Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 1, 2015

June 30, 2015

Two Weeks on, Hill’s Post-Charleston Agenda Has All but Disappeared

Debate over Confederate imagery abounds, but not so much on guns and voting rights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Debate over Confederate imagery abounds, but not so much on guns and voting rights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The last of the funerals for the Emanuel Nine is Tuesday, and momentum for removing Confederate symbols from the public square has reached a plateau. But what about tangible federal policy changes in reaction to the Charleston shootings?

Only a week ago, it seemed the deaths of nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church, at the hand of a white supremacist wielding a .45 semiautomatic, would at a minimum jumpstart stalled discussions about gun control and civil rights legislation.

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June 25, 2015

Senate Showing Its Age Lately, Mostly to the Good (Video)

At 82, Feinstein is the oldest member of the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At 82, Feinstein is the oldest member of the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate seems as dinged up as ever this summer. Is it coincidence, or are senators just getting older?

It’s both. So there’s no reason to become alarmed that some wave of infirmity is taking over the place, just because three of its hundred members have gone public with a significant health challenge in recent weeks. Full story

June 23, 2015

Confederate Flag Debate Showcases Scott as Symbol

Sen. Tim Scott

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The revived debate about the Confederate battle flag has climaxed with exceptional speed in South Carolina, where the state’s three most prominent Republicans led a bipartisan call Monday for removing the banner completely from the state capitol.

Sen. Lindsey Graham was seizing an opening to underscore his maverick political brand and distinguish himself in a field of presidential candidates who have remained largely equivocal on the polarizing question. Gov. Nikki R. Haley was taking advantage of an opportunity allowing her to reverse a position that’s complicated her own public profile.

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June 21, 2015

Four Nominees From Hill History for New Face on $10

Chisholm could be a contender for the new $10 bill. Her portrait was dedicated in March 2009, with Reps. Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Chisholm could be a contender for the new $10 bill. Her portrait was dedicated in March 2009, with Reps. Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s not a female face on our paper currency, which the U.S. Treasury is now promising to change. There is also no one on our money who’s distinguished because of service in Congress. The Obama administration has viable options for rectifying both shortcomings simultaneously with its choice for new portraiture on the $10 bill.

A strong case can be made that the visage for our monetary future should be Jeannette Rankin, the first congresswoman. Or Margaret Chase Smith, the first female to serve in congressional leadership. Or Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman in Congress. Or Barbara Jordan , a singular voice of congressional conscience during the constitutional crisis of Watergate. Full story

June 18, 2015

GOP Not Quite Ready for the Health Care Victory It’s Dreamed About

Obamacare

Sisters hold a sign at a rally outside of the Supreme Court during arguments in the King v. Burwell case on March 4, 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With each passing day of Supreme Court suspense, the image of the dog catching the bus has come more warily into focus for congressional Republicans.

The wait could end as soon as Thursday, when the justices are expected to announce rulings in a few of the 17 cases remaining on this year’s docket. If there’s still no decision on the fate of the landmark health care law, many GOP members will indulge in a collective sigh of relief — because they will have been given a little more time to cobble together plans for a moment they’ve spent five years dreaming about. Full story

June 17, 2015

Why Backing the Rule Is No. 1 Rule for Party Discipline

Boehner is demanding party loyalty to deliver a victory on procedural rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner is demanding party loyalty to deliver a Republican victory on procedural rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“Voting on the rule” may sound like nothing more than procedural inside baseball. But an enormous amount of policy and political consequence hinges on the fate of House roll calls on resolutions setting the terms for a bill’s consideration.

That’s as true this summer as it’s been in a long while. It’s not a stretch to say President Barack Obama’s top remaining second-term priority, and prospects for Republicans to prove competence at controlling Congress, both rest on this bit of the parliamentary process. Full story

June 11, 2015

The Democrats’ Ace by Night, Pivotal Trade Vote by Day

Richmond at the 2013 Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Richmond, seen here at the 2013 Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, is under pressure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rare is the moment when so much attention is focused simultaneously on the same member of Congress for two totally different reasons. But the end of this week marks that time of trial, both athletically and legislatively, for Rep. Cedric L. Richmond.

On Thursday night, his fellow Democrats will be counting on him to repeat what he’s done in each of the previous four years since arriving to represent New Orleans in the House: Pitch his party to victory in the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

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June 10, 2015

In Budget of Billions, a Fight Over Pennies for Metro

A proposed cut to Metro funding would affect hundreds of thousands of commuters. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Congress’ proposed cut to Metro funding would affect hundreds of thousands of commuters. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

When tracking this year’s inevitable budget crisis, which is showing every early sign of climaxing 16 weeks from now in another shutdown showdown, the Hill community may want to keep Metro in mind.

Even the most seasoned members, staffers, lobbyists and reporters tend to have their eyes glaze over when confronted with appropriations numbers expressed in the multiples of billions and adding up to more than a trillion — so much of it for weapons systems, farm programs, school aid, medical research, prison construction and the like that’s way removed from their own lives.

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June 9, 2015

Passport Case Boosts Obama Foreign Policy Over Hill

The Jerusalem passport case has taken away some of Congress' power. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court ruling on the Jerusalem passport case takes away some of Congress’ power. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress has decisively lost to the president in the year’s most consequential balance-of-powers dispute before the Supreme Court.

The president must have exclusive power to formally recognize the government of another nation, the court declared Monday in a 6-3 decision both sides predicted would shift influence over American foreign policy away from the Capitol and push more of it toward the White House. Full story

June 8, 2015

Going to the Baseball Game? Sit in the Middle

Staffer fans cheer for their preferred party at the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Staffer fans cheer for their preferred party at the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s not too late to make plans to be part of one of the great set pieces of a Washington summer.

The 54th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game is Thursday night. Attending can be a fine antidote for much of the toxic polarization suffusing the Capitol Hill work day, a tonic for cleansing the political mind of ideologically combative thoughts.

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June 4, 2015

Chafee Makes His Quirky Case for President

Chafee, seen here at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, is a most unusual presidential candidate. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Chafee, at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, is an unusual candidate. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It has all the early hallmarks of the most curious, quirky, counterintuitive presidential quest by a former member of Congress in a long time. Those who’ve tracked Lincoln Chafee’s strange career would be surprised if it were any other way.

Most politicians time their candidacy announcements for maximum coverage, and pick a setting relevant to their life story or their rationale for running. But the scion of one of New England’s oldest families chose to formalize his intentions during the peak of Wednesday night’s rush hour at George Mason University, a sprawling commuter school in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Full story

June 3, 2015

Hastert’s Past Informs Boehner’s Disciplined Course

Hastert, right, and Boehner, seen here in 2009, have very different speakership styles. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hastert, right, and Boehner, seen here in 2009, have very different speakership styles. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Maybe one thing would be more shocking to Hill long-timers than the lurid criminal charges confronting the previous Republican speaker of the House: A personal scandal taking down the current Republican speaker of the House.

John A. Boehner has worked assiduously to bring a glass-house lifestyle to the Capitol. He’s been a dogmatic behind-the-scenes disciplinarian with GOP colleagues who have lost their moral bearings. So it’s almost impossible to imagine he’d get caught in the same sort of misbehavior for which he’s shown zero tolerance among the troops. Full story

June 2, 2015

Politicians Prosecuting Their Case to Come to Congress

Brooks is one of the prosecutors serving in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Brooks is one of the prosecutors serving in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If three in a row signals a trend, then the era of the prosecutor in congressional politics is clearly taking hold.

The first person sent to the House by special election this year, Dan Donovan, was starting his 12th year as the elected district attorney on New York’s Staten Island. The winner of the second such contest, on Tuesday, is very likely to be fellow Republican Trent Kelly, who was elected DA for seven counties in northern Mississippi in 2012 and before that was city prosecutor in Tupelo for 11 years. The next special election isn’t until September, in downstate Illinois, but the clear favorite is Darin LaHood, who spent almost a decade as a state and federal prosecutor before becoming a GOP state senator five years ago.

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May 21, 2015

Members Living in Their Offices Rent-Free Adds Up

Member of Congress who sleep in their offices are getting a nice little taxpayer benefit. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Member of Congress who sleep in their offices are effectively getting a little taxpayer benefit. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Joaquin Castro knows a little about real estate, in part because his twin, Julian, is secretary of Housing and Urban Development. So after winning a safely Democratic seat three years ago, he decided buying a condo on the Hill was a smart investment.

He soon started noticing, when walking home at night, how many windows in the darkened House office buildings emanated a distinctive bluish light. Castro guesses the number of his colleagues inside, watching TV while falling asleep, has only grown and easily tops 50 these days.

“I’ve been joking with my brother,” the San Antonio congressman says with a broad grin, “that he should have HUD designate this place a public housing project.” Full story

May 20, 2015

Member Pay Freeze Likely to Last Close to a Decade

Congressional salaries aren't going up any time soon. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional salaries aren’t going up any time soon. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As one of their final acts before the Memorial Day break, members of Congress have begun their annual ritual combining financial self-flagellation with electoral self-preservation.

The burst of loud whining from a cluster of safe-seat members — “We aren’t being paid properly!” complains 12th-term Democratic Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of South Florida — didn’t slow things down a bit.

The House passed the annual legislative branch spending bill Tuesday, with language extending the congressional salary freeze for a seventh consecutive year. On the very safe assumption the Senate agrees, the measure will assure the longest period in half a century members will go without a raise.

Full story

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