House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi is not stepping down from leadership

Nancy Pelosi

Yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sidestepped questions about her future as leader of her party in the House of Representatives. Pelosi, who has been in Congress since 1993 and held the role as leader of House Democrats since 2003 (including two terms as Speaker), only told reporters that her plans would be announced this morning.

Politico is reporting this morning that Pelosi will remain in her current role as House Minority Leader, ending the speculation that had been in the air for several weeks, going back before.

The questions about Pelosi’s began when she scheduled elections for Democratic leadership some time after Thanksgiving, which, according to aides cited by Politico, meant that she could be “getting out of leadership and want[ed] to give someone else a chance to organize a movement against Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the long-time number two; or she’s simply buying time to consider her future if Democrats fall short of the majority.”

There was speculation that Pelosi, who oversaw $5 trillion in new debt added during four years as Speaker, would retire after losing the majority during the 2010 mid-term, but she vowed that Democrats would come back to power after this year’s election. That obviously didn’t happen, though they picked up a handful of seats,and it’s unlikely to happen in 2014 due to a number of districts being made more Republican-friendly thanks to the redistricting process.

FreedomWorks backs Tom Graves for Republican Study Committee Chair

Tom Graves

Last week, I mentioned that Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) was running for chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group that guides conservative policy in the House. Graves has already received the support of the founders of RSC, but he picked up another endorsement yesterday from FreedomWorks, which has help guide activists in the freedom movement over the last few years:

FreedomWorks announced its commitment today to endorse Tom Graves for the position of Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman. The RSC serves as a fiscally conservative check on Republican leadership, and gives principled men and women of Congress without years of seniority the opportunity to affect real change.

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe commented, “Tom Graves is currently one of the best votes in Congress, scoring 100% on our 2011 legislative scorecard. While others abandoned the ideas of fiscal responsibility and limited-government, Graves took a stand and voted against the Budget Control Act and the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. We need a strong voice to ensure that good economic policy triumphs over politics as usual in Congress, and Tom Graves is the man for the job.”

Graves was also a recipient of the FreedomWorks Legislative Entrepreneur Award during his service in the Georgia State House, where he created a fiscally conservative caucus.

Graves has competition in the race from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who is closely aligned with House Speaker John Boehner, who is increasingly trying to make sure House Republicans are on board with him through the “fiscal cliff” debate.

BREAKING: Republicans projected maintain control of the House

Republicans will hold their majority in the House of Representatives, according to CNN and other media outlets. This comes as no surprise. Reports in days leading up to the election indicated this was incredibly likely. Analysts also noted that Republicans could actually add a few seats to their majority before the evening is over, which was a prospect mentioned yesterday.

So whatever happens tonight, John Boehner will still be Speaker of the House in the next Congress. However, the future of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is still a big question mark.

Unions banking on “card-check” in Obama’s second term

Barack Obama and Richard Trumka

Big Labor had high-hopes for President Barack Obama. On their wishlist was the misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” also known as “card-check,” which would likely bolster their ranks by removing worker protections, allowing organizers to bully them into signing off on forming a union.

Legislation was introduced in both chambers, but never made it out of committee, despite Democrats holding sizeable majorities.Republicans managed to take the House in the 2010 mid-term election, stalling any hope unions had of pushing the bill through Congress, which became a sore spot for union leaders.

But during an interview with Molly Ball of The Atlantic, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said that card-check will happen should Obama win a second term and Democrats take back the House in 2014:

I note that Trumka hasn’t mentioned card check, or as he prefers to call it, “labor law reform.” But he denies the union has given up on that priority.

“Never. You’ll see it,” he says. “That’s within the next term.” How is that possible, without a Democratic House of Representatives or 60 votes in the Senate? Trumka smiles. His eyes twinkle.

“There’s another election between now and then,” he says. And the AFL-CIO isn’t going anywhere.

Republicans could make gains in the House of Representatives

United States Capitol

Riding the strength of the Tea Party movement and voter angst, Republicans won 62 seats in the 2010 mid-term election, taking control of the House in an election that was viewed as a referendum on the first-half of President Barack Obama’s term. And even though it looks like they will fail to take control of the Senate this year, Aaron Blake, who writes at The Fix over at the Washington Post, reports that Republicans may actually increase their already sizeable majority in the House of Representatives:

The Fix now projects that the 2012 race for the House is likely to be close to a draw, and there is even a fair chance that Republicans will add to their biggest majority in six decades on Tuesday.
In recent weeks, as Mitt Romney has gained a few points in the presidential race, a similar but slight shift has been happening at the House level: The generic ballot has tightened.

While Democrats had built a modest advantage on the generic ballot (a measure of whether people prefer a generic Republican or a generic Democrat) when President Obama built some momentum in September, that advantage is basically gone now.

In part because of this, Democrats have seen their candidates in conservative-leaning districts suffer. Friday, we are moving several red-district Democrats into more vulnerable ratings, including Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.).

And because those seats have shifted, it is no longer a foregone conclusion that Democrats will gain seats this year.

House files suit against Holder over Fast and Furious documents

Darrell Issa holds up redacted Fast and Furious document

The investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal came to a head in June when the House of Representatives approved two separate charges finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Holder had refused to comply with requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to produce thousands of pages of material related to the operation. The Justice Department has only produced 7,600 pages of documents out of the more than 100,000 requested by the committee.

Instead of providing transparency to Congress — and ostensibly, the American people, President Obama invoked “executive privilege,” which effectively prevents congressional investigators from viewing sought after materials. But yesterday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, filed suit claiming that the Obama Administration has no legal basis on which to conceal documents related to the scandal:

A lawsuit filed today by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) alleged Attorney General Eric Holder is standing on a “legally baseless” claim in refusing to provide internal Justice Department documents relating to the “Fast and Furious” gun walking investigation.

House passes extension of current tax rates

House of Representatives

While President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats continue to play with fire on the economy, the House of Representatives yesterday passed a one-year renewal of existing tax rates for all income earners:

The House approved GOP legislation late Wednesday that would extend all current tax rates for another year, and also turned away a Democratic bill that would have allowed rates to rise for higher income earners.

The Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act was approved in a 256-171 vote that saw 19 Democrats vote with Republicans, highlighting division in the Democratic party over taxes. Only one Republican, Rep. Tim Johnson (Ill.), voted no.

Democrats voting in favor of the bill were Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Dave Loebsack (Iowa), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Bill Owens (N.Y.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Ross (Ark.), and Tim Walz (Minn.).
House Republicans allowed Democrats a vote on a proposal similar to the one the Senate approved, and predictably, it failed in a 170-257 vote, with 19 Democrats voting against their party. During debate, Republicans said the Democratic alternative would raise taxes on about one million small business owners with incomes at or above those levels.

They also noted that less than two years ago, many Democrats agreed to extend all the Bush-era tax levels, citing the harm any tax hike might do to the struggling economy.

Podcast with Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA)

Paul Broun

Yesterday, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) stopped by during a trip to a campaign event in McDonough, Georgia to give us an update on some of the things going on in Washington; including President Obama’s tax proposal, the push to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Fast and Furious. We also briefly discussed his campaign for re-election.

Rep. Broun, who was first elected in 2007, represents Georgia’s Tenth Congressional District. You can follow him on Twitter (@RepPaulBrounMD) and Facebook. Also, make sure you stop by Rep. Broun’s campaign website to learn more about him and his campaign.

Obama pressures House on tax hikes

With the Senate passing his tax plan, President Barack Obama is making a push to pressure the Republican-controlled House of Representatives do to the same. Before the start of a cabinent meeting yesterday, President Obama said, “I would encourage the House of Representatives to do the right thing,” which means passing his tax proposal.

President Obama’s view of what is “right” and “wrong” is odd. From a practical perspective, the $967.6 billion in revenues expected over the next 10 years from his proposed tax hike pales in comparison to the $46.9 trillion in spending. Budget deficits will still run high, and, as a result of the tax hikes, the economy will contract, according to at least two separate studies. The affect of this will be slower job creation, if not a recession.

The other aspect is moral the moral argument. What is exactly the “right thing”? The tax burden in the United States is already high and, thanks to President Obama and Congress, budget deficits are out of control; reaching $1 trillion for the fourth straight year. Is it moral to coerce people to pay more in taxes when the government is spending so irresponsibly?

During White House press conference, ABC News reporter Jake Tapper asked Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, how they can make the argument that continuing current tax rates is a “giveaway” to higher-income earners. Here’s the exchange:

House will vote on ObamaCare repeal today

Later today, the House of Representatives will again move a measure forward to repeal ObamaCare, the health insurance reform law that was largely upheld by the Supreme Court at the end of June:

With just 15 days left to legislate before the August recess, House leadership isn’t scurrying to pass job creation legislation or curb the looming “fiscal cliff,” Instead, lawmakers are devoting their time to largely symbolic votes like repealing the Affordable Care Act, the 31st time such a vote has taken place.

“There are demonstration projections and there are also demonstration votes,” says Larry Sabato, Director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “It is to let your party base know you are with them and to force your opponents to vote the other way.”

While the “Repeal Obamacare Act” is expected to pass in the House with a sweeping majority, Senate leadership is unlikely to ever bring it to the floor, nor would it ever pass under the Democratic majority.

Yesterday, only four House Democrats joined House Republicans in voting for the rules on the debate. Only a few other Democrats could vote for repeal today, though they will most likely vulnerable members.

As noted above, this is the 31st time House Republicans have brought forward a vote on repeal. That’s not something that has been lost in the discussion on the topic. This looming vote is being dismissed as a waste of time. But if we take a quick glance at polling, Americans still favor repeal despite the recent Supreme Court decision.

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