2014-midterm-elections

Six Party Defections in Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

King voted "present" on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It was mostly a party line affair when the House voted Friday to defund Planned Parenthood for one year, 241-187.  

But, there were six exceptions: Three Republicans voted with the majority of Democrats against the bill, while two Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in favor. One Republican, Iowan Steve King, voted "present." With the exception of King's "present," none of the votes are terribly surprising for longtime observers of Congress who have watched how members of both parties come down on bills dealing with abortion.  

GOP Leader Cracks Door, Slightly, on Voting Rights Act

McCarthy, R-Calif., thinks it's time for an "overall review" of the VRA (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last year, House Democrats saw ex-Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a possible (if ultimately disappointing ) ally in the fight to rewrite the Voting Rights Act for the 21st century.  

On Tuesday, Cantor's leadership successor, Kevin McCarthy, might have revealed himself as another important potential friend to the effort. The California Republican echoed at a pen-and-pad briefing what fellow GOP lawmakers have said before: Any revision of the landmark 1965 law has to start in the Judiciary Committee — a disappointing answer for advocates who know Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., is disinclined to tackle the matter.  

Hillary Clinton Courts Congressional Democrats

Clinton greets media and staffers as she leaves the Democratic Senate policy luncheon. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats got to hear from Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday — but perhaps most importantly, she got to hear from them.  

The presidential candidate's visit to Capitol Hill was never really about making her case. The former first lady, New York senator and secretary of State already has overwhelming support among House and Senate Democrats, with many members either already supporting her or clearly leaning her way. Instead, Clinton's rounds were part of an ongoing courtship, a demonstration of her desire to engage with lawmakers and learn where they stand on issues of politics and policy. She wants members to be excited to work with her in the event she becomes president; in the meantime, she wants them to be eager to work to get her elected.  

Moderate Democrats Get Leadership's Ear on 2016 Messaging

Israel has a tough road ahead in crafting a party message everyone can get behind (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There's some good news for the moderate House Democrats who believe they've been marginalized in discussions on party messaging: Leadership might be starting to listen.  

On Thursday morning, New Democrat Coalition Chairman Ron Kind of Wisconsin met privately with Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, both lawmakers confirmed to CQ Roll Call. Israel, charged with developing a unified narrative to help the minority pick up House seats next year, wanted to talk to Kind about the substance of the New Democrats' "American Prosperity Agenda," 23 policy proposals  that centrist Democrats contend are keys to winning again in swing districts.  

McCarthy Uses Bully Pulpit to Spotlight California Drought

McCarthy has made the California drought a priority in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Legislation targeting arcane water rules is not typically the stuff of legacy building for high-profile political figures.  

But for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, shepherding through Congress a bill aimed at easing the water shortage in his home state — while taking down some federal regulations conservatives contend contributed to the crisis — would be a personal triumph years in the making. If he succeeds, it will be thanks in large part to the time, energy and political capital the Californian has expended on the issue, from measures that stalled in previous sessions to this current push to address the debilitating drought.  

Van Hollen's Exit Changes House Democratic Leadership Landscape

Van Hollen's Senate bid will have serious ramifications for House Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:20 a.m. Monday | Ambitious House Democrats looking to position themselves as future caucus leaders thought they'd face stiff competition from Rep. Chris Van Hollen.  

But with the Maryland Democrat, Budget Committee ranking member and former two-term Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman now saying he'll run for Senate, the field has changed. Sources say Van Hollen wasn't the presumptive heir to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's mantle, even though the California Democrat has been grooming him over the years, giving him increasing responsibilities and ensuring he always had a seat at the table.  

Centrist New Democrats Want Bigger Role in Party's Message

Kind said the centrist group wants a bigger role in helping to shape Democrats' message. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the New Democrat Coalition have struggled for years to make their centrist message heard in the larger, and distinctly more left-leaning, House Democratic Caucus.  

The 46 self-described "moderate" and "pro-growth" House members in the coalition say they agree with the rest of their caucus on “90 percent of the issues” — it's the remaining 10 percent that's harder to summarize. How difficult? Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., shares a joke he tells about the group to illustrate the point.  

Lawmakers Push Longshot Bid to Rewrite Voting Rights Act

Sensenbrenner seeks more Republican support for a revived Voting Rights Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner fell short in his 2014 efforts to convince GOP leadership to take up his Voting Rights Amendment Act, but the Wisconsin Republican is ready to take another stab at passing a rewrite of the historic law.  

But there's little indication this year will be any different.  

Aide Brings 'Quirky' Background to Chief of Staff Ranks

Brophy rides his bicycle in Colorado. (Courtesy Greg Brophy Campaign website)

Barely a month into his new position as chief of staff to freshman Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Greg Brophy opted, understandably, against sitting down with a reporter who was writing a story about him.  

“I no longer do press interviews,” Brophy told CQ Roll Call. “I get to be quirky all by myself.” Brophy, a 48-year-old watermelon farmer from Wray, Colo., served a dozen years in the state legislature. Now he's the top aide to the Republican freshman class president.  

Why 3 House Republicans Voted Against Repealing Obamacare (Updated)

Katko and two other Republicans bucked party leadership to vote against the Affordable Care Act repeal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:27 p.m. |  House Republican leaders gave their freshmen members a political gift Tuesday: The chance to vote "yes" on a symbolic bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.  

For three new Republican representatives, however, the repeal vote was an opportunity to vote "no." Republicans Bruce Poliquin of Maine, John Katko of New York and Robert Dold of Illinois were the lone three defections in either party on what's being billed as the chamber's 56th vote since 2011 to undo parts of the 2010 health law.