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April 20, 2014

Posts in "Whip Count"

April 16, 2014

Eshoo Raises Money From Tech Industry Ahead of Ranking-Member Battle With Pallone

armenian presser006 040814 445x297 Eshoo Raises Money From Tech Industry Ahead of Ranking Member Battle With Pallone

Rivals for the ranking member slot, Eshoo and Pallone chatted earlier this month at a news conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo’s leadership political action committee raised $203,000 — mostly from high-tech and telecommunication firms — as she bids to be ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is the first leadership PAC of the California Democrat’s nearly 22-year congressional career. First-quarter numbers for Eshoo’s main rival for the post, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., were not yet available.

The burgeoning war chest provides leverage for Eshoo in the closely-contested ranking member race to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., when the new Congress convenes.

Eshoo’s PAC was bolstered by contributions from the PACs of some powerful industry players who could come before the Energy and Commerce Committee, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast and NBC Universal, Google and Microsoft.

Leadership PACS are not just about receiving money, but about being able to spend cash, too, specifically in support of colleagues whose relationships could be professionally beneficial.

In her quarterly report, Eshoo revealed that she made donations to a number of her colleagues, including many in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for vulnerable members. Members who received donations from Eshoo’s PAC include Rep. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, Raul Ruiz of California, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Ami Bera of California.

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April 11, 2014

Highway Bill Could Consume Petri’s Last Months in Congress

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Rep. Tom Petri (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tom Petri announced Friday that he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he’s poised to go out with a legislative bang — or a whimper.

The 73-year-old Wisconsin Republican’s last eight months on Capitol Hill will likely be consumed with negotiations over legislation to reauthorize funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs in his role as chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction.

The stakes are high for a six-year reauthorization after 2012 efforts to pass a long-term transportation bill fell short and the fiscal health of the Highway Trust Fund is in deep peril. Full story

April 3, 2014

Denham Sees Defense Bill as Vehicle for ENLIST Act Immigration Vote (Updated)

energy presser008 032912 445x304 Denham Sees Defense Bill as Vehicle for ENLIST Act Immigration Vote (Updated)

Denham wants an immigration vote in the HASC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4 p.m. | Rep. Jeff Denham wants a vote on his bill that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to gain permanent residence in the United States in exchange for military service — and he’s got a plan in the works.

The California Republican is looking for Democrats and Republicans who are members of the House Armed Services Committee to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, a House GOP aide familiar with Denham’s efforts told CQ Roll Call.

“We are working to gather co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle,” Denham spokeswoman Jordan Langdon said in a statement.

The panel is set to mark up the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead and Denham, who is not himself a HASC member, needs to shore up support among committee members who would be willing to vote on the ENLIST Act if it were offered as an amendment to the underlying bill.

Denham also needs a lawmaker on the committee to introduce the amendment, which shouldn’t be a problem: Of the 42 co-sponsors of the ENLIST Act, 11 of them are HASC members, including the chairman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.

McKeon, however, has not yet committed to supporting efforts to place the amendment into the bill, either in advance of or during the course of the markup, a Republican committee aide told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.

The aide noted that any member of the panel is free to offer an amendment during the full committee markup so long as the language was “solely the jurisdiction” of the Armed Services Committee. Denham’s bill has only been referred to one committee, Armed Services, and would only change U.S. military code, not immigration law — which falls under the purview of the Judiciary Committee.

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March 27, 2014

Secret ‘Doc Fix’ Deal Angers Rank and File (Video)

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(Screengrab)

The House on Thursday passed a bill that likely did not have the votes to pass.

It was clear that a bill to avert a pay hike for doctors was short on support, so Republican leaders struck a closed-door agreement with Democrats to pass the bill by voice vote while members were not yet in the chamber, according to members and aides from both parties.

The bipartisan power move to hold a voice vote allowed members to avoid a tough roll call, which would have forced them either to vote for a bill they do not support or allow doctors who treat Medicare patients to take a pay cut, incensing powerful outside interests.

The tactic flies in the face of Speaker John A. Boehner’s pledge to be a transparent and rule-abiding Congress, members and aides said.

“I’ve seen a lot of dumb things, but I’ve never seen anything quite as comical as this,” Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving member in the history of Congress, told CQ Roll Call.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said House leaders essentially passed the bill while members’ backs were turned. “No one objected. No one was there to object,” he said.

Full story

March 26, 2014

‘Doc Fix’ Deal Passes Without Roll Call Vote (Updated) (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 27, 12:49 a.m. | The House passed controversial “doc fix” legislation with a voice vote Thursday, after House GOP leaders spent hours scrambling to round up votes for the deal backed by Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The power move bypassed a recorded roll call vote, with the votes remaining in doubt, incensing some members of the House. Asked if she went along with the voice vote plan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., simply said “yes.”

Without a roll call vote, it’s impossible to know exactly who would have voted for or against the measure, or if it would have had the two-thirds needed to pass on the suspension calendar.

The House had recessed unexpectedly Thursday morning as GOP leaders sought to round up the votes needed to pass the measure ensuring Medicare payments to doctors aren’t cut.

“It’s looking very good,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said earlier. “We’re working on it.”

Immediately after GOP aides told CQ Roll Call the bill would be pulled Thursday morning for a lack of votes, the House Republican Doctors Caucus, which had been opposed to the measure, huddled in a room off of the House floor and were soon joined by GOP leaders. Staff was kicked out of the room.
Full story

March 25, 2014

House Democrats to Try and Force Floor Vote on Immigration Overhaul

House Democrats are poised to offer their third discharge petition of 2014 Wednesday, this one to force a floor vote on an immigration overhaul bill.

They’ll need to get 218 signatures on the petition in order to compel GOP leadership to bring up their legislation, which mirrors the Senate-passed immigration bill, except for some tweaks in the border security language.

The likelihood of that outcome is approximately zero: Even the few House Republicans who have broken with their leaders to sign on as co-sponsors to the House bill are not expected to embrace a procedural tactic that would embarrass the majority party.

A CQ Roll Call whip count also shows that there are few members of the House GOP willing to even put their necks out for their leadership’s broad immigration “principles.”

No Republicans have signed onto the Democratic discharge petitions to force votes on bills to raise the minimum wage and extend emergency unemployment insurance, either.

But Democrats will also be touting a Congressional Budget Office report reaffirming that overhauling the nation’s immigration system would cut the deficit by about $900 billion over twenty years, a figure that had lawmakers crowing Tuesday. Full story

March 17, 2014

RSC Chairman: ‘We’re Not Done’ Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

scalise 038 020514 445x296 RSC Chairman: Were Not Done Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House GOP leadership intends to put forward a formal framework for repealing and replacing Obamacare, but has so far stopped short of promising to turn that framework into actual legislative text.

Should leaders decline to take that next step, it won’t sit well with Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.

“I feel good about where we are right now,” the Louisiana Republican told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview on Monday, “but we’re not done until we get a bill on the floor. Full story

March 12, 2014

Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After two trips to the Deep South alongside civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat John Lewis, the pressure is on Eric Cantor to deliver on the Voting Rights Act.

The majority leader has made a major, personal investment in connecting to the civil rights movement — something that ultimately could prove important for a GOP that regularly polls in the single digits among African-Americans and poorly among other minorities.

But translating participation in the Faith and Politics Institute’s annual pilgrimage into legislative text that can win support from the bulk of the Republican Conference isn’t an easy task.

And so far, Cantor hasn’t laid out a clear path for a bill nine months after declaring his support for a congressional response to the Supreme Court decision striking down the VRA’s core enforcement mechanisms.

Democrats have signaled that they trust Cantor, a Virginia Republican, on this issue, and that the extent to which he is able to help advance a VRA fix depends largely on his ability to mobilize his flock, many of whom are hostile to the idea.

“A lot of what is happening on the other side of the aisle wouldn’t be happening if it were up to Cantor,” said the House’s No. 3 Democrat, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, adding that many far-right Republicans “relish in gumming up the works.”
Full story

March 4, 2014

Pelosi-Hoyer Rivalry Flares Anew With Eshoo-Pallone Fight

The long-running leadership rivalry between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is flaring anew as the two Democrats take different sides in the fight over who will be the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee

On Tuesday, Hoyer said he would back New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California as the panel’s top Democrat in the 114th Congress.

“I’m not going to get into this publicly other than to say that I have historically been for the ranking member, the senior member, if that member is capable and able and if that member has contributed significantly to the legislative product, to the party efforts, and I think Frank Pallone has done all of those, but I’m not going to get into it further than that,” Hoyer said in his weekly media briefing. Pallone is the No. 3 Democrat on the committee.

Word had been circulating that Hoyer was supporting Pallone behind the scenes. The Maryland Democrat’s delicate articulation of support for Pallone is in stark contrast to Pelosi’s endorsement last week of fellow California Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, which she made with significant fanfare in a strongly worded letter circulated among her colleagues. Eshoo is No. 5 in seniority on the panel.

It’s uncommon for party stalwarts to insert themselves in committee races, particularly this early in the game — members won’t vote on committee assignments until after the midterm elections. It was also another break from the party’s usual deference to seniority.

But Pelosi’s unexpected decision to intervene on Eshoo’s behalf was a game-changer: What was at first a face-off between Eshoo and Pallone could now become another showdown between Pelosi and Hoyer, rivals who have often fought for the most influence among members of the House Democratic Caucus.

March 3, 2014

Cantor and Hoyer Reunite to Push Obama on Iran Nuclear Talks

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Cantor, above, is teaming up with Hoyer on the issue of Iran. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer are together again, jointly urging the Obama administration to take a hard line on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while supporting the administration’s diplomatic effort.

The Virginia Republican and Maryland Democrat on Monday afternoon released the text of a letter to President Barack Obama that urges him to “keep all options on the table to prevent this dangerous regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Notably, they say they support Obama’s diplomatic effort, although they had split over strategy last year.

Cantor and Hoyer had been working together on a nonbinding resolution expressing a sense of the House that any nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Iran should prevent Iran from ever obtaining such weapons.

But Hoyer ultimately split from Cantor, citing a desire to let the administration see negotiations through amidst the White House’s strong opposition to any new legislative effort while talks were ongoing. Many of Hoyer’s fellow House Democrats decried what they called partisan GOP efforts to undermine Obama’s diplomatic overtures and White House foreign policy generally.

Hoyer and Cantor will be circulating the letter among their colleagues over the next few days before sending it to the White House next week, according to both the leaders’ press offices.

Full story

February 28, 2014

Kevin Brady Challenging Paul Ryan for Ways and Means Chairmanship

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Brady has put his hat in the ring for the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan has said he wants the Ways and Means Committee gavel next year, but the Wisconsin Republican will face a challenge from Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Brady, the current chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, told columnist Al Hunt in an interview that will air Friday evening that he wants the top slot on the Ways and Means Committee, where he is currently the No. 2 Republican.

Reigning Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., must relinquish his title next year due to term limits.

Full story

February 25, 2014

Republican Tally on Immigration Principles an Evolving Project

CQ Roll Call published a list of where House Republicans stand on the immigration principles released by GOP leadership, and initial responses make clear the issue is still one that allows for nuance and creates stress for the party.

We have updated the list, and found 19 House Republicans say “yes” they support the principles, two Republicans could possibly support them. There are 34 Republicans in the “no” category. Three have qualified their answers. The tally stands at 26 Republicans either undecided or with no position yet and 21 who have declined to comment. And 127 have not responded to our queries made over a two-week period.

Those figures were calculated as we heard from a number of lawmakers’ offices who wanted to be moved from one category to another, as well as by fixing a few of our own mistakes, all clearly documented in the story.

Full story

Fate Uncertain for House Flood Insurance Bill (Updated)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: Feb. 25, 7:56 p.m. | The House is poised to vote this week on legislation to ease the burden on homeowners seeking affordable flood insurance, but the bill might not have the votes — on either side of the aisle.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced last week that he would bring the bill up under suspension, an expedited floor procedure in which passage hinges on getting a two-thirds majority of those members present to vote “yes.”

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said on Tuesday afternoon that Democratic support for the GOP proposal was nebulous, at best.

“I presume if you put something on the suspension calendar, you want to it done quickly,” he told reporters at his weekly briefing. “But you gotta get more votes, and right now, although I have not spoken to [Finance Services ranking member] Maxine Waters, I understand that she does not believe this bill does the job that we need done.”

Waters, a California Democrat, was a champion in 2012 of bipartisan legislation with then-Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., dubbed the “Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act,” which reduced subsidies for homeowners to shore up the cash-strapped National Flood Insurance Program.

With flood insurance premiums now skyrocketing, however, lawmakers — particularly in flood-prone states and districts — are clamoring to revisit that law. The Senate last month passed legislation that would effectively halt implementation of Biggert-Waters for four years.

Hoyer said Tuesday that he and other Democratic leaders had not made a determination yet about whether they would whip their members for or against the House Republicans’ proposed bill.

“I’ve just asked this morning, ‘What does the bill do that they’re presenting?’ and I haven’t read the memo yet,” Hoyer conceded.

Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., a lead negotiator in paving the way for the GOP leadership-approved flood insurance bill to come to the floor, dismissed vote count anxieties on Tuesday evening.

“Literally, as we speak, minor edits are being made to the bill so that we can make this a truly bipartisan bill,” Grimm told CQ Roll Call. “I personally think, when this comes to the floor on Thursday, people are going to be surprised that there’s going to be overwhelming support.”

In a letter sent to colleagues last week, Cantor said there were a number of House Republicans who had been instrumental in drafting the flood insurance bill slated for debate: Grimm, Bill Cassidy and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Steven M. Palazzo of Mississippi, Frank A. LoBiondo of New Jersey and Floridians Rich Nugent, Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Vern Buchanan and Dennis A. Ross.

“The Senate bill unfortunately removes much needed reforms and imposes additional costs on taxpayers and is a non-starter in this body,” Cantor wrote.

But Grimm said that House Democrats were at the table, too — including Waters.

“I had been working with Maxine Waters from the very beginning,” Grimm said. “She’s been giving us edits over the last couple of days.

“And Gregory Meeks,” said Grimm of the New York Democrat, “he said to me, a month ago, ‘if this isn’t retroactive, I can’t be part of it.’ And I’m like, ‘Greg, let’s work on it right now and make it retroactive,’ so there’s an example of, the retroactivity of this bill was myself, Cassidy and Gregory Meeks and [Louisiana Democrat] Cedric Richmond.”

Meanwhile, more conservative lawmakers without ties to districts vulnerable to flooding could be put off by the legislation. The Club for Growth, fresh from releasing its 2013 legislative scorecard on Monday, announced on Tuesday morning that it would also “score” the flood insurance vote.

“Congress should end the NFIP and return the flood insurance industry back to the private sector,” the group said in a statement, calling the program, “hostile to liberty and limited government.”

Ben Weyl contributed to this report.

Where Do House Republicans Stand on Immigration Principles? (Updated Whip Count)

Updated: Mar. 13, 4:10 p.m. | Where do House Republicans stand on the set of immigration principles released by GOP leadership in January? Journalists at CQ Roll Call spent two weeks asking each House Republican’s office and combing through their public statements to answer that simple question. We have recorded the answers, which suggest weak support within Speaker John A. Boehner’s conference for overhauling the nation’s immigration system.

The initial CQ Roll Call tally found 19 Republicans backing the principles, two who said “possibly yes,” 30 Republicans openly opposed, 22 who refused to say and 25 who were undecided. Three others had nuanced responses. The other 131 did not respond to calls or emails from our team. Matt Fuller broke down the categories in this original story.

(Check out our Tuesday story detailing the new breakdown: 19 House Republicans say they support the principles, two Republicans could possibly support them. There are 34 Republicans in the “no” category. Three have qualified their answers. The tally stands at 26 Republicans either undecided or with no position yet and 21 who have declined to comment. And 127 have not responded to our queries made over a two-week period.)

We expect this will continue to be an evolving document over time, as the House decides whether it will move forward with legislation.

Have an update to this list? Please email mattfuller-at-rollcall.com.

Full story

Few Willing to Publicly Back GOP Leaders’ Immigration Principles

Updated: Feb. 25, 7:21 p.m. | While Speaker John A. Boehner says his conference “by and large” backs the immigration outline the leadership presented in January at the GOP retreat, a poll of every House Republican conducted by CQ Roll Call found only 19 who would confirm their support.

We surveyed Republican lawmakers’ offices and combed through member statements to see if they supported the immigration principles, which include a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants and a pathway to citizenship for children brought here illegally. The tally found 19 backing leadership’s standards, two more who said “possibly yes,” 30 Republicans openly opposing the principles, 22 who refused to say and 25 who were undecided. Three others had nuanced responses. The other 131 did not respond to calls or emails over a two-week period.

Given the number of Republicans who declined to answer or wouldn’t give a binary response, it’s possible Republicans see support for the broadly worded principles as a proxy for supporting an immigration overhaul this year. But with such a seeming dearth of support, the likelihood Republicans could move legislation — in this Congress or the next — seems bleak.

Boehner and GOP leadership have already put an immigration overhaul on ice for now, blaming a lack of trust in President Barack Obama within the conference. But the threshold question remains: Are Republicans willing to support any broad immigration legislation along the lines of what GOP leadership laid out?

Most lawmakers contacted by CQ Roll Call simply aren’t ready to answer.

Full story

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