Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

April 23, 2014

Boozman Family Hopeful As Senator Begins Recovery

0423boozman 239x335 Boozman Family Hopeful As Senator Begins Recovery

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The family of Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is hopeful and looking forward to the next stage of the senator’s recovery following his emergency heart surgery for an acute aortic dissection Tuesday.

“We appreciate the prayers, kind words and well-wishes that have come from Arkansans and people all across the country,” the family said in a statement. “Our number one priority is making sure John makes a full recovery.” Full story

Durbin Tweets Happy Birthday to Wrigley Field — Doesn’t Mention the Lights

durbin 114 021114 445x302 Durbin Tweets Happy Birthday to Wrigley Field — Doesnt Mention the Lights

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday wouldn’t be complete without hearing from the senior senator from Illinois.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin Tweeted his congratulations Wednesday afternoon:

Full story

April 22, 2014

Boozman ‘Responding Well’ After Emergency Heart Surgery, Doctors Say

vets011 022514 445x295 Boozman Responding Well After Emergency Heart Surgery, Doctors Say

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:59 p.m. | Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is recovering from emergency heart surgery he underwent Tuesday.

According to an aide from the senator’s office, doctors say Boozman “responded well” to the surgery.

Boozman was taken to the Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas emergency room, in Rogers, Ark., by ambulance overnight after suffering from pain and chest in his arm, according to an aide. The news was first reported by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

After running several tests, doctors admitted Boozman and performed the heart surgery, an aide said. The senator’s family has visited with him and is hopeful for a full recovery, according to a press release.

He was scheduled to speak Tuesday morning in Gravette, Ark., to commemorate the opening of the first stretch of the Bella Vista Bypass.

Upon hearing the news of the surgery, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, “We’re glad to hear that John is doing well and we all look forward to having him back at work. He is a fantastic Senator and a tireless advocate for Arkansas and the people he so proudly represents.”

Boozman, 63, is the junior senator from Arkansas, serving since 2011. He previously served in the House, representing the 3rd District.

April 21, 2014

Menendez Not Staying Quiet at Foreign Relations

foreign005 040814 445x289 Menendez Not Staying Quiet at Foreign Relations

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s much-maligned Twitter-esque program in Cuba had a quick defender on Capitol Hill — Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez.

“For more than 50 years, the U.S. has had an unwavering commitment to promote freedom of information in the world,” the New Jersey Democrat said at a hearing earlier this month. “I do not believe that USAID’s actions … are, in any way, a ‘cockamamie idea.’ ”

It was a direct rebuke of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee who called the Twitter-like program, known as ZunZuneo, “cockamamie” and “dumb, dumb, dumb.” Leahy suggested the alleged secrecy of the program — USAID denies that it was covert — could potentially endanger other agency workers around the world. Menendez pushed instead for a review of efforts to reach people in other authoritarian regimes.

He has been anything but a shrinking violet since taking over the Foreign Relations gavel from John Kerry last year. Full story

April 18, 2014

Reid, Heller Still Hope for House Action on Unemployment Extension

heller 01 090811 445x316 Reid, Heller Still Hope for House Action on Unemployment Extension

Heller (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:36 a.m. April 19 | Top Senate backers of an unemployment extension say there’s still hope for a deal and are working to set up a meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner.

“Our staffs are talking with the speaker’s staff,” Sen. Dean Heller said Friday.

Heller — the Nevada Republican co-author of the bipartisan Senate bill — and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., spoke about unemployment benefits during a joint appearance Friday on KSNV, Las Vegas’ NBC affiliate.

“We will put together a meeting,” Heller said. “We couldn’t get it done before the break.”

The junior Nevada senator reiterated the possibility of compromise, referring to comments made earlier this month by House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who talked about tying the extension of unemployment insurance benefits to jobs measures and the extension of some tax breaks. Full story

Heller Calls Bundy Ranch Supporters ‘Patriots;’ Reid Sticks With ‘Domestic Terrorists’ (Video)

heller 01 090811 445x316 Heller Calls Bundy Ranch Supporters Patriots; Reid Sticks With Domestic Terrorists (Video)

(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Nevada’s senators sparred Friday on live TV in Las Vegas over the standoff between the federal government and rancher Cliven Bundy.

“What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots,” GOP Sen. Dean Heller said during the rare joint appearance on KSNV-TV. “We have a very different view on this.”

Sitting next to his senior colleague, Heller was referring to comments made Thursday by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., about the militia-type groups that came to the defense of rancher Cliven Bundy, who has upwards of a million dollars in unpaid grazing fees that led the Bureau of Land Management to round up cattle on federal land.

Reid said Thursday that the people involved ”who hold themselves out to be patriots, are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists.”

Full story

Good Friday News Dump Riles Keystone Supporters on the Hill

equal pay011 040114 445x297 Good Friday News Dump Riles Keystone Supporters on the Hill

Landrieu has been, perhaps, the biggest Democratic advocate of the pipeline. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reaction to news that the State Department would take more time to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project was swift and predictable.

“On April 18, 2014, the Department of State notified the eight federal agencies specified in Executive Order 13337 we will provide more time for the submission of their views on the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project,” the State Department said. “State Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state.”

The State Department sought to make clear that it would take time to review roughly 2.5 million public comments, but that the window for such comments wouldn’t be extended itself.

Full story

Senate Approps Wants You! (To Talk About Research)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee took to Twitter to solicit ideas for an upcoming hearing on federal investments in innovation.

The panel is seeking written testimony from the public on the subject of how federal research dollars can help drive innovation in existing and new fields. Materials should be submitted in accordance with committee guidelines no later than April 24, for an April 29 hearing with the heads of several departments and agencies that spent quite a bit of their budgets on federally backed research.

The vaunted committee sent this public appeal Friday:

Federal investments in science, technology, medicine — all creating #innovation each day. Be part of our conversation http://t.co/CUD6a5tneE

— Sen. Appropriations (@SenateApprops) April 18, 2014

Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md. will lead the hearing, which includes a witness list starring Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz and National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins.

Full story

April 17, 2014

Harry Reid: Bundy Ranch Supporters Are ‘Domestic Terrorists’ (Video)

In one corner, the Senate majority leader. In the other corner, a Nevada rancher disputing the government’s authority to collect grazing fees and restrict access to land for his cattle.

On Thursday, Majority Leader Harry Reid said the armed supporters of the rancher, Cliven Bundy, are “domestic terrorists” at an event sponsored by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

“These people, who hold themselves out to be patriots, are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” the Nevada Democrat said. “And I think that we are a country that people should follow the law, and what went up in Mesquite is not very good.

Full story

From the Archives: McConnell’s Role in Packwood Probe

KYPOL14 038 041214 445x296 From the Archives: McConnells Role in Packwood Probe

McConnell campaigns back home over the April recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Sen. Bob Packwood’s sexual harassment scandal has resurfaced as a campaign issue — nearly two decades later.

Senate Minority Leader Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently recalled his role in the ouster of Packwood, the Oregon Republican and Finance Committee chairman who resigned in disgrace back in 1995.

McConnell, then the Ethics chairman, was tasked with leading the investigation because Republicans controlled the chamber. The inquiry had Packwood on the verge of expulsion.

“The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a member of my party, had a case before the Senate Ethics Committee with regard to sexual harassment. In those days 20 years ago much of this was never taken seriously by anyone,” McConnell said on April 12 at a campaign event. “I was chairman of the Ethics Committee charged with the responsibility of dealing with a member of my own party as chairman [of] the most important committee in the Senate. After investigating the case and bringing together all of the evidence I moved to expel him from the Senate. And the Senate on the verge of expelling him, he decided to resign.”

Full story

Obama Boasts Health Care Enrollment Hits 8 Million, Talks Immigration, Highways (Updated)

476987813 445x316 Obama Boasts Health Care Enrollment Hits 8 Million, Talks Immigration, Highways (Updated)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

Updated 4:38 p.m. | President Barack Obama said Thursday that 8 million people have signed up for health insurance coverage in the marketplaces set up through the Affordable Care Act, and whacked Republicans for “endless, fruitless repeal efforts.”

We are “now covering more people at less cost,” Obama told reporters gathered for an impromptu statement in the Brady Briefing Room. “The bottom line is … this thing is working.”

The president also said the data show 35 percent of people who signed up are under the age of 35, a critical factor to the exchanges working and keeping costs down.

Obama went after Republicans, saying “they were wrong” to try and get rid of his signature domestic achievement and that they “have no alternative answer for millions of Americans.”

Full story

April 16, 2014

Cornyn Presses Holder on Gun Tracking

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn is asking Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about the possibility of the Obama administration trying to track gun owners. The Texas Republican’s letter puts the Justice Department on the spot following Holder’s testimony about new gun safety devices at an April 4 House subcommittee hearing about the department’s fiscal 2015 budget.

“Would the technological capabilities you referenced in your testimony require, or allow for, the monitoring of American citizens’ personally identifying information through a central database or registry?” Cornyn asked in his Tuesday letter.

Full story

April 15, 2014

Filibuster Unconstitutional? D.C. Circuit Denies Appeal, Cites ‘Speech or Debate’ Flaw

Advocates asking the judiciary to declare the filibuster unconstitutional were dealt a major setback Tuesday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court said it lacked jurisdiction because Common Cause and the House lawmakers associated with bringing the lawsuit had sued the wrong party.

“In short, Common Cause’s alleged injury was caused not by any of the defendants, but by an ‘absent third party’ — the Senate itself,” the court held. Full story

Unemployment Extension Petition Gets Manchin’s Push

manchin 068 091013 445x308 Unemployment Extension Petition Gets Manchins Push

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Keeping the unemployment insurance extension issue alive, Sen. Joe Manchin III is asking supporters to sign on to a petition urging the House to act. The West Virginia Democrat doesn’t agree with his party on everything, but an email pitch sent Tuesday morning demonstrates considerable Democratic unity on reviving extended unemployment insurance benefits.

The Senate passed its version of the jobless benefits measure with 59 “yes” votes on April 7.

“Extending unemployment insurance makes economic sense, but it’s also just the right thing to do. Our hardworking neighbors paid into the system when they had a job, so it’s only fair that they should benefit from those funds when they’re down on their luck,” Manchin wrote in an email to supporters. “That’s why I’m asking you to join my colleagues and me in calling on the House to pass an extension of unemployment insurance.”

The email blast links to a petition — without an immediate fundraising ask — from 11 Senate Democrats, a trio of House members and three candidates, including Alison Lundergan Grimes in the Kentucky Senate race.

Full story

April 14, 2014

Washington Responds to Passing of Nuala Pell, Widow of Former Rhode Island Senator

Nuala Pell, widow of former Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell, passed away Sunday morning in Newport at age 89.

“Our entire family is heartbroken by my grandmother’s passing. She dedicated her life to her family and to the service of others. From her work in support of the arts, education, and her humanitarian service, she was a beacon of hope to many,” grandson Clay Pell said in a statement posted by Providence TV station WPRI. “We could not have asked for a better parent or grandparent than Mimi. We will love and miss her more than words can express.”

The younger Pell is running for governor of Rhode Island. His grandfather, the former senator and namesake of the landmark college aid program, died on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Nuala Pell was praised by many for her political involvement and commitment to issues like the arts and education.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:41 p.m.
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