Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2014

June 19, 2014

Sprint to Power: 10 Days Inside the GOP Leadership Race (Video)

Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning June 10 primary loss was the pistol shot that set off a 10-day sprint for power by House Republicans. Here’s CQ Roll Call’s minute-by-minute look at how the leadership races unfolded and, more importantly, how the victors put themselves in place to win.

Tuesday, June 10

7:30 p.m. Phones around D.C. begin buzzing with news from Virginia’s 7th District: Cantor is losing his primary — badly. With 39 percent of precincts reporting, David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report tweets: “Right now, I just don’t see where Cantor (R) can make up his 58%-42% deficit. This would be the biggest House upset I’ve ever seen.” Suddenly, a race which no one was paying any attention to becomes the most closely watched contest in the country. Full story

June 18, 2014

Amendments Opposing Iraq War Could Put House Democrats in Tough Spot


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Rep. Barbara Lee, among the most staunchly antiwar lawmakers on Capitol Hill, wants Congress to repeal the 2002 vote giving the White House authority to take military action in Iraq.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats are still grappling with how to confront the escalating violence in Iraq, but in the next 24 hours they could be forced to vote on the issue.

Staunch antiwar Democrat Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday afternoon that she planned to offer three amendments to the fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill, which is on the House floor this week.

“One, no funds will be used for combat operations in Iraq,” she said. “Two, I want to repeal the 2002 authorization to use force. You know, in the farm bill, transportation bill, it sunsets. This is far too long to have that authorization in effect, so I want to repeal that.

“And,” Lee continued, “I want to repeal the 2001 authorization to use force, which has been used as the legal justification for wire tapping and other kinds of those activities.”

Full story

McCarthy Cruises; Whip Race Still a Tossup

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Stutzman and others made their final pitch to Republicans ahead of Thursday whip race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Candidates for House Republican leadership made their final pitches Wednesday morning, pressing for unity while leading their factions into what will be a divisive Thursday vote to decide the future of the conference.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California retained his position as a lock to become majority leader, although Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho is mounting an upstart challenge, driven by a simmering dissatisfaction with leadership.

But the race to replace McCarthy remains fluid. Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana got a boost Wednesday morning. Reps. Joe Pitts and Bill Shuster, both of Pennsylvania, pledged their support to Scalise and said they would whip their 11 GOP Keystone State colleagues, many of whom remain undecided, according to a source familiar with the group.

Full story

2010 Class Plots Comeback Strategy in Late-Night Meeting

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The newly elected members of Congress pose for the freshman class photo on the House steps of the Capitol in 2010. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

They said it wasn’t a meeting about leadership races.

At 9 p.m. Tuesday night, between 30 and 40 members of the House Republican class of 2010 met in the drafty Ways and Means Committee room in the Longworth House Office Building for roughly an hour. And while leadership races weren’t the main topic of the discussion, one can’t help but wonder how such a meeting will affect the bids of 2010 members Raúl R. Labrador to be majority leader and Marlin Stutzman to be majority whip — both of whom were present for the meeting.

Over offerings of cheese, hummus and craisins, members said they discussed how the 2010 tea party wave could reassert the dominance it had when lawmakers first came to Washington — and a meeting agenda obtained by CQ Roll Call seemed to back that up.

At the top of that agenda, a question is posed in a large font: “Will anyone remember the class of 2010?”

The agenda goes on to discuss strategies for improving communication within the 2010 class, including conducting a monthly meeting and potentially starting a political action committee to help 2010 class members.

Indeed, members repeatedly insisted the meeting wasn’t about the leadership elections. Full story

By Matt Fuller and Emma Dumain Posted at 12:13 a.m.

June 17, 2014

Would-Be Whips Woo Conservatives, Reassure Moderates

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Majority whip race contender Roskam says he can tame the House Republican Conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Candidates for House majority whip are pushing their cases hard in the last hours of the race, each promising to heal a party scarred by infighting and at the same time, wrangle the conference into a united voting bloc.

In the run-up to Thursday’s pivotal vote, Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip, is touting himself as the most experienced candidate — and the only one who will be a disciplinarian toward rambunctious members who vote out of step with leadership.

The Illinois Republican said he would punish members who vote against leaders’ priorities, according to a member familiar with his pitch. Although that is much more difficult in a post-earmark world, Roskam laid out a slate of ideas, including refusing to take up unruly members’ bills, withholding plum committee assignments and even banishing rebels from the weekly conference breakfast, denying them a free meal if they do not play with the rest of the team. Full story

Clock Ticks Down for the GOP Leadership Longshots

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Scalise is in control of the whip race as Thursday’s likely election nears. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As Rep. Raúl R. Labrador tries to mount a serious challenge to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s increasingly solid bid to become majority leader, and as Reps. Peter Roskam and Marlin Stutzman try to wrest control of the whip race from Rep. Steve Scalise, the challengers are running up against a critical roadblock: time.

Lawmakers were back at work in the Capitol Tuesday, days — really, just hours — ahead of Thursday’s election to replace Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and, if need be, to fill McCarthy’s whip role. Full story

Issa Subpoenas Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive for ‘Lost’ IRS Emails

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The IRS says Lerner’s emails were lost in a computer crash. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House is consumed this week with the upcoming GOP leadership elections in the wake of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat, but Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa doesn’t want that reality to take the pressure off the IRS.

The California Republican is plowing ahead with his panel’s year-long investigation into alleged misconduct at the IRS in its targeting of certain conservative outside groups applying for tax-exempt status. Full story

Hoyer: Only Hensarling Blocking Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

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Hensarling, R-Texas, doesn’t like the Export-Import Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s only “one member of the Republican Party” holding up reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, according to Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer: Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt [he's] the one holding it up,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters at his weekly press briefing Tuesday morning. “It’s not an impression. It’s a fact.”

Hoyer went on to say that House GOP leaders, particularly outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, want to reauthorize the institution designed to help U.S. companies finance goods for sale overseas. The two lawmakers actually worked closely together at the time of the last reauthorization to bring a bill to the floor, Hoyer said.

Opponents of the Ex-Im Bank dismiss the institution as an anachronistic corporate slush fund rife with cronyism, and they have an ally in Hensarling, who heads up the committee of jurisdiction.

Full story

June 16, 2014

Labrador Appeals Directly to Colleagues for Support in Majority Leader Race

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Labrador has written a letter to his House colleagues, asking for them to support him to be the next majority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador is running a high-profile campaign to be the next House majority leader, appearing on nationally-syndicated talk shows, obliging interview requests from Capitol Hill scribes and penning a personal appeal to his colleagues.

In advance of the Thursday election that will decide who gets to replace outgoing majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Idaho Republican sent a brief letter to members of the GOP conference late Monday to ask for their support.

Labrador, who is running largely as the conservative alternative to his opponent, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said that his seat at the leadership table would mark both a departure from the “status quo” and a return to a time where senior lawmakers sought to unify the rank and file. Full story

McCarthy Works Back Channels, While Labrador Tries Talk Radio in Majority Leader Race

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McCarthy is confident going into Thursday’s election for House Republican majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Raúl R. Labrador is gunning to make Thursday’s House GOP majority leader contest an electoral upset on par with Eric Cantor’s primary loss last week to Dave Brat. But Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is not just trying to win the race — he wants to make a statement.

“The question is not whether he has it locked up,” Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., told CQ Roll Call Monday. “The question is how many total votes will he have.”

Both Labrador, a second-term conservative from Idaho, and McCarthy, a fourth-term lawmaker from California, are working the phones, albeit for different reasons.

Labrador seems to think he can win the race; McCarthy seems to think he needs a strong vote margin if he wants to be majority leader for more than six months. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 5:50 p.m.

Roskam-Scalise Whip Race Heats Up, Gets Ugly

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From left, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Roskam, R-Ill., and Scalise, R-La., talk earlier this year. Scalise and Roskam are now rivals for the house whip post. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The two front-runners in the race to become the next House majority whip spent the weekend shoring up support with potential allies — and, through staff, taking swipes at each other.

A source close to Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, in an emailed memo to CQ Roll Call, said the 90-plus members in the House who have pledged to vote for the Illinois Republican are “rock solid,” while Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise’s numbers are “soft” and “all over the place since Thursday — at 100, 120, over 100, etc. etc.

“No one wants a whip who can’t count,” the source continued, “and no one wants a whip who overpromises and under-delivers.” Full story

Becerra Suggests ‘Common Ground’ With Labrador

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The No. 4 House Democrat sounds like he’s got a preference for which lawmaker House Republicans choose Thursday to be majority leader.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra has praise for Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, saying the Idaho Republican is both straightforward and easy to work with, and should not be underestimated.

“One of the pure things about Raúl Labrador is that you know what you’re getting. And while he’s extremely conservative, far more conservative than I would like, at least I know that,” Becerra said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program Sunday. “And it’s easy to come to terms with someone so long as you know where they stand. You can reach common ground with a person like that.”

Becerra noted that his fellow Californian Kevin McCarthy, now the GOP whip, has “a lot of experience,” adding, “I know McCarthy is going to work this very hard.”

He would not make any predictions about the outcome of the race,  but he described Labrador as “smart, capable [and] very committed.” Becerra also noted Labrador’s role working with the “group of eight” bipartisan lawmakers on an immigration overhaul, saying Labrador “understands immigration law.”

Full story

June 15, 2014

With Whip Race Heating Up, Roskam Makes His Case

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Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., one of the three members currently vying for House majority whip. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Peter Roskam, campaigning for the House GOP whip post, has promised fellow Republicans he’ll choose a deputy whip from a red state if he comes out ahead in what is shaping up to be a competitive three-way race.

On Friday evening, the Illinois Republican and chief deputy whip sent a letter to colleagues asking for their support over rivals Steve Scalise, R-La., and Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind.

They all want to succeed the current whip, Kevin McCarthy of California, should he, as many expect, win the race to replace outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. McCarthy himself is going up against conservative favorite Raul R. Labrador of Idaho.

Candidates have until Thursday to make their case to members; on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., they will participate in a special forum to address the full House Republican Conference directly.

In a lengthy memo, Roskam made reference to his roots in the historic state of Illinois, home most famously to President Abraham Lincoln, and he reminded colleagues that he succeeded another well-known and respected Illinois Republican: Former Rep. Henry Hyde. Roskam highlighted his accomplishments working with McCarthy to advance the House GOP’s legislative agenda and promised to continue fighting for the right causes. He even threw in a shout-out to founding father Thomas Jefferson.

Here’s the full letter Roskam circulated on Friday: Full story

June 13, 2014

Labrador Announces Candidacy for Majority Leader (Updated)

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Labrador says he’s in the race for majority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:09 p.m. | Raúl R. Labrador is a candidate for majority leader.

Labrador announced his decision in a news release Friday afternoon. The Idaho Republican faces an uphill battle to defeat Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, who is seen as the overwhelming favorite for the position.

After Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, decided not to run, a number of conservative lawmakers turned to Labrador to be their candidate. And after Rules Chairman Pete Sessions dropped out of the race Thursday night, McCarthy was unopposed.

Labrador’s candidacy changes that. Full story

FreedomWorks Wants Labrador for Majority Leader

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Rep. Raul R. Labrador, R-Idaho, could run for majority leader. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Momentum is growing for a Majority Leader Raúl R. Labrador.

The Idaho Republican and current rank-and-file congressman is being courted by conservative colleagues and outside groups to get into the race for the No. 2 House Republican slot.

On Friday, the tea party affiliated advocacy group FreedomWorks entered the fray, calling on its members to rally together to urge Labrador to take on Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., currently the only declared candidate to succeed outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who unexpectedly lost his primary Tuesday night. Full story

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