Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

Posts in "Pen and Phone"

October 22, 2014

Is Obama About to Evolve on Marijuana?

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Holder told CNN he was “cautiously optimistic” about the Colorado and Washington’s legalization of marijuana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:26 p.m. | No, President Barack Obama isn’t about to evolve his stance on marijuana. At least not today, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Wednesday’s briefing.

CQ Roll Call asked him about two recent developments — Attorney General Eric Holder telling CNN that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, and the hiring of ACLU lawyer Vanita Gupta, an advocate of legalizing marijuana and leading drug war critic, to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

“Should we take these as signals that the president is himself continuing to evolve on this issue?” Earnest was asked.

“No,” Earnest said. Full story

September 24, 2014

Obama’s United Nations Speech Skips Over Congress

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Obama spoke at the United Nations on Wednesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama’s soaring speech at the United Nations General Assembly addressed a host of pressing issues — ISIS, Ebola, Ukraine. One word he didn’t mention? Congress.

With Congress out of town, this week has seen perhaps the purest iteration of the president’s pen-and-phone-and-podium governing style. Airstrikes in Syria were launched on the president’s authority, without a new vote in Congress. And the president is pushing for a sweeping climate change agenda for the world — though that’s something he couldn’t get through a Democratic Congress, let alone a Republican House that has passed bill after bill looking to rein in his efforts, not expand them.

On the world stage, Congress has receded. It’s Obama’s policies that will carry the day — or not — on Ukraine, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Ebola epidemic, or fighting ISIS. Full story

September 2, 2014

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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August 6, 2014

President Defends Executive Action Post-GOP Lawsuit

President Barack Obama pushed back on the idea that he’s an imperial president Wednesday, saying that while he is considering additional executive orders on immigration and in other areas, he is “bound by the Constitution.”

A reporter asked the president about a quote from his campaign railing against then-President George W. Bush acting on his own without going to Congress. Obama said he doesn’t have “a green light” to act as he chooses.

“I’m bound by the Constitution. I’m bound by separation of powers. There’s some things we can’t do,” he said at a news conference tied to a major U.S.-Africa summit. “Congress has the power of the purse, for example.” Full story

July 21, 2014

LGBT Executive Order Signed by Obama

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:00 p.m. | President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday banning discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT people — without a broad religious exemption included in the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

“Our government, the government of the people, by the people and for the people, will become just a little bit fairer,” Obama told a cheering audience in the East Room.

Obama said that while there is still a long way to go to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of who they love, they’ve come a long way in the past five years.trans LGBT Executive Order Signed by Obama

“We’re on the right side of history,” Obama said before signing the order. Full story

July 8, 2014

Obama Still Needs Congress to Show Him the Money

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Heather Piña Ledezma, a citizen who turned 6 on July 4, attends an immigration rally near the White House. Her mother is Mexican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama may be just about done with this Congress, but there’s one thing he can’t do without — money.

Before Congress adjourns in a month for the August recess, Obama wants lawmakers to pass a supplemental spending bill dealing primarily with the child migrant crisis, while also averting a slowdown of highway projects.

But he will need a historically unproductive Congress to creak into action to do so, even as House Republicans head to the courthouse to sue the president over his executive actions.

And after the break, Congress will have to agree on a spending bill to avoid a pre-election government shutdown — with Obama pushing Congress for a host of controversial items, including $500 million for Syrian rebels, a new anti-terrorism foreign aid fund and the authority to close the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The bottom line: While Obama has used his pen and phone to enact a host of administrative changes this year, he can’t pen and phone his way around Congress’ power of the purse. Full story

June 30, 2014

Immigration Bill Officially Dead: Boehner Tells Obama No Vote This Year, President Says (Updated) (Video)

boehner 155 061914 445x289 Immigration Bill Officially Dead: Boehner Tells Obama No Vote This Year, President Says (Updated) (Video)

Boehner told Obama that a vote on an immigration overhaul will not be coming to the House floor this year, the president said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:43 p.m. | President Barack Obama will not wait any longer for House Republicans to pass an immigration bill, after Speaker John A. Boehner told him he will not allow a vote this year, the president said Monday.

“Last week he informed me that Republicans will continue to block immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year,” Obama said Monday in a Rose Garden statement where he announced he would go it alone on immigration, “without Congress,” as far as he can.

Obama said he believes Boehner when he says he wants to pass an immigration bill, but he hasn’t been able to pass anything despite a year and a half of trying.

“America cannot wait forever for them to act,” Obama said.

Boehner put out a statement blaming Obama for the lack of progress on immigration.

“In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written,” Boehner said. “Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue. The crisis at our southern border reminds us all of the critical importance of fixing our broken immigration system. It is sad and disappointing that ­faced with this challenge ­President Obama won’t work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can’t and won’t fix these problems.”

Boehner blamed the president’s executive orders for leading to the latest crisis on the border, “giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay.  The White House claims it will move to return these children to their families in their home countries, yet additional executive action from this president isn’t going to stem the tide of illegal crossings, it’s only going to make them worse.”

But in his remarks, Obama said Republican leaders have “proven again and again” that they are unwilling to stand up to the tea party and back an immigration bill.

“I’m going to continue to reach out to House Republicans in the hope that they deliver a more permanent solution. …Whenever it is they will find me a willing partner,” Obama said. “The only thing I can’t do is stand by and do nothing while waiting for them to get their act together.”

Obama said that the best solution for Republicans worried that he’s taking too many executive actions is to pass a bill. Full story

June 27, 2014

Obama Dismisses Boehner ‘Stunt,’ Talks Immigration (Updated)

Updated 9:59 a.m. | President Barack Obama dismissed Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan to sue over his executive actions as a “stunt” in a wide-ranging ABC News interview, in which he also told parents in Central America to stop sending their children to the U.S. border.

Obama noted Boehner has not identified a single specific action that they are objecting to.

“I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing,” Obama said.

On immigration, Obama said he told Boehner that if he’s upset about his executive actions, the speaker should try to do something legislatively.

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President Obama and Speaker Boehner attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon the Capitol’s Rayburn Room in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“You’re going to squawk if I try to fix some parts of it administratively that are within my authority while you’re not doing anything?” Obama said, directing his comments toward Republicans.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel responded in an email.

“The American people, their elected representatives, and the Supreme Court have all expressed serious concerns about the President’s failure to follow the Constitution. Dismissing them with words like, ‘smidgen’ or ‘stunt’ only reinforces their frustration,” he said.

Obama also told ABC that parents should not send their children across the border.

“Do not send your children to the borders,” Obama said. “If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.” Full story

June 25, 2014

White House: Boehner Lawsuit Uses Taxpayer Money Against Obama for ‘Doing His Job’ (Updated)

ireland010 031414 330x226 White House: Boehner Lawsuit Uses Taxpayer Money Against Obama for Doing His Job (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:49 p.m. | What does the White House think about Speaker John A. Boehner’s plans to sue President Barack Obama? Not much.

“They are considering a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said of the possible Boehner lawsuit.

Earnest, who has just a few days on the job, suggested the American people wouldn’t support the speaker’s effort. Earnest said Obama is using his constitutional authority to do what he can to help the economy and the middle class.

Full story

June 24, 2014

White House Not Reacting Yet to Boehner Lawsuit Plan

The White House told CQ Roll Call there is no immediate reaction to Daniel Newhauser’s scoop that Speaker John A. Boehner is planning a lawsuit against the Obama administration for failing to enforce the law.

We’ll update if that changes.

Obama’s strategy of acting on his own via his pen and phone has infuriated Republicans and has brought criticism from some legal scholars.

Boehner has repeatedly blamed Obama’s executive actions on health care and other issues for making his conference lose faith in the president’s willingness to enforce a new immigration law.

Republicans have been eyeing a lawsuit for months.

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