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Lawmaker Responds to 'Morning Joe,' Defends 'Hands Up' Symbol

"Hands Up, Don't Shoot" as a symbol of protest against injustice is here to stay, Rep. Al Green said Wednesday on the floor of the House. "This is not going to go away," the Texas Democrat said during a short response to critics — chiefly MSNBC's Joe Scarborough — who have taken issue with Green's and other black lawmakers' use, during congressional proceedings two days earlier, of a gesture that has come to symbolize frustration over the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Green said the "Hands Up" movement that has germinated in the wake of last summer's shooting is the latest in a long line of historic protests, including the Boston Tea Party, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Selma march and Rosa Parks' refusal to sit at the back of the bus in Montgomery.

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Senator on ISIS War: Congress 'Giving Away' Constitutional Authority to the President

As the House finalizes funding for anti-Islamic State operations, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Angus King, I-Maine, hammered the administration on the Senate floor Wednesday for failing to seek a new war authorization, while calling on Congress to debate an authorization before recessing for the holidays. Kaine, who has previously criticized President Barack Obama's unilateral action against the group also known as ISIS or ISIL, said failing to debate a measure would be "disrespectful of the troops," while King said it would be "one more giving away — of our constitutional authority to the executive." "Giving this president — giving any president — a green light to wage unilateral war for five or six months without any meaningful debate or authorization would be deeply destructive of the legitimacy of the legislative branch of our government, it would be deeply disrespectful of our citizens and it would be especially disrespectful of the troops," Kaine said.

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McConnell: Taxes, Defense, Appropriations Remain Big 3 Issues Before Christmas

In the mad rush to complete work before Christmas, there are three big-ticket items on which Democrats and Republicans seem to agree. "Obviously the Senate is waiting on the House with respect to the tax extender package, the way forward on funding the government and the National Defense Authorization Act," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. "Once those measures are received, we'll decide how to go forward." "I think everybody agrees, on a bipartisan basis, those are three things we simply must do here at the end of the session," the Kentucky Republican continued. "Fund the government, make sure we don't have any retroactive tax increases, and follow the tradition of many years, which is to pass a National Defense Authorization Act. I'm confident the Senate will do that before we depart for the holidays."

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Reid Open to Reported House Spending Proposal

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck an optimistic tone Tuesday discussing a reported House spending proposal to bundle 11 of the 12 regular spending bills for fiscal 2015 together with a shorter-term continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security. At his weekly news conference, the Nevada Democrat said while such a bill would be a "big accomplishment," it would be "unfortunate" to not include funding for the DHS. "I'm doing everything I can to help the Republican leaders accomplish what I believe they say publicly and privately what they want, and I hope they'll say yes for an answer," Reid said, while warning against listening to "extremists" on the GOP side. He did note that Democrats need to see what policy riders appear before giving the spending package his blessing.

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Jeh Johnson: Obama’s Immigration Plan Is ‘Simple Common Sense’

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration before skeptical Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Johnson, who has become the administration's point person on immigration, told the House Homeland Security Committee that the president's order to stay the deportations of millions of illegal immigrants is "simple common sense." "The reality is that, given our limited resources, these people are not priorities for removal. It’s time we acknowledge that and encourage them to be held accountable," Johnson said.

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Congressional Black Caucus Slams Ferguson Ruling

The Congressional Black Caucus lamented a grand jury’s decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson on the House floor Monday, calling it “a slap in our face” while repeating the refrain that has become a rallying cry for protestors: “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “We are running out of patience,” Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, said. “We waited to hear our country say loud and clear, there are consequences for taking the lives of others. We waited to hear some reassurance that black and brown boys’ lives do matter. But again, we were terribly disappointed and discouraged.” More than 10 Democrats used Monday’s Special Order Hour to discuss “Black in America” and what some said was another example of racism in the United States. “Though we’ve elected President Barack Obama here in the United States, I heard some say that we were in a post-racial America,” Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., said. “No, we are not. For racism is still alive and well in the United States.”

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Reid Says December Work Period May Approach Christmas

As the Senate returned from the Thanksgiving break, Majority Leader Harry Reid was already encouraging colleagues to work quickly to complete work for the year. While both the House and the Senate would like to complete activity for the lame-duck session by the end of next week, the Nevada Democrat who will cede the majority leader's post when the Congress ends was already warning that work could approach Christmas. "We need to work on reauthorizing defense authorization legislation. We have a lot to do, and there isn't much time to accomplish it. So, I encourage all senators to work hard to complete our work in a timely and efficient fashion. We may have to be here the week before Christmas, and hopefully ... not into the Christmas holiday," Reid said. "But, there are things we have to get done."

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Congressional Hits and Misses: 2014 Thanksgiving Edition

With Thanksgiving around the corner, Heard on the Hill takes a look at the times lawmakers simply could not get food off their minds.

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Obama Announces Resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

President Barack Obama announced the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from the East Room of the White House Monday morning. Obama thanked Hagel, the first former enlisted man and the first Vietnam veteran to serve as Defense secretary, whom Obama called an "exemplary defense secretary." "When I nominated you for this position, you said that you'd always give me your honest advice and informed counsel; you have," Obama said, directing his comments at Hagel. "When it's mattered most, behind closed doors in the Oval Office, you've always given it to me straight, and for that I will always be grateful." The event, which included Obama, Hagel and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., lasted nearly 15 minutes. Obama said Hagel would stay on the job until a new defense secretary was confirmed by the Senate.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Nov. 17

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, members spent the week discussing dirty oil, political ads and "dumb-ass liberals."

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November 21 House GOP Leadership Press Conference

Speaker John A. Boehner discussed President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration at his weekly news conference on Nov. 21.

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Boehner on Obama's Immigration Action: 'The House Will Act'

Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday morning that "the House will, in fact, act" to respond to President Barack Obama's sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action. In a four-minute press conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation's immigration system is "broken," and that "the American people expect us to work together to fix it. "And we ought to do it in a Democratic process," he continued, "moving bills through the People's House, through the Senate and to the president's desk." But Boehner also said Obama was trying to "deliberately sabotage" the prospects for congressional action on the issue by moving forward with changing immigration law unilaterally, that he "created an environment where members will not trust him" and "making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do."

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Obama Announces Executive Actions on Immigration

President Barack Obama outlined executive actions to fix existing immigration laws Thursday night during a nearly 15-minute speech from the East Room of the White House. The executive actions themselves are numerous and sweeping, and in many ways go far beyond the more than 4 million people who officially will be eligible for work permits and protected from deportation. Obama’s administration will order immigration agents to prioritize deportations of criminals and recent arrivals — and let people who are not on that priority list go free. Officials acknowledged though that Illegal immigrants without records would be less likely to encounter immigration enforcement.

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Senate Democrats: We've Got Obama's Back on Immigration Action

At a Thursday news conference ahead of President Barack Obama's prime-time address outlining his immigration executive action, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued that in the past 60 years, every president has taken immigration-related executive action. "This isn't anything new and unique, it's been done many times," Reid said. "As indicated in the meeting last night at the White House, we told the president and we're telling him before all these TV cameras, we've got his back." Obama is scheduled to announce his proposal at 8 p.m.

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Congresswoman on Immigration Action Criticism: 'It's Because It's Obama'

House Democrats pushed back Thursday against the notion President Barack Obama should wait to act on immigration, given the results of the 2014 midterms, while also suggesting the criticism of his expected executive action on immigration is overblown. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Obama acted with Congress when the Senate passed an immigration overhaul bill in 2013 and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., later slammed criticism of Obama’s expected action. "It’s perfectly legitimate, and I don’t know why in the world you all are so obsessed with that notion, because I bet you that you know yourselves that it’s perfectly legitimate for him to do it, and you made no outcry of any sort when anybody else did it,” Slaughter said. "It’s because it’s Obama.”

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Pelosi to GOP on Immigration Action: 'Look to Ronald Reagan, Your Hero'

In presenting her defense of President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi laid out the historical argument Thursday, praising a number of actions Republican presidents had taken on immigration and drawing parallels from Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation to Obama's immigration order. "Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?" Pelosi asked during a news conference Thursday. "People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country." The California Democrat was trying to establish a history of presidents making significant changes without going through Congress, and she brought up the pattern of Republican presidents in the past 50 years exerting their executive authority to act on immigration. Asked whether Republicans had a case proving what the president was proposing was unconstitutional, Pelosi said Obama's action was "absolutely, positively" not outside his constitutional bounds.

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GOP Senator: Obama Immigration Action Worse Than King George

The next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said President Barack Obama's expected executive actions would go beyond the dreams of even King George III. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday night about a series of administration actions that Republicans have found objectionable, ranging from the use of recess appointments to the transfer of five Taliban prisoners out of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. "It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom of the American people is at stake. That's what the framers believed," Grassley said, before quoting from James Madison in Federalist 51. Grassley contended that what the White House is planning on immigration policy would go beyond the bounds of enforcement discretion and the powers of the executive branch, comparing it to a power that King George III of England would not have had in 1776, going back nearly a century before that.

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Obama Previews Primetime Immigration Address

In a video posted to Facebook, President Barack Obama said he will announce his immigration executive actions Thursday night and speak again in Las Vegas on Friday at Del Sol High School. Obama says in the video he will lay out what he can do with his "lawful authority" as president while still working with Congress on an immigration overhaul. Speaker John A. Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel, however, said taking action on his own would "ruin" chances of getting anything done.

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Native American Tribe Protests Keystone Vote

A Senate vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday took an odd turn after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., read the final vote tally as protestors of the pipeline in the Senate Gallery burst into song. Capitol Police officers dragged out five protestors, including Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe as he bellowed a tribal song. Grey Cloud, who wore a headdress, continued singing as he was knocked to the floor and pulled to the wall of the hallway. Protesters were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while standing shoulder-to-shoulder, facing the wall. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Drew Willson arrived on the scene as doorkeepers and police officers tried to direct the crowd away from the protesters. In response to the Nov. 14 House vote to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott announced that the tribe recognized the action as an act of war.

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McConnell Says Goal on Spending Bill to Fund Government, Avoid Tax Increases

With appropriators hoping for a spending bill compromise by Dec. 8, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he "anticipated" supporting a House-passed spending measure to fund the government past Dec. 11 while criticizing President Barack Obama for his expected executive action on immigration. "Our goal is to fund the government; how long will be determined, I think largely, by the House majority in consultation with the Senate majority, and to avoid retroactive tax increases," McConnell said at his weekly news conference.

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Reid Will Not Move on Attorney General Nominee in 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Republicans will play ball on confirming a number of President Barack Obama's nominations before they take over the majority in the next Congress, but that list won't include the next attorney general. The Nevada Democrat said the White House wasn't pushing for confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney tapped by Obama to become the next attorney general, before Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., becomes the man in charge of the Senate floor schedule. "My personal feeling is that the White House has, through intermediaries with me, have said don't be pushing that, we can do it after the first of the year," Reid said.

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Reid: Obama 'Should Go Big' on Immigration Action

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged President Barack Obama Tuesday to "go big" on his expected immigration executive order, while saying it's "hard to comprehend" why Republicans are threatening a government shutdown over immigration. "I believe that when the president decides to do his executive order, he should go big, as big as he can," Reid said. "The fact that he wants to do something on immigration, is being forced to do something on immigration, should not stop us from doing our job, and that is funding government.”

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McConnell Praises Wife, Campaign Manager on Election Night

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised his wife Elaine Chao and campaign manager Josh Holmes at his election night gathering in Louisville on Nov. 4, calling Chao "the most valuable player on our team" and thanking Holmes for pitching "a perfect game.”

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Nov. 10

Despite the short work week, members still managed to discuss airbags, baseball and Mitch McConnell's age while dressing up in madras.

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Boehner: GOP Will Fight Obama 'Tooth and Nail' on Immigration

Speaker John A. Boehner said Republicans will fight "tooth and nail" against President Barack Obama's plans to act on immigration by himself, and didn't rule out a government shutdown. "We're going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path," the Ohio Republican said at a press conference introducing the new GOP leadership team. "This is the wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on Election Day they didn't want. And so, all the options are on the table." Boehner is facing pressure from conservatives to pre-emptively defund any amnesty, but that could lead to a shutdown fight. "We're going to have conversations with our members and when we have a decision, we'll let you know. ... Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his oath of office and violating the Constitution. It's not to shut down the government."

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McConnell Slams Obama, Says GOP Will Not Shut Down Government

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hammered President Barack Obama on issues ranging from net neutrality to immigration at his weekly news conference Thursday, while praising Senate Democrats for their "epiphany" on the Keystone XL pipeline. McConnell also twice refuted the notion Republicans would shut down the government over Obama's expected executive action on immigration, amid speculation House Republicans may attach a rider to a December spending bill blocking funding for the action.

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Reid Unveils Leadership Team, Says 'Not Get Even Time' With GOP

Sen. Harry Reid survived a four-hour meeting with his Democratic flock with his job as their leader intact, albeit without unanimous support, as he debuted three new members of his leadership team and promised to work with Republicans to legislate. His leadership team has three new members: Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a moderate who is the new head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who is chairwoman of Steering and Outreach; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has a newly created post to reach out to the progressive wing of the party. "We have to continue fighting for the middle class," Reid said. "The middle class is what is concerning every one of my senators. They're not getting a fair shot and we are going to do everything we can in the 114th Congress to make sure the middle class of this great country of ours has a fair shot.”

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Pelosi Criticizes Keystone Bill for Liability Exemption

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voiced her opposition Thursday to a House Republicans bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline because it would exempt TransCanada from having to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. "If you were 100 percent for the Keystone pipeline, you would have to have a problem with the legistlation on the floor," Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. "Should there be a leak, TransCanada will be exempted from paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, even though the tar sands component of what they're transmitting is highly corrosive."

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Pelosi: Obama Has Legal Authority, Precedents to Act on Immigration

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reasserted President Barack Obama's legal authority to change existing immigration laws Thursday, while saying Republicans should not attach a spending bill rider blocking funding for Obama's expected executive action. "[Republicans] are saying to the president, 'Don't use your executive authority.' Suppose he turned to us and said, 'Don't use your legislative authority,'" Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. "That's what presidents do: they have executive authority. ... Why are we going down this path when Congress can prevent it all from happening by passing the Senate bill?”

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Pelosi Defiant on Leadership Post, Slams Media

In her first public remarks since Election Day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended her decision to run to keep her post atop the House Democratic Caucus, and doesn't sound likely to relinquish her role anytime soon. "I don't understand why this question should even come up," the California Democrat said at a news conference Thursday. "I'm here as long as the members want me to be here." She also hinted there was implicit sexism in the constant "will she or won't she?" rhetoric. "When was the last time you asked Mitch McConnell, ... 'Aren't you getting a little old, Mitch?'" Pelosi asked about the Republican senator from Kentucky.

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Landrieu Calls for Vote on Keystone Pipeline

Embattled Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu announced her support for an immediate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline on the floor Wednesday, as House Republicans moved forward with an identical measure to help Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is in a runoff with Landrieu. "This has been a project that has lingered far too long," Landrieu said. "I believe it is time to act.”

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McConnell: Obama Acting Alone on Immigration 'Would Be a Big Mistake'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned President Barack Obama Wednesday about taking widely expected unilateral moves on immigration while laying out agenda items for the lame-duck session. “There’s a lot both parties can accomplish together over the next couple years. I hope that happens. I’m optimistic. But working together requires trust,” McConnell said on the floor. “I think President Obama has a duty to help build the trust we all need to move forward together, not to double-down on old ways of doing business.” “That’s why I think moving forward with the unilateral action on immigration he’s planned would be a big mistake,” McConnell said.

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Reid Congratulates McConnell, Says Democrats 'Ready to Work in Good Faith'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid congratulated Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans on the floor Wednesday for regaining the majority, adding, "Senate Democrats are ready to work in good faith" with Republicans. "I saw firsthand how a strategy of obstruction was debilitating to our system, and I have no desire to engage in that manner," Reid said. "I've been able to strike compromise with my Republican colleagues, and I'm ready to do it again. ... Although the desks in this great chamber may move around, and change, our duty to help working American families never will.”

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Louisiana: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Associate Politics Editor Kyle Trygstad and Photo Editor Bill Clark give you on-the-ground analysis on key Louisiana races before the 2014 midterms.

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Capturing the Shot in the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Photo Editor Bill Clark and Staff Photographer Tom Williams give you on-the-ground analysis from key races before the 2014 midterms.

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Mississippi: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Associate Politics Editor Kyle Trygstad and Staff Photographer Tom Williams give you on-the-ground analysis on key Mississippi races before the 2014 midterms.

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West Virginia: A Photographer's Take on the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Photo Editor Bill Clark gives you on-the-ground analysis on key West Virginia races before the 2014 midterms.

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West Virginia: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Abby Livingston gives you on-the-ground analysis on key West Virginia races before the 2014 midterms.

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Iowa: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Alexis Levinson and Staff Photographer Tom Williams give you on-the-ground analysis on key Iowa races before the 2014 midterms.

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Nebraska: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Emily Cahn gives you on-the-ground analysis on key Nebraska races before the 2014 midterms.

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Kansas: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Alexis Levinson gives you on-the-ground analysis on key Kansas races before the 2014 midterms.

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Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Emily Cahn gives you on-the-ground analysis on key Pennsylvania races before the 2014 midterms.

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Florida: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Abby Livingston gives you on-the-ground analysis on key Florida races before the 2014 midterms.

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Illinois: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Staff Writer Emily Cahn gives you on-the-ground analysis on key Illinois races before the 2014 midterms.

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Arizona: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Photo Editor Bill Clark gives you on-the-ground analysis on key Arizona races before the 2014 midterms.

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Georgia: What You Need to Know About the 2014 Midterms

Roll Call Associate Politics Editor Kyle Trygstad and Photo Editor Bill Clark give you on-the-ground analysis on key Georgia races before the 2014 midterms.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Best of the 2014 Campaign Season

As news outlets tracked the best campaign ads of the 2014 cycle over the past seven weeks, HOH kept tabs on the other activities which kept your elected officials busy, including arguing with constituents, reciting Greek history and reading mean tweets.

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C-SPAN Caller Says N-Word On Air

C-SPAN abruptly cut off a viewer call-in on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program Thursday when the viewer, who was discussing how Republican overreach in the 114th Congress could help Democrats in the 2016 presidential election, said "Republicans hate that n***** Obama." C-SPAN Senior Executive Producer and Washington Journal Host Steven Scully quickly apologized to viewers, saying the language "crossed the line."

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Boehner on Incoming House Republicans: 'They're Really Solid Members'

Speaker John A. Boehner pushed back Thursday on speculation of an expanding "hell no" caucus in the Republican party following Tuesday's Midterm Elections, instead calling on President Barack Obama to rebuild trust by not acting unilaterally on issues like immigration. "Yes we have some new members who have made some statements, I'll give you that," Boehner said, responding to CBS News' Nancy Cordes, "but when you look at the vast majority of new members who are coming in here, they're really solid members." When challenged by Cordes on Boehner's inability to pass immigration legislation, the Ohio Republican blamed inaction on the child migrant crisis while adding "hope springs eternal" moving forward.

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Boehner: House Will Continue to Vote on Obamacare Repeal

Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that regardless of its prospects of passage in the Senate, the House would continue to vote to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health care law when the 114th Congress convenes next year. "The House, I'm sure, at some point next year will move to repeal Obamacare, because it should be repealed, it should be replaced with common sense reforms," the Ohio Republican said at his weekly news conference. "Now, whether that can pass the Senate, I don't know, but I know in the House it'll pass. But we're going to pass it. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do other things. ... Just because we may not be able to get everything we want, doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to get what we can.”

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