Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 6, 2015

Posts in "Policy"

July 5, 2015

Congress Could Face Rush to Review Iran Nuclear Deal

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Kerry said Sunday the goal remains to have a deal by Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If everything goes according to Secretary of State John Kerry’s timeline, Congress will face a rush to review and respond to a nuclear deal with Iran before leaving town again for August recess.

Kerry said Sunday that while there are significant issues still to be resolved and it could go in either direction, the goal was to get a deal by Tuesday, which would be within the window that provides for 30 days of review and potential disapproval by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:19 p.m.
Iran, Policy

July 1, 2015

Six Senators Demand Ex-Im Bank Liquidation Plan

Cruz, Lee and Rubio are among those pushing for a liquidation plan for the Export-Import Bank. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz, Lee and Rubio are among those pushing for a liquidation plan for the Export-Import Bank. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ex-Im Bank supporters were wrong if they thought the bank’s opposition would trail off after the charter’s authorization expired on June 30.

Six Republican senators Wednesday demanded a plan for “orderly liquidation” of the bank in a letter to Chairman Fred Hochberg.

Ex-Im supporters felt modest comfort Tuesday knowing that a lapse in the charter’s authorization didn’t mean total demise, as it could still service existing accounts until Congress voted for reauthorization — if Congress voted for reauthorization.

But the letter points out that one of the few allowable actions the bank can take without reauthorization is to “exercise certain functions for purposes of orderly liquidation.”

And like sharks circling a fresh batch of chum in the water, the gang of six demanded details of the plan, such as identifying which employees are part of the liquidation plan, justifying why their continued employment is necessary, producing a report on the dissolution of the Board of Directors, ending the administration of the bank’s website and other mortal remains.

The gang of six includes three presidential candidates, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky; one of the most vulnerable candidates up for re-election in 2016, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania; freshman Ben Sasse of Nebraska; and Mike Lee of Utah. They’ve given until July 15 for a response.

Don’t expect a positive response from the administration. President Barack Obama tweeted Wednesday afternoon that he’s still optimistic Congress will reauthorize the bank.

The letter’s text is included below:

July 1, 2015

The Honorable Fred Hochberg

Chairman and President, Export-Import Bank of the United States

811 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20571

Dear Chairman Hochberg:

We write regarding the recent expiration of the Export-Import Bank’s (Ex-Im Bank) authorization, which expired on June 30, 2015. As you know, the Ex-Im Bank’s charter has not been re-authorized by Congress. As provided by law (12 U.S. Code § 635f), the Ex-Im Bank is permitted certain legal authorities, such as the ability to:

  •         Acquire obligations prior to this the date of termination;
  •         Assume liabilities prior to this date for obligations that mature after the date of termination;
  •         Issue bonds or other debts that mature after the date of termination; and
  •         Continue as a corporate entity and exercise certain functions for purposes of an “orderly liquidation.”

However, according to the Comptroller General, “once a termination or sunset provision becomes effective, the agency ceases to exist and no new obligations may be incurred after the termination date.”  Therefore, even though the Ex-Im Bank is fully funded through the end of the fiscal year, it is now prohibited from acquiring new obligations, assuming new liabilities, and issuing new bonds and debts.

Given the unique nature of your agency’s termination, we write to request clarity on your plan for an orderly liquidation, including:

A timeline for completion of orderly liquidation;

  •         A report on which employees are participating in the orderly liquidation and why it is necessary certain people remain employed during an orderly liquidation;
  •         A report on the dissolution of the Ex-Im Bank’s Board of Directors;
  •         The return of the Ex-Im Bank’s properties to the General Services Administration (GSA);
  •         The end of the administration of www.exim.gov;
  •         The continuance of servicing existing Ex-Im loans, obligations that have not completely matured, direct loans, or loan guarantees acquired or issued before sunset date; and
  •         Estimated savings on federal funding through September 30, 2015, through the orderly liquidation and wind-down of the Ex-Im Bank’s operations.

Moreover, the Comptroller General said that “payment of obligations incurred prior to the termination date is usually made by a successor agency, or by another agency pursuant to an Economy Act, 31 U.S.C. Sec. 1535, agreement entered into prior to the termination date.”   We respectfully request which agency will be deemed your successor agency and, additionally, would like the estimated payments of obligations incurred.

We would appreciate a timely response on these important questions by July 15, 2015. Thank you and we look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

Ted Cruz

Mike Lee

Ben Sasse

Pat Toomey

Rand Paul

See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

By Matthew Fleming Posted at 4:35 p.m.
Policy

Kaine, Warner Question Shutdown of Security Clearance System

Virginia's senators are asking Archuleta about security clearances. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Virginia’s senators are asking Archuleta about security clearances. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Virginia’s Senate delegation wants answers about the shutdown of an Office of Personnel Management system for handling security clearances.

A significant number of constituents of Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner either work for the federal government or as contractors in positions that require valid security clearances to do their jobs.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:05 p.m.
Policy

June 30, 2015

Democrats Want Domestic Terrorism Probe After Charleston Shootings

Blumenthal is among the Democrats wanting a domestic terrorism probe after the Charleston shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Blumenthal is among the Democrats wanting a domestic terrorism probe after the Charleston shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Charleston, S.C., shootings have prompted six Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to push for hearings on domestic terrorism.

Spearheaded by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and the top Democrat on the committee, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senators point to statements by alleged shooter Dylann Roof before the massacre at the black church.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:08 a.m.
Democrats, Policy

June 29, 2015

In Washington, Ted Cruz’s ‘Truth’ Will Make Him More Enemies

A new book by Ted Cruz slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the "Washington cartel." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A new book by Cruz — “A Time For Truth” — slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the “Washington cartel.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When their presidential bids failed, senators as liberal as Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and as conservative as Barry Goldwater of Arizona returned to Capitol Hill and had productive — if not legendary — careers.

But Sen. Ted Cruz’s new book is the latest indication he has no plan to be a member of such a club if his run for the White House doesn’t go as planned. He is running against what he’s taken to calling a “Washington cartel.”

As to be expected from a senator who has openly sought to undermine GOP leadership, “A Time for Truth” does not pull punches, leading off with anecdotes about one of the more bizarre sequences of events in recent Senate history: the day the clerk’s microphone was turned off for a crucial vote on raising the debt limit.

Full story

June 26, 2015

Mike Lee’s Missed ‘Fast-Track’ Vote Causes Discord, Confusion

Lee and Cornyn talked Monday, a day before the trade vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee and Cornyn talked Monday, a day before the trade vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mike Lee had said he supported a stand-alone measure to revive Trade Promotion Authority, but when the vote was called, the Republican was still in Utah.

The speculation was that Lee avoided a floor vote after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced in an opinion piece that he would reverse course and oppose the bill, demanding a commitment to shut down the Export-Import Bank and making other requests for amendments. But, to hear Lee’s office tell it, the decision to miss the vote was due to a family commitment — seeing his sons back in Utah, who had just recently returned from Mormon missions.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 7:38 p.m.
Policy

Gay Marriage Supporters Turn Focus to ENDA

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Baldwin and Merkley were among those signing on to a statement calling for additional action on gay rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Having achieved marriage equality in Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision, supporters of gay rights are making clear there’s still much work to do, including on employment discrimination.

“In dozens of states, a couple can marry in the morning, announce their union in the afternoon, yet lose their jobs or be evicted from their apartment by the day’s end. Just as we needed Congress to pass legislation to fully realize the promise of previous Supreme Court decisions recognizing fundamental civil rights, Congress must act to fully realize the promise of today’s ruling by introducing and passing legislation to finally provide comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections to LGBT Americans,” said a broad coalition of civil rights groups and lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Full story

June 25, 2015

In Highway Debate, Durbin Channels His Inner Jamie Whitten

Durbin is dubious the GOP will stick to their budget levels in appropriations bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Durbin said the Finance Committee needs to find highway money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin and other Democrats have praised the efforts of the Environment and Public Works Committee on a six-year highway bill, but are stressing that the Finance Committee needs to find the money for a full authorization measure.

“It’s time for my friend Orrin Hatch to step up and be chairman. Make some tough decisions. Help us move forward in the Senate with a bill,” Durbin said.

Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, has held several hearings on the issue of funding and financing for surface transportation programs, but the panel has yet to come up with what might be $90 billion in revenue sources needed to pay for the Highway Trust Fund beyond existing user fees.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:57 p.m.
Policy

June 24, 2015

Lawmakers Seek Live Supreme Court Audio of Gay Marriage, Obamacare Decisions

Grassley and Durbin want live audio of the release of the King v. Burwell decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Grassley and Durbin want live audio of the release of the King v. Burwell decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ahead of key Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is making a plea to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., to provide a live audio feed of the release of the opinions.

The signatories of a new bicameral letter to Roberts include Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley. The Iowa Republican has long joined the Senate’s leader on the letter, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., in pushing for televised coverage of Supreme Court proceedings.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:40 p.m.
Policy

NRSC Chairman Evolves on Mississippi Flag (Updated)

Wicker has changed his stance on his state's flag. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wicker has changed his stance on his state’s flag. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:20 a.m. | GOP Sen. Roger Wicker now says his home state of Mississippi should change its flag.

“After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians,” Wicker said in a statement. Full story

June 23, 2015

New Highway Bill Has Next Best Thing to Earmarks

Inhofe and Boxer joined to unveil their highway bill Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Inhofe and Boxer joined to unveil their highway bill Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It may be tougher to grease the wheels for highway spending without earmarks, but the leaders of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee have come up with the next best thing.

Under the proposal outlined Tuesday, the administration will have to get the committee’s approval of a list of major transportation projects to be named later — a way for lawmakers to have some input on which bridges and highways get funded and which don’t.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:57 p.m.
Policy

Senators Unveil 6-Year Transportation Bill

Inhofe chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Inhofe chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have unveiled a new six-year surface transportation reauthorization costing more than a quarter-trillion dollars, but it’s still unclear how the Senate would pay for it.

The bill would place a new priority on funding streams for off-system bridges as well as a new grant program for projects of strategic and national significance. According to summary materials obtained by CQ Roll Call, it would provide for increased focus on backlogs related to the Interstate Highway System and the National Highway System. Full story

Cruz: Kill Ex-Im Before Voting for Trade Promotion Authority

Ted Cruz announced his bid for president at Liberty University. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz has imposed new conditions on voting for the trade legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The effort to get “fast-track” trade authority for President Barack Obama has lost the support of one of the Republicans who could benefit from the powers if he became president in 2017.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday the process by which the Trade Promotion Authority measure advanced through the House meant he could not support it without new assurances about winding down the authorization for the Export-Import Bank, claiming Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, must have made some kind of backroom deal with Democrats about the bank.

Full story

June 22, 2015

NRSC Chairman Says Mississippi State Flag’s Confederate Symbol Up to Voters

Confederate Battle Flag Mississippi South Carolina Capitol

As South Carolina struggles with the issue of the Confederate battle flag flying on the grounds of the State Capitol, the battle flag, as part of Mississippi’s state flag, hangs along the Senate subway at the U.S. Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The head of the Senate GOP’s campaign committee says it is up to the people of his state to decide about possibly changing the Mississippi state flag, which includes a battle symbol of the Confederacy.

In a statement, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker referred to a 2001 referendum on the state flag. Full story

Calls to Remove Confederate Battle Flag Resonate at Capitol

The Conservative battle flag flies outside the state capitol in Columbia, S.C. (Ben Raedle/Getty Images)

The flag flies outside the state capitol in Columbia, S.C. (Ben Raedle/Getty Images)

Monday’s avalanche of opposition to flying the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol rang throughout the nation’s Capitol as well.

“The Confederate Battle Flag means different things to different people, but the fact that it continues to be a painful reminder of racial oppression to many suggests to me at least that it’s time to move beyond it, and that the time for a state to fly it has long since passed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “There should be no confusion in anyone’s mind that as a people we’re united in our determination to put that part of our history behind us.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 6:35 p.m.
2016, Policy

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...