Lawmakers managed Friday to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security by clearing a one-week stopgap funding measure. The move forestalls a funding lapse DHS, whose budget authority was set to expire at midnight. With House Republicans in full disarray after failing to pass a three-week stopgap, the Senate moved a more modest one-week measure, bailing out House leaders who were unable to deliver the votes needed to advance their plan. The House emphatically passed the stopgap, which would extend the DHS' budget authority through March 6, 357-60, just before 10 p.m., on Friday evening sending the patch to the president's desk.
The Senate on Friday evening quietly passed a one-week continuing resolution for Homeland Security funding before adjourning for the evening. The measure could be used as an exit ramp for House Republican leaders, currently scrambling for a Plan B after a three week stopgap was rejected by conservatives.
House Republicans fell short of votes to advance a three-week bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security Friday evening, 203-224. Just hours before the agency is set to shut down, GOP leaders must now decide whether to risk a revolt in their ranks and put the Senate-passed, six-month spending bill on the floor that does not include language to block President Barack Obama's immigration executive orders.
With the House poised to move on a short-term funding resolution for the Department of Homeland Security, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, railed against President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders on the House floor Friday afternoon, saying Obama “spoke his new amnesty law into being.” “This president didn’t even have the gumption to write an executive order and sign it, he spoke his new amnesty law into being, and then [Homeland Security Secretary] Jeh Johnson did a memo,” Gohmert said. “That took the power of Congress away from us.” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi quickly rebuffed Gohmert’s remarks. “If you feel so strongly — because I don’t know if this is about thinking or feeling — so strongly about the immigration issue, and the executive actions taken by the president, I respect that,” Pelosi said. “[But] you’ve made a mess. You have made a mess … and every time I ask one of you what’s happening you say ‘I don’t know.’”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that President Barack Obama would sign a short-term continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security to prevent a shutdown of the agency. “If the president is faced with a choice of having the Department of Homeland Security shut down or fund that department for a short term, the president is not going to allow the agency to shut down,” Earnest told reporters at the White House daily press briefing. “It represents an abject failure of leadership on the part of the new Republican majority to not get this done." Earnest’s comments came as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a three-week DHS funding bill and after the Senate passed a “clean” bill funding the department through Sept. 30.
Following an earlier news conference where she slammed House Republicans’ latest push for a three-week continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed her earlier remarks on the House floor while asking Speaker John A. Boehner to bring up a Senate-passed “clean” DHS funding bill for a vote. “Give us a vote, Mr. Speaker. Give us a vote,” Pelosi said. “I would just like to ask my colleagues who have been advocating for a shutdown, or take us to the brink of a shutdown over and over again, if they would like to live without being paid as members of Congress…[The federal workforce doesn't] have trust funds. That may come as a surprise to you. Perhaps you do and maybe that’s why you don’t think living — not getting a paycheck is a big deal.” Pelosi had a net worth of more than $29 million in 2014.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shot back at House Republicans Friday for proposing a three-week continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security, saying Democrats would not go to conference on a bill containing riders blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders, and adding that House Republicans’ “ineptitude in legislation is endangering our entire country.” “A clean, long-term Department of Homeland Security bill is clearly the only way to avert this crisis,” Pelosi said. “We should be voting to pass a clean, long-term Department of Homeland Security bill that the Senate is sending us today. They have done their work. We should do ours."
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer apologized to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the House floor Friday morning after calling McCarthy a “coward” in a colloquy over Homeland Security funding on Thursday. “I rise to publicly apologize to Leader McCarthy for a remark I made to myself that was picked up by the House microphone yesterday,” Hoyer said. “It was said out of frustration and anger, it was wrong and I have apologized privately to Mr. McCarthy, who I believe is a man of integrity in this House.”
In a fiery speech Friday morning, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski slammed House Republicans' latest proposal to fund the Department of Homeland Security with a three-week stopgap measure, saying lawmakers need “to get off [their] press releases.” “I say to my friends in the House, to delay this three more weeks is reckless, and it is dangerous,” the Maryland Democrat said. “What are we going to know? We’re waiting for the courts to decide? Who knows when the courts will decide?”
A colloquy between House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer got heated Thursday night, after Hoyer pushed McCarthy over House Republicans’ plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security with a three-week continuing resolution. “Mr. Leader, we have been now, you’re correct, six weeks leaving the Department of Homeland Security twisting in the wind. We’ve done that, as the gentleman knows …” Hoyer said, before being cut off by McCarthy. “Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I’ve been very clear about the schedule tomorrow: We will end our work by tomorrow evening. This House has taken action to make sure the DHS is fully funded, we did our part,” McCarthy said. Hoyer quickly shot back “you coward,” before presiding officer Rep. Mike Simpson could advance the House to its next vote. CNN’s Deirdre Walsh later reported Hoyer apologized to McCarthy for the comment.
Speaker John A. Boehner fired back at the Obama administration Thursday after National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice earlier in the week called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress next week "destructive." Boehner said he "couldn't disagree more." "The American people and both parties in Congress have always stood with Israel. Nothing, and no one, should get in the way of that," Boehner said at his weekly news conference. "But what is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran."
Sometimes you just can't resist the urge to start a snowball fight. In discussing recent reports of 2014 being the warmest year on record, Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe pulled out a snowball on the Senate floor and tossed it at the presiding officer, Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, to demonstrate how cold it is outside. For what it's worth, Inhofe said the snowball was formed from snow outside the Capitol.
At a joint news conference Thursday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid guaranteed Senate Democrats would not block consideration of legislation sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, defunding President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders. “When we finish fully funding Homeland Security, if the Republicans want to go to immigration, any part thereof, we’ll go to them,” Reid said. "They won’t need a motion to proceed, we’ll just do it.”
Amid calls from Speaker John A. Boehner for Senate Democrats to stop blocking Homeland Security funding, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid pushed back in a joint news conference Thursday, blaming Republicans for the spending impasse. “It’s like eighth grade civics class, I mean what is going on in the House?” Reid asked. “We have the two leaders who haven’t talked to each other in two weeks. This is not a very good situation, and we’re not going to be part of their petty games.” Reid would not get into “hypothetical games” as to whether Democrats would support a short-term continuing resolution to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded, adding the Senate would not go to conference with the House on a bill with riders blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders. "I think what their demonstrating though is that immigration was not the reason they're shutting down government, it was the excuse they were using, because now they have an out from what the judge said in Texas and now they still want to shut down government,” Pelosi said. “So understand, shutting down government is their motive.”
Speaker John A. Boehner struck a defiant tone Thursday when addressing reporters about a pending shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security: The House acted six weeks ago and it is waiting for the Senate to act. “We’re waiting to see what the Senate can or can’t do, and then we’ll make decisions about how we’re going to proceed,” Boehner said, a refrain he has echoed numerous times this week. “We passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security six weeks ago. Six weeks ago! It’s time for the Senate to act … How many times do I have to say it?” When pressed about public knowledge of the Senate’s plans to pass a “clean” DHS bill, Boehner simply replied with air kisses. “When we make decisions I’ll let you know.”
Eleven months to the day after Speaker John A. Boehner reminded members to wear "appropriate business attire" on the House floor, the Ohio Republican was singing a familiar tune on the House floor. "Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance on the floor may be. You know who you are," Boehner said Wednesday, a reminder he has issued in each of the past three years. One day after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sported a pair of shades, Boehner's speech covered member conduct and procedure on the House floor, similar to his 2014 address.
As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the District of Columbia will legalize marijuana, despite warnings from two congressional Republicans that doing so would break the law and could lead to possible prison time for D.C. officials. “Our government is prepared to implement and enforce Initiative 71 in the District of Columbia,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a briefing Wednesday, where D.C. officials presented a united front against congressional opposition. Bowser was joined by District Attorney General Karl Racine, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, and eight members of the D.C. Council, including Chairman Phil Mendelson. “We would encourage the Congress to not be so concerned about overturning what 7 out of 10 voters said should be the law in the District of Columbia,” Bowser later added.
House Republicans accused Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen of working in concert with the Obama administration Wednesday, as they attacked her opposition to greater congressional oversight of the central bank. “I hear you taking a Democrat line,” Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis., told Yellen in an especially heated exchange during the Fed leader’s semi-annual appearance before the House Financial Services panel. The Republicans were taking on Yellen’s opposition to legislation nicknamed “Audit the Fed,” that would set up new reporting responsibilities on internal monetary policy discussions. Yellen and other Fed officials have said the measures would undermine the central bank’s independence.
In his opening statement at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday on President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders, Rep. Trey Gowdy again hammered the administration for ignoring the rule of law while warning Democrats of the long-term consequences of Obama’s actions. “You may benefit from the president’s failure to enforce the law today, but I’ll make you this promise: there will come a day where you will cry out for the enforcement of the law,” Gowdy said. “There will come a day where you long for the law to be the foundation of this republic. So you be careful what you do with the law today, because if you weaken it today, you weaken it forever.” Gowdy’s comments come as Congress debates fiscal 2015 funding for the Department of Homeland Security and whether to tie-in language defunding Obama’s immigration executive orders.
House Republicans emerged from their closed-door meeting Wednesday morning in agreement they’ll wait and see what the Senate can pass in regards to legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security. That is, however, where the strategy ends, at least in terms of what’s being articulated publicly. Members left the hour-long gathering in the basement of the Capitol unclear what their next move would or should be in the event Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., succeeds in getting the votes in his chamber to advance a “clean” bill to prevent a DHS shutdown on Friday.
Everyone who flies on a commercial airliner has heard the announcement that tampering with an airplane's lavatory smoke detector is a federal offense. But as Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin reminded the Senate, until 25 years ago today it was legal to light up cigarettes on short-haul flights. As a House member, the Illinois Democrat had championed the ban, joining with the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., on an effort that earned plaudits in no shortage of Lautenberg obituaries. "My staff thought I was crazy," Durbin said of the effort. "No one had ever beaten the tobacco lobby at anything." But when it came to smoking on airplanes, Durbin, Lautenberg and their supporters ultimately prevailed, as of 25 years ago today, and as Durbin said on the floor it was the first of many prohibitions on smoking indoors or in confined spaces that have taken place since then.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid showed up to work Tuesday sporting a pair of sunglasses and it took just two minutes of reporters grilling on funding the Department of Homeland Security before the Nevada Democrat was asked about his new look. “We’re working on my beauty here,” Reid said, with two lingering bruises still gracing his right cheek. “I’ve got these on. Tomorrow we’re going to try some other things. I can see out of my right eye, just not very well. It hasn’t healed. I have to be a patient patient. I appreciate your interest, but it’s the best I can do.”
Sen. John Thune hammered the Federal Communications Commission ahead of a vote on net neutrality rules Thursday, which the South Dakota Republican termed a “partisan-line vote.” “This will be the first time … where the Internet is going to be subject to the heavy-hand of regulation as opposed to the light touch that’s been utilized for so long up until this point,” Thune said. "And I hope that Feb. 26 doesn’t go down in history as the time when the Internet moved from something that was driven by free-market innovation to something that’s driven by bureaucratic decision making.”
In an extraordinary sequence of events, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Democrats exactly what they have been asking for Tuesday — “clean” full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security. And Minority Leader Harry Reid said "no" — or at least, "not yet." McConnell’s offer of passing a clean full-year Homeland Security bill through the Senate shorn of immigration provisions — which he said could happen quickly with Democratic cooperation — was put on hold by Reid, who told reporters he was waiting to hear Speaker John A. Boehner agree to pass it through the House first. “We have to make sure that we get a bill to the president,” Reid said. “Unless Boehner’s in on the deal, it won’t happen.”
Senate GOP leaders announced a dual-track plan that would decouple fiscal 2015 Homeland Security funding from immigration, but it is unclear whether conservatives in the chamber, House Republicans and Senate Democrats will go along with the strategy. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is prepared to move a “clean” DHS funding bill — without any extraneous immigration language — as soon as Democrats are willing to agree to a vote. He added that the measure would include funding through fiscal 2015, which ends Sept. 30. The Senate would then separately move on the bill he introduced Monday evening that would block spending on implementation of the president’s November 2014 immigration actions but leave untouched other orders from 2011 and 2012 impacting so-called dreamers and other immigrants. "I do think we have a responsibility to act,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said Tuesday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” that Senate Democrats “rightly” blocked a “mute” bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security and block President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders. Senate Democrats filibustered the bill for the fourth time this month on Monday.
Just days from a shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun to pivot toward a new strategy to separate funding for the Department of Homeland Security from the GOP’s plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration actions. The Kentucky Republican offered a standalone bill focused on the immigration actions alone after Democrats filibustered for a fourth time the House-passed DHS bill, this time on a 47-46 vote, 13 shy of the 60 needed to advance. “It isn’t tied to DHS funding. It removes their excuse,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. “This is our colleagues’ chance to do exactly what they led their constituents to believe they’d do: defend the rule of law, without more excuses.”
With the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments next week in a case that could undermine individual insurance subsidies for federally run health care exchanges, President Barack Obama took time Monday during a speech to the National Governors Association to thank governors for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. "I want to thank all of the governors, Democrats and Republicans, supporters and some opponents of the ACA, who've expanded Medicaid to millions of people over the past two years," Obama said. "I think there's a recognition that it makes sense, and it's bigger than politics. As Governor [John R.] Kasich said, for Ohio, it saves lives. No question about it." Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to cover adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level who are under age 65.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer laughs at his own jokes and shows his love for Rep. Steve King, all the while remaining very “happy.”
At a Tuesday event on violent extremism, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. claimed to have “great relations” with Somali cab drivers in Delaware while discussing relations with east-African immigrants in Minnesota. “In Minneapolis-St. Paul, we’re working to build relations with the East African immigrants who have made your city their home, as the same folks have made — the Somalis have made, my city of Wilmington, Del., [home] on a smaller scale — it’s a large, very identifiable Somali community,” Biden said. “I might add if you ever come to the train station with me, you'll notice that I have great relations with them because there's an awful lot of them driving cabs, and are friends of mine. For real, I’m not being solicitous, I’m being serious.” Biden made news earlier in the day Tuesday for putting his hands on the shoulders of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s wife.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. got up close and personal with the wife of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter at his swearing-in on Tuesday.
Lawmakers prepared for the holiday weekend by contemplating hamsters, Venezuelan hamburgers and former Sen. Strom Thurmond's grandchildren.
While acknowledging the White House “did the right thing” in submitting an Islamic State Authorization for Use of Military Force to Congress Wednesday, Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday said he still has “concerns” about President Barack Obama’s request. “The president needs to have an overarching strategy to deal with this growing terrorist threat. He has yet to do that,” Boehner said. “He continues to look at this as a counterterrorism effort when in fact, there’s a war underway, and we’re in the midst of it. But the president has tied his own hands and wants to tie his hands even further with the authorization that he sent up here.”
Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that his chamber need not — and would not — take any further action to fund the Department of Homeland Security, reiterating the House has done its job and calling for Democrats to allow the Senate to consider the House-passed bill. The Ohio Republican’s resistance to putting forth another proposal just days before the DHS runs out of money further clouds the outcome for how Congress will avoid a shutdown of the critical agency on Friday.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. gave a shoutout to former Rep. Neal Smith at an event at Drake University in Iowa Thursday, calling Smith his "old butt buddy." Drake's law school is named after Smith and his wife, Beatrice.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State terror group submitted to Congress Wednesday was a "limitation" on President Barack Obama compared to 2001 and 2002 AUMFs for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, respectively. "It's a very, very, very serious responsibility to authorize the use of force and put our men and women in uniform at serious risk," Pelosi said.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stopped short Thursday of saying she wouldn't vote for a stop-gap spending bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security if Democrats and Republicans can't reach an agreement for long-term funding in the next two weeks. But the California Democrat, in her weekly news conference, slammed the GOP for bringing the critical agency to the brink of a shutdown when its funding expires at the end of the month. "Two months — that's not a solution," said Pelosi, responding to questions about whether a two-month continuation of existing DHS funding was in order, given Republicans' resistance to remove provisions in their proposed spending bill to block President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration.
President Barack Obama laid out his administration's Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State terror group at a news conference from the White House on Wednesday.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald snapped at Rep. Mike Coffman Wednesday after the Colorado Republican, a veteran and former property management owner, said McDonald was "glossing over ... bureaucratic incompetence and corruption" at the Department of Veterans Affairs. McDonald, a former chief executive at Procter & Gamble, said he was "highly offended" by Coffman's comments. "I'll give you my cellphone tonight and you can answer some of the calls and see if I'm making a difference for veterans and see what they say," McDonald said. "Or go on the websites, see what the veterans are saying on the websites. Ask the VSOs in the next group. I've run a large company sir, what have you done?”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the Senate should not allow large banks to use small banks as "cover" in rolling back Dodd-Frank regulation at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hearing Tuesday. "It is important that our community banks and credit unions thrive, but rolling back important protections to help the bigger banks just puts community banks at a greater disadvantage," Warren said. "The big banks are going to keep using the small banks as cover for their special rollbacks; that's what they did before the [2008 financial] crisis, and that's what they've been doing after the crisis. We shouldn't fall for that trick." The hearing focused on providing "regulatory relief" to small lending institutions.
Sen. Sherrod Brown continued his critique of the federal government’s response to the HSBC leaks during a Tuesday hearing. The Ohio Democrat said members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee would be watching the Federal Reserve’s actions in response to the leaks, which were first reported Sunday and allege that the second largest bank in the world helped clients evade taxes and launder money, among other offenses.
After two years of having to search far afield for inspirational minority leaders to honor, the Republican National Committee scored a hat trick Wednesday by celebrating the arrival in Washington of freshly elected Reps. Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas, along with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. The trio of groundbreaking lawmakers were feted at the third annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon hosted by the RNC. Staff estimated that some 300-odd attendees crowded in the Howard Theatre — a group that included one-time Washington Redskins wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson IV — to commemorate the dual celebration of Black History Month and the party’s monumental gains in the last election cycle.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that “fuzzy” language in the administration's draft Authorization for Use of Military Force was “intentionally” crafted to give President Barack Obama flexibility to combat the Islamic State. “We believe it’s important that they’re aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief, who needs the flexibility to be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict like this,” Earnest said.
The Maryland Republican just could not get enough of the cameras during a House floor debate Monday.
House GOP leaders emerged from a Republican Conference meeting Wednesday with a persistent refrain on Department of Homeland Security funding: The House has done its job; it’s time for the Senate to act. During their weekly Republican leadership news conference, Speaker John A. Boehner repeatedly called on the Senate to take up the House-passed DHS funding bill, which Senate Democrats have repeatedly blocked the chamber from considering. “You know, in the gift shop out here, they’ve got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law,” a fired-up Boehner said, as camera shutters clicked away. “The House has done its job! Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something?!”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday a short-term continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security would be “very bad” before hammering Senate Republicans for spending more than a month on the Keystone XL pipeline while there is still no agreement on DHS spending legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he did not want to denigrate former Sen. Bob Packwood when asked about his return to Capitol Hill Tuesday. The Oregon Republican, who resigned amid a sexual harrasment scandal in 1995, returned Tuesday to testify before the Senate Finance Committee. “I don’t know who invited him, but you know I don’t make that decision," Reid said. "I — maybe I would have made a different decision, but there’s no need to pile on. He’s already been punished.”
With the White House set to unveil an Authorization for Use of Military Force against ISIS, Senate Republicans will meet Wednesday at 5 p.m. to review the request, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at his weekly news conference Tuesday.
At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would pass a budget this year that may include a reconciliation measure, adding the Senate would begin work on budget legislation in the spring.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the onus of crafting spending legislation for the Department of Homeland Security back on the House of Representatives Tuesday, saying the Senate is "stuck" on a House-passed bill. "I think it's clearly stuck in the Senate," McConnell said, referring to the House-passed legislation funding DHS but restricting President Barack Obama's immigration executive orders. "We can't get on it, we can't offer amendments to it, and the next step is obviously up to the House."