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Candidate Interview: Ruben Gallego (D) AZ-07

The former assistant minority leader in the Arizona House of Representatives, who is running for the open seat in Arizona's 7th District, visited Roll Call on March 4.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 2

Senators kicked off the first week of June asking for reporters' names, analyzing the "Wizard of Oz" and taking baths to clean themselves of sewer waste.

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Candidate Interview: Dan Sullivan (R) AK-SEN

The former Alaska attorney general who is challenging Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, visited Roll Call on June 4.

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Sanders, McCain Announce VA Health Care Deal

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., announced a bipartisan VA health care deal Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the Senate Veterans' Affairs chairman, and McCain met Thursday to negotiate a bipartisan response to the scandal at the VA — and they announced the deal on the Senate floor. “We were able to come together, I believe, in a way that will help to relieve this terrible tragedy that seems to have befallen our nation's veterans," McCain said. “We both had to make some very tough compromises." “Our job was to sit down and work out the best agreement. We did," Sanders said. "Does it solve all of the problems facing our veterans? Absolutely not.”

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Schumer Compares Steve King to 'Wizard of Oz' on Immigration

Nearly two weeks after Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, challenged Sen. Charles E. Schumer and other Senate Democrats to a "duel," the New York Democrat returned the favor on the Senate floor Wednesday, calling King the "Wizard of Oz" on immigration. "Steve King is much like the Wizard of Oz when it comes to immigration," Schumer said during a 10-minute floor speech. "He is pulling the levers behind the screen to make it seem he has the power. [The] Republican party will learn sooner or later, like Dorothy did in the 'Wizard of Oz,' that actually King works by fear and he doesn't have the power, that the Wizard's power is overstated he can't really do very much. And the only way to get back home and do something real is in ourselves."

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Reid Offers GOP a Deal on VA Bills

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., offered Senate Republicans a vote on a House-passed veterans bill in exchange for allowing a vote on a Senate Democratic bill Tuesday, but questions over amendments could stifle action. “I hope they accept this offer so we can take action to address the problems of the [Department of Veterans Affairs] this week,” Reid said. The Nevada Democrat said he had not yet heard a response from Republicans.

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Reid Says White House Did Not Violate Law in Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he was informed by the White House one day before the May 31 swap of five Taliban detainees in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, later adding the exchange did not violate the law. "I've been told no, he did not violate the law," the Nevada Democrat said in a response to a question about a 30-day statutory notification requirement. "In my own personal opinion, Guantánamo has been there far too long, and I think we should get them out of there as quick as we can. We've been held up from doing that by the Republicans not wanting them, any of them to be tried here in the United States."

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Senate Intel Vice Chairman: 'Dangerous Precedent' Set by Bergdahl-Taliban Swap

The May 31 prisoner swap freeing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees drew the ire Tuesday of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, who told reporters he was not properly notified of the transfer. “I haven’t had a conversation with the White House on this issue in a year and a half,” the Georgia Republican said. “And if that’s keeping us in the loop, then this administration is more arrogant than I thought they were.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was notified on May 31, but did not remember whether it was before or after the public release.

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Carney 2013 Statement: No Detainee Transfer 'Without Consulting With Congress'

Amid charges from Speaker John A. Boehner that the Obama administration intentionally kept the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress, new criticism emerged regarding a statement last year by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. When asked by NBC News' Kristen Welker about the potential of exchanging the five officials for Bergdahl on June 21, 2013, Carney said the White House would follow the law and consult with Congress before making any decisions. "We would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress," Carney said. "At this time we’ve made no decisions about the transfer of detainees. And in accordance with law, we would be consulting with Congress should we make any decisions about that ... [but] on these specific issues about individual detainees, that would be a process that is done in accordance with law."

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Candidate Interview: Emily Cain (D) ME-02

The state Senator who is running for the open House seat in Maine's 2nd District, visited Roll Call on Wednesday, April 30.

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Maya Angelou Honored on House Floor

Del. Eleanor Homes Norton, D-D.C., led a tribute to her close friend and fellow civil rights activist Maya Angelou on the House floor Friday afternoon.

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Boehner Says Shinseki's Resignation 'Really Changes Nothing'

Following the resignation Friday morning of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized President Barack Obama again for not doing more to solve problems surrounding the scheduling system and waiting lists at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. "[Shinseki's] resignation, though, does not absolve the president of his responsibility to step in and make things right for our veterans," Boehner said during a Friday afternoon news conference. "Business as usual cannot continue. And until the president outlines a vision and an effective plan for addressing the broad dysfunction at the VA, today's announcement really changes nothing. One personnel change cannot be used as an excuse to paper over a systemic problem."

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 26

It may have been a short work week, but members still found the time to discuss the pros and cons of pets using pot, their relations to Mark Wahlberg and the lifespan of Twinkies.

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Pelosi Questions Wisdom of Firing Shinseki

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., don't find common ground on a lot of issues, but both lawmakers staked out similar positions Thursday on Eric Shinseki, rebuffing calls for the embattled Veterans Affairs secretary's resignation. “They kept the information form the secretary and the Congress. So let’s reward them by removing the secretary?” Pelosi asked at her weekly news conference. "Certainly what was done is dishonest, let's just see what else it is."

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What You Missed: House Veterans' Affairs Hearing on VA Scandal

Calls for the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki grew louder on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee attacked the VA for not being forthright, and an internal audit revealed that problems at a veterans’ medical facility in Phoenix were more extensive than previously reported.

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Behind the Photo: Bill Clark's Favorite Photos

In this installment of our “Behind the Photo” series, photographer Bill Clark discusses his favorite photos he’s taken over years on Capitol Hill and on the road.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 19

While Rep. Steve King is busy challenging members to duels, members tell reporters to grow out their hair, reflect on the glory days of dial-up Internet and cite Stephen Colbert on the floor.

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Pelosi Calls for Congressional Action in Veterans Affairs Scandal

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday suggested that Congress ought to take legislative action to address the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs. The California Democrat called the "allegations of misconduct" at the VA — charges that the department manipulated wait times for veterans seeking medical attention — "completely and utterly unacceptable." But she defended President Barack Obama and declined to specifically implicate VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, calling instead for a comprehensive investigation into the allegations and for the Veterans' Affairs committees in the House and Senate to explore broad overhauls of the agency's operational structure.

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Steve King Challenges Senators to a 'Duel'

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has challenged three top Senate Democrats to a duel — but "not like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton," the lawmaker was quick to clarify. Unlike the famous confrontation in 1804 wherein Burr, the sitting vice president, shot and killed the ex-Treasury secretary, King would prefer to sort out philosophical differences with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin and Charles E. Schumer "like many men do it today: Not duel with 50 paces and pistols, but ... with microphones within arm's reach."

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Boehner Brushes Aside Notion He Is 'Blocking' Immigration Overhaul

In a tense exchange with Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos at a press conference Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was asked why, roughly a year after the Senate passed sweeping immigration changes, Boehner is "blocking immigration reform." "Me? Blocking?" Boehner replied sarcastically. Boehner, who reiterated again Thursday that most Republicans want to act on immigration but don't trust the president to enforce the law, said he has been calling for reform for more than a year, but that the Senate’s bill is unacceptable.

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Boehner 'Getting a Little Closer' to Calling for Shinseki's Resignation

As more members piled on Thursday calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida continued to hold back, although Boehner noted he is beginning to lose patience. “Listen, I have not called for General Shinseki to resign, although I have to admit I’m getting a little closer,” he told reporters. When asked why, he continued, “We’ve not just let them down, we’ve let them die. It’s awful stuff and somebody ought to be held accountable for it.”

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Boehner: NSA Bill Addresses Privacy Concerns While Maintaining National Security

After a year of global criticism of the reach of American phone and data surveillance programs, the House approved new restrictions Thursday that critics dismissed as watered down. The USA Freedom Act — backed by Republicans and Democrats and supported by President Barack Obama — would shift the collection and storage of phone metadata from the National Security Agency to private phone companies. The measure passed 303-121, with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio saying the bill maintains an important national security program while addressing concerns that the NSA had overstepped its authority. "People are a lot more comfortable that the government is not storing all this metadata that we were," the Ohio Republican told reporters. "And I think we also in this bill make it clear that there's no access to this data without a court decision, and the standards for that decision are higher than what they are."

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What You Missed: House Foreign Affairs Hearing on Boko Haram

The House Foreign Affairs committee held a hearing on the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April.

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McConnell Returns to Capitol, Makes 2014 GOP Unity Pitch

A routine media stakeout in the Ohio Clock Corridor on the second floor of the Capitol took on a decidedly campaign feel as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returned to D.C. after a primary victory back home. The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that after the last few elections, Republicans are growing unified as they head into November following a series of primary victories for the establishment Tuesday night.

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Carney: 'A Shame' Unemployment Extension Is Going Nowhere

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday it's "a shame" that House Republicans haven't passed an unemployment extension — and suggested they should act without requiring something in return. "It is our view that these are benefits that ought to be extended to Americans — to millions of Americans who need them," Carney said. "We do not view it as a cynical horse-trading exercise to achieve some ideological objective."

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Paul, Wyden Clash Over Barron Nomination, Use of Drones Abroad

Sen. Rand Paul contested the nomination of David J. Barron to be a First Circuit appeals court judge as well as the Obama administration's use of drones for targeted killings of Americans during a 31-minute floor speech Wednesday. The Kentucky Republican faced an objection to a unanimous consent request to delay Barron's confirmation, and following Paul's morning remarks Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took the floor in support of Barron while criticizing the Obama administration for its resistance to providing Congress with memos outlining its legal basis for carrying out acts of war. "It's unfortunate that it took Mr. Barron's nomination for the Justice Department to make these memos public," Wyden said. "I believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them." The Senate later voted to limit debate on Barron's nomination to a seat on the Boston-based court, 52-43.

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Behind the Photo: Tom Williams' Favorite Photos

In the second installment of our series, “Behind the Photo,” Williams discusses his favorite photos he's taken through the years on Capitol Hill.

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Obama Demands Improvements at VA, but Doesn’t Fire Shinseki

President Barack Obama is demanding that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki make immediate improvements for veterans, but has decided not to fire him, for now, as a scandal over allegations of manipulated wait time reports spreads to dozens of facilities. "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period," Obama said in a statement in the White House briefing room, followed by a brief news conference. Obama promised accountability and punishments for anyone found responsible for misconduct at VA facilities.

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Reid Open to VA Amendments on Defense Bill

As Senators begin to discuss legislation designed to remedy the controversy engulfing the Department of Veterans Affairs, it isn't immediately clear when they might have a venue for that debate. On Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would not legislate on the fiscal 2015 Military Construction-VA spending bill, but then volunteered that a VA health debate might happen in connection with the defense authorization bill, which is currently being marked up by the Armed Services Committee. "We would be happy to try to working something out on the authorization, which my understanding is that Sen. Levin's going to work on that again this week, hopefully report it out really soon," Reid said, referring to Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.

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Reid: No Obamacare Amendments on Tax Cut Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has no interest in debating a repeal of the medical device excise tax as part of any negotiations to revive a stalled tax cut bill. "That's an Obamacare amendment. We're not going to do that. [Republicans] can have as many amendments as practical to change the bill that's on the floor, and there's plenty of amendments that need to be offered on that. We have a lot on our side," the Nevada Democrat said. "So, the answer is 'no'."

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Opinion Duel: CQ Roll Call Moderates Debate on Raising the Minimum Wage

In the third installment of The Purple Network’s “Opinion Duel,” Roll Call Editor-in-Chief Christina Bellantoni moderated a discussion with Charles C. W. Cooke, from National Review and The Nation’s Zoë Carpenter over the politically charged topic of increasing the minimum wage. Carpenter contended that "even Republicans in the South" want the minimum wage raised to $10.10 an hour, but said that hike might not be enough. "There's a lot of momentum" for legislative action, Carpenter said. Cooke took issue with the idea that raising the minimum wage would "lift people out of poverty" saying that most who currently make minimum wage are not below the poverty line. "When you're looking at how to help people in need," Cooke said, minimum wage is "often not the best way to do it." Carpenter and Cooke discussed whether labor unions and their influence have affected the debate and how the mid-term elections will affect any change this year. Led by Bellantoni, Carpenter and Cooke discussed if the economy could sustain and grow with a raise in the minimum wage and if President Barack Obama's current actions will make any difference.

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House Democrat: Bush Will Become 'Last Republican President in American History'

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez criticized House Republicans for failing to move legislation forward to overhaul the nation's immigration system with only 18 House legislative days remaining before the July 4 recess. The Illinois Democrat then added that President George W. Bush, "will go down in history as the last Republican president," as a result of Republican inaction on immigration. "Even with a majority of Republican voters supporting immigration reform ... the positions Republican candidates feel they must take in order to win over their base make them unelectable when they face the American people in the general election," Gutiérrez said on the House floor Tuesday. "If you do nothing on immigration, I guess you can take comfort in knowing that from Abraham Lincoln to George W. Bush, you had a pretty good run."

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Reid Hints He May Go 'Nuclear' Again

On the morning of his Republican counterpart’s primary back home in Kentucky, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would not change the Senate’s rules in his absence. But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might well be advised to be prepared for another floor standoff over consideration of nominations. “I don’t plan on changing the rules today again, but how much longer can we put up with this?" the Nevada Democrat said during his opening remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday. "Even law enforcement officers … even law enforcement officers, as I’ve indicated here, they’re holding them up for no reason."

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Collins: Angus King 'Taught Me How to Text'

Kids these days are always texting, and by kids we mean Maine’s senators. At a joint event Friday in which independent Angus King announced his endorsement of his Republican colleague Susan Collins’ re-election bid, King said the pair traded texts about the endorsement while Collins later added that it was King who taught her how to text, making her nieces and nephews "very happy."

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Arts and Crafts at 'Living Aloha Hawai'i Festival'

Artisans produce native gifts for visitors to the National Museum of the American Indian.

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Moses Goods Spins a Yarn at The National Museum of the American Indian

Folklorist Moses Goods of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, regales the crowd at the "Living Aloha Hawai'i Festival" with a legendary tale.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 12

Democrats offer to show their amendments if Republicans show theirs, Sen. Ted Cruz quotes Jack Nicholson and Majority Leader Harry Reid explains the difference between mirages and solar panels.

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Veterans Affairs Head Will Not Resign

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki faced a barrage of bipartisan outrage Thursday morning, with senators from both parties pointing to systemic problems at the department he manages. But when asked by Nevada Republican Dean Heller why he shouldn’t resign, the secretary said his post was not a job, but a mission. "I came here to make things better for veterans," Shinseki said. "We're not done yet, and I intend to continue this mission until I've satisfied either that goal or I'm told by the Commander-in-Chief that my time has been served."

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Reid on Tax Extenders: We Won't 'Pull the Plug' Before Economy Recovers

Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday defended the Senate's $85 billion tax cut extension package, saying millions of Americans are still recovering from the 2008 financial crisis. "It wasn't all that long ago that the economy was in the throes of the great recession," the Nevada Democrat said during his opening remarks on the Senate floor. "We will not pull the plug before our nation's recovery is complete. By passing this tax extenders package, we will build our nation's economy more quickly."

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Opinion Duel: CQ Roll Call Moderates Debate on Climate Change

In the second installment of The Purple Network's "Opinion Duel," Roll Call Editor-in-Chief Christina Bellantoni moderated a discussion with Charles C. W. Cooke, from National Review and The Nation's Zoë Carpenter over the widely debated topic of climate change. Carpenter and Cooke discussed whether anything is being done to address climate issues and how this debate has shifted the political landscape. They also detailed the industry's "big money" in politics and how it sways popular opinion.

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Medical Device Tax Repeal Vote Sought by GOP

Republicans are eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor, but the chamber's top Democrat seems to have no appetite for it. Sen. John Barrasso discussed the tax both at a Republican leadership media availability and again shortly thereafter with a smaller group of reporters. "The Democrats will have an opportunity this week on the floor of the Senate to deal with jobs, the economy and the devastating side effects of the health care law," the Wyoming Republican said. "I think it's time to actually take a look at the medical device tax and truly putting forth, in a vote, an opportunity to eliminate the medical device tax." While Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not speculate on how his members might vote, the prospects for the underlying tax cut bill passing the Senate without amendments seemed dubious. "The bill does enjoy support. It is always our hope to have amendments," the Kentucky Republican said, adding that he would not prognosticate about what might happen if Reid blocks amendments.

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Reid: 'I'm Not Going To Cry Any Big Tears' Over Medical Device Tax

Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday rebuked Republicans eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor. "I'm not going to cry any big tears over the device folks," Reid told reporters at Democrats weekly news conference. "Their profits were huge last year."

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Reid Hopes for Senate Vote on Barron Nomination 'Soon'

Senators could soon face a vote on Harvard Law Professor David J. Barron — the author of legal opinions backing the Obama administration’s drone policy — to be a federal appeals court judge. “I’m going to try to do it soon,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. ”We got some complaints yesterday, people hadn’t had the time to go downstairs and spend a half hour reading the memos. So I’m sure that they, if they need more time, we’ll get ‘em more time.”

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Clay Aiken Primary Opponent Dies

Former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, who was vying for the Democratic nomination in a North Carolina House race, died on Monday, an employee at his company, Asheboro Elastics Corporation, confirmed. Local media reports stated that Crisco died from a fall at his home in Asheboro. He was pronounced dead when emergency responders arrived on the scene, according to the Asheboro Courier-Tribune. He was 71.

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How High Is John Fleming's Interest in Blocking D.C. Pot Decriminalization?

Rep. John Fleming, R-La., wants to clarify that he has not yet committed to introducing a House resolution to oppose the District's efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. "He continues to fact-find on the issue and will be at the sub-committee’s next hearing on the matter," said spokesman Doug Sachtleben in an email to CQ Roll Call. "But for now, he has not made the decision to introduce that resolution. He will continue to speak out against decriminalizing marijuana and seek to educate people about its dangers."

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House Republican: There is a 'Fascist Intolerance' of Anti-Gay Remarks

Rep. Louie Gohmert likened the cancellation of HGTV's "Flip it Forward" to Nazism during a speech on the House floor Friday. According to the Texas Republican, backlash from anti-gay remarks that the show’s hosts made demonstrates a totalitarian atmosphere. "Look we love homosexuals, we love all people. But it doesn't mean that you have to support, embrace, encourage particular lifestyles that you believe are harmful to the individuals and harmful to the society in general. So it is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen.”

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Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Boehner Over Unemployment Extension

An Indiana man has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly threatening to kill Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio over his refusal to pass an unemployment extension, according to court filings. Brandon J. Thompson, 32, of New Castle, Ind., faces federal charges for allegedly making email and telephone threats to an elected official, according to a press release. FBI agents arrested Thompson at his home Thursday night, where he admitted to the charges, according to a criminal complaint. He faced a U.S. magistrate judge Friday morning.

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Boehner Names Republicans to Benghazi Committee

As Democrats mull whether to participate in the special committee to investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, Speaker John A. Boehner announced the GOP slate from the House floor on Friday afternoon. The Ohio Republican read off the names of the selected members before a chamber hushed in anticipation. The appointees are Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Martha Roby of Alabama and Susan Brooks of Indiana. Boehner named Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., as the chairman-designate earlier this week.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 5

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dished on greased pigs, the Nevada desert and People magazine, members kept busy focusing on Kool-Aid, CNN and "House of Cards."

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Campaign Spot-Light: Cheap Dads, The Only Job Worse Than Being an Incumbent

Welcome to Roll Call's new feature that highlights the most interesting political ads of the week. This week, we focus on a handful of Republican candidates making the case for their fiscal conservatism through their children, and incumbents and friendly super PACs who are betting that charging a tea party insurgent as a "trial lawyer" is a more lethal than being "Washington insider."

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