Steven T. Dennis

The 10 Poorest Members of Congress (Video)

How do you calculate the “poorest” members of Congress? The 10 on our list have millions in debt among them — from business loans to credit cards to unpaid attorney fees related to an impeachment. But it’s hard to say any of them are really “poor” at all.

With a $174,000 annual salary for most members — which hasn’t budged since the economy turned sour years ago — lawmakers still make far more than the average American, and many are millionaires. But that doesn’t mean everyone is rolling in dough. They have expenses such as maintaining housing in the expensive Washington real estate market, as well as back home in their districts. And some came into office deep in the hole.

Obama Touts Iran Deal 'Adoption Day'

The Iran nuclear deal has reached a new milestone — adoption day — and the White House is cheering.  

"Today, Iran begins to take the steps necessary to implement its ... commitments, including removing thousands of centrifuges and associated infrastructure, reducing its enriched uranium stockpile from approximately 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms, and removing the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor and filling it with concrete so that it cannot be used again, among other steps," President Barack Obama said in a written statement Sunday afternoon. And Obama is getting ready to live up to his part of the deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  

Obama Deflects Comment on Clinton, Biden

President Barack Obama appeared irritated Friday when he was asked about Hillary Rodham Clinton's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership — declining to comment on her flip-flop on an agreement she praised as his secretary of State.  

"With respect to the trade and how Hillary views trade, I would have you direct questions to her," Obama said at a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye   in the East Room of the White House. "I mean, here is a general proposition, guys. During the course of what will be a long campaign, I probably won't be commenting on every single utterance or decision that the various candidates make, because I think that it is natural and proper for candidates to run on their own vision and their own platform," he said. During Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Clinton said regarding the deal, "I did say, when I was secretary of State, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. ... And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, 'This will help raise your wages.' And I concluded I could not."  

Obama Pushes North Korea Nuclear Deal

After cutting deals with Cuba and Iran, President Barack Obama is talking up the idea of cutting a deal with North Korea.  

On Friday, Obama offered up an Iran-style deal to eliminate Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief. “We’ll be right there at the table,” Obama said, provided that North Korea shows a willingness to give up its nuclear weapons.  

Obama to Keep Troops, Bases in Afghanistan (Video)

Updated 12:21 p.m. | The next president of the United States will inherit a substantial military presence in Afghanistan.  

President Barack Obama announced Thursday he will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year and 5,500 at three bases after 2016.

Hillary Clinton Would Let Colorado Keep Legal Marijuana

Hillary Rodham Clinton says the federal government should not prevent states such as Colorado from legalizing marijuana.  

"I really believe it's important that states like Colorado lead the way, so that we can learn what works and what doesn't work," she told KUSA-TV in Colorado. "And I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado, and enforced by your elected officials, as to how you should be conducting this business that you have approved. So, no, I want to give you the space and I want other states to learn from you, what works and what doesn't work." Clinton's remarks came a day after the first Democratic presidential debate on CNN, where she said she wasn't ready to endorse legal recreational marijuana but did support the use of medical marijuana, including more research.  

White House Cheers Debate, but Disagrees With Clinton on TPP

The White House cheered the Democrats who participated in Tuesday's presidential debate, but noted its differences with Hillary Rodham Clinton on trade.  

"It was encouraging to see Democratic candidates putting forward their own vision and values and priorities for the country, in large part vowing to build on the important progress that's been made over the last seven years," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday at his daily press briefing.

Paul Ryan Is a Speaker White House Could Respect (Video)

The White House may not join in on the long line of people begging Paul D. Ryan to take the speaker’s gavel, but that may just be to avoid tarnishing his image on the right. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to comment on the Ryan speculation specifically on Tuesday, but he did have plenty to say about Republican Party dynamics.  

“It's unlikely that an endorsement of anybody, by me from here, would be helpful to any Republican's candidacy,” he noted. “So, rather than try to navigate that twisted knot of political complexity, I'm just going to let Republicans decide for themselves who they believe should lead the Republican conference.”  

Walter Jones Says Rumors Helped Prompt Letter

Rep. Walter B. Jones acknowledged to CQ Roll Call Friday that he wrote a letter asking leaders to attest they had not committed any embarrassing misdeeds in part because he had seen rumors published of an affair between fellow North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.  

On Thursday, McCarthy denied Jones' letter had an impact on his decision to abruptly quit the race for speaker, and Ellmers released a statement Friday addressing what she called "completely false accusations and innuendo" and praying for those who bear false witness . Jones said he hopes his letter didn't effect McCarthy's decision.  

Darrell Issa Considering Speaker Run, Disses Chaffetz (Video)

Rep. Darrell Issa said Friday morning he might become a candidate for speaker and sharply criticized the performance of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, his successor as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  

"The fact is, yes, I think that I could potentially be a candidate," the California Republican said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "At the same time, I agree with the vast majority of members, I think. We need a Paul Ryan or we need somebody who is A. experienced, B. has been a committee chairman or something other than just up through the leadership ranks."  

Westmoreland Considers Long-Shot Bid for Speaker

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland is the latest to float himself as a possible speaker of the House — a long-shot bid that the Georgia Republican seemed to acknowledge.  

"We're thinking about it — me and about 20 other people," he said in a hallway interview, adding that he's likely to make calls over the weekend. Westmoreland touted his roles recruiting candidates to run in 2010 and in his state's redistricting efforts in his pitch to his colleagues.  

After McCarthy's Stunner, Republicans Who Could Be Speaker (Video)

Updated 5:26 p.m. Rep. Kevin McCarthy's stunning decision to withdraw his name from the race for the speaker's gavel has set off chaos in the Republican conference, with all sorts of names being floated of people who could potentially be the next speaker. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has announced his plans to stick around until his successor is elected, and that's what will happen for now: Boehner would only have to win a vote to vacate the chair if conservatives pressed one. Otherwise, he can stay for the duration.  

Here are the people who just might have the ambition for the job, although at this point, almost anybody could get a mention as chaos reigns:  

After McCarthy's Stunner, Republicans Who Could Be Speaker (Video)

Updated 5:26 p.m. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s stunning decision to withdraw his name from the race for the speaker’s gavel has set off chaos in the Republican conference, with all sorts of names being floated of people who could potentially be the next speaker.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has announced his plans to stick around until his successor is elected, and that’s what will happen for now: Boehner would only have to win a vote to vacate the chair if conservatives pressed one. Otherwise, he can stay for the duration.

McCarthy's Benghazi Gaffe Becomes All-Purpose White House, Hillary Clinton Defense (Video)

When in doubt, talk up Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's epic Benghazi gaffe. That's the plan of attack from the White House, the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign and Democrats on Capitol Hill, who clearly hope his remark will be the gift that keeps on giving.  

The new plans for a committee to investigate Planned Parenthood? More politics like the Benghazi committee, said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday. Earnest weaved the idea of another committee into a stew of Republican headlines in the last month — from Speaker John A. Boehner retiring amid an internecine shutdown fight to the Benghazi remarks of McCarthy of California, his likely replacement.

"Nowhere have I've seen much reference to the plight of middle class families, the desire to create jobs in this country. There certainly hasn't been any legislative actions on the transportation bill or reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. ... And the result has been a couple of public announcements from American companies that they're going to have to ship American jobs overseas. ... I do think it is a useful explanation for how Republicans find themselves at the bottom of the polls when it comes to the public's view of our nation's capital."
And Earnest wasn't buying McCarthy's repeated disavowals of the remarks he made on Sean Hannity's Fox News show.
"Look, I think it's quite clear that in trying to make the case to conservatives on Fox News, in an interview with a conservative Fox News commentator, that Mr. McCarthy was trying to burnish his conservative credentials. And the best justification that he could use was the fact that he had been instrumental in standing up a select committee that had taken its toll on Secretary Clinton's presidential prospects. ... That's the way he described his motivation and the motivation of the committee. And when he was talking to that television news personality, he seemed quite proud of it. ... The fact is, what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy, and there were four innocent Americans who were trying to serve their country who were killed. And the fact that even three years later now, the congressional Republicans continue to politicize that effort, it's offensive."
Earnest didn't go so far as to say Obama wouldn't be able to work with McCarthy should he get the gavel.  

Hillary Clinton Opposes TPP 'as of Today' (Video) (Updated)

Updated 4:31 p.m. | In a major break with President Barack Obama and her own past record, Hillary Rodham Clinton said she doesn't support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.  

"What I know about it, as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it," Clinton told PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff Wednesday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeh-14A8Rbc&feature=youtu.be  

McCarthy's Benghazi Gaffe Becomes All-Purpose White House, Hillary Clinton Defense (Video)

When in doubt, talk up Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s epic Benghazi gaffe. That’s the plan of attack from the White House, the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign and Democrats on Capitol Hill, who clearly hope his remark will be the gift that keeps on giving.

The new plans for a committee to investigate Planned Parenthood? More politics like the Benghazi committee, said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday.

John Dingell in Hospital: 'Being Old Sucks'

John D. Dingell is back in the hospital and will undergo a heart procedure. He tweeted about it Tuesday afternoon:  

https://twitter.com/JohnDingell/status/651469825643048960  

White House Offers RX for Gun Problem: Obamacare (Video)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered advice to Republican presidential candidates advocating more focus on mental health to stop gun crimes: Embrace Obamacare.  

"If they say that they want to work with the administration on mental health care, and if that's the real way that we're going to stop ... these heinous acts of gun violence, then I've got some good ideas about how they can do it," Earnest told reporters at the daily briefing. "Many of them talk about the need for better mental health treatment and better mental health care for those individuals who need it," Earnest said of the current crop of presidential candidates. "One particular program that has been particularly effective in expanding access to mental health care across the country is the Affordable Care Act. So voting more than 50 times to repeal a piece of legislation that has done more to expand mental health care across the country is certainly not keeping with their commitment to want to actually address this significant problem."  

White House: Guantánamo Closure Remains Obama Priority (Updated) (Video)

Updated 5:51 p.m. | President Barack Obama's veto threat over the National Defense Authorization Act isn't just about the money.  

"The current version that was passed through the House of Representatives is something that the president would veto principally because of this — of the irresponsible way that it funds our national defense priorities, but also because of the efforts to prevent the closure [of] the prison at Guantánamo Bay," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. "So our position on this hasn't changed. We continue to feel strongly about it."