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March 4, 2015

September 9, 2014

House Condemns Obama for Bergdahl Prisoner Swap

Armed Services Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon has been pushing to avert defense sequestration. (CQ Roll Call)

McKeon called the prisoner swap a violation of the law. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House voted 249-163 to disapprove of President Barack Obama’s transfer of five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, providing a soft rebuke of the president’s actions on the prisoner swap.

On the nonbinding resolution vote, 22 Democrats joined all 227 voting Republicans to condemn the administration for not providing the 30 days of notice required by law before transferring a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., called the prisoner swap an “obvious” violation of the law, and he said Congress needed to understand the national security risks posed by transferring detainees before such a swap takes place.

The ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith of Washington, countered that there was “considerable” debate as to whether the president overstepped his constitutional authority, and that his actions were “in no way unprecedented.” Full story

Former House Budget Committee Chairman to Head Credit Union Group

CQ File

Nussle, a former House Budget Committee chairman, is the new president of the nation’s largest association of credit unions. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Another press release announcing another longtime former lawmaker taking another high-profile lobbying gig.

Just another day in Washington, D.C.

The Credit Union National Association, the nation’s largest trade group for credit unions, says former Iowa congressman Jim Nussle, who served eight terms and also worked in the second Bush White House as director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been named president and CEO.

“After an exhaustive search, in which nearly 100 highly qualified candidates were considered, the CUNA Board has unanimously accepted and certified the executive search committee’s recommendation of Jim as the next chief executive of our association,” said CUNA Chairman Dennis Pierce.

Nussle, 54, served in the House from 1991-2007 as a Republican from Iowa’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts. From 2001-06, he served as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

He joined the Bush White House after an unsuccessful bid for the Iowa governorship.

Since then, he’s helped found Growth Energy, a pro-ethanol trade association and The Nussle Group, a public affairs consulting firm.

This YouTube clip captures one of his most memorable moments on the floor of Congress.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR_YA2HFS5o

 

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Boehner Says House Will Wait to Hear Obama’s ISIS Plan

peaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH., during his weekly on-camera press briefing with the press in the U.S. Capitol on July 25, 2013. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner said the House will wait to hear the president’s plan on ISIS. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner repeatedly refused to say Tuesday whether he supports more U.S. troops in the Middle East or if Congress should authorize military action against ISIS, telling reporters the House needs to hear from President Barack Obama.

Boehner is scheduled to visit the White House later Tuesday — along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — and the president may very well ask for congressional authorization to ramp up action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

But that doesn’t mean he’d get it — at least not anytime soon.

House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said Tuesday he didn’t think the House even has time to debate and vote on an authorization for military force before leaving for the pre-election recess in early October. Even if there were time, it’s unclear if there would be the votes.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney came before House Republicans Tuesday in a closed-door meeting to discuss the terrorist threat in the Middle East. And while many Republicans were quick to show deference to one of the major architects of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan — “He’s a man of great gravitas and poise,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. — many other Republicans were taking Cheney’s words with more than a grain of salt.

Justin Amash, R-Mich., said it was time for the GOP to stop listening to Cheney, particularly on foreign policy. “Because Republicans don’t agree with him,” Amash said.

Cheney’s message to Republicans, according to members exiting the meeting, was that a strong America would provide for a stable world environment.

“And that the president’s failure of leadership, and incompetence in leadership, has put us into — put the world into — a very unstable position, has imperiled the security of the United States, and that we need to rebuild our military and have a better foreign policy so that we can restore the stability to the world,” said Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, summing up Cheney’s warning to lawmakers.

Regardless of Cheney’s message, both parties are concerned about the possibilities of a another long and costly war in the Middle East. But they are also concerned about doing nothing.

Long one of the most hawkish members of the House, Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., told reporters that Obama has the authority to act without congressional authorization, and that the White House should execute a military response to ISIS, the insurgent group in control of parts of Iraq and Syria, without waiting for consent from Capitol Hill.

“I think it’s better if Congress would give approval,” King said. But he added that it would be better to give authorization “after the fact.”

King explained that debate could slow down action and distract from the task at hand, and he recalled the messiness of last year’s debate over whether to take military action in Syria.

“It would complicate the message,” King said. “I know allies were very disappointed last year when [Obama] was lining up support and then he pulled the rug out.”

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said he looked forward to hearing what Obama had to say regarding a strategy to combat ISIS, both in his scheduled address on Wednesday evening and after the White House meeting with House and Senate leaders later on Tuesday.

“If the president does not lay out a clear policy that members of Congress and the American people and our military and our enemies understand, then I don’t think there’ll be any action taken,” Sessions said. “If there’s no clear plan, what would the president be asking us to do?”

Related:

McCarthy: ‘Friends Don’t Trust Us, Enemies Don’t Fear Us’

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS 

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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Hoyer: Democrats Want ‘Minimum’ 5-Year Extension for Ex-Im Bank

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks during the Third Way discussion on "the imperative for Congress to keep working toward the goal of long-term fiscal sustainability" held in the Columbus Room at Union Station in Washington on Monday, March 24, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hoyer said Democrats want, at minimum, a five-year extension of the Ex-Im Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the House looking more likely to include some reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in the text of a continuing resolution this week, the fight could now turn on the length of the extension.

Convention wisdom holds that Republicans will tuck a short-term extension of the institution that underwrites the sales of U.S. goods overseas, which is set to expire at the end of the month, into the stopgap government spending bill needed to avert a shutdown.

With many Republicans on and off Capitol Hill arguing for the bank’s termination, extending its charter for the next few months — either into December or through mid-way next year — will buy the party more time to agree on a long-term solution, plus postpone a politically divisive squabble just weeks before the midterm elections. Full story

Boehner: Temporary Ex-Im Bank Deal Is in the Works

Boehner says the House lawsuit will focus on Obama's changes to the Affordable Care Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner signals an opening for an Ex-Im Bank deal . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner was cagey Tuesday morning when asked whether an extension of the Export-Import Bank would be included on the upcoming continuing resolution to keep the government funded. But GOP leadership looks poised to extend the export credit agency, despite opposition from fiscal hawks and a couple of powerful conservative groups.

Boehner told reporters he was working out the details of an extension with Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a prominent opponent of the bank, and the Ohio Republican said Hensarling “thinks the temporary extension of the Export-Import Bank is in order.”

“Whether it’s a separate issue or in the CR — yet to be decided,” Boehner said.

Hensarling has been the bank’s most formidable political barrier. But if the Texas Republican is onboard with a short-term extension, the matter becomes largely a fait accompli, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s on the CR or not. Putting it on the continuing resolution probably makes it easier to pass, as Democrats who may have been disinclined to vote for a short-term extension may be even more disinclined to vote against funding the government. Full story

September 8, 2014

Spurned Staffer Sends Email Accusing Top Republican of Ethics Violations

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former staffer for McMorris Rodgers is accusing the fourth-ranked Republican in the House of impropriety. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former communications director for House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent reporters a 1,959-word email Monday accusing the Washington Republican of “retribution” for in connection with an ethics complaint against her office — a serious charge that is the latest alleged impropriety in an ongoing Ethics Committee investigation.

Todd Winer, the former communications director for McMorris Rodgers and, more recently, for Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, allegedly brought a complaint against McMorris Rodgers in July 2013 for using taxpayer-funded staff and resources in her bid to become conference chairwoman. The Office of Congressional Ethics referred the case to the Ethics Committee in February, and the Ethics Committee said it was continuing to investigate the matter in March.

Winer called CQ Roll Call after this story was published to deny he was the source of the original complaint.

Since the March announcement, there hasn’t been much public movement on the investigation and Winer, who was working for Labrador, stayed silent.

That is, until now. Full story

Conservative Groups Renew Calls for End to Ex-Im Bank

 

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., makes his way to the House floor through the media pack, who were waiting for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Conservative groups are calling on McCarthy to allow authorization for the Ex-Im Bank to expire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kevin McCarthy, check your inbox.

On the morning Congress returns for its mad legislative sprint before the midterm elections, the House majority leader received a letter from the heads of Washington’s two most aggressive conservative advocacy groups, ones credited with helping to spur the government shutdown of 2013: Chris Chocola of Club for Growth and Mike Needham of Heritage Action for America.

They want McCarthy to let the Export-Import Bank expire.

“The Export-Import Bank is a small thing, this we know,” Chocola and Needham wrote. “But Leader McCarthy, if you can’t start with the Export-Import Bank, then how can Americans trust the Republican Party to tackle the big challenges our nation faces after six years of President Obama and his failed policies?” Full story

Dingell Hospitalized in Detroit

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The longest serving member in the history of the House has been hospitalized in Detroit, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.

The office of Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., said Monday the 88-year old congressman and dean of the House experienced abdominal pain.

“Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI12) was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit with abdominal pain. Dingell is doing well, is receiving an IV treatment of antibiotics, and remains in good spirits. Doctors expect him to be released in a few days, and Dingell expects to be in Washington for Congressional session next week,” Dingell’s office said in a statement.

Full story

September Congressional Agenda: Must-Pass Bills and Messaging Gambits

It's the second time in as many weeks that Boehner has been threatened. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner wants to contrast House action with Senate inaction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Congress back in town Monday after five weeks off, plenty of Republicans and Democrats have made it clear the session’s No. 1 priority is passing a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

There’s also a lot of bipartisan consensus, it turns out, on No. 2 — which can be summed up fairly neatly under the heading “Make the Other Guys Look Bad Ahead of the Elections.”

In a final, jam-packed sprint to Nov. 4 — the House is in session just 12 days, the Senate 15 — members in both chambers will be scrambling to check off those top two items, and a few others as well.

First Things First. No one wants another government shutdown. Federal funding runs out on Sept. 30, so Congress has to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep agencies operational or risk a repeat of last year’s disaster that put congressional approval ratings at an all-time low. Leaders on both sides of the aisle and rotunda say they want a policy-rider free CR that runs through early December, but some Republicans could revolt over immigration executive orders or reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Which Leads Us to … Reauthorizing the Ex-Im. Funding for the institution that underwrites sales of U.S. goods abroad will expire at the end of the month, and its future is shaky: Far-right lawmakers say the Export-Import Bank represents corporate welfare, while other Republicans say that dissolving the institution would be catastrophic for small businesses. There’s growing interest in extending the bank’s charter for just a few months to buy Congress more time to reach a long-term agreement, but aides to senior GOP lawmakers caution that a deal on how to proceed is still elusive.

War on ISIS. It’s not clear whether Congress will be compelled to act on legislation authorizing air strikes in the region following the execution by Islamic extremists of two American journalists. But calls are coming from both sides of the aisle for Congress to definitively authorize President Barack Obama to use force against ISIS, the group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq. For the time being, the only planned House response is in the form of committee hearings. In the Democratic-controlled Senate, an aide said that “we are many steps away from knowing whether this is going to be an issue to come to Congress or not.”

The GOP ‘Closing Argument.’ Republicans intend to pass a number of jobs and energy bills over the next few weeks in what Speaker John A. Boehner referred to recently as a “closing argument” before the midterms: The GOP is working for Americans, while “the leader of the dysfunctional, do-nothing Senate plans to spend the final legislative days before November talking about the Koch brothers.”

Spotlight on Benghazi. Along with taking already-passed bills and re-bundling them to send over to the Democratic Senate a second time, House Republicans will also remind voters that they are paying attention to national security concerns: South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the specially-created committee to probe the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will convene the panel’s first hearing this month.

Pelosi’s Aces: UI, Immigration. Democrats don’t control the legislative agenda in the House, but they have a couple of cards they can play to try and spare their party of some bloodletting this fall. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s troops will likely continue to support White House plans to use executive orders to grant more stays of deportation to undocumented immigrants in light of the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive overhaul legislation. They will also undoubtedly focus on the GOP’s refusal to extend the emergency unemployment insurance program, nine months after funding lapsed.

Speaking of the Koch Brothers … In the Senate, Democrats will kick off their first day back by proceeding with a vote to cut off debate on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and individuals. They are banking that Republicans filibuster the effort so they can spend their remaining weeks before the midterms reconsidering items from Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “fair shot” agenda, the first of which would be a bill to improve college affordability. A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage would follow.

Senate Republicans Playing It Safe. Reid’s Republican colleagues, anticipating a banner year at the polls in November, have not tipped their hands as to how they want to spend September. To thwart Reid’s wish to force politically loaded votes on the Senate floor, GOP leaders could urge members to allow debate on the campaign finance bill — the quintessential symbolic messaging measure that will never advance.

Humberto Sanchez and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS

House GOP Plan for September: Shame the Senate

Boehner Defers to Hensarling on Export-Import Bank (Updated)

McConnell, Reid Spar Over Campaign Financing

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September 5, 2014

The Complexity of the U.S. Border Crisis, in 7 Photos

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A migrant trail near Nogales, Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NOGALES, Ariz. — Didn’t get to the border during your August recess to do research for your boss? We have you covered.

In the days before they last left town, the House rallied to pass an appropriations bill aiming to curtail the influx of child migrants — legislation that’s going to hit a wall in the Senate whether or not the president takes any executive action.

RollCall-On-the-Road-Logo(150x150)

CQ Roll Call toured the southern border with Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. and the congressman’s staff on Aug. 8. Their goal? Showcasing the difficult situation in person.

“There are so many layers to the border,” Grijalva said from the backseat of a 4×4 truck as it climbed over the desert mountains en route to a migrant trail crossroads. “There are so many layers to immigration. It’s a very complex issue.”

These seven photos illustrate why legislating the border has become increasingly difficult.

Full story

September 4, 2014

Details Emerge on House GOP’s September Agenda

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCarthy shares House “to-do” list with fellow Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:58 p.m | A bill to fund the government, a resolution condemning the president for not notifying Congress about a prisoner swap and a package of jobs and energy bills are all on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s latest memo to House Republicans. But notably absent is word on whether the House will vote to authorize military actions in the Middle East or extend the Export-Import Bank.

McCarthy laid out a hefty agenda for the House Thursday, telling his Republican colleagues to expect a vote on a continuing resolution soon as well as a resolution that would show disapproval for the Obama administration not providing 30 days of notice before trading five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

McCarthy also put together a list of 14 bills that will comprise a jobs package and another 13 bills intended to lower energy costs.

Not mentioned in the lengthy memo is what the House will do regarding the Export-Import Bank, which expires Sept. 30, or a vote on authorizing military activities to combat the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Full story

House Republicans Plan Vote Condemning Obama for Bergdahl Swap

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House plans to vote on a resolution disapproving of President Barack Obama’s actions during the recent Taliban prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a memo from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday.

In the memo to House Republicans, McCarthy mentioned a recent Government Accountability Office report on the prisoner swap which concluded the administration had not fulfilled its obligation in providing advance notice to Congress regarding the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

“The  law is clear, and therefore the House will consider H. Res. 644, authored by Representative Scott Rigell, which condemns the failure to comply with the statutory requirement to provide advance notice to Congress,” McCarthy said.

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McCarthy: ‘Friends Don’t Trust Us, Enemies Don’t Fear Us’

 

McCarthy was elected by his Republican colleagues to be the next House majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCarthy said Obama needs to step up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress is working on legislation that would authorize more aggressive military action against terror group ISIS — but President Barack Obama has to step up and take the lead in the fight, said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The California Republican, in a Tuesday interview on conservative talker Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, said he supports efforts to give the president authority to pursue Islamic extremists across borders. But he cautioned against Congress conducting foreign policy.

“We don’t need 535 foreign policy experts trying to run the military,” McCarthy told guest host Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif. “First and foremost, this president has to have a strategy. I mean, what is our foreign policy? I mean, I don’t know what it is. And if we don’t know what it is, our allies don’t know, and our enemies don’t know, so they’re pushing the envelope. Full story

September 3, 2014

House GOP Plan for September: Shame the Senate

UNITED STATES - JULY 24: Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conducts his weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, July 24, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner told Republicans the House will be busy in September. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner outlined the September legislative agenda in a Wednesday afternoon conference call with House Republican lawmakers, describing a scheduled 12-day session that will be “brief, but busy.”

The most pressing item on the agenda is a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30, but Boehner also spoke strongly and at length, according to a read-out from a source on the call, in favor of using the remaining legislative days before the November elections to draw “a very stark contrast between ourselves and the Democrats who run Washington.”

The Republican-led House, Boehner said, “is going to spend September focused on American solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home and restore opportunity for all Americans.”

House Republicans’ “closing argument” before they depart for the campaign trail ahead of Election Day, Boehner said, will be moving legislation designed to have tangible results for the American people, while the “do-nothing Senate plans to spend the final legislative days before November talking about the Koch brothers.”

Boehner’s comments mirrored an early August memo from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., alerting members that leadership would be taking dozens of jobs and energy bills that have already been passed individually by the House and bundling them together in packages to send over to the Senate again — a move intended to put more pressure on the chamber’s Democratic leadership.

With the GOP almost certain to retain control of the House in the 114th Congress, the chamber’s Republicans now appear to be rallying to help tilt the balance of power in the Senate.

 

Related:

Gutieérrez, Activists Urge Obama to Act on Immigration Before Elections

House, Senate Lay Groundwork for War on ISIS

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS

Rep. Frank Wolf

Wolf plans to lead House effort to authorize strikes against ISIS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As President Barack Obama weighs U.S. options for confronting ISIS, the insurgent group in control of parts of Iraq and Syria, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are moving to ensure that the administration has the authority to take military action if necessary.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., said in a statement Wednesday he will introduce legislation when Congress reconvenes next week that would authorize the use of military force against ISIS and other terror groups around the world, including al Nusra, Ansar al Sharia, al Shabaab and Boko Haram.

Separately, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Wednesday in Virginia that Congress should not leave town in September without considering an authorization to use force against ISIS. Full story

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