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May 29, 2015

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May 27, 2015

Patriot Act Renewal Has Lawmakers on Both Sides on Edge

Amash, R-Mich., heads to the House floor for votes on Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Amash was in the Capitol Tuesday, “keeping an eye on the House.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With most lawmakers out of town and controversial Patriot Act provisions set to expire in just days, national security hawks in the House and Senate hope Congress can magically pull an agreement out of a hat.

That possibility — a quick and dirty patch, cobbled together and quietly passed during recess, despite earlier assurances from House leaders that wouldn’t happen — had some skeptics on the other side of the issue concerned enough to stick close to the Capitol this week.

Full story

May 21, 2015

Quid Pro Nope: Boehner, Cantwell and the Ex-Im Bank (Video)

Hensarling, R-Texas, left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, listen as other House GOP leaders speak to reporters following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hensarling, left, is working to kill the bank, but Boehner isn’t saying much. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The only commitment Speaker John A. Boehner is making on the Export-Import Bank is this: If the Senate is able to pass a bill on the export credit agency’s future, there will be an “open amendment debate.”

The Export-Import Bank charter is set to expire on June 30, and conservatives are expressing increased optimism that the 81-year-old federal bank’s charter will lapse. More to the point, and perhaps more importantly, GOP leaders are increasingly sounding open to letting the bank die.

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Could Conservatives Push TPA Over the Finish Line?

As the House inches closer to a vote on the long-awaited Trade Promotion Authority bill, conservatives who have traditionally been hard-liners in their opposition to deals with the White House are taking a softer approach.

While many on the right are still hedging their position on the TPA, there appears to be some conservative support for the trade process legislation. And with congressional Democrats increasingly taking a firmer line against the TPA, which would give expedited consideration to the Trans-Pacific Partnership under negotiation with 11 other countries, conservatives could be the key to getting the TPA over the finish line.

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May 18, 2015

Amid Calls for Resignation, Guinta Refuses to Answer Questions (Audio)

Guinta, R-N.H., arrives outside of the Capitol Hill Hotel during check-in for incoming freshmen members of Congress, November 12, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Guinta isn’t backing down. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There are plenty of questions surrounding Rep. Frank Guinta’s agreement to repay more than $350,000 in improper campaign contributions, but the embattled New Hampshire Republican isn’t answering any of them — at least not meaningfully.

CQ Roll Call caught up with Guinta Monday evening as he walked to House votes. And despite a number of lingering issues associated with his alleged violation of Federal Election Commission rules in 2009 and 2010 — Was the money he loaned to his campaign, as he still contends, actually his? If so, what is Guinta apologizing for? — the New Hampshire Republican would not go off-script when asked about his agreement to pay a $15,000 penalty to the FEC and repay $355,000 to his parents, who gave him $381,000 in 10 checks between June 2009 and September 2010.

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May 15, 2015

Breaking Down the House Defense Bill Vote

Smith, D-Wash., 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)

Smith is the ranking Democrat on Armed Services, but said he couldn’t support the GOP’s defense spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After clearing an amendment hurdle Thursday that looked like it could jeopardize passage, the House easily passed the National Defense Authorization Act Friday, 269-151.

It was a strong vote, with 41 Democrats joining 228 Republicans to pass the annual defense authorization measure. But it was closer than it’s been in years, with 143 Democrats and eight Republicans saying “no” to a bill with issues both parochial and perennial. Full story

May 13, 2015

Latest GOP Immigration Showdown Headed to Floor? (Updated)

Gallego, D-Ariz., attends a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee in Rayburn, January 14, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Gallego’s pro-immigration language in the defense spending bill could imperil the passage of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:14 p.m. | The question of whether undocumented immigrants should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military — a thorny debate that has split Republicans in the House — is headed for a risky floor vote.

A vote stripping out pro-immigration language on the issue, which is currently tucked into the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, is welcomed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have clamored for a return to “regular order.”

But backers of the defense spending bill, especially GOP leaders, worry a divisive immigration debate could derail passage of the overall defense spending bill. Full story

May 12, 2015

20 Years In, Blue Dogs Not Ready to Roll Over

Schrader, D-Ore. walks down the House steps following votes in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Schrader says his party needs to listen to the base. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In 1994, when Republicans won the House for the first time in four decades, a band of fiscally conservative Democrats had a simple explanation: Their party had moved too far to the left.

In 2014, when Republicans shrunk Democratic numbers to their lowest since the end of World War II, a similar faction of fiscally conservative House Democrats came to a similar conclusion: The party’s progressives weren’t speaking to moderate voters. Full story

May 10, 2015

House to Consider 20-Week Abortion Ban This Week

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 9: Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new version of Rep. Trent Franks’ abortion bill returns this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are aiming to reconsider this week the so-called “pain capable” abortion bill, which would prohibit abortions, in most cases, after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill was pulled in late January after a number of Republican women pushed back against the legislation, particularly the provisions requiring women to have reported rape to law enforcement to be eligible for an abortion after 20 weeks. Leaders haven’t released the final language of the bill, but they seemingly have worked out the issues — though it wouldn’t exactly be the first time they’ve miscalculated where the conference is on the issue.

Full story

May 7, 2015

150 Democrats Sign Letter Supporting Iran Deal

Tax Inversion Legislation

Doggett was one of three Democrats to write the letter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a major signal of public support, 150 House Democrats signed a letter Thursday supporting President Barack Obama’s framework for a nuclear deal with Iran.

“As negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program continue, we urge you to stay on course, building on the recently announced political framework and continuing to work toward a strong and verifiable agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” the letter begins. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 3:17 p.m.
Uncategorized

May 4, 2015

Coffee, ’Cue and M&M’s: How to Survive a Markup All-Nighter

(Matt Fuller/CQ Roll Call)

Smith, still recovering from hip surgery, ended up casting votes while prone. (Matt Fuller/CQ Roll Call)

It started at 10 a.m. More than 18 hours later, at 4:39 a.m., it ended.

Few things in Congress are more tedious, or arduous, or taxing, or redundant than the marathon markup. It’s easy to fall into the legislative lullaby of amendment debate, to close your eyes just for a minute and wake up a few amendments — and many snarky tweets — later. Full story

May 1, 2015

Trade Deal on Hold While Obama Woos Democrats (Video)

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, left, and Pelosi don’t have a trade deal yet, but President Obama is actively lobbying Democrats to sign on. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s been a week since Speaker John A. Boehner warned the stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal backed by President Barack Obama needed help from the White House. On Thursday there were indications the president is stepping up his efforts.

Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each used much of their weekly news conferences Thursday to temper expectations for the prospects of the trade deal. But a group of about 30 Democrats who met later in the day with Obama were more optimistic.

Full story

April 30, 2015

Boehner Tells Hensarling to Develop Ex-Im Bank Plan (Video)

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 4: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during his weekly press conference on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner doesn’t sound quite as sure as some of his lieutenants about ending the Ex-Im Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner — publicly, at least — has more questions than answers on the Export-Import Bank.

Asked Thursday during his weekly news conference whether he would consider just putting a Senate-passed bill on the floor for a vote if the House Financial Services Committee and the panel’s chairman, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, did not advance an Ex-Im Bill of their own, Boehner sounded as if that’s a question he himself is asking. Full story

April 28, 2015

Long Odds for Congressional Action on Policing

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Congressman Elijah Cummings cries while greeting Maryland Governor Larry Hogan the morning after citywide riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Cummings sheds a tear while greeting Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in Baltimore the morning after citywide riots followed the funeral of Freddie Gray. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

It’s the fourth high-profile episode in less than a year in which police have been involved in the death of a black man under questionable circumstances — this time in Baltimore, a short drive north of Washington, D.C.

But neither the proximity of Monday’s riots over the April 19 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray nor the usual outpouring of “it’s time to do something” rhetoric are likely to inspire House lawmakers to tackle any number of existing legislative proposals aimed at addressing growing nationwide concerns about aggressive police tactics. Full story

On Baltimore, Race, and Policing: No Easy Answers for Hoyer

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., 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)

Hoyer tried to thread the needle on the Baltimore riots. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s weekly pen-and-pad Tuesday was a case study for politicians looking to say something about the riots in Baltimore while also saying, largely, nothing.

The Maryland Democrat did his best to show support for both police and protesters after a day of violent clashes in his home state’s largest city — clashes sparked by unrest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was arrested in West Baltimore on April 12 and, while in police custody, suffered spinal cord injuries that led to his death. Full story

The Steve Scalise Comeback Tour

UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. speaks during a news conference in the Capitol as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., looks on, after a meeting of the House Republican Conference, March 24, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Persistence, Scalise says, is his key to success. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Majority Whip Steve Scalise walked to the floor on Feb. 27 for the vote on a three-week continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security, he knew it was going to fail.

“When we put the bill out there,” Scalise recounted in a sit-down with CQ Roll Call, “there were a lot of members who felt that was the right way to go — over 80 percent of our conference voted for it — but we still didn’t have enough to get there, and you couldn’t expect any Democrats.”

Welcome to the role of the modern majority whip.

It’s an increasingly difficult position. There are no earmarks to dangle in front of members. Plenty of Republicans, having discovered pathways to re-election by being party antagonists, have little reason to fear leadership. And plenty of other Republicans, tired of the conference catering to its most conservative members, are ready for a revolt of their own.

Full story

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