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April 18, 2015

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April 16, 2015

House Wraps Tax Week, Prepares Trade Issues

A U.S. Capitol Police officer removes a package from the undercarriage of the gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. The small helicopter was painted with a U.S. Postal Service logo. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Capitol Police officer removes a package from the undercarriage of the gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With the exception of a homemade gyrocopter landing on the Capitol lawn, everything in the House went just according to plan this week.

Lawmakers hit the exits Thursday after voting, 240-179, to kill the so-called death tax, also known as the “estate tax” in less Republican circles. Full story

Homeland Security Morale Woes Blamed on Immigration Policies (Video)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 17: Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi hearing on "Implementation of the Accountability Review Board Recommendations" on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Gowdy said the president’s immigration policies have a lot to do with low morale at the Department of Homeland Security. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two Republican House members, both former prosecutors, said at a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday that White House immigration policies are contributing to low morale at Homeland Security.

The comments came as Reps. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Ken Buck of Colorado questioned federal officials at a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing titled “The Worst Places to Work in the Federal Government.” Full story

All the Budget Conference’s a Stage

Price, R-Ga., chairman of the House Budget Committee, talks with reporters after a news conference with members of the committee in the Capitol Visitor Center to introduce the FY2016 budget resolution and discuss ways to balance the budget, March 17, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After wrangling a Republican budget through the House, House Budget Committee Chairman Price now has to find common ground with Republicans — and maybe a few Democrats — in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

How do Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate conference a partisan budget that is little more than a messaging document? They don’t — at least, not really.

No one truly expects both sides to come to a consensus agreement on the budget. No one even really expects Democrats to play much of a role in the budget conference. It could be, as one Democratic aide with knowledge of the situation predicted, one public meeting “just for show, just to check that box.”

But there are plenty of House and Senate differences on the budget that will need to be worked out between Republicans and, well, Republicans. Full story

April 14, 2015

Boehner: Corker Bill to Move Before Iran Deal Finalized (Video)

Boehner wouldn't rule out additional steps to stop or even stymie a deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner wouldn’t rule out additional steps to stop or even stymie a deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate prepares to take up legislation that would let Congress reject a nuclear agreement with Iran, Speaker John A. Boehner reaffirmed Tuesday he’s waiting for that bill with open arms.

“Congress absolutely should have the opportunity to review this deal,” Boehner said Tuesday. “We shouldn’t count on the administration, who appears to want a deal at any cost.” Full story

April 13, 2015

At Reinstated Pen-and-Pads, McCarthy Gives Press Plenty (Updated)

UNITED STATES - JULY 23: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., addresses the media after a meeting of House Republicans in the Capitol, July 23, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McCarthy held his first pen-and-pad session as majority leader Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:20 p.m. | House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy did something Monday that hasn’t happened in years: a pen-and-pad sit-down with Capitol Hill reporters. And this was a good one.

The no-cameras news conference, which McCarthy held around a Capitol conference table with more than 35 reporters, lasted 29 minutes and represented the first majority leader pen-and-pad since former GOP leader Eric Cantor ended the practice in 2011.

“I guess you guys haven’t had these in a while, huh?” McCarthy said as he welcomed reporters back Monday. Full story

April 9, 2015

Farr, Rohrabacher Tell Holder: Cool It on Pot Prosecutions

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice." (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two California lawmakers want Holder’s Justice Department to back off federal prosecutions in medical marijuana cases. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has one foot out the door, but it’s not stopping House lawmakers from making demands on the head of the Justice Department.

In a letter Wednesday, California Reps. Sam Farr, a Democrat, and Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, called on Holder to halt federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers in states where use of the drug has been at least partially legalized. Full story

Conservatives Find Political Red Meat in USDA Diet Guidelines

From the IRS to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Federal Communications Commission, federal agencies are under more scrutiny from congressional Republicans concerned about regulatory overreach than at any time in Barack Obama’s presidency.

Add the Department of Agriculture to the list. Full story

April 7, 2015

Boehner: Obama Knows Deal Leads to Nuclear Iran

Iran Deal

Boehner released a statement Tuesday condemning the “deal” with Iran. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s no surprise that Speaker John A. Boehner isn’t happy with the Obama administration’s Iranian nuclear deal, but his level of discontent seems to be mounting.

While Boehner refrained from saying much of anything about the nuclear negotiations during his trip to Israel last week, the Ohio Republican is stepping up his criticism after President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that, under the framework, Iran would be about a year away from a nuclear bomb for the first 13 years of the agreement — and would be able to produce a weapon almost immediately after that. Full story

April 6, 2015

Best Bracket in Congress? Maybe, but It’s Tough to Top Romney

Deutch, D-Fla., speaks with Roll Call in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deutch’s bracket is in the top 2 percent in the ESPN contest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After correctly calling each of the teams in the Final Four, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., was bragging on April 4 — deservedly so — about his NCAA bracket.

“Best bracket in Congress?” the Florida congressman asked on Twitter, noting his ESPN Tournament Challenge entry was ranked in the top 2 percent of the contest’s almost 12 million entries worldwide.

Unfortunately for Deutch, that’s probably as good as it’s going to get: He correctly picked Duke over Michigan State, but he also incorrectly picked Kentucky over Wisconsin — and had Kentucky winning the championship, which obviously isn’t going to happen.

Still, the Florida lawmaker had a much better year than the master of “Barack-etology,” the president himself (who is down around the 40th percentile this year).

But the gold standard for political hoops prognosticators in 2015 is undoubtedly Mitt Romney — the 2012 GOP presidential contender’s bracket is, amazingly, in the 99.98th percentile in the ESPN contest.

“He’s got more time to scout these teams out,” Deutch told CQ Roll Call Monday with a chuckle.

The Big Ten alum (he’s a graduate of Michigan) said he’d be rooting for Wisconsin over Duke in the title game.

And he’s not letting the success in the ESPN contest go to his head — in the office pool, he said, his bracket’s in last place.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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April 3, 2015

Boehner’s Travels: Speaker Shares Details on Trip

Boehner's Medium

Boehner, visiting the Gaza-Israel border, in a photo from his posts on the Middle East trip. (Courtesy John A. Boehner’s Office)

John A. Boehner’s trip to the Middle East this week was covered extensively by the press both here and overseas, but few news organizations offered the behind-the-scenes details the House speaker himself shared on a new blog.

Boehner, or someone on the speaker’s team writing under his name, posted four journal-style entries this week on the congressional delegation’s stops in England, Jordan, Israel and Iraq. Full story

April 1, 2015

In Israel, Boehner Dials Down Anti-Iran Nuclear Deal Rhetoric

Netanyahu and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left, walk through Statuary Hall, after the PM addressed a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber, March 3, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Boehner, left, and Netanyahu last month in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Speaker John A. Boehner announced he would lead a congressional delegation to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, many believed it was another effort to undermine the efforts of President Barack Obama’s administration to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.

But fans of the Boehner-Netanyahu bromance might have been disappointed by the two leaders’ news conference Wednesday; it lasted all of four minutes, and Boehner said less than 200 words — none of them in opposition to an Iranian nuclear deal, and hardly any of them even substantive.

Boehner avoided the word “Iran,” opting for a more ambiguous allusion to threats in general. (The Ohio Republican, who has been leading a congressional delegation around the Middle East, said the message members received while in the region was, “You can’t continue to turn your eye away from the threats that face all of us.”)

But Boehner didn’t exactly offer his most full-throated defense of Netanyahu’s position that a nuclear deal with Iran is a bad idea. In fact, Boehner noted the United States and Israel “may have political disagreements from time to time,” though he immediately followed that pronouncement by saying, “the bonds between our two nations are strong and they’re going to continue to be strong.”

Netanyahu, for his part, was characteristically chummy with Boehner — he repeatedly referred to him as “John” — and the recently re-elected prime minister hammered home the strong, special bond between Israel and the United States.

“In this violent and unstable region, where states are imploding and fanaticism is exploding, one thing remains rock solid: Our friendship, our alliance, our partnership,” Netanyahu said.

“So let me use this opportunity of your visit to reiterate something that I’ve said before but needs to be said again and again,” Netanyahu said. “The people of Israel know that we have no better friend in the world than the United States of America. And the American people should know that they have no better friend in the world than the state of Israel.”

Meanwhile, nuclear negotiations with Iran continue and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday the United States would not “abruptly” walk away from Iran talks for sake of arbitrary deadline if progress continues to be made.

The United States and Iran are part of a group of nations discussing a more permanent loosening of sanctions against Iran in return for downgrading much of its most enriched uranium and opening up nuclear facilities to inspections.

Netanyahu thrashed that potential agreement during his joint address to Congress in March, and Boehner has previously signaled he is skeptical of any deal that could be reached between Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Boehner, House Delegation to Meet Netanyahu in Israel (Updated)

Netanyahu Speech Lives Up to Controversial Expectations (Video)

Democrats Facing Choice Between Obama, Netanyahu (Updated)

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Col. John G. Keliher, Arms-Control Pioneer, Dead at 82

Colonel John Graham Keliher, during his time working for Congressman Dave McCurdy, D – Okla. in the 1980s.

Col. John Graham Keliher during istoriis time working for Rep. Dave McCurdy, D-Okla., in the 1980s.

Col. John Graham Keliher, an Army veteran, former Hill staffer and Department of Energy employee, died on March 7. He was 82.

With his drive, experience and education, Keliher was for years an invaluable resource in Washington efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, secure arms-control agreements and define national security policies. Full story

March 31, 2015

Gowdy Requests ‘Transcribed Interview’ With Clinton Over Emails

hairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi hearing on "Implementation of the Accountability Review Board Recommendations" on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ R

Gowdy (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy wants answers — and the truth, presumably — from Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email address and server during her time as secretary of State, and he wants those answers no later than May 1.

On Tuesday, Gowdy wrote a letter to Clinton’s lawyer requesting that the former secretary of State appear before the Bengahzi Committee for a “transcribed interview.” Full story

March 27, 2015

The Speaker Strikes Back: Boehner Cancels Gohmert’s Travel (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference at the House Triangle announcing the formation of a Caucus on Egypt, July 16, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner’s playing hardball, says Gohmert (nTom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe in retribution against the GOP lawmakers who didn’t vote for him to be speaker. But he increasingly seems to believe he doesn’t exactly have to reward those members either.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a member who has made no secret of his opposition to many of Boehner’s plans, has found himself kicked off two upcoming congressional trips during the House’s two week recess. Full story

March 23, 2015

Make-or-Break Week for Republicans on ‘Doc Fix,’ Budget

Boehner, R-Ohio, conducts his weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, March 19, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) boehner008_031915.JPG

Boehner and the leadership team face two big tests this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As the House returns Monday, Speaker John A. Boehner faces two big tests of his hold on the ever-unruly Republican Conference: pushing through the GOP budget and putting the final touches on a speaker-approved Medicare “doc fix.”

After days of closed-door whip checks and haggling on amendments, the House Budget Committee advanced its fiscal 2016 budget on March 19 by a 22-13 vote. Every Republican supported the measure in committee, but GOP leaders are unlikely to be so lucky if the bill comes to the floor next week, as leaders said it would.

Full story

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