Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 3, 2014

September 2, 2014

Fox News Radio Reporter Mike Majchrowitz Remembered at White House

MIKEM 222x335 Fox News Radio Reporter Mike Majchrowitz Remembered at White House

(Courtesy of Fox News Radio)

Updated 4:26 p.m. | Fox News Radio White House reporter Mike Majchrowitz has died following a long struggle with throat cancer, and the White House and his colleagues are marking his passing.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest mentioned him at the top of Tuesday’s briefing.

“I did want to extend my condolences both personally, but also on behalf of everybody here at the White House, including the first family, to the family of Mike Majchrowitz. … I got to know Mike a little bit when he was covering — started covering the White House here in 2010. He was a tough reporter, but he was also somebody who showed a lot of respect for the journalistic process, certainly for his listeners, but also for those of us that he covered. And that is something that is very admirable and a quality that I certainly admire in a professional journalist.”

White House Correspondents Association President Christi Parsons also remembered Majchrowitz in an email to fellow White House reporters on behalf of the WHCA board.

“We all remember Mike’s vigorous questions in the briefing room, so hard to ignore with that booming voice of his. He made a mark immediately after joining our press corps in 2010.

“He was a true inspiration in the last years of his life, soldiering on in the Fox Radio booth while undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Sometimes he was even doing chemo while grilling administration officials in the briefing room or serving with us on pool duty.

A friend told me he asked Mike why he didn’t just take it easy. ‘I have a job to do,’ he replied.

He was proud to be a White House correspondent. We’re proud to have served alongside him. … Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

In an email, Parsons also recalled Majchrowitz often talking about his wife and family. “I competed against him in selling Girl Scout cookies for our daughters, and he always won. That job meant a lot to him, too,” she said.

Mitch Davis, the vice president of Fox News Radio, also put out a statement.

“Mike was an original — a solidly tenacious reporter, a thoughtful anchor and a good man. He earned the respect of his colleagues for many things, not the least of which was his kindness. From our earliest days he helped Fox News Radio  grow into what we are now. His voice was unique, as was his courage. Throughout his struggle, he remained positive and was an inspiration to us all. We will miss him.”

Majchrowitz had been with Fox News Radio since its beginning in 2005, first covering Congress and then the White House.

Fox News Radio also shared memorial arrangements. The funeral will be Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church at 12805 Valleywood Dr. in Woodbridge, Va.

A viewing will be held Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Miller Funeral Home in Woodbridge. At 8 p.m. there will be a prayer service.

Majchrowitz is survived by a wife and three children. His family has set up a memorial fund and a Facebook page.

Fox News Radio posted a remembrance with more photos and audio from some of Majchrowitz’s stories, well worth a look, along with this 2011 story on what it’s like to ride on Air Force One.

Obama Hasn’t Decided When to Act on Immigration

President Barack Obama might act in the next few weeks on immigration. Or he might not. He might wait until after the November elections. But politics isn’t his top priority.

At least, that’s all according to his spokesman.

“There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer. There is the chance that it could be after the summer,” said Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Earnest was peppered Tuesday with questions about Obama’s previous, and possibly inoperative, declaration that he would act without delay on immigration once he received a report from his attorney general and Homeland Security secretary on his legal authority to act at the end of the summer.

The declared end date of “end of summer” has now become a fudged up timeline, with reports that the White House will delay acting — at least in part — until after the November elections to protect vulnerable Senate Democrats in red states.

Earnest said that politics wasn’t the president’s “top priority” — that getting the policy correct was.

But that increasingly sounds like someone trying to declare that there isn’t gambling going on at Rick’s.


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Still Waiting for Obama’s Strategy to Fight ISIS in Syria

453951288 213x335 Still Waiting for Obamas Strategy to Fight ISIS in Syria

A 2011 photo shows Sotloff working in Libya. (Getty Images File Photo)

As news broke Tuesday that the Islamic State had posted a video claiming to show the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, the White House still hasn’t figured out how to take on the group in Syria.

“The president and his team are still working on” a military strategy for Syria, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at Tuesday’s briefing.

Earnest came out shortly before reports of the beheading emerged; he said he was not aware of the reports and promised the video would be examined for its authenticity. He noted the United States had tried to rescue Sotloff and offered thoughts for his family.

Republicans have become increasingly hawkish about attacking ISIS — also knowns as ISIL — in recent days. Full story

August 30, 2014

Obama Approves New Strikes in Iraq

President Barack Obama may not have a strategy yet for striking ISIS in Syria, but he’s widening his campaign against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq.

The United States launched airstrikes against the group — which the administration calls ISIL — and new humanitarian airdrops to the besieged town of Amirli, which has held out for two months against the terror group. But the administration is careful to say that its latest mission will be limited — as Obama already faces calls from members of both parties for congressional authorization of any sustained military campaign.

Here’s the statement from the Pentagon: Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:22 p.m.

August 28, 2014

Obama on ISIS: ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy’ (Updated) (Video)

492587929 445x296 Obama on ISIS: We Dont Have a Strategy (Updated) (Video)

Obama said he hasn’t finalized a strategy for dealing with the jihadi insurgents who control parts of Syria and Iraq. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/File Photo)

Updated 6:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama said Thursday it’s premature to go to Congress to authorize a strategy to defeat ISIS — because he doesn’t have one yet.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama told reporters after being asked about striking ISIS in Syria, saying he didn’t want to “put the cart before the horse.”

The line — sure to be repeated often by his critics — came as Republicans have been repeatedly demanding a strategy to defeat ISIS.

Obama said he’s asked the military for options to take on ISIS, but a decision to expand strikes into Syria isn’t imminent and he suggested it would not happen before Congress returns from recess.

He said there was a role for Congress to play once that strategy is in place. But he said that he didn’t wait for Congress before launching airstrikes in Iraq because he had a responsibility to protect the American people and could not wait. He said that he has consulted with Congress on his actions to date and that feedback has been positive. Full story

Russian Stock Market Up Despite Jay Carney ‘Short’ Talk

492586773 445x296 Russian Stock Market Up Despite Jay Carney Short Talk

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It’s been more than five months since CQ Roll Call asked Jay Carney about the stock market in Russia — and he talked about shorting it. You’d have lost a bundle if you followed that advice.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now — unless you’re going short,” Carney responded to the question posed at his March 18 daily press briefing.

But despite incremental sanctions and new reports of Russian incursions into Ukraine, the Russian stock market is still up substantially since CQ Roll Call asked the question. Full story

Obama to Meet With National Security Council

Facing decisions on crises in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, President Barack Obama will meet with his National Security Council this afternoon at the White House in the Situation Room.

The White House announced the 4 p.m. meeting — with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. joining by telephone — early Thursday. The meeting comes as the president is considering whether to expand airstrikes against the Islamic State group into Syria, as well as Iraq, and faces a decision on how to respond to reports of Russian military incursions in Ukraine. Full story

August 27, 2014

White House: Government Shutdown Threat Won’t Change Our Immigration Plans (Video)

gop members001 0611142 445x297 White House: Government Shutdown Threat Wont Change Our Immigration Plans (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll File Photo)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest warned Republicans against trying to defund the president’s coming executive actions granting deportation relief to illegal immigrants.

“We would hope that Republicans wouldn’t do the same thing again,” Earnest said Wednesday, referring to last year’s failed effort to defund Obamacare.

The threat articulated by some congressional Republicans in recent days won’t affect the president’s thinking, Earnest said.

“The president has determined to take the kinds of common sense steps that are required to address the worst problems of our broken immigration system. Nothing the president does is a replacement for the kind of robust solution that passive bipartisan support through the United States Senate, but the president is determined to act where House Republicans won’t, and there is strong support for that all across the country. … So, again, it would be a real shame if Republicans were to engage in an effort to shut down the government over a common sense solution like that. But they’ve done it before. Hopefully they won’t do it again.”

The administration has reportedly been considering granting deportation relief and work permits to as many as 5 million people here illegally. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:49 p.m.

August 22, 2014

White House: Obama Had Constitutional Power for Bergdahl Swap (Video)

USA OBAMA SPEECH WAS55 58F3C6F9900544F4B760440B85D3A850 445x268 White House: Obama Had Constitutional Power for Bergdahl Swap (Video)

The president’s responsibility to act trumps congressional oversight on spending, the White House said Friday.

The White House said Friday that constitutional authorities of the commander in chief trumped possible funding illegality in the transfer of five Taliban members in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“The president has the constitutional responsibility to protect the lives of Americans abroad, and specifically to protect U.S. service members,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters in Edgartown, Mass., “It’s important for everyone here to understand that the GAO report expressly does not address the lawfulness of the administration’s actions as a matter of constitutional law.”

Full story

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

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