Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 18, 2014

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

762 Posts

September 18, 2014

Senate Republicans Pass Out Campaign Talking Points

Senate Republicans are being sent home for election season with a tri-fold card that provides talking points on health care, taxes, the economy — even Senate procedure.

The list of priorities on the back of the card prepared by the Republican Conference reads like an early to-do list for a possible Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

It does not explicitly call for a full repeal of the health care overhaul law often called Obamacare, but focuses generically on “health care reforms that lower costs & put patients in charge.” Full story

September 17, 2014

Blumenthal Floats Changes to NFL Antitrust Exemption (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate Democrat is floating a proposal that could increase the government’s leverage over the activities of professional sports leagues like the NFL.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Wednesday that he’s planning legislation to impose a sunset on the antitrust exemptions enjoyed by the National Football League and the other pro sports. The former Connecticut attorney general called the response of the NFL to the domestic violence incident involving now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice something ”right out of the 1950s, out of an episode of ‘Madmen.’”

Full story

Tom Coburn Won’t Be Going Away Quietly

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tom Coburn is retiring at the end of this Congress, but the Oklahoma Republican has put the word out that he isn’t likely to let the Senate have its end-of-session legislative feeding frenzy.

Thursday may be the last day of the work period before the elections and, as usual, some senators are making a final push on pet legislation, including renewing a travel promotion bill that Coburn has long opposed.

“I am not inclined to let things go,” Coburn said, when asked if he planned to hold up last-minute efforts to get unanimous consent to pass legislation before the Senate heads out of town.

Full story

Reid, Heller Push Proper Hygiene at Capitol Event

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nevada’s senators appeared together Wednesday afternoon to promote hand-washing and proper hygiene.

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Sen. Dean Heller teamed up at an event for Clean the World, a group that recycles unused soap from hotel rooms and provides it to those in need both around the world and in the United States.

Of course, guests at Nevada’s resorts and casinos use no shortage of those miniature bottles of shampoo and bars of soap. Reid said there are 125,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas. Backers of the event in the Capitol’s Lyndon B. Johnson room included Las Vegas Sands Corp., founded by well-known GOP donor Sheldon Adelson.

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September 16, 2014

Constitution Day: A Byrd Legacy (Video)

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In an undated photo, Byrd holds up a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution during a MoveOn rally against the ‘nuclear option.’ (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A decade ago, during an earlier debate about military intervention in the Middle East, Sen. Robert C. Byrd led the establishment of Constitution Day, celebrated annually on Sept. 17.

There’s never a shortage of complaints about including policy provisions and funding limitations in spending bills, but back in 2004, one such provision was cause for celebration. Actually, it mandated celebration — about the Constitution.

Full story

At Final Stakeout Before Election, Senate Leaders Bullish on Chances (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At what’s expected to be their final appearances before the cameras in the Ohio clock corridor before the midterm elections in November, the two political strategists leading the Senate offered predictably upbeat assessments for their respective parties’ chances.

“If the election were today, we would be just fine. The election’s not today, it’s 48 days away,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said — not long after his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell of Kentucky expressed optimism the electorate would go their way.

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Reid Sets Lame-Duck Schedule

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Senators will return to work for the lame-duck session on Nov. 12. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate has set the date for returning for the lame-duck session. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is advising senators they will return for the post-election lame-duck session the day following Veterans Day.

Orientation and the Democratic leadership elections for the next Congress will be held Nov. 12 through Nov. 14, according to a notice obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The Senate’s two top leaders made pre-election pitches in opening the chamber Tuesday morning, as the Senate looks for a quick exit ahead of the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

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Mark Warner Still Pushing Grand Bargains on the Stump

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

FAIRFAX, Va. — How often do you hear a Democrat on the campaign stump tell a largely partisan audience that some of the attendees might be well-advised to vote for a Republican?

That’s exactly what happened when Sen. Mark Warner stopped on a college campus a few weeks ago.

“If you’re a Democrat, you may have to vote for a Republican who is willing to do revenues,” the Virginia Democrat said. “If you’re a Republican, vote for a Democrat who’s willing to do entitlement reform.”

In any case Warner, the former Virginia governor who is favored to win re-election against former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie this fall, and has often been talked about as someone who could end up on a national ticket, said no one should vote ”for anybody who’s signed one of these stupid pledges” such as the anti-tax one championed by the Grover Norquist-led group Americans for Tax Reform.

Full story

September 15, 2014

Debo Adegbile Nomination Withdrawn, Returns to Private Practice (Updated)

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Adegbile. (Courtesy WilmerHale)

Updated 12:14 p.m. | Having seen his Senate confirmation blocked by members of President Barack Obama’s own party, Debo P. Adegbile has withdrawn from consideration to be an assistant attorney general.

“Debo Adegbile has withdrawn himself from consideration for a position at the Department of Justice, and we are actively working toward announcing a new nominee for the post,” a White House spokesperson told CQ Roll Call.

Formal word of the withdrawal comes after the law firm WilmerHale announced Adegbile’s move back to private practice Monday morning. Adegbile has joined as a partner.

Full story

September 11, 2014

Senate Democrats Seek More Information on Obama’s ISIS Plan (Updated)

sen dems018 091114 445x296 Senate Democrats Seek More Information on Obamas ISIS Plan (Updated)

Senate Democratic leaders held a press conference Sept. 11. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:40 p.m. | The Senate’s top Pentagon appropriator told reporters Thursday he will be probing the Obama administration about legal authorities for the fight against Islamic State extremists, including in Syria.

“I have a lot of questions to ask about how they’re both interpreting the vote on the invasion of Iraq and the [authorization of use of military force] with Afghanistan,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said after a news conference where Senate Democratic leaders called for Congress to unite behind President Barack Obama as the nation confronts ISIS.

Durbin, who is chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said after an all-senators closed briefing that he had gotten answers to questions about authority for the new military actions. Asked whether or not they were answers he wanted, the senator said the issue will be discussed at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing next week.

Full story

Female Senators Write Letter to Goodell, Want NFL to Adopt ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy

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(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

A group of 16 female senators, including Maryland Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski, have written a scathing letter to Roger Goodell about the National Football League’s handling of violence against women.

The letter comes after reporting by The Associated Press that the NFL was sent graphic elevator video of now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Rice.

“It is long past time for the NFL to institute a real zero-tolerance policy and send a strong message that the league will not tolerate violence against women by its players, who are role models for children across America,” the 16 senators wrote. “We hope the NFL will seize this opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to the safety of women and families.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:31 p.m.
Policy, Potpourri

Senators Push Against Burger King Tax Inversion

A handful of members of the Senate Democratic caucus are calling on the leadership of Burger King to abandon the idea of using inversion for tax purposes as part of the merger with a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain.

“In August you and the Board of Directors of Burger King announced an agreement to purchase Canada-based Tim Hortons and move its corporate address to Canada, which will allow Burger King to avoid paying millions in U.S. taxes. We urge you and Burger King’s Board of Directors to reverse your plans to invert and to weigh the long-term consequences this move, known as a corporate inversion, would have on a company that relies on U.S. taxpayers to profit and thrive,” the senators wrote to Burger King CEO Daniel S. Schwartz.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:24 p.m.
Democrats, Taxes

September 10, 2014

Cruz to House GOP: Punt Spending Debate Into 2015

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ted Cruz is launching an effort to push the House into a continuing resolution that funds the government into the next Congress.

“It would be a serious mistake for House Republicans to pass a Continuing Resolution that would ensure that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats would come back to Washington, after many of them will have likely lost their seats, for a no-holds barred lame duck session where they will be free to pass legislation that the American people will never be able to hold them responsible for,” the Texas Republican said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call.

“Americans cannot trust politicians they can no longer hold accountable at the ballot box,” Cruz said. “The Continuing Resolution should, at a minimum, fund government operations until after the new Congress is sworn in next year; House and Senate Republicans should both insist on this basic principle.”

The statement followed a letter sent by Cruz and Lee to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledging to object to consent requests to move on more contentious proposals in the lame duck.

Full story

On Equal Pay Bill, Republicans Face Certain Criticism

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Mikulski, before a news conference on the Senate steps before the last votes on the Paycheck Fairness Act in April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans should prepare to be criticized regardless of how they vote Wednesday afternoon when the Senate reconsiders legislation known as the Paycheck Fairness Act.

It’s an underlying bill that Republicans don’t support, and voting for cloture on proceeding to it would be a reverse in strategy from the last time it came up. For Democrats, who view the GOP as meddling with their schedule of pre-election votes, either vote by the GOP counterparts will be pushed as a negative, making this a classic case of election-year theater all around.

An email circulated to Democratic communications aides and obtained by CQ Roll Call late Tuesday points to a strategy of either criticizing Republicans for voting yes to limit debate on proceeding to a gender pay equity bill that they don’t support and burning valuable floor time, or for voting no and blocking a debate.

Full story

September 9, 2014

Reid Doubts Senate Will Vote on Inversions in September

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he doesn’t expect the Senate to vote on legislation revamping corporate inversions this month.

“I kind of doubt it,” Reid said when asked if there would be a vote in September. When asked why not, Reid only chuckled as he walked into the chamber after his weekly Tuesday press conference.

The Senate has a packed schedule and only plans to be in session through Sept. 23, the day before the Jewish High Holidays begin.

Congress and the Treasury Department have been exploring ways to stem the growth of inversions, the growing trend of American companies buying foreign competitors, often times smaller businesses, then re-incorporating overseas in order to pay less in U.S. taxes. Forty-seven U.S. corporations have reincorporated overseas through corporate inversions in the past 10 years, far more than during the previous 20 years combined, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Monday in a speech at the Urban Institute that his agency could act soon.

“The Treasury Department is completing an evaluation of what we can do to make these deals less economically appealing, and we plan to make a decision in the very near future,” Lew said in his speech. “Any action we take will have a strong legal and policy basis, but will not be a substitute for meaningful legislation — it can only address part of the economics. Only a change in the law can shut the door, and only tax reform can solve the problems in our tax code that leads to inversions.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he has been in contact with Lew and that he continues to work with ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, on the issue, which he said voters have concerns.

“At community meetings around my state when people would ask about inversions this summer, I said look, if you erode the business tax base, what happens is working families and other businesses have to pick up the freight,” Wyden said.

“What I’m doing is using every single day, and have now for weeks, focused on trying to produce a bipartisan effort,” Wyden added. “We’ve talked about it with Sen. Hatch. Our staffs have been at it day after day now for weeks … and I’m encouraged.”

Wyden said that the environment in the Congress remains highly partisan, which has made it difficult to reach a bipartisan solution to the inversion problem, but not impossible.

“I think it’s important to have a bipartisan stop-gap measure to plug the inversion loophole, and I believe that is consistent to do in line with major tax reform,” Wyden said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to unveil his own proposal next week that is would further limit the amount of interest an inverted corporation can deduct from its taxable income.

In August, three Senate Democrats called on Obama to use executive action to address the issue.

Bridget Bowman and Katy O’Donnell contributed to this report.

 

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