Black Caucus Chairman Seeks Partnership With Paul Ryan

Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is interviewed by Roll Call in his office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield wants the House to address poverty in America, and feels he may have an unlikely partner in new Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.  

“We got into the weeds with him,'' Butterfield said of a past meeting between Ryan and the CBC, which took place before Butterfield was made CBC chairman. "He convinced me he understood pervasive poverty in America.”  That meeting was in the spring of 2014, after Ryan made a controversial comment about poverty being caused by the “tailspin of culture” in “inner cities” where men don’t work or “value the culture of work.”  

House Democrats Brace for Round Two of Trade Fight

Kind helped the president whip House votes on TPA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats who fought unsuccessfully earlier this year to withhold Trade Promotion Authority from the White House are gearing up for round two: an effort to undo the sweeping 12-nation Pacific trade deal announced Monday that TPA authorized the administration to negotiate.  

"The deal ... is the result of negotiations between corporate interests and trade representatives, which ignored the voices of working families in all twelve countries," Progressive Caucus Co-Chairmen Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota declared in a statement. "These negotiations have been conducted in secret by foreign governments and multi-national corporations for the sole benefit of wealthy executives and special interests — to the detriment of American workers, our environment, our food safety and our ability to innovate and advance human development," Rep. Rick Nolan, another Minnesota Democrat, said.  

The Congressional Wish List for the Pope's Speech

(Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Every lawmaker on Capitol Hill has a cause that could use a boost from a powerful person's endorsement — and next week there won't be a more influential seal of approval than one from Pope Francis.  

Since taking on the papacy in March 2013, the leader of the world's largest church has shown a willingness to wade into some of the thorniest political debates around the globe, from economic equality to climate change to immigration.  

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.  

Did Van Hollen Miss a Layup Opportunity With Progressives? (Updated)

Van Hollen surprised some progressives when he didn't vote for their budget this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:42 p.m. |  Congressional Progressive Caucus members were emboldened this week.  

Their fiscal 2016 budget proposal won 96 votes on the floor, which translates into half of all House Democrats endorsing the policy platform of one third of the whole House Democratic Caucus — plus a higher threshold than for any CPC budget ever before.  

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.  

Parties Split on Obama Budget, but Not on 'Groundhog Day'

Hoyer and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle couldn't resist getting in a few "Groundhog Day" jibes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama has released his fiscal 2016 budget and the reviews are in: Democrats love it, Republicans hate it.  

Democrats and Republicans spent Monday trading jibes over Obama's multi-agency spending blueprint  as well as the latest GOP attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle unable to resist using "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray's classic 1993 comedy, to hammer home their respective messages. "It is no coincidence that the White House released its budget on Groundhog Day," said the House's No. 3 Republican, Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, referencing the film in which a hapless weatherman relives the same day over and over. "The president’s budget is filled with the same failed, big-government, tax-and-spend policies of the past.”  "It may be Groundhog Day," Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, piled on, "but the American people can't afford a repeat of the same old top-down policies of the past."  

Obama Fires Up House Democrats (Updated)

Obama told Democrats to take credit for the improving economy (Mandel Ngan/AFP File Photo)

Updated 10:55 p.m. | PHILADELPHIA — A fiery President Barack Obama addressed House Democrats Thursday night, saying while there’s more work to do in restoring the economy, Democrats can’t be shy about what they've already accomplished.  

His remarks, delivered in the ballroom of a Sheraton hotel on the second evening of the House Democratic retreat, were tailored to the caucus’s new strategy : Focus the party's message on growing the middle class and take full credit for the nation’s economic recovery of the past six years. “Obviously we were all disappointed by the outcome of this election. There were a lot of reasons for it, and I’m happy to take some of the blame,” Obama told the assembled members, their families and their staffers. “One thing I’m positive about is, when we’re shy about what we care about, when we’re defensive about what we’ve accomplished, when we don’t stand up straight and proud ... ”  

Democrats Unite Around Middle-Class Message, Israel Says

Israel says Democrats are behind the new "middle class" focus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

PHILADELPHIA — House Democrats are united around a new messaging strategy for the 2016 cycle, according to Rep. Steve Israel of New York.  

"Middle class, middle class and middle class," the chairman of a newly created Democratic Policy and Communication Committee told reporters on Thursday morning. Israel cited the results of a lengthy survey distributed to Democrats last week as evidence of a new intraparty consensus. The results were revealed to the caucus on the first full day of its three-day issues retreat here in the City of Brotherly Love.  

White House Helping Democrats Shape Message to Middle Class

Kind is one of the Democrats championing more "aspirational" messaging. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The same day House Democrats are set to go to their annual issues conference in Philadelphia to discuss messaging for the 2016 election cycle, among other things, the caucus's new messaging group held its inaugural meeting on Capitol Hill.  

The newly minted, 16-member Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which was tailored specifically to be led by recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, heard Wednesday morning from David Simas, the White House director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. "The polling and focus group data that Simas presented fortified what House Democrats already believe, mainly that this is about a middle-class agenda and the sense that the government helps out the poor and gives breaks to the ultra wealthy and corporations, but if you’re in the middle you get nothing," a source present at the meeting told CQ Roll Call in an email. For much of the 2014 cycle, House Democrats focused their message on middle-class voters and the extent to which the party was prepared to fight for them on equal pay for equal work, a higher minimum wage, tax breaks for middle-income earners and an extension of the expired unemployment insurance program.