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

August 27, 2015

Senator Criticizes ‘Systemic Issues’ in State Dept. Email Management

State Department Email

Perdue is critical of “systemic issues” in the State Department’s handling of email. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the State Department’s congressional overseers is expressing fresh concerns about federal data security after this week’s inspector general report about the use of private email at the embassy in Japan.

“Recent data breaches of U.S. cyber networks should prompt all government officials to strengthen communication security,” Sen. David Perdue said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “This Inspector General report indicates systemic issues across the State Department, specifically in email communications.”

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Ted Cruz Invites Donald Trump to Anti-Iran Deal Rally on Capitol Grounds

donald trump

Trump is leading other Republican contenders in the polls. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has invited fellow presidential candidate Donald J. Trump to participate in a rally outside the Capitol against the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

Trump, the businessman and reality TV star currently leading GOP polls, alluded to the event with the Texas Republican while speaking Thursday in Greenville, S.C.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:58 p.m.
2016, Iran, Ted Cruz

August 26, 2015

Rubio: GOP Needs 60 Votes to Repeal Obamacare

Rubio held a town hall Wednesday in Londonderry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rubio held a town hall Wednesday in Londonderry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio sounds rather bearish on repealing Obamacare anytime soon, even if he or another Republican becomes president.

Outlining his economic and foreign policy visions at a town hall meeting in Londonderry, N.H., on Wednesday, the Floridian said upending the 2010 health care overhaul law would take the support of a filibuster-proof supermajority of 60 senators.

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As Prospects of Derailing Iran Deal Dim, Corker Eyes Next Step

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Corker says there will be more legislation after the Iran disapproval vote. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is home in Tennessee, but he said Wednesday he’s been on the phone a lot about Iran — particularly with moderate Democrats.

The Republican said his role is to answer questions and foster debate, while making the case against the P 5+1 agreement to restrict the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. But, with the number of Democratic caucus members backing the Iran deal at 29 and expected to increase, Corker’s also looking ahead to other legislation in response.

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Bernie Sanders Vs. the Media

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a town meeting at the White Mountain Chalet in Berlin, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic presidential candidate Sanders speaks during a town meeting Monday at the White Mountain Chalet in Berlin, N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On tour here last week, Bernard Sanders, the unlikeliest of presidential candidate rock stars, played all his populist hits: “income inequality,” “Wall Street reform,” and “tax the rich.” Then the Vermont senator threw in his unique cover of an old campaign trail classic: “hatin’ on the media.”

As an estimated 2,700 fervent Sanders supporters looked on in a packed, humid South Carolina conference center, the 2016 Democratic hopeful talked — between screams of “I love you Bernie!” — about income inequality, health care, the untaxed rich, the wealthy political donor class, racial inequality, and yes, the media.

“The American people are sick and tired of establishment economics, they are sick and tired of establishment politics, and they are sick and tired of the establishment media,” Sanders said to cheers in both Columbia and Greenville.

With the media polling remarkably low in trustworthiness, it’s not surprising or even uncommon for a candidate to pick the “establishment” media as a foe.

Sanders made news earlier last week for bucking reporters’ questions in Iowa about Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton (“That’s the sport you guys like.”) and whether Sanders is a career politician, according to The New York Times.

In Sanders’ defense, sideshow stories permeate public discourse, such as the PPP poll showing an imaginary candidate named Deez Nuts polling at 9 percent in North Carolina, highlighting the trend the Sanders was decrying.

“Much of the corporate media will talk about everything else in the world except the issues facing ordinary Americans,” Sanders said.

Sanders railed against the media for not covering what cuts were made in the Republican-passed federal budget, although even a cursory search on sequestration would suggest otherwise.

Although there was an on-camera exclusive with C-SPAN following the gathering, Sanders did not make himself available to other reporters at either event.


Bernie Sanders: Proud non-Democrat

Takoma Park Feels the Bern

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Sudanese Refugee Is Not Your Average Summer Intern

UNITED STATES - August 11: Mohy Omer, a Sudanese intern for the office of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-S.D., poses for a portrait in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. Omer relocated to Fargo, S.D. in 2009 after growing up in Sudan. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Omer poses for a portrait in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on Aug. 11. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

An “awesome” hug with the vice president, seeing the president at Nationals Park, attending a Champions of Change event at the White House — it was all packed into a Senate internship this summer and came just a few months after Mohy Omer, a refugee from Sudan, had become a U.S. citizen.

Now 27, Omer never dreamed about living in America, let alone the nation’s capital. He was placed in Fargo, N.D., in 2009 after fleeing his war-torn country. He didn’t know a soul or speak a lick of English. Full story

August 25, 2015

Patty Murray Joins in Supporting the Iran Deal

Could Murray help avert another government shutdown? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Murray has become the 29th Democratic Conference member to back the Iran deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The one member of the Senate Democratic leadership who had yet to announce a position on the Iran deal is supporting it.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Tuesday in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call ahead of release that she would be joining with Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois in lining up in favor of the international agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear development.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is the lone Democratic leader on the other side.

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August 24, 2015

Reid Dismisses ‘Longshot’ Prospects for Iran Deal Filibuster

Reid was given a lifetime achievement award Tuesday for his environmental efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid is increasingly bullish about protecting the Iran deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told reporters gathered in Las Vegas that filibustering a bill to disapprove of the nuclear deal with Iran would be a “longshot.”

Still, the Nevada Democrat has far from given up hope on rounding up not only the 34 votes needed to sustain a veto from President Barack Obama, but the 41 needed to thwart the GOP-led Senate from getting the disapproval legislation through the chamber at all.

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‘Moneyball’ for the Power Grid: Reid Says Metrics Key

UNITED STATES - MAY 4: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks with Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, a native of Nevada, at Nationals Park in Washington before the game against Philadelphia on Friday, May 4, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid compared utility companies ignoring renewable energy to a baseball team benching Harper. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid kicked off his annual clean energy summit Monday in Las Vegas by comparing utility companies that undervalue renewable power to an ill-managed baseball team.

“Nevada and electric utilities should learn from ‘Moneyball.’ Just as Major League Baseball was stuck in the past, electric utilities continue to rely upon business models from past centuries. Companies you will hear today are developing new energy technologies and services of which Thomas Edison never dreamed,” the Nevada Democrat said. “This challenge should begin by properly valuing rooftop solar, properly valuing energy efficiency and properly valuing other distributed sources of clean energy. Ignoring these resources or treating them as a burden makes as much sense as the Washington Nationals benching Bryce Harper.”

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Why Harry Reid Needed to Announce Iran Deal Support When He Did

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reid announced his support for the Iran deal Sunday, one day before hosting Obama in Las Vegas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Sunday he would support the international nuclear agreement with Iran and work to ensure it survives a GOP-led disapproval effort, the Nevada Democrat avoided what could have been an awkward Monday.

Reid is hosting dignitaries at his National Clean Energy Summit at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The list of speakers is headlined by President Barack Obama, as well as Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz — a key U.S. negotiator on the Iran deal. After the event, Obama and Reid are scheduled to attend a Democratic fundraiser to benefit former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democrat with Reid’s backing to succeed him in 2017.

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August 21, 2015

Obamacare Repeal Effort Could Wait Until Next Year

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thune noted Democrats used reconciliation to enact Obamacare the year after the related budget resolution. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The No. 3 Senate Republican hinted there may be no effort to use fast-track budget procedures to get an Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk this year.

During a broader interview about GOP messaging heading into the August recess, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune noted that when Democrats passed the sidecar to the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority in the Senate through budget reconciliation, it was the calendar year after the relevant budget resolution was adopted.

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August 20, 2015

Senator Warns Defense Secretary of Blockade Over Gitmo

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Roberts and Moran have been against transferring Gitmo detainees to Kansas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress is gearing up for another fight over relocating detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that has Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter making calls.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., spoke with Carter Thursday and reiterated his intent to use procedural tools in the Senate to block the transfer of detainees from the naval base at Gitmo to sites on the mainland of the United States, particularly the prison facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

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What Ted Cruz Thinks About Manned Spaceflight

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 9: Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) poses for a selfie with a supporter after the town hall meeting with Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., in Huntsville, Ala., on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. The campaign event was part of The Cruz Country bus tour through the South. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz took a selfie with a supporter after the town hall in Huntsville. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When Sen. Ted Cruz took questions at a campaign town hall in Huntsville, Ala., on his bus tour of SEC country last week, a boy scout from the area raised his hand. But the Texas Republican called for the last question before his staff could get the presidential candidate’s attention.

So CQ Roll Call approached the young man and his parents later that evening to ask what was on his mind. Nine-year-old Paul Byrd wanted to know what Cruz thought about the future of manned spaceflight. It was a good question, particularly in the northern Alabama city that is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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August 19, 2015

Tim Kaine: Sequestration, VA Hospital Top Concerns

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

RICHMOND, Va. — While Sen. Mark Warner round-tabled down the street on Tuesday with a group of gig-economy workers, Virginia’s junior senator, Democrat Tim Kaine, met with local black business leaders in Richmond on a five-day economic tour through the state.

Talk primarily focused on federal contracting, which Kaine said later was consistent with the most common concern voiced by Virginia business interests: sequestration and the federal budget. Kaine predicted he’d hear sequester questions wherever he goes.

Roll Call on the Road logo“It might be procurement,” Kaine said. “It might be what happens if sequester hits, what are the defense cuts going to be? So a lot of the concern is in this federal budget space.”

On average, a 20-stop tour will lead to five great ideas for legislation, Kaine said, noting that a recent string of bills he’s introduced on opioids was inspired by a trip to southwest Virginia two springs ago. On Monday, he received a few ideas on how to improve care at a local Veterans Affairs hospital.

“Yesterday, I went to the [Hampton] VA hospital,” Kaine said. “They had the worst waiting times in the nation a year ago, now they are about the national average, from 30 days to about seven.”

Kaine asked what could be done to improve wait times even more, only to learn that red tape prevents Department of Defense hospital specialists from treating patients at VA hospitals without prior authorization. If DOD-qualified physicians could work in VA hospitals, that could speed up wait times, Kaine was told.

“I’d never heard that before,” Kaine said. “I didn’t realize DOD physicians couldn’t do it.”

Kaine also learned that the 2014 VA reform bill created a duplicate and conflicting system for when patients see private physicians.

“There was already within the VA the ability to refer people out to private physicians, but we set up two different structures where the reimbursement rates are different, some of the doctors who are in it are different, and it makes it extremely complicated,” Kaine said.

“Could we take the two programs — and there’s money for both — merge them into one and have a single set of criteria,” Kaine asked. “Makes perfect sense.”

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Warner Looking to Support Gig Economy Workers

gig economy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — Sen. Mark Warner continued his quest Tuesday to rewrite the social contract with those who occupy the ever-expanding “gig economy.”

With the proliferation of sharing businesses like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, more and more people are finding ways to earn extra income. But many are compelled to do it out of necessity and are left with nothing to fall back on if and when things go south. Full story

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