Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 5, 2015

June 16, 2015

How Republicans Could Get Obama Trade Promotion Authority (Video)

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

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions could set up a vote on TPA this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders are mulling their options for forcing a vote on Trade Promotion Authority while saving reconsideration of Trade Adjustment Assistance for another day.

The Rules Committee could meet this week to establish parameters for floor consideration of TPA that, if approved, clears the way for President Barack Obama to negotiate a 12-nation Pacific trade deal. Full story

GOP Leadership Metes Out Retribution for Rules Votes (Updated)

a Lummis, R-Wyo., participates in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on "Inspectors General: Independence, Access and Authority" on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lummis and two other members of the GOP whip team were demoted Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 10:29 p.m. | It may not stop the most diehard conservatives — six Republicans voted against yet another procedural motion Tuesday — but GOP leadership is pushing back against members of its own party who vote “no” on rules, removing from the whip team three members who voted against last week’s resolution to bring Trade Promotion Authority to the floor.

Reps. Cynthia M. Lummis, Steve Pearce and Trent Franks have all been kicked off the team tasked with holding Republicans together following a 34-member House floor revolt on the TPA rule last Thursday. (Republicans were only able to adopt the rule because eight Democrats broke from the normally party-line vote to support the rule.) Full story

Pro-Trade Democrats Welcome More Time to Make Their Case (Updated)

Kind, D-Wisc., speaks during the House New Democrat Coalition news conference to unveil a policy agenda "aimed at creating a new era of American prosperity" on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kind, who backs the stymied trade deal, said extra time will help. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 2:23 p.m. | Four days after House Democrats sank the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill necessary to advance Trade Promotion Authority legislation, lawmakers on both sides of the trade debate have different takes on what happened — and what comes next.

The original plan was to reconsider on the House floor Tuesday the previously failed vote on TAA, which would provide training programs for U.S. workers displaced by global trade agreements. But GOP leaders opted instead to extend the deadline for holding that vote until the end of July, a chance to buy more time to figure out how to advance the bill that would give President Barack Obama authority to negotiate a 12-nation Pacific trade agreement. Full story

Diaz-Balart Gumming Up Obama’s Cuba Thaw Plans

House Republican Conference

Diaz-Balart prefers a low-key style of legislating through the appropriations process (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is not a quiet man. The gregarious Florida Republican, known for sudden eruptions of laughter and dramatic gesticulations, is hard to miss in a crowd. But when it comes to legislating, the seven-term lawmaker blends in, working methodically, usually behind the scenes, to put his stamp on policy.

That’s how the son of Cuban exiles has become one of the Obama administration’s biggest obstacles to normalizing relations with the communist nation 90 miles south of Florida. Full story

June 15, 2015

Deadline for TAA Do-Over Vote Extended to July 30 (Updated)

 Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 4, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pro-trade Democrats may get seven more weeks to change the votes of TPA skeptics like Pelosi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:08 a.m. | It looks like there might not be action this week after all to move President Barack Obama’s trade agenda.

House Republicans had intended to hold a vote Tuesday to reconsider last week’s failed vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation, needed to send the Trade Promotion Authority bill — which passed — to the president’s desk. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 8:39 p.m.
Trade

White House Officials to Meet With Pro-Trade Democrats Tuesday

US President Barack Obama delivers the State of The Union address on January 20, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.  Credit: Mandel Ngan / Pool Copyright ©2015 Agence France Presse Photos

Obama’s team hits the Hill again Tuesday. (Agence France Presse)

President Barack Obama and his team made a rare trip to Capitol Hill last week to personally lobby for help from House Democrats on his trade agenda. On Tuesday, top administration advisers from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. will return to the halls of Congress — though this time they’ll be meeting with a more select, and sympathetic, audience.

Rather than try to appeal to lawmakers who are increasingly hostile to the president’s wish to negotiate a 12-nation Pacific trade deal, representatives from the White House are turning to the 28 Democrats who voted for Trade Promotion Authority to plot out next steps. Full story

McCarthy: Trade Vote Reveals ‘Civil War’ in Democratic Party

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 4: House Majority Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., addresses the media following the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCarthy says “there are options” for the trade deal, even if Democrats don’t come around. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Following last week’s failed vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was more than happy Monday to point his finger at the other side of the aisle and say, “Look at the dysfunction inside the Democratic Party!”

“It’s almost like a civil war in the Democratic Caucus,” McCarthy said during a pen-and-pad briefing with reporters. Full story

Hastert Portrait Still Looms In Capitol

Hastert, center, at the unveiling of his portrait. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hastert, center, at the unveiling of his portrait. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The lurid charges levied against J. Dennis Hastert have sent chills through lawmakers who know the former House speaker — but Republican leaders have remained largely silent on what, if anything, Congress should do in response.

After the Illinois Republican was indicted last month and accused of paying hush money to keep secret allegations he molested male students when he was a high school teacher, Hastert’s alma mater, Wheaton College, took his name off the school’s center on economics and public policy. On Capitol Hill, members are being asked whether his official portrait should be removed from its place of prominence in the wall of the Speaker’s Lobby.

Full story

June 14, 2015

Ryan Still Optimistic on Trade Deal: ‘Heavy Lift Is Done’

House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., speaks with Roll Call in the House Ways and Means Committee room in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, April 30, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll

Ryan is still optimistic on trade bills. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means Chairman Paul D. Ryan, Capitol Hill’s biggest Republican proponent of “fast-track” trade legislation, said Sunday he remains optimistic, despite the recent collapse of a deal that would have cleared the way for President Barack Obama to negotiate a 12-nation Pacific pact.

Ryan, R-Wis., in an interview on Fox News Sunday, said the most difficult legislative work required for fast track — lining up GOP and Democratic votes for Trade Promotion Authority for the president — is done. Now it’s up to Obama and the Democrats to come to an agreement on an underlying worker-training bill that failed on the floor Friday, derailing the entire package. Full story

Chaffetz Threatens Subpoenas Over OPM Hack

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)

Chaffetz, left, wants answers on the government employee data breach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Subpoenas could be headed out to officials at the Office of Personnel Management after a massive data breach gave hackers sensitive information for millions of government workers, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz said during a taping of C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program.

Chaffetz’s committee is holding a hearing on the data breach Tuesday, and the Utah Republican doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for government cyber security workers. “It’s clear we should have seen this coming a long time ago,” Chaffetz said, adding that OPM officials have been “very resistant” to coming to testify before the congressional panel. Full story

June 12, 2015

President Gets Weekend to Swing Democrats on Trade Deal (Video)

he top three Republicans in the House — from right, Boehner, Scalise and McCarthy — made it clear they intend to pass TPA, with or without the underlying TAA.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The top three Republicans in the House — from right, Boehner, Scalise and McCarthy — made it clear they intend to pass TPA, with or without the underlying TAA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House will take a second crack at passing Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation early next week, after giving President Barack Obama and pro-trade Democrats the weekend to flip some of the party’s 144 “no’s.”

Republicans say this is Democrats’ last chance to pass TAA, which provides resources for retraining programs for U.S. workers displaced by international trade agreements, and which Democrats have typically supported. Full story

Rebuffing Obama, Pelosi and Democrats Scuttle Trade Deal (Video)

 Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 4, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the end, Pelosi came down against the trade deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Despite an eleventh-hour plea from President Barack Obama, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats turned their backs on the White House Friday and blocked the chamber from advancing — for now — the administration’s trade agenda.

It’s an outcome supporters of Trade Promotion Authority say could have irreversible repercussions for key training programs the party has traditionally supported, and it leaves Democrats as fractured as they’ve ever been during the Obama presidency. Full story

Obama Hits the Hill to Lobby Democrats on Trade (Video) (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Obama stopped by the Congressional Baseball Game Thursday night, one day before the big trade vote in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:15 p.m. | President Barack Obama made a last-minute trip to Capitol Hill Friday morning to deliver one more plea to fellow Democrats to advance his trade agenda.

The House was in the middle of floor debate on Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Promotion Authority when Republican leaders agreed to recess to accommodate the “emergency Democratic Caucus” meeting with Obama.

Full story

June 11, 2015

Trade Rule Passes Despite Conservative Mutiny

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)

Scalise needed eight Democrats to help Republicans pass the rule for TPA and TAA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Plans to vote Friday on Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance could still fall through, but the House is moving ahead on a multi-pronged strategy to send the measures to the president’s desk by the week’s end.

The House on Thursday voted 217-212 on the rule that sets up votes on a bill to give President Barack Obama latitude to negotiate a 12-nation Pacific trade deal and to fund programs to retrain U.S. workers displaced by trade agreements. Full story

Democrats Weigh Sinking the Trade Deal With TAA (Video)

Kind, D-Wisc., speaks during the House New Democrat Coalition news conference to unveil a policy agenda "aimed at creating a new era of American prosperity" on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kind, who supports the trade deal, says reports of dissension among Democrats are overblown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats described the situation as “fluid,” but for advocates of the package of trade bills backed by the president and a fragile bipartisan coalition of House members, it was more like “dire.”

House Democrats emerged from a meeting with Obama administration leaders Thursday afternoon with more questions than answers on how members will proceed on Trade Promotion Authority — and few predictions of if or how the impasse would be broken.

“My colleagues are angry birds right now,” said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., who as of this morning says he will vote for TPA. Full story

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