Jonathan Strong

Sam Johnson: An Unlikely Immigration Negotiator

Texas Rep. Sam Johnson and Arizona Sen. John McCain have had a complicated relationship in Congress, despite the fact the Republicans were once cellmates in the infamous Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war.

Johnson endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000, calling his fellow war hero “too liberal.” He also worked tirelessly to defeat McCain’s “blanket amnesty” immigration bill in 2007, telling the San Antonio Express News, “hopefully this bill will never see the light of day again” when it fell in the Senate.

Republicans Consider Tying Ambitious Tax Overhaul to Debt Limit Talks

House Republicans are discussing plans to bring an overhaul of the tax code into an upcoming fight with President Barack Obama over raising the debt ceiling, but they do not see a tax rewrite as a substitute for the big spending cuts they also hope to achieve.

Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, likely serving his last term as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, has expressed reservations in the past about linking a tax overhaul to a large budget agreement. He believes his committee is more likely to produce solid legislation if it is given the time and space to craft a bill on its own terms rather than a measure to be used as a bargaining chip.

House Passes FAA Fix

Despite a vigorous debate on the House floor prior to the vote, a bill to prevent flight delays from sequestration-related budget cuts passed the House with a large bipartisan majority.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., decried the bill and voted against it “because it fails to address the whole impact of sequester.”

Mike Turner Broadens Campaign Against ‘Monuments to Me’

Following a successful bid to ban the naming of facilities authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act after sitting members of Congress, Ohio Republican Rep. Michael R. Turner is broadening his push to ban the practice across the federal government.

"We all understand acknowledging the service of those members who are retired or have, perhaps, passed on. But sitting members of Congress — it’s a clear conflict of interest for a facility to be named after them,” Turner said. “These are not member of Congress dollars that build these facilities, they’re the taxpayers’ dollars.”

GOP Pulls Health Care Bill From House Floor

House Republicans pulled a controversial health care bill from the floor Wednesday, after a strenuous attempt by leaders to secure enough votes for its passage failed. It’s the latest instance of Speaker John A. Boehner’s difficulties in controlling his unruly conference.

The legislation would have diverted funding from one part of “Obamacare” to another part that was facing implementation difficulties. Conservative outside groups which opposed it said the legislation would reduce the urgency to repeal the entire health care law.

Tea Party Caucus to Relaunch With Event Thursday

After a hiatus that coincided with a tough re-election campaign for Rep. Michele Bachmann, the House Tea Party Caucus is launching anew with a reception Thursday.

About a dozen representatives and several senators are expected to attend the event in the Rayburn House Office Building at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, organizers said. Co-hosting the event is and helping organize it is consulting firm kellenPROJECTS.

Boehner Faces Competing Immigration Paths

Two immigration trains have left the station in the House, but no one knows which one Speaker John A. Boehner wants to eventually arrive on the floor.

A secretive bipartisan working group — akin to the Senate-side “gang of eight” — is trying to finalize its “comprehensive” proposal. But House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte is flexing his muscles by launching a piecemeal-type legislative push, causing tension between the two factions and questions about who will take the lead.

Gun Bill Still Needs as Many as 8 Votes

Emotional pleas from former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly, on Tuesday tugged at senators both for and against a bipartisan proposal on background checks for gun purchases. It’s not clear whether they turned any votes, however, as negotiators were still scrambling to clear a 60-vote hurdle necessary for passage.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Democrats were two votes short of a filibuster-proof majority on an amendment that would end the gun show exemption and expand background checks to online sales.

Ex-Rep. Connie Mack Lands on K Street

Former Rep. Connie Mack lost his bid to follow in his dad’s footsteps to the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” but at least he gets to cash out with his namesake on K Street.

The younger Florida Republican is joining Liberty Partners Group, where his father, former Sen. Connie Mack, is a partner.

Barletta's Battle to Halt Illegal Immigration

At a closed-door GOP Conference meeting April 10, Rep. Lou Barletta went up to the microphones for the first time since he was elected to Congress in 2010.

The Pennsylvania Republican told colleagues about his unique experience as a mayor trying to deal with increased crime and strains on city services as the population of Hazleton, Pa., swelled by 50 percent because of an influx of illegal immigrants.

Boehner Slaps NRCC Chairman's Wrist in Chained CPI Spat

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden touched a nerve Wednesday when he savaged the entitlement changes in President Barack Obama’s budget as a “shocking attack on seniors.”

But while conservative groups expressed outrage and top House leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner, said they disagreed with Walden, it’s the lack of fallout for the Oregon Republican that may be more revealing.

House Leaders Aim to Pass Debt Limit 'Prioritization' Bill in April

House leaders are planning to bring a debt ceiling “prioritization” bill to the House floor before the end of April, bringing the divisive issue to the forefront ahead of the government hitting the ceiling sometime this summer.

The legislation tries to mitigate the damage of the government reaching the debt limit in the event that negotiations to raise it fail. But Democrats have panned the idea, meaning it is unlikely to be taken up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Murray, Ryan Hammering Out Details for Budget Conference Committee

Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., are in negotiations over how to proceed to a conference committee with budgets approved by both chambers, according to multiple Senate Democratic aides familiar with the talks.

Murray and Ryan met Wednesday and released a joint statement following their session.

Boehner Violates Hastert Rule Again

The House approved a bill Tuesday without the support of a majority of the Republican Conference, about one month after Speaker John A. Boehner sought to assure his conference that he intended to observe the "Hastert rule."

The bill, which expands the government’s ability to buy land to protect historical battlefields at a projected cost of $50 million, passed under suspension of the rules, 283-122, with 101 Republicans supporting the bill and 122 voting against it. The Hastert rule, named for former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., calls for GOP leadership to only allow bills to pass that have secured "a majority of the majority" of the House Republican conference.

Mad Men: Madison Avenue's Advice to the GOP

Ask the modern day “Mad Men” on New York’s Madison Avenue about the GOP's efforts to rebrand and they point to the recent episode involving Rep. Don Young's use of the term "wetback" as a missed opportunity.

Speaker John A. Boehner quickly demanded that the Alaska Republican apologize, but in the following days, his spokesmen did not even respond to emailed questions about whether Young would face any concrete punishment for using the racially offensive term in a radio interview.

Issa-Cummings Truce Tested Over Whistle-Blower

It’s only been about three months, but the tentative truce between House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., is already facing its first big test.

At issue is whether Issa will provide copies of whistle-blower documents to Cummings. According to Issa, the person who provided the material to the committee is that afraid Cummings’ staff will give the Obama administration a heads up on what’s been shared and leave the whistle-blower open to retaliation.

Breaking Down the 10 GOP 'No' Votes on the Ryan Budget

We explained earlier this week why most conservatives would vote for the Ryan budget despite their complaints that it largely obtained balance in a relatively brief 10 years by including past tax increases.

That proved true Thursday, when only 10 Republicans voted “no” on the plan and decided against joining their party on one of its most unified votes. Here's why they voted against House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan's blueprint.

Boehner Downplays Debt Ceiling Fight as Leverage

Speaker John A. Boehner downplayed the importance of the debt ceiling increase in remarks to reporters Thursday, saying it might provide “some” leverage to Republicans to force spending cuts, “but I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.”

Rather than isolating the debt ceiling as an individual point of leverage, Republicans are hinting they’ll use it alongside the sequester cuts and the budget fight to push for long-term entitlement changes.

CBC Lukewarm on Watt Trial Balloon: 'Not That Sexy'

North Carolina Rep. Melvin Watt’s name is in the news as a potential pick to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, one week after the new chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a blistering letter to President Barack Obama complaining about his record of nominating African-Americans to his Cabinet.

But the trial balloon is getting a mixed reaction from CBC members who say the post, while important, isn’t exactly what they had in mind.

Why Most Conservatives Will Vote for the Ryan Budget, Despite Complaints

The budget blueprint offered by House Republicans last year would have balanced the budget in what seemed like a million years (actually, it was 27). This year’s plan offered by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., balances in only 10. It also repeals Obamacare and institutes Medicare changes sought by Republican deficit hawks.

And yet, there is angst on the right about this budget.