Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 28, 2015

March 26, 2015

Obama Talks Drug War With David Simon, Creator of The Wire

The White House has posted a conversation between President Barack Obama and David Simon, the creator of The Wire, about changing the drug war to de-emphasize incarcerations.

On the video, Obama declares himself a huge fan of the HBO series (Omar is his favorite character) and sounded sympathetic to Simon’s push to ratchet down a drug war that has put enormous numbers of people in prison.

The comments are similar to ones he made to Vice News, where the president spoke in favor of decriminalization of marijuana as “progress.”

The sudden burst of news from the president on the issue comes after years where he has done little on the issue directly and where his administration has sent conflicting messages on legalizing marijuana in particular.

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

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March 25, 2015

Obama ‘Ready to Sign’ Bipartisan Doc Fix (Updated)

Updated 11:30 p.m. | President Barack Obama pronounced himself “ready to sign” a bipartisan “doc fix” Wednesday.

“I’ve got my pen ready to sign a good, bipartisan bill,” Obama said at an event that amounted to a victory lap for the five-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Full story

March 21, 2015

Obama Waves Off Third Term

President Barack Obama won’t serve a third term. That’s one takeaway from his visit Saturday to cheer his niece’s basketball team to victory in the NCAA tournament in College Park, Md., although Leslie Robinson didn’t actually see playing time in Princeton’s 80-70 victory over Green Bay.

During a break in the action with 4:24 left to play following a hard foul, Obama waved at the Princeton student body, fronted by a row of women with T-I-G-E-R-S painted on their tummies. They in turn chanted “Four more years! Four more years!” Full story

March 20, 2015

Netanyahu Call Failed to Satisfy Obama

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama’s call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday failed to end Obama’s concerns about Netanyahu’s pre-election disavowal of a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestinians.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said again on Friday the White House is reconsidering how it acts in the United Nations and elsewhere in light of Netanyahu’s pre-election comments, and Earnest wasn’t about to grant a mulligan after Netanyahu said in a round of interviews Thursday that he actually does want a two-state solution.

Asked why not just take Netanyahu at his (latest) word, Earnest quipped, “Well, I guess the question is which one? … He was quite clear that he did not envision a scenario where a two — a Palestinian state would be established while he was the prime minister of Israel.”

Earnest also shrugged off Speaker John A. Boehner’s planned trip to Israel.

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

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By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:11 p.m.

ATF Chief Announces Resignation (Updated)

B. Todd Jones

B. Todd Jones (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:27 p.m. | B. Todd Jones is resigning as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives weeks after the agency abandoned a plan to ban some bullets.

Jones’ departure, effective on March 31, could mean another long slog for the agency without a confirmed director, especially given the controversy over the abandoned AR-15 bullet ban and the politically explosive gun control debate heading into an election year.

Jones praised ATF staff in a statement.

Full story

March 19, 2015

Obama Calls Netanyahu as White House Eyes U.N. Shift (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:36 p.m. | The United States may no longer be Israel’s protector at the United Nations, Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated Thursday.

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election comments disavowing a two-state solution and decrying Arab voters during the election, the White House is actively re-evaluating its past actions on behalf of Israel at the U.N. and elsewhere, Earnest said. He didn’t go into specifics, such as whether the United States would back a resolution recognizing Palestine as a state. But the implied threat of that kind of action is clear. Full story

GOP Defense Angst Revives White House Budget Leverage

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Price presented the House GOP’s budget Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:48 p.m., March 20 | The great Republican budget crack-up may have finally arrived. The White House just hoped it would have happened a few years ago.

The spending tourniquet known as the sequester has split Republicans and even has some talking about tax increases, which is what the White House planned for all along when it proposed the sequester to resolve 2011’s debt-limit drama.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:46 a.m.

March 16, 2015

Obama Backs Marijuana Decriminalization, With Caveats (Updated) (Video)

Obama sees "progress" in states decriminalizing marijuana — and says Congress could then reschedule the drug. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Obama sees “progress” in states decriminalizing marijuana — and says Congress could then reschedule the drug. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:35 p.m. | President Barack Obama appeared to come closer than ever to endorsing legal marijuana in an interview posted Monday by VICE News. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 5:34 p.m.

White House Slams McConnell on Lynch, Trafficking Bill (Video)

So much for the Bourbon Summit.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest ripped into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Monday, calling his delay of the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general “unconscionable” and blaming him for the latest Senate breakdown over abortion.

The Kentucky Republican said Sunday that Lynch’s nomination would be delayed if Democrats continue to block a trafficking bill over add-on abortion funding restrictions. Full story

March 10, 2015

Loretta Lynch Confirmation Expected Next Week

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch will likely see a confirmation vote next week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated to reporters Tuesday, capping a saga that has seen her bid to be the first African-American woman in the position tied up in immigration politics.

“I think we’ll be dealing with the attorney general nomination next week,” the Kentucky Republican said. Full story

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