Jessica Brady

Senators Take On Village Voice Media Over Child Prostitution

A bipartisan group of Senators kicked up their pressure on Village Voice Media to stop running ads on an adult services website that has been under fire in recent months for accepting ads that allegedly promote sex trafficking.

The lawmakers announced a Sense of the Senate resolution today that calls on the media company, which owns more than a dozen weekly publications including the Village Voice, “to act as a responsible global citizen” and stop running ads on Backpage.com for adult services. The website has been criticized for running advertisements for escorts and prostitutes, including some minors. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has been among the more notable critics of the website, which is similar to Craigslist and offers classified ads for everything from furniture to childcare services.

Donna Edwards Takes Her Own Path

Rep. Donna Edwards’ backing of a surging candidate over the establishment pick in a contentious Congressional primary earlier this month shocked Maryland insiders, but it was only the latest show of her increasingly independent streak in the close-knit Congressional delegation.

The Democrat said her colleagues should not have been surprised.

Peter Roskam’s Style Lays Ground for Leadership

Rep. Peter Roskam’s decision to stay out of the messy Illinois primary that pitted a freshman incumbent against a veteran lawmaker was a prescient strategy for a rising leader, Members and political observers said of the GOP’s Chief Deputy Whip.

While some Illinois junkies complain of Roskam’s cautious style when it comes to state politics, others noted that the three-term Republican is wisely picking his spots and building goodwill in a diverse Conference that widely views his future as bright.

Larry Kissell Joins Blue Dogs

The Blue Dog Coalition expanded its ranks today with the addition of two-term Rep. Larry Kissell.

The North Carolina Democrat brings the group’s membership to 25, although the fiscally conservative coalition will see a handful of its members retire after this year. Reps. Heath Shuler (N.C.) and Mike Ross (Ark.), the group’s co-chairmen, and Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.), the whip, are all retiring.

There’s No Shortage of Drama in Illinois

Illinois — the home of the sitting president, two former governors serving prison time and a big-city mayor and former Congressman known as “Rahmbo” — has not disappointed political observers this election cycle.

Both parties in the Prairie State have seen nasty, contentious primaries for House seats. One was a Member-vs.-Member contest, and the other featured a Member facing off against a former Member. For the first time in years, the state was relevant in the GOP presidential primary, which presumptive nominee Mitt Romney won last month. Republicans are still celebrating the statewide victory of Sen. Mark Kirk, who continues to convalesce after suffering a stroke in January. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is hoping the road back to the majority is paved with several Illinois pickups.

White House Pressed on Gay Rights Issue
Jared Polis Calls for Obama to Give Loyalists a Boost

Congressional Democrats, disappointed in President Barack Obama’s strategy to pursue legislation and not to use his executive power to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians, say the party’s leader is ignoring a key problem: Republicans control the House.

“Without a Congress that’s willing to pass [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], I wish the president was a little more aggressive to pursue nondiscrimination,” openly gay Rep. Jared Polis said in a brief interview Monday.

John Boehner Fully Backs Mitt Romney

Speaker John Boehner broke his silence on the GOP presidential nomination today and endorsed presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.

At a press conference, the Ohio Republican said, “I’ve not taken a position on his presidential campaign because, as chairman of the convention, I wanted to make sure that all candidates had a fair process and fair opportunity.”

Cybersecurity Bill Faces Tough Odds

After last year’s intense debate of an anti-piracy bill, any legislation dealing with Internet security faces an uphill climb.

That point was made clear today by House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, who was careful to point out differences between his bipartisan cybersecurity legislation and last year’s failed online piracy bill that was crushed after an all-out lobbying campaign from Internet companies and users.

GSA Scandal Gives GOP Fodder
Las Vegas Conference Provides House Republicans Ammo to Aim at Administration

With issues like Solyndra and Operation Fast and Furious beginning to fade, the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas conference debacle is exactly what the House GOP needed to keep the investigative heat on the Obama administration.

The scandal that erupted last week has already sparked action by the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Oversight and Government Reform committees, as well as a stern response from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and a comical tongue-lashing from “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart.

CBC Unveils Resolution for Trayvon Martin

A handful of Congressional Black Caucus members, still reeling from the death of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in February, unveiled a resolution today to honor the slain teen’s life.

The resolution introduced by CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) also calls for a repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, the controversial measure that allows armed civilians to use deadly force when they feel endangered. The law has been questioned since the shooting, and the CBC resolution seeks to condemn its advocates and calls on state legislatures across the country to reject similar proposals.

Eric Cantor Uses ‘Real Bullets’ in Primary Endorsement

House Republicans might not like the idea of one of their leaders picking favorites in Member-vs.-Member primaries, but at least for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, his backing of a winner in the Illinois GOP primary decision has only solidified his power base.

In the wake of Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s victory over Rep. Don Manzullo on Tuesday — winning 56 percent to 44 percent — Congressional observers note that despite some short-term gripes directed at Cantor, in the long run, his effort in Illinois could pay off for his own ambitions. It also poses a threat to outside groups who jealously guard their own status as kingmakers.

Young Guns Divided

Updated 9:46 a.m.

The original Republican Young Guns are high-ranking leaders now, and the group and its members are trying to hold on to a brand that previously brought them so much success.

John McCain: Jobs, Not Contraception, Should Be Issue

Sen. John McCain said today that Republicans need to pivot from debating the issue of contraception and get back to jobs and the economy as the party looks to make gains in the 2012 elections.

The Arizona Republican, the party’s 2008 nominee for president, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I think there’s a perception out there” that the GOP is a party unfriendly to women “because of the way the whole contraception issue played out.”

Rick Santorum: Support for Arlen Specter’s Bid was ‘a Mistake’

Conservative presidential candidate Rick Santorum said his endorsement of then-Sen. Arlen Specter’s 1996 campaign for the White House was “a mistake” today.

The Pennsylvania Republican, who is grasping for his party’s nomination to run against President Barack Obama this year, said he supported Specter because the two hailed from the same state even though the two differ widely on social issues.

SCOTUS to Release Health Care Transcripts, Audio More Quickly

Updated: 5:18 p.m.

Bowing to public intrigue, the Supreme Court announced today it will release transcripts and audio recordings from this month’s challenge to the 2010 health care reform law on an expedited timetable.

Power Discourages Panel Challenges to Maxine Waters
Financial Services Committee Members Abide by Seniority Rules

No fewer than three House Democrats are running for their party’s top spot on the Appropriations Committee, a phenomenon that runs in stark contrast to Rep. Maxine Waters’ uncontested bid to lead the party on the Financial Services Committee next year.

Though Waters has been under an ethics cloud in recent years, sources said the Californian appears to have all but secured the slot being vacated by retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). In fact, the ethics issue has rallied the close-knit Congressional Black Caucus behind Waters, and its protective front has helped her practically lock up the Financial Services spot despite the ongoing case.

Harry Reid Seeks to Move 17 Judicial Nominees

Updated: 5:32 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sought to move 17 pending federal judicial nominees today, declaring the nation’s court system “at the breaking point under a backlog so intense an emergency has been declared.”

Marcy Kaptur Shifts Her Focus to Appropriations Panel

Fresh off her primary victory, Rep. Marcy Kaptur faces another heated battle against fellow Democrats for the party’s top spot on the Appropriations Committee.

The Ohio Democrat is next in line behind retiring ranking member Norm Dicks (Wash.) on the powerful panel, and while the seniority system works in her favor, several colleagues, including Reps. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) and Jim Moran (Va.), are lining up support to take the top spot next year.

Democrats Willing to Tinker With Health Care Law

House Republicans’ latest attack on the Affordable Care Act isn’t expected to go far, but it will show disagreements within the Democratic Caucus as the Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments on the Obama administration’s landmark law later this month.

Democrats charge that the division on President Barack Obama’s hallmark legislative accomplishment is old news and dates back to the rigorous debate during the measure’s drafting in 2010. Republicans insist their latest proposal, to scrap a 15-member panel tasked with finding Medicare savings, helps build their case that the entire law should be overturned.

John Larson Announces Top Staffer Replacement

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson announced the elevation of Lee Slater, the Connecticut Democrat’s legislative director, to chief of staff today.

Slater will replace outgoing Chief of Staff Shelley Rubino. Slater has been with Larson since 2008 and served as his legislative director since 2009. He previously worked for Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and was an Army reservist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.