Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2014

May 1, 2014

Pelosi, Democrats Pounce on GOP Infighting Over Immigration

The dissension among Republicans over immigration that flared anew this week, sparking talk of an open revolt against Speaker John A. Boehner, gave Democrats a rhetorical opening that Nancy Pelosi and others were more than happy to fill Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at her weekly news conference, the House minority leader said she believes Boehner supports action on immigration, but is hamstrung by hard-liners in the GOP.

“He ran it up the flagpole. We saluted, his caucus cut the flagpole down,” she said. Full story

Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi: Pelosi Dismisses Email as GOP ‘Subterfuge’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wanted to talk about immigration and the minimum wage at her weekly press conference on Thursday morning — not what she called the newest Republican attack line on the State Department’s response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Asked by reporters more than once about revelations that the White House withheld certain documents from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after the panel subpoenaed all relevant emails on the matter, the California Democrat threw up her hands.

“Diversion, subterfuge. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Why aren’t we talking about something else?” Pelosi asked. Full story

Hoyer Wants Unemployment Extension, Immigration Rewrite Before Unpaid-For Tax Credits (Video)

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Hoyer wants the House to extend unemployment insurance and work on an immigration policy rewrite. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer called Republicans to task on Thursday for bringing up unpaid-for tax extenders while allowing unemployment insurance to lapse, and suggested that all of it could be paid for if the House passed a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

In his weekly colloquy, the Maryland Democrat told Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that it is not right for Republicans to demand that certain policies be offset — such as a “doc fix” and unemployment insurance — while the House plans to take up a $155 billion permanent research and development tax credit that is not paid for.

“We are going to make a decision, apparently, not to pay for something that we know is going to increase the deficit. So the analogy when we want things paid for is not always followed,” Hoyer said. “For instance, unemployment insurance, almost invariably not paid for. … We have a bipartisan, paid-for unemployment insurance bill that the Senate passed … that we can’t get to the floor. It’s paid for and helps 2.5 million people who are falling through the cracks. Yet we bring a bill to the floor that has a $155 billion cost, don’t pay for it and the unemployed 2.5 million are ignored.”

Cantor shot back that when Democrats were in power, they also extended the R&D tax credit without paying for it. He said Republicans believe that easing taxes would do more to stimulate the economy than handing out benefits. Full story

April 30, 2014

On Michael Grimm, GOP Leaders Content to Work Behind the Scenes


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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., met privately Wednesday with embattled Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., but details were scarce after the discussion as Republican leaders looked to defuse another scandal before the fall elections.

House GOP leaders have said Grimm, facing fraud and tax charges in New York, made the right decision in stepping down from his committee seat on Tuesday, but have held back — so far — on calling for his resignation from Congress.

Some members, speaking with CQ Roll Call on condition of anonymity, indicated it’s too early in the process to expect Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio — who was out Wednesday for what staff called “minor unscheduled surgery” on his back — to drop the hammer on Grimm.

The scandal — and speculation about how party leaders would respond — has been the subject of cloakroom chatter since the House reconvened Monday after a two-week recess But official reaction from Boehner’s team has been muted. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 7:26 p.m.

Cruz Hosts Secret Meeting for House Conservatives (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:37 p.m. | Sen. Ted Cruz gathered a group of House conservatives in his office Tuesday night, talking about immigration and House GOP leadership elections slated for after the midterm elections.

As CQ Roll Call first reported last October, Cruz held a secret meeting with members at Tortilla Coast during the height of the government shutdown drama. Many of these same Republicans are the agitators who aren’t happy with Speaker John A. Boehner.

The Texas Republican gathered roughly 10 members of the GOP Conference at 8 p.m. Tuesday for a 90-minute session that included candy bars, crackers and soda. Cruz’s office would not give further details, calling the pow-wow a “private meeting.”



And members were reluctant to spill the beans on just who attended the session, or to gab about what was discussed. But Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama described Cruz as a “facilitator” while the group “talked about a variety of different public policy issues.”

“It was no agenda, spontaneous discussion,” Brooks told CQ Roll Call, later calling it a “rap session” and a “free-for-all.”

Full story

Paul Ryan Meets With Congressional Black Caucus After Poverty Comments

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported mixed reactions Wednesday to their meeting with Rep. Paul D. Ryan over comments the Wisconsin Republican made regarding poverty in inner cities that some in the CBC considered “highly offensive.”

CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, told reporters after the meeting that the two sides reached a consensus that poverty affects all communities across the country.

“Clearly there was some concern about comments that had been made about the culture in which we find this poverty,” said Fudge.  “But we have agreed today that it is across the board.  There is no particular place or people who experience poverty at a different rate than others.”

Ryan also told reporters that the meeting was part of an effort to expand the debate surrounding poverty. “I think what we’re trying to accomplish here is improving the tone of debate,” said Ryan, “so that more people are invited to this debate so that we do a better job of actually getting control of our problems with poverty.”

Fudge invited Ryan to meet with her caucus in March and said that the representatives had “a very cordial, respectful conversation.”

Fudge later said Ryan did not necessarily apologize for his comments, but reiterated that his phrasing was “inarticulate.”  Fudge added, “But his policies belie that and basically say that he believes what he said.  He may not just have wanted to have said it in that way.” Full story

Cantor to Meet With Grimm Wednesday

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will meet with recently-indicted Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., on Wednesday, a GOP leadership aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

The meeting will be pivotal for Grimm, who is battling 20 federal charges of misconduct related to the ownership and operation of a health food restaurant prior to his election to Congress in 2010.

It also will be pivotal for Cantor: GOP leaders have so far been mum on how they will deal with their scandal-plagued colleague in an election year.

Cantor took a firm stance Tuesday regarding Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., who said he will not seek re-election after surveillance footage revealed the married father of five kissing a married staffer.

McAllister’s plan to serve out the remaining months of his term didn’t sit well with Cantor, who told the Louisiana Republican to resign now.

Grimm has not only said he won’t resign, he’ll seek a third term. Cantor’s response to that plan could chart the course for Grimm’s ultimate political survival.

By Emma Dumain Posted at 10:54 a.m.
Eric Cantor, Ethics

April 29, 2014

McAllister Rebuffs Cantor, Refuses to Resign

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister quelled some of his kissing scandal by agreeing not to seek re-election in the fall.

Apparently that wasn’t enough for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who reportedly asked the recently-installed Louisiana Republican to resign immediately.

“When we took the majority, I had said that I believe we ought to hold ourselves to a higher standard. And I think what has happened in his instance doesn’t meet that standard. So I told him that I thought he should resign,” Cantor told Politico, which broke the story.

Shortly after news surfaced that the conversation between the two lawmakers had taken place, McAllister sent out a statement explaining that he would serve out the duration of his term, despite the wishes of the House’s No. 2 Republican. Full story

Unemployment Extension Negotiations Continue: Boehner Gives Heller His Demands (Updated)

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A January press conference asking Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:20 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner talked to the leading Republican pushing for an unemployment insurance extension, telling Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada on Tuesday that he won’t budge from demands for add-ons that would create jobs before he will put the measure on the House floor.

“The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in a statement. “Unfortunately, Senator Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions.”

The Ohio Republican has been consistent since December in demanding some concession from Democrats and the White House in return for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits — although without naming what, exactly, would be enough for him to bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Full story

Boehner: There’s No Immigration Plan ‘Conspiracy’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a closed-door meeting with the GOP conference on Tuesday, House Speaker John A. Boehner downplayed his mocking of fellow Republicans last week and said there is no “conspiracy” to spring an immigration overhaul later this summer.

The meeting came as many of the more conservative members of the GOP caucus are still fuming over the critical comments Boehner made at a Rotary Club meeting in his district.

Afterward, Boehner reiterated his support for an immigration overhaul, but he said it’s up to President Barack Obama to prove the administration will enforce immigration laws, a position echoed by other GOP lawmakers.

“It is what it is,” fellow Ohio Republican Jim Jordan said. “I think the conference position is pretty clear that we don’t feel like we can deal with this White House to operate in any kind of good faith.” Full story

Evangelicals Target House Republicans on Immigration Overhaul (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, reiterated Tuesday morning that he’d still like to see the House pass an immigration overhaul by the end of the year; on Tuesday afternoon, over 250 faith leaders set out to make sure that was indeed the case.

The group of evangelical pastors descended on Capitol Hill throughout the day to meet with more than 100 rank-and-file House lawmakers, most of them Republican, to make the case for acting on a rewrite of the nation’s immigration code before the clock runs out on the 113th Congress. Full story

Rangel: Tea Party Does Not ‘Believe the Union Won’ Civil War (Video)

rangel013 020414 Rangel: Tea Party Does Not Believe the Union Won Civil War (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


During the Congressional Black Caucus’ special order hour on the House floor Monday night, Rep. Charles B. Rangel hammered the tea party not only for embracing the Confederate flag, but also for hating President Barack Obama “as much as their [Dixiecrat] predecessors probably hated Abe Lincoln.”

“[In] some parts of the United States of America they don’t believe that the Union won. The reason I come to that conclusion is that … I have never seen so many Confederate flags that represent groups that are proud of the fact that they call themselves the Tea Party,” the New York Democrat said during his 10-minute floor speech, referring to an event he attended with President Ulysses S. Grant’s great-great-grandson. “They’re from that part of the country that the states owned slaves.”



Rangel, the second most senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has pushed the White House to do more to combat poverty and inequality. The Senate recently passed an extension of unemployment benefits and there are new signs  the House may take up legislation on an immigration overhaul.

Boehner Walks Back Immigration Comments (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:26 p.m. | John A. Boehner in a closed-door meeting with Republicans Tuesday morning apologized for comments over the recess that some in the GOP Conference perceived as mocking opponents of comprehensive immigration overhaul — and the speaker reassured lawmakers there is no conspiracy to bring up such a bill over their objections.

Boehner said he meant to make a joke, but not at his members’ expense, when he flippantly noted at a Rotary Club meeting in his district last week that some Republicans are reluctant to consider an immigration rewrite.

At a press conference after the meeting, Boehner told reporters the same thing.

“There was no mocking,” Boehner said. “Listen, you all know me. You tease the ones you love. But some people misunderstood what I had to say. And I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform forward is [the president]. Full story

Boehner Mum on Grimm’s Pursuit of Another Term

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner made his first public comments Tuesday on the indictment of Rep. Michael G. Grimm on fraud and tax evasion charges, telling reporters he thinks the New York Republican was right to resign his committee post.

“Listen,” the Ohio Republican said at his weekly press conference. “He has stepped down from his committee assignment last night. I think he made the right decision.”

Pressed further, Boehner stressed, “I think all members should be held to the highest ethical standard. Mr. Grimm is under indictment. He resigned from his committee assignment and I think he made the right decision.” Full story

April 28, 2014

Jury of Michael Grimm’s Peers: Still Out

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Grimm, seen here sprinting to the final votes before recess began, so far has not faced the wrath of his House colleagues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Michael G. Grimm had, by most accounts, a pretty bad day. But none of the newly indicted New York Republican’s House colleagues — Republican or Democrat — are calling for his resignation just yet.

The news seemed to dominate the Capitol as lawmakers returned from a two-week recess, but some of them weren’t even aware of the charges as they arrived for votes Monday evening.

CQ Roll Call talked with more than two-dozen lawmakers Monday evening. Responses ranged from  ”I feel for him” (Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla.) to ”[T]his is America. And you’re innocent until proven guilty, and that’s true of all United States citizens.” (Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas)

Even liberal Democrats like Jerrold Nadler of New York wouldn’t say Grimm should resign. “You don’t want to set a precedent that elected officials should step down [because] you’re innocent until proven guilty,” he said. Energy and Commerce Ranking Democrat Henry A. Waxman of California called resignation a personal call: “That’s up to him.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had called on Grimm to relinquish his spot on Financial Services, in a press release that was sent within minutes of Grimm’s own announcement he was doing just that. A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner called it the right decision, but leadership mostly appears to be waiting to meet with Grimm before offering any real condemnations.

A formal response from GOP leaders is expected to come at their weekly press conference Tuesday morning. CQ Roll Call asked Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., if Grimm should resign. His answer was simply, “I have not met with him yet.”

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., told CQ Roll Call that “members should be held to the highest ethical standards,” but that she was still gathering information.

Full story

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