Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

Posts in "Uncategorized"

July 30, 2015

Takoma Park Feels the Bern

Federal Minimum Wage Rally

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)


TAKOMA PARK, Md. — Thousands of “house parties” gathered throughout the country Wednesday night to collectively #feelthebern.

Huddled in living rooms, basements, coffee shops, libraries and anywhere else they would fit, more than 100,000 people united for the change they’ve craved since at least the last Bush administration. They started as strangers, but they left as a fledgling grass-roots campaign network for 2016 Democratic hopeful, Bernard Sanders. Full story

July 28, 2015

Schumer Signs on to Medical Marijuana Bill

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:54 p.m. | The medical marijuana movement just got a big boost. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has become a co-sponsor to legislation that would give states greater flexibility to use medical marijuana.

“Medical marijuana is the only recourse for many in New York and across the country who are in a great deal of pain, and it is only humane and fair that they have access to the treatment they need when prescribed by a doctor,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate and the heir apparent to Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is an influential co-sponsor. But the bill will likely need more support on the other side of the aisle to get through the Republican-controlled Senate. Full story

July 21, 2015

Iran Deal: Treaty or Not?

Corker has come under fire from the right for not insisting that the Iran deal be treated as a treaty. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Corker has come under fire from the right for not insisting that the Iran deal be treated as a treaty. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

As right-wing wolves circle Republican senators who they feel betrayed them and paved the way for the Iran nuclear deal, defenders say they are missing the point.

Senators argue the legislation passed in April granting congressional review seized power back from President Barack Obama, and both they and the administration argue the deal negotiated with Iran isn’t technically a treaty.

But the wolves are hungry. Full story

July 12, 2015

Without Gas in the Tank, Senate Stays Course on Highways

UNITED STATES - MAY 5: Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, talks with reporters after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol, May 5, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cornyn is optimistic about Senate taking up highway bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are confident they’ll take up a highway extension this week — though the bill’s duration and pay-for are still up in the air.

Senators from both parties are mulling suggestions that range from a kick-the-can plan to fund the highway account through the 2016 elections to a more ambitious proposal that would include a short-term patch linked to a major tax overhaul designed to fund a full six-year extension.

Regardless of the unknowns, Republicans were confident the highway bill would hit the floor this week.

“I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in a long time,” Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said of the schedule after a private meeting with relevant committee chairs and leadership. “This is something everybody wants to do on a bipartisan basis, is pass as long-term a highway bill as we can.”

Neither Cornyn nor others would elaborate on the options Republican leaders were discussing. But Democrats have been pushing for a plan proposed by President Barack Obama to use tax revenue from repatriated funds to pay for the six-year bill.

“We have a position,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee. “Our position: We want a long-term bill and the pay-for is the president’s proposal.”

It’s unlikely Congress would be able to complete a tax overhaul by the time the current authorization expires at the end of the month and it’s unclear what is the shortest duration Democrats would be willing to accept.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, one of the top Senate Democrats, said his party needs to see the Republican plan before committing to support or opposition. He did say, however, that the vast majority of Senate Democrats do not support an increase in the gas tax as a funding mechanism.

“We don’t like a patch, we don’t like a short-term extension, but we’re not going to prejudge anything in a vacuum,” the New York Democrat told reporters last week. “Let’s see what they have. What does a patch mean? Is it 12 months, 16 months, three months, nine months? How do they pay for it? Does it have an increase in funding? These are all questions they should have.”

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx pushed for a long-term bill last week, but he echoed Schumer’s sentiments and stopped short of a veto threat.

“We need to end this extension-palooza that we have in transportation for so long,” Foxx said on July 9. “I think there are many ways that could happen. … So we’re gonna have to see, as [Schumer] said, what comes about.”

The idea of using changes to the international tax code to fund the highway extension, of which there are multiple proposals, creates a divide within the Republican Caucus.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, co-introduced — along with Schumer — principles for an international tax overhaul. But Portman, one of the most vulnerable incumbents in 2016, said he’s not opposed to “finding pay-fors outside of the tax process.” Still, he said he needs to see the pay-fors, to “make sure that they are good policy.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said he supported an international tax overhaul, but using it to fund a highway bill would be a “hard pill to digest.”

“When you … use the funds from tax reform for highways, then you don’t use the money to lower the taxes, which will then create a permanent revenue stream as opposed to a six-year window,” Scott said.

Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, expressed similar concerns and said he didn’t like moving to a territorial taxing system — taxing domestic and not foreign income, a component of at least one of the suggested proposals.

Hatch’s counterpart in the House, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., supports a one-time repatriation if it’s within the context of broader international tax overhaul. But he does not support “deemed repatriation,” which Obama’s plan calls for. Any plan for Ryan, and likely most other Republicans, would have to be a net tax decrease.

“Chairman Ryan supports a short-term patch to get to the end of the year so we have time to develop a long-term solution,” Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said in a statement.

Another idea floated last week was using tax extenders as a pay-for.

With the opposition to a short-term patch and the complexities of funding the six-year plan, an in-between patch — anywhere from 12 months to a few years — is possible.

That would help legislators get through the election cycle. But it would hurt the highway program in the long-term, according to the two top senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., said larger projects of national concern would “fall by the wayside,” even with a multi-year bill.

“You really need a six-year bill,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the committee’s ranking member, said. “Because if you’re building major projects and you’re fixing major bridges that are falling down, you need the assurance that we’re there.”

Also hanging in the balance is the fate of the Export-Import Bank, which is expected to hitch a ride on the highway bill. The bank’s reauthorization, which expired last month, will likely lure Democrats, but drive away some Republicans who see the bank as little more than corporate welfare.

Related:

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.

June 30, 2015

Support for Puerto Rican Bankruptcy Builds

Schumer, D-N.Y., talks with reporters after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol, May 5, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Schumer wants Congress to authorize Chapter 9 bankruptcy for Puerto Rico. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Puerto Rico’s slide toward Chapter 9 bankruptcy continues to gain momentum; Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Tuesday his intention to introduce legislation allowing such a move.

The New York Democrat, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is bringing to the Senate the companion bill to the measure Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Democrat Pedro R. Pierluisi, introduced in the House. Full story

May 27, 2015

Trade Votes Play Big in 2016 Politics

Portman took an unusual route to backing the fast-track trade bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Portman took an unusual route to backing the fast-track Trade Promotion Authority bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rob Portman isn’t a bomb thrower. But his pitch last week for an amendment cracking down on countries that artificially weaken their currencies threatened to blow up President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, and exposed a deep split in approaches among Republicans who face the voters in 2016.

A trio of Rust Belt Senate Republicans — Ohio’s Portman, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania — ended up voting for Trade Promotion Authority, backing Obama, Republican leadership and a top priority of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Full story

May 22, 2015

Currency Amendment Could Derail ‘Fast-Track’ Deal

Portman, R-Ohio, talks with reporters after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol, May 5, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Portman wants tougher enforcement of currency rules in the proposed trade deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supporters of the Senate’s “fast-track” trade bill that will be voted on sometime Friday are taking seriously the threat of one amendment they fear will derail the whole thing.

The amendment offered by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would strengthen enforcement against other nations considered to be manipulating their currency, which could tip trade deals in the offender’s favor. Full story

May 13, 2015

Fresh Optimism for Fast-Track Trade Bill (Updated)

McConnell and the White House hope to revive fast-track trade authority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell and the White House hope to revive fast-track trade authority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:09 p.m. | Republican and Democratic leaders say they are close to a deal to revive President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill, following a crushing defeat Tuesday. Full story

May 12, 2015

Democrats Filibuster Obama’s Fast-Track Trade Bill (Updated) (Video)

Wyden, left, earlier shepherded fast-track through committee, but balked at advancing it on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wyden, left, earlier shepherded fast-track through committee, but balked at advancing it on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:49 p.m. | The Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s top trade priority Tuesday, with the president’s own party abandoning him en masse. Full story

May 11, 2015

Democrats Push for Trade Sweeteners

GOP leaders may need to add sweeteners on the Senate floor to get enough Democrats to back fast-track trade authority. Finance Chairman Hatch, right, and ranking member Wyden, left, earlier shepherded fast-track through committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

GOP leaders may need to add sweeteners on the Senate floor to get enough Democrats to back fast-track trade authority. Finance Chairman Hatch, right, and ranking member Wyden earlier shepherded TPA through committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders are determining what provisions to include in a trade bill that is supported by the White House and the Senate majority, but not many Senate Democrats.

Two bills are expected to be included: TPA, known as fast track, which speeds up consideration of trade deals with Asia and Europe, and TAA, which gives income support and training to workers displaced by international trade.

But Democrats on the fence are demanding sweeteners, and don’t trust they’ll be able to get them after they’ve signed onto the trade agenda. Full story

May 7, 2015

Still No Bourbon Summit Between Obama, McConnell (Video)

McConnell sits behind the Bourbon Barrel of Compromise at the Willard Hotel Feb. 3. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell sits behind the Bourbon Barrel of Compromise at the Willard Hotel Feb. 3. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The 51st anniversary of the Congressional Bourbon Resolution came and went with no so-called Bourbon Summit between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Barack Obama.

Rumors of the two sitting down over a snifter of the aged, brown liquor have been brewing for a while, ever since Obama wet the world’s whistle with the idea six months ago after Republicans won big on Election Day.

But according to McConnell spokesman Don Stewart, the two have only had dry, daytime meetings with no summit to speak of.

Full story

May 6, 2015

After Baltimore Riots, Scott Again Touts Body Cameras, Conservative Ideas

Scott (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Baltimore lifts the curfews used to quell looting and violence prompted by the nation’s latest case of a black man dying under murky circumstances after a run-in with law enforcement, Sen. Tim Scott is again touting his push for body cameras for police — and a host of conservative ideas.

The South Carolina Republican has been promised a hearing on body cameras through a Judiciary subcommittee. Although it’s not scheduled yet, he’s hoping expert testimony will show the best way to implement body camera programs and also address many of the concerns voiced by his colleagues: data retention, privacy issues, disclosure issues and just who should be required to wear them.

Full story

May 5, 2015

Senators Vow to Protect Air Force’s A-10 Fleet

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate defense hawks fired warning shots over the Air Force’s nose on Tuesday over plans to retire the A-10 Warthog, vowing to fund the fleet through the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Air Force, looking to save more than $4 billion over the next few years, has pushed recently to retire the fleet of close-air support aircraft. But without an adequate replacement, Congress is clamoring for answers. Full story

April 27, 2015

DOJ to Probe Baltimore at Maryland Delegation’s Request

Demonstrators face off with Baltimore Police on Monday as a CVS pharmacy burns at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Demonstrators face off with Baltimore Police on Monday as a CVS pharmacy burns at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated: 8:11 p.m. | Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said Monday the Justice Department is moving forward with an independent investigation into the death of a Baltimore man who died in police custody that has fueled days of protests and looting in the city.

The Justice Department announced the criminal probe April 21.

Cardin and fellow Maryland Democrat Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski told reporters that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Gov. Larry Hogan were working closely together to quell the violence and vandalism that has erupted in the city.

As the sun set on Baltimore after an afternoon of police clashes with protesters, the two veteran Maryland lawmakers attempted to put the nationally televised images of violence into perspective.

Full story

Chuck Grassley’s Iowa Advice for Presidential Hopefuls: Show Up

Grassley picks up Nathan Kanas, 4, of California, in the Pork Tent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 9, 2014. Grassley was campaigning with David Young, Republican candidate for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Grassley picks up Nathan Kanas, 4, of California, on August 9, 2014 at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Grassley was campaigning with David Young, Republican candidate for the 3rd District.
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s tough to be in two places at once. And if history is any guide, all of the senators running for president will frequently forgo floor votes to be on the trail shaking hands and kissing babies.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who hasn’t missed a vote since 1993 and represents a state the candidates will call a second home for many months, said in general the candidates shouldn’t be judged too harshly, or at least no more harshly than others who have attempted the tough journey from the Senate to the White House. 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...