Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 3, 2015

February 25, 2015

Obama Reiterates Immigration Veto Threat in Telemundo Town Hall (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:31 p.m. | President Barack Obama’s town hall airing now on Telemundo included a vow to veto any efforts to roll back his immigration executive actions — and warned of consequences for immigration agents who don’t follow his new directives.

With host Jose Diaz-Balart and an audience of 268 people, Obama blamed Republicans for trying to block his efforts to overhaul the immigration system, per the White House pool report.

“Unfortunately a group of Republican governors sued. They found a District Court judge who enjoined… but that’s just the first part of the process. This is just one federal judge. We have appealed it very aggressively. We’re going to be as aggressive as we can,” Obama said, per the White House pool. Full story

February 24, 2015

Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline

President Barack Obama has vetoed the Keystone Pipeline bill as promised, using his veto pen for just the third time and the first since 2010.

Obama had repeatedly vowed to veto the bill, one of the first major legislative efforts by Republicans now in charge of both chambers of Congress, citing process. Obama has said the State Department’s years-long review of the project must finish first, and Press Secretary Josh Earnest has left open the possibility Obama could approve it then.

The veto came without public fanfare or a big ceremony.

The Senate received the veto message Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after that, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on the floor that action in response to the veto would be considered no later than March 3.

Republicans note the project generally fares well in public opinion polls.

(Mandel Ngan/AFP File Photo)

(Mandel Ngan/AFP File Photo)

And though the project has bipartisan support, it does not have veto-proof majorities of 291 in the House and 67 in the Senate. That means an override vote is certain to fail.

It remains to be seen whether Keystone might become a bargaining chip at some point down the line as Obama faces showdowns with Republicans on any number of issues.

And it almost assuredly won’t be the last veto of the next two years. Obama’s already threatened vetoes on many of the major bills being considered by Republicans so far, including any effort to stop his immigration executive actions.

Although if Senate Democrats continue to act as his de facto veto pen on measures like the DHS funding bill via the filibuster, Obama’s veto pen might not get as big a workout as had been expected.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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February 23, 2015

Warren Joining Obama for Retirement Security Push

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Perez says the retirement security announcement is part of Obama’s longtime focus on consumer financial protections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama will be making a public push to strengthen the regulation of financial advisers who provide advice about saving for retirement.

The two Senate Democrats with perhaps the most star power, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, will join the president for the rollout of the proposal at an event hosted by the AARP. Monday’s event also will feature Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Warren advocated for creating, along with Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.

Full story

February 20, 2015

DOJ to Appeal Immigration Ruling

The Department of Justice will file for a stay of a District Court ruling blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration actions by Feb. 23, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.

Earnest repeated what he’s been saying all week: The White House believes the proposals — which would grant deportation relief and work permits for three years to up to 5 million immigrants — are on firm legal footing.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:06 p.m.
Immigration

February 19, 2015

Jen Psaki Back to White House

Psaki outside her office in 2011, when she was the senior vice president and managing director of Global Strategy Group. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Psaki outside her office in 2011, when she was the senior vice president and managing director of Global Strategy Group. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jen Psaki’s heading back to the West Wing.

Replacing Jennifer Palmieri, who is reportedly heading to the nascent Hillary Clinton campaign, the current State Department spokeswoman is no stranger to President Barack Obama, the White House press corps or Capitol Hill. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:06 p.m.
Uncategorized

White House Makes Economic Pitch

The latest economic report from the White House is part victory lap, part pitch for enacting what President Barack Obama calls his “middle-class” agenda — including new trade deals with Europe and Asia and the president’s budget.

At a briefing for reporters Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s release of the Economic Report of the President, chief economic adviser Jason Furman ticked off the statistics that have buoyed White House spirits of late — improving economic growth, the best job performance since 1999 last year and lower gas prices.

But there are several troubling caveats, Furman acknowledged.

The percentage of men in prime working age who have dropped out of the labor force has grown substantially in recent decades and is higher than many competitors. More troubling, the income of middle-class families has been largely flat, although there are recent signs of modest improvement. Median family incomes remain stuck at mid-1990s levels.

“This is the big picture challenge that we’re trying to overcome as an economy,” Furman said. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 6 a.m.
Agenda, Budget

February 17, 2015

Immigration Ruling Casts Shadow on Obama’s Legacy (Updated)

immigration reform lawsuit

Heather Piña Ledezma attends an immigration rally last year with her mother, who is from Mexico. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:28 p.m. | The third branch of government has entered the immigration debate with a bang — with potentially profound impacts on President Barack Obama’s legacy, the lives of millions and the rest of this Congress.

The decision by a federal district judge in Texas late Monday to temporarily halt Obama’s executive actions on immigration could also give Republicans a way out of a shutdown showdown over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Full story

February 11, 2015

Congress Gets to Dust Off Its War Voting Powers

Sen. Tim Kaine, left, and House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff want to debate a war authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tim Kaine, left, and House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff want to debate a war authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the first time this decade, Congress is set to have a full-fledged war debate. The White House wants pure kabuki with no practical effect; lawmakers, most of whom have never voted to send men and women into harm’s way, will have to choose whether to go along.

President Barack Obama is intent on doing what he wants either way — as he already has in his undeclared war on the Islamic State terror group for months, with Congress on the sidelines. Full story

White House Sends ISIS AUMF to Capitol Hill

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corker said he plans to hold hearings on the AUMF soon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House has now transmitted draft language to Capitol Hill proposing a three-year Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the terror group known as ISIS, setting off what is expected to be a contentious debate about the terms of the authorization.

Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that his panel would review the proposal and quickly convene hearings.

“I appreciate the president following the long tradition of seeking authorization for the use of military force from Congress,” said the Tennessee Republican. “It also will be important that the president exert leadership, lay out a clear strategy for confronting the threat posed by ISIS, and do the hard work of making the case to the American people why this fight is necessary and one we must win.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Senate Republicans would discuss the AUMF later today and committees of jurisdiction would carefully consider the request.

The AUMF notably allows Obama to employ U.S. ground troops against ISIS, but with the proviso that such operations not be “enduring.” The three-year limitation comes alongside the repeal of the 2002 authorization to use force in Iraq, but the AUMF notably leaves intact the 2001 authorization to use military force against al Qaeda — the resolution the Obama administration is relying on to conduct its war on ISIS now.

The Obama administration’s draft language and transmittal letter, obtained from congressional sources, appears below:

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 9:12 a.m.
ISIS

February 9, 2015

Obama Riffs on Netanyahu, Iran, NSA, Ukraine (Updated)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News)

Updated 2:04 p.m. | President Barack Obama zinged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday.

The press corps chuckled when Obama suggested Merkel wouldn’t have been a part of trying to get a meeting two weeks before her election, a nod to the timing of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress later this year.

“As much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House, and I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one,” Obama said, getting a smile out of Merkel.

Full story

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