Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

June 17, 2014

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

McCarthy Likely to Cruise to Leadership Victory; Other Slots Up for Grabs

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Supporters of McCarthy and his bid to succeed Cantor are confident heading into the weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nice guys don’t always finish last.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, an affable Californian who was once criticized as being too friendly to get far in leadership, has locked up the support needed to become the second-ranked Republican in the House in less than a week.

The election to choose House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s successor isn’t until June 19, but McCarthy’s lightning-quick whip operation stifled any would-be competition, and discontented conservatives and Southerners were unable to recruit a competitive candidate from their own ranks.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas dropped out of the race Thursday night, after Rep. Jeb Hensarling, another Texan, declined to run, telling his colleagues the job would put a strain on his young family.

Many on the right had been pushing for Hensarling to enter the race as a conservative alternative to the current elected leadership. But with his decision not to run, members conceded that McCarthy — currently the majority whip and the third-ranked Republican in the House — will likely cruise to victory. Full story

June 12, 2014

Pete Sessions Drops Out of Majority Leader Race, Clearing Way for Kevin McCarthy (Updated)

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House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions in his office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:49 p.m. | Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas has dropped out of the race to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader, helping clear a path for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California to ascend to the No. 2 post in the House.

Sessions stressed party unity in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

“After thoughtful consideration and discussion with my colleagues, I have made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader. Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party. At this critical time, we must remain unified as a Republican Conference. As always, I stand ready and willing to work with our team to advance the conservative agenda that the American people demand and deserve.”

McCarthy was heavily favored to beat Sessions in the race, quickly lining up support while the Texas delegation wrangled over whether to back Sessions or Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling.

Hensarling announced Thursday morning that he wouldn’t be running for the position.

A group of conservative lawmakers told CQ Roll Call Thursday they still wanted an alternative candidate to McCarthy — and Sessions for that matter — and were expecting to announce one soon.

When CQ Roll Call raised the possibility of Raúl R. Labrador, one lawmaker in the group called it “an astute guess.”

A source familiar with Labrador’s thinking said a lot of members were encouraging the Idaho Republican to run for the position.

But any bids at this point would be very long shots at best — and the focus will now turn to the wide open races down ballot — especially for McCarthy’s whip job.

Sessions’ campaign started just hours after Cantor’s stunning primary loss Tuesday to Dave Brat.

Sessions, who has a deep contact list from his two stints as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was texting members past 2 a.m., asking for their early support.

By Wednesday, he was the first candidate officially in the race to be majority leader, and he was already looking to cast himself as the conservative alternative to McCarthy, who had not announced his candidacy for Majority Leader but was all-but-certain to jump in the race as soon as Cantor announced his resignation.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon in his Rules Committee office, Sessions told CQ Roll Call that he already had a whip team, and he was already lining up commitments.

But looming over his candidacy was Hensarling, who was largely seen as a more conservative and viable opponent to McCarthy.

Sessions made it clear from the outset that he had no interest in squaring off against his fellow Texan.

“Certainly,” Sessions said of Hensarling Wednesday afternoon, “it’s not in our best interest to run against each other.”

The Texas GOP delegation, a close-knit group which operates more like a family, decided to hold a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the race. Both Sessions and Hensarling said their piece, and members left it up to them to decide who would run.

But by Thursday morning, Hensarling had decided it was not the “right office at the right time,” clearing the way for Sessions to be the Texas candidate.

Sessions went before a group of Southern Republicans to make his pitch, and his campaign was in full swing.

Still, speculation swirled throughout the Capitol that Sessions might still step aside. McCarthy was piling up commitments, and his ascension to the Majority Leader post looked imminent.

Sessions stayed positive, however. He met with his fellow Texans at their weekly Thursday lunch, and his fellow Texans emerged from their lunch of Tortilla Coast and Blue Bell ice cream swearing monolithic support for Sessions.

“Pete Sessions is running for Majority Leader, and I think Pete Sessions will be the next Majority Leader,” said the delegation’s dean, Joe L. Barton.

When a reporter asked him if all 24 Texas Republicans would be voting for Sessions, Barton declared that question “asinine.”

In Barton’s mind, there was no question that they would all support Sessions.

As the day went on, however, the math looked worse for Sessions. McCarthy continued to collect votes, with allies claiming the California Republican already had a majority of the conference solidly swearing their support.

Sessions began to see the writing on the wall. And, according to his staff, ever the good Eagle Scout, Sessions sought unity over division, and he didn’t think his continued presence in the race would help the party.

He decided to call it quits.

Related stories:

Cantor Quake Sets of GOP Leadership Fights

Leadership Shuffle Begins After Cantor Shocker

Dave Brat: 11 Things to Know

Republican Senate Primary Challengers Jump on Eric Cantor Loss

Eric Cantor’s Defeat Was in the Immigration Tea Leaves

10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker

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Top Cantor Aide Steve Stombres Announces Capitol Hill Departure

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With Cantor stepping down as majority leader next month, Stombres is leaving Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As House Republicans adjust to the coming transition among their leadership ranks, one longtime aide for outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he plans to leave Capitol Hill.

Steven Stombres, chief of staff in the leadership office, is expected to remain on Cantor’s staff until the end of July when Cantor will resign his leadership spot. Stombres, a member of Roll Call’s Fabulous 50 leading staffers, could be a highly sought-after candidate for a private-sector lobbying or think tank gig, head hunters and K Street sources said.

Cantor, of course, lost his primary this week to upstart candidate Dave Brat in a contest that has rocked Washington from the capitol to K Street.

Stombres’ top priority now though is helping his colleagues find jobs. ”We’re not going to rest until everybody on this team has found a good place to land,” Stombres said.

Cantor, he added, “has always attracted the best talent on the Hill.” Stombres said people on the Cantor leadership team may pursue opportunities working for other members or in the private sector.

“The good news for them is that Leader Cantor was, from a private sector perspective, was viewed positively,” said K Street recruiter Nels Olson, who runs Korn/Ferry’s Washington office. “Those individuals will have an opportunity to make a transition.”

Stombres said that he has not yet determined his next chapter and whether it will involve lobbying or advocacy but that he plans to find “a new professional endeavor.” Stombres is a three-term member of the Fairfax City Council, but earlier this year he announced he would not run for re-election to that post this fall.

Stombres has been on the Hill for 20 years and with Cantor since 2001.

By Kate Ackley Posted at 4:45 p.m.
Eric Cantor

Pelosi Hopeful as Cantor Exits: ‘Whole New Ballgame’ (Video)

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Pelosi says she’s optimistic after Cantor’s ouster. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pretended to hold a baseball at the microphones on Thursday morning during her weekly press conference, reiterating her characterization of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Tuesday primary defeat as creating “a whole new ballgame.”

The California Democrat said she’s hopeful that the House can tackle issues like an immigration overhaul, despite concerns that Cantor’s departure will drive House Republicans further to the right, making compromise less likely.

“Under the current leadership in the Republican side, we’ve had a shutdown of government, we have not passed immigration, we have not passed the Voting Rights Act which has always been bipartisan,” Pelosi said. “I don’t know how things can get worse than the obstruction that is already here.”

Full story

Deflecting Cantor Chatter, Boehner Blasts Obama on Iraq, Bergdahl, Immigration (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner refused to analyze Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat on Tuesday — instead blasting President Barack Obama for “making deals with terrorists” and “taking a nap” on Iraq.

“I’ll let the political pundits describe and figure out what happened in that election,” the Ohio Republican told reporters at his weekly press conference Thursday morning. “Every election is different.”

He also wouldn’t make an endorsement for who should replace Cantor, R-Va., as the No. 2 member of the House GOP.

“Members are going to make this decision,” Boehner said, adding that he can “work with anyone” who might get the job — whether it’s current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, or perhaps even Idaho Republican Raúl R. Labrador. Instead, Boehner sought to deflect from the party’s internal politics by instead highlighting what hasn’t changed in the past 36-odd hours: The crucial need for Republicans to continue to fight against the Obama administration.

Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 12:10 p.m.
John Boehner

Steve King Blasts Snap Election to Replace Eric Cantor

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King, shown here Wednesday amid a throng of reporters, wants to elect an “anti-amnesty” majority leader. (Tom William/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Steve King said Thursday GOP leaders are “stacking the deck” with a snap election to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader and urged the Republican Conference to slow down and elect an “anti-amnesty” majority leader.

“At a time when Republicans in Congress are fighting the Obama Administration to oppose snap elections for unions on American employers, Republican Leadership is trying to do the same in the United States House of Representatives,” the Iowa Republican said in a statement. “This snap election has the effect of stacking the deck.

“Unfortunately, while both current candidates benefit from the hasty timeframe prescribed by leadership, neither opposes amnesty legislation being brought to the floor of the House. The primary election in Virginia 7 that led to this leadership vacuum turned on the electorate’s opposition to amnesty. Have we learned nothing? Let’s take more time to get our heads clear and elect a staunch conservative, anti-amnesty candidate to step up and lead the Majority.”

King has frequently criticized GOP leaders for pursuing immigration legislation. Conservatives, meanwhile, were trying to coalesce around a candidate to take on Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas has announced his interest, and lawmakers are looking at two other conservatives, Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho and former Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:55 a.m.
Kevin McCarthy

With Hensarling Out, Labrador or Jordan Could Be the Conservative Pick

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With Hensarling out and Sessions undecided, is Labrador the next great conservative hope? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:38 a.m. | With Jeb Hensarling out and rumors that Pete Sessions might not stay in, conservatives are looking for — and plan to shortly announce — a new candidate for House majority leader.

According to a group of Republicans walking down the Cannon Tunnel on Thursday, there will be a “conservative” candidate to run as an alternative to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

While the group wouldn’t say who, when CQ Roll Call raised the possibility of Raúl Labrador of Idaho running for the position, one lawmaker called it “an astute guess.”


Related: 10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker


Another lawmaker turned around and flashed a thumbs up.

Whether that’s just wishful thinking for the conservatives or a subtle signal is unclear. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 11:27 a.m.

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