Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

Posts in "Policy"

October 14, 2014

Senate Odd Couple Seeks Common Ground on Climate Change

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Manchin, left, and Whitehouse measure fish as part of a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management survey. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

POINT JUDITH, R.I. — A visit to the Ocean State’s eroding shoreline didn’t prompt West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III to change his mind about Environmental Protection Agency regulation of carbon emissions, but his host wasn’t expecting that sort of evolution.

RollCall On the Road Logo300x300 Senate Odd Couple Seeks Common Ground on Climate Change“I didn’t invite Sen. Manchin here thinking that he was suddenly going to have an epiphany and turn into a ‘greenie’ and come to the next climate march with me,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told reporters after the two Democrats took a daylong tour of coastal Rhode Island on Oct. 10.

“What I do think though is that he is a smart and reasonable voice from the prototype coal state who has very, very good relations with a lot of our most conservative members of the Senate, some of whom believe that the whole climate change problem is a conspiracy designed as a foil to allow people to expand the role of government and take away freedom,” the Rhode Islander continued.

You would be hard-pressed to find two Democratic senators who more clearly demonstrate the party’s divide on energy and environmental issues, so it was notable when they announced plans to visit each others’ states to discuss energy and climate policy.

Manchin followed through on the first half of the bargain last week, joining with Whitehouse in meeting with oceanography experts, fishermen, environmental officials and residents and business owners at risk of seeing their properties washed away by rising tides.

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October 9, 2014

Goodell Responds to Boxer, Says NFL Will Not Tolerate Domestic Violence

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(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Football League has responded to one of its foremost critics in the Senate, and this time she’s optimistic about what Commissioner Roger Goodell had to say.

Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday released two separate letters dated this month from Goodell and Cynthia Hogan, the new NFL senior vice president for public policy and government affairs, praising each. Boxer had initially led a letter to Goodell from a group of a total of female 16 senators seeking the league to enact a policy of zero tolerance for incidents of domestic violence. She followed up directly with Hogan in subsequent correspondence.

Goodell’s letter, which Boxer’s office has posted here, says the NFL will not tolerate domestic violence and outlines the steps the league is already taking to change the way it handles domestic abuse cases following incidents involving Ray Rice and other professional football players. Full story

October 8, 2014

McConnell: My Job Is to Protect Coal Jobs, Not Speculate on Global Warming (Audio)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would have none of it when the host of Kentucky Sports Radio pressed him Wednesday for his personal views on global warming.

“What I have said repeatedly is I’m not a scientist, but what I can tell you is, even if you thought that was important — and there are some scientists who do and some scientists who don’t — but even if you thought that was important, the United States doing this by itself is going to have zero impact,” the Kentucky Republican said.

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October 7, 2014

Democratic Senator: Restrict Africa Visas Due to Ebola

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Senate Democrat is joining the chorus of calls for travel restrictions from African countries with Ebola outbreaks.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is calling for the Obama administration to consider stopping unnecessary travel, such as that not related to providing humanitarian aid. Nelson said he thought this could be done through travel visas in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These travel bans could be temporary until the CDC determines the affected areas no longer pose a threat. This would not only help protect Americans here at home, it would also provide additional time for the added steps the administration is implementing to take effect,” Nelson wrote in a new letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

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October 6, 2014

Cruz Says 60 Days Are Up for War Powers Against ISIS

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz is pointing out that on Monday, the 60 days for military intervention under the War Powers Resolution should run out since the start of operations in Iraq against ISIS.

The Texas Republican wrote in an opinion piece for National Review that President Barack Obama should bring Congress back now that the clock has run its course.

“Given that 60 days has expired, the president should come to Congress and get proper authorization for this new military action (with an official name for the operation). He should lay out clear, defined military objectives. Congress, as a united body, should reject every attempt from hostile actors such as Iran to exploit our mission for their own gain,” Cruz wrote. “And we must abandon the fantasy that the Syrian moderate rebels will be our proxy army in this fight and prioritize instead working with the Kurdish forces who are also focused on ISIS.” Full story

October 5, 2014

Schumer: Screen Passengers From Ebola-Stricken Areas

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Schumer (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer wants federal officials to check passengers from Ebola-afflicted countries for fevers when entering the United States.

The no. 3 Senate Democrat made that announcement in Manhattan at his Sunday news conference, as WCBS radio reported. Schumer said the screenings should feature “fever checks and health surveys in both airports and ports.”

He wants Customs and Border Protection agents trained to administer screenings, according to a news release.

Schumer has also sent a letter to CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden outlining what he views as the need for a health database. The database would track people coming from areas in Africa where they have the potential for exposure to Ebola, so that if individuals present themselves at local emergency rooms with symptoms that may be consistent with the virus, they can be treated appropriately.

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October 1, 2014

Julia Pierson Resignation Steps on Schumer’s Presser

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s plans to call for Julia Pierson’s resignation were spoiled when she beat him to the punch.

Before the New York Democrat could reach the television cameras to call for Pierson to resign from her post as head of the Secret Service, she was already gone.

His office had made known to reporters that he would be calling for Pierson’s resignation Wednesday afternoon, but minutes later the Department of Homeland Security announced her departure.

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September 30, 2014

Forest Service Photography Rule Faces Bipartisan Critics in the Senate

Senators don’t seem satisfied with the Forest Service’s latest assurances that a proposal to require permits for commercial filming and still photography on federal lands won’t apply to the press or to recreational photographers.

In response to a letter from Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., a Forest Service spokesman told CQ Roll Call that journalistic activities would be exempt from paying fees and obtaining permits under the new proposal. Full story

Senators Laud FCC Rollback of Sports Blackout Rule

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Booker, who played football in college, applauded the FCC’s rule change vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators on Tuesday lauded the Federal Communications Commission’s move to do away with the rule that, in effect, keeps National Football League games that don’t sell out off the air in hometown markets.

Sen. Cory Booker, who played tight end in college at Stanford University, was among the lawmakers thanking the FCC for taking the action on a unanimous vote.

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September 22, 2014

McConnell Asks Medicare to Help Detect Lung Cancer in Smokers

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants Medicare to do more for early detection of lung cancer, a particularly pronounced issue in Kentucky.

Citing a U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendation, the Kentucky Republican has sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner seeking review for possible coverage of low-dose CT scans to detect lung cancer among high-risk populations, such as pack-a-day smokers.

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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

Barbara Boxer Blasts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s News Conference in New Letter (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Barbara Boxer is making a personal appeal to the new National Football League executive in charge of government affairs, calling for more action to address domestic violence.

In the letter, the California Democrat notes past work by Cynthia Hogan, the NFL’s new senior vice president of public policy and government affairs and previous senior aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but it’s sharply critical of Hogan’s new boss, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Full story

September 18, 2014

Senate Votes to Fund Syrian Rebels Against ISIS, Avert Government Shutdown (Updated) (Video)

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Manchin said he’s concerned about arming Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:50 p.m. | After some last-minute drama on immigration, the Senate took care of Congress’ last must-pass piece of business before the November elections — keeping the government funded and providing authority for arming and training Syrian rebels in the fight against the terror group known as ISIS.

Senators voted 78-22 in favor of the continuing resolution funding the government through Dec. 11, with the bill’s next stop President Barack Obama’s desk, well ahead of the end-of-the-month deadline to preventing a government shutdown.

The bill, which the president has said he will sign, provides billions the president intends to use for his war on ISIS, but does not explicitly authorize that war beyond arming “vetted” Syrian rebels. The vote did not cut cleanly along party lines, which came as no surprise. 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.’”

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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.

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