Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2014

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July 18, 2014

Obama Pushes Putin Amid ‘Outrage’ Over Malaysian Airlines Jet (Video)

President Barack Obama sounded outrage over the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines jet, but isn’t ready to pin the blame definitively on Russian-backed separatists or Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With hawks in Congress urging a tough response against Putin after the jet was shot down over separatist-controlled territory Thursday, Obama has reacted cautiously, saying he doesn’t want to get ahead of the facts.

But he said the United States believes the plane was shot down by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory, and noted those separatists have claimed credit for downing other aircraft.

“Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet,” Obama said. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:08 p.m.

June 23, 2014

Progressive Caucus Trolls Obama on Drone Memo

The Congressional Progressive Caucuses trolled the White House Monday after the legal memo justifying the killing of Americans was partially released by court order:

Screen Shot 2014 06 23 at 4.49.24 PM 445x327 Progressive Caucus Trolls Obama on Drone Memo

New Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the earlier decision not to release the memo to the public.

“We worked with — through the legal system and those who are most interested in seeing it to produce a redacted document, that redacted national security interests while at the same time trying to live up to our commitment to transparency that the president has talked about quite a bit. So I think in this case — I think even the groups that sharply criticized us would call this a win for transparency.”

The actual press release was more pedestrian, but noted the Progressive Caucus has been pushing for transparency on drones.

WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) joined CPC Whip Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) in applauding the release of a White House memo outlining the government’s authority for using drones to kill U.S. citizens overseas.

“With the release of this memo, the American people have a glimpse into decisions made in our name where lives hang in the balance,” said Rep. Grijalva. “The fact that American lives are on the line too should give all of us pause. It’s time to end the secrecy surrounding our drone policies, and I applaud the administration’s move to release this memo. It’s a far cry from outright transparency, but it is a good first step.”

“The American people have a right to know their government’s justification for the use of force abroad,” Rep. Ellison said. “We need to restrict in the use of drones in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere. The American people can now learn more about a program that has claimed the lives of innocents and damaged our reputation abroad. The release of this secret memo is a victory for transparency. But more must be done to inform the public and have accountable policies.”

“The release of this secret memo is a good step toward transparency but we have a long way to go,” Rep. Lee said. “Congress must repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which is has allowed endless war with little Congressional debate, input or oversight.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has led the way on transparency in the U.S. drone program, holding an ad-hoc hearing last summer and endorsing legislation to bring the legal reasoning behind the drone program into the light.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 5:17 p.m.

May 5, 2014

Welcome to POTUS Operandi

sotu tw008 012814 445x296 Welcome to POTUS Operandi

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Welcome to Roll Call’s new White House blog, POTUS Operandi. Our organization has long covered the White House, but never in blog form, capturing the news and odds and ends as they happen.

Our focus, as you would expect from “The Newspaper of Capitol Hill,” has traditionally been on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. As such, our White House coverage has appeared in various places on our website — including on our 218 House blog and our #WGDB blog on the Senate. Now you’ll find much of it here as we examine how the White House works — or doesn’t — with Congress.

What you won’t find on POTUS Operandi is a daily tick-tock of White House events — the sports team ceremonies, sometimes newsless news conferences and other presidential flotsam and jetsam.

What I intend to provide instead is a relentless focus on and analysis of the White House’s relationship with Congress, and what the daily events might signify when it comes to congressional leadership. Or, as is often the case lately, when the president plans to bypass Capitol Hill.

Where does the president still have leverage? Where has he squandered it? What are the repercussions of a pen-and-phone presidency? What do lawmakers think about the president?

You’ll find plenty of policy here.

But you’ll also find stories and posts about the people trying to keep the trains moving relatively close to on time.

Have a good question to ask the White House or a news tip? Email me: stevendennis – at – or find me on Twitter: @steventdennis.

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