Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 21, 2014

Posts in "Politics"

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

Tom Coburn Won’t Be Going Away Quietly

coburn011 060414 1 230x335 Tom Coburn Wont Be Going Away Quietly

(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

September 16, 2014

Congress Ducks War Authorization Vote

protesters 200 091614 445x280 Congress Ducks War Authorization Vote

Anti-war protesters disrupt a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress appears set to sprint for the exits after voting to fund President Barack Obama’s new war on ISIS — although not by name — after rejecting a smattering of calls from lawmakers to go on record explicitly debating and authorizing it.

The get-out-of-town votes could come Wednesday, as the nation celebrates Constitution Day, the brainchild of the late-Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who was long the defender of Congress’ prerogatives, especially with regard to war.

“Sen. Byrd would be on the floor demanding that the United States Senate fulfill its constitutional responsibilities, which are debate, amend and vote,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one voice in a fairly small bipartisan group pushing unsuccessfully for a full debate and votes on the authorization to use military force before going home. “This is another act of cowardice, which contributes to the low esteem in which we’re held by the American people.”

Today, the closest heir to Byrd may be Sen. Tim Kaine. The Virginia Democrat has long been an ally of the president, but he has nonetheless sharply criticized Obama — and his colleagues — for not seeking a vote from Congress authorizing the war.

“It’s the most important power that Congress has and it’s the most momentous decision that the nation makes,” Kaine told CQ Roll Call after a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. He called the issue an “obsession” of his, but suggested any comparisons between himself and Byrd are “presumptuous.” Full story

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

reid mcconnell 162 091114 445x277 At Final Stakeout Before Election, Senate Leaders Bullish on Chances (Video)

(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.

Full story

September 10, 2014

On Equal Pay Bill, Republicans Face Certain Criticism

wage presser022 040214 445x296 On Equal Pay Bill, Republicans Face Certain Criticism

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

Watch Live: Senate Committee Holds Hearing on ‘Police Militarization’

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee holds a 10:30 a.m. hearing on federal programs providing equipment to state and local law enforcement. Amid the uproar in Ferguson, Mo., the Defense Department’s 1033 program has come under scrutiny from lawmakers, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., for contributing to “police militarization.”

Witnesses include officials from the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and a photojournalist from The St. Louis American Newspaper.

 

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

September 7, 2014

McConnell Hints at Prolonged Campaign Finance Debate

senate vote002 010714 445x294 McConnell Hints at Prolonged Campaign Finance Debate

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats are facing the prospect of Republicans voting to prolong debate on a campaign finance constitutional amendment, a move that could interfere with Democrats’ plans for a barrage of pre-election votes on issues from student loans to the minimum wage to equal pay for women.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already scheduled a Monday evening vote to cut off debate on taking up a proposal sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. to amend the constitution to effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which threw out many limits on campaign spending on First Amendment grounds. Republicans vehemently oppose the amendment and it seemed, at least at the outset, that Democrats were planning for a quick defeat.

“Their goal is to shut down the voices of their critics at a moment when they fear the loss of their fragile Senate majority. And to achieve it, they’re willing to devote roughly half of the remaining legislative days before November to this quixotic anti-speech gambit,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in Politico opinion piece posted late Sunday.

His complaint is more than a complaint — he has assigned an extended period of time beyond the few hours of debate that would happen if his party simply voted “No” on Monday. So reading between the lines, McConnell may be hinting the GOP will allow debate to continue and, therefore, use procedure to lock Democrats into a prolonged debate.

Full story

September 5, 2014

Landrieu Offers Rebuttal to Rubio, Cassidy on Venezuela

luncheons003 021213 445x296 Landrieu Offers Rebuttal to Rubio, Cassidy on Venezuela

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has responded forcefully to criticism of her blockade of sanctions against Venezuela.

In an opinion piece for Friday’s edition of The Advertiser in Lafayette, the Energy and Natural Resources chairwoman and Louisiana Democrat said that sanctions for human rights violations by the government of President Nicolás Maduro shouldn’t be configured to cost jobs in her home state.

Full story

September 4, 2014

Rubio Asks Reid to Bypass Landrieu on Venezuela Sanctions

rubio013 051314 445x294 Rubio Asks Reid to Bypass Landrieu on Venezuela Sanctions

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio wants Majority Leader Harry Reid to bypass one of his vulnerable incumbent Democrats in a bid to impose sanctions on Venezuela.

The Florida Republican sent a letter to Reid calling for the Nevada Democrat to use his prerogatives as leader to get a sanctions bill to the floor. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., opposed granting unanimous consent to advance the measure before the August break.

Full story

August 21, 2014

McCaskill to Hold Police Militarization Hearings

mccaskill collins 337 103013 445x296 McCaskill to Hold Police Militarization Hearings

McCaskill will hold hearings on the militarization of local police in wake of Ferguson events. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With lawmakers on the left and right questioning the militarization of law enforcement after two weeks of violence in Ferguson, Mo., Sen. Claire McCaskill announced she will hold hearings next month on the federal programs supplying local authorities with surplus military gear.

The Missouri Democrat, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, plans to take a broad look at programs like the Defense Department’s 1033 program that have steered surplus equipment to local police departments.

That DOD program has come under particular scrutiny from other lawmakers.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, last week said he would review the program, which is part of the defense authorization bill, before it gets to the Senate floor “to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.” Full story

July 31, 2014

Reid Warns of Weekend Work in September (Video)

reid 234 072214 445x313 Reid Warns of Weekend Work in September (Video)

Reid warned senators to prepare for weekend work. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is warning of a whirlwind September schedule that will feature a slew of do-over votes on Democratic campaign priorities.

“I want everyone to know what’s going to happen when we come back. Following the August recess, we’re going to convene on Sept. 8, and we’re going to be here for one week, two weeks and two days. Sept. 23 is our target date to adjourn until after the election,” the Nevada Democrat said when opening the Senate floor Thursday for the last expected session day before the August break.

Full story

Bob Corker’s High-Wire Act

corcker073014 445x292 Bob Corkers High Wire Act

Corker, right, is leading a GOP effort to extend the Highway Trust Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bob Corker is out on a limb. Or maybe more than one.

The Tennessee Republican, who called himself “just an old policy guy” Wednesday morning, has taken positions that run counter to conventional wisdom on two of the big issues of the August recess getaway week.

He was the lead Republican on an effort to shorten an extension of the Highway Trust Fund, joining Democratic Sens. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Barbara Boxer of California in a bid to force action on a long-term bill in the post-election lame duck. Corker took a bit of a victory lap Wednesday at a Wall Street Journal breakfast, even as he conceded the House might reject the idea. Full story

July 25, 2014

Walsh on Plagiarism: ‘I Made a Mistake’ But Not Due to PTSD

walsh 109 021114 445x294 Walsh on Plagiarism: I Made a Mistake But Not Due to PTSD

( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John Walsh said he “made a mistake” when he plagiarized portions of his Masters’ thesis and dismissed possible affects of post-traumatic stress disorder possibly playing a role.

“I was going to the United States Army War College, I had to write a strategic research paper and I made a mistake,” the Montana Democrat said Friday on KMMS AM Radio in Bozeman, Mont.

“It was an unintentional mistake when I put the paper together,” Walsh said. “It was a 14-page paper. There were 96 citations that I identified in the paper. Some of those citations were identified incorrectly and some of the comments that I left in the paper I did not put a citation against. So I made a mistake on my paper. It was an unintentional mistake.” Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 4:57 p.m.
Politics

July 21, 2014

Federal Judge Tosses Ron Johnson’s Obamacare Lawsuit

johnson 014 010614 445x306 Federal Judge Tosses Ron Johnsons Obamacare Lawsuit

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A federal judge based in Green Bay has tossed a Sen. Ron Johnson’s Obamacare lawsuit targeting the health benefits for members of Congress and their staff.

The court dismissed the lawsuit, which contended the Obama administration decision to grant employer contributions for health plans purchased through the District of Columbia’s Obamacare health exchange ran afoul of the law.

Chief Judge William C. Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Johnson and fellow plaintiff Brooke Ericson lacked standing, siding with the argument made by the government’s lawyers.

Full story

July 14, 2014

Senators Blast NCAA, ESPN in Review of College Athletics (Video)

rockefeller050113 600x406 Senators Blast NCAA, ESPN in Review of College Athletics (Video)

Rockefeller criticized ESPN at a hearing on the NCAA and student-athletes last week, saying the network was “undermining our commitment to education.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A century-old debate over the commercialization of college athletics is under renewed scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers could face the issue in the coming months, and held little back when the leader of the NCAA testified recently before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Senators hammered NCAA President Mark Emmert on July 9, as questions about student-athlete compensation, graduation rates, health care and sexual assault took center stage.

Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., kicked off by reminding Emmert of the committee’s jurisdiction over intercollegiate athletics, before taking aim at the NCAA.

“College athletes and athletics are rooted in the notion of amateurism, and the history of that is very interesting and important,” Rockefeller said. “Playing college sports is supposed to be an avocation. There’s a growing perception that college athletics, particularly Division I football and basketball, are not avocations at all. What they really are is highly profitable commercial enterprises.”

Full story

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...