Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

October 7, 2014

Murphy: CDC Needs Tighter Ebola Screening Rules

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Murphy wants tighter travel restrictions on Ebola-afflicted countries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need to move more quickly to tighten restrictions on travelers coming to the U.S. from Ebola-afflicted areas, said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

Murphy, a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, told CNN Tuesday morning that the enhanced screening processes proposed so far by the CDC do not go far enough. Murphy wants to see some travel from West Africa restricted until visitors are proven virus-free.

The CDC has pushed back against tighter travel restrictions on Liberia, the African nation at the center of the epidemic, arguing that such rules could hamper the American-led effort to contain the outbreak.

“For [the CDC] to simply be dismissive and say ‘We can’t isolate those countries,’ they’re going down the wrong rabbit hole and trying to give the American public a false sense of security,” Murphy said.

“The chance of getting this, spreading across 300 million Americans, is certainly very small. But the American public certainly is also saying ‘We don’t want this to be spreading at all,’” the congressman said.

“No one is saying, ‘quarantine an entire continent.’ What we’re saying is more sophisticated screening, look at travel restrictions for individuals, continue to send aid there,” the six-term congressman said. “We’re not saying isolate everything from that. But right now the CDC is saying, ‘It’s OK for people to come and go, we’ll just ask some questions.’ It’s not enough. I don’t think the American public is comfortable with that. I hope in the next few days the CDC is going to ramp up other ways of screening folks and having more restrictions on people coming out of Africa.”

Murphy is one of a growing number of lawmakers, including the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, calling for a more robust federal response to the outbreak.

Schumer on Sunday said screenings should include, “fever checks and health surveys in both airports and ports.”

Murphy is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, is scheduled to hold an Ebola hearing on Capitol Hill next week.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold its own Ebola hearing on Friday at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

That committee’s chairman, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, said the hearing is being held at the airport to symbolize the interconnectedness of a world in which “threats to the homeland are only a flight away.”

Correction, 3:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the committee and the time of the hearing. The hearing was last month before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

Related:

CDC Director Testifies on Ebola Crisis

Schumer: Screen Passengers From Ebola-Stricken Areas

No Ebola Travel Ban, White House Says

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October 6, 2014

‘Contract With America’ Set High-Water Mark for GOP Unity

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DeLay, left, chats with Chabot during a Sept. 17 reception marking the anniversary of the 1994 “Contract With America.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay — or “The Hammer,” as he was known in his leadership days — recently called the GOP Class of 1994 “the greatest freshman class … to walk into the House of Representatives.”

Newt Gingrich, who won the speaker’s gavel in 1995 as a reward for orchestrating the first House Republican takeover in four decades, agreed.

“This is not just a game,” he said last month. “This is about how the free people govern themselves, and [that] class was as fine an example of that as I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

The men, from Texas and Georgia respectively, were preaching to the choir: They’d been invited back to Capitol Hill to deliver remarks to more than 40 members of the ‘94 class who reunited to celebrate the fast-approaching 20th anniversary of the historic election.

But the praise did more than just puff the egos of former and current lawmakers attending the event. It unplugged a spigot of nostalgia for what many of the Republicans on hand recalled as halcyon days of legislating. Full story

October 5, 2014

Ralph Hall Recovering From Hip Surgery After Accident

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Hall, right, is recovering from hip surgery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Texas Rep. Ralph M. Hall had hip surgery on Sunday, one day after he was injured in a car accident, his office said.

Hall’s staff sent reporters a statement Sunday that doctors at the Medical Center in Plano say the surgery was “successful,” and that the Republican lawmaker will “make a full recovery.”

The 91-year-old congressman is “in good spirits,” according to his office.

Full story

By Alexis Levinson Posted at 8:08 p.m.
Members

October 4, 2014

Ralph Hall Hospitalized After Car Accident in Texas

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Hall, right, is the oldest member of Congress. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 7:13 p.m. | Texas Rep. Ralph M. Hall was hospitalized Saturday following a car accident but is expected to make “a full recovery,” according to his office.

Hall staffers told reporters in an email Saturday night that the Republican congressman “was conscious and joking with paramedics” as he was transported via helicopter to Medical Center of Plano.

The statement included details about the accident, which happened on Highway 121 just south if Bonham. Hall’s office said a car turned in front of his vehicle with a close friend at the wheel. “The drivers of both vehicles were not hurt. Congressman Hall suffered a hip injury and minor cuts and bruises but is expected to make a full recovery,” the statement read.

 

Full story

By Christina Bellantoni Posted at 6:36 p.m.
Members

October 3, 2014

Issa, Cummings Issue Joint Call for Secret Service Review

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Issa . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Republican and Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee are formally asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to conduct a “comprehensive external review” of Secret Service practices and protocol.

In a letter to Johnson on Friday, Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., emphasized that any such investigation must extend beyond last month’s isolated incident, where an armed intruder scaled the fence of the White House and was able to get inside the presidential residence before being apprehended — by an off-duty officer.

The two lawmakers, who famously clashed earlier this year, said Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s resignation on Wednesday evening should not preclude a larger probe, given that problems within the agency preceded her tenure. Nor should the committee’s rare, mid-recess hearing on department misconduct be construed as congress closing the book on the chapter.

Full story

October 2, 2014

Secret Service Hearing Spotlights Chaffetz’s Chairmanship Hopes

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As the GOP’s point-man for the Secret Service Oversight hearing, Chaffetz raised his profile. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The sudden resignation Wednesday of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was about more than a single fence-jumping incident at the White House or Tuesday’s troubling hearing on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jason Chaffetz told CQ Roll Call.

The Utah Republican, who earned notice — especially in GOP circles — for his forceful questioning of Pierson at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, said the turn of events over the past 24 hours really is the culmination of months of a painstaking bipartisan probe of a troubled federal agency.

“I’ve been investigating the Secret Service for more than a year,” Chaffetz said, referencing work done by his Oversight subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Secret Service. Chaffetz, who has developed sources within the agency, said the pressure leading to Pierson’s departure had been building.

“This is not a knee-jerk reaction to what happened at the White House,” Chaffetz said. Full story

October 1, 2014

Losing Cummings Set Off Chain Reaction for Secret Service Director

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When Cummings lost confidence in Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, others followed. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As CNN’s Wolf Blitzer noted Wednesday afternoon, when a White House appointee loses the backing of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Elijah E. Cummings, you know you’re in trouble.

That’s where embattled Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, appointed to the job less than two years ago by President Barack Obama, found herself Thursday as a growing chorus of lawmakers — including Democrats Cummings and Pelosi — demanded answers and accountability for an embarrassing series of security lapses involving the agency.

Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was the first, most senior Democrat to suggest that maybe it was time for new leadership at the Secret Service.

Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after Pierson’s problematic testimony at a rare, mid-recess hearing on Capitol Hill, Cummings told MSNBC that his “confidence and trust” in Pierson “had eroded,” and that he did “not feel comfortable with her” in charge of the agency.

Those comments seemed to have set off a chain reaction among lawmakers in both parties struggling with their positions on whether Pierson should stay or go.

Soon after, Pelosi announced at a press conference that if Cummings was bothered by Pierson’s record at the Secret Service, then so was she.

I support his suggestion,” Pelosi told reporters. “I am subscribing to his superior judgment and knowledge on the subject.”

On the other side of the aisle, South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy cited Cummings, too.

“When Elijah Cummings says that he has lost confidence in someone, the White House better pay attention,” Gowdy told Fox News.

“He’s hardly a tea party Republican,” said Gowdy, the chairman to Cummings’ ranking member on the special Benghazi investigative committee. “He does not criticize the administration unless it’s warranted. And, he has lost confidence in Director Pierson’s leadership.”

And Cummings’ comments were an indication of how little support Pierson could expect from Democrats on Capitol Hill. This was, after all, a lawmaker who, in February, had been described by a spokesman for Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa as an “errand runner for the Obama White House.”

In an interview with CQ Roll Call Wednesday evening, Cummings said he hadn’t heard about Gowdy’s comments from earlier in the day, but that he was gratified by them.

“I think it is — I hope, I hope — it’s about integrity,” he said. “But also always putting the country first.”

“Put country before party,” he added, giving a shout-out to the late Republican Rep. Jack Kemp, who used the phrase often.

 

Related:

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns

Boehner Slams ‘Incompetence’ at Secret Service, Wants Review

Pelosi Calls for Review of Secret Service Security Lapses

Secret Service Takes Beating in Rare Recess Hearing

Secret Service Director Testimony Omits Elevator Incident With Obama

Omar Gonzalez Charged in White House Breach

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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Boehner Slams ‘Incompetence’ at Secret Service, Wants Review

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Boehner joined a growing chorus of lawmakers demanding answers on screw ups at the Secret Service. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner slammed the Secret Service Wednesday for “a culture of complacency and incompetence,” backed an independent review and implied new leadership might be needed.

The Ohio Republican backed House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s proposal for a blue ribbon commission to review the agency:

“Given the Secret Service’s proud history and the duties it is charged with, we are right to expect nothing but candor and clarity from its leaders, particularly at a time when Americans are as aware as ever that we live in a dangerous world,” Boehner said in his statement. “Unfortunately, the Secret Service director’s appearance before Chairman Issa’s Oversight & Government Reform Committee has created more questions than answers.  Already, we have learned of a prior security breach in Atlanta that she failed to mention. The more we discover, the clearer it becomes that the Secret Service is beset by a culture of complacency and incompetence.”

Boehner said President Barack Obama needs to make a decision soon about the agency’s leadership.

“As such, the president must make a swift determination on whether the agency is being well-served by its current leadership.  Moreover, I fully support Chairman McCaul’s plan for a top-to-bottom, independent review of the agency.  The courageous men and women of the Secret Service who put their lives in harm’s way every day deserve the best possible leadership and a culture worthy of their sacrifices.”

Earlier Wednesday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had similar comments, also backing an independent review.

 

Related:

Pelosi Calls for Review of Secret Service Security Lapses

Secret Service Takes Beating in Rare Recess Hearing

Secret Service Director Testimony Omits Elevator Incident With Obama

Omar Gonzalez Charged in White House Breach

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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Pelosi Says Debate, Vote Should Be Held on Military Authorization (Video)

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Pelosi said Congress should have stayed in town to vote on an Authorization for Use of Military Force. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reiterated her enthusiasm at a Wednesday morning news conference for Congress to debate and ultimately vote on an Authorization for Use of Military Force to further combat the Islamic State terrorist group.

“Congress has a role in defining how our country degrades and defeats ISIS,” Pelosi said, referring to the insurgent terrorist organization that’s also known as ISIL.

She said that there have been “conversations among members informally about what form an authorization should take that will secure our national security interests as well [one that] could pass in both houses of Congress.

“These conversations should be moved from the informal to the official,” she said. Full story

Pelosi Calls for ‘Independent Investigation’ Into Secret Service Lapses (Video)

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Pelosi stopped short of calling for the Secret Service director’s resignation.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stopped short on Wednesday of demanding Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resign, but called for an “independent investigation” into the disturbing protocol breaches within the agency that she said were “inexcusable.”

“The challenge may be more than one person,” the California Democrat told reporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “Whether she [resigns] or not, I think we need an independent investigation. Her leaving doesn’t end the need to learn more.”

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after the Oversight and Government Reform Committee convened a rare, mid-recess hearing in Washington, D.C. to hear testimony from Pierson and other officials in the wake of revelations that an armed intruder scaled the fence of the White House and actually was able to get inside the presidential residence before finally being apprehended — by an off-duty officer. Full story

Montel Williams Urges Obama to ‘Make the Call!’ on Jailed Marine (Video)

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During the hearing Wednesday, Williams called on Obama to reach out personally to the Mexican president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama and Mexico each took a tongue-lashing from Republican House members at a rare mid-recess Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday on the case of a U.S. Marine imprisoned for six months in Mexico on questionable charges.

Lawmakers at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere heard from the mother of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been held in Mexico since he crossed the border in March with three guns in his vehicle. Talk-show host Montel Williams, a former Marine who has become a leading advocate for the release of the Afghanistan veteran, also testified.

“If this hearing’s going to stop in 10 minutes, I think the president needs to pick up the phone in 15. Make the call. Make the call today,” Williams said, his voice breaking with emotion as he urged Obama to personally call on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to free Tahmooressi. Full story

September 30, 2014

Texas Congressman: More Doctors Needed in Congress

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Burgess wants more doctors participating in the nation’s health care decisions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael C. Burgess has a new goal: Bring more doctors to Congress.

Burgess, who is a doctor himself, is redirecting his Lone Star Leadership PAC to focus on helping doctors — and other health care professionals, such as nurses and hospital administrators, Burgess half-begrudgingly notes — become lawmakers.

Burgess told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday doctors need to take on a bigger role in health care policy decisions.

“Not only do they not have a seat at the table, they’re not even in the room,” Burgess said. “And they don’t even understand that they need to be in the room.”

To that end, the Texas Republican has launched what he is calling the “STAT Initiative.” (The name, he said, is meant to “imply the immediacy.”) Full story

Dissidents Planning Boehner Coup Face Long Odds

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The anti-Boehner wing in the House plans to try again to unseat the speaker next January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner is on a stronger footing with the House GOP rank and file than he has been in years. But when the new Congress convenes in January, that won’t stop the party’s anti-Boehner wing from staging another revolt.

Lawmakers and aides say Boehner has improved his position in the GOP conference since the start of 2013, when 12 Republicans surprised the Ohio Republican on the floor by refusing to vote for him as speaker. That coup attempt went nowhere, but the anti-Boehner effort in the new 114th Congress is counting on reinforcements.

At least five conservatives likely to win in November already say they’re apt to support someone else for speaker. Several current members — Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas — they won’t support Boehner. And even members who support the speaker acknowledge he will face opposition.

Indiana Republican Marlin Stutzman told CQ Roll Call he will be voting for Boehner come January, but said there could be anywhere between “20 and 50” other Republicans voting against Boehner on the floor.

“It’s interesting, you know, some of the people that have approached me,” Stutzman said. “[I was] surprised that they were in that camp. It’s not your typical, traditional folks you would think.”  Full story

September 29, 2014

Hoyer: ‘Atlas Shrugged’ No Way to Run a Country

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Hoyer says don’t count on the Senate switching hands. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Five weeks and one day before the midterm elections, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer made the case for Democrats to retake control of the House, delivering a scathing takedown of Republican leadership in the process.

In a Monday morning speech at the National Press Club, the House’s No. 2 Democrat mocked Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, for recently boasting that the House under GOP rule is so transparent “you can even bring your iPad on the floor.”

“That may be the case,” Hoyer scoffed, “but you can’t bring a bill to raise the minimum wage to the floor. Or to extend unemployment insurance. Or to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. You can’t bring a bipartisan bill to fix our broken immigration system.” Full story

September 28, 2014

Boehner ‘Absolutely’ Confident GOP Would Back Immigration Overhaul (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:15 a.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner says it’s still time to do an immigration overhaul, and believes “absolutely” he can convince the GOP to do it.

“I said the day after the 2012 election it was time to do immigration reform. I meant it then and I mean it today,” the Ohio Republican said on ABC News’  ”This Week.” Full story

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