Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2014

Posts by Steven Dennis

200 Posts

November 25, 2014

Obama on Immigration: ‘I Just Took an Action to Change the Law’

President Barack Obama’s big immigration speech in Chicago Tuesday included a stunning aside as he talked down hecklers upset at his deportation record.

“What you’re not paying attention to is, I just took an action to change the law,” he said to them, saying he couldn’t understand why the hecklers would still be mad at him.

He also noted that his actions changing enforcement priorities would apply to “everyone” — i.e., all immigrants here illegally, not just the more than four million the administration estimates will qualify for work permits and deportation relief under his latest immigration action. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 7:20 p.m.
Immigration

Obama Would Veto Corporate Tax Cut Bill (Updated)

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Obama would veto a $450 billion tax cut bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:37 p.m. | President Barack Obama would veto an emerging $450 billion tax cut deal coming together in the Senate because it doesn’t do enough for the middle class, according to the White House.

“The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,” said Jen Friedman, deputy White House press secretary.

The emerging package of tax cuts negotiated by top Democrats and Republicans would extend an array of mostly business tax breaks — some permanently — while some of the president’s priorities would be left on the cutting room floor.

The package includes the research and development break and is expected to revive a slew of other provisions that benefit corporate interests, including NASCAR, film producers and the owners of racehorses.

The so-called “tax extenders” package has been in the works for months, after most of the provisions expired in January. Democrats negotiated to add some of their preferred tax cuts, including a tax subsidy for mass transit and the deductibility of sales taxes, but other provisions, like an enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit, would expire. Full story

November 24, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Fires Head of Phoenix System Sharon Helman

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Robert McDonald announced the latest firing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA Healthcare System.

The decision “followed an investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General in which allegations of lack of oversight and other misconduct were substantiated,” the department said in a press release on Monday. “This removal action underscores VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that Veterans have access to quality and timely care.”

“Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving Veterans, and VA will not tolerate it,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald, who is recently on the job himself after President Barack Obama ushered out Eric Shineski.

“We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of Veterans first and honor VA’s core values of ‘Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.’” Full story

Obama Wants Middle Class Aid Before Corporate Tax Breaks (Updated)

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Democrats repeatedly harped about programs to help the middle class in the run-up to the midterm elections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:10 p.m. | Corporate tax lobbyists hoping for a holiday treat from Congress may get a lump of coal from President Barack Obama.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday the president would “strongly oppose” a package of corporate tax cut extenders without doing something for the middle class.

“I can tell you that the reports are not promising,” Earnest said. “The reports suggest that there may be some in Congress who want to provide tax relief to businesses and to corporate insiders but not ensuring that … those benefits are shared by middle-class families.

“So certainly the administration would not be supportive of a package that provided relief to corporations without providing relief to middle-class families.

Full story

Chuck Hagel Out at DOD; Jack Reed, Michele Flournoy, Ashton Carter on Short List (Updated) (Video)

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Hagel is on his way out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:23 p.m. | President Barack Obama is getting a new Defense secretary.

Obama announced Monday in the State Dining Room that Chuck Hagel will be leaving his post once a successor is confirmed by the Senate. Hagel tendered his resignation earlier Monday after a series of crises erupted on his watch, including the rise of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Full story

November 20, 2014

Obama to Republicans: Don’t Shut Down the Government Again (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama’s forceful, emotional speech announcing his immigration executive action had a not-so-subtle message to Republicans: Don’t try and stop me.

“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: pass a bill,” he said. “I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.

“Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a deal-breaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this.”

Full story

Obama Speech Excerpts — Says ‘Real Amnesty’ is Doing Nothing (Video)

The White House has released speech excerpts President Barack Obama plans to deliver on his executive action on immigration:

“That’s the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is.  Mass amnesty would be unfair.  Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.  What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach:  If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported.  If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every Democratic President for the past half century.  And to those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer:  Pass a bill.” Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 6:40 p.m.
Immigration

Obama Would Veto Any Bill Undoing Immigration Executive Action (Updated) (Video)

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Immigration reform protesters hold up signs in front of the White House on Aug. 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:52 p.m. | President Barack Obama would veto any legislation hatched by Republicans to undo his immigration executive action granting relief to millions, according to a senior administration official.

The official left no doubt that the White House is prepared for a shutdown standoff if Republicans attach a rider to the upcoming spending bill needed to keep the government open past Dec. 11.

In a background briefing ahead of the president’s primetime speech Thursday, four senior administration officials detailed the president’s sweeping new executive actions — the winners and the losers — and the legal basis for them.

Ultimately, the president decided to act this week after consulting with Democratic leaders, concluding that Republicans would react the same way whether he acted now or later, so “Why wait,” said one official. Full story

Obama’s Own Words on Immigration Are Republicans’ Best Ammo

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Republicans are using Obama’s arguments against executive action on immigration against him. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

President Barack Obama spoke so many times against taking broad executive action to end deportations that he’s left Republicans with an arsenal of ammo to use against him.

Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, the incoming Senate majority leader, vowed “action” will be taken against the president by the new Congress, after excoriating the president for doing what he said he couldn’t.

McConnell, quoting Obama, said: “‘Democracy is hard,’ he said during a commencement speech in Miami three years ago. ‘But it’s right. [And] changing our laws means doing the hard work of changing minds and changing votes, one by one.’”

“As someone who well understands just how difficult the work of changing minds and votes can be, I couldn’t agree more with the president’s statement,” McConnell continued. Full story

November 19, 2014

Obama Will Announce Immigration Action in Primetime (Video)

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After rallying at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters, immigration reform protesters march to the White House on Aug. 28, where about 130 were arrested on the sidewalk. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a video posted to Facebook, President Barack Obama said he will announce his immigration executive actions Thursday night and speak again in Las Vegas on Friday at Del Sol High School.

Obama says in the video he will lay out what he can do with his “lawful authority” as president while still working with Congress on an immigration overhaul.

Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel, however, said taking action on his own would “ruin” chances of getting anything done. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:20 p.m.
Immigration
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