David M. Drucker

5 Takeaways From the Ways and Means IRS Hearing

On a rare Friday of congressional action, the first hearing was held to examine the IRS scandal involving the extra, and in some cases unprecedented, scrutiny given to conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status over a two-year period covering 2010 to 2012.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller was in the hot seat for nearly four hours, as the House Ways and Means Committee grilled him on how and why the federal tax-collecting agency appeared to inject politics into what is supposed to be an independent process. Miller, who will leave his job next month, was joined by Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George — he received a considerably more friendly reception.

Q&A With Gov. Brian Sandoval (Part II)

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Brian Sandoval has cut a lower, less-partisan profile than many Republican chiefs executive.

But as a Hispanic Republican and the relatively popular leader of a Western swing state that sided with President Barack Obama last November, Sandoval might be uniquely qualified to offer his party political advice as it seeks to recover in the wake of the disappointing 2012 elections.

Q&A With Gov. Brian Sandoval (Part II)

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Brian Sandoval has cut a lower, less-partisan profile than many Republican chiefs executive.

But as a Hispanic Republican and the relatively popular leader of a Western swing state that sided with President Barack Obama last November, Sandoval might be uniquely qualified to offer his party political advice as it seeks to recover in the wake of the disappointing 2012 elections.

Did Justice Monitor Congress' Phone Calls With AP?

Some Republicans are concerned that the Justice Department was essentially able to spy on Congress through its seizure of Associated Press phone records.

Expanding on a Wednesday interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Rep. Devin Nunes told me Thursday morning that there is no other explanation in light of the DOJ's acknowledgment that, as part of its inquiry into national security leaks, it subpoenaed AP phone records from the House press gallery. That's a prime spot from which reporters frequently initiate and receive telephone calls from members of Congress and their staff.

WH Email Dump Proves GOP Case on Benghazi, Boehner's Office Says

A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner said late Wednesday that White House emails just released by the Obama administration bolster the findings of a House Republican investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The White House released 100 pages of emails in a beefed up effort to prove false the GOP charges that the administration attempted to cover up the true nature of the Benghazi attack, which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three others. Here is the full statement from Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck:

Q&A: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

CARSON CITY, Nev. — From his spacious office in the Silver State’s historic Capitol, Gov. Brian Sandoval keeps one eye focused on Washington, D.C., as he attempts to mitigate the political and economic minefield that has become the implementation of Obamacare.

The first-term Republican governor opposed the Affordable Care Act and joined the lawsuit challenging the legality of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law. But after the Supreme Court upheld the statute, he moved ahead with the creation of a state health insurance exchange, deciding he would rather have Nevada shape its citizens' access to care under the law rather than have federal bureaucrats do it 3,000 miles away.

GOP: No 'There, There' on White House Benghazi Pushback

A Republican aide told me moments ago that nothing revealed in an exclusive CNN report contradicts the House GOP investigation that suggests an administration cover-up over the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others dead.

Earlier Tuesday, CNN's Jake Tapper reported on a email he obtained that could indicate that the White House was not collaborating with the State Department to shield President Barack Obama's administration from any criticism that might arise over the nature of the Benghazi attack. Republicans have insinuated that the administration was sensitive to acknowledging that what happened in Benghazi was pre-planned terrorist attack carried out by Islamic fundamentalists because doing so would have contradicted Obama's campaign rhetoric that terrorists were on the run because of his policies.

Rules Committee to Democrats: Keep It to Yourselves

Don Wolfensberger, former chief of staff for the House Rules Committee in the Newt Gingrich era and now a columnist for Roll Call, offers this insight on the legislative tactics of the current House Republican leadership:

This week the Rules Committee reported two special rules for floor debate that could be identical twins. One provided for consideration of the Working Families Flexibility Act, reported by the Education and Workforce Committee. The second made in order the Full Faith and Credit Act from the Ways and Means Committee.

5 Top Moments of the Benghazi Hearing

House Republicans on Wednesday attempted to dig deeper into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others dead, during a nearly day-long Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

The political implications of the testimony of three State Department whistle-blowers remain unclear. But the hearing did have some riveting moments and interesting subplots.

What Rubio Wants Out of Immigration Markup

As the Senate immigration bill moves toward a markup in the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio is signaling the changes he supports as he works to make the legislation more palatable to conservatives.

The Florida Republican is a key architect of the "gang of eight" proposal, and his continued backing is crucial to its prospects. A Rubio aide on Wednesday provided CQ Roll Call with a "sampling" of the kinds of amendments to the bill that the senator will urge the Judiciary Committee to approve. About 300 amendments have been filed in committee.

Rubio Meeting Softens Immigration Skeptic's View

At least one tea party skeptic of the immigration overhaul bill created by the "gang of eight" emerged from a private Tuesday meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio encouraged that the Florida Republican is committed to adjusting the legislation in a way that would make it palatable to conservatives.

Niger Innis, of TheTeaParty.net expressed deep reservations with the Senate bill before the gathering, which featured about 30 conservative supporters and skeptics of the comprehensive rewrite package. In a statement provided to this blog before the meeting, Innis referred to the bill as "more Schumer than Rubio," in reference to New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, one of four Democrats in the gang of eight. Innis also made a point of expressing suspicion about the legislation's pathway to citizenship component, which he called "amnesty."

Benghazi Hearing: Grandstanding or Fact-Finding?

Whether House Republicans can remain focused on eliciting real information and avoid political grandstanding is a major subplot of Wednesday morning's Benghazi hearing.

Even under normal circumstances, members of Congress tend to do a poor job of using their question time to actually ask questions, and follow their initial questions with pointed follow-ups.

Conservatives Expect Immigration Bill to Move Right

Conservatives exiting a private meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio to discuss immigration reform predicted that legislation pending before Congress would move significantly to the right as it proceeds toward President Barack Obama's desk.

The Florida Republican, a key architect of the Senate bill, called the gathering to update conservative supporters and skeptics of a comprehensive immigration overhaul. Rubio also invited feedback and recommendations to strengthen the package in his bid to build support among the conservative grass roots and GOP lawmakers.

Rubio to Hear From Immigration Critics

At least one conservative organization attending a Tuesday afternoon meeting to discuss immigration reform with Sen. Marco Rubio is opposed to the "gang of eight" bill.

TheTeaParty.Net is a grass-roots organization on the guest list of about two dozen grass-roots conservative leaders invited to discuss the Senate immigration overhaul with the Florida Republican. The group released a statement ahead of the meeting making clear that it opposes the legislation in its current form.

Rubio Meeting Supporters of Immigration Overhaul

Sen. Marco Rubio is scheduled to meet Tuesday with about two dozen grass-roots conservative leaders to discuss an immigration rewrite.

The late afternoon gathering, set for the Florida Republican's Capitol Hill office, is closed to the press. Rubio is also scheduled to participate in a tele-townhall meeting Tuesday to promote the immigration overhaul bill from the Senate "gang of eight." That event, set for the evening, was organized by the Hispanic Leadership Network, which is affiliated with the Republican-friendly American Action Network.

Ryan Critical of Heritage Immigration Study

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan was critical of The Heritage Foundation study predicting a heavy cost to the taxpayer if Congress approves an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship.

In a statement provided to CQ Roll Call, the Wisconsin Republican had this to say about the Heritage report that the Senate bill's "amnesty" component would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion over several decades: “The Congressional Budget Office has found that fixing our broken immigration system could help our economy grow. A proper accounting of immigration reform should take into account these dynamic effects.”

Heritage: Immigration Reform to Cost Taxpayers $6.3 Trillion

The Heritage Foundation on Monday unveiled its much anticipated study projecting that the Senate "gang of eight" immigration bill would cost the taxpayers $6.3 trillion.

The conservative think tank didn't disappoint either its critics or its supporters; both expected the organization to predict a prohibitive taxpayer burden in the event that the nearly 11 million illegal residents are legalized and offered a path to eventual citizenship. The libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative Americans for Tax Reform previously predicted that the Heritage study would reveal such findings, much like a similar 2007 analysis by the think tank that supporters of an immigration rewrite blame in part for sinking the last effort to overhaul U.S. immigration law.

Cato Analyst: Heritage Study Flawed

Cato Institute Immigration Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh was still reviewing The Heritage Foundation's latest study on the cost of the path to citizenship component of the Senate "gang of eight" bill. But his initial reaction was no different than his opinion of the conservative think tank's 2007 study: It's "flawed," Nowrasteh told me in a brief email exchange.

The libertarian-leaning Cato Institute has been highly critical of Heritage's research on this subject and of its lead researcher, Robert Rector. Here's what Nowrasteh told me a few minutes ago:

GOP Pro-Immigration Group Boosts Ad Buy

A Republican group that backs an immigration overhaul is shifting its advertising strategy as it prepares for the Senate to take up the debate when it returns from recess this week.

The American Action Network, an issue-advocacy organization aligned with a super PAC and a Hispanic outreach arm, increased its current cable television ad buy from $300,000 to $500,000, the group confirmed to CQ Roll Call. The additional investment will be plowed into a national buy on prime-time cable television, targeting programs with high percentages of conservative viewers. The AAN also planned to run its spot Sunday morning during the Fox network broadcast of the public affairs show "Fox News Sunday."

Cantor Sets Ambitious House Agenda for May

The Keystone XL oil pipeline, Securities and Exchange Commission regulation, student loan rates and pediatric medical research will be among the first orders of legislative business in the House when Congress returns from a weeklong recess.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., issued a memo on Friday laying out the Republicans' legislative agenda for May. Congress is expected to be busy during the three weeks it will be in session before members take another short recess the week of Memorial Day. Cantor also promised another vote to repeal Obamacare.