Jonathan Strong

Jeff Neely’s Pacific Adventure

Well after an inspector general began auditing a lavish Las Vegas conference, Jeff Neely, who headed the General Services Administration’s San Francisco office, took his wife on a taxpayer-funded trip to Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Neely boasted in a November 2011 email that the trip was a “birfday” gift. (Fiddy must be so proud.) His wife responded positively to the gesture.

House Passes FAA Fix

Despite a vigorous debate on the House floor prior to the vote, a bill to prevent flight delays from sequestration-related budget cuts passed the House with a large bipartisan majority.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., decried the bill and voted against it “because it fails to address the whole impact of sequester.”

Mike Turner Broadens Campaign Against ‘Monuments to Me’

Following a successful bid to ban the naming of facilities authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act after sitting members of Congress, Ohio Republican Rep. Michael R. Turner is broadening his push to ban the practice across the federal government.

"We all understand acknowledging the service of those members who are retired or have, perhaps, passed on. But sitting members of Congress — it’s a clear conflict of interest for a facility to be named after them,” Turner said. “These are not member of Congress dollars that build these facilities, they’re the taxpayers’ dollars.”

Tea Party Caucus to Relaunch With Event Thursday

After a hiatus that coincided with a tough re-election campaign for Rep. Michele Bachmann, the House Tea Party Caucus is launching anew with a reception Thursday.

About a dozen representatives and several senators are expected to attend the event in the Rayburn House Office Building at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, organizers said. Co-hosting the event is TheTeaParty.net and helping organize it is consulting firm kellenPROJECTS.

Boehner Violates Hastert Rule Again

The House approved a bill Tuesday without the support of a majority of the Republican Conference, about one month after Speaker John A. Boehner sought to assure his conference that he intended to observe the "Hastert rule."

The bill, which expands the government’s ability to buy land to protect historical battlefields at a projected cost of $50 million, passed under suspension of the rules, 283-122, with 101 Republicans supporting the bill and 122 voting against it. The Hastert rule, named for former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., calls for GOP leadership to only allow bills to pass that have secured "a majority of the majority" of the House Republican conference.

Mad Men: Madison Avenue's Advice to the GOP

Ask the modern day “Mad Men” on New York’s Madison Avenue about the GOP's efforts to rebrand and they point to the recent episode involving Rep. Don Young's use of the term "wetback" as a missed opportunity.

Speaker John A. Boehner quickly demanded that the Alaska Republican apologize, but in the following days, his spokesmen did not even respond to emailed questions about whether Young would face any concrete punishment for using the racially offensive term in a radio interview.

Issa-Cummings Truce Tested Over Whistle-Blower

It’s only been about three months, but the tentative truce between House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., is already facing its first big test.

At issue is whether Issa will provide copies of whistle-blower documents to Cummings. According to Issa, the person who provided the material to the committee is that afraid Cummings’ staff will give the Obama administration a heads up on what’s been shared and leave the whistle-blower open to retaliation.

Breaking Down the 10 GOP 'No' Votes on the Ryan Budget

We explained earlier this week why most conservatives would vote for the Ryan budget despite their complaints that it largely obtained balance in a relatively brief 10 years by including past tax increases.

That proved true Thursday, when only 10 Republicans voted “no” on the plan and decided against joining their party on one of its most unified votes. Here's why they voted against House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan's blueprint.

Boehner Downplays Debt Ceiling Fight as Leverage

Speaker John A. Boehner downplayed the importance of the debt ceiling increase in remarks to reporters Thursday, saying it might provide “some” leverage to Republicans to force spending cuts, “but I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.”

Rather than isolating the debt ceiling as an individual point of leverage, Republicans are hinting they’ll use it alongside the sequester cuts and the budget fight to push for long-term entitlement changes.

Why Most Conservatives Will Vote for the Ryan Budget, Despite Complaints

The budget blueprint offered by House Republicans last year would have balanced the budget in what seemed like a million years (actually, it was 27). This year’s plan offered by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., balances in only 10. It also repeals Obamacare and institutes Medicare changes sought by Republican deficit hawks.

And yet, there is angst on the right about this budget.

CPAC: Santorum Unmoved By Portman Gay Marriage Reversal

Former Sen. Rick Santorum offered a steadfast defense of his position when questioned about Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's decision to support gay marriage.

In a room filled with social conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the failed 2012 presidential candidate said, "Just because someone changes their mind doesn't change things." He added that, in law, "bad facts make bad laws" and that some Republicans are confronting "very difficult facts" in their lives.

Limbaugh: Will Media Ask Ron Paul About Double Dipping?

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh wondered today whether the hosts of tonight’s GOP presidential nomination debate will ask Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) about repeatedly being double reimbursed for flights.

“It will be interesting to see if anyone asks Ron Paul about his double dipping,” Limbaugh said.

Bill Clinton Offers Dose of Reality, Warning to House Dems

LEESBURG, Va. — At a retreat here that has been notable for the improbable exuberance of an energized House Democratic Caucus, President Bill Clinton offered doubt.

Drawing on lessons from his own presidency, Clinton said 2014 poses a more difficult challenge than 2012 and urged lawmakers to tread carefully on the issues of health care, gun control and the economy.

Obama to Help House Democrats Recruit Candidates

Updated 2:30 p.m. | LEESBURG, Va. — President Barack Obama has agreed to do more than just raise money for House Democrats’ effort to win back the majority in 2014: He is also going to help with candidate recruitment.

Obama will headline eight fundraising events in 2013 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more fundraisers are planned for 2014. But Obama’s agreement to help DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates in targeted districts is also significant.

Steve Israel Vows Dems Will Pick Up Seats

As the disappointing election results were being tallied, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel vowed to operatives at an election night party that Democrats would pick up seats in the House.

The bar is lower than the goal of retaking control of the chamber that leaders have talked up for the past two years. Even as networks were calling the House for Republicans, the New Yorker’s fellow Democratic leaders, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, both maintained that such a victory was in their grasp.

Sheriff Sees No Signs of Political Motivation in Pelosi Burglary

There were no signs of a political motive for a break-in Monday at one of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's California homes, Capt. Tracey Stuart, a spokeswoman for the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, told Roll Call.

The perpetrators did not vandalize the residence or leave behind anything that pointed to a motive beyond burglary, Stuart said. There was nothing obviously missing, although the Pelosis have not been at the residence to check if anything is gone. Their belongings had been rifled through to “some” degree, Stuart said.

House Democrats Lower Expectations, Offer 'Tea Party' Narrative

For two years, Democratic leaders have focused on winning the 25 seats necessary for their party to take back the House. But with analysts predicting disappointing results for the number of seats they will pick up in Tuesday's elections, aides and party operatives are privately lowering expectations about the net gain.

In internal conversations with Democratic lawmakers, leaders are “definitely lowering the expectations,” a senior Democratic House aide said.

Nancy Pelosi Raised $12.9 Million in October

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi raised an eye-popping $12.9 million in October for House Democrats, a spokesman said.

The California Democrat held 65 fundraising and campaign events in eight states and Washington, D.C. Over the current election cycle, Pelosi has raised $85.1 million.

A Kildee Comeuppance? Or More Obama Aloofness?

Updated March 15, 6:28 p.m. | Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee has been in Congress for a little more than two months, and today the leader of the free world gave him a gentle ribbing about just how new he is to Capitol Hill.

At a closed-door meeting between President Barack Obama and House Democrats, Kildee introduced himself as a freshman, to which Obama said, “Wow, you’re really classing up the place then.”

Kurt Bardella Leaving Darrell Issa to Join Abel Maldonado Campaign

Kurt Bardella, the senior adviser to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) with a colorful history and a reputation as an attack dog, is headed back to California to work for 24th district Congressional candidate Abel Maldonado (R).

Maldonado, the former lieutenant governor, is challenging Rep. Lois Capps (D) in a race that could prove competitive. Following redistricting, Capps' district went from a 20-point registration advantage for the Democrats to a three point edge. In California's June 5 "jungle" primary, the votes for Maldonado and a second Republican candidate combined to beat Capps’ 46 percent.