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

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

12 Posts

October 22, 2014

‘Constructive Dialogue’ Continues Over CIA Torture Report, White House Says

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t expect the release of a Senate report on acts of torture committed by the CIA to become an uncomfortable election year October surprise.

Asked Tuesday what was taking time to reach an agreement on redactions with the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House responded with a statement from National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan that pointed to deliberative discussions, but no time element for their conclusion.

“The President has been clear that he wants this process completed as expeditiously as possible and he’s also been clear that it must be done consistent with our national security. The redactions to date were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to protect sensitive classified information,” Meehan said. “We are continuing a constructive dialogue with the Committee.”

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October 14, 2014

No Attorney General Pick Until After Elections, White House Says

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Eric H. Holder Jr. better not pack up his Justice Department office just yet.

President Barack Obama will not be nominating a successor to his long-serving attorney general until after the midterm elections, a White House official confirmed Tuesday. Holder has said he will remain at the Justice Department until a new attorney general is confirmed by the Senate.

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October 3, 2014

Official Transcript of Biden Event Excludes ‘Bitch’ Quip

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you were relying on the White House transcript of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s visit to Harvard, you would have missed the best quote.

Biden’s joke to a student body vice president about the No. 2 job being “a bitch?” It took place during a question-and-answer session following the speech at the John F. Kennedy Forum at the Harvard Institute of Politics that followed the remarks, which ended at 7:20 p.m. Full story

October 1, 2014

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns (Updated) (Video)

secretservice 350 093014 313x335 Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns (Updated) (Video)

Pierson had a rocky time at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Tuesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. | Julia Pierson has resigned as director of the Secret Service amid a firestorm over lapses in presidential security that had lawmakers lining up to call for her to go.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a statement late Wednesday, and appointed Joseph Clancy, a formerly special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service, to take her place.

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September 6, 2014

Obama to Meet With Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi

President Barack Obama will meet Tuesday with the top four congressional leaders, with foreign policy on the agenda, according to a senior Senate aide.

The meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., follows the NATO summit and comes as Obama has vowed to marshal an international coalition to “destroy” the terrorist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL.

McConnell issued a statement Saturday calling on Obama to propose a strategy at the meeting: Full story

Obama Punts on Immigration Until After Elections (Updated)

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Obama said Saturday he will delay executive action on immigration.

Updated 11:46 a.m. | President Barack Obama intends to delay an announcement of executive actions related to immigration until after the mid-term elections, a source with direct knowledge of the White House decision confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

One day after Obama told reporters he planned to announce his executive action on immigration “soon,” he appears to have expanded the definition of “soon” to at least early November.

White House officials told the Associated Press and the New York Times of the decision earlier Saturday.

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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.”

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July 1, 2014

Ahead of Obama Bridge Visit, DOT Warns States Highway Trust Fund Checks Will Slow

With President Barack Obama set to speak later in the day in front of the Key Bridge, his Transportation secretary is warning states checks will slow if Congress doesn’t patch the hole in the Highway Trust Fund soon.

In letters to state transportation officials and transit agencies, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sets forth protocols for managing the shortfall, which at the outset will particularly affect the states.

“As I stated in my June 19 letter, the Department will continue to take every possible measure to fully reimburse your State for as long as we can. However, as we approach insolvency, the Department will be forced to limit payments to manage the reduced levels of cash available in the Trust Fund,” Foxx wrote in the letter to state transportation departments.

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May 27, 2014

White House Counsel to Review Naming of CIA Chief in Kabul

The White House will conduct an internal review of the circumstances leading to Sunday’s disclosure to members of the White House press corps of the identity of a CIA station chief.

The event transpired Sunday, when as part of President Barack Obama’s surprise trip to visit with troops in Afghanistan, the Kabul “chief of station” was included on a list of participants in a meeting distributed to the traveling press pool and subsequently sent to a broader list of reporters, as explained by The Washington Post.

“The Chief of Staff has asked the White House Counsel, Neil Eggleston, to look into what happened and report back to him with recommendations on how the Administration can improve processes and make sure something like this does not happen again,” National Security Counsel Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

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Obama Plans to Keep Troops in Afghanistan Until 2016 (Updated) (Video)

Updated 3:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he intends to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but would pull out most of the remaining forces by the end of 2016.

Obama said he plans to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan at the start of 2015, provided the next president of Afghanistan signs a new security agreement, as expected. The troop levels would be cut roughly in half by the end of 2015, with troops consolidated to Bagram Airfield.

“When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm’s way,” Obama said. “By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000.”

Obama said the troops staying in Afghanistan would no longer be responsible for combat missions to secure the country, but would continue to target terrorists and train and advise the Afghans.

One top Republican senator on military issues was quick to say that Obama’s plan “emboldens the enemy.”

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