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Sensenbrenner: Patriot Act Needed Oversight, Not Posturing

Sensenbrenner, left, and Ashcroft discuss the law in 2004. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner can take credit for major legislation during his tenure as House Judiciary chairman, but none carries the weight or consequence of the law that will be his legacy: the USA Patriot Act.  

"There’s no way I can avoid being remembered for this," the Wisconsin Republican told CQ Roll Call. And, he added, the current situation could have been avoided with proper oversight by Congress. In a May 28 phone interview, Sensenbrenner said he didn't mind, nor did he have regret for his role as lead architect of the post-9/11 law that opened the door to vast levels of government surveillance of U.S. citizens.  

McCarthy: No Plans in House to Budge on NSA Curbs

McCarthy (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a message for Senate Republicans: If they want to extend expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, they aren't going to do any better than the so-called USA Freedom Act.  

The California Republican wouldn't say whether there was a contingency plan if the Senate doesn't heed that advice. "I think when you get 338 votes, we're meeting someone in the middle," McCarthy said of the bill he characterized as a compromise. "I think there's 338 to pass the USA Freedom Act and the Senate should look at that."  

McCarthy Outlines Busy, Maybe Tense, April Work Period

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a two-week respite, April is shaping up to be a month of long nights, nods to the GOP base and divisions on both sides of the aisle.  

That's according to a memo sent to members Thursday by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.  First on the docket, just in time for Tax Day on April 15, are a series of Republican-sponsored bills "aimed at getting the government off the backs of taxpayers and reforming the institutions that serve them." Also, several measures "to begin the process of restoring trust in the [Internal Revenue Service]," which came under fire in 2013 for stymieing applications of certain conservative outside groups seeking tax-exempt status. Democrats will slam the bills as symbolic messaging gambits; Republicans will be content to pass them all on party-line votes and hope the new GOP-controlled Senate will move them through its pipeline.  

The Anti-Cantor: Dave Brat on Bringing Rationality to Washington

Brat raises his right hand as his wife Laura looks on during the ceremonial swearing-in Nov. 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s 7:49 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21 — the first day of Congress’ Thanksgiving recess — and Dave Brat is 11 minutes early.  

The man who unseated former Majority Leader Eric Cantor is meeting me at a Starbucks in Navy Yard before driving down to the Richmond suburbs for his first constituent town hall as a congressman. It’s part of a pledge he made to visit all nine counties in his district every month, and Brat has every intention of keeping his word.  

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

Despite reservations, Democrats are lining up behind the House GOP's proposed continuing resolution and an underlying amendment on Syria, Hoyer said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite lingering reservations on both sides of the aisle, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats is coming together behind proposals to arm Syrian rebels and fund the government beyond Sept. 30.  

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that, despite some provisions his colleagues don't like — namely a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank through only June 30, 2015 — Hoyer and a significant bloc of Democrats would not withhold their support on the continuing resolution. "You don't get perfect," Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.  

Boehner Says House Will Wait to Hear Obama's ISIS Plan

Boehner said the House will wait to hear the president's plan on ISIS. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner repeatedly refused to say Tuesday whether he supports more U.S. troops in the Middle East or if Congress should authorize military action against ISIS, telling reporters the House needs to hear from President Barack Obama.  

Boehner is scheduled to visit the White House later Tuesday — along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — and the president may very well ask for congressional authorization to ramp up action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  

House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

Rohrabacher helped steer the medical marijuana amendment through the House. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a series of late-night votes that marijuana-rights advocates say reflect a nation's changing attitudes, the Republican-controlled House moved early Friday  to block the federal government from interfering with state laws on pot and hemp.  

The most far-reaching of the votes — a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations —  passed 219-189 on the strength of an unusual coalition that cut across traditional partisan lines. The medical marijuana measure was offered by conservative Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California as an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. 

Pelosi: Obamacare Not to Blame for Alex Sink's Defeat

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rejected the premise that Democrat Alex Sink's loss to Republican David Jolly in Tuesday night's Florida special election was a referendum on Obamacare.  

"I'm very proud of our House Democrats, not only how they've embraced the Affordable Care Act, because they helped create it, but how proud they are of it," the California Democrat said at her weekly news conference Thursday morning. "I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their election issue and they will find that out."  

House GOP Leaders Gloat Over Jolly's Victory in Florida (Updated) (Video)

House Republican leaders enjoyed some bragging rights at their Wednesday morning press conference after their candidate, David Jolly, won Tuesday's hotly-contested special election in Florida to succeed late-Republican Rep. C. W. Bill Young.  

"I've stood here after losing some special elections," said Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio. "I've tried to put lipstick on a pig, and it was still a pig. So you can bet they'll try to put lipstick on it today but you all know what the facts are."

5 Interesting Tidbits From Conversations With Conservatives (Updated) (Video)

A monthly meeting with the press and conservatives lawmakers has become a must-attend event — and not just for the free Chick-fil-A.

The Conversations with Conservatives event, hosted by the Heritage Foundation, brings a group of the most far-right legislators on Capitol Hill together to discuss a wide range of topics. And while lawmakers were, unexpectedly, a bit more reserved on topics like the omnibus this month, they had plenty to say on other issues.