Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

December 11, 2014

Nail-Biting Vote Moves ‘Cromnibus’ Closer to House Passage (Video)

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Waters and other Democrats slammed “last-minute” riders in the “cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The product of hours and hours of hard-fought negotiations could be lost Thursday if House Democrats decide, just hours before the government is to due to shut down, to band together and rebuff a trillion-dollar federal spending bill over two so-called “poison pill” policy riders.

Judging by a nail-bitingly close vote on a procedural measure to bring the legislation to the floor for full consideration, Democrats could have leverage to get the riders scrapped, or at least kill the bill and force what could be a better or worse deal, depending who’s being asked: A three-month continuing resolution that would fund government operations into the new year.

“If we don’t get finished today, we’re going to be here until Christmas,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, warned. In a rare move for the House’s most senior lawmaker, Boehner voted on the rule to give his party another “yes.”

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Boehner Backs Bill, Condemns ‘Cromnibus’ Process (Video)

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Boehner acknowledged frustrations with “cromnibus” process. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The “cromnibus” came together with a last-minute backroom deal between Republicans and Democrats that forced the House to vote on the 1,603-page measure before anyone could reasonably read it, and plenty of lawmakers are upset — including Speaker John A. Boehner.

“This is exactly the way I don’t want to do business,” Boehner said Thursday, just hours before the House was slated to vote on the funding package.

The Ohio Republican campaigned for the speaker’s gavel by pledging to give lawmakers 72 hours before voting on pieces of legislation, and he’s previously been an opponent of pieces of thousand-page legislation.

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Ohio Democrat Pushes Healthy Eating as Fiscal Issue

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Ryan, right, with Rep. Lois Capps, is working to get his colleagues to equate healthy eating with saving money on government health care costs. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tim Ryan’s ideal world would contain children snacking on salad at the school lunch table, local farmers supplying organic fruit to universities and community gardens replacing even the most dilapidated urban centers.

“The Real Food Revolution: Healthy Eating, Green Groceries, and the Return of the American Family Farm” offers a blueprint for federal policies the Ohio Democrat believes could open a pathway to such a society.

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‘Cromnibus’ Strains GOP Principles on Open Process

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Boehner put a brave face on the accelerated “cromnibus” process Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the House prepares to pass a trillion dollar, 1,603-page “cromnibus” Thursday, at least one criticism can be applied to both Republicans and Democrats when the bill comes to a vote: few lawmakers — if any — will have read the entire thing.

It’s not that a $1.1 trillion piece of legislation can — or should — be written in 140 characters like a tweet, or as a 4,543-word document, such as the Constitution. But the cromnibus, coming in at 289,861 words, represents a particularly challenging public relations moment for members of Congress. Full story

December 10, 2014

GOP to Bring Up Bill Blocking Obama Immigration Action — Next Year

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Heather Pina-Ledezma, 6, attends a Wednesday news conference in the Capitol with Democratic senators and families impacted by Obama’s executive action on undocumented immigrants and to call on Republicans to pass immigration legislation. Heather’s mother, Madai, is from Mexico but Heather was born in Annapolis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While it may be little consolation to conservatives, House Republicans announced their intention Wednesday to vote on an amendment — in January, when the new Congress is sworn in — that would block the president’s executive action on immigration.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions said during a panel hearing on the “cromnibus” Wednesday that Republicans plan to bring up legislation similar to an amendment offered by Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina that would prohibit the president from carrying out his immigration action. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 6:13 p.m.
Uncategorized

Gowdy Indicates Monthly Benghazi Hearings Until ‘Questions Answered’

 

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Gowdy said hearings will take place in January, February, March, and until questions are answered. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pushing back at critics who contend it’s time to move on from Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy opened Wednesday’s House hearing on the 2012 terror attack with a promise of more action next year.

“I remain keenly aware that there are those on both sides of the aisle who have concluded that all questions have been answered, there is nothing left to do, no more witnesses left to talk to, no more documents to review,” said Gowdy, who was chosen by Speaker John A. Boehner last spring to consolidate multiple ongoing House probes of the incident. Full story

Democrats’ Discontent on ‘Cromnibus’ Bubbles to Surface

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Israel characterized House Democrats’ reaction to the spending bill as grim. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republican leaders try to shore up support for the “cromnibus” on their side of the aisle, it’s becoming less of a sure bet that House Democrats can be relied upon to make up for the shortfall if need be.

After taking a “wait-and-see” approach over the past week on the massive appropriations bill needed to fund the government past Thursday, Democrats on Wednesday began staking out positions — from consternation to flat-out opposition — to the 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion measure unveiled the night before. Full story

House Republicans Scattered on ‘Cromnibus’ Support

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How many Republicans will bolt on Boehner? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just hours after releasing the text of a 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to fund the government, House GOP leaders stood before their members Wednesday morning to sell the plan.

Lawmakers emerging from the closed-door meeting offered a checkered assessment of the collective response among the rank-and-file, and a true read on the level of support for the bill within the conference might not come until the formal whipping begins later Wednesday afternoon. Full story

Watch: Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Second Hearing

The House Select Committee on Benghazi holds its second hearing, titled “Reviewing Efforts to Secure U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel.”

The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

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

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December 9, 2014

Lawmakers Release Massive ‘Cromnibus’ 2 Days Ahead of Shutdown

With roughly 51 hours left before the government runs out of cash, lawmakers released the text Tuesday night of a massive 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to keep federal agencies running past Dec. 11.

The spending package, a carefully negotiated piece of legislation between the Republican House and Democratic Senate, would fund the vast majority of government operations through September with the notable exception of the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans, frustrated by President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, want to tighten the purse strings on the DHS, which the bill funds only to Feb. 27. DHS is the agency charged with carrying out much of the president’s immigration orders. Full story

House to Move TRIA Bill Separately

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McCarthy and the House GOP plan to move a separate terrorism insurance bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a gambit to jam the Senate, House Republicans are moving ahead with a standalone Terrorism Risk Insurance Act bill they intend to pass in the coming days, taking TRIA out of cromnibus negotiations and risking the program’s future.

As of Tuesday afternoon, TRIA was one of the major remaining roadblocks in cromnibus negotiations, with House Republicans insisting on changes to the Dodd-Frank Act that would alter collateral rules for certain companies trading derivatives.

According to an aide for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House is now moving forward with a plan to pass a separate TRIA bill and take the issue out of cromnibus negotiations. The House Rules Committee posted language of the TRIA bill Tuesday afternoon.

With the House and Senate unable to come to a compromise on TRIA, House Republicans are hoping they can force the Senate’s hand by passing the terrorism risk insurance legislation with their Dodd-Frank changes.

But as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether such a tactic would work — or whether it would derail TRIA.

“This is an attempt to kill the bill, pure and simple,” a Senate Democratic aide told CQ Roll Call. “Adding in an extraneous, unrelated Dodd-Frank issue that Democrats, and the administration, oppose to a bipartisan TRIA bill that has been carefully negotiated puts the future of TRIA in doubt.”

Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 1:20 p.m.
Uncategorized

Unknowns Abound on ‘Cromnibus’ — Even for Steny Hoyer

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What’s in the “cromnibus”? Hoyer says he’s waiting to find out, like everyone else. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

All of Capitol Hill is watching and waiting for text of the so-called “cromnibus” to be revealed and the House’s No. 2 Democrat is no exception.

At his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters Tuesday morning, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that he, along with most others, expected the fiscal 2015 appropriations package to be filed before the end of Monday, keeping Congress on track to adjourn for the year on Thursday and avoid a government shutdown.

Now, Hoyer said, the prospect of having to pass a two- or three-day continuing resolution to keep federal operations running while lawmakers cross the T’s and dot the I’s is looking more likely. Full story

Gruber Apologizes for ‘Glib, Thoughtless, Insulting’ Remarks (Updated) (Video)

 

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Issa called Gruber’s comments “deceitful.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 10:50 a.m. | Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare consultant who has become a lightning rod for critics of the health care law for his comments about “the stupidity of the American voter,” apologized again on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped write the Affordable Care Act was summoned to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer for controversial comments that have surfaced in recent weeks on the Internet.

As the hearing got underway Tuesday, Gruber admitted missteps in talking about the passage of the 2010 law. Full story

December 8, 2014

Cromnibus Stalling Behind Closed Doors (Updated)

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It appears Rogers has a little more work to do. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:37 p.m. | With “cromnibus” negotiations bogging down in the House Monday, lawmakers pressing up against their self-imposed deadline were preparing a one- to two-day temporary spending bill that would fund the government until they resolve their differences.

Both the House and Senate want to wrap up the 113th Congress Thursday, the day government runs out of cash, with a final vote on the cromnibus (a combination of a continuing resolution for the Homeland Security department and an omnibus to fund all other federal operations) — but negotiators hit a host of snags Monday afternoon.

“The playing field of questions is much larger than we previously realized,” one senior Republican aide told CQ Roll Call.

GOP aides said the sticking points were forcing changes to the schedule. The situation and target adjournment date were fluid late Monday, with the measure’s original release likely delayed at least to Tuesday, which would push the planned House vote to later in the week. That could mean Senate action on the bill may not come until Friday or the weekend.

“Thursday will not be the last day of the session,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Monday. “That much I’m confident [about]. This Thursday? Not a chance. Maybe this Saturday.”

Others, though, were more optimistic the work would be done on schedule.

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said she and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., have come to an agreement on their parts of the spending bill and that House and Senate leadership negotiators are hammering out remaining issues. She said she still hoped the bill would be filed Monday night.

“Everything is a sticking point until we can get it unstuck and filed,” she said.

Leaving the House floor in the afternoon, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he had to “catch up with” Rogers. The California Republican said negotiators appeared to be “closing in on some final points” and “finishing out final details.” McCarthy, however, wouldn’t commit to a timeline for filing the cromnibus, though he did predict the House, at least, would finish its work by Thursday. Full story

December 7, 2014

Nancy Pelosi Interview Transcript

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Pelosi talked with CQ Roll Call on Dec. 5. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

CQ Roll Call’s Emma Dumain interviewed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Dec. 5. A lightly edited transcript follows.

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