Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

July 28, 2015

Watch Live: House Hearing on Iran Nuclear Deal

The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a Tuesday hearing on the Iran nuclear deal announced earlier this month. Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew are expected to testify.

Coverage begins at 10 a.m. Full story

By JM Rieger Posted at 9:57 a.m.
Foreign Policy, Iran, Videos

July 27, 2015

House GOP Threatens Contempt Vote for IRS Head

John Koskinen

Chaffetz announces next phase in Congress’s IRS investigation (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen is the latest Obama administration official House Republicans want fired — or, in Koskinen’s case, held in contempt of Congress, or even impeached.

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee put out the proverbial call for Koskinen’s head Monday, alleging he lied under oath and oversaw the destruction of key records that might have shone light on the IRS’s improper scrutiny of conservative nonprofit groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Full story

Why Eric Swalwell Endorsed Martin O’Malley

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speaks with Roll Call in his Capitol Hill office on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., endorsed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When it comes to 2016 endorsements, House Democrats were, until just a couple of days ago, divided into two camps : Those who had publicly endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for president and those who hadn’t.

Enter Rep. Eric Swalwell. Full story

McCarthy: House Won’t Take Up Senate Highway Bill Before Recess

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a message for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday: The House is not taking up the Senate highway bill before the August recess.

While the Senate rushes to passage on its more than 1,000-page, six-year highway bill, McCarthy was emphatic that the House would not consider the legislation before hitting the exits on Thursday for a five-week break. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:31 p.m.

On Highways and Ex-Im, House Watches Senate

Crowley (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is not enthusiastic about the Senate’s highway bill (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This week, the House is expected to take up legislation to make new major executive branch rules contingent upon congressional approval, consider a bill to streamline “accountability” at the Department of Veterans Affairs and vote on a whole slew of suspensions.

But it’s the legislative business not currently listed on the floor schedule that’s likely to make the most headlines in the last days before the monthlong August recess. Full story

July 25, 2015

For Planned Parenthood, Videos Take a Toll on Hill

Lankford, R-Okla., center, speaks with reporters as he and his fellow newly elected GOP Senators walk from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office to Minority Whip John Cornyn's office in the Capitol on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lankford is one of the Republicans expected to headline an anti-abortion rally at the Capitol Saturday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats have rallied to defend Planned Parenthood in the wake of the recent releases of two graphic undercover videos by an anti-abortion group, but the women’s health group is already feeling plenty of heat on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn, introduced the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, which would place a moratorium on federal funding for Planned Parenthood while it is under investigation. More than 100 members have joined her as co-sponsors on the bill.

A day earlier, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., pulled a bill from the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee which would have provided for fertility treatments and counseling for women veterans after an amendment related to Planned Parenthood was attached by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Full story

July 24, 2015

Democrats Push Back Hard on Clinton Email Story

Clinton waves to tourists as she makes her way through the Capitol en route to the Democratic Senate Policy luncheon, July 14, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Clinton  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For months, it looked like the partisan wrangling over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails might be relegated to the occasional House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing and that panel’s increasingly contentious clashes between Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy and ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings.

That changed dramatically Friday, after the New York Times reported two federal inspectors general had asked the Department of Justice to open a “criminal” investigation into the handling of classified information in some of the Clinton emails stored on her private server.

Within hours, Gowdy, Cummings, House Speaker John A. Boehner and the former secretary of State were firing off statements, trading quips and racing to react to a story the Clinton team immediately dismissed as without merit.

“Maybe the heat is getting to everyone,” Clinton said before a speech on the economy in New York Friday afternoon.

The DOJ initially confirmed the Times story before backing away a few hours later, specifically from the use of the word “criminal” in connection with the request, which came from two inspectors general from the State Department and intelligence agencies.

Cummings and other Democrats pounced, calling the Times’ report inaccurate.

Cummings said in a statement the DOJ told him directly the inspectors general’s request was “a ‘routine’ referral, and they have no idea how the New York Times got this so wrong.”

Clinton, who has agreed to an as-yet unscheduled appearance before the Benghazi panel, said, “I have said repeatedly that I will answer questions before the House Committee. We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part. But I’m aso going to stay focused on the issues, parituclarly the big issues that matter to American families.”

Boehner called on Clinton, who has ackowledged using a personal, home-based server to store thousands of emails from her tenure as secretary of State, to hand over the server “immediately.”

“Two inspector generals appointed by President Obama have now called on the Justice Department to investigate Secretary Clinton’s mishandling of classified email. If Secretary Clinton truly has nothing to hide, she can prove it by immediately turning over her server to the proper authorities and allowing them to examine the complete record,” Boehner said in a statement.

Gowdy echoed the speaker in his statement, saying, “The number of questions surrounding Secretary Clinton’s unusual email arrangement continues to grow.”

The Benghazi panel was created by Boehner in May 2014 to consolidate investigations into the September 2012 terror attack that killed four Americans in Libya, but Democrats have increasingly dismissed the committee’s efforts as a partisan witch hunt aimed at derailing Clinton’s bid for the presidency.


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By David Eldridge Posted at 4:37 p.m.

Despite White House’s Iran Blitz, Democrats Struggle With Backing Deal

The State Department isn't saying whether Kerry plans to testify May 29. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kerry is making frequent visits to Capitol Hill to sell lawmakers on the Iran nuclear agreement (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats were briefed on the Iran nuclear deal Thursday afternoon by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Earnest J. Moniz, but many sounded as undecided when they came out as when they went in.

“I’m working through it,” said Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. “That’s why we have 60 days.” Full story

July 23, 2015

Pelosi: Investigate the Makers of the Planned Parenthood Videos (Video)

Pelosi, D-Calif., holds up a copy of the Iran nuclear deal as she speaks during her weekly on camera media availability on Thursday, July 16, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi wants probe of anti-abortion activists behind the Planned Parenthood videos (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Following the release of a controversial hidden-camera video, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t buy the need to look into Planned Parenthood and the alleged sale of fetal tissue. In fact, with revelations the video was somewhat misleadingly edited, Pelosi thinks it’s time there’s an investigation into the makers of the clip.

“Everybody’s calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood,” the California Democrat said Thursday. “Let’s have an investigation of those people who were trying ensnare Planned Parenthood in a controversy that doesn’t exist.” Full story

Highway Bill Game of Chicken Imperils August Recess (Video)

UNITED STATES - JULY 10: Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., run into each other in the green room in between their weekly news conferences in the Capitol Visitor Center's Studio A, July 10, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner and Pelosi each urged the Senate to take the House’s highway bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With the Senate still working through a six-year highway bill, and with just four scheduled legislative days before the Highway Trust Fund runs dry — and the August recess begins — House leaders, Republican and Democratic, are sending a unified message to the Senate: Take our highway bill. Please.

Speaker John A. Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each separately used their individual news conferences to urge the Senate to put its six-year bill on the back burner and take up the five-month House-passed highway patch instead.

“The clock is ticking, time is running out on the Highway Trust Fund,” Pelosi said Thursday.

Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:44 p.m.

Boehner Admits CR Is Fate of Appropriations (Video)

UNITED STATES - JUNE 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during the House GOP leadership media availability following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner says a CR is likely. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With only 16 scheduled legislative days before government funding runs out, Speaker John A. Boehner finally acknowledged Thursday that the House and Senate were headed toward funding the government through a continuing resolution.

A CR, omnibus — or even cromnibus — is not out of the ordinary. Though funding the government through appropriations bills is so-called regular order, the last time Congress actually passed all 12 spending bills on time was 1997. Despite GOP leadership’s stated goal of restoring regular order and passing appropriations bills this year, it’s long been accepted that a spending deal would be necessary at the end of the fiscal year in September. (The Senate hasn’t passed a single appropriations bill this year.) Full story

July 22, 2015

Planned Parenthood Videos: Members Call for Dueling DOJ Probes

3: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., 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)

Lofgren and other Democrats want an investigation of the undercover sting that targeted Planned Parenthood. Republicans have called for a probe of the abortion provider itself. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of the release this week of another undercover video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for a Department of Justice investigation — but that’s where any bipartisan agreement ends.

Republicans want Attorney General Loretta Lynch to probe whether the nation’s largest provider of abortions is illegally harvesting and selling fetal organs and tissue, while Democrats want the Justice Department to look at whether the anti-abortion activists behind the videos went too far with their secretive recordings.

Democrats on Tuesday called for an investigation into the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group that has released two videos (and has promised more) that show Planned Parenthood executives discussing costs and procedures involved in their fetal tissue donation programs.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Zoe Lofgren of California and Jerrold Nadler and Yvette D. Clarke from New York jointly sent a letter to Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking for an investigation into whether the CMP broke any laws in going after Planned Parenthood.

“I know Planned Parenthood,” Lofgren told CQ Roll Call. “It’s one of those trusted organizations in my community. Unless I see proof to the contrary, I would be inclined to believe what Planned Parenthood is saying about this.” Lofgren serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which along with Energy and Commerce is looking into Planned Parenthood’s practices.

Planned Parenthood Vice President Eric Ferrero said in a statement the videos are part of a decade-long campaign to restrict abortion rights by “deceiving the public, making false charges and terrorizing women and their doctors.”

The first video, which surfaced last week, prompted the Republican chairs of both Judiciary and Energy and Commerce to call for hearings, and House GOP leaders have already cited the heavily-edited CMP clip as justification to push forward legislation that would restrict abortions and pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

Several states have also launched their own investigations into state chapters of the women’s health organization.

But Democratic House members, along with abortion-rights advocates across the country, are pushing back hard.

Wednesday’s letter sent to the attorneys general questioned the CMP’s credibility and the legality of its undercover operation under California laws regarding consent for audio-video recordings. Democrats also contend the group’s executive director, David Daleiden, has a checkered history, including involvement with the anti-abortion group Live Action and connections to controversial anti-abortion activist Troy Newman.

Daleiden put out a statement Wednesday, saying Planned Parenthood was using “political cronies” to persecute him and to “avoid accountability to the law and the American people.”

Schakowsky said Democrats were prepared to stand up for Planned Parenthood if Republicans try to cut federal funding.

“Republicans are so out of touch with where women are at right now,” she said, insisting that private decisions about women’s health care should not be in the hands of politicians. “This battle is a battle that these Republicans will lose because women are not going to go back.”

Democrats also raised concerns about the possible coordination between CMP and Republican congressmen, based on a story first reported by Roll Call last week.

Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin is one of the few Democratic members of the House Pro-life Caucus. Although he opposes abortion, he respects Planned Parenthood’s other services for women’s health so he hasn’t decided if he would vote to pull federal funding from the organization. “I’d want to know all the facts first but at this point I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.

Planned Parenthood has said the CMP videos, in which anti-abortion activists posing as buyers for a phony bio-medical research firm chat with officials about procuring fetal organs and tissues left over after abortions, are deceptively edited and that the CMP attempted to induce staff into possible criminal behavior.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a bill to prohibit any sale of fetal tissue acquired from abortions, which is currently legal as long as there is no monetary profit from the sale.

On the other side of the Capitol, a bipartisan group of 50 senators sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, urging cooperation with investigations and asking for an internal review of Planned Parenthood’s compliance with federal regulations. Just a day earlier, Sen. Ted Cruz’s office told a publication he would add an amendment to the highway bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, promised last week he would take similar steps.

Lynch briefly addressed the Planned Parenthood videos Wednesday at a press conference, telling reporters, “At this point, we’re going to review all the information and determine what steps, if any, to take at the appropriate time.”



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House GOP Appropriators Prepare for Sequester Showdown

Harold Rogers

Rogers, R-Ky., gathered top House GOP appropriators Wednesday for a meeting to discuss how to avoid a year-long continuing resolution (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders don’t want to be the first to flinch at Democrats’ calls to repeal sequester-level spending caps, but senior GOP appropriators emerged from a closed-door meeting Wednesday in agreement: Congress has to do something.

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., gathered his 12 subcommittee chairmen together to discuss next steps for the fiscal 2016 appropriations process that has ground to a halt on Capitol Hill with just 15 scheduled legislative days left to avert a government shutdown in September. Full story

Amid Skepticism on Hill, Obama Steps Up Iran Deal Lobbying

UNITED STATES - JUNE 11: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., makes his way to the House floor through the media pack, who were waiting for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCarthy says it’s not just Republicans objecting to the Iran deal.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the United Nations Security Council officially backing the Iran deal earlier this week, the Obama administration is picking up its congressional outreach efforts in order to quell a potential August mutiny over the nuclear agreement.

While it would take a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to stop the deal, Republican opposition has been immediate and steadfast — and Democratic support seems shaky, at best. Full story

House GOP Leaders Frosty on Senate Highway Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner is cool to the bill, and so are some Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate continues to work through a long-term highway bill, House Republicans and Democrats seem increasingly united on one thing: They’re not exactly enthusiastic about the legislation.

On Wednesday morning, Speaker John A. Boehner seemed less than eager to take up the Senate six-year highway bill. Full story

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