Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

July 3, 2014

GOP Says Border Crisis is Obama’s Fault; Democrats Blame Violence, Poverty

perry 106 030714 445x296 GOP Says Border Crisis is Obamas Fault; Democrats Blame Violence, Poverty

Dueling narratives: Republicans such as Perry insist the border crisis is a national security threat, while Democrats call it a humanitarian crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The border crisis unfolding in Texas is, depending on whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, either President Barack Obama’s fault or an unavoidable humanitarian crisis created by Central American violence and poverty.

Those are the competing narratives emerging in congressional statements, interviews and hearings this week as lawmakers from both parties visit detention centers in Texas and elsewhere to see firsthand the flood of young children and mothers who have entered the country illegally in recent months.

At a Homeland Security Committee field hearing in McAllen, Texas Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry led Republican criticism of the White House, telling lawmakers from both parties the flood of unaccompanied minors is attributable to failed Washington policies.

Perry and other Republicans presented the situation as a national security crisis, with Perry calling on lawmakers to supply more border security agents and more resources.

Specifically, Perry wants the National Guard sent to the border, and he wants the federal government to pay Texas back for the money it has already spent addressing the crisis.

Perry noted that there are, on average, 17 border patrol agents per mile between El Paso, Texas, and the edge of California, while there are only seven border security agents between El Paso and the eastern-most point of the Rio Grande.

Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said to fix the crisis, “the administration must first recognize its failed immigration and border policies are the source of the problem.”

McCaul noted that the committee repeatedly heard last week that “the horrible economic conditions and violence in Central America were the only reason these kids are coming.”

While McCaul said no one questions that the circumstances in these countries are terrible, “these conditions are not new, and they have not suddenly gotten worse.”

“What is new,” McCaul said, “is a series of executive actions by the administration to grant immigration benefits to children outside the purview of the law, a relaxed enforcement posture, along with talk of comprehensive immigration reform.”

But Democrats said the crisis has more to do with human dignity than with law enforcement.

Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who acted as the ranking member for the field hearing, noted she took lollipops to the holding facility in McAllen that lawmakers had visited earlier in the day.

“This is not a national security crisis,” Jackson Lee said. “This is a humanitarian crisis.”

Perry didn’t seem to disagree — at one point, he noted that “we have multiple crises here” — but he still tried to paint the situation as a national security threat.

He said the border was being penetrated “by countries with strong terrorist ties,” and he said he believes the situation was being manufactured by drug cartels.

Which is why, Perry said, the primary need is enhanced border security.

But some Democrats seemed to think that would have little effect on stemming the tide.

As California Democrat Eric Swalwell noted, children were running into the open arms of border security agents. “Wouldn’t additional border security agents increase the number of open arms these children are running into?” Swalwell asked.

Perry’s answer seemed to be that the situation is complex, but that Washington can’t continue with “the same old policies.”

“I really believe we can find a solution,” he said.

 

Related: 

Diaz-Balart: ‘Boehner’s Never Told Me’ Immigration Overhaul Is ‘Dead’

Goodlatte Warns Deportation Changes Hurt Immigration Overhaul Prospects

Immigration Protests Focus on 22 Republicans Across Country

Immigration Overhaul for 2014: Decidedly Not Dead

Boehner Walks Back Immigration Comments

Video Shows Boehner Mocking Colleagues on Immigration

Where Do House Republicans Stand on Immigration Principles? (Updated Whip Count)

 

By Matt Fuller Posted at 3:59 p.m.
Uncategorized

Goodlatte: Border Crisis ‘Disaster of President Obama’s Own Making’

goodlatte 244 052914 445x296 Goodlatte: Border Crisis Disaster of President Obamas Own Making

Goodlatte, R-Va., says the president must take responsibility for the border crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After concluding a bipartisan, fact-finding tour of the immigrant crisis on the Southwest border, House Judiciary Committee Republicans said Thursday the onus is on President Barack Obama — not Congress — to address the surge of Central American women and children entering the country illegally.

In a conference call with a small group of reporters, Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said that while there were may be some things the House could do to confront the matter head-on, this was a crisis of Obama’s making and he should be the one to fix it.

Full story

Ethics Chairman Says Panel Will Reverse Decision on Travel Disclosures (Updated)

conaway 027 120211 445x332 Ethics Chairman Says Panel Will Reverse Decision on Travel Disclosures (Updated)

Conaway said the panel is backtracking on a ruling loosening disclosure rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:27 p.m. | House Ethics Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said Thursday on a local Texas radio program that his panel would overturn a change to annual disclosure forms that removed the requirement of lawmakers to report on privately funded trips.

According to National Journal, which first broke the news about the change, Conaway told a local talk radio program in his Texas district that the committee would “reverse the decision.”

The change to the financial disclosure forms caused a good bit of controversy earlier this week after watchdog groups and some lawmakers — most notably, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — called on the Ethics Committee to undo the disclosure form revision. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:07 p.m.
Uncategorized

July 2, 2014

33 House Republicans to Obama: End Deportation Stays for ‘Dreamers’

issa092813 330x216 33 House Republicans to Obama: End Deportation Stays for Dreamers

Issa spearheaded a letter to Obama calling for the end of DACA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who at one point was said to be writing his own immigration overhaul legislation and this week is at the Texas border visiting detention centers, has sent President Barack Obama a letter calling for an end to the 2012 executive order granting stays of deportation to children brought into the country illegally by their parents.

Reversing the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order, known as DACA, would “send a clear signal to all individuals that our immigration laws will be enforced,” the California Republican and thirty-two House GOP cosigners wrote.

DACA doesn’t apply to the thousands of children who have crossed the border illegally in recent months, but critics of the Obama policy say it has contributed to a general misunderstanding in some Central American countries that young people will be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Issa and his backers also say Obama should “make an explicit public comment that you will not support legislation that extends legal status to newly arriving illegal aliens no matter the age.”

Full story

Congressman: We Can’t Just Kick Them Off a Bus in Guatemala

farenthold 146 042413 330x225 Congressman: We Cant Just Kick Them Off a Bus in Guatemala

Farenthold, R-Texas, wants Congress to respond to the surge of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama deserves blame for much of the misery in overcrowded illegal immigrant facilities on the Southwest border, a conservative Texas congressman told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.

But “instant deportation,” Republican Blake Farenthold said, is no answer to the crisis.

The second-term congressman is part of a group of lawmakers taking a firsthand look this week at Texas facilities that have been stretched to the breaking point in recent weeks as thousands of Central American children and mothers have streamed across the border seeking asylum.

The sudden surge of young immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is a direct result of the president’s rhetoric on immigration, Farenthold said.

“He telegraphed a message that if you’re a kid, you’re gonna get to stay,” Farenthold explained.

But the Corpus Christi lawmaker, who before 2012 redistricting represented the area now at the center of national scrutiny, is also frustrated with many of his constituents — and even with some of his colleagues — who call for instant deportation of “alien” children.

“We can’t just take them to the town square in Guatemala and kick them off the bus,” Farenthold said. “I also make the point that, if I were to send my child on a journey this perilous, child protective services would be knocking on my door trying to take away custody of my children.

“Here’s the thing with border security,” he continued. “Let’s assume it’s 100 percent secure, we catch anybody who crosses the border within a mile of the border, alright? Even if we capture a child, we still have to do something with that child.”

The “national security” and “humanitarian crisis” elements of the child migrant border surge are different, according to Farenthold — a distinction that needs to be clear for both Republicans and Democrats as Congress reconvenes next week with just 16 legislative work days scheduled before the August recess.

Full story

July 1, 2014

Fundraising: Boehner Says GOP Needs More From Chairmen

boehner 192 062414 445x298 Fundraising: Boehner Says GOP Needs More From Chairmen

Boehner wants House committee chairmen to ramp up fundraising. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has said he intends to hang on to the reins, and now he is cracking the whip.

Boehner is exerting pressure on top committee chairman to raise more money for the National Republican Congressional Committee as the party tries to win a dozen or more seats in November’s elections.

Boehner has told members affiliated with the NRCC to urge committee and subcommittee chairman to chip in, and he is leading by example. Last week, at a closed-door House Republican meeting at NRCC headquarters, Boehner announced a donation of $1.5 million to the House GOP’s campaign wing with a matching donation from Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. They were joined by Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who each handed over checks of $1 million to the NRCC. Full story

Pelosi, Government Watchdogs Slam Ethics Committee Disclosure Change (Updated)

pelosi 240 101713 445x281 Pelosi, Government Watchdogs Slam Ethics Committee Disclosure Change (Updated)

Pelosi is critical of new rules on House travel. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:58 p.m. | Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on the House Ethics Committee to reverse a change regarding travel disclosure requirements, characterizing the new rule as a step in the direction of less transparency.

The statement came Tuesday afternoon, after a National Journal report on a change to members’ annual financial disclosure forms. Under the new guidance, members do not have to say on their yearly disclosure forms what trips they took and how much they cost.

Members still have to get pre-approval from the Ethics Committee before taking privately funded trips, and they have to fill out a post-travel disclosure form 15 days after a trip; that information is available in searchable form on the House Clerk’s website.

But Pelosi said Tuesday that while the Ethics Committee seems to want to simplify the disclosure process, “Congress must always move in the direction of more disclosure, not less.”

“If the Ethics Committee does not act, then we will call upon the Speaker to allow a vote on legislation to reverse this decision,” Pelosi said in her statement. “In the meantime, Members are encouraged to disclose such trips to both the Clerk and in their annual disclosures.”

But Speaker John A. Boehner’s staff didn’t think Pelosi or her staff had done their research.

A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, said Pelosi’s staff “needs to talk to her representative on the Ethics Committee, who signed off on this bipartisan change to reduce duplicative paperwork.”

In a rare public statement, the Ethics Committee staff director, Tom Rust, noted that members still needed prior approval from the Ethics Committee and still needed to file paperwork after the trip.

“Neither of those requirements has been changed or diluted in any way,” Rust said.

He also noted that it was the Committee’s nonpartisan staff who recommended the change to the financial disclosure forms. ”The Committee adopted these changes and publicly highlighted them on page 2 of the financial disclosure instructions, which were provided to all financial disclosure filers and posted on the Committee’s public web site months ago,” Rust said. “The Committee is committed to effective and efficient public disclosure, and will continue to look for opportunities to improve the public filings required of Members and staff.”

But even before the Ethics Committee could defend itself, government watchdog groups were already having a field day with the new guidance.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called the change a ”blatant attempt to avoid accountability.”

“The only Americans who would possibly be in favor of this change are members of Congress,” Sloan said in a release.

On the phone Tuesday, Sloan explained that she doesn’t believe the clerk’s office forms are as easily accessible as the financial disclosure forms. She also wasn’t buying the explanation that the annual forms were duplicative and therefore unnecessary, noting in an ironic tone that, “there’s never any duplication in the government.”

In 2007, the House mandated that members disclose their travel to the House clerk. Before that, the yearly report was the only official reporting mechanism available to the public.

Part of the reasoning for the Ethics Committee change may have its roots in those House rules adopted in 2007. House Rule XXV states that these trips should be considered gifts to the House, not individual members.

Still, Sloan wasn’t buying the argument.

“Whatever explanation they’re giving, the point is to decrease the accountability for these trips,” she said.

 

Earmarks Aren’t Coming Back, Boehner Vows in New Video

boehner007 112113 445x291 Earmarks Arent Coming Back, Boehner Vows in New Video

Boehner reiterates his opposition to earmarks in new video. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner’s office is out with a new video slamming Senate Democrats and pledging that as long as the Ohio Republican is speaker, “there will be no earmarks.”

In the video, which uses a score befitting an NFL Films promo, Boehner says the American people have entrusted House Republicans to do things differently.

“So when it comes to earmarks, we’ve kept our promise,” he says in footage ripped from his weekly news conference on May 22. Full story

House GOP’s Secret Vote, Deconstructed

leadership010 061914 445x294 House GOPs Secret Vote, Deconstructed

Scalise leaves the hearing room after the June 19 secret vote electing him majority whip. Only three people know the leadership vote totals. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s been 12 days since House Republicans elected a new majority leader and majority whip behind the closed doors of the House Ways and Means Committee room. And though the ballots and vote totals were a secret, plenty of members and staff think they have an idea. The problem is, they’re probably wrong.

With the exception of the three members who counted the ballots — Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Flores of Texas, and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina — no one definitively knows the vote totals.

Unless, of course, they cracked the safe in conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’s Cannon office, where the ballots are kept. Those ballots — numbered sheets of paper with candidate names scrawled on each — have not yet been destroyed, contrary to earlier practices, an aide confirmed.

Full story

June 30, 2014

Diaz-Balart: ‘Boehner’s Never Told Me’ Immigration Overhaul Is ‘Dead’

diaz balart 197 062414 330x223 Diaz Balart: Boehners Never Told Me Immigration Overhaul Is Dead

Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will still seek a vote on immigration this year (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Did Speaker John A. Boehner really tell President Barack Obama that the House wouldn’t vote on an immigration overhaul bill this year?

Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart intimated on Monday afternoon that he doubts Boehner would have, with such finality, closed the door to moving forward on such legislation, as Obama suggested in a national address.

“Boehner’s never told me that it’s dead,” Diaz-Balart said in a phone interview with CQ Roll Call. “What Boehner’s been telling me is what he’s always been telling me, that clearly the American people don’t trust Obama to enforce the law.” Full story

June 27, 2014

Conservatives Regroup to Force Leadership to Change

Labrador010 061714 445x292 Conservatives Regroup to Force Leadership to Change

Labrador worked the phones but came up short. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

They may have lost their fight to change leadership, but they intend to force leadership to change.

Conservatives who backed Raúl R. Labrador’s bid for majority leader are saying they are already on to the next battle to force change from within the House Republican Conference.

Austin Scott, R-Ga., who was one of Labrador’s earliest supporters, told CQ Roll Call that like-minded lawmakers are “extremely likely” to pursue an effort to address how the House operates.

“A lot of us, not just conservatives, are going to press to rewrite the rules of the House,” Scott said.

Specifically, Scott mentioned frustration regarding the three-day rule, which is supposed to give members at least three days time between when a bill is posted and when it comes up for a vote. In practice, House leaders could post a bill at 11:59 p.m. on a Tuesday and vote on it at 12:01 a.m. on a Thursday, which is why Scott called it, “technically, the 24-hours and two-minutes” rule.

Labrador found some traction in his message of abiding by the three-day rule, allowing more votes on amendments, giving more power to the committees and members and taking power away from leadership staffers.

The winner of the race, current Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, seemed to glom onto that message, adopting much of Labrador’s platform in his candidates’ forum speech ahead of the closed-door vote.

Whether McCarthy can actually make those changes before he faces another leadership challenge remains to be seen. He’ll be majority leader for 15 days before the next leadership elections are held on Nov. 17.

And Labrador, who finds himself at a congressional crossroads, could lead a pressure campaign for McCarthy and the rest of the leadership team to solidify those promises.
Full story

Members of Congress Heading for Border to Witness Child Migrant Crisis

Goodlatte040313 445x292 Members of Congress Heading for Border to Witness Child Migrant Crisis

Goodlatte is taking a bipartisan delegation to the border next week to witness the child migrant crisis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The surge of unaccompanied immigrant children illegally crossing the southern border is drawing House lawmakers to the region for fact-finding visits during the July Fourth recess week.

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., a former immigration lawyer whose panel just convened a hearing on the issue, will lead a bipartisan group on a trip to the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border next week.

“Word has spread around the world about the Obama Administration’s lax immigration enforcement and administration legalization programs and it has encouraged thousands of children, teenagers, and families from Central America to come to the United States illegally and take advantage of this situation,” Goodlatte said in a statement announcing his upcoming visit. “Law enforcement officials who testified at the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week state that this surge shows no signs of stopping.” Full story

June 26, 2014

Pelosi Asks Boehner for Bipartisan Response to Border Crisis

pelosi 240 101713 445x281 Pelosi Asks Boehner for Bipartisan Response to Border Crisis

Border crisis: Pelosi says Republicans need to include Democrats in discussions on how to address the surge of illegal immigrant children along the Southwest border. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Republicans need to consult with Democrats in their formal examination of the surge of immigrant children attempting to cross the Southwest border.

In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, the California Democrat implored Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, not to shut Democrats out of the process of looking critically at the issues and making informed policy recommendations to the Congress.

Her pleas for cross-party collaboration come two days after Boehner announced he would convene an all-Republican “working group” on what members on both sides of the aisle have characterized as a “national security and humanitarian crisis” — a crisis the GOP increasingly is blaming on President Barack Obama.

Full story

Scalise Names McHenry to Chief Deputy Whip Position

Indian6 041807 222x335 Scalise Names McHenry to Chief Deputy Whip Position

McHenry, R-N.C., has been named the House GOP’s chief deputy whip. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Whip-elect Steve Scalise has named Patrick T. McHenry as the Republican chief deputy whip, the highest appointed position in the GOP conference.

McHenry, a 5th-term Republican from North Carolina, is an experienced member of the whip team with a reputation as one of the smartest tacticians in Congress. In naming McHenry, Scalise gains an operative intimately familiar with the whip operation.

Who Scalise would name as his chief deputy whip was the source of wide speculation in the Capitol. McHenry was on just about every congressional aide’s shortlist for the position. Full story

Luis Gutiérrez: House GOP Role in Immigration Overhaul Is ‘Over’ (Video)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., slammed Republicans on the floor Wednesday, renewing calls for the House of Representatives to take action to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws nearly one year after the Senate passed bipartisan immigration legislation.

“Republicans have failed America, and failed themselves,” he said.

Gutiérrez’s comments came after Speaker John A. Boehner’s announcement Tuesday of a GOP task force to address the crisis of illegal immigrant children surging across the southern border.

“I gave you the warning three months ago, and now I have no other choice; you’re done,” Gutiérrez said, addressing House Republicans. “Your chance to play a role in how immigration and deportation policies are carried out this year is over.”

Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...