Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2015

January 29, 2015

Key Democrat Criticizes Obama on Trade Negotiations

Levin, D-Mich., speaks during the press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, to announce legislation "to tighten restrictions on corporate tax inversions." (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Levin said Congress needs more transparency from Obama on the Pacific trade deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHILADELPHIA — As Congress and the White House work on a trade agreement with Pacific countries, a key Democrat in the negotiations is criticizing the Obama administration for a lack of transparency — and more specifically, a lack of access to the actual text.

Ways and Means ranking Democrat Sander M. Levin told reporters assembled at a hotel conference room roundtable that the White House was not allowing members of Congress to know what is being offered by which countries in an emerging trade deal. Full story

Democrats Unite Around Middle-Class Message, Israel Says

Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the DCCC, speaks at the National Press Club's Newsmaker series on how Rep. Paul Ryan's, R-Wis., budget will effect the midterm elections. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Israel says Democrats are behind the new “middle class” focus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

PHILADELPHIA — House Democrats are united around a new messaging strategy for the 2016 cycle, according to Rep. Steve Israel of New York.

“Middle class, middle class and middle class,” the chairman of a newly created Democratic Policy and Communication Committee told reporters on Thursday morning. Full story

Memo Plants Seeds for GOP’s New Immigration Strategy

McCarthy, R-Calif., participates in the press conference announcing House GOP leadership for upcoming session of Congress on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

McCarthy hints at a new GOP line of attack on the president’s immigration policies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent House Republicans a legislative memo Thursday, laying out a February agenda of repealing Obamacare, taking on unfunded mandates, and permanently providing a tax deduction for charitable giving.

But more than messaging, McCarthy may have also begun planting the seed that Republicans might need a different vehicle to fight President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration other than the Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Full story

January 28, 2015

Pelosi Says Netanyahu Address ‘Not Appropriate’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, January 22, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi offered up a more forceful rebuke of Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

PHILADELPHIA — As the controversy builds over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned address to a joint session of Congress this spring, Nancy Pelosi weighed in again Wednesday with a more forceful rebuke of what she and the White House have called a breach in protocol.

“It is not appropriate,” the House minority leader said at the end of a 45 minute news conference with other top Democrats to kick off the House Democratic retreat. The Californian said she had spoken with Netanyahu earlier in the day, and she made her feelings clear that his visit, scheduled for just two weeks before the Israeli elections, could jeopardize fragile nuclear negotiations with Iran. She said it “could send the wrong message.” Full story

White House Helping Democrats Shape Message to Middle Class

Kind, D-Wisc., speaks during the bipartisan news conference outside of the Capitol to unveil "a major proposal aimed at modernizing America's regulatory system to reduce compliance costs, encourage growth and innovation, and improve national competitiveness" on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kind is one of the Democrats championing more “aspirational” messaging. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The same day House Democrats are set to go to their annual issues conference in Philadelphia to discuss messaging for the 2016 election cycle, among other things, the caucus’s new messaging group held its inaugural meeting on Capitol Hill.

The newly minted, 16-member Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which was tailored specifically to be led by recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, heard Wednesday morning from David Simas, the White House director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Full story

Republican Champion of Dodd-Frank Changes Goes After Elizabeth Warren

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 14: Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., waits on one of the buses outside the Rayburn House Office Building as House Republicans prepare to head to Hershey, Pa., for their retreat with Senate Republicans on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Yoder waits on one of the buses that took Republicans to their retreat in Hershey, Pa., earlier this month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When your greatest legislative achievement is passing one of the most contentious provisions in the 113th Congress — a Dodd-Frank rollback that lobbyists literally helped write — taking credit for the legislation is a delicate art.

If you celebrate your win with a round of self-congratulatory press releases, you risk incurring the wrath of an American public generally resentful and distrusting of Wall Street. Full story

January 27, 2015

Gowdy: ‘Southern Politeness’ Isn’t Working in Benghazi Probe

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 17: Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi hearing on "Implementation of the Accountability Review Board Recommendations" on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Gowdy plans to “ratchet up” the Benghazi hearings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Well, that honeymoon is over. After months of public deference toward one another, the top Republican and the ranking Democrat on the House Benghazi committee put on the gloves Tuesday.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., accused Chairman Trey Gowdy of violating repeated promises to conduct a nonpartisan investigation into the 2012 terror attack in Libya that cost the lives of four Americans. The South Carolina Republican fired back that Obama administration officials are deliberately wasting the panel’s time. Full story

House Democrats Brace for Potentially Tense Retreat

elosi, D-Calif., arrives for her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, January 22, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi’s Democrats head to Philadelphia looking for unity. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The official theme of the House Democrats’ annual “issues conference” this week is “Grow America’s Economy, Grow American Paychecks.”

But the three-day retreat in Philadelphia, which kicks off Wednesday afternoon, could be a test of whether leaders and rank-and-file members can return to Washington, D.C., having found some common ground. Full story

Conservatives Take Credit for Derailing Border Security Bill

 left, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., leave a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, January 27, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) gop_meeting003_012715.JPG

Boehner, second from right, was joined by other House Republican leaders Tuesday to talk about why the GOP’s border security bill was delayed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With inclement weather grounding planes across the country Monday, GOP leaders pulled a border security bill from the floor schedule this week, citing the weather and an already condensed schedule.

One day later, though there are no blizzards conveniently scheduled for next week, Speaker John A. Boehner wasn’t about to commit to a timeline for resurrecting the border bill — a delay that some hard-line conservatives are already chalking up as a victory.

Full story

An Off-Ramp in Immigration Showdown

Boehner wants to file an immigration lawsuit, something that could help the GOP out of  sticky spot on a border funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner wants to file an immigration lawsuit, something that could help the GOP out of sticky spot on a border funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican leaders may have found the eventual off-ramp in their showdown with the White House over immigration.

Speaker John A. Boehner floated one tried and true idea to his restive conference Tuesday — suing.

Full story

January 26, 2015

Conservatives Announce New Group That Could Rival RSC — Or Not (Updated)

From left, Reps. Labrador, Jordan, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Massie at the voting for the speaker of the House on Jan. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Labrador, Jordan, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Massie confer during the House speaker vote on Jan. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 10:23 a.m. | Conservatives announced Monday morning the formation of a new group, the House Freedom Caucus. But with only nine members to start, it’s unclear what such a caucus will mean for another conservative group: the Republican Study Committee.

Instead of a grand news conference, members opted for a quiet press release, announcing the “HFC” before lawmakers even got back to the Capitol. The release said the group — which includes Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Fleming of Louisiana, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Justin Amash of Michigan, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mark Meadows of North Carolina — would have an agenda of “limited, constitutional government in Congress.” Full story

January 22, 2015

House, Senate Republicans Meet in Secret to Discuss Border Security Bill

Sessions, R-Ala., speaks with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sessions, R-Ala., speaks with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans’ policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two days after Sen. Jeff Sessions bashed a House border security bill, Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul crossed the Dome Thursday to clear the air and try to secure the support of one of Congress’ most ardent immigration critics.

McCaul — with Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Gary Palmer of Alabama in tow — met with Sessions, the Alabama Republican,  Thursday in the senator’s Russell office for roughly 30 minutes. The discussion centered on the House bill and a round of comments from both men that have played out in press releases and news reports. Full story

Democrats to Complete Survey to Help Leadership With Messaging

Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the DCCC, speaks at the National Press Club's Newsmaker series on how Rep. Paul Ryan's, R-Wis., budget will effect the midterm elections. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Israel is asking Democrats what they think should have been done differently in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With members still divided on what went wrong for the party in the 2014 midterm elections, the House Democrat in charge of honing messaging for the next two years is trying to build consensus around a revised communication strategy.

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, the two-term chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee who was selected by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to run a new “Democratic Policy and Communications Committee,” is asking every member to fill out a seven-part survey in advance of the caucus’ scheduled retreat next week in Philadelphia. Full story

What the House GOP’s Abortion Bill About-Face Really Means

Ellmers, R-N.C., questions HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during her testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on the failures of Affordable Care Act's enrollment website. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ellmers and other Republican women had concerns about the way the 20-week abortion ban was written. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A significant contingent of women and moderate members of the House Republican Conference prevailed Wednesday, convincing GOP leadership that the political blowback for voting to ban abortions after 20 weeks could far outweigh any favor curried with the anti-abortion base of the party.

It wasn’t clear Thursday whether the decision to swap out the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” for less controversial legislation to prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion services signaled a permanent shift back toward the middle for House Republicans. Full story

Pelosi Accuses Boehner of ‘Hubris’

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dinged Speaker John A. Boehner Thursday for not consulting with Democrats or the White House on the decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

“It’s out of order in terms of the protocol,” Pelosi said of the invite. Boehner apparently did not consult with the White House on the joint session, nor did he make Democratic leadership aware of the Netanyahu invite. Full story

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