Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 22, 2015

May 4, 2015

Coffee, ’Cue and M&M’s: How to Survive a Markup All-Nighter

(Matt Fuller/CQ Roll Call)

Smith, still recovering from hip surgery, ended up casting votes while prone. (Matt Fuller/CQ Roll Call)

It started at 10 a.m. More than 18 hours later, at 4:39 a.m., it ended.

Few things in Congress are more tedious, or arduous, or taxing, or redundant than the marathon markup. It’s easy to fall into the legislative lullaby of amendment debate, to close your eyes just for a minute and wake up a few amendments — and many snarky tweets — later. Full story

May 3, 2015

Boehner on Hillary Clinton: ‘I Don’t Have a Word for Her’

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner doesn’t have much to say about Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

House Speaker John A. Boehner may have been channeling that old grade-school rule in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Asked by host Chuck Todd to weigh in on the 2016 presidential contest, the Ohio Republican confirmed again that he likes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and he’s a “big fan” of John Kasich, the current governor of his home state. But Hillary Rodham Clinton? Not so much. Full story

May 1, 2015

House Rejects Marijuana-for-Veterans Amendment — Barely

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Blumenauer’s amendment failed, narrowly. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In about as close a vote as you can get, the House rejected an amendment Thursday that would have allowed veterans to seek medical marijuana through the Veterans Affairs health system.

The amendment, offered by Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, was rejected 210-213. Full story

Immigration Fight Could Return to House This Month

immigration news

Denham will try again to include in this year’s defense bill a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who serve in the armed forces. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy opened his Friday memo to House members regarding May’s legislative agenda by quoting Steve Jobs and praising Republicans for the victories they’ve overseen in the first 100 days of the 114th Congress.

But GOP success stories may be overshadowed later this month when Republicans again face one of the most politically dangerous and unforgiving issues for the party: immigration. Full story

Trade Deal on Hold While Obama Woos Democrats (Video)

Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., run into each other in the green room in between their weekly news conferences in the Capitol Visitor Center's Studio A, July 10, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner, left, and Pelosi don’t have a trade deal yet, but President Obama is actively lobbying Democrats to sign on. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s been a week since Speaker John A. Boehner warned the stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal backed by President Barack Obama needed help from the White House. On Thursday there were indications the president is stepping up his efforts.

Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each used much of their weekly news conferences Thursday to temper expectations for the prospects of the trade deal. But a group of about 30 Democrats who met later in the day with Obama were more optimistic.

Full story

April 30, 2015

One Down, 11 to Go: GOP’s Uncertain Appropriations Season

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in his Capitol office, November 12, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rogers acknowledges passing all 12 GOP spending bills will be tough. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democratic leaders succeeded in holding back all but 19 of their members on the first appropriations vote of the season without even formally whipping against the Republican bill.

It’s a sign the Democratic caucus is putting a plan in motion to try to stymie GOP appropriations bills one by one, until Republicans reach a breaking point and agree to reconsider the current sequester-level spending caps. Full story

Boehner Tells Hensarling to Develop Ex-Im Bank Plan (Video)

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 4: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during his weekly press conference on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner doesn’t sound quite as sure as some of his lieutenants about ending the Ex-Im Bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner — publicly, at least — has more questions than answers on the Export-Import Bank.

Asked Thursday during his weekly news conference whether he would consider just putting a Senate-passed bill on the floor for a vote if the House Financial Services Committee and the panel’s chairman, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, did not advance an Ex-Im Bill of their own, Boehner sounded as if that’s a question he himself is asking. Full story

April 29, 2015

House GOP Postpones Votes on VA Spending Bill

Mulvaney, R-S.C., conducts a bicameral news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to urge passage of the Homeland Security Department funding bill, February 12, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Republican Mulvaney teamed Wednesday with Maryland Democrat Van Hollen to derail, for now, the veterans spending bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans have been boasting about their early start to appropriations season, but consideration of the very first spending bill — considered the least controversial of all 12 annual measures — hit a snag Wednesday night.

GOP leaders had intended to hold evening votes on a slew of amendments and on final passage of the fiscal 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, but ultimately opted to postpone that vote series at the very last minute. Full story

Abe Speech Checks All but 1 Conspicuous Box

The Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues Inc. holds a rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, calling for "Japan's Official Apology" for the "comfort women" who were imprisoned and forced into sexual slavery during World War II. The rally was timed to coincide with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's address to the U.S. Congress. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues, Inc. rallies Wednesday outside the Capitol during Abe’s address to Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was a perfectly acceptable address: reverent, touching, even a little funny. But Shinzō Abe’s speech to Congress Wednesday will be remembered less for any applause line and more for what was left unsaid.

The Japanese prime minister avoided the most contentious issue surrounding the speech, namely: demands for an overt apology for Japan’s sexual enslavement of “comfort women” during World War II.

Abe acknowledged the controversy with only a passing reference.

Full story

House Democrats Threaten to Sink House GOP Spending Bills

ocratic Caucus chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., speaks during the House Democrats' news conference on poverty and the House Republicans' budget on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © Roll Call Group

Becerra and other Democrats may defect on the Department of Veterans Affairs spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats voted unanimously last year for the appropriations bill to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs and related programs; this year, there could be considerable defections.

Reps. Xavier Becerra of California and Joseph Crowley of New York, the chairman and vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus respectively, told reporters Wednesday morning they would not be complicit in passing the fiscal 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill this week — a bill they contend would ultimately decimate veterans services.

Full story

April 28, 2015

Long Odds for Congressional Action on Policing

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Congressman Elijah Cummings cries while greeting Maryland Governor Larry Hogan the morning after citywide riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Cummings sheds a tear while greeting Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in Baltimore the morning after citywide riots followed the funeral of Freddie Gray. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

It’s the fourth high-profile episode in less than a year in which police have been involved in the death of a black man under questionable circumstances — this time in Baltimore, a short drive north of Washington, D.C.

But neither the proximity of Monday’s riots over the April 19 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray nor the usual outpouring of “it’s time to do something” rhetoric are likely to inspire House lawmakers to tackle any number of existing legislative proposals aimed at addressing growing nationwide concerns about aggressive police tactics. Full story

On Baltimore, Race, and Policing: No Easy Answers for Hoyer

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hoyer tried to thread the needle on the Baltimore riots. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s weekly pen-and-pad Tuesday was a case study for politicians looking to say something about the riots in Baltimore while also saying, largely, nothing.

The Maryland Democrat did his best to show support for both police and protesters after a day of violent clashes in his home state’s largest city — clashes sparked by unrest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was arrested in West Baltimore on April 12 and, while in police custody, suffered spinal cord injuries that led to his death. Full story

McCarthy Defends First 100 Days, Previews What’s Ahead

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCarthy defended the House GOP’s first 100 days of the 114th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the second reporters’ briefing of his majority leader career, California Republican Kevin McCarthy offered a strong defense of the House GOP’s record in the first 100 days of the 114th Congress.

Appropriations bills are coming to the floor as early as they have since 1974, he said, with the first two up for consideration this week; and committees are passing bills at a higher rate than in the past three Congresses. Full story

The Steve Scalise Comeback Tour

UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. speaks during a news conference in the Capitol as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., looks on, after a meeting of the House Republican Conference, March 24, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Persistence, Scalise says, is his key to success. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Majority Whip Steve Scalise walked to the floor on Feb. 27 for the vote on a three-week continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security, he knew it was going to fail.

“When we put the bill out there,” Scalise recounted in a sit-down with CQ Roll Call, “there were a lot of members who felt that was the right way to go — over 80 percent of our conference voted for it — but we still didn’t have enough to get there, and you couldn’t expect any Democrats.”

Welcome to the role of the modern majority whip.

It’s an increasingly difficult position. There are no earmarks to dangle in front of members. Plenty of Republicans, having discovered pathways to re-election by being party antagonists, have little reason to fear leadership. And plenty of other Republicans, tired of the conference catering to its most conservative members, are ready for a revolt of their own.

Full story

April 27, 2015

Scalise: Export-Import Bank ‘On Track’ to Expire

Scalise, R-La., arrives at the Republican National Committee offices for the House GOP leadership press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Scalise said the Ex-Im Bank is “on track” to expire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Whip Steve Scalise doesn’t seem to be making any reversals on the Export-Import Bank.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, the Louisiana Republican signaled continued opposition to an Ex-Im reauthorization. Full story

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