Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

December 19, 2014

Obama Rattles Veto Pen but Hopes for Productive Congress

President Barack Obama said Friday he hopes to work with the new Republican Congress on tax changes, rebuilding roads and bridges and trade, but warned he’s prepared to use his veto pen — something he hasn’t done since 2010.

And after signing the “cromnibus” including the repeal of an anti-bailout provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul, Obama says he won’t do that again — nor will he sign provisions that cost people health insurance. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:16 p.m.
Veto Threats

Obama to Give Jan. 20 State of the Union (Updated)

sotu tw008 012814 1 330x219 Obama to Give Jan. 20 State of the Union (Updated)

Obama’s 2015 State of the Union date: Jan. 20. He’ll address an all GOP Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:41 a.m. | President Barack Obama is accepting an invitation to deliver the 2015 State of the Union on Jan. 20, according to a White House official.

The date was suggested in a letter sent Friday by Speaker John A. Boehner. The Ohio Republican previously dismissed the idea of not inviting Obama to deliver the address, as had been floated by some critics in the immediate aftermath of Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy.

“Listen, the more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes,” Boehner said at a Dec. 4 news conference. “Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?”

Full story

December 18, 2014

#TBT: What Barack Obama Looked Like 10 Years Ago

Digging through our photo archives, we found pictures of Barack Obama from Jan. 5, 2005, holding court as he moved into his temporary Senate digs as a newly minted senator nearly a decade ago.

dw050103011 445x289 #TBT: What Barack Obama Looked Like 10 Years Ago

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:55 a.m.

December 17, 2014

Obama Issues Rare Pardons, With More to Come

SOTU 102 012814 424x335 Obama Issues Rare Pardons, With More to Come

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama granted clemency to 20 people Wednesday in a relatively rare show of leniency from him — with the administration promising more to come.

Obama cut short prison times for eight people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and vacated the convictions of 12 others, the White House announced.

The commutations are the result of an April 23 initiative by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole with the direction of President Obama encouraging qualified inmates to petition for clemency. Full story

By Clark Mindock Posted at 9:43 p.m.
Pen and Phone

White House Releases Cuba Deal Fact Sheet

The White House has released a fact sheet on President Barack Obama’s sweeping new deal to open up Cuba, which has sharply split Congress.

Here it is:

Fact Sheet: Charting a New Course on Cuba

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. Full story

Obama’s Cuba Deal Splits Congress

gross presser005 120412 445x301 Obamas Cuba Deal Splits Congress

Alan Gross’ wife, Judy, spoke at a news conference in 2012 in the Capitol calling for Cuba to release her husband. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s deal with Cuba, which he will announce at noon, drew praise and sharp criticism on Capitol Hill as the details started to leak out.

Lawmakers cheered the news that Alan Gross had been released from Cuban custody, as the American aid worker headed home — but the deal also prompted sharp complaints.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the outgoing chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, torched the deal. Full story

By Steven Dennis and Niels Lesniewski Posted at 10:49 a.m.

December 15, 2014

New Governing Coalition Emerges

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McConnell and Reid teamed up to pass the cromnibus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of the “cromnibus,” a new governing coalition may have emerged in Washington.

For the first time in eight years, it doesn’t necessarily include Nancy Pelosi.

It does include Steny H. Hoyer.

The coalition doesn’t seem to need Sens. Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren or Jeff Sessions.

But it does need the more moderate wing of Democrats personified by Hoyer, the minority whip, who helped pass the compromise forged by Speaker John A. Boehner, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with appropriators Harold Rogers and Barbara A. Mikulski, among others.

Most importantly, the new governing coalition includes President Barack Obama.

The hard right and the hard left ended up out in the cold last week — free to raise their fists and their profiles and make a ruckus, but ultimately powerless to stop the cromnibus.

The deal represents a return — at least for a week — to the fabled establishment Washington dealmaking of yore, warts and all, like it or loathe it. It’s a return that could put the “do nothing” label back on the congressional shelf — with Republicans and the president eyeing deals next year on trade and taxes, in addition to keeping the government open for business after four years of serial shutdown and default dramas. Full story

December 11, 2014

Obama Opposes D.C. Marijuana Rider, But Will Sign Bill

President Barack Obama opposes a rider on the “cromnibus” prohibiting the District of Columbia from implementing a voter referendum legalizing marijuana but will sign the bill anyway.

That’s according to Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who said the president doesn’t believe Congress should assert its authority to undo the will of the District’s voters.

He didn’t appear to say the word “marijuana,” but was asked about the rider by a reporter.

You can read the full Statement of Administrative Policy backing the cromnibus at this link.

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

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By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:09 p.m.

Obama Backs Cromnibus

President Barack Obama would sign the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus,” with the White House urging Democrats to help put the bill over the top with passage of the bill in doubt later this afternoon.

The rule for the bill passed narrowly 214-212 earlier Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced the president’s support Thursday afternoon, saying the 1,600-page bill represented a compromise and included items the president did not support on campaign finance and regulating banks involvement in derivatives. Full story

December 10, 2014

White House Thinks GOP Will Blink on Immigration Action

sotu tw010 012814 445x292 White House Thinks GOP Will Blink on Immigration Action

Obama is betting the GOP is bluffing on defunding border security. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House sounds ready to call the GOP’s bluff on President Barack Obama’s immigration action.

GOP leaders are suggesting the real fight will happen next year, when the Homeland Security funding in the “cromnibus” — what makes it a cromnibus and not just a plain old omnibus — expires in February. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:22 p.m.

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