Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

January 21, 2016

GOP Request for Planned Parenthood Data Raises Privacy, Security Concerns


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Schakowsky raised concerns about documents requested by the panel investigating Planned Parenthood. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Six Democrats serving on a select panel investigating Planned Parenthood are accusing their Republican counterparts of issuing document requests that “pose grave privacy and security concerns.”

In a letter sent Thursday to the panel’s Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the Democratic members of the select committee cite a recent request to a health care provider in which Republicans ask for “a list of any students, residents, or other medical personnel” who have participated in an abortion, prenatal or postnatal infant care, as well as all communications between the provider and any government officials.

Full story

Rahm Emanuel, in Panel on Policing, Doesn’t Mention Laquan McDonald


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel participates in a panel discussion at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 84th Winter Meeting being held at the Capitol Hilton, January 20, 2016. Also appearing are St. Louis Police Chief Col. D. Samuel Dotson III, left, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, second from right, and Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Chicago Mayor Emanuel spoke on a policing panel, and didn’t mention the shooting of Laquan McDonald. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Only a few blocks away from the White House where he once served as chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke on a panel about community policing, but did not so much as mention Laquan McDonald.

Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting, Emanuel weighed in on reducing violence and improving relationships between police and communities, but without referencing McDonald, the black 17-year-old shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer in 2014. The footage of the fatal shooting, which appeared to show McDonald holding a small knife and walking away from police, was not released until late last year; it has led to calls by some for the mayor to resign.

Full story

January 20, 2016

Iran Swap, Flint Water Crisis Put Kildee in Spotlight


Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., worked for both release of Flint native Hekmati from Iranian custody and more attention to Flint water crisis(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Kildee worked for both release of Flint native Hekmati from Iranian custody and more attention to Flint water crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a rare confluence of events, Michigan Democrat Dan Kildee finds himself at the center of two of the country’s biggest political stories this week. One ended Saturday, with the release of Flint native Amir Hekmati and four other Americans from an Iranian prison. The other, the federal state of emergency over lead poisoning in Flint’s water, was just beginning. Full story

January 15, 2016

Ryan’s 5-Point Plan to Promote the GOP


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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced here Friday his five-point plan for a policy agenda to help Republicans sweep the 2016 elections: addressing national security, restoring economic growth, rethinking healthcare, overhauling poverty programs and restoring the constitution.

“These are the ideas that we will be advancing,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “We will work with our colleagues through our committee-led task forces. That means every member and their constituents will have the chance to provide their input. I suspect that we will have a complete agenda by the time we have a nominee.”

Ryan said lawmakers, working across committees, would flesh out these broad ideas and bring proposals back to the GOP leadership. He declined to specify what form the agenda would take and whether the House will eventually vote on the ideas that members develop.

“We haven’t finalized the process; we just launched the process,” he said, standing with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

“The point is the four of us aren’t going to predetermine everything,” Ryan added. “That’s not the style we have here. So we’re going to do this together with our members. But believe you me, the people of this country will know who we are and what we stand for when this is done, and they will be given a choice in 2016.”

McCarthy, speaking with reporters after the news conference, declined to say whether the agenda would take the form of a policy blueprint rather than actual legislation. “We don’t want to prejudge” the outcome, he said. “We will roll everything out. Do we roll it out all together? Do we roll it out individually? The conference will decide together.”

Much of the work will be done by what Ryan called  “committee-led tasks forces,” McCarthy said. “He does not want to to go around committees, but when you take those five different buckets, right, there’s different committees working within that. … You’re going to have these different groups of committee chairs working in these tasks forces, so it goes through committee.”

McMorris Rodgers said the committee chairmen will lead the effort to flesh out the agenda and that process will start immediately.

“Some if it will be within the committee,” she said. “But then there will be opportunities made available for all members to have an opportunity to be a part of submitting ideas, having a conversation about what exactly is the strategy in that policy areas.”

Asked about whether the agenda would appeal to all of the GOP nominees, Ryan said, “This is about ideas, not personalities.”

The goal is to put together an agenda that fixes problems and will make Congress work again. “We’re not sitting here thinking about how the nominee is going to be,” he said. “We don’t have time to think about that.”

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

Contact McPherson at lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @lindsemcpherson

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January 14, 2016

The Continuing Education of Elton Gallegly


(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gallegly walks down the Capitol steps after a series of votes in 2012, his last year in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A college dropout who learned the hard way that cutting ties with Congress is sometimes easier said than done, former Rep. Elton Gallegly is currently contemplating how to best prepare the next generation of public servants.

“How many people really know what public service is?” the 13-term California Republican, who has since lent his name and lifetime of experience to the eponymous Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement at California Lutheran University, posited Tuesday.

Full story

Everybody’s for Curing Cancer


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 03: Vice President Joe Biden makes remarks during a bust unveiling ceremony for former Vice President Dick Cheney in the Capitol Visitor Center's Emancipation Hall, December 3, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Biden will spearhead a campaign to cure cancer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama’s call for a cure for cancer during his State of the Union address placed him in a long line of real and fictional political leaders who have made the same appeal, using much of the same language, from President Richard M. Nixon in 1971 to President Josiah Bartlet on a 2002 episode of the television show “The West Wing.”

Only, Obama’s proposal to “make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” could actually gain some traction. While the details of the plan — including such basics as how much it would cost and where the money would be spent — were still unclear the day after his address, the proposal was greeted with considerable interest and support from congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. Full story

January 13, 2016

The Ryan Speakership Will Be on Time


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12 - President Barack Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Behind him Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan listen. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Obama didn’t mention the 10 sailors captured by Iran. The House missed its chance to register its displeasure on Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans eager to register their displeasure with the Obama administration’s posture toward Iran teed up an easy vote for their members Wednesday: A bill to tighten oversight of the Iran nuclear sanctions program.

There was just one thing they forgot to do: Show up on time. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 2:18 p.m.
GOP Brand

January 12, 2016

Ryan’s Guest List Reinforces Focus on Poverty


Ryan has promised to vote on an override of Obama's expected veto of the reconciliation bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan has invited “front line poverty fighters” as his guest for the State of the Union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan is using the occasion of the first State of the Union Address since he took his GOP leadership position to signal that tackling poverty and other urban ills will remain atop his agenda as he attempts to rally his fractious party around a common set of goals.

Ryan has invited a long list of anti-poverty advocates to join him for Tuesday night’s address, including an advocate of a welfare overhaul considered one of Ryan’s mentors, a Texas pastor who ministers to former gang members and a former homeless woman who founded a nonprofit group for homeless youth.

Full story

Pelosi on Whether Hillary Clinton Would Work Better With Congress


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In her Power Brokers interview, Pelosi dishes on what it was like to work with Steny Hoyer in her first job. (SideXSide Studios)

Wait, was that an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?

In this first clip from an exclusive interview with Roll Call to kick off our new Power Brokers series of weekly newsmaker interviews, Pelosi discussed why and how a President Hillary Clinton might have a better chance of working with House Republicans than President Barack Obama has.

Full story

January 11, 2016

D.C. Mayor One of Ryan’s State of the Union Guests


Bowser will be one of Ryan's guests at the State of the Union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser will be one of Ryan’s guests at the State of the Union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser will attend the State of the Union Tuesday as one of Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s guests, according to her spokesman. Full story

January 8, 2016

Giffords Marks Fifth Anniversary of Safeway Shooting


UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, center, gets a hug from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., left, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., after Giffords threw out the first pitch before the Congressional Women's Softball game that pits Congresswomen against female journalists at Watkins Recreation Center on Capitol Hill, June 18, 2014. Team Congress prevailed in a 10-5 victory. The game benefits the Young Survival Coalition that helps young women with breast cancer. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Giffords, center, gets a hug from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz left, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand after Giffords threw out the first pitch before the Congressional Women’s Softball game in June 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s been five years since former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot at a Safeway in her district, a mass shooting that injured 12 others and killed six at a “Congress on Your Corner” event in Casas Adobes near Tucson.

To mark the anniversary, Giffords was in Washington this week. On Thursday, she attended President Barack Obama’s town hall on guns on CNN, and on Friday was at the D.C. headquarters for Americans for Responsible Solutions, the advocacy group she and husband Mark Kelly founded after the shooting, to meet with some of her former congressional staffers and friends. Full story

Capitol Visitor Center Gets Body Scanners


Capitol Police screen visitors with full body scanners at the Visitor Center.

Capitol Police screen visitors with full body scanners at the Capitol Visitor Center. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

U.S. Capitol Police is beefing up security at the Capitol Visitor Center by installing full body scanners.

But the department won’t say if the move comes as part of extra measures put in place ahead of President Barack Obama’s Jan. 12 State of the Union address, or if visitors can expect the machines to be long-term fixtures.

Full story

January 7, 2016

Pelosi: North Korea Sanctions Bill to Receive Bipartisan Support


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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a bill toughening sanctions against North Korea is “ready to go.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bill to strengthen U.S. sanctions on North Korea is expected to get a House vote as soon as next week, and it will receive broad bipartisan support, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. Full story

Reconciliation Hasn’t Always Been a Street Fight


Ryan has promised to vote on an override of Obama's expected veto of the reconciliation bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan has promised a vote on an override of Obama’s expected veto of the reconciliation bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The budget reconciliation process sounds complicated and partisan, but it wasn’t always so.

The legislative tactic, which is popular because it averts the Senate filibuster, aims to align taxes and spending with the annual budget resolution that Congress can, but doesn’t always, pass. It’s a way to change high-profile programs, such as entitlements or the tax code, without having to worry about as many procedural roadblocks.

Basically, in partisan times, partisan legislation is easier to pass using reconciliation. Full story

ACA Repeal Bill Goes to Obama, but What About Replacement?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 6: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., left, speaks with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans on Wednesday celebrated achievement of a long-held goal to send a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act to President Barack Obama’s desk, but now they must decide whether they can, or should send him an alternative health care plan.

That question has many different answers, depending whom you ask, and will likely not be decided until after a bicameral GOP retreat in Baltimore on Jan. 13-15. But House Republicans say they are committed to at least putting out an alternative plan to show voters what Congress could do with the help of a Republican president in 2017.

“We’re going to show our hand; it’s not going to be cards close to vests,” said House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, whose panel shares jurisdiction over health care with the Ways and Means and Education and the Workforce committees.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, during a speech at the Library of Congress on Dec. 3, said that in 2016 Republicans would “unveil a plan to replace every word of Obamacare.” He noted there are a lot of ideas on how to do that, but said conservatives agree “government should encourage personal responsibility, not replace it.”

When asked about an alternative Wednesday, Ryan said only, “Just wait.”

Ryan spent a lot of time early last year when he was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee working with Upton, a Michigan Republican, and Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., on a replacement plan. Their working group was tasked with preparing for a possible Supreme Court decision overturning the Affordable Care Act tax subsidies, but when the court ruled to uphold the subsidies, their discussions largely stopped.

“It’s in a drawer,” Kline said Wednesday when asked what happened to that work. “We’ve got a lot of draft stuff.”

Upton said those draft materials closely resemble a plan he released with Sens. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., and Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah.

Putting together a widely endorsed health care alternative, as seems to be Ryan’s goal, will be much more complicated.

“Here’s where we’re blessed: we’ve got a number of replacement plans from some very smart, informed leaders in the House,” Ryan’s successor on Ways and Means, Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said. “Part of our challenge will be working among the committees in regular order, each tacking their part of the replacement plan and putting that together. That’s going to be part of the discussion at the retreat.”

While much of discussion at the retreat will likely focus on a full Republican health care alternative, Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, told Roll Call he would like to work with Democrats on more incremental changes that can possibly pass this year. He said he was having dinner Wednesday night with Democrats and Republicans to begin those discussions.

“My intent is to make law, not to make noise,” Tiberi said. “Nobody believes we’re going to get a 60-vote threshold in the Senate even if we pick up the White House, so we’re still going to have to deal with Democrats.”

Democrats have expressed willingness to tinker with small parts of the law, but they have always stood with Obama against repeal efforts and expressed doubt the GOP will ever produce a full replacement.

“We’re waiting. And it’s never appeared,” Ways and Means ranking member Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., said. “And we’ve been pushing them. They’ve always said, ‘It’s going to happen.’ But it never has happened. So we’ll see.”

Even some Republicans are doubtful that an alternative will materialize. “The reason it’s difficult to come out with a plan is because there’s different ideas on what the right plan is. People are all over the map on that,” House Freedom Caucus founding member Raul R. Labrador, R-Idaho, said.

“Replacing Obamacare is just actually replacing it with another government-run program,” he added, “and I think some of us as conservatives don’t want the government to be running that.”

At the same time, other conservative members have been frustrated with leadership’s failure over the past few years to move GOP ideas forward. “Those plans have been developed, but that’s part of the friction,” HFC member Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said.

For now, members believe Ryan when he says things will be different this year. “I think you’re going to see the replacement pieces coming forward,” Pearce said.

If Republicans do release an ACA alternative in 2016, election-year politics may prevent it from moving through the legislative process. Ryan has demurred when asked if Republicans would advance their ideas through blueprints or actual legislation, saying it’s up to members to decide.

“Whether we have a floor vote or whether we lay out principles, people are going to know what we stand for,” Upton said. “And we need to do that. And we will.”

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report. 

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