Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Posts in "Campaigns & Elections"

February 3, 2016

Bypassing the Senate, Cummings Has One More Career Fork Ahead


UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 22: Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., attends a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Longworth Building featuring testimony by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, October 22, 2015. The 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cummings stays put in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The final career decision Elijah E. Cummings will probably ever make comes as welcome news for both Democrats who could become the next president — and not very comforting news for any of the Republicans who might get the job instead.

When Cummings announced Tuesday that he would seek to remain as a Baltimore congressman, he ended (at nearly the last possible moment) almost a year of public pondering about running instead for Maryland’s open Senate seat.

Full story

February 2, 2016

What One House GOP Retirement May Say About the Future


UNITED STATES - MARCH 3:  Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., speaks during the House Republicans' news conference on the repeal of the1099 requirement on Thursday, March 3, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Is Ribble’s retirement the canary in the calming for Republicans? (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

At first glance, the Reid Ribble retirement doesn’t appear headline-worthy. Yes, he is now among 16 House Republicans, half from tea party takeover class of 2010, to announce a voluntary departure at year’s end. But, no, that retirement roster is hardly extraordinary, and it’s little surprise that a decent number of those insurgent outsiders have concluded they’ve made their mark and can move on.

Just below the surface, though, Ribble’s decision to abandon the congressional seat for northeastern Wisconsin looks like a canary in the coal mine’s warning about the future of the GOP.
Full story

January 28, 2016

Who’ll Be First in Congress to Endorse Trump?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 27: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., gets off the Senate subway as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sessions has been effusive in his praise for Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Of all Donald Trump’s curious unblemished records, this one will almost surely end pretty soon: At last one member of Congress will endorse him for president.

As good a bet as any is that this signal move will come from Jeff Sessions, the junior Republican senator from Alabama.

Full story

January 27, 2016

Blizzard Whiteout Buries Issue of Red Ink


CBO Director Keith Hall won't be testifying this week, as planned, about the rising budget deficit. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CBO Director Keith Hall won’t be testifying this week, as planned, about the rising budget deficit. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One of the blizzard’s most important, if unintended, effects was keeping the federal budget deficit buried as a 2016 campaign issue.

The return of a rising tide of red ink has been almost entirely overlooked by both parties’ candidates in the presidential race and the relatively few competitive contests for Congress. There was a chance that would change this week, when the head of the Congressional Budget Office was supposed to describe his very sobering assessment of the fiscal future in appearances before both congressional budget committees. Instead, after the snowstorm, his Tuesday testimony in the Senate and then Wednesday’s in the House were postponed indefinitely.

Full story

January 20, 2016

Unnoticed, Grassley Sets Record for Most Time Without a Missed Senate Vote


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Grassley, center, has set a Senate record.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When you talk in political circles about an Iowa endurance test, a reference to the presidential caucuses looming in a dozen days is unmistakable. Use the phrase at the Capitol, though, and the meaning may point elsewhere.

Charles E. Grassley, with his inimitable personality blend that’s equal parts cantankerous and friendly independent-mindedness, manages to avoid spending too much time in fundraising call rooms, hearing the pleadings of lobbyists or dropping by charity dinners. (He’s steadfastly resisted a blizzard of entreaties that he endorse a fellow Republican before his home state votes, for example.)

Full story

January 14, 2016

Haley Prompts Ryan to Take Sides in the Fight for GOP’s Soul


UNITED STATES - September 2: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during a luncheon on her "Lessons from the New South," at the National Press Club in Washington, Wednesday, September 2, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

UNITED STATES – September 2: South Carolina Gov. Nikki R.  Haley’s State of the Union address drew praise from Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The passions of the Republican civil war that surfaced because of Gov. Nikki R. Haley’s comments Tuesday night have been trumped by something that for Congress might be even more important:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who won the House gavel last fall as the consensus choice of both the combative insurgent conservatives and the cooler-headed establishment mainstream, left no doubt which side he stands with now.

Full story

January 12, 2016

Members Cast as Foils, if Not Spoilers, in Obama’s Final SOTU


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12 - President Barack Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

“Please don’t get in the way” is one way of synthesizing Tuesday night’s message to Congress from President Barack Obama.

On many of the big things that matter most, he asserted, he’s positioned to leave the country in much better shape than how he found it and how his would-be Republican successors describe it — tacitly urging the Hill’s GOP to resist legislative gamesmanship that while playing into presidential politics might crimp the hopeful trajectory of his final year. Full story

January 3, 2016

Could Brokered Convention Yield a Ryan Nomination?


UNITED STATES - AUGUST 30: GOP Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney after Romney's speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan, seen here with Romney, right, at the 2012 GOP convention, already has experience on a national ticket. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

During the brief lull in campaign news over the holidays, and with forecasts for the new year popping up on all fronts, folks obsessed with politics could be forgiven for all their idle scenario spinning.

A wave of predictions about at least one brokered convention is a quadrennial flash in the pan. Talk about the Republicans deadlocking in Cleveland come July started more than a month ago. And in recent days, the same climactic plot twist has been envisioned by politically smart people at three successive holiday social gatherings:

Full story

December 16, 2015

The Pelosification of Chuck Schumer


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 8 - Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., raises his arms as he speaks alongside Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during the weekly Senate Democrat luncheon news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Schumer, left, is on his way to being the Republicans’ new bogeyman. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

For those whose lives revolve around the Capitol, the year’s final presidential debate offered two notable insights: Bashing the legislative process remains a pungent applause line, and Republicans may have found their newest liberal boogeyman.

Put another way, all the morning-after assessments of how the candidates performed in Las Vegas overlooked two standouts of particular importance to the congressional class. One of the biggest losers Tuesday night was Congress itself. And one of the biggest winners was, of all people, Charles E. Schumer. Full story

December 15, 2015

David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: The 2016 Congressional Calendar


As the new year fast approaches, CQ Roll Call Senior Editor David Hawkings lays out what’s on the docket for members as they run for re-election in 2016.

Full story

December 10, 2015

Senate and Obama’s Final Round Over Judges


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 28: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tn., and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tn., hold a press conference to talk about their alternatives to the Democrat's approach to solving the "Fiscal Cliff." (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Tennessee’s two GOP senators, Lamar Alexander, left and Bob Corker have signed off on Crenshaw’s nomination, but the nomination is still stalled. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

To predict how the judicial wars between this Republican Senate and President Barack Obama will end, keep an eye on labor lawyer Waverly Crenshaw Jr.

A quarter-century ago, he was the first African-American hired at one of Nashville’s most prominent law firms. Ten months ago, he was chosen for the opening on the local federal trial court. Five months ago, with the blessing of both of Tennessee’s Republican senators, he was endorsed without a dissenting voice in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And since then … nothing, except that as of last week the judgeship had been vacant a full year, and the backlog of cases has grown such that court administrators have declared a “judicial emergency.” Full story

November 18, 2015

Sanders Pursues Next Job With Interest in Post He Has Now


UNITED STATES - JULY 22: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., prepares to speak to federal contract workers during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, to push for a raise to the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Sanders has used his Senate seat to push issues important to him — and his presidential campaign.  (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Unlike most of his Republican analogues, Bernard Sanders is overtly trying to harness his senatorial work this fall to the service of his presidential campaign.

The evidence goes beyond his presence on the Senate floor, though on that front he stands out. Of the five senators trying to win the White House, the Vermont independent running as a Democrat has missed the fewest votes: Just 14 this year, as of Tuesday, for a 95 percent attendance rate. Three of his colleagues running for the GOP nomination have missed 75 or more roll calls. (The exception is Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who’s only skipped five more ballots than Sanders.)

Merely showing up for work is hardly a predictor of success, of course. (Barack Obama made only 62 percent of the Senate votes the year before winning the presidency.) But it’s part of what helps Sanders to ward-off the sort of the criticism that has dogged Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, who’s missed the most votes by far, and Ted Cruz of Texas, whose campaign has emphasized his disdain for the Senate’s ways under the management by his own party.

In contrast, Sanders is using the power of Senate incumbency to advance causes that highlight themes of his national campaign — that the Washington game is rigged to benefit the moneyed heavyweights at the expense of the little guy, and he’s the candidate to turn that balance of power on its head. Full story

November 5, 2015

What the 2016 Calendar Says About Congress


Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree on at least one thing: a long August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree on at least one thing: a long August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Decades of waiting on the arrival of the annual congressional calendar and then poring over the details affords Hill long-timers a nuanced appreciation of the myriad political calculations and logistical limitations that go in to setting the Capitol’s timetable for an entire year.

Inside the stretches of legislating followed by the bursts of recess, the schedules for 2016 announced this week by the Republican top brass in the House and Senate offer some quirky rhythms and unexpected sequences that give insight into the hectic election year ahead. Here are five messages delivered by the new diary. Full story

October 26, 2015

The Would-Be Chairman With Ways and Means on His Side


Brady announced Monday he's running for Ways and Means chairman. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Brady announced Monday he’s running for Ways and Means chairman. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Assuming no more last-minute surprises this fall at the House Republican Conference, the only important personnel decision to be made in coming days is who’ll become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Paul D. Ryan’s agreement to be speaker, to be formally embraced by his GOP colleagues Wednesday, means after just 10 months he must give up the job he’s always described as his top political ambition.

Kevin Brady of Texas announced Monday he wants to be the next to run the House’s most important panel, which writes tax, trade, health care and social safety net legislation. Pat Tiberi of Ohio declared his candidacy last week. Full story

October 21, 2015

Daniel Webster Presses Nuanced Case for Speaker


Webster, center, is a long-shot candidate for speaker, but that hasn't deterred him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Webster, center, is a long-shot candidate for speaker, but that hasn’t deterred him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Daniel Webster made clear over the past two weeks he wasn’t waiting on Paul D. Ryan’s big decision. And on Thursday, the relatively obscure Florida congressman reiterated he is still running for speaker, no matter what.

He’ll continue his quest, he said in a terse statement, “to transform a broken Congress based on the power of a few into a principle-based, member-driven Congress.”

The rationale for his long-shot candidacy is more complex than how he’s being marketed: As the preferred candidate of the House Freedom Caucus, Webster has the favor of 40 or so of the most conservative Republicans, a bloc of support no leader of today’s House can hope to govern without.

In fact, the 66-year-old lawmaker from Orlando’s career in public life has made him something of a Rorschach test for his Republican colleagues. Full story

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