April 1, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

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Senate Democrat: Obama 'Must' Come to Congress Before Iraq Military Action

A longtime ally of President Barack Obama says he must come to Congress before taking military action in Iraq, except to secure the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the former head of the Democratic National Committee, said Obama "must seek congressional approval" before launching military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) unless there is a direct and imminent threat to the United States, such as a threat to the U.S. Embassy. There is no such imminent threat now, Kaine said.

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The 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game

Established in 1909, the Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game has been played continuously since 1962, with Democrat and Republican members of Congress competing for the coveted Roll Call trophy.

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Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame

Some ballplayers rack up win after win from the pitcher’s mound. Others bash hit after hit. Managers capture the coveted Roll Call trophy and put it on display in their offices. Any of these career paths can lead to recognition and honors. But what about the low-key player who, over the course of 14 years, out-pitches his more celebrated teammates, wins an MVP award for his defensive prowess, changes the way pitchers are handled — and is the only player to ever strike out a Hall of Famer? One man has accomplished all of the above, and for that we have selected former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., as the 2014 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame.

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McConnell Unsure Whether He Will Support Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he had not decided if he would support reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank at his weekly news conference Tuesday. McConnell, who is campaigning for re-election, was quick to point out he did not vote for the last authorization, and stressed his support or lack thereof should not prevent the Senate from considering the issue. “I think we ought to take it up,” he said. “The last time it was up I didn’t support it, but I don’t think that’s an argument for not bringing it up.”

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Reid Plans Vote to Reauthorize Export-Import Bank

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to hold a vote on the Export-Import Bank before its authorization expires at the end of the fiscal year. “I think it’s really important that we have legislation like this that has the wide support of business groups around the country; it’s something that creates jobs,” Reid said. But he declined to speculate when that would be and whether it would be considered separately or as part of a package, like a continuing resolution that may be needed to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year.

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Reid: Not Funding Highway Bill Would Be 'A Real Shame'

When the Senate returns from the July Fourth recess, lawmakers will have just about two weeks to fix a shortfall in funds for federally-backed highway projects, with both parties again in a dispute over taxes. Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., made a presentation during Tuesday's caucus lunch, and after Majority Leader Harry Reid said not funding surface transportation would be "a real shame" at his weekly news conference. Wyden said Tuesday the trust fund will go out of balance on July 18.

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Reid Says Unemployment Extension Up To Boehner

It's up to the House to act next on an unemployment extension, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday. “We need to get some movement in the House,” he said at his weekly press conference. “We’ve already passed an unemployment extension over here and the House, in their typical fashion, has done nothing.”

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White House Intern Faints at Press Briefing

A White House intern fainted at the end of a press briefing Tuesday, one day after Press Secretary Josh Earnest took over the position Jay Carney held for three years. According to the White House pool report, it was the intern's first day on the job.

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Gowdy Says IRS Has 'No Idea' Whether Lerner Engaged in Criminal Wrongdoing

Former prosecutor and South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy relentlessly questioned whether the IRS had mishandled or destroyed evidence in what potentially could be a criminal case during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Monday. "How would you know what elements of the crime existed?" he demanded of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "You don't even know what statutes are in play. You don't have any idea.”

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Issa to IRS Commissioner: 'I've Lost My Patience With You'

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen again Monday, while Democrats on the panel reserved much of their ire for Chairman Darrell Issa. Issa, involved in a high-profile clash earlier this year with ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., hammered Koskinen over the lost emails of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation, concluding his opening questions by telling the IRS commissioner, "I've lost my patience with you."

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The Self-Proclaimed 'Senate Comedian' Shows His 'Caucasian Skills'

Scanning the crowd in the back room of downtown D.C. sportsbar, Senate doorkeeper Scott Muschett, the self-proclaimed "Senate Comedian," decided the script for his five minutes at the mic was all wrong. Muschett claims his "Caucasian Skills" routine -- promoted to friends and acquaintances on Capitol Hill via flyers, his website and his @SenateComedian Twitter presence -- was dubbed by comedian Dave Chappelle. Quick-talking and deprecating, Muschett is sometimes likened to Rodney Dangerfield, but he's got an overtly political angle. "I do this basically as a Democrat with a spine to eviscerate political correctness," Muschett told CQ Roll Call prior to taking the stage. "That is the torch that I carry."

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'Ms. Ethics' Carol Dixon Remembered on House Floor

Carol E. Dixon, director of advice and education for the House Committee on Ethics, died Monday from unknown causes. She was 44. Dixon had worked at the committee for 11 years. Family and colleagues described her as an excellent baker, devoted aunt, passionate Michigan football fan and sharp legal mind.

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Rangel on Primary Opponent: 'What the Heck Has He Done Besides Saying He’s a Dominican?'

In his first televised debate with primary challenger Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., snapped at the state senator who if elected could become the first Dominican-American in Congress, saying, “Just what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican?” Rangel is seeking his 23rd term in the House of Representatives.

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Paul Ryan to IRS Commissioner: 'Nobody Believes You'

Rep. Paul D. Ryan led a parade of House Republicans Friday ripping into IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and the tax agency's handling of emails related to the targeting of conservative groups. The Wisconsin Republican told the former Clinton and Bush administration official, who was brought in last year by the White House to clean up the IRS, "Nobody believes you." Questions about the IRS and its handling of conservative groups during the early days of the Obama administration have ramped up dramatically in the past week, amid revelations the agency has irretrievably lost months of emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the scandal.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 16

As summer approaches, members turned to flavored e-cigarettes, arithmetic and CIA analysts on acid to make it through the heat of the week.

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Members Beat Babes in Congressional Women's Softball Game

After a tough loss last year, the women of Congress reclaimed the pink trophy Wednesday in the 6th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, beating the female journalist team, the Bad News Babes, 10-5. The lawmakers and journalists faced off on a muggy evening at the Watkins Recreation Center to compete in the annual game, which benefits the Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer charity. Scores of Hill staffers, journalists and members of Congress came out to cheer for their favorite players while Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also made appearances.

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Members Celebrate Softball Win on House Floor

Members joined together on the House floor Thursday to celebrate their 10-5 victory over the press in the 6th Annual Congressional Women's Softball Game. Co-Captain Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said members beat the press "badly" and said she was hopeful the game set an example of how members can set aside politics to work together. "Unbelievably, the press seems to be absent — they want to cover us on everything else — but they seem to be absent in observing these proceedings."

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Members Celebrate Softball Win on House Floor

Members joined together on the House floor Thursday to celebrate their 10-5 victory over the press in the 6th Annual Congressional Women's Softball Game. Co-Captain Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said members beat the press "badly" and said she was hopeful the game set an example of how members can set aside politics to work together. "Unbelievably, the press seems to be absent — they want to cover us on everything else — but they seem to be absent in observing these proceedings."

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Kirk Pays Tribute to Staffer Lisa Radogno

Lisa Radogno, executive assistant and scheduler to Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., died Wednesday of a massive pulmonary embolism that may have resulted from complications following a car accident earlier this year. She was 31 years old. In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Kirk called her "one of the brightest lights of our DC office" and "somebody that I will miss with every fiber of my being."

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McCarthy, Scalise Win House GOP Leadership Elections

Republican members of the House elected Kevin McCarthy to be the next majority leader and Steve Scalise to be the next majority whip following a Thursday afternoon secret ballot vote. McCarthy, who was the majority whip, toppled conservative challenger Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho in the first vote Thursday, opening his position for a second vote pitting Scalise against Peter Roskam of Illinois and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.

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Pelosi: IRS Needs to 'Upgrade Their Technology'

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn't appear to think that there was foul play in the Internal Revenue Service's misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official at the center of the ongoing IRS scandal. At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, the California Democrat said her takeaway from reports that Lerner's emails have been lost forever was simply that the IRS needs to upgrade its technology infrastructure. "What it convinces me of is they need a new technology system at the IRS," Pelosi said, adding that Lerner's emails were not the only ones missing after an alleged computer meltdown. "Reports all show that those responsible did not know about the years of the crashes of their systems until a couple of years later, so I think they need to upgrade their technology, get it right so there's no suspicion about what agenda anyone might have."

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Boehner: 'Who Could Possibly Believe' IRS Lost Lerner's Emails

Speaker John A. Boehner implied the Internal Revenue Service's misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner could have been destroyed on purpose at his weekly press conference Thursday morning. "The president called this a phony scandal. But who could possibly believe that they lost two critical years of emails of the central figure in this investigation?" he asked.

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Boehner: 'Spread of Terrorism has Increased Exponentially' Under Obama

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said he is looking to the White House to craft an overall strategy to quell the spread of terrorism in Iraq and the Middle East, which he said has been "exponentially" on the rise during President Barack Obama's presidency. His comments come a day after he met with the president at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., along with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and the top two Senate leaders, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

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Obama Prepared for Iraq Action Without Congress

President Barack Obama said Thursday he's prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq and launch attacks against the terrorist group ISIL without getting new permission from Congress. "American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people in the region and American interests as well," Obama said.

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Sprint to Power: 10 Days Inside the GOP Leadership Race

Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning June 10 primary loss was the pistol shot that set off a 10-day sprint for power by House Republicans. Here's CQ Roll Call's minute-by-minute look at how the leadership races unfolded and, more importantly, how the victors put themselves in place to win.

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Reid, Cantwell Cheer Cancellation of Redskins Trademark

Two of the Senate's leading critics of Washington Redskins name and team owner Dan Snyder were quick to take the Senate floor to praise the Patent and Trademark Office's decision to strip the team of its trademarks. First came Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a former chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, who has spearheaded efforts to get the name changed. On the floor, she criticized the Redskins monicker as a slur. "We're so excited to know that finally people are recognizing that this issue can no longer be a business case for the NFL to use this patent," Cantwell said. "They will not be able to forcefully exclude other people from having derivatives of this logo or the name."

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McConnell: Entirely Pulling Out of Iraq Was a 'Terrible Mistake'

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell deflected a question on what action President Barack Obama should take in Iraq, instead shifting to what the president should have done. "I'm anxious to hear what he has to say -- he's the President of the United States -- about what we do confronted with this situation now," McConnell said. "Looking forward, let's don't do it again in Afghanistan."

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Reid: 'We Shouldn't Be Sending Our Men and Women Back to Iraq'

President Barack Obama will meet at the White House with the bipartisan Congressional leadership Wednesday to discuss Iraq and other foreign policy issues, according to a White House official. At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., talked more about what he doesn't want to do in Iraq — rather than what should be done. "After a decade of war, we've all had enough," he said. "I do not support putting our men and women in harms way in Iraq. Families have sacrificed enough."

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Candidate Interview: Rep. James Lankford (R) OK-SEN

Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is running for Oklahoma's open Senate seat, visited Roll Call on June 10.

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Amanda Renteria Discusses Playing in the Congressional Women's Softball Game

House candidate Amanda Renteria discusses her athletic background in the context of the Congressional Women's Softball Game during a February 27 interview with CQ Roll Call.

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Emily Cain on Playing Softball Ahead of the Congressional Women's Softball Game

House candidate Emily Cain discusses her athletic background in the context of the Congressional Women's Softball Game during an April 30 interview with CQ Roll Call.

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Mia Love Talks Softball Ahead of the Congressional Women's Softball Game

House candidate Mia Love discusses her athletic background in the context of the Congressional Women's Softball Game during her June 5 interview with CQ Roll Call.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 9

Even with Majority Leader Eric Cantor stealing the spotlight for much of the week, members managed to focus their attention on beef jerky, hamburgers, pools and Ewoks.

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McConnell Pays Tribute to Jim Bunning's Perfect Game

It was Father's Day 50 years ago that former Sen. Jim Bunning made history, pitching a perfect game at Shea Stadium. The Kentucky Republican's hall of fame career featured no shortage of milestones, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't let the anniversary go by without a tribute to his former colleague — a man with whom he at times famously disagreed.

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Obama Says He 'Will Consult Closely With Congress' on Iraq Military Action

President Barack Obama said he is considering "targeted" and "selected" military actions in Iraq, short of sending U.S. troops, to turn back rebel forces, but wants assurances that the Iraqi government will take steps to end sectarian strife. In a statement at the White House, Obama said he will "consult with Congress" and keep the American people informed about his decision. But he said he would not be making a decision "overnight" and need Iraqi leaders to make assurances that they would make changes necessary to deal with their political problems. "We are not going to be able to do it for them," Obama said.

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Pelosi on Cantor Exit: 'It's a Whole New Ballgame'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pretended to hold a baseball at the microphones on Thursday morning during her weekly press conference, reiterating her characterization of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Tuesday primary defeat as creating "a whole new ballgame." The California Democrat said she's hopeful the House can tackle issues like an immigration overhaul, despite concerns that Cantor's departure will drive House Republicans further to the right, making compromise less likely. "Under the current leadership in the Republican side, we've had a shutdown of government, we have not passed immigration, we have not passed the Voting Rights Act which has always been bipartisan," Pelosi said. "I don't know how things can get worse than the obstruction that is already here."

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Boehner: Dempsey, Hagel 'Naive' on Bergdahl Exchange

Speaker John A. Boehner blasted President Barack Obama on Thursday for "making deals with terrorists" and "taking a nap" on Iraq. Reiterating his position that the swap of five Taliban prisoners in the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prison for the safe return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would make America less safe, Boehner said that the "new Obama Doctrine is making deals with terrorists" while adding both Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsy were "dead wrong" in signing off on the exchange.

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Boehner Refuses to Endorse Cantor Successor

Speaker John A. Boehner refused to analyze Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary defeat on Tuesday saying "every election is different." He also wouldn't make an endorsement for who should replace Cantor, R-Va., as the No. 2 member of the House GOP. "Members are going to make this decision," Boehner said, adding that he can "work with anyone" who might get the job — whether it's current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, or perhaps even Idaho Republican Raúl R. Labrador.

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Wyden Touts Whistleblower Protections in Intelligence Bill

Sen. Ron Wyden is chastising a recent policy directive while highlighting new whistleblower protections in the intelligence bill that the Senate quietly passed Wednesday evening. In a widely-reported April directive, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. prohibited intelligence agency personnel from making unauthorized contact with members of the media. In the view of Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been a longtime skeptic of surveillance programs, the policy could be implemented in far too many circumstances. "If you're an employee of an intelligence agency and if you have a family member who likes to post or retweet articles about national security, suddenly having a conversation with that family member about important issues like NSA surveillance or the war in Afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media," Wyden said in a Thursday floor speech, saying the policy could include information that isn't classified.

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Cantor Announces He’s Stepping Down, Backs McCarthy for Leader

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced Wednesday afternoon he will resign his leadership post and endorsed Kevin McCarthy of California to replace him. "Effective July 31st, I will be stepping down as majority leader," Cantor told reporters after an emotional meeting of House Republicans in the Capitol. His defeat has already touched off a massive leadership scramble to replace him. But Cantor said that he would back his fellow "Young Gun" McCarthy if he runs for leader with his "full support."

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Hagel: I Take My Responsibilities 'Damn Seriously'

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee, told lawmakers that the Obama administration could have done a better job communicating with Congress on the decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. "Wars are messy, and they're full of imperfect choices," the defense secretary told the panel in his opening remarks. But he defended the White House decision to make the trade without notifying Congress, and he made it clear the decision came from the top. "The President's decision to move forward with the transfer of these detainees was a tough call," Hagel said. I supported it. I stand by it. As Secretary of Defense, I have the authority and the responsiblity, as has been noted here, to determine whether detainees ... at Guantánamo Bay can be transfered to the custody of another country. I take that responsiblity, Mr. Chairman, members of this committee, damn seriously. Damn seriously. As I do any responsibility I have in this job."

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Eric Cantor Loses Primary in Massive Upset

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary Tuesday night to a poorly-funded GOP opponent in the biggest electoral stunner in several cycles. College professor David Brat defeated Cantor, 56 percent to 44 percent, according to The Associated Press.

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Senate GOP Leaders Criticize Student Loan Bill, Push VA Measure

As the Senate prepares to move forward with legislation addressing the VA scandal, GOP leaders pushed back on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dissed the measure, which would allow student loans to be refinanced at lower current rates with an offsetting millionaire minimum tax. Instead, he said, the Senate should be acting on the bill to address the issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. "We have a bipartisan veterans bill negotiated the way we used to do business in the Senate, with members of both parties, ready to go," the Kentucky Republican said. "It was introduced yesterday. So, I hope we'll not get onto a bill going nowhere and immediately turn to the veterans bipartisan bill and see if we can address that in a bipartisan way very quickly. Maybe even finish it this week."

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Reid Defers to Wyden on Highway Bill Funding

Majority Leader Harry Reid sidestepped a question at his weekly news conference Tuesday about whether he would push for a corporate tax "holiday" to fund the depleted Highway Trust Fund, as reports surfaced that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had discussed the idea with Reid. "I am pushing everything I can to figure out a way to continue the surface transportation bill," Reid said. "I'm just willing to talk to anybody. The ultimate decider on this however, is going to be Ron Wyden and the finance committee." Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, reiterated Tuesday his intentions to find a bipartisan funding solution.

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Reid Touts VA Bill, Student Loan Fix at Weekly News Conference

The Senate could move ahead at breakneck pace on bipartisan legislation to address the VA scandal — after just as swiftly voting to block a partisan student loan refinancing bill. A test vote on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is set for Wednesday, and despite the vocal support of Democrats and an outside public relations push, it is going nowhere fast. Majority Leader Harry Reid said the VA bill could move ahead quickly at his weekly news conference. "I hope we can bring it to the floor in the next 24 hours, 48 hours at the most," the Nevada Democrat said. "And if people want amendments on the veterans bill, they should be able to have amendments on it."

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What You Missed: House Veterans' Affairs Questions VA Bureaucracy

On the same day an internal audit revealed 57,000 veterans had waited more than 90 days for their first medical appointments, a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the VA signaled that fixing the problems in the sprawling federal bureaucracy will be far more difficult than just upping spending or passing a single piece of legislation. In a hearing that took a far more conciliatory and fact-finding tone than previous meetings on the subject, Veterans Affairs and Government Accountability Office witnesses spoke at length about the challenges in addressing medical wait times.

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Reid Praises Miss USA Winner, Regrets Missing Pageant Finale

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid missed the ending of Sunday evening's Miss USA pageant, but Monday on the Senate floor, he offered praise for the young woman who won — a fellow Nevadan. The Nevada Democrat called Nia Sanchez "gifted beyond her physical beauty." "I'm disappointed that I kind of caved in in watching the final of the USA, Miss USA contest because Miss Nevada won, and I'd like to have seen that," Reid said. "I placed a call to her and I'll talk to her as soon as she gets out of the clouds, where I'm sure she is now. But I congratulate the newly crowned Miss USA and that is our own Nia Sanchez."

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Candidate Interview: Mia Love (R) UT-04

The former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who is running for the open seat in Utah's 4th District, visited Roll Call on June 5.

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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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