Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 21, 2014

November 18, 2014

Democrats Fume in Caucus as Duckworth Denied Vote

House Democrats are continuing to criticize Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to allow Rep. Tammy Duckworth — a double amputee Iraq War veteran whose pregnancy has made her unable to travel — to vote by proxy in leadership elections this week.

Pelosi and her allies have been saying since Nov. 13, when the issue first came up, that House Democratic Caucus rules prohibit proxy votes, and that allowing exceptions for the Illinois Democrat would create a slippery-slope scenario.

Members and aides are privately seething over what they see as Pelosi’s latest attempt to stack the deck against Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., who is running for ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee against Pelosi’s closest friend and fellow Californian, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo.

Full story

Democrats Re-Elect Pelosi, Leadership Team for 114th Congress

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Pelosi won her eighth term as the top House Democrat. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats voted Tuesday morning to reinstate their full slate of leaders in the 114th Congress.

The exercise was as drama-free and as lacking in suspense as the House Republican leadership elections that took place last week.

With secret ballots, the full caucus selected Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to serve her eighth-straight term at the very top of the House Democratic Caucus power structure.

Democrats also re-elected Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. Full story

RSC Chairmanship Race Tests Conservatives

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Flores says if he wins the Republican Study Committee chairmanship, he’ll work with everyone. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Republican Study Committee decides on its next chairman, Tuesday’s contest between Bill Flores of Texas, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Louie Gohmert of Texas will likely set the tone for House conservatives for years to come as RSC membership swells to record numbers.

The RSC’s placeholder chairman, Rob Woodall of Georgia, has roughly 170 members in the groups ranks, and sources believe membership in the 114th Congress could exceed 180 — almost three-quarters of the entire GOP conference.

Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was chosen at the start of this Congress to lead the RSC over Tom Graves of Georgia, used the post as a springboard to becoming majority whip. His tenure perhaps set a more leadership-friendly tone.

There’s a similar dynamic at play as members prepare to vote behind the closed doors of the Cannon Caucus Room, as sources see it as a Flores-Mulvaney race. Both men say their whip counts suggest they will win, but declined to give numbers.

Mulvaney is presenting himself as the more conservative choice, while Flores has tried to sell himself as the option best suited to working with the rest of the conference.

Full story

November 17, 2014

With New House Democratic Leadership Team, Pelosi Looks Out for Her Own

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Edwards continues her climb up the Democratic Party leadership ladder. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At a surprise press conference Monday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced the appointed members of a reconfigured leadership team.

The California Democrat’s top lieutenants in the 114th Congress will overwhelmingly include familiar faces in new roles, a signal that she will continue a practice of rewarding and empowering her allies as needs shift within the caucus.

A clear sign of that tradition comes with the re-appointment of Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., as co-chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

At one point, Steering and Policy leadership positions were supposed to come with term limits, but DeLauro has kept her seat at the table for years past her would-be expiration date. Pelosi described DeLauro, a close friend, as a “lioness” and “an institution” who will stay at Steering and Policy “by popular demand.” Full story

Ex-Rep. Bill Frenzel, Brookings Scholar, Dies at 86

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Frenzel died Monday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Bill Frenzel, a Minnesota Republican who spent two decades in the House and the rest of his professional life shaping trade and budgetary policy from off the Hill, died Monday at his home in McLean, Va. He was 86.

Frenzel, who retired from Congress in January 1991, remained engaged for the next 23 years from his perch at the Brookings Institution in some of the biggest policy debates including the North American Free Trade Agreement. On NAFTA, he served as a special adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, helping the Democrat sell the pact to lawmakers.

He “was instrumental in getting the agreement passed,” Brookings said in a statement.

Frenzel was known as much for his serious policy chops as for his understated, folksy Minnesota style. Full story

Saying Farewell to Retiring Obscure Caucus Members

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Pastor, left, seen here in 2008 with then-Rep. Ben Chandler, is a member of the Obscure Caucus because he’s always been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At least two lawmakers are disappearing from the CQ Roll Call Obscure Caucus after the 113th Congress wraps at the end of this year — and you may not have noticed them at all.

Both are men who have mostly dodged the spotlight, assuming a low-key approach to their terms in federal office that favors building their reputations at work with their colleagues, little or no tweeting and distance from cable-news pundits.

As our team noted when last publishing this list, inclusion in the caucus isn’t meant as mockery or criticism. Members tend to climb the ranks while putting their heads down and focusing on parochial concerns or constituent services. Just because they’re not inclined to grab C-SPAN cameras and wink to fans back home after wins on the House floor like an overzealous soccer star doesn’t mean they haven’t made an impact.

To be considered, lawmakers must have served at least two full terms and have kept the self-promotion to a minimum. Senators aren’t included.

These are the Obscure Caucus veterans who are retiring.

Full story

High Stakes for Pelosi, Party With Energy and Commerce Fight

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Eshoo and Pallone are locked in a race for the Energy and Commerce ranking member slot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:50 a.m. | It started as a race to choose the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; it could ultimately end as a referendum on the status quo.

When House Democrats finally settle the score this week, their choice between Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California could send a strong message about how deeply members still hew to the seniority system.

And in a caucus growing increasingly antsy over the stasis at the leadership table, this ranking member election could be the closest thing to an up-or-down vote on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that members get for the next two years.

Pelosi, who has repeatedly endorsed her close friend Eshoo, is expected to run unopposed for a sixth full term as the House’s top Democrat.

Lawmakers will not say so publicly, but many of them think that if Eshoo loses, it will be because she became a casualty of greater frustrations within the caucus.

The fight sparked by California Democrat Henry A. Waxman’s retirement announcement in January became so dramatic because there was never a clear front-runner or an easy choice. Stakeholders agree Pallone and Eshoo’s policy positions are nearly identical, and their legislative records are unblemished.

So members were forced to consider other factors: Who called them first to ask for their vote? Who gave them money in a tough re-election bid? Who has always been their friend? Full story

November 14, 2014

House Approves Keystone XL Pipeline … Again

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Cassidy is facing Landrieu in a runoff next month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a bid meant to bolster the campaign of bill sponsor Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is in a runoff election for a Louisiana Senate seat, the House voted 252-161 on Friday to once again approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

It was the ninth time the House has passed a measure authorizing the construction of the pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to Texas. But this time, with an election far off in the distance, 31 Democrats voted with 221 Republicans in favor of the bill. One Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted present, as he has previously done on such votes.

“It has been 539 days, a year and half, since the House first sent a Keystone approval bill to the Senate in this Congress,” Cassidy said Thursday night when the House debated the bill, noting that multiple Keystone measures had been collecting proverbial dust on the proverbial desk of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Full story

Benghazi Committee Will Meet During Lame Duck, Chairman Says

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Gowdy says the Benghazi committee will meet during the lame-duck session. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Remember the Select Committee on Benghazi?

The panel convened to probe the 2012 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was created in the spring and had its first public hearing in September — but otherwise has been quiet.

Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told CQ Roll Call Friday the committee will meet “in public and in private” between now and the end of the lame-duck session, which is currently open-ended.

“I can’t give you any more specifics,” he said as he exited the House chamber following votes on Friday, “but Mr. [Elijah E.] Cummings and I were just chatting about it.”

Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, is the Benghazi committee’s ranking member. Full story

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

New House GOP Rules Impact Medals, Gavels — and Paul Ryan?

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Ryan and other potential GOP House chairmen will have to seek a waiver if they want to keep their gavels while seeking another office. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will operate the 114th Congress under essentially the same rules as the 113th — with two exceptions, including one that could have big implications for Rep. Paul D. Ryan.

Republicans voted Friday on conference rules for the 114th, approving a proposal that would allow Congress to hand out more medals and one that would require committee chairmen running for other office to hand over their gavel.

That proposal, from Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, calls for chairmen — of committees, of subcommittees, ad hoc committees or joint committees — to step down if they run for another office. Full story

Next Congress to Formally Convene on Jan. 6, 2015

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Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, received the gavel from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the first day of the 113th Congress. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Mark your calendars: The 114th Congress is planning to convene just a few days late.

The House on Friday agreed to a joint resolution setting the convening date for Jan. 6, 2015, which is three days after the date specified in the Constitution. The change, which must also be endorsed by the Senate and signed into law by President Barack Obama, comes as no surprise since next Jan. 3 falls on a Saturday.

Full story

Gutiérrez: There Are ’40, 50, 60′ GOP Votes in House for Immigration

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Gutierrez  wants GOP leadership to allow a House vote on an immigration bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, the Illinois Democrat who has been at the forefront of efforts to overhaul immigration in Congress, said Friday there are enough votes in the House Republican caucus now to pass a bipartisan bill.

“There are 40, 50, 60 … Republicans” who will join Democrats to pass a bill, Gutiérrez said in an appearance on MSNBC. The congressman and other Democrats, frustrated with lack of action from GOP leaders, are urging on President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will take unilateral action on immigration perhaps as early as next week.

“The problem is they won’t give us a vote on all of the wonderful work. I don’t want to mention the names of my Republican colleagues that I worked with but you know who they are,” the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, whose brother is a Republican congressman from Miami. “There are dozens of them.”

Diaz-Balart’s brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told CQ Roll Call earlier this year that he was close to having enough Republican votes to pass a bipartisan immigration overhaul in the House that would balance GOP demands for border security with Democratic calls for legal status for the undocumented.

But Republicans backed off the issue this summer after an unprecedented surge of Central-American children and women crossing illegally into Texas and the primary loss of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who previously had indicated some support for an overhaul.

Related:

GOP: Obama’s Immigration Action Will Cripple 2016 Democrats

Obama Hasn’t Decided When to Act on Immigration 

Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End ‘Obama’s Amnesty’

White House Excoriates GOP Deportation Demands

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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November 13, 2014

Black Caucus Defends Seniority System as Members Try to Buck the Trend

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Don’t undercut seniority, warns Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Fudge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Black Caucus is fighting back against new suggestions — particularly coming from the very top of House Democratic leadership ranks — that seniority ought not be the be-all-end-all when it comes to doling out plum committee leadership assignments.

Spearheaded by outgoing Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, the CBC sent out a “dear colleague” email Thursday night to reiterate its support for seniority “as the primary determinant in the committee leadership selection process.”

Under the current system, the CBC would be represented at the top of seven House committees — a record CBC members contend was only possible because seniority prevents black lawmakers from being passed over, intentionally or otherwise.

Fudge’s email comes as the conference weighs a ranking-member race on Energy and Commerce between the more-senior Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has endorsed her close friend Eshoo multiple times over the past 10 months, on Monday going so far as to send out a letter of her own, calling seniority “a consideration” but “not a determination.”

The real test for the CBC, however, could be if one of its own members, Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida, loses the ranking member spot on Veterans’ Affairs to the least-senior member of the panel, Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota. Full story

Boehner Will Fight ‘Tooth and Nail’ Against Obama’s Executive Amnesty, Doesn’t Rule Out Shutdown (Updated) (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:58 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Republicans will fight “tooth and nail” against President Barack Obama’s plans to act on immigration by himself, and didn’t rule out a government shutdown.

“We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” the Ohio Republican said at a press conference introducing the new GOP leadership team. “This is the wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on Election Day they didn’t want. And so, all the options are on the table.”

Boehner is facing pressure from conservatives to pre-emptively defund any amnesty, but that could lead to a shutdown fight.

“We’re going to have conversations with our members and when we have a decision, we’ll let you know. … Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his oath of office and violating the Constitution. It’s not to shut down the government.”

Full story

Indiana’s Messer Wins Republican Policy Committee Gavel (Updated)

 

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Indiana’s Messer, center, will take over the Republican Policy Committee. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images File Photo)

Updated 4:18 p.m. | In the one competitive race for a leadership spot, House Republicans elected Luke Messer to serve as GOP Policy Committee chairman.

The Indiana lawmaker beat out Republicans Tom Reed of New York and Rob Woodall of Georgia.

The Policy Committee chairman — the only competitive leadership race as Rep. James Lankford leaves the spot to become Oklahoma’s next senator — is tasked with equipping members with research and aiding committees as they draft legislation. The chairman also gets a spot at the leadership table and a vote on the Steering Committee. Full story

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