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October 20, 2014

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October 15, 2014

As Ebola Crisis Escalates, Lawmakers on Both Sides Turn Up Heat

 

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Burgess and other lawmakers look for answers on the Ebola crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a handful of House members return to the Capitol Thursday for a special recess hearing on Ebola, lawmakers in both parties are grappling with a practical — and political — question: Who gets the blame?

“It’s a tough one,” Rep. Michael Burgess said during a pen-and-pad briefing Wednesday with reporters.

Burgess, who is also a doctor, wondered aloud whether fault lies with the fact that Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola fatality in the U.S., was allowed in the country in the first place; whether the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where Duncan died, ignored safeguards; or whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not been, as the Texas Republican, said, “as forthcoming with information as they said they were.”

Burgess said the Texas hospital — where two health care workers have now contracted Ebola from coming into contact with Duncan — is probably prepared to take “some pretty tough questions tomorrow,” referring to the hearing to take place at noon Thursday on the U.S. public health response to Ebola. (You can watch the hearing live on rollcall.com.) Full story

October 10, 2014

Pelosi: Call Congress Back for Minimum Wage, War Authorization Votes

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Pelosi wants Congress to come back and vote on the minimum wage and on the use of military force in Iraq and Syria. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Speaker John A. Boehner Friday to bring the House back into session to vote on two things: Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and Authorizing Use of Military Force to combat the Islamic State terrorist group.

The former was the subject of a half-hour long conference call hosted by Pelosi, Education and the Workforce ranking member George Miller and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez.

After making the pitch for higher wages, Pelosi reiterated the importance of Congress returning to Capitol Hill before mid-November’s lame-duck session to let members debate and vote on the scale and scope of U.S. military operations already underway in Syria.

Boehner and other high-ranking Republicans have said that the lame duck is not the right time to engage in a full-scale debate on the topic, that it would be best dealt with by the new congress in January. Pelosi and other Democrats disagree.

“The American people wanted it acted upon … before the election,” Pelosi said.

Taking advantage of the auspicious date — Oct. 10 — Pelosi, Perez and Miller were joined by Janet Rowland, a 20-year-old full-time working mother of three who shared her story with reporters on the call and said a $10.10 per hour minimum wage would better help her juggle her responsibilities, make ends meet and go to school.

The conference call came less than a month before the midterm elections, and Democrats are working hard to make sure voters know that a minimum wage increase is a centerpiece of the party’s policy platform.

Every effort was made to keep the call on the subject. At one point, a journalist asked Perez to comment on media reports that he was a front-runner to succeed retiring Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Perez did not have a chance to respond to that question specifically, however, before Miller interjected that the query wasn’t related to the purpose of the conference call.

Sticking to his talking points, Perez replied, “My focus on … everything we do is to help the Janet Rowlands of the world.”

Related:

Pelosi Says Debate, Vote Should Be Held on Military Authorization

Boehner: Don’t Expect War Authorization Vote in Lame-Duck Session

After Today, House Is Done Through the Elections

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October 6, 2014

‘Contract With America’ Set High-Water Mark for GOP Unity

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DeLay, left, chats with Chabot during a Sept. 17 reception marking the anniversary of the 1994 “Contract With America.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay — or “The Hammer,” as he was known in his leadership days — recently called the GOP Class of 1994 “the greatest freshman class … to walk into the House of Representatives.”

Newt Gingrich, who won the speaker’s gavel in 1995 as a reward for orchestrating the first House Republican takeover in four decades, agreed.

“This is not just a game,” he said last month. “This is about how the free people govern themselves, and [that] class was as fine an example of that as I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

The men, from Texas and Georgia respectively, were preaching to the choir: They’d been invited back to Capitol Hill to deliver remarks to more than 40 members of the ‘94 class who reunited to celebrate the fast-approaching 20th anniversary of the historic election.

But the praise did more than just puff the egos of former and current lawmakers attending the event. It unplugged a spigot of nostalgia for what many of the Republicans on hand recalled as halcyon days of legislating. Full story

October 3, 2014

Issa, Cummings Issue Joint Call for Secret Service Review

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Issa . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Republican and Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee are formally asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to conduct a “comprehensive external review” of Secret Service practices and protocol.

In a letter to Johnson on Friday, Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., emphasized that any such investigation must extend beyond last month’s isolated incident, where an armed intruder scaled the fence of the White House and was able to get inside the presidential residence before being apprehended — by an off-duty officer.

The two lawmakers, who famously clashed earlier this year, said Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s resignation on Wednesday evening should not preclude a larger probe, given that problems within the agency preceded her tenure. Nor should the committee’s rare, mid-recess hearing on department misconduct be construed as congress closing the book on the chapter.

Full story

October 1, 2014

Boehner Slams ‘Incompetence’ at Secret Service, Wants Review

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Boehner joined a growing chorus of lawmakers demanding answers on screw ups at the Secret Service. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner slammed the Secret Service Wednesday for “a culture of complacency and incompetence,” backed an independent review and implied new leadership might be needed.

The Ohio Republican backed House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s proposal for a blue ribbon commission to review the agency:

“Given the Secret Service’s proud history and the duties it is charged with, we are right to expect nothing but candor and clarity from its leaders, particularly at a time when Americans are as aware as ever that we live in a dangerous world,” Boehner said in his statement. “Unfortunately, the Secret Service director’s appearance before Chairman Issa’s Oversight & Government Reform Committee has created more questions than answers.  Already, we have learned of a prior security breach in Atlanta that she failed to mention. The more we discover, the clearer it becomes that the Secret Service is beset by a culture of complacency and incompetence.”

Boehner said President Barack Obama needs to make a decision soon about the agency’s leadership.

“As such, the president must make a swift determination on whether the agency is being well-served by its current leadership.  Moreover, I fully support Chairman McCaul’s plan for a top-to-bottom, independent review of the agency.  The courageous men and women of the Secret Service who put their lives in harm’s way every day deserve the best possible leadership and a culture worthy of their sacrifices.”

Earlier Wednesday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had similar comments, also backing an independent review.

 

Related:

Pelosi Calls for Review of Secret Service Security Lapses

Secret Service Takes Beating in Rare Recess Hearing

Secret Service Director Testimony Omits Elevator Incident With Obama

Omar Gonzalez Charged in White House Breach

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 24, 2014

Bipartisan Quartet Ratchets Up Congressional Pressure on NFL

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Costa and three House members are upping the pressure on sports leagues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional pressure for the NFL and other major sports leagues to get a handle on domestic violence continues to ratchet up.

A week after one senator proposed stripping the National Football League of its antitrust exemptions, a bipartisan quartet of House members is circulating a petition calling for football, baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball executives to review policies and take “the strongest possible stance” against violence directed at women and children.

The group — Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Ted Poe, R-Texas; Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.; and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. — is asking colleagues to sign the petition by Friday. Full story

September 18, 2014

Boehner Lists Tax Reform Among House GOP’s Top Priorities for 2015

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Boehner at the Capitol Tuesday (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In what was hyped as a potential road map for House Republicans in the 114th Congress, Speaker John A. Boehner laid out a five-point vision for creating growth and mobility in America on Thursday.

On the 12th floor suite of the American Enterprise Institute, Boehner pushed tax reform, reduced spending, and improvements to the legal, regulatory and education systems as items Congress needed to address in order to make America “the best place to work, save and invest.”

The Ohio Republican said Congress could do it “the Washington way” — “move around some dirt, see what happens” — or they could “lay a solid foundation for growth and mobility, not pick one thing over the other.” Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 3:27 p.m.
Uncategorized

September 17, 2014

Odd Coalitions, Unusual Fractures in Syria, Continuing Resolution Votes (Video)

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House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller was one of the highest-ranked Republicans to vote no on the amendment to arm Syrian rebels. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House fractured along untraditional lines Wednesday, voting 319-108 to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government and 273-156 to adopt an amendment arming Syrian rebels.

Neither vote was typical. Roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats voted against both proposals. But there were some interesting trends hidden in both votes.

On the vote to fund the government, 143 Democrats joined 176 Republicans in support of the CR, while 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.

On the vote to arm Syrian rebels, 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats voted for the proposal, while 85 Republicans and 71 Democrats voted against. Full story

House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels; CR Passes (Updated) (Video)

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Boehner, left, and McCarthy pushed through a continuing resolution that includes support for the president’s request to train and arm Syrian rebels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:03 p.m. | After voting to give President Barack Obama the authority to arm and train Syrian rebels, the House passed legislation Wednesday to fund the government until Dec. 11, moving the bill to avoid a government shutdown and address Islamic State organizations to the Senate.

House lawmakers voted 319-108 to pass the continuing resolution, with 143 Democrats joining 176 Republicans in support of the measure. 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.

A vote on the spending bill, which will continue government spending through Dec. 11 at a $1.012 trillion level, was delayed last week so lawmakers could attach a request from the president to give him Title 10 authority to fight the Islamic State group.

That authority would allow the Obama administration to equip Syrian rebels for the intended purpose of fighting ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Obama praised the House and urged the Senate to follow suit on the legislation, which he reiterated is not an authorization for the use of U.S. troops in Syria.

“Today’s vote is another step closer to having the authorization to train and equip vetted elements of the moderate Syrian opposition so they can defend themselves against, and ultimately push back on, ISIL forces,” he said in a statement.  Full story

Benghazi Hearing Opening Statements From Gowdy, Cummings

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Cummings said previous Benghazi proves had devolved into partisan proceedings. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Select Committee on Benghazi got off to a relatively subdued start Wednesday, though the panel’s Republican chairman and ranking Democrat managed to take a few veiled jabs at each other in their opening statements.

Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., pushed back at Democrats who have argued the hearing is just a rehash of questions about the 2012 terror attack that killed four Americans.

“Some question the need for this committee,” he said. “I respect your right to disagree, but the mark of a professional, indeed the mark of character, is to do a good job even if you do not think the task should have been assigned in the first place.”

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat who has been at the forefront of those questioning the need for another round of hearings, responded a few minutes later.

“Too often over the past two years, the congressional investigation into what happened in Benghazi has devolved into unseemly partisanship. Today, we have an opportunity to focus on reform,” he said, reading from prepared remarks.

Here is Cummings’ complete statement as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing. I know every Member of this panel is dedicated to ensuring that our work honors the memories of the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi—Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty. 

I want to thank our colleague, Representative Schiff, for proposing the topic of today’s hearing. Too often over the past two years, the congressional investigation into what happened in Benghazi has devolved into unseemly partisanship. Today, we have an opportunity to focus on reform. How can we learn from the past to make things better in the future? This kind of oversight can be productive, it can be critical, and it can sometimes even be tedious, but it can also save people’s lives.

I sincerely hope the Select Committee will stay on the course of constructive reform and keep this goal as our North Star. It would be a disservice to everyone involved to be lured off this path by partisan politics.

Today, we will review the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board, which was chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During our previous investigation in the House Oversight Committee, Chairman Gowdy and I heard directly from both men about how seriously they took their roles. Ambassador Pickering called it a “debt of honor.”

Their report was independent, it was adopted unanimously by all Board members, and it was a blistering examination of what went wrong at the State Department. They made 29 recommendations, and Secretary Clinton accepted all of them.

After they issued their report, the State Department Inspector General issued his own report finding that “the Department wasted no time addressing the recommendations.” The Department has been working on implementing these recommendations for the past year and a half, and Congress should ensure that it finishes the job.

Today, I would like our witnesses to provide an update on the status of several of the Board’s recommendations.

First, the Board found that the Department’s response to the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi was “inadequate.” It was inadequate at the post in Benghazi, at the Embassy in Tripoli, and here in Washington. Ambassador Pickering explained that the post did not take action despite crossing several “tripwires” that should have caused officials to review security more closely and develop a stronger response. The Board recommended that the Department change its procedures to make sure that security breaches are reviewed immediately.

Today, the Department reports that it has created a new process that requires posts to report “tripwires” as soon as they are crossed so security officials can review them immediately and take action if necessary. I want to know if this process is now fully operational, and, if so, how it has been working so far. 

The Board also found that we should not have relied so heavily on local militia groups, like the February 17 militia, to protect our post. The Board called this reliance “misplaced,” and it found that these security forces were “poorly skilled.” The Board recommended that the Department strengthen security “beyond the traditional reliance on host government security support in high risk, high threat posts.”

Today, the Department reports that it has 17 new Marine Security Guard Detachments and another new Marine unit to enhance security in changing threat environments. In addition, the State Department is now using new funding from Congress to hire 151 new personnel in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, or DS. I want to hear from our witnesses about whether these actions are sufficient, or whether we need to do more.

The Board also found fault with a Deputy Assistant Secretary within DS who denied repeated requests for additional security in Benghazi. At the time, this official oversaw the security of all 275 diplomatic posts around the world.

To address this problem, the Department created a new position to focus exclusively on the security needs of roughly 30 posts experiencing the highest threats. The Board praised this action, stating that it could be “a positive first step if integrated into a sound strategy for DS reorganization.” Today, I want to hear from the State Department specifically about how this new position is working and whether they believe we should make additional changes.

Everyone understands that diplomacy, by its nature, sometimes requires us to be in very dangerous places. Our diplomats work in high-threat environments, and although we cannot eliminate every risk, we must do everything we can to keep Americans as safe as possible when they are serving overseas.

With that, I want to conclude by recognizing the tremendous sacrifices that are made every single day around the world by our diplomatic corps, the intelligence community, and our military servicemembers on behalf of the American people. 

 

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

Here is Gowdy’s complete statement, as prepared for delivery:

A little over two years ago, four Americans were killed serving our country in Benghazi, Libya. Two were killed when a facility emblematic of our country was set on fire. Two were killed because they dared to fight back and defend themselves and others. Sean Smith, Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty represented us. They represented our country and our values. We sent them to do that. They were killed in an attack rooted in the animus some people hold toward us, simply because we are us.

To the family, friends, and loved ones of those killed, we can never adequately express our condolences and gratitude. As you have helped us understand, the four killed were more than just pictures on a TV screen. They were sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, and friends. And they were our fellow Americans.

I remain hopeful there are still things left in our country that can transcend politics. I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.

Some question the need for this committee. I respect your right to disagree, but the mark of a professional, indeed the mark of character, is to do a good job even if you do not think the task should have been assigned in the first place. Given the gravity of the issues at hand, I am willing to risk answering the same question twice rather than risk not answering it once. I am willing to reconsider previously held beliefs in light of new, additional, complimentary or contradictory evidence. I am willing to approach anew witnesses previously interviewed in light of the real possibility that additional questions may be warranted.

As we are keenly aware, all documents responsive to congressional requests have not been produced. Moreover, there are witnesses with information or access to information with whom no committee of Congress has spoken. I am optimistic the vast and varied backgrounds of our colleagues can be put to great use on behalf of our fellow citizens. The House of Representatives constituted this committee to find all of the facts, and I intend to do so fully and in a manner worthy of the people we serve. 

Our fellow citizens have legitimate and high expectations:

(1) They expect us to protect and defend those we send to represent us,

(2) They expect us to move heaven and earth to help those representing us who are in harm’s way;

(3) They expect government to tell the truth in the aftermath of a tragedy;

(4) They expect we will not continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Which leads to this hearing.

Benghazi was not the first time our diplomatic facilities and people have been attacked. The barracks in Beirut, our facilities in Tanzania and Kenya are a few that come to mind amid too many others. And after those attacks, groups came together and made recommendations on how to prevent future attacks. That is the process seemingly followed. An attack takes place, we commission a group to study how to make sure it doesn’t happen again, we pronounce it is time to move on and yet it happens again. So to those who believe it is time to move on, that there is nothing left to discover, that all questions have been asked and answered, that we have learned the lessons to be learned— we have heard that before. And yet the attacks and the tragedies keep coming. 

It is stunning to see the similarities in the recommendations made decades ago and the recommendations made after Benghazi. If you doubt that, compare the recommendations made nearly 25 years ago with those made after Benghazi. We do not suffer from a lack of recommendations. We do not suffer from a lack of boards, commissions and blue ribbon panels. We suffer from a lack of implementing and enacting those recommendations. That must end.

So it is appropriate to review the recommendations of the most recent ARB and Rep. Adam Schiff is to be credited for suggesting we do so. It is also fair for us to ask why have we not done a better job implementing recommendations made decades ago. Why does it take an attack on our people and facilities for us to make recommendations? Why not evaluate the threat before the attack? Why not anticipate rather than react?

The people we work for yearn to see the right thing done, for the right reasons, and in the right way. They want to know that something can rise above the din of politics. They want to trust the institutions of government. So to fulfill the duties owed to those we serve and in honor of those who were killed perhaps we can be what those four brave men were: neither Republican nor Democrat. We can just be Americans in pursuit of the facts, the truth, and justice no matter where that journey takes us.

 

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By David Eldridge Posted at 11:26 a.m.
Uncategorized

September 16, 2014

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

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Despite reservations, Democrats are lining up behind the House GOP’s proposed continuing resolution and an underlying amendment on Syria, Hoyer said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite lingering reservations on both sides of the aisle, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats is coming together behind proposals to arm Syrian rebels and fund the government beyond Sept. 30.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that, despite some provisions his colleagues don’t like — namely a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank through only June 30, 2015 — Hoyer and a significant bloc of Democrats would not withhold their support on the continuing resolution. “You don’t get perfect,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.

The Maryland Democrat also said Democrats would support an amendment proposal from Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., that would give the Obama administration the authority it requested to arm and train Syrian rebels in order to combat Islamic terrorists.

With the support from Democrats, passage of the CR and adoption of the Syria amendment look increasingly assured. There are plenty of remaining concerns regarding the trustworthiness of the Syrian rebels. But with Republican and Democratic leadership supporting the measure — not to mention the White House, which has been calling members to drum up support for the proposal — passage of the CR does not appear to be in doubt. Full story

September 15, 2014

Using Social Media to Showcase the Speaker’s Lighter Side

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Boehner’s social media team isn’t afraid to showcase the speaker’s lighter side. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What do Speaker John A. Boehner and a windup toy monkey have in common?

More than you’d expect, apparently.

Boehner’s office recently released a YouTube video — straightforwardly titled “The Monkey in the Room” — featuring the Ohio Republican playing with the quirky toy.

The video doesn’t seem to have any real political agenda. It’s just 42 seconds of Boehner and Rep. Devin Nunes’ young children monkeying around, if you will, with an unusual office decoration.


Full story

ISIS Puts Spotlight Back on Terror as Benghazi Hearings Kick Off

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

Updated 12:16 p.m. | After months of behind-the-scenes work that saw the House Benghazi Select Committee virtually disappear from the media landscape, the much-hyped investigatory panel returns to the spotlight this week with its first public hearing.

The 10 a.m. Wednesday hearing comes less than a week after the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya that killed four Americans and at a time when the rise of ISIS has refocused much of the country’s attention on terror and the Middle East.

The Benghazi committee, announced with great fanfare in May by House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and immediately dismissed as a political stunt by Democrats, has spent the summer hiring staff and reviewing evidence.

There was — and still is — an expectation among Republicans that Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former prosecutor, will go after top administration officials involved in the handling of the incident and its aftermath, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and current Secretary John Kerry.

But neither of those two political heavyweights will appear this week, and Wednesday’s hearing looks to be more deliberative than explosive — which may be a sign that Gowdy is determined to deliver on promises to the Democrats on the committee that he would not politicize the investigation.

Wednesday’s hearing focuses on the implementation of recommendations from an independent review board and recommendations from the Benghazi Independent Panel on Best Practices.

The committee will hear from Greg Starr, the assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security, Mark Sullivan, the former director of the Secret Service, and Todd Keil, the former assistant secretary of infrastructure protection for the Department of Homeland Security.

Sullivan and Keil served on the Independent Panel of Best Practices, which issued 40 recommendations for increased diplomatic security a little over a year ago — chief among them being the creation of Starr’s job.

The hearing, based on the prospective agenda, seems less focused on Benghazi and more focused on a forward-looking approach to security management practices — a topic that has taken on new importance with the emergence of ISIS, the jihadist insurgents who control parts of Syria and Iraq.

Congress will also weigh a request this week from President Barack Obama to authorize broader military action against the group, which has captured the ire of the American public by posting videos of the beheadings of two U.S. journalists.

The Benghazi attack, of course, will be a topic of discussion Wednesday, and the public will get its first look at whether Gowdy, a prosecutor for 16 years before coming to Congress, can keep the hearing from bogging down in the partisan bickering that plagued the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which had been conducting its own Benghazi probe.

Amanda Duvall, the new committee’s deputy communications director, told CQ Roll Call that Gowdy has long said there would be public hearings. “But the work of an investigation involves depositions and witness interviews that, by nature of what those are, are not public,” Duvall said.

Gowdy announced last month that retired three-star general Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman would serve as chief counsel for the panel.

Chipman was the senior military lawyer for the Army for four years as judge advocate general at the Pentagon before he retired last November after 33 years on active duty.

CQ Roll Call reported in July that security clearance backlogs had slowed hiring for the panel.

Republicans provided $3.3 million for the 12-member committee to spend by the end of the year, more than the budgets of at least two House standing committees. The panel can keep working in 2015 with a renewed budget.

The other Republicans on the panel are Reps. Martha Roby of Alabama, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.

The Democrats are Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Adam Smith of Washington, Adam Schiff of California, Linda T. Sánchez of California, and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Correction 12:30 p.m.

An earlier version of the post incorrectly identified Amanda Duvall. She’s the deputy communications director.

 

Related stories:

Delayed Benghazi Hearings Equal Deliberate Quiet

Meet the Members of the Benghazi Committee

Gowdy Names Phil Kiko as Staff Director for Benghazi Committee

Political Typecasting on the Benghazi Panel

Benghazi Panel Will Have 7 Republicans, 5 Democrats

Benghazi Committee: Democrats Warn Boehner About Partisan Makeup

Reid Says There Will Be No Senate Committee to Investigate Benghazi (Video)

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September 12, 2014

Hoyer: Give McCarthy and Scalise ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ on Leadership Process

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Hoyer said he’s optimistic Democrats can work with the new GOP leadership team. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House’s inability to pass an emergency border funding bill last month left critics on both sides of the aisle wondering whether the new members of the GOP leadership team, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, can bring order to an unruly conference

But House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said to give the new guys some time.

“I’m willing to give Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Scalise the benefit of the doubt,” Hoyer said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program set to air in full Sunday morning. Full story

September 11, 2014

Deadline for Obama’s Immigration Action Hard to Pin Down (Video)

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Grisham and other Hispanic lawmakers took their immigration overhaul concerns to the administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

End of the year? By Christmas? By Thanksgiving?

There seems to be some disagreement among the supporters of immigration rights as to when, exactly, President Barack Obama will step in with his promised unilateral action.

But overall, frustrated advocates seemed more optimistic Thursday after a clear-the-air session with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

McDonough told reporters that the president would act on immigration “before the end of the year” as he left a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

CHC Whip Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said McDonough told them the president would act “by the holiday season.”

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill. who attended the meeting, talked about a “Thanksgiving blessing” a day earlier in an interview on MSNBC, but on Thursday, he was referring to a “holiday season” deadline as well.

“We are moving forward. And this will be a season, the season, you know, I’ve said this: The holiday season must be a blessing for millions of undocumented families across America,” Gutiérrez said, “where they too can, you know, reap the rewards of their bountiful work for the year.”

The talk of immigration action around the holidays mirrored a statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Thursday that there would be movement “by Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

The CHC members said they expressed their frustration with the president delaying action until after the November elections.

“There were a range of emotions expressed, including frustration and anger,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said.

The members leaving the meeting would not talk in detail about how exactly McDonough said the president is willing to address the immigration system.

However, one member, who asked to speak on background to discuss the meeting, said it was clear “the president’s going to go as far as he can under the law.”

Gutiérrez and other advocates have suggested the president has the authority to at least temporarily defer the deportation of up to as many as 5 million of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

CHC members will convene Tuesday to discuss their official caucus response to the immigration developments.

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