Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

Posts by Steven Dennis

113 Posts

July 31, 2014

Unemployment Extension: Still Dead

renew025 050614 445x292 Unemployment Extension: Still Dead

Kevin McCarthy of Boonsboro, Md., speaks about his troubles living without an unemployment insurance extension during a rally on the House steps of the Capitol on May 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Long-term unemployed people still wondering if Congress will act on an unemployment extension restoring benefits for millions before going home for the August recess are going to be disappointed again.

The expired emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program is still dead, and shows no real signs of life beyond weekly press events from Democrats and the occasional long shot proposal from a senator or two.

The House Rules Committee left an unemployment extension off of its final schedule ahead of the break. Senate Democrats aren’t planning to force another vote before heading out, either. President Barack Obama has occasionally spoken out about unemployment benefits in his economic speeches, but mainly to attack Republicans. There is no strategy from the White House or Senate Democrats to force action on an unemployment extension, and there’s no expectation that will change.

Full story

White House Excoriates Republican Deportation Demands

The White House torched House Republicans’ plan to vote to block President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to any new people in the country illegally.

Republicans say the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has acted as a magnet for the surge in unaccompanied children across the border, even though recent immigrants are not eligible. And Republicans are demanding that Obama not expand that relief amid reports he’s considering granting “administrative amnesty” and work permits to as many as 5 million more unauthorized immigrants.

Here’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s statement:

Full story

July 30, 2014

White House Threatens to Veto House Border Bill

The White House threatened to veto the House’s $659 million border supplemental Wednesday, saying it could actually make the child migrant crisis worse.

The veto threat could buck up Democrats looking to kill the bill in an effort to push Republicans to pass a more generous version.

“Republicans have had more than a year to comprehensively fix the Nation’s broken immigration system, but instead of working toward a real, lasting solution, Republicans released patchwork legislation that will only put more arbitrary and unrealistic demands on an already broken system,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in a Statement of Administration Policy. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 4:14 p.m.
Immigration

July 29, 2014

Obama to Make Statement on Ukraine; New Sanctions Planned for Russia

President Barack Obama will make a statement on Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. on Ukraine, the White House said, as the administration said earlier to expect new sanctions against Russia.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this afternoon to expect an announcement on sanctions as soon as today. The announcement will come as European nations are stepping up their own sanctions and as the administration has accused the Russian government of stepping up its support for Ukrainian separatists and with violating a treaty against medium-range cruise missiles. The administration has also said Russia has culpability for creating an environment that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

To date, while sanctions have stung, the administration has avoided broader economic sanctions that could impact the global and the U.S. economy — a concern Obama has repeatedly raised.

Earnest Slams House Border Bill as Insufficient, Unworkable

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest slammed the House GOP’s $659 million border crisis package Tuesday as too skimpy to address the crisis and containing partisan provisions that could prove unworkable, although he stopped short of a veto threat.

Earnest said House Republicans haven’t treated the border crisis with the same level of “urgency” as President Barack Obama, who requested $3.7 billion for the border crisis. And he ripped the GOP for not adding funding for wildfires or for Israel’s Iron Dome. Full story

Boehner: Impeachment Talk a White House ‘Scam’ (Updated)

Updated 1:56 p.m. | An agitated Speaker John A. Boehner charged the White House with concocting impeachment talk for political gain Tuesday.

“We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans. It’s all a scam started by Democrats in the White House,” the Ohio Republican insisted after a GOP conference meeting. Full story

July 25, 2014

White House Has Doubts House Will Act on Border Crisis

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest pronounced himself a cynic when it comes to chances the House will act to pass an emergency border supplemental before going home for the August recess.

Earnest said Friday that his “cynicism” is due to Speaker John A. Boehner’s comments Thursday that he was still talking about it with his members, suggesting the GOP is still arguing amongst itself about what to do.

“If there are additional proposals that Congress will actually act on, we’re certainly willing to have conversations with them about what they’re willing to do,” Earnest said. “But again, all we’re hearing from the speaker of the House is talk that’s not backed up by any action.” Full story

Boehner Aide on Pfeiffer Impeachment Talk: ‘Political Games’ (Updated)

Updated 3:53 p.m. | A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner is dismissing Friday comments from senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer about the White House taking the threat of impeachment “very seriously.”

“We have a humanitarian crisis at our border, and the White House is making matters worse with inattention and mixed signals,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email when asked about Pfeiffer’s comments. “It is telling, and sad, that a senior White House official is focused on political games, rather than helping these kids and securing the border.”

Boehner, R-Ohio, has repeatedly dismissed the idea of impeaching the president when pressed by reporters.

When asked about that, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also noted that Boehner had previously said Republicans wouldn’t “shut down the government over health care” either. “We did see that that happened,” Earnest noted.

Pfeiffer, at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters, was quoted by Time reacting to questions about impeachment.

“I think a lot of people in this town laugh that off. … I would not discount that possibility. I think Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some in the future. …

“I think that impeachment is a very serious thing that has been banded about by the recent Republican vice-presidential nominee and others in a very non-serious way, and no one has even made any allegation of anything that would be within six universes of what is generally considered in that space. But no, we take it very seriously and I don’t think it would be a good thing.”

While Sarah Palin has urged impeachment of the president — a fact also noted by Earnest — so far, no one in the House has pressed articles of impeachment. Any member can takes such articles straight to the House floor.

Many on both sides of the aisle believe impeaching the president would only help Democrats. Jim Acosta of CNN pushed Earnest on whether the administration talking up the prospects of impeachment was simply a fundraising ploy. (Earnest didn’t take the bait).

While Republicans have the votes to impeach the president in the House, a trial in the Senate would be certain to fail to remove the president from office.

The impeachment chatter also comes as a poll showing about one third of the country supporting impeachment — but a majority of Republicans.

Related:

Why House Conservatives Don’t Support Impeachment

Simas Ignores Subpoena Again as White House Defies Issa (Updated) (Video)

issa001 062514 445x297 Simas Ignores Subpoena Again as White House Defies Issa (Updated) (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:27 p.m. | Top White House political adviser David Simas refused again Friday to honor a congressional subpoena, prompting Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to vote to rebuke the administration.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 19-14 to reject the White House’s claim that Simas has absolute immunity from a subpoena from Congress.

Republicans said they were standing up for the principle that no one is above the law, and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa quoted a long list of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who have backed Congress’ right to subpoena top administration officials.

Democrats, led by ranking member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said they strongly disagree with the White House’s claim of absolute immunity but also strongly disagree with Issa’s push to press the issue, warning it could hurt the institution if they take a case to court.

The White House informed Issa at 7:30 a.m. Friday that Simas would not appear, Issa said. The absence was “not excused,” the California Republican added.

White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston asked Issa to withdraw the subpoena to discuss his late Thursday offer for Simas to give a deposition instead of subpoenaed testimony.

Issa refused to do so.

“We have an absolute right and obligation” to investigate the new White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, he said. Full story

July 24, 2014

Issa Offers White House a Deal on Simas

issa 214 092613 445x296 Issa Offers White House a Deal on Simas

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa is offering to allow top White House political adviser David Simas to testify via deposition instead of in a congressional hearing.

With Issa planning a vote Friday to reject the administration’s claim of absolute immunity from congressional subpoena for Simas if he again fails to show up to honor the subpoena, Issa’s latest offer loosely tracks previous subpoena fights between House Democrats and the George W. Bush administration.

“The Committee would be willing to postpone tomorrow’s proceeding if the White House makes the same commitments to cooperate as the Bush Administration did previously,” Issa said in a letter  Thursday to White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston.

In addition to the deposition, the White House must also commit to releasing internal documents Issa has sought about the creation of the political strategy office Simas has headed since January, and to answering subsequent questions in writing, Issa wrote. Issa said his offer must be accepted Thursday.

Issa’s letter came after Eggleston wrote him earlier Thursday, complaining that Issa had failed to make any specific allegation of wrongdoing, reasserting the White House’s claim of immunity and offering to cooperate further on providing information about the office — but not Simas.

Eggleston also noted that previous investigative efforts did not require enforcement of subpoenas of the president’s top advisers to testify at a public hearing.

That triggered Issa’s latest offer.

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