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

August 18, 2014

Obama Dispatches Holder to Ferguson, Cites Progress in Iraq (Video)

492587929 445x296 Obama Dispatches Holder to Ferguson, Cites Progress in Iraq (Video)

Obama sends Holder to Ferguson, reports progress in Iraq. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 7:03 p.m. | President Barack Obama, back in Washington for a day of meetings in the midst of his August vacation, on Monday reported “progress” in the expanded campaign of U.S. airstrikes on Iraqi insurgents near Mosul, and again called for calm in the riot-torn streets of Ferguson, Mo.

He announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to talk with local leaders about the riots that have rocked the St. Louis suburb since the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Asked about the militarization of American law enforcement that some have said is exacerbating clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Obama said it may be time to review the use of federal dollars to purchase surplus military vehicles and gear.

“There’s a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement,” he said. “And we don’t want those lines blurred.”

Some civil rights leaders have urged the president to speak out more forcefully on the shooting of Michael Brown, but on Monday, Obama instead called for restraint on the part of both police and protesters. Full story

August 15, 2014

Energy Secretary Calls Industry Criticism of Natural Gas Export Overhaul ‘B.S.’

470474235 revised 445x298 Energy Secretary Calls Industry Criticism of Natural Gas Export Overhaul B.S.

Moniz dismissed industry complaints that DOE has moved too slowly on export applications as “B.S.” (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz in a one-on-one interview Friday with CQ Roll Call signaled that any further changes to how his agency processes natural gas export applications will have to come from Congress, as the Energy Department tries to end a controversy over how the United States ships gas to nations that are not trading partners.

In addition, Moniz dismissed industry complaints that DOE has moved too slowly on export applications as “B.S.,” noting the department can’t take final action until a separate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review is completed. Some U.S. energy companies eager to expand new overseas markets say the Obama administration is dragging its feet.

Moniz said that lawmakers will have to be the ones to make any more decisions about gas exports now that his agency has laid out its final rules on an overhaul. “Not from the administration, I don’t expect any changes to the process,” Moniz told CQ Roll Call. “Let’s see if Congress acts.” Full story

August 14, 2014

Obama Calls for Calm, Healing in Ferguson (Video)

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(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama called for calm in Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday, and said the FBI and Department of Justice are both launching independent investigations into the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.

Speaking from a press conference near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Obama said DOJ officials are also talking with local authorities about how they can maintain public safety without obstructing peaceful protests. Conflicts and clashes between police and protesters have escalated in the days following the death of Michael Brown.

“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protestors,” Obama said. Full story

August 7, 2014

Obama Authorizes Airstrikes Against ISIL in Iraq

President Barack Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil and to shield about 40,000 people trapped on Sinjar Mountain from genocide.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been on the march and has traveled close to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq.

“Today, America is coming to help,” Obama said.

“The United States of America cannot turn a blind eye” to the prospect of genocide on Sinjar Mountain, he said. “We must act and act now.”

But he insisted that combat troops will not be returning to the battlefield.

Obama said that he consulted with Congress on his actions and will continue to do so.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 9:57 p.m.
Iraq

Obama Signs VA Overhaul, Dings Senate on Failure to Confirm Nominees (Video)

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Obama dinged the Senate for their failure to confirm some of his nominees to work under McDonald, pictured above with Sanders. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama signed the overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs Thursday at Fort Belvoir in Virginia — but not before dinging the Senate for failing to confirm more of his nominees for senior VA jobs.

Several members of Congress received shoutouts from the president: Sens. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., and Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Michael H. Michaud, D-Maine.

Obama called the long wait times “outrageous” and suggested the bill would help newly appointed VA Secretary Robert McDonald get rid of employees who have engaged in misconduct.

“If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired, period. It shouldn’t be that difficult,” Obama said. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:18 p.m.
Uncategorized

August 6, 2014

President Defends Executive Action Post-GOP Lawsuit

President Barack Obama pushed back on the idea that he’s an imperial president Wednesday, saying that while he is considering additional executive orders on immigration and in other areas, he is “bound by the Constitution.”

A reporter asked the president about a quote from his campaign railing against then-President George W. Bush acting on his own without going to Congress. Obama said he doesn’t have “a green light” to act as he chooses.

“I’m bound by the Constitution. I’m bound by separation of powers. There’s some things we can’t do,” he said at a news conference tied to a major U.S.-Africa summit. “Congress has the power of the purse, for example.” Full story

July 31, 2014

Unemployment Extension: Still Dead

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Kevin McCarthy of Boonsboro, Md., speaks about his troubles living without an unemployment insurance extension during a rally on the House steps of the Capitol on May 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Long-term unemployed people still wondering if Congress will act on an unemployment extension restoring benefits for millions before going home for the August recess are going to be disappointed again.

The expired emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program is still dead, and shows no real signs of life beyond weekly press events from Democrats and the occasional long shot proposal from a senator or two.

The House Rules Committee left an unemployment extension off of its final schedule ahead of the break. Senate Democrats aren’t planning to force another vote before heading out, either. President Barack Obama has occasionally spoken out about unemployment benefits in his economic speeches, but mainly to attack Republicans. There is no strategy from the White House or Senate Democrats to force action on an unemployment extension, and there’s no expectation that will change.

Full story

White House Excoriates Republican Deportation Demands

The White House torched House Republicans’ plan to vote to block President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to any new people in the country illegally.

Republicans say the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has acted as a magnet for the surge in unaccompanied children across the border, even though recent immigrants are not eligible. And Republicans are demanding that Obama not expand that relief amid reports he’s considering granting “administrative amnesty” and work permits to as many as 5 million more unauthorized immigrants.

Here’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s statement:

Full story

July 30, 2014

White House Threatens to Veto House Border Bill

The White House threatened to veto the House’s $659 million border supplemental Wednesday, saying it could actually make the child migrant crisis worse.

The veto threat could buck up Democrats looking to kill the bill in an effort to push Republicans to pass a more generous version.

“Republicans have had more than a year to comprehensively fix the Nation’s broken immigration system, but instead of working toward a real, lasting solution, Republicans released patchwork legislation that will only put more arbitrary and unrealistic demands on an already broken system,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in a Statement of Administration Policy. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 4:14 p.m.
Immigration

July 29, 2014

Obama to Make Statement on Ukraine; New Sanctions Planned for Russia

President Barack Obama will make a statement on Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. on Ukraine, the White House said, as the administration said earlier to expect new sanctions against Russia.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this afternoon to expect an announcement on sanctions as soon as today. The announcement will come as European nations are stepping up their own sanctions and as the administration has accused the Russian government of stepping up its support for Ukrainian separatists and with violating a treaty against medium-range cruise missiles. The administration has also said Russia has culpability for creating an environment that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

To date, while sanctions have stung, the administration has avoided broader economic sanctions that could impact the global and the U.S. economy — a concern Obama has repeatedly raised.

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