Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 22, 2014

Posts by Jonathan Strong

12 Posts

March 15, 2013

CPAC: Santorum Unmoved By Portman Gay Marriage Reversal

Former Sen. Rick Santorum offered a steadfast defense of his position when questioned about Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s decision to support gay marriage.

In a room filled with social conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the failed 2012 presidential candidate said, “Just because someone changes their mind doesn’t change things.” He added that, in law, “bad facts make bad laws” and that some Republicans are confronting “very difficult facts” in their lives.

Santorum said the importance of traditional marriage is in using the institution to promote the “best platform to raise our children.”

If marriage were just about “two adults who love each other,” “then let anybody get married,” or “three or four people,” for that matter, Santorum said to loud applause.

Additionally, gay marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher responded to Portman’s stance in a release, “While I understand Sen. Portman’s love for his son, we can love each other without abandoning core principles like marriage and life. If Republican elites continue the process of attempting to get rid of social issues, we are going to go back to being the party of Gerald Ford, a permanent minority that can occasionally elect a President.”

Portman announced Friday that he had decided to support laws that would allow gays to marry after finding out two years ago that his son is gay.

February 8, 2013

Bill Clinton Offers Dose of Reality, Warning to House Dems

Bill Clinton Offers Dose of Reality, Warning to House Dems

(Pool Win McNamee/Getty Images)

LEESBURG, Va. — At a retreat here that has been notable for the improbable exuberance of an energized House Democratic Caucus, President Bill Clinton offered doubt.

Drawing on lessons from his own presidency, Clinton said 2014 poses a more difficult challenge than 2012 and urged lawmakers to tread carefully on the issues of health care, gun control and the economy.

“I can’t tell you how many nights — countless nights in the White House. Every single night before I went to bed for months and months and months after the 1994 election, I thought about the people who were defeated because they voted for the economic plan, I thought about the people who were defeated because they voted for the assault weapons ban. I knew exactly what had happened. And I thought a lot about those who survived and why they did,” Clinton told lawmakers, referring to the 1994 midterm elections that were a GOP landslide.

“I think it’s important to take some action now that it is possible on the issue of gun violence, but it’s important to do it right,” he added. Full story

Obama to Help House Democrats Recruit Candidates

Obama to Help House Democrats Recruit Candidates

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:30 p.m. | LEESBURG, Va. — President Barack Obama has agreed to do more than just raise money for House Democrats’ effort to win back the majority in 2014: He is also going to help with candidate recruitment.

Obama will headline eight fundraising events in 2013 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more fundraisers are planned for 2014. But Obama’s agreement to help DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates in targeted districts is also significant.

“It’s transformational,” Israel said in an interview, adding that House Democrats are “firing on all cylinders like I’ve never seen before.”

The president’s efforts to assist House Democrats politically are more than Israel initially even asked for.

Obama initially reached out to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Israel just after leaving the stage where he delivered his victory speech in Chicago on election night. Four years into his presidency, and after keeping the DCCC practically at arm’s length as he focused on his own re-election in the 2012 cycle, he was finally turning his gaze toward winning back the House. Full story

November 6, 2012

Steve Israel Vows Dems Will Pick Up Seats

Steve Israel Vows Dems Will Pick Up Seats

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the disappointing election results were being tallied, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel vowed to operatives at an election night party that Democrats would pick up seats in the House.

The bar is lower than the goal of retaking control of the chamber that leaders have talked up for the past two years. Even as networks were calling the House for Republicans, the New Yorker’s fellow Democratic leaders, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, both maintained that such a victory was in their grasp.

“Yes, we think we’re going to take back the House,” Hoyer said.

Israel was less sanguine, drawing a line not at the 25 seats Democrats needed but at a projection made by his Republican counterpart more than one year ago.

“The Republicans said that tonight they were going to win 16 seats. Wrong! We’re not letting ‘em win 16 seats. We’re stopping them in their tracks. We’re gonna gain seats tonight in the House of Representatives,” Israel said.

But even if the results will be a disappointment for Democrats, both Pelosi and Hoyer praised  Israel’s tenure atop the House campaign committee, with Hoyer calling his work “extraordinary” and Pelosi’s a “job well done.”

Pelosi also expressed optimism about how the rest of the evening would play out. “These elections as they unfold across the country will unroll an ever-increasing number of new Democrats who will come to the Congress and join the fight.” The results will exceed “everyone’s expectation and perhaps achieve our drive to 25 [seats],” Pelosi said.

With recent speculation about Pelosi’s future as a backdrop, Hoyer offered lengthy and effusive praise for the Minority Leader.

“We could not have been successful without the leadership, the extraordinary energy, the focus and the extraordinary ability to raise funds for the cause. … I want to congratulate Nancy Pelosi, our leader,” he said.

“I’ve been at this for some period of time. I have never seen anybody with energy, more focus, more self discipline and more effectiveness in conveying the message of our party and ensuring we have the resources to get that message to the American people. Nancy Pelosi, thank you very, very much,” Hoyer said.

Pelosi congratulated Hoyer on winning re-election to his Congressional seat in Maryland.

Sheriff Sees No Signs of Political Motivation in Pelosi Burglary

Sheriff Sees No Signs of Political Motivation in Pelosi Burglary

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There were no signs of a political motive for a break-in Monday at one of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s California homes, Capt. Tracey Stuart, a spokeswoman for the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, told Roll Call.

The perpetrators did not vandalize the residence or leave behind anything that pointed to a motive beyond burglary, Stuart said. There was nothing obviously missing, although the Pelosis have not been at the residence to check if anything is gone. Their belongings had been rifled through to “some” degree, Stuart said.

Police were alerted to the break-in by an alarm system at 2:53 p.m. Monday. Arriving on the scene, they found two glass doors broken, one to the main residence and a second to the pool house.

The house that was broken into was in St. Helena, Calif., in the heart of wine country in the Napa Valley.

Pelosi’s office did not reply to a request for comment. The Napa Valley Register first reported the incident.

November 5, 2012

House Democrats Lower Expectations, Offer ‘Tea Party’ Narrative

House Democrats Lower Expectations, Offer Tea Party Narrative

Rep. Steve Israel (left) was charged with overseeing Democratic efforts to win back House seats this cycle and make Rep. Nancy Pelosi Speaker again. But heading into Election Day, the party is expected to net only a handful of seats. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For two years, Democratic leaders have focused on winning the 25 seats necessary for their party to take back the House. But with analysts predicting disappointing results for the number of seats they will pick up in Tuesday’s elections, aides and party operatives are privately lowering expectations about the net gain.

In internal conversations with Democratic lawmakers, leaders are “definitely lowering the expectations,” a senior Democratic House aide said.

The party is expected to net a single-digit number of seats, far from the 25 they need to reclaim control of the chamber.

Democratic aides speaking on background said the elections results will likely be a bitter disappointment, if not a surprise for some. Most Members and professional operatives realized long ago that winning back the House was not in the cards, and one source described complaints that top officials, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), were being unrealistically rosy in their public statements about the state of the races. Full story

November 3, 2012

Nancy Pelosi Raised $12.9 Million in October

Nancy Pelosi Raised $12.9 Million in October

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi raised an eye-popping $12.9 million in October for House Democrats, a spokesman said.

The California Democrat held 65 fundraising and campaign events in eight states and Washington, D.C. Over the current election cycle, Pelosi has raised $85.1 million.

Pelosi is a powerhouse fundraiser without peer among Congressional Democrats. She has kept up a frenetic campaigning pace even as Democrats, some openly, have speculated she may leave after the elections, especially as the party is not expected to come close to taking back control of the House.

Those who know Pelosi well say she is unlikely to opt for a quick exit, however, preferring to promote a successor she prefers over her second-in-command, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Pelosi’s spokesman has called that scenario “ridiculous.”

October 24, 2012

Jesse Jackson Jr. Back in Mayo Clinic, Future Uncertain

Jesse Jackson Jr. Back in Mayo Clinic, Future Uncertain

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Embattled Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is back at the Mayo Clinic for a “follow-up evaluation,” and a lawmaker friend said bluntly that it is unclear if the Illinois Democrat will return to Congress, according to press reports.

Full story

June 8, 2012

Kurt Bardella Leaving Darrell Issa to Join Abel Maldonado Campaign

Kurt Bardella Leaving Darrell Issa to Join Abel Maldonado Campaign

Kurt Bardella, seen here with one-time boss Rep. Darrell Issa, is moving on to work on a Congressional campaign in California. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kurt Bardella, the senior adviser to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) with a colorful history and a reputation as an attack dog, is headed back to California to work for 24th district Congressional candidate Abel Maldonado (R).

Maldonado, the former lieutenant governor, is challenging Rep. Lois Capps (D) in a race that could prove competitive. Following redistricting, Capps’ district went from a 20-point registration advantage for the Democrats to a three point edge. In California’s June 5 “jungle” primary, the votes for Maldonado and a second Republican candidate combined to beat Capps’ 46 percent.

The GOP’s decision to tap Bardella for Maldonado’s campaign is viewed as further evidence of the party’s optimism about flipping the district. Bardella previously handled press for Rep. Brian Bilbray, working for the San Diego-area Republican on the campaign trail and in Congress.

June 4, 2012

Cathy McMorris Rodgers Named as Mitt Romney’s House Liaison

Cathy McMorris Rodgers Named as Mitt Romney’s House Liaison

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney today named Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) his House liaison, a major new role for the 5th-ranking House Republican who has become the face of the House GOP on women’s issues.

“She understands the impact of the economic challenges Americans face and the need to put our country on a better track. As a member of the leadership team in the House, she will be a helpful partner in our efforts to ensure our focus remains on the critical issue of economic security for all Americans,” Romney said in a statement.

Full story

March 26, 2012

Pennsylvania: Mark Critz Poll Shows Momentum Against Jason Altmire

Pennsylvania: Mark Critz Poll Shows Momentum Against Jason Altmire

Rep. Mark Critz got the endorsement from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:30 p.m. | A new poll released today by the campaign of Rep. Mark Critz (D) showed him in a tightening primary with frontrunner Rep. Jason Altmire (D) in Pennsylvania’s newly reconfigured 12th district. The poll coincided with the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s endorsement of Critz today.

“We’re proud to endorse Congressman Critz in the 12th Congressional District.  He’s the best candidate to represent the over 100,000 union members in CD12 who are looking for someone to fight for jobs and an economy that works for everyone,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale said in a statement to Roll Call.

A Democratic operative familiar with the race said by endorsing, the labor group is asserting independence and a willingness to wade into Democratic primary fights. The source also said the race is a dry run for the AFL-CIO’s post-Citizens United campaign operation. Beyond endorsing, an AFL-CIO official said the group would be putting resources into campaigning for Critz. Full story

February 22, 2012

Limbaugh: Will Media Ask Ron Paul About Double Dipping?

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh wondered today whether the hosts of tonight’s GOP presidential nomination debate will ask Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) about repeatedly being double reimbursed for flights.

“It will be interesting to see if anyone asks Ron Paul about his double dipping,” Limbaugh said.

Roll Call reported Feb. 6 that Paul has repeatedly been paid for trips once by taxpayers and a second time by a network of political and nonprofit organizations. A Feb. 21 story revealed David James, a former Paul associate who worked for the Texas Republican for 18 years, confronted Paul about the practice in 2005, leading to their falling out a year later.

“Ron Paul apparently has for some of his flights over the course of years, his air transportation, he has been reimbursed by two entities — by private donors and by the government. And apparently he’s kept both in some instances,” Limbaugh said. “It did cause a fallout between an early Ron Paul supporter. I don’t know if there are going to be any questions about this.”

Limbaugh, whose audience is estimated at more than 10 million people, is highly influential among Republicans.

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