Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 27, 2014

August 12, 2014

CBC Members Call for Full DOJ Investigation Into Ferguson Shooting (Updated)

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Fudge and other members call on the Justice Department to look at the police shooting of an unarmed African-American teen in Ferguson, Mo. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 12:18 p.m. | The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus and two of her colleagues are calling on the Justice Department to probe deeply into the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, co-signed a letter Monday evening addressed to Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr., with Judiciary ranking member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and the Democratic lawmaker who represents the Ferguson area, Rep. William Lacy Clay.

The letter acknowledged and expressed gratitude for the DOJ investigation already underway regarding the incident, in which a Ferguson policeman shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Police have said the teen tried to take an officer’s gun, but at least one witness said the teen was shot without cause.

“The St. Louis County Police Department, which is currently investigating the shooting, claims that the shooting occurred after Mr. Brown assaulted the officer and the two men struggled for the officer’s gun,” the members wrote, “but local community members have expressed strong skepticism and outrage about this explanation. According to one eye witness account, several shots hit Mr. Brown as he attempted to flee with his hands in the air … More broadly, press reports suggest that Mr. Brown’s shooting may be symptomatic of larger racial tensions in Ferguson.”

Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 11:31 a.m.
Uncategorized

August 11, 2014

House Democrat: Look for Obama Impeachment if GOP Wins

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Clyburn predicts Obama’s impeachment if GOP holds House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

During a Twitter town hall event Monday, Rep. James E. Clyburn, the assistant minority leader, predicted that if Republicans retain the House, President Barack Obama will be impeached.

Responding to a question from Twitter user @LiberalPhenom asking when Democrats would stand up to Republicans and shut down the talk of Obama’s impeachment, Clyburn didn’t seem to think there was a real way to do that.

Of course, Republicans already hold the House, and if any member wanted a vote on impeachment proceedings, he or she could get it within two legislative days.

While there has been some chatter on the right about impeachment, it’s been Democrats who have been using the talk to their benefit, fundraising off the threat and dinging Republicans for the thus-far-theoretical effort.

When CQ Roll Call checked in with some of the most conservative members of the House, no one seemed ready to draft articles of impeachment — at least not yet.

 

While Clyburn’s prediction is dependent on Republicans maintaining the House, it will likely be tested. Hardly anyone believes the House will flip control. Instead, this seems like another effort from Democrats to play up the impeachment talk to make the case that, come November, voters should go with Democrats.

By Matt Fuller Posted at 3:48 p.m.
Barack Obama

August 8, 2014

McCarthy Sets Up Votes on Messaging Bills Ahead of Midterms

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy doesn’t state the obvious in his Friday memo to colleagues about what the chamber must contend with next month: Avoiding a government shutdown at the end of September.

The California Republican instead outlined some other legislative items that could come to the floor in the few short weeks Congress is back in Washington before recessing again, bills that appear designed to give members prime messaging opportunities in their last sprint to the midterm elections. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 4:48 p.m.
Kevin McCarthy

Congressional Leaders Back Iraq Airstrikes; Hawks Push for Broader War on ISIL

Updated 11:22 a.m. | Congressional leaders are backing President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize air strikes in Iraq as the first bombs began falling, although hawks are pushing for a far broader military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also knowns as ISIS.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced Friday morning that the U.S. had dropped bombs on assets of the group.

“Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located,” Kirby said. “The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief.”

Full story

August 7, 2014

Watch Live: CDC Director Testifies on Ebola Threat Before House Committee

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations holds a 2 p.m. hearing on the Ebola virus, which has reportedly killed more than 900 people.

Witnesses include: Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, the assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and representatives from the State Department, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM.

 

August 6, 2014

Democrats Commemorate Voting Rights Act Anniversary as Legislative Fix Remains Elusive

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Lewis, right, is greeted by David Goodman, brother of the civil rights worker Andrew Goodman, who was killed in Mississippi in 1964, before a news conference and vigil at the House Triangle to support of the Voting Rights Amendment Act on June 24. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats commemorated the 48th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act last year with hopes that by today a fix for the landmark law would have reached President Barack Obama’s desk.

But on Wednesday, its 49th birthday came and went with no clear endgame for advancing legislation, and lawmakers took to email inboxes and social media to articulate their continued determination to get something done.

“Until House Republican leadership works with Democrats to protect this fundamental right, [voting rights] will continue to be at risk,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 3:52 p.m.
Uncategorized

August 5, 2014

Boehner: Time for Obama to Reassess Afghanistan Withdrawal Strategy

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Boehner wants Obama to reassess his Afghanistan withdrawal strategy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner says it’s time for President Barack Obama to reassess his strategy for withdrawing from Afghanistan after an attack left a general dead.

“What happened today is not only a personal tragedy, but a setback that demands leaders in Washington and Kabul take time to assess the state of our shared campaign and the necessary steps forward,” the Ohio Republican said. “The Taliban’s recent campaign of high-profile attacks is calculated to accompany a global PR strategy highlighting the fact that U.S. and coalition forces will soon be leaving Afghanistan and abandoning its weak and ineffective government. The Taliban wants everyone to know it will soon dominate all aspects of life in Afghanistan once again.

“I have told the President privately and publicly that my biggest concern is that America will end its mission in Afghanistan just short of the goal line. After my visit there in May, I warned that if we did not demonstrate a determination to finish the job, we would be looking at a reversal of progress similar to what we have seen in Iraq. The national security interests of our country are too high, and too much sacrifice has been made to watch that happen. So let me reiterate: if the President decides to re-think his strategy, including withdrawals, deadlines, and policy restraints, particularly on certain associated terrorist networks, he will have my support.” Full story

Freshman Democrat Invites Speaker to Southwest Border

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Gallego has invited Boehner to the border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama isn’t the only high-profile politician who hasn’t felt a need to visit the U.S.-Mexico border yet.

On Tuesday, Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman suggested that his boss, too, was for the time being plenty well-versed on the issues that culminated in last Friday’s party-line vote on $694 million legislation to address the crisis caused by the child migrant surge.

“The Speaker has heard from many, including our Border Working Group led by Texas Rep. Kay Granger, about the humanitarian crisis on our southern border. That’s why the House acted last week on legislation to provide needed relief and begin to fix the problems,” said the Ohio Republican’s spokesman, Michael Steel. “At this point, President Obama should call Senate Democrats back to Washington to act, too.”

Steel’s statement came swiftly in response to a CQ Roll Call inquiry about a press release from the office of freshman Democrat Pete Gallego of Texas, who has sent Boehner a written invitation to come down and see the crisis first-hand. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 3:11 p.m.
Immigration

After Border Drama, Republicans Assess Steve Scalise

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Scalise, left, faced an important test during the border funding fight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Newly installed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise helped resurrect the GOP’s border legislation last week, but his strategy for shoring up the votes has left some members and aides wondering whether he will be able to keep an unruly flock in line.

Worrying about making the rank and file happy, he assisted in salvaging a $694 million appropriations measure to bolster resources at the U.S.-Mexico border largely by giving in to the demands of the far-right contingent of the GOP conference — including Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota — rather than bringing down the proverbial hammer.

There’s anxiety among more moderate parts of the party over how Scalise will help hold the conference together to avoid another government shutdown when the chamber reconvenes next month, and how his own desires to win re-election to the whip position in November could factor into how he does his job.

Full story

August 4, 2014

Marlin Stutzman’s Long Game

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Stutzman first arrived in 2010, and has bigger-picture goals that are years in the making. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Marlin Stutzman knows how to plant seeds.

When the Indiana Republican mounted his campaign for majority whip, it was such a long shot he didn’t expect to win — at least not this time.

No one else really expected Stutzman to prevail in the three-way leadership contest, either. But he’s looking years down the road, and is glad he took the gamble.

“Some people are afraid to lose. … Sometimes you have to lose in order to build something for the future,” Stutzman told CQ Roll Call during an hourlong interview in his 7th floor Longworth office.

It’s a lesson he knows well, as a member who entered the House in November 2010 after losing the Indiana Republican Senate primary to Dan Coats in May of that year.

Stutzman, who calls himself “an overachieving farmer,” didn’t see much downside to running and losing. This race was more about getting his name out there to let his colleagues know he’s interested in leadership.

His goal was to build relationships within the GOP conference. Stutzman said a lesson he learned from his scramble into leadership elections was that the conference is not as divided as many think, that the differences are more over strategy than policy.

So what does Stutzman want? The fourth-generation soybean, green bean and seed corn farmer doesn’t exactly seem to know.

Full story

August 2, 2014

Michele Bachmann: ‘Handcuff’ the ‘Lawless President’s Hands’ (Video)

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Bachmann speaks with the media Friday about border and immigration legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tea party firebrand Michele Bachmann suggested late Friday on the House floor that Congress should put handcuffs on the “lawless president’s hands” — a remark that brought a rebuke from the chair and appears to violate House rules.

The Minnesota Republican made the figurative remark while speaking on the floor during debate on legislation ending the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program granting deportation relief and work permits to some children brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The legislation also would prohibit President Barack Obama from expanding the program to other illegal immigrants as the president reportedly is considering whether to expand the program to as many as 5 million people.

Bachmann said House passage of the bill would “put a handcuff on one of the president’s hands” and said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should bring the Senate back and pass the bill.

“He needs to put the other handcuff on this lawless president’s hands,” she said as she grabbed one of her wrists.

The chair admonished Bachmann immediately after she was finished speaking: “The chair wishes to remind members to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president.” Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:20 p.m.
Immigration

August 1, 2014

Eric Cantor Skips Final Immigration Votes

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Cantor walking through the halls of the Capitol for what could quite likely be the last time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Eric Cantor bid the House farewell in a floor speech Thursday, he apparently meant it.

At the time, Cantor had not yet disclosed his intent to resign his seat as of Aug. 18. He was merely ending his tenure as majority leader a little less than two months after his sudden primary defeat in June, handing the gavel off to his successor, Kevin McCarthy of California.

But when it came time for a major test for Cantor’s House Republicans, the ousted Virginian was already long gone.

Cantor was among the 20 lawmakers who did not vote Friday night, on what was meant to be the first official date of the five-week August recess. The House, like the Senate, was scheduled to go home the day before, but lawmakers were forced to stay an extra day to get consensus on legislation to address the child migrant border surge at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Full story

Republicans Vote to End DACA After Tense Floor Debate (Updated) (Video)

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Scalise and McCarthy saw Republicans rally to pass border and immigration bills on their first day in their new jobs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:51 p.m. | House Republicans voted to prohibit President Barack Obama from granting what they consider to be an unconstitutional amnesty to illegal immigrants Friday.

The bill would effectively end Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — a program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” brought to the United States illegally by their parents to get work permits and avoid deportation. And it would prohibit the president from expanding the program, as he has been reportedly considering doing for as many as five million additional immigrants.

The 216-192 vote included four Democrats voting “yes” — Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, John Barrow of Georgia, and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia.

Eleven Republicans broke ranks to oppose it — Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Jeff Denham of California, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Mike Coffman of Colorado, David Valadao of California, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, David Reichert of Washington, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Joe Heck of Nevada, Mark Amodei of Nevada, and Fred Upton of Michigan.

The bill won’t get taken up any time soon by the Democrat-controlled Senate, which already left for August recess. And it’s unlikely to be signed into law by Obama, who started DACA through an executive action in 2012 and vowed to veto the bill earlier Friday. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 9:58 p.m.
Immigration

House Republicans Rally to Pass Border Funding Bill

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King praised changes made to the border package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:04 p.m. | House Republicans found the votes late Friday night to pass a $694 million appropriations bill aimed at stemming the tide of the child migrant surge at the U.S-Mexico border.

It passed almost entirely along party lines, 223-189, freeing Republicans to go home for the August recess able to tell constituents they took action to address the crisis — unlike the Senate, which was unable to pass its own border funding bill Thursday but left town anyway. Only a single Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, voted for the package.

Four Republicans voted no: Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina and Paul Broun of Georgia.

The House’s bill, however, isn’t expected to go anywhere, with Democrats and President Barack Obama torching it Friday. Full story

GOP Leaders Pitch Revised Border Package, Hope to Vote Today (Updated)

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King is now leaning towards backing the bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:44 p.m. | House Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting Friday morning with a revised plan to address the child migrant border crisis — one leaders hope to pass later today.

The latest plan will still require the House to vote on the border funding bill before being allowed to vote on language to stop the expansion of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to members exiting the conference meeting.

Both components, however, will look slightly different.

The appropriations bill, which was $659 million on Thursday night, will now include an additional $35 million to bolster National Guard resources at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill, which also contains numerous related policy riders, will also expand on language tweaking a 2008 trafficking law in order to expedite deportations of the migrants.

The measure originally called for treating all unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border the same in terms of whether they could volunteer for deportation back to their home countries. Now, the legislation will incorporate the stronger language of legislation recently introduced by Republican Reps. John Carter of Texas, Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Jack Kingston of Georgia.

Full story

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