee.

A few days later, Chaffetz reversed that decision, explaining that he’d spoken with Meadows several times after his removal and “we both better understand each other.”

Like other House Freedom Caucus members, Meadows voted against the trade bill when the House finally passed it in June 2015 on a 218-208 vote. Full story

House Preps 3-Month Highway Bill, Sans Ex-Im Bank

Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner speaks to reporters after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With House Republicans — for now — unwilling to take up the Senate’s six-year highway bill, and with the Senate unwilling to act on the House’s five-month bill, House GOP leadership has a legislative offer it’s hoping can get them to the August recess a day early.

Just minutes before midnight Monday, Republicans posted the text of a three-month bill that would extend the Highway Trust Fund until Oct. 29. It would not include a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, but would also take care of a Veterans Affairs hospitals shortfall. (The bill would allow the Veterans Choice program to transfer $3.3 billion to other VA health programs.) Full story

July 27, 2015

McCarthy: House Won’t Take Up Senate Highway Bill Before Recess

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a message for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday: The House is not taking up the Senate highway bill before the August recess.

While the Senate rushes to passage on its more than 1,000-page, six-year highway bill, McCarthy was emphatic that the House would not consider the legislation before hitting the exits on Thursday for a five-week break. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:31 p.m.

July 25, 2015

For Planned Parenthood, Videos Take a Toll on Hill

Lankford, R-Okla., center, speaks with reporters as he and his fellow newly elected GOP Senators walk from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office to Minority Whip John Cornyn's office in the Capitol on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lankford is one of the Republicans expected to headline an anti-abortion rally at the Capitol Saturday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats have rallied to defend Planned Parenthood in the wake of the recent releases of two graphic undercover videos by an anti-abortion group, but the women’s health group is already feeling plenty of heat on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn, introduced the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, which would place a moratorium on federal funding for Planned Parenthood while it is under investigation. More than 100 members have joined her as co-sponsors on the bill.

A day earlier, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., pulled a bill from the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee which would have provided for fertility treatments and counseling for women veterans after an amendment related to Planned Parenthood was attached by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Full story

July 23, 2015

Pelosi: Investigate the Makers of the Planned Parenthood Videos (Video)

Pelosi, D-Calif., holds up a copy of the Iran nuclear deal as she speaks during her weekly on camera media availability on Thursday, July 16, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi wants probe of anti-abortion activists behind the Planned Parenthood videos (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Following the release of a controversial hidden-camera video, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t buy the need to look into Planned Parenthood and the alleged sale of fetal tissue. In fact, with revelations the video was somewhat misleadingly edited, Pelosi thinks it’s time there’s an investigation into the makers of the clip.

“Everybody’s calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood,” the California Democrat said Thursday. “Let’s have an investigation of those people who were trying ensnare Planned Parenthood in a controversy that doesn’t exist.” Full story

Highway Bill Game of Chicken Imperils August Recess (Video)

UNITED STATES - JULY 10: Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., run into each other in the green room in between their weekly news conferences in the Capitol Visitor Center's Studio A, July 10, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner and Pelosi each urged the Senate to take the House’s highway bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With the Senate still working through a six-year highway bill, and with just four scheduled legislative days before the Highway Trust Fund runs dry — and the August recess begins — House leaders, Republican and Democratic, are sending a unified message to the Senate: Take our highway bill. Please.

Speaker John A. Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each separately used their individual news conferences to urge the Senate to put its six-year bill on the back burner and take up the five-month House-passed highway patch instead.

“The clock is ticking, time is running out on the Highway Trust Fund,” Pelosi said Thursday.

Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:44 p.m.

Boehner Admits CR Is Fate of Appropriations (Video)

UNITED STATES - JUNE 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during the House GOP leadership media availability following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner says a CR is likely. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With only 16 scheduled legislative days before government funding runs out, Speaker John A. Boehner finally acknowledged Thursday that the House and Senate were headed toward funding the government through a continuing resolution.

A CR, omnibus — or even cromnibus — is not out of the ordinary. Though funding the government through appropriations bills is so-called regular order, the last time Congress actually passed all 12 spending bills on time was 1997. Despite GOP leadership’s stated goal of restoring regular order and passing appropriations bills this year, it’s long been accepted that a spending deal would be necessary at the end of the fiscal year in September. (The Senate hasn’t passed a single appropriations bill this year.) Full story

July 22, 2015

Planned Parenthood Videos: Members Call for Dueling DOJ Probes

3: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lofgren and other Democrats want an investigation of the undercover sting that targeted Planned Parenthood. Republicans have called for a probe of the abortion provider itself. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of the release this week of another undercover video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for a Department of Justice investigation — but that’s where any bipartisan agreement ends.

Republicans want Attorney General Loretta Lynch to probe whether the nation’s largest provider of abortions is illegally harvesting and selling fetal organs and tissue, while Democrats want the Justice Department to look at whether the anti-abortion activists behind the videos went too far with their secretive recordings.

Democrats on Tuesday called for an investigation into the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group that has released two videos (and has promised more) that show Planned Parenthood executives discussing costs and procedures involved in their fetal tissue donation programs.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Zoe Lofgren of California and Jerrold Nadler and Yvette D. Clarke from New York jointly sent a letter to Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking for an investigation into whether the CMP broke any laws in going after Planned Parenthood.

“I know Planned Parenthood,” Lofgren told CQ Roll Call. “It’s one of those trusted organizations in my community. Unless I see proof to the contrary, I would be inclined to believe what Planned Parenthood is saying about this.” Lofgren serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which along with Energy and Commerce is looking into Planned Parenthood’s practices.

Planned Parenthood Vice President Eric Ferrero said in a statement the videos are part of a decade-long campaign to restrict abortion rights by “deceiving the public, making false charges and terrorizing women and their doctors.”

The first video, which surfaced last week, prompted the Republican chairs of both Judiciary and Energy and Commerce to call for hearings, and House GOP leaders have already cited the heavily-edited CMP clip as justification to push forward legislation that would restrict abortions and pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

Several states have also launched their own investigations into state chapters of the women’s health organization.

But Democratic House members, along with abortion-rights advocates across the country, are pushing back hard.

Wednesday’s letter sent to the attorneys general questioned the CMP’s credibility and the legality of its undercover operation under California laws regarding consent for audio-video recordings. Democrats also contend the group’s executive director, David Daleiden, has a checkered history, including involvement with the anti-abortion group Live Action and connections to controversial anti-abortion activist Troy Newman.

Daleiden put out a statement Wednesday, saying Planned Parenthood was using “political cronies” to persecute him and to “avoid accountability to the law and the American people.”

Schakowsky said Democrats were prepared to stand up for Planned Parenthood if Republicans try to cut federal funding.

“Republicans are so out of touch with where women are at right now,” she said, insisting that private decisions about women’s health care should not be in the hands of politicians. “This battle is a battle that these Republicans will lose because women are not going to go back.”

Democrats also raised concerns about the possible coordination between CMP and Republican congressmen, based on a story first reported by Roll Call last week.

Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin is one of the few Democratic members of the House Pro-life Caucus. Although he opposes abortion, he respects Planned Parenthood’s other services for women’s health so he hasn’t decided if he would vote to pull federal funding from the organization. “I’d want to know all the facts first but at this point I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.

Planned Parenthood has said the CMP videos, in which anti-abortion activists posing as buyers for a phony bio-medical research firm chat with officials about procuring fetal organs and tissues left over after abortions, are deceptively edited and that the CMP attempted to induce staff into possible criminal behavior.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a bill to prohibit any sale of fetal tissue acquired from abortions, which is currently legal as long as there is no monetary profit from the sale.

On the other side of the Capitol, a bipartisan group of 50 senators sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, urging cooperation with investigations and asking for an internal review of Planned Parenthood’s compliance with federal regulations. Just a day earlier, Sen. Ted Cruz’s office told a publication he would add an amendment to the highway bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, promised last week he would take similar steps.

Lynch briefly addressed the Planned Parenthood videos Wednesday at a press conference, telling reporters, “At this point, we’re going to review all the information and determine what steps, if any, to take at the appropriate time.”



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Amid Skepticism on Hill, Obama Steps Up Iran Deal Lobbying

UNITED STATES - JUNE 11: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., makes his way to the House floor through the media pack, who were waiting for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCarthy says it’s not just Republicans objecting to the Iran deal.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the United Nations Security Council officially backing the Iran deal earlier this week, the Obama administration is picking up its congressional outreach efforts in order to quell a potential August mutiny over the nuclear agreement.

While it would take a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to stop the deal, Republican opposition has been immediate and steadfast — and Democratic support seems shaky, at best. Full story

House GOP Leaders Frosty on Senate Highway Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner is cool to the bill, and so are some Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate continues to work through a long-term highway bill, House Republicans and Democrats seem increasingly united on one thing: They’re not exactly enthusiastic about the legislation.

On Wednesday morning, Speaker John A. Boehner seemed less than eager to take up the Senate six-year highway bill. Full story

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