Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 30, 2015

January 22, 2015

Pelosi Accuses Boehner of ‘Hubris’

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dinged Speaker John A. Boehner Thursday for not consulting with Democrats or the White House on the decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

“It’s out of order in terms of the protocol,” Pelosi said of the invite. Boehner apparently did not consult with the White House on the joint session, nor did he make Democratic leadership aware of the Netanyahu invite. Full story

Clyburn Offers Personal Perspective on the Relevance, Power of ‘Selma’

Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks during the House Democrats' news conference on poverty and the House Republicans' budget on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © Roll Call Group

Clyburn will lead the Democratic Party’s efforts to increase voter participation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Selma” may have been snubbed by the Oscars, but Rep. James E. Clyburn gave the civil-rights movie a very personal endorsement Wednesday during a Democratic Party news conference on voting rights.

The South Carolina Democrat, introduced at the event by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the chairman of a new task force charged with increasing voter participation, shared an anecdote about how the movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1960s resonated with one of his younger relatives:

I have now seen the movie, “Selma,” twice and I plan to see it again in this building next Tuesday evening. The second time I watched it was last week and I watched it sitting with my just-turned 18-year-old granddaughter. I didn’t say anything to her about the movie. I just told her that I was sponsoring the movie for members of — of my staff and others in the community.

We rented out a theater of 120 seats. Within two hours, we had to go back and get a 300-seat theater. But I was really focusing on my granddaughter, so I sat next to her during the movie. She was — she had her iPhone, doing what 18-year-olds do.

I’m — like a granddaddy; I’m scared to look at see what was going on on that iPad, so I kept looking forward. But she stayed, when even the movie came on, she didn’t turn off that iPhone until those little four girls was walking down the staircase in the church, going to their Sunday School room and the bomb went off.

At that point, she turned off her iPhone and intently watched the movie; even asked me at one point, a question about who that person was that was having a little interchange with John Lewis about whether or not to march, James Foreman, who was one of my best friends in the movement.

And I explained who James Foreman was and she was a little bit surprised to know that I — I knew him and he was a friend. But the next morning, when the movie was over, she went home. I got a call the next morning. She wanted to have lunch. And so I said OK.

And she told me what time and I — I objected to the time. And I said, ‘Well — well, can’t we do it a little earlier?’ She says, ‘No, because I’m going to register to vote. And when I finish my registration, I want to come and have lunch with you.’

And she brought some of her friends with her. And we talked about the movie. And we talked about voting. And when lunch was over, the rest of her friends; they left and went to the voter registration office.

I think that we’re at a time that young people, who seem not to be participating at the same level as young people did when I was young; that we can get people re-engaged once again. And that’s what this task force is all about.

Clyburn, the House’s No. 3 Democrat, will head the 11-person Democratic Outreach & Engagement Task Force, which will also include California’s Lucille Roybal-Allard and Barbara Lee; New York’s Nydia Velázquez, Hakeem Jeffries and Grace Meng; Indiana’s André Carson; Louisiana’s Cedric Richmond; Pennsylvania’s Matt Cartwright and Brendan Boyle; and New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham.

 

Related:

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Democrats Commemorate Voting Rights Act Anniversary as Legislative Fix Remains Elusive

Voting Rights Rally Calls on Congress to Act

Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Voting Rights Act Fix

Republicans to Eric Holder: Don’t Mess With Texas on Voting Rights

Cantor Calls For a Voting Rights Act Fix

Voting Rights Act Puts GOP in Pickle

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‘Toughest Border Security Bill Ever’ Sets Table for Piecemeal Strategy

McCaul, R-Texas, heads to the House floor for a vote on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCaul heads to the House floor for a vote on July 24, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is set to vote next week on what some Republicans are proudly calling “the toughest border security bill ever.”

But once the roll is called and the measure is passed, then what? Full story

January 21, 2015

Boehner Invites Netanyahu to Address Congress (Updated)

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 8: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his weekly press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner has invited Netanyahu to address Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 2:26 p.m. | House Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on Feb. 11 — an invitation the White House called a breach of normal protocol.

The invitation comes just hours after President Barack Obama, in his Tuesday night State of the Union address, warned lawmakers in both chambers he would veto any attempts to increase sanctions against Iran while the administration is involved in negotiations to limit the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

Boehner said at a press conference that he did not consult the White House prior to sending out the invitation, as is customary when it comes to coordinating such joint sessions.
Full story

January 20, 2015

Hoyer Mum on Whether He’ll Help Obama, GOP on Trade Deal

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 hasn’t committed his support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama likely will reiterate his call for Congress to pave the way for new trade negotiations — but House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is still demurring on how far he’ll go to help the administration achieve that goal.

The Maryland Democrat said Tuesday at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters that he was, and would continue, discussing the matter with the White House, Trade Representative Michael Froman and fellow members of House Democratic leadership. Full story

Boehner Invites Anti-Castro Cubans to Obama Speech

President Barack Obama greets Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on the House floor after the State of the Union address to Congress. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama greets Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on the House floor last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner’s list of invitees to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address includes two prominent Cuban dissidents, Jorge Luis García Pérez (known as Antúnez) and Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera.

Pérez is a leader of the Cuban resistance movement who was jailed for 17 years for publicly denouncing the Castro regime. He was released in 2007. Full story

January 19, 2015

Obama, GOP Clash Ahead of SOTU

President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon the Capitol's Rayburn Room. Enda Kenny, Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland, was in attendance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon the Capitol’s Rayburn Room on March 14, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A revitalized President Barack Obama and newly empowered Republican leaders are heading into Tuesday’s State of the Union address on a collision course.

At their joint retreat in Hershey, Pa., Republicans fresh off triumphant midterm elections said they are looking for the president to become a legislating partner — even as they promise bold, or even quixotic, clashes with Obama. Full story

Former Rep. Frank Wolf Will Lead Baylor University’s Efforts on Capitol Hill

Wolf will be working on religious freedom issues on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wolf will be focused on religious freedom on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After nearly 35 years representing Northern Virginia in Congress, former Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf plans to lead Baylor University’s efforts on Capitol Hill.

Wolf, who was an outspoken defender of religious minorities during his congressional career, particularly Christians in Iraq and Egypt, has been appointed the first Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom. The Texas-based university announced the move Monday, following the 75-year-old’s announcement in December 2013 that he planned to retire and pursue humanitarian work. Full story

January 16, 2015

Congressional Black Caucus Sees Leverage in Steve Scalise Protests

Protesters outside rallied outside the Capitol Hill Club on Jan. 13. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Protesters outside rallied outside the Capitol Hill Club on Jan. 13. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus see opportunity in the scandal that inspired a heart-shaped “KKK + GOP” sign outside a recent Capitol Hill Club fundraiser for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Revelations that the Louisiana Republican rejected a 1996 resolution in apologizing for slavery — six years before his 2002 address at a meeting of white supremacists — “disgusted” CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield, but the North Carolina Democrat says he doesn’t want to dwell on it. Full story

January 15, 2015

Boehner, McConnell Attempt to Define the Relationship

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio; and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speak to the press in the Capitol after meeting with the President. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner and McConnell. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

HERSHEY, Pa. — In their first joint public appearance since Mitch McConnell became Senate majority leader, Speaker John A. Boehner and the Senate’s top Republican came before a Washington press corps — assembled at Lebbie Lebkicher’s Restaurant in the Hershey Lodge Hotel — and described the new relationship between the House and Senate: separate, but together.

Boehner and McConnell were asked how the two chambers would work out the differences on a Department of Homeland Security funding bill, which is the first big test facing Congress. Full story

Van Hollen’s New Pitch for Democrats: Middle-Class Tax Cuts

Van Hollen, D-Md., delivers a speech at the Center For American Progress on middle-class wages, January 12, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Van Hollen’s proposal calls for middle-class tax cuts and new fees on Wall Street. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As House and Senate Republicans were plotting their legislative agenda in Hershey, Pa., Democrat Chris Van Hollen touted his own populist economic plan Thursday morning at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Van Hollen’s proposal — new fees on Wall Street to pay for middle-class tax relief — isn’t likely to go anywhere on Capitol Hill, at least not in the GOP-controlled 114th Congress. Full story

Lobbyists to Meet With Members at GOP Retreat (Updated)

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., participates in the press conference announcing House GOP leadership for upcoming session of Congress  on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCarthy made a pitch for Republican unity, but some are questioning why some lobbyists are on hand at the Hershey retreat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:44 p.m. | HERSHEY, Pa. — Republican lawmakers from the House and Senate came to Hershey for a joint retreat, to get on the same page and get away from Washington for a few days. But they won’t be getting away from lobbyists.

Quite the contrary, actually. According to a GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity to speak more candidly about the retreat, lobbyists — “for those who paid enough, I guess,” the lawmaker said — will be meeting with House Republicans later Thursday, once GOP senators have left after 5:30 p.m.

According to the member, plenty of House Republicans are scratching their heads at that decision. “What are lobbyists going to be doing up here?” the member said.

The president of the Congressional Institute, Mark Strand, who is part of the planning for the GOP retreat, told CQ Roll Call it was “not true” that House Republicans would be meeting with lobbyists at 5:30 p.m. Apparently, there are breakout sessions at that time. But Strand did confirm that “private sector supporters of the institute, some of whom are lobbyists, will attend a reception and dinner later tonight.”

In effect, yes, lobbyists will be meeting lawmakers in Hershey.

That’s nothing new, according to a senior GOP aide.

“While Democrats use taxpayer funds to sponsor their retreats, Republicans have had a long partnership with the bipartisan Congressional Institute to use private funds to organize our issues conferences,” said Nate Hodson, who is the deputy chief of staff for Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

A Democratic leadership aide, asked for a response to the news that Republicans would meet with lobbyists, said the purpose of House Democrats’ Caucus-wide conference was to formulate policy and legislative goals for the year. “Unlike our Republican counterparts, we don’t solicit or accept lobbyist and special interest money to host these working sessions, nor do we invite lobbyists or special interests to attend our conference.”

Overall, the lawmaker who spoke on background said the GOP retreat, which was supposed to put the House and Senate on the same page, had been somewhat disappointing. “It’s all branding, supposedly bigger picture stuff,” the lawmaker said.

“I’ve never been to marriage counseling, but I’m guessing you go there and everyone talks about all these grand things, and then you go back home and do the same old stuff you’ve been doing,” the member said.

The GOP lawmaker told CQ Roll Call that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had given a “pretty good speech” — saying, “he’s a pretty good speaker compared to Boehner” — that was mostly about what Republicans need to get out of Hershey, how they need to work together and with the states.

But the lawmaker questioned the wisdom of always consulting with the states. “Now wait a minute, you came from California: Everything fails there for Republicans,” the member said of McCarthy.

Still, the lawmaker said Republicans were discussing their 100-day strategy, how they have to get the Department of Homeland Security funding bill through, how they’ll start appropriations in February and how Republicans plan to get a budget done.

But the lawmaker was disappointed that Republicans seemed to want to only “nibble around on Obamacare” — and there didn’t seem to be any intention of using the budget reconciliation process to tackle the health care law.

“That to me is going to be the big one,” the lawmaker said. “You know, what’s going to happen with the reconciliation, if we’re going to use it for [Obamacare]. And McCarthy made no indication they’d use reconciliation for taking on Obamacare. They’re setting the basis for tax reform.”

Florida Republican Daniel Webster, fresh off his unsuccessful bid for the speaker, told CQ Roll Call Thursday afternoon that Republicans were getting ready to go into a session entirely on budget reconciliation. Earlier Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave a speech about managing expectations. According to Webster, McConnell told Republicans, “Look: Here’s how our process works. It’s pretty rough. We don’t have 60 votes. There are a lot of things that we’re going to have to work on with coalitions.”

Webster said the reaction to the speech was warm. “People get it,” he said. A former speaker of the Florida statehouse and state Senate majority leader, Webster said Congress works the same way that state legislatures work: “House proposes, Senate disposes.”

On the whole, lawmakers said the retreat had a definite ’90s theme, with speakers such as comedian Jay Leno, pollster Frank Luntz, columnist Peggy Noonan, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Arizona Republican Matt Salmon — who was in Congress in the ’90s, left in 2001, and came back in 2012 — compared the retreat to the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine.”

On the topic of jokes, Leno spoke to members Thursday night for about an hour, and according to the member who spoke on background, the joke that got the biggest laugh was that President “Barack Obama had so messed up this country, that Republicans aren’t even safe in their own country clubs.”

“That’s a joke, it means so much, because so many people still think that we go to exclusive resorts and don’t let people in to see what — oh, that’s kind of what we’re doing,” the lawmaker said ironically, aware that reporters would get limited access to lawmakers while Republicans met behind-closed-doors at a resort spa with a nine-hole golf course.

The lawmaker also said Republicans had a “big long spiel” on how the welfare overhaul happened in the ’90s.

“Find out what was the most popular song in 1995, and that’s the one they’re playing in there,” the lawmaker said.

For the record, Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was No. 1 that year.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

Related:

GOP Heads to Joint Retreat With Coordination, Realism on Agenda

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

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January 14, 2015

Abortion Bill Co-Sponsoring Debacle ‘Vexing’ for Democrat

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)

Adam Smith. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Co-sponsoring a bill in Congress doesn’t really mean all that much. But — maybe — it ought to at least mean a member has agreed to sign on, and will actually sign.

At least, that’s the argument Washington Democrat Adam Smith made on the House floor Wednesday. Full story

26 House Republicans Stand Up to Anti-DACA Contingent (Video) (Updated)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., 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)

Blackburn’s anti-DACA amendment was one of the five GOP riders attached to the Homeland Security funding bill that passed the House Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:24 p.m. | When House Republicans went to vote on their Department of Homeland Security funding bill Wednesday, they encountered an unusual dynamic.

Instead of the most conservative faction threatening to derail an amendment for not meeting certain ideological purity standards, it was the more moderate contingent rising up against a provision it argued went too far. Full story

Diaz-Balart Describes an Immigration Deal Undone

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Diaz-Balart remains a key figure in the ongoing Republican debate over immigration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Through most of last year, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart asked dozens of members, aides, advocates and reporters to trust him: He had a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill that could actually pass the House.

The proposed legislation that drove the Florida Republican for months ultimately came up short. But one week into the 114th Congress, with tensions around the immigration debate as high as ever, Diaz-Balart said there are rumblings about reviving the bill — the details of which were never shared publicly — that imploded last summer. Full story

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