With less than two weeks until Election Day, Heard on the Hill's tribute to members continues this week with Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, who pays homage to the Cuyahoga River, analyzes sheep journals and shows off his favorite tie.
Members of the Canadian Parliament are praising as a hero House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former police superintendent, for his reported role in taking down the gunman who entered the building. Capitol Hill may be wondering if its own sergeants-at-arms usually pack heat. “I didn’t carry it all the time," former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" Thursday morning. "I had it close at hand in a locked compartment." Gainer, who served as chief of the Capitol Police before his seven-year gig in the Senate, said he frequently relied on the uniformed officers of the department. "We have concentric circles of security around here and so they are the first line of defense, but as the chief law enforcement officer, I was armed when I needed to be or thought it was appropriate," he said.
As election season rolls on, Heard on the Hill pays tribute to Rep. Don Young, the self-described "alpha wolf" of Alaska politics who loves cranes, beanies and the Anchorage Daily News.
Heard on the Hill continues its salute to members, focusing this week on the Texas Rules Committee chairman and his love for America, microphones and cleavers.
Minutes after repeating his familiar warning that sometimes he does not know when to stop saying all that he means, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. let out quite a quip at Harvard’s Institute of Politics Thursday night. When a questioner identified himself as the vice president of the Harvard student body, Biden chimed in, “isn’t it a bitch, I mean … that vice president thing?” Knowing what had just come out of his own mouth, Biden quickly added ”I’m joking. I’m joking. I’m joking. The best decision I ever made. “That was a joke. That was a joke,” he continued.
The businessman who is challenging Democratic Rep. John Barrow for Georgia's 12th District visited Roll Call on Sept. 9.
President Barack Obama and Mexico each took a tongue-lashing at a rare mid-recess Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday on the case of a U.S. Marine imprisoned for six months in Mexico on questionable charges. Talk-show host Montel Williams, a former Marine who has become a leading advocate for the release of the Afghanistan veteran, urged Obama to call Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to free Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi who has been held in Mexico since March. “If this hearing’s going to stop in 10 minutes, I think the president needs to pick up the phone in 15," Williams said, his voice breaking with emotion. "Make the call. Make the call today."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could not resist the urge to discuss the MLB playoffs and her television-watching habits with the press as she was leaving her news conference Wednesday. "Well you know my father brought the Orioles to Baltimore, ... I'm happy to see them doing so well," Pelosi said, referring to the team's playoff berth. "Because that's the only TV I watch is sports. I'm not interested in anybody's opinion. In fact, I don't even listen to the commentator's opinion. I just want to watch the score, and the team and watch sports that way.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., touted Democrats' opportunity to pick up seats this November at a news conference Wednesday, saying Republicans' "days are numbered." "I know that in two years there will be a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president. I'd like it to be in two months," Pelosi said. "So this fall, it's important for us to come as close to that as possible."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reiterated her enthusiasm Wednesday for Congress to debate and vote on an Authorization for Use of Military Force to combat the Islamic State terrorist group. "Congress has a role in defining how our country degrades and defeats ISIS," Pelosi said at a news conference, referring to the insurgent terrorist organization that's also known as ISIL. She said there have been "conversations among members informally about what form an authorization should take that will secure our national security interests as well [one that] could pass in both houses of Congress. "These conversations should be moved from the informal to the official," she said.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stopped short on Wednesday of demanding Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resign, but called for an "independent investigation" into the disturbing protocol breaches within the agency that she said were "inexcusable." "The challenge may be more than one person," the California Democrat told reporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "Whether she [resigns] or not, I think we need an independent investigation. Her leaving doesn't end the need to learn more."
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took a beating from nearly 20 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers who traveled back to Washington for Tuesday's rare, three-and-a-half hour recess hearing. Droves of photographers packed into the panel's Rayburn meeting room to capture Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., demanding succinct responses from Pierson about botched security and the Sept. 19 incident in which Iraq war veteran Omar J. Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and made it into the building.
A Florida Republican brought a prop to illustrate his point during Tuesday's hearing on the Sept. 19 security breach at the White House. After asking about broken glass following a 2011 shooting at the White House, Rep. John L. Mica held up a the blue shield of ADT Security Systems and asked, "Have you ever heard of these guys?" The congressman plugged ADT as a solution for the 2011 incident, when a window broken by a bullet went undiscovered for at least three days.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., hammered Secret Service Director Julia Pierson on Tuesday over a 2011 White House shooting, asking her to rehash what a jury had learned about the case in light of new revelations in a Washington Post article. "Director, I'm actually a big fan of law enforcement and I don't take any delight in asking the questions I'm going to ask you, but law enforcement are given unique powers in our society and with those unique powers come unique responsibilities," Gowdy said. "So as I understand it, several agents [in 2011] believed that shots were fired and a supervisor concluded that it was a vehicle backfiring. Even if that were true, given the very small investment of resources, why not investigate the shots fired?"
"I'm Candidate X, and I approve this message." Despite being the bane of political admakers everywhere, campaigns creatively weave messaging around this legal disclaimer. Roll Call has compiled the best from this year's election cycle, featuring mom and dad, dramatic music and cows.
Following his death Saturday, Heard on the Hill pays tribute to the colorful career of James A. Traficant Jr. — a lawmaker who regularly reminded C-SPAN audiences of manure studies, his "weed-whacker" hair and his ability to kick liars in the crotch.
Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., sings Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" on the campaign stump.
With Congress out until after the midterms, Heard on the Hill kicks off election season by saluting the members who go the extra mile to make Capitol Hill such a unique place to work. This week, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., teaches us about outer space, drywall and how to win a football game.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. likes to wink, apparently.
President Barack Obama announced the resignation of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at the White House Thursday, praising Holder's track record during his six-year-tenure. Holder thanked Obama for allowing him to serve in, what he called, "the greatest honor of my professional life." "I will leave the Department of Justice, but I will never -- I will never leave the work," Holder said. "I will continue to serve and try to find ways to make our nation even more true to its founding ideals."
African-American Congressional leaders expressed shock at the news of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s resignation today during a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation panel over African-American voters and the midterm elections. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivered the news. Representatives Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., and John Lewis, D-Ga., along with legal advocates were on the panel.
Less than 36 hours remain for readers to vote on where to send Roll Call reporters Alexis Levinson and Emily Cahn to cover the final weeks of the midterms. Vote: http://atr.rollcall.com/midterms-2014-finalist-house-senate-races/
During a Tuesday speech on airstrikes launched against the terrorist organization ISIS, President Barack Obama touted bipartisan congressional support and said the United States will do "what's necessary to take this fight to this terrorist group." "I've spoken to leaders in Congress, and I'm pleased that there's bipartisan support for the actions that we're taking," Obama said before heading to New York for meetings at the United Nations. "America's always stronger when we stand united, and that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what's necessary to defend our country." Obama touted the Arab coalition that joined in the strikes — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar — while also pointing to the vote Congress took to support Syrian opposition forces that oppose ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State.
With Congress set to leave for seven weeks, members spent their final work week forgetting names, talking baseball and discussing the bad food at their uncle's house.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., slammed the Obama administration and Congress Thursday for waging a "dishonest" war in Syria based on the 2001 AUMF. "Listen carefully: Your representatives are sending $500 million to people who will tactically ally with al-Qaida," Paul said. "We voted to go to war in Afghanistan and I supported going into that war because we were attacked and we had to do something about it. But the thing is, that vote had nothing to do with this. Absolutely nothing to do with this. You are a dishonest person if you say otherwise." The Senate later passed a continuing resolution 78-22, funding the government through Dec. 11 and arming and training Syrian rebels to fight the terror group ISIS.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued an impassioned plea for U.S. weaponry Thursday to help his country’s defense against Russia and the Ukrainian separatists that Moscow has been supporting for the past year. Speaking before a rare joint meeting of Congress, the Ukrainian leader acknowledged the non-lethal military aid that the Obama administration has provided Ukraine so far. But he said Ukrainian soldiers needed weapons. “They need more military equipment, both lethal and non-lethal,” Poroshenko said to loud applause and one of many standing ovations from lawmakers assembled in the House chamber. “Blankets and night-vision goggles are important, but they can’t win the war with blankets.”
President Barack Obama praised Congress Thursday for passing a measure to fund the federal government through Dec. 11 and to arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. "I'm pleased that Congress, a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate, have now voted to support a key element of our strategy: our plan to train and equip the opposition in Syria so they can help push back these terrorists," Obama said. "I want to thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue."
Former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday, but not in his capacity as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, or for any business connected to his Miami-based consulting firm. The Florida Republican who retired from the House in 2010, instead, came to testify at an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing "to examine federal efforts on suicide prevention." Diaz-Balart — whose brother, Rep. Mario-Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., still serves in office — appeared before the panel to speak, for the first time in public, about the May 2013 suicide of his son, Lincoln Gabriel, who was then 29-years-old.
Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the anti-war group Code Pink while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, telling the group to think about how it would deal with ISIS. The group protested administration officials testifying on Capitol Hill this week, as the White House laid out its strategy to combat ISIS. “I understand dissent. I’ve lived it. I respect the right of Code Pink to protest … but you know what? I also know something about Code Pink. Code Pink was started by a woman, and women, who were opposed to war but who also thought that the government’s job was to take care of people … and if that’s what you believe in, and I believe it is, then you ought to care about fighting ISIL. Because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women,” Kerry said. “And frankly Code Pink and a lot of other people need to stop and think about how you stop them and deal with that.”
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., hammered Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday, telling the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the administration is “exercising the worst judgement possible” in handling the threat posed by ISIS. “Do you realize how unserious, the things that you have laid out and the things that were laid out yesterday, sound?” Corker said. “You’re asking us to approve something that we know, the way you’ve laid it out, makes no sense. … It seems like a political answer.”
A day after a New York man was indicted on charges of trying to provide support to the Islamic State, top federal officials expressed concern to Congress about the reach the terrorist group could have via the Internet to inspire Americans to carry out domestic attacks. “Someone can do it in their pajamas in their basement,” FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Homeland Security Committee during a hearing Wednesday morning. “These are the homegrown violent extremists that we worry about, who can get all the poison they need and the training they need to kill Americans, and in a way that is very hard for us to spot."
After voting to give President Barack Obama the authority to arm and train Syrian rebels, the House passed legislation Wednesday to fund the government until Dec. 11, moving the bill to avoid a government shutdown and address Islamic State organizations to the Senate. House lawmakers voted 319-108 to pass the continuing resolution, with 143 Democrats joining 176 Republicans in support of the measure. 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.
A Senate Democrat is floating a proposal that could increase the government's leverage over the activities of professional sports leagues like the NFL. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Wednesday that he's planning legislation to impose a sunset on the antitrust exemptions enjoyed by the National Football League and the other pro sports. The former Connecticut attorney general called the response of the NFL to the domestic violence incident involving now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice something "right out of the 1950s, out of an episode of 'Madmen.'"
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hammered her hometown football team Wednesday, saying the San Francisco 49ers should not allow Defensive End Ray McDonald to play following allegations he assaulted his pregnant fiancée in August. “It’s hard for me to understand how people are punching-out their wives at home … but it does happen an it’s and issue we’ve been working on for a very long time,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. “Our coach says, ‘innocent until proven guilty, due process,’ all of that, but the fact is he shouldn’t have played.”
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., slammed the State Department during the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s inaugural hearing Wednesday for failing to change its structure on approving temporary facilities abroad, which Roskam said could lead to another Benghazi-like situation. “[When asked], ‘Are there any plans for temporary facilities in the future?’ you were pretty clever in how you responded. You said, ‘We don’t have any plans for it and I’m not likely ... to approve it,'” Roskam said, addressing the State Department’s Gregory B. Starr. “You’re not offering anything as it relates to fundamental change.”
House Democratic leaders aren't whipping votes on the continuing resolution and an amendment to give President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the terrorist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi used her regularly-scheduled Wednesday morning news conference to make an impassioned case for members to support their president. "I don't know how the vote will turn out," the California Democrat said. "It's not a vote we whip. We just don't whip war votes. But I do think that, as members weigh the factors, that they will, I think, give points to the president for all that he has done, diplomatically, politically, humanitarian-wise and ask for this distinct piece."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he would support a stopgap measure to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 while also signaling his support for a separate measure to arm Syrian rebels to combat ISIS.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not discuss what a Republican-led Senate agenda would look like if the GOP recaptures the majority this November, but said there's "almost no likelihood" Democrats would win the House. "I think the races are yet to be won," McConnell said at his weekly news conference Tuesday. "We're hoping to have a really good year. We're hoping the American people will agree with us that it might be time to try something different after six years in a row of the same old thing."
Majority Leader Harry Reid would not answer hypotheticals about losing control of the Senate this November, instead reasserting the strength of Democratic candidates during his weekly news conference on Tuesday. "All elections are the same in this sense: anything six weeks or two months out from an election is all based upon the candidates, not what's going on nationally," Reid said. "I just think any talk about Republicans taking control of the Senate is really premature and not based upon fact."
A decade ago, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., pushed on the Senate floor for a holiday to celebrate the Constitution, "the document that establishes the duties and rights of citizenship," according to the late senator. During a Sept. 20, 2004, speech on the Senate floor, Byrd detailed his proposal while speaking to the relationship between the president and Congress with respect to war powers. "The framers ensured that the people, through their elected representatives in Congress would control the military so that it could not become a tool of government repression against their own people or a way for presidents to lead the nation into foreign misadventures.”
A shot of the Tamworth hogs at Turner Farm in Maine, courtesy Roll Call's Warren Rojas.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, tells the audience at Turner Farm about the food they will eat.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, tells the audience at Turner Farm about the food they will eat.
The White House is not ducking the word “war.” Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged the United States is “at war with ISIL” during a Friday news conference, but was also insistent in noting it will not be like the previous Iraq War, reiterating no ground forces would be engaged in combat. "In the same way that the United State is as war with al-Qaida and its affiliates around the globe, the United States is at war with ISIL," Earnest said. "This is not a situation of ISIL against the United States. ISIL is waging a war against the broader international community.”
After a five-week recess, members returned to discuss the "crisis with ISIS" and Dick Cheney while reminding C-SPAN viewers to "tweet, tweet, tweet."
If Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is correct, President Barack Obama's delayed executive action on immigration may be coming sooner than expected. During the California Democrat's weekly press conference on Thursday, Pelosi asked for those affected by the immigration issue to be hopeful that "by Thanksgiving or Christmas" there'd be "more security in their lives."
Speaker John A. Boehner forcefully beat the drums of war Thursday, suggesting more action would be needed to defeat Islamic State group terrorists than just U.S. air strikes or the arming of Syrian rebels. “An F-16 is not a strategy,” Boehner said during his weekly news conference. “And airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish.” Boehner said President Barack Obama had made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. “Well somebody’s boots have to be on the ground,” Boehner said.
On the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Senate remembered those who lost their lives before the start morning business on Thursday.
President Barack Obama wants the approval of Congress as he announces a broad new air war against ISIS, including strikes in Syria, but says he already has the authority he needs. In a speech outlining a new strategy to destroy the group also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, Obama announced an extensive air campaign with no set end date, and plans to rely on others to engage in a ground war — Iraqi forces in Iraq, and Syrian moderates in Syria. “I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” Obama said.
The House will postpone its scheduled Thursday vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made the announcement during the afternoon vote series on Wednesday, saying the delay was needed to give members time to reach an agreement on whether to include Obama administration-requested language to aid Syrian rebels against terrorist insurgents operating under the name the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. McCarthy said the delay was warranted "given the severity of the situation and the need for all members to properly evaluate" the issues.