Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 1, 2014

Posts by Humberto Sanchez

195 Posts

October 31, 2014

Democrat Wants Elizabeth Warren to Dethrone Harry Reid as Leader (Updated)

banking004 070814 1 445x295 Democrat Wants Elizabeth Warren to Dethrone Harry Reid as Leader (Updated)

One Senate Democratic candidate wants Elizabeth Warren to dethrone Harry Reid as majority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:56 p.m. | Democratic South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland ramped up his effort to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Friday kicking off a campaign to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., or anyone else to challenge Reid.

“This is a fight I intend to continue no matter how long it takes because it is a fight for the new leadership the Congress must have if the larger battle to drive big money out of Congress, and thus open the door to progress for all of America, is to succeed,” Weiland said in a release.

Warren has energized the progressive wing of Senate Democrats, although she has GOP admirers too.

She’s been a sought-after draw as a surrogate on the campaign trail this year in a way that neither Reid nor President Barack Obama has been, with continued speculation despite her denials that she could run for president in 2016. There hasn’t been much talk of her taking on Reid.

Weiland’s comments come after he said during a recent debate that he would not support Reid for leader and challenged his opponent Republican Mike Rounds to oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should Rounds prevail. Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 1:24 p.m.
Harry Reid

October 30, 2014

McCain, Graham and Rubio: No Executive Immigration Relief

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three Republican architects of the Senate’s immigration bill are warning President Barack Obama not to give relief without Congress to immigrants here illegally, warning that would “open the floodgates” to more illegal immigration.

“We write to you today to strongly discourage such action,” John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida said in a letter Thursday.

“Providing legal status by executive order to people who entered this country unlawfully will only incentivize illegal immigration and open the floodgates to more visa overstays and illegal entries over our southern border,” the letter continued. Full story

The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didn’t Want You to See

luncheons015 060413 445x295 The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didnt Want You to See

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Harry Reid’s strategy of blocking amendments all year was intended with one clear objective in mind — protecting his majority.

Republicans have complained vociferously about the Senate majority leader shutting down amendments — but behind the scenes, the Nevada Democrat’s senators asked him to do so for a very simple reason: Nobody wants to give an opponent fodder for 30-second ads in a tough election year.

Reid’s strategy had a downside, because Democrats had fewer opportunities to show their independence from an unpopular president.

But aside from that attack, Republicans have been left mostly to mine earlier votes from, for instance, the 2013 budget resolution vote-a-rama — or for parts of the Affordable Care Act they voted for years ago.

Here are some of the subjects — and TV attack lines — Reid’s strategy sought to avoid: Full story

October 29, 2014

Reid Sends Late Gift to Begich

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is giving endangered Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, a legislative gift ahead of next week’s election.

Reid sent Begich a letter dated Oct. 28 saying he plans to hold a vote in the lame duck on a Begich bill funding veterans programs.

“As I plan our Senate agenda for November, I recall our conversations about veterans and your advocacy for their rights,” Reid said in a short Oct. 28 letter to Begich. “With Veterans Day approaching, I have decided that your bipartisan bill…will be taken up by the Senate for vote. It is indeed the right thing for our nation’s veterans.”

“Your have been a tireless advocate for Alaskas’s 73,000 veterans and veterans throughout the country,” Reid continued. “Your important bill will go a long way to ensuring secure funding for America’s veterans.”

The letter comes as Begich is in a difficult race to retain his seat to represent a GOP-leaning state and in the second midterm of an unpopular Democratic president. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race against Republican Dan Sullivan as a Tossup/Tilts Republican.

In an editorial in Roll Call Oct. 1 — the anniversary of the last government shutdown — Begich argued that the bill would shield veterans from the politics that arise in the appropriations process and any potential future shutdowns, by funding veterans’ need in advance. Full story

October 28, 2014

Democrats Run From Harry Reid

Harry Reid’s caucus is running from him on the campaign trail, but that doesn’t mean a revolt is in the works — yet.

The majority leader has twisted the Senate into a pretzel all year to protect his vulnerable members, but the Nevada Democrat is now facing skepticism on the campaign trail from some of those same Democrats, as well as from some would-be newcomers. And there’s at least one scenario that could force his hand.

Still, there’s that old saying: You can’t beat somebody with nobody, and so far, none of the senators who might have the chops to take on Reid have made any noises about doing so. Full story

October 21, 2014

10 Questions for Eric Holder’s Replacement as Attorney General

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Cruz, left, and Sessions both sit on the Judiciary Committee and will have a change to grill the nominee for attorney general. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Eric H. Holder Jr.’s replacement as attorney general will face a grilling from the Senate Judiciary Committee after the elections, with the position key to enabling President Barack Obama’s pen-and-phone executive agenda and with numerous hot-button issues under the purview of the Justice Department.

The nominee to replace Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who is also leaving, will also face much the same treatment.

Here are 10 questions the nominees will likely hear:

1. What is the limit of the president’s executive authority on immigration? Full story

October 20, 2014

Mikulski Sets Senate Ebola Hearing Two Days After Elections (Updated)

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Mikulski will hold a post-election Ebola hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:15 p.m. | As the threat of the Ebola virus in the United States appears to be easing, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski announced she would hold a hearing on the issue two days after voters are scheduled to go to the polls.

The hearing is set for Nov. 6, and would be the first in the Democratic-run Senate since the first U.S. Ebola case was discovered in Dallas. The hearing could take on increased urgency if the Obama administration follows through on sending over a supplemental spending request. A Democratic aide said appropriators were told to expect a request for Ebola funding as soon as this week but did not have any details on its scope or whether it would be designated as emergency funding.

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the top Republican on the subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, has been pushing for a new hearing on Ebola. Moran visited the University of Kansas hospital last week, where he said the situation had changed since a joint hearing last month of the Appropriations subcommittee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Full story

October 16, 2014

Vitter: Fire CDC’s Frieden, Impose Ebola Quarantine

David Vitter 15 041813 445x268 Vitter: Fire CDCs Frieden, Impose Ebola Quarantine

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is calling for firing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden over the response to the Ebola virus and for imposing travel restrictions in Africa.

“The CDC Director’s response to the spread of the Ebola virus has been nothing short of pathetic,” Vitter said in a release. “President [Barack] Obama needs to fire him, put someone strong and competent in charge, and impose travel restrictions into the U.S. – all immediately. That sort of quarantine action was an essential part of the eradication of the late 1970s Ebola outbreak in Africa.”

Earlier today, Vitter testified at a Louisiana House of Representatives Homeland Security hearing in Baton Rouge, La., where he recommended that the Louisiana state representatives submit a flight restriction request to the CDC.

Obama plans to call members of Congress today to consult with them on Ebola, but so far he retains confidence in Frieden and is not considering a travel ban.

You can watch Frieden’s testimony today here.

 

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By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 3:46 p.m.
Ebola

Democrats Press Homeland Security on Massive Immigrant Detention Center

johnson 240 052914 445x311 Democrats Press Homeland Security on Massive Immigrant Detention Center

Johnson faces pressure from top Democrats concerned about plans to build a 2,400-bed detention center for illegal immigrants in Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:04 p.m. | A group of 10 Democratic Senators, including the party’s leaders, raised concerns with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson over plans for a massive new detention facility for immigrants here illegally.

“This decision threatens to make permanent a practice of presumptive detention for families and marks a reversal of this administration’s family detention policy,” the letter said.

“We fear that the result will be the ongoing detention of asylum-seeking women and children who have shown a credible fear of being returned to their home country and pose no flight risk or danger to the community,” the letter continued. “We are particularly concerned with the negative consequences of long-term detention on the physical and mental well-being of young children.” Full story

Durbin Hopes Tide Turning Against Corporate Inversions

durbin003 061714 445x299 Durbin Hopes Tide Turning Against Corporate Inversions

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., is hoping the tide is turning against corporate inversions — a practice aimed at minimizing U.S. taxes by merging with overseas firms.

After taking to the Senate floor to shame Chicago-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie into changing it’s plans to merge with an Irish firm, Durbin welcomed news of AbbVie’s waffling.

“I’m encouraged by reports that AbbVie will reconsider its decision to move its tax address out of the United States,” Durbin said in a release.

AbbVie’s initial decision to merge was spurred by a provision in the tax code — known as a corporate inversion — that permits companies to join with foreign, and often times smaller, firms. The resulting new companies then base themselves abroad, where taxes can be lower than in the U.S., and thereby avoid paying taxes that U.S.-based firms would have to pay. Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 10:01 a.m.
Taxes

October 10, 2014

Senate GOP Leaders Hit the Campaign Trail (Updated)

Senate Luncheons 70 061813 445x308 Senate GOP Leaders Hit the Campaign Trail (Updated)

Barrasso and Thune are among the GOP leaders hitting the stump to try and win the majority. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:38 p.m.| With the majority hanging on a handful of Senate races, Republican leaders not facing re-election have been fanning out across the nation to help stump for their candidates.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas have been focused on their re-election campaigns, though Cornyn, who has an easier race, has traveled to raise money for Senate Republican contenders.

But Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota, Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri and Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming have all been active as well in trying to give GOP candidates the edge in intensely contested races.

Barrasso has been particularly energized, but he is not expected to seek a different post within the Senate Republican leadership, such as the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He plans to keep his leadership slot chairing the Policy Committee, according to a Republican source. Full story

October 7, 2014

IRS Warns Senate Tax Refunds Could Be Delayed

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Wyden says the IRS has warned him refunds could be delayed if Congress doesn’t act quickly on tax extenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s another reason to be displeased with congressional gridlock.

IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen is warning Congress that passing tax legislation reviving expired tax breaks — known as tax extenders — in December or later could delay refunds for millions. And if the legislation is passed retroactively in 2015, it could force millions to file amended tax returns, he warned in letters to top lawmakers. He urged them to pass the legislation by the end of November.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., seized on the letter Tuesday to push for swift passage of his two-year tax package known as the EXPIRE Act.

The Finance Committee passed the package in April but it stalled on the floor in May after Finance Committee ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, sought to attach a provision repealing the medical device tax, which helps fund the Affordable Care Act.

“It has been over six months since the Finance Committee passed the EXPIRE Act with strong bipartisan support,” Wyden said. “As the 2015 filing season begins to loom large, it is more urgent than ever that Congress moves in a decisive and bipartisan way to renew expired tax provisions that will give taxpayers the certainty they need to plan their finances.”
Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 4:59 p.m.
Taxes

October 2, 2014

Toomey Blasts College for Inviting Mumia Abu-Jamal to Speak

senate gop002 011414 445x310 Toomey Blasts College for Inviting Mumia Abu Jamal to Speak

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey blasted a Vermont college for choosing Mumia Abu-Jamal to give the commencement address and urged the invitation be rescinded.

“I cannot fathom how anyone could think it appropriate to honor a cold-blooded murderer — one who ambushed a police officer, shot that officer in the back, and while that officer lay wounded and defenseless on the ground, lowered a gun to the officer’s face and took his life. Abu-Jamal has never apologized or expressed any regret for his heinous crime,” the Pennsylvania Republican said in a letter to Robert Kenny, Goddard College’s interim president.

Abu-Jamal, a Goddard alumnus, is a black nationalist who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of white Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. After a lengthy appeals process, prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty, but Abu-Jamal remains in prison without the possibility of parole. Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 1:22 p.m.
Potpourri

September 26, 2014

Inhofe Holds Up Ebola Funding, Seeks Details on Protecting Soldiers (Updated)

Defense 03 020613 445x295 Inhofe Holds Up Ebola Funding, Seeks Details on Protecting Soldiers (Updated)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:55 p.m.| Senate Armed Services ranking member James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., is holding up most of a $1 billion request from the White House to combat the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa until the administration proposes a plan to keep soldiers from contracting the illness. Full story

September 22, 2014

Before Approving ISIS War, Menendez Wants Intelligence Briefing (Video)

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Ranking member Bob Corker, left, and Menendez listen as Kerry testifies about the ISIS threat (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The senator leading a push to authorize the war against ISIS after the elections wants an intelligence briefing first, so lawmakers know the full extent of the covert operations already under way.

Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez aired his frustrations last week when Secretary of State John Kerry came to testify before his old committee about the administration’s plans to fight the terror group known as ISIS or ISIL.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., asked about published reports of covert efforts to train Syrian rebels.

“I know it’s been written about in the public domain, that there is, quote, ‘a covert operation.’ But … I can’t confirm or deny whatever that’s been written about and I can’t really go into any kind of possible program,” Kerry responded.

That prompted Menendez to chime in shortly afterward, saying the committee’s inability to get access to information about covert operations was an issue with both the Obama administration and the Senate itself. He questioned how the panel could properly draft a new Authorization for Use of Military Force without such details. Full story

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