Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

August 20, 2014

Paul Ryan Rules Out Another Government Shutdown

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Ryan, kicking off his book tour in Philadelphia, ruled out another government shutdown. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

PHILADELPHIA — House Republicans won’t shut down the government in September, Heritage Action is “constructive at the end of the day” and a person can write a book without necessarily running for president.

Those were some of the points Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., hit home during an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call Wednesday afternoon from the ornate Union League Building in downtown Philadelphia.

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The House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee was in the city to kick-off a 10-day national tour promoting his new book, which hit the stands Tuesday.

“The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” is part-memoir, part-sweeping policy proposal, and Ryan will be spending some of the waning days of August recess touting it in Wisconsin, Chicago, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and California.

Full story

August 19, 2014

Pope Francis Hints at U.S. Visit, Address to Congress

A papal visit to Washington next year — including a possible address to Congress — could be in the works.

Although the Vatican has not confirmed or denied any official travel plans, Pope Francis told reporters accompanying him on a flight home from South Korea that he’s weighing U.S. stops in Washington, Philadelphia and New York City in 2015. 

“Next year I would like to go to Philadelphia, for the [World Meeting of Families],” the pontiff said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Then, I have been invited by the president of the United States to the American Congress. And also the secretary-general of the United Nations has also invited me to the Secretariat of the U.N. in New York. So maybe the three cities together.”    

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, earlier this year invited the pope to address a joint session of Congress.

The Vatican reported Tuesday the pope is mourning the deaths of three of his relatives — the wife and two young children of the pontiff’s 38-year-old nephew — killed in a car crash in Argentina.

Veteran Staffer to Head Port of Pittsburgh Commission | Hill Climber

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Martinko will become the executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy staff director is leaving Congress to become executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.

Stephen Martinko was the lead House negotiator for the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act, one of the few pieces of legislation enacted by Congress this year.

“His ability to understand and then explain complex policies to members of Congress, staffers, and stakeholders on both sides of the aisle has helped transform the way the Committee does business,” committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said of the deputy staff director in a press release.

trans Veteran Staffer to Head Port of Pittsburgh Commission | Hill Climber Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 12:25 p.m.
Hill Climber, Staff

August 18, 2014

Cantor Communications Director Lands at Purple

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Cooper, left, is joining a bipartisan firm. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Eric Cantor communications director Rory Cooper has joined Purple Strategies, moving from Capitol Hill following his boss’ shocking loss to work as managing director for the Alexandria-based public relations shop.

Cooper, who starts Monday, will help design, sell and implement strategic campaigns for the bipartisan firm’s clients. “From the first minute I ever walked in the door at Purple, I knew this was going to be a team that I wanted to work with every day,” Cooper told CQ Roll Call.

Purple co-founder Steve McMahon lauded his new hire as “talented, tough and tenacious.”

Cooper, 37, worked for Cantor two years, coming to the Hill after four years at the Heritage Foundation and seven years in the George W. Bush administration. He padded his résumé in a number of roles: policy adviser at the Department of Energy, government affairs director at NASA and, at the White House, as a member of the team that helped create the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Full story

August 15, 2014

Washington Leaders Praise Police Tactic Changes in Ferguson (Video)

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Cummings praises a quieter night in Ferguson, Mo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:03 a.m. | Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on Friday praised a change in police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., that was followed, finally, by a peaceful night in the troubled St. Louis suburb.

“The change in security tactics in Ferguson, and the intervention of Gov. [Jay]  Nixon has greatly improved a horrible situation,” the Maryland Democrat said. “There is never an excuse for violence and aggression — on the part of the police or citizens — and the right to peacefully protest must be respected. This community has been rocked by the death of a young man with a bright future, and they deserve an opportunity to appropriately express outrage at this tragedy.”

Nixon on Thursday put the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge of security in Ferguson, after several nights of violent clashes between local authorities and protesters upset about the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

On Friday, Ferguson police identified Darren Wilson as the officer who shot Brown.

Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., welcomed the decision in Ferguson to release the name of the officer, and said he hopes that the events in Missouri serve as a wake-up call to minority voters.

“I was thinking this morning about all this rhetoric about being ‘tough on crime.’ It’s one thing to be tough on crime. I’m tough on crime. But it’s something else to be death on blacks. And that’s what seems to be happening,” he said in an appearance on MSNBC.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, in a statement issued Friday, questioned the aggressive response by Ferguson police to protesters earlier in the week.

“I have been shocked by the military-like response from the local police,” the Vermont Democrat said. “No one questions that law enforcement must maintain order, and certainly some of these protests have warranted intervention. But equipping police officers with the tools of war does nothing to repair a torn community … American streets are not a warzone. They shouldn’t be treated like one.”

 

Related:

New Focus on Civil Rights, Militarized Cops Emerges in Wake of Ferguson

As Ferguson Police-Protester Clashes Escalate, Congress Wades In

Obama Calls for Calm, Healing

CBC Members Call for Full DOJ Investigation

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By David Eldridge Posted at 10:11 a.m.
Uncategorized

August 14, 2014

Democrats Call for Judiciary Hearings on Ferguson Violence

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A police officer standing watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown conceals her identity. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are calling on panel chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., to hold hearings on the violence that has erupted in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager on Aug. 9.

“For the past five days, the citizens of Ferguson have protested the killing of of an unarmed teenager by local police,” wrote ranking member John Conyers Jr., Mich., and two subcommittee chairmen, Robert C. Scott of Virginia and Steve Cohen of Tennessee, in their letter on Thursday afternoon. “Last night, law enforcement broke up the protest with brutal force: confronting demonstrators in riot gear and armored vehicles, arresting journalists, and firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

“These incidents raise concerns that local law enforcement is out of control and, instead of protecting the safety and civil liberties of the residents of Ferguson, is employing tactics that violate the rights of citizens … this situation requires immediate congressional scrutiny,” they continued. Full story

As Ferguson Police-Protester Clashes Escalate, Congress Wades In (Video)

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(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Updated 12:53 p.m. | Lawmakers are beginning to speak out in reaction to the protests and police response in Ferguson, Mo., following the killing of an unarmed African-American teenager by police on Aug 9.

Many members of Congress are defending the public’s right to protest while calling for peace — and are using social media to voice their support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote on Facebook, “This is America, not a war zone. The people of Ferguson, Missouri just want answers. We all want answers.”

Local police have dramatically increased their response to the protests after incidents of looting and confrontations following Michael Brown’s death. President Barack Obama was scheduled to give a statement Thursday afternoon from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing, and may address the events in Ferguson.

Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II said in a statement that he is “deeply disturbed by all I have seen and heard,” and noted he and three other Democrats are calling for a full federal investigation into Brown’s death.

“Ferguson deserves better, and the rights of our citizens and of our free press shall not be denied,” Cleaver said. “I will pray for peace in Ferguson. And I will work for justice.” Full story

Cantor Voting Rights Act Legacy is Failure to Deliver, Democrats Say

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Democrats wonder if Cantor was all talk on the Voting Rights Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year.

Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.

Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.”

But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”

It’s a disappointing turn that has some Democrats wondering if Cantor ever deserved the benefit of a doubt on minority voting rights. Full story

August 13, 2014

Garamendi on McCain, Graham: ‘Those Two Would Like to Bomb Everywhere’

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Garamendi says Congress needs to weigh in on the “slippery slope” of intervention in Iraq. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John Garamendi on Wednesday joined the chorus of lawmakers from both parties warning against mission creep in Iraq drawing the U.S. back into a war in the Middle East.

Garamendi, in an appearance on MSNBC, said he believes President Barack Obama, who has ordered air strikes on insurgents, humanitarian aid and more troops to Iraq to protect U.S. interests, is operating within the bounds of the War Powers Act, but the California Democrat cautioned that Congress must weigh in if intervention in the splintered country is ramped up further. Full story

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

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