Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2015

Posts in "Congress"

November 17, 2015

Watch Live: Joint Hearing on Secret Service Privacy Violations

Two House and Senate Homeland Security subcommittees hold a joint hearing Tuesday on a Homeland Security Department report on the Secret Service’s alleged violations of the Privacy Act and the department policy for illegally accessing and disclosing information from Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s failed 2003 Secret Service job application. Full story

November 5, 2015

CQ Roll Call Survey Finds House GOP Staff Deeply Skeptical of Own Leadership

The Republicans’ House majority, 246 strong, is the biggest the GOP has enjoyed since 1929. But House Republican aides stand apart from their counterparts in the Democratic Party and in the Senate in their skepticism about party leaders, a new CQ Roll Call survey of Hill staff members shows. Full story

October 20, 2015

Jack Kemp’s Life and Influence

Fmr. Rep. Jack Kemp, R-NY, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wi., spoke today about Ryan's new legislation, HR 4851, the "Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2004." The bill would allow creation of individual investment accounts for retirement.

Kemp and Rep. Paul D. Ryan at a 2004 event to discuss legislation to revamp Social Security. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Editor’s Note: “Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America,” by Morton Kondracke, former executive editor for Roll Call, and Fred Barnes, co-founder of The Weekly Standard, tells the story of the Republican congressman from Buffalo, N.Y., whose views on the economy helped propel supply-side economics to the fore of American politics.

What follows are Kondracke’s lead-in comments about the influence of the former pro football quarterback, lawmaker, Housing and Urban Development secretary and GOP vice presidential nominee. Excerpts from the book, available now, are in italics. Full story

September 30, 2015

Iran Review Moves Recall ‘Duck-and-Cover’ Days | Procedural Politics

Last May, in a rare display of bipartisanship, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a congressional review process for the Iran nuclear agreement — a process President Barack Obama initially said he didn’t want and didn’t need.

Full story

September 8, 2015

Can Party Government Work in America? | Procedural Politics

In graduate school I wrote a paper titled, “The Deadlock of Democracy and Anglophilia in American Politics.” It was a review essay on James MacGregor Burns’s book, “The Deadlock of Democracy: Four Party Politics in America” (1963). His thesis was simple: Our system of government wasn’t working properly because there were four, not two, political parties vying for power — the presidential Republicans and Democrats, and the congressional Republicans and Democrats. The congressional parties, with their attendant special-interest groups, were tying the system in knots.

We need to look across the pond to our English forebears, Burns argued, and adopt their party government model in which a single party, headed by a party leader, sets and administers government policy, and the minority party opposes. If the majority does not carry through on its campaign promises or its policies fail, it will be held accountable by the electorate. That brings true accountability to government by holding office holders responsible for their party’s pledges.

Full story

July 29, 2015

Congress Regulates Internal Speech for Good Reason | Procedural Politics

It is often noted there are two kinds of members in Congress: the showhorses and the workhorses. That’s probably an oversimplification, since most members consider themselves workhorses, but with a flair for show. Politics, after all, is a lot like show business, with public attention and appreciation focused on those actors who are able to entertain and project their roles in a convincing and effective manner. On Broadway, the payoff is in audience acclaim and good reviews. In Congress, it is in media attention and re-election.

However, it seems that more and more members are opting for the show ring over the work plough as Congress becomes increasingly polarized and legislative work is less valued and rewarded. This becomes more evident as presidential and congressional elections loom and members ramp up their publicity machines, both on and off the Hill, to set themselves apart from the rest. Frequently this involves running for Congress by running against it, especially when the public mood is strongly anti-Washington, as is now the case. It’s an old incumbent trick for hanging onto incumbency.

Full story

June 16, 2015

Former Top Hill Staffers on Roll Call Turning 60

Manley with Reid in 2006. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Manley with Reid in 2006. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reflections from Ron Bonjean, Jim Manley, Bob Stevenson, Doug Thornell and Brian Walsh

RC-60th-Anniversary-logo-HighRes-01To some Americans, 60 years of watching Congress’ every move might seem like sentence in purgatory, but for the editors and reporters at Roll Call, and for those of us who have been regular readers, it has been one hell of an interesting ride.

Exactly 60 years ago, Sid Yudain, press secretary to Al Morano, R-Conn., created a Capitol Hill community newspaper — Roll Call — to serve what he called “the most important community in the world.” It quickly caught on, becoming the small town paper of the Congress, divulging the gossip whispered in the corridors and chronicling the comings and goings of members and staff, the day-to-day tidbits of birthdays and births, weddings, retirements and deaths.

Full story

May 11, 2015

Congress Is Still Evolving, but to What? | Procedural Politics

Recently, I participated in a panel discussion on “The Evolving Congress” cosponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center and National Capital Area Political Science Association. It was based on a book by that title written by a group of experts at the Congressional Research Service on its 100th anniversary. The panel had no problem agreeing that Congress has changed considerably since its inception. But there are still unresolved questions over just how and why it has evolved to what it is today, and what it might be evolving to.

CRS Senior Specialist Walter Oleszek, in his introductory chapter to the volume, offers the best explanation of what has happened and why: “Congress is an institution constantly in flux,” he writes. “The policy and political struggles among the elective units are a permanent fixture of the Nation’s constitutional system that continue to shape the evolution and work of Congress.”

Full story

April 27, 2015

Were House and Senate Budgets Separated at Birth? | Procedural Politics

Sometimes it’s hard to believe House and Senate budget resolutions had the same birth parents back in 1974. They are different in so many ways: They look different, act different, and, yes, even weigh different (more on that later).

If you’ve been away from them for several years and only occasionally read about what they’ve been up to, you nod knowingly and sigh, “Oh, those budget kids will be kids.” You might be somewhat concerned that one of them, the Senate budget kid, has been missing in action four of the past five years. But then, lots of families have prodigal sons, and you figured he’d be back some day. And indeed, this year did seem to be a new day with both kids showing up on time for the family’s spring reunion.

Full story

April 13, 2015

Congress Has an Overriding Problem With Iran Deal | Procedural Politics

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Corker’s bill is reportedly one vote short of a veto-proof majority in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is slated to consider the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act introduced by the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. The bill requires the president to submit the final agreement to Congress for a 60-day review period. The administration strongly opposes the legislation on grounds the pact is an executive agreement between the U.S., Iran and the five other nations and does not require congressional approval.

Contrary to some shorthand press reports, the bill does not require Congress to approve the nuclear agreement for the sanctions relief to take effect, nor does it force Congress even to vote on the matter. It simply provides that any sanctions relief contained in the plan may go forward if Congress enacts a joint resolution favoring the agreement or fails to enact a joint resolution disapproving the plan during the review period. There are no action-forcing mechanisms or expedited procedures to require either a vote of approval or disapproval.

Congress may, in effect, take favorable action on the plan by inaction. Full story

March 30, 2015

House GOP Restores Budget Game of Thrones | Procedural Politics

When Republicans regained control of the House in 1995 after 40 years in the minority, they vowed to eliminate the Democrats’ “king-of-the-hill” process for voting on budget resolution substitutes.

Since 1982, the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee had been issuing special rules on budget resolutions that allowed for votes on substitute amendments by various factions, notwithstanding the disposition of a previous substitute. Under ordinary amending procedures, once an amendment in the nature of a substitute is adopted, no further amendments are allowed.

The “king-of-the-mountain” approach, as it was originally called, provided that if more than one substitute is adopted, the last one adopted prevails, even if it has a smaller majority. Not coincidentally, the last substitute to be offered would always be the Democratic budget reported by the Budget Committee. Full story

March 16, 2015

Cotton Balls Up Diplomatic Protocol With Letter | Procedural Politics

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cotton (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senator Tom Cotton’s “open letter” to the leaders of Iran on negotiations over its nuclear program ran into a buzzsaw of criticism from the president, vice president, our negotiating partners and members of Congress from both parties. The main criticism: Senators should not thrust themselves directly into the middle of ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and other countries.

The Arkansas Republican and his 46 Senate Republican co-signers have been accused of everything from trying to blow up the negotiations and undermining the president to giving aid and comfort to the enemy and betraying the national interest. Full story

March 10, 2015

Lott-Daschle Reform Bars Bill-Blocking Actions | Procedural Politics

House Republicans painted themselves and the Senate into a corner by making Department of Homeland Security funding after Feb. 27 contingent on rolling back President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration actions. Surely, they were fantasizing a corner with a hidden trap door and safe room.

Instead, a more realistic escape route appeared out of nowhere — a rope ladder thrown down by a federal district court judge in Texas who stayed the president’s 2014 immigration action pending disposition of legal challenges to it by 26 states. Since judicial appeals from the dueling orders could take months, the judge’s injunction freed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to propose a compromise: a clean DHS funding bill in return for separate consideration of a bill rescinding the president’s 2014 immigration order.

Full story

March 3, 2015

Watch: Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on security threats posed by “radical Islam” and Iran. Congress will reconvene at 10:45 a.m. for Netanyahu’s speech. Full story

February 24, 2015

Keystone Process Tells Tale of Two Houses | Procedural Politics

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Boehner signs the Keystone bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Do you remember Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California promising last fall to return the new Congress to the regular order? The initial test came on the first major bill in the well of both houses, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. Whereas the Senate produced a veritable gusher of amendments with all hands at the wellhead, the House reverted to a narrowly-constricted flow tube controlled by a few valve masters.

Identical House and Senate pipeline bills were introduced on the opening day of the new Congress by two North Dakota Republicans, Rep. Kevin Cramer and Sen. John Hoeven. Both measures were placed on a fast track to the floor the first week of the session. But that’s where the similarities ended. Full story

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