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

April 8, 2014

Hoyer Clarifies: No, I Have Not Smoked Pot

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday that he has not smoked marijuana, clarifying his remarks from earlier in the day when he indicated he had.

“At today’s press conference, I was unclear when discussing the Maryland General Assembly’s actions on marijuana. To be clear, I have not used marijuana. The point I tried to make was that I wasn’t going to ask for a show of hands of people who haven’t tried marijuana — because if I did, I would probably be one of very few who could raise my hand,” the second highest-ranking House Democrat said in a statement emailed to CQ Roll Call.

“This issue affects many people in my home state and throughout the country, including those who are non-violent offenders suffering in prison from a criminal conviction over possession. While I indicated early on that I was not in support of legalization of marijuana, I do believe Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly are taking the right step to decriminalize the possession of small amounts.”

Sensenbrenner: Intelligence Director Committed Perjury (Video)

During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper’s refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans’ communications had been conducted was perjurious after Clapper appeared to concede the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.

“Director Clapper’s perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.

“I’m really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate,” Holder said. Full story

Hoyer Suggests He’s Smoked Pot, Backs Maryland Decriminalization Effort

maryland gala029 091213 445x298 Hoyer Suggests Hes Smoked Pot, Backs Maryland Decriminalization Effort

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 2:30 p.m. | Two high-ranking Maryland Democrats said they support Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to sign a bill decriminalizing recreational marijuana in the state.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said there are too many people in prison or with a criminal record for using marijuana, something many people have done. And he suggested he’s among them.

“I’m not going to ask for a show of hands. If I did, I could raise my hand,” Hoyer told a roomful of reporters in the Capitol, raising his hand. “The use thereof, or the trying thereof. Inhaling or not. Experimentation.”

Soon after the session with reporters, Hoyer spokeswoman Stephanie Young told CQ Roll Call her boss was not saying what it sounded like. “Mr. Hoyer has not used marijuana. His point was that this issue affects many people and he believes the Maryland General Assembly took the right step to decriminalize marijuana.”

Three hours after the pen-and-pad briefing, Hoyer’s office issued a statement in his name clarifying what the lawmaker said.

“At today’s press conference, I was unclear when discussing the Maryland General Assembly’s actions on marijuana. To be clear, I have not used marijuana. The point I tried to make was that I wasn’t going to ask for a show of hands of people who haven’t tried marijuana — because if I did, I would probably be one of very few who could raise my hand.

“This issue affects many people in my home state and throughout the country, including those who are non-violent offenders suffering in prison from a criminal conviction over possession. While I indicated early on that I was not in support of legalization of marijuana, I do believe Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly are taking the right step to decriminalize the possession of small amounts.”

Hoyer said he has in the past objected to decriminalizing marijuana because drug rehab experts have told him it is a gateway drug, but he will not criticize the governor for signing the bill.

Full story

By Daniel Newhauser Posted at 12:17 p.m.
Democrats

Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a “war on women,” with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as “pawns” to score political points.

Republican leaders wouldn’t say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they’d bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats’ “Equal Pay Day” criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman. 

“Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Let’s focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities … for a better life we all want.” Full story

McAllister Admits Infidelity, Tells Louisiana Paper He Won’t Resign

McAllister005 112113 445x296 McAllister Admits Infidelity, Tells Louisiana Paper He Wont Resign

McAllister, as his family looks on, at his mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister, embroiled in an infidelity scandal, told The News Star, a Monroe, La., newspaper, that he has no plans to step down from the seat he won in a special election last fall.

According to the paper’s exclusive report, the 40-year-old Louisiana Republican said he plans to run for re-election next fall “unless there is an outcry for me not to serve, and so far there has been an outpouring of support, not for my actions, but for me to continue to represent the people.”

He said the improper relationship that became public after footage from a surveillance camera in his district office was posted online Monday was the first infidelity in his marriage.

He told the paper he confessed to his wife earlier this year, “before the video came out.”

Related stories:

8 Things to Know About Rep.-Elect Vance McAllister

Vance McAllister Kissing Video Could Prompt Flood of GOP Challengers

Cantor: McAllister Right to Apologize After Kissing Video

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said Tuesday that embattled Rep. Vance McAllister was right to apologize to his constituents, but did not say whether the freshman Louisiana lawmaker would face repercussions within the Republican Conference.

“I think that his constituents deserve an apology. [That’s] why he gave an apology,” Cantor said. “I’ve not had a chance to speak to the congressman, so I’m going to reserve further judgment on the question. I will say the American people deserve all the representatives here in Washington to hold to a very high standard of behavior.”

A video posted online Monday allegedly shows the congressman kissing a staffer in his Louisiana district office. McAllister issued an apology after the video appeared, but a wide field of would-be successors are already jockeying for consideration for the seat, should the 40-year-old lawmaker choose to step down.

Full story

McAllister Skips Votes After Kissing Video Blows Up

sotu tw031 012814 1 445x309 McAllister Skips Votes After Kissing Video Blows Up

McAllister, left, invited Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty to join him at the State of the Union address earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister, embroiled in a scandal over a video allegedly showing the married Republican kissing an employee, did not vote when the House reconvened Monday night.

The Louisiana Republican was among 36 lawmakers who did not cast votes on the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, which had two roll calls Monday night around 7 p.m. when the House returned from the weekend.

McAllister earlier in the day had issued a short statement apologizing and asking for privacy for his family, but didn’t show up for votes and his office door in the Cannon Building was locked. Phone calls to the office went straight to voicemail.

The lights inside were on, but no one so much as opened the door for hours, despite reporters camping out there for a stakeout.

Full story

April 7, 2014

Unemployment Extension: Senate Passage Puts Bill in Boehner’s Court

GOP Caucus 21 121113 445x315 Unemployment Extension: Senate Passage Puts Bill in Boehners Court

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate’s vote late Monday to pass an unemployment extension doesn’t mean the more than 2 million people who have lost their benefits can rest easy — the House isn’t likely to touch the issue until the end of the month, if at all.

While a band of House moderates have written to leaders asking them to consider the issue promptly — either with the Senate’s bill or an alternative — Speaker John A. Boehner has been clear that the Senate measure fails to meet his tests of creating jobs and being fiscally responsible. The Ohio Republican hasn’t put forward an alternative of his own.

The real question for House Republicans seems to be this — is there something they can get out of the White House and congressional Democrats in return for releasing benefits to the unemployed? Full story

Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budget’s Impact on Poverty

hoyer093013 445x296 Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budgets Impact on Poverty

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The latest Ryan budget is no more likely than its predecessors to become law. But as with those those earlier documents, this year’s spending blueprint is giving both parties plenty of election-year ammunition.

Democrats, looking for some policy heft to leverage their political talking points, have asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the impact on poverty of Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal 2015 budget.

“Our budgets serve as an important tool for expressing Congress’s level of support for domestic anti-poverty initiatives and prioritizing investments in opportunity,” Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wrote in a Monday letter to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. “Such an analysis will aid Members of Congress in making an informed decision on whether Chairman Ryan’s budget will improve or worsen the state of poverty in America.”trans Democrats Request CBO Analysis of Ryan Budgets Impact on Poverty

Full story

McAllister, Caught on Tape With Staffer, Asks for ‘Forgiveness’

McAllister005 112113 445x296 McAllister, Caught on Tape With Staffer, Asks for Forgiveness

McAllister and his family at the Republican’s mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister, a conservative Louisiana Republican who was sworn-in five months ago, asked for privacy for his children and forgiveness from constituents Monday, acknowledging the validity of a video showing him kissing one of his employees.

In a short statement issued a few hours after the Ouachita Citizen, a West Monroe, La., newspaper posted what appeared to be surveillance video, McAllister gave no indication he would resign.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” McAllister said in a statement. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

Full story

April 4, 2014

Steve King: Illegal Immigrants Kill Americans Every Day (Video)

Rep. Steve King has been known to make, from time to time, some controversial remarks about immigration — and his floor speech on Friday was no exception.

Speaking to a nearly empty chamber, the Iowa Republican said the result of an immigration overhaul would be more dead Americans.

“Because there’s not a day that goes by in this country that there isn’t at least one American citizen that dies at the hands of someone who’s unlawfully present in the United States, whether it is an act of homicide or it’s an act of willful manslaughter, whether it’s an [Operating While Intoxicated] in the streets of America, hardly anybody has gone through the last 10 years and doesn’t at least show that up in their local newspaper, if it doesn’t show up in their neighborhood. And so Steve King’s not dead wrong. Let’s keep more Americans alive.”

The statement was nothing new for King. He made similar remarks to an Omaha, Nebraska crowd in September, estimating that “multiples of the victims of Sept. 11″ had been killed by illegal immigrants, and in 2006, King somehow calculated that 12 Americans die every day because of illegal immigrants. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 7:11 p.m.
Immigration

Moran Reignites Perennial Pay Raise Debate

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., isn’t the only lawmaker to spark a national debate over congressional pay in recent years.

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy took flak in 2011 when he said he was struggling to pay his bills.

Last year, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the second richest member of Congress, complained on the House floor about having to pay higher health insurance premiums.

And Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., got into hot water during last year’s shutdown when she initially refused to give up her pay. “I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line,” she said, before later backtracking.

The issue, of course has perennially been a thorny one for members of Congress. Decades ago, a freshman Moran and a freshman Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, were among the 35 new lawmakers who banded together to push pay raise reform.

Over the years, leaders in both parties have worked across the aisle to protect their pay raises, although in recent years, congressional pay has been frozen, including with a provision in the fiscal cliff deal.

ENLIST Act Rebuffed by McKeon, But Denham Wants Immigration Amendment Vote in NDAA

Jeff Denham 22 071411 445x295 ENLIST Act Rebuffed by McKeon, But Denham Wants Immigration Amendment Vote in NDAA

Denham was rebuffed, but will keep trying to attach his immigration plan to other legislation. (Douglas Graham/Roll Call File Photo)

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon said Friday afternoon there will be no pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who serve in the military attached to this year’s defense spending bill.

The decision poured cold water on a behind-the-scenes bipartisan effort, headed up by another California Republican, Rep. Jeff Denham, to include such a provision in the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

Denham said he understands the chairman’s decision and predicted there will be opportunities to resurrect his bill, the ENLIST Act.

McKeon, a co-sponsor of the Denham bill, said the timing wasn’t right.

“I have reached this conclusion without regard to my views on the underlying policy, but because I do not believe the chairman’s mark should be the original venue for this debate,” McKeon said. “Over the past several days I have heard from members on and off the committee on both sides of the issues. They have made sound arguments and raised valid concerns.”

Full story

Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen

moran001 080191 445x291 Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen

(Maureen Keating/Roll Call File Photo)

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in Roll Call on Aug. 5, 1991. We discovered it when looking for archival photos of Rep. James P. Moran, who made headlines by telling CQ Roll Call reporter Hannah Hess that members of Congress are “underpaid.” Moran, actually one of Congress’ poorest members, is retiring instead of seeking a 13th term.

Turns out Moran was among a group of freshmen calling for pay raise changes in an effort spearheaded by now-Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. (The effort was successful. The 27th Amendment was ratified a year later, in 1992.) The caption on the photo caught our attention and is priceless. It reads: Some 35 of this year’s 45 House freshmen are calling for changes in the way Congress works. They’re doing it now, they say, before they get co-opted by the system themselves. At a Thursday press conference (from left) Reps. Larry LaRocco, Jim Moran and Rick Santorum.

Full story as it appeared on page 3 nearly 23 years ago below.

Freshmen Ask Limit on Pay-Raise Power Of Congress as Part of Broader Reforms

By Karen Foerstel

Three-quarters of House freshmen have signed onto a resolution to limit the pay-raise authority of Congress.

The move is part of a broader effort by 35 of the 48 freshmen in the Class of 1990 to reform the way Congress works. They say they want to act now — before they themselves become entrenched in the system.

Full story

‘Underpaid’ Jim Moran One of the Poorest Members of Congress

moran 030 030114 445x296 Underpaid Jim Moran One of the Poorest Members of Congress

(By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James P. Moran, who has sparked a national debate after saying that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are “underpaid,” is one of the poorest members of Congress after decades in office and a host of financial troubles over the years.

Moran’s latest financial disclosure statement lists a single reportable financial asset to his name — a money market account with $1,000 to $15,000. He doesn’t list any liabilities.

In fact, Moran has been pulling down a second job of sorts, making $10,000 in 2012 for teaching at George Mason University.

He’s not quite poor enough to land him on this year’s Top 10 ‘Poorest’ list, however.

The longtime appropriator has had plenty of financial difficulties in the past — but has at times been a millionaire too, thanks to marriage.

(Related: Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen)

Moran in 2004 described himself as “the poorest member of Congress” after he racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from options trading. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:35 p.m.
Ethics

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