Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

January 5, 2016

The Seinfeld Vote

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 29 - Congressman arrive for a quorum call in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, October 29, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Congressmen arrive for a quorum call in the House Chamber last year. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If only all votes were this light and easy.

The House engaged in one of its quirkiest rituals on Tuesday, the Call of the House. It’s a roll call vote that establishes a quorum — a signal to the president, the Senate and the public that the chamber is open for legislative business at the start of each session. Full story

January 4, 2016

Republicans to Start 2016 by Targeting Obamacare

Ryan's influence was felt on the tax deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan and other GOP leaders are anticipating the president’s gun annoucementl. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans will begin the 2016 legislative session with another vote attacking the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood, and are also prepping their response to President Barack Obama’s upcoming executive actions on gun control.

The House will vote Wednesday on a reconciliation measure to repeal most of Obama’s signature domestic achievement. It will be the chamber’s second vote on the measure, which the Senate altered to roll back more of the health care law than the original House version. Using the budget reconciliation process allowed the Senate to consider the measure without the threat of a filibuster. Full story

January 1, 2016

Former Rep. Mike Oxley Dies


Oxley was the manager of the Republican Congressional Baseball team for several years. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oxley was the manager of the Republican Congressional Baseball team for several years. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Michael G. Oxley, who brought competitive intensity and joviality to legislating and athleticism during a quarter-century as a House Republican from Ohio, died Thursday night. He was 71 and had been combating lung cancer since soon after leaving the House in 2006 to become a lobbyist.

Although his career was distinguished by free-market conservatism, Oxley’s name is forever tied to a law that’s the bane of the accounting and business world, which he helped steer to enactment in 2002 after a series of corporate scandals. He was chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and his legislative partner was the chairman of the companion Senate panel, Maryland Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes. Their work, now widely known as Sarbox or Sox, created stiff new federal rules for bookkeepers and new penalties for C-suite malfeasance.

After the collapse of the energy giant Enron, at the time the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Oxley won passage of a legislative response panned by critics as too vague to be effective. It was quickly subsumed by a more assertive Senate measure after another pair of accounting scandals, involving Xerox and the telecommunications giant WorldCom, quickened political momentum for government action.

Oxley fought unsuccessfully to limit the scope of the final bill, which at the time was the most sweeping new regulation of publicly traded companies since the Depression, and after leaving office he adopted a damned-with-faint praise approach to his signature accomplishment. “No law is perfect,” he told Fortune magazine in 2012.

Wall Street quickly forgave him, and Oxley became one of the banking industry’s most frequently feted lawmakers. (The wave of fundraisers for him at the 2004 GOP convention in New York was so lavish it drew scrutiny from the state attorney general.) While routinely spending more than $1 million told hold his own rural district, he had plenty left over and was one of his era’s most generous contributors to fellow House Republicans.

During six years as chairman, the maximum permitted by GOP rules, Oxley was central to writing laws creating the terrorism risk insurance program, combatting money laundering as a means of reducing terrorists’ access to cash and reducing federal fees on securities sales.

Before taking over Financial Services, he was chairman of a powerful Energy and Commerce subcommittee, where he played a significant role in writing the 1999 law removing the barriers that had separated banks, insurance companies and securities firms since the New Deal. He also helped shepherd one of the two laws  enacted over President Bill Clinton’s veto, insulating companies from securities fraud lawsuits when they distribute erroneous but good-faith profit projections.

Before switching committees, Oxley won a bruising power struggle inside the GOP conference that ended with him bringing much of his old jurisdiction with him. (His strong competitive streak, and a drive to do things his way, also routinely left Democrats complaining of being ignored in crafting legislation.)

At the same time, Oxley had a reputation as a wisecracker and backslapper with a quick laugh and megawatt smile. He was also an unabashed defender of the “old school” perquisites that came with a seat in Congress, especially travel on the dime of others. He roamed as widely as any member to vacation destinations, raising money on the ski slopes in Colorado and speaking at conferences at golf resorts from Florida to southern California.

He was one of the most overt jocks on the Hill, a reputation that followed him from his days sporting a flat-top in high school. He could be found early weekday mornings playing tennis with a lobbyist or basketball in the members’ gym. His golf handicap was among the lowest in Congress.

But baseball was the sport for which he was best known in Washington. He manned every position but pitcher and catcher during 16 years on the field for the GOP in what’s now called the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game — a playing career that ended after he broke his wrist in the 1994 game in a collision at first base with another Ohio congressman, Democrat Sherrod Brown, who’s now a senator. He had to have steel pins inserted in his arm. But he was back the next year as manager, and during the next eight years the Republicans won seven times.

Michael Garver Oxley was born on Feb. 11, 1944, in Findlay, Ohio, which remained his official hometown throughout his public career. His dad, the county prosecutor, ingrained the virtues of Barry Goldwater and free-market economist Milton Friedman in his son from an early age. After earning degrees from Miami University of Ohio and Ohio State law school, Oxley spent three years in the FBI. He received a commendation for his role in the arrest of two Black Panthers accused of bank robbery.

While he was an agent he met and married Patricia Pluguez, then a flight attendant. She survives him, as does their son, Chadd, who’s also a lobbyist.

In 1972, at age 28, he won a seat in the state House. His opening to run for Congress came in April 1981, when Republican Rep. Tennyson Guyer died. Oxley ended up winning the seat by 341 votes. He announced his retirement soon after winning his 12th term, the only other time he ever finished with less than three-fifths of the vote.

He spun through the revolving door as soon as possible after the election his successor, fellow Republican Jim Jordan, becoming a senior official with NASDAQ and a top rainmaker for the lobbying and law firm Baker Hostetler.


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By David Hawkings Posted at 12:44 p.m.

December 31, 2015

Best Non-Boehner Leadership News of 2015

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 29 - Outgoing Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wipes his nose while waiting for a vote on the new Speaker in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, October 29, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

We won’t have Boehner to kick around anymore. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House leadership news in 2015 was dominated by Speaker John A. Boehner’s decision to resign and  Paul D. Ryan’s path to be his successor. but the year brought several other moments of leadership intrigue: Full story

December 29, 2015

Grijalva Wants to Diversify Environmental Movement


Grijalva focuses on environment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not easy being a ranking member on a congressional committee, where any major legislative and policy decision is made primarily at the discretion of the chairman.

That struggle is particularly potent for Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 5 a.m.

December 23, 2015

Steve Scalise Defends Planned Parenthood Strategy

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 15 - House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., heads to a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, December 15, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Scalise, left, says Republican priorities are reflected in the way his office approached the Planned Parenthood defuding effort. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans were skeptical when their No. 3 leader started talking back in September about using the budget reconciliation process to defund Planned Parenthood, knowing full well it would be vetoed by President Barack Obama. Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., though, still counts it as one of the GOP’s biggest victories of the 114th Congress. Full story

December 22, 2015

The ‘Concussion’ Effect? Congress to Probe Head Injuries

Roger Clemens, former MLB pitcher, arrives at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on steroid use in baseball.  Brian McNamee, former personal trainer to Clemens, and Charlie Scheeler, member former Sen. George Mitchell's report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball,  also testified.

Clemens testified about steroid use in Major League Baseball in 2008, and spent years waging a legal battle over that testimony. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Concussion,” the eagerly awaited feature film about a doctor who takes on the NFL to warn about the neurological dangers of America’s most popular sport, will be released on Christmas Day.

The Oscar-bait movie, starring Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is being released just three days after the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it would initiate a wide-ranging investigation into concussions when Congress returns in January. Full story

December 18, 2015

Pelosi’s Victory Lap

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 17 - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., updates reporters on Democratic reaction to the bipartisan $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, December 16, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi updates reporters on Democratic reaction to the bipartisan $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

As the House on Friday overwhelmingly passed the $1.1 trillion government spending bill, Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shook hands on the chamber floor.

There’s an obvious reason for Ryan, just several weeks into the job, to be celebrating his legislative victory. But Pelosi, too, has reason to claim a win. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 2:12 p.m.

Congress Sends Omnibus to Obama

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 02: Morning fog covers the U.S. Capitol, December 2, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate passed a year-end omnibus package that combined a $1.1 trillion spending bill with a tax extenders measure, sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature and wrapping up Congress’ 2015 legislative session.

The Senate voted 65-33 to pass the package, after a series of procedural votes Friday morning. Twenty six Republicans, including GOP presidential hopefuls Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, voted against the package, along with seven members across the aisle, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernard Sanders, I-Vt.

The year-end package passed with little drama in the Senate, after Senate leaders locked up votes on Thursday, heading off any effort to slow down the process. GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had threatened Thursday that he might used procedural methods to slow it down. But on Friday, Rubio was not present for the final vote. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was also not present for the vote.

At a press conference after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., touted the omnibus spending bill and tax extender package as a victory for his party. They argued the Senate has been able to function again because they are a more cooperative minority than Republicans were before them.

Earlier in the day, the House passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill, leaving the Senate to clear the omnibus for the president’s signature. Full story

December 17, 2015

Some Democrats Not as Opposed to Tax Deal as Pelosi


Pelosi called the tax extender bill “practically an immorality.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Yes, the majority of House Democrats voted against the tax deal on Thursday, but 77 of them voted yes the day after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bill “practically an immorality.”

But for many Democrats, it appears voting against a bill that permanently locks in expanded tax benefits for working families would have been immoral.

Full story

Ex-Speaker Hastert Recovering From Stroke

Hastert (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is recovering from a stroke as he awaits sentencing for his guilty plea stemming from a hush-money scheme.

Hastert’s attorney, Thomas Green, confirmed the Illinois Republican’s health status in a statement provided to Roll Call. Full story

Pelosi Supports Omnibus, but Other Democrats Not Sold

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, October 1, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi will support the omnibus, but some of her Democratic colleagues are still on the fence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will vote for the $1.1 trillion spending bill, but it’s unclear how many of her more liberal colleagues will follow her lead, a situation fluid enough that members and aides are concerned there might not be enough Democratic votes to offset Republican no votes.

Full story

December 16, 2015

Ryan Gets High Marks for First Big Showdown

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 16: Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference in the Capitol after a meeting of the House Republican Conference, December 16, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan is planning ahead for 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

John A. Boehner’s last days as speaker in October were spent, as he said, cleaning out the barn, or cutting legislative deals to help his successor, Paul D. Ryan, get off to a good start.

Now that Ryan is close to passing his first real test as speaker by finishing up 2015’s legislative business, the Wisconsin Republican is laying the groundwork to keep things tidy in 2016.

Full story

GOP Went Big With Tax Deal

Ryan's influence was felt on the tax deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan’s influence was felt on the tax deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Big is the word that can best be used to describe the tax extenders package the House will vote on Thursday: big in policy, big in cost, big compared to past efforts and a big win for Republicans.

Lawmakers have not passed a significant tax bill since the 2012 fiscal cliff deal that staved off massive tax hikes. Since then, Republicans have expressed interest in making moves on taxes, but little happened until retiring Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., released his plan. After it failed to gain traction, Camp brokered a deal last year with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make 10 expiring tax provisions permanent, but the White House threatened to veto the package before it was finalized.

When the tax extenders bill was released late Tuesday, it called for the permanent renewal of 22 tax breaks and several other sweeteners. In doing so, it also provided a down payment on a more ambitious overhaul of the tax code, a priority for Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who started off the year in his dream job by replacing Camp as head of the House tax-writing panel. Full story

It’s A Deal: Republicans Settle for Notable Omnibus Wins

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 10 - House Speaker Paul Ryan takes a question during his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, December 10, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans said Ryan deserved high praise for creating a more inclusive, collaborative environment in the lead-up to the omnibus negotiations. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has been offering members the same refrain since taking the gavel from John A. Boehner two months ago.

He’d been dealt a bad hand by the old regime, according to the Wisconsin Republican, and the best thing for everyone was to make it through the end of the year so the Republican House can return to “regular order” and run the government as it should.

Full story

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