113th House Republicans

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  • The House Republican who could end up undoing a District of Columbia voter referendum to legalize marijuana has a blunt message for residents of the capital city: If you don’t like it, move out. “That’s the way the Constitution was written,” Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland said in an interview Wednesday. “If they don’t like that oversight, move outside of the federal district to one of the 50 states that is not covered by the jurisdiction of Congress as a whole.”
  • A specialized sort of barometric collapse hit Washington, D.C., last night: a sudden knowledge that the capital’s stocks of Merlot and unfiltered cigarettes had been depleted, and Speaker John Boehner was turning surly. And the target of his abuse, yet again, were the very specimens over whom he attempts to leverage power: the House Republicans conference. Boehner, speaking to the International Franchise Association (read: people who don’t want to pay their fast-food workers more), described the House majority over which he lords as a “paper majority,” and then went on to label a dissident faction within his conference as “knuckleheads.” “On any given day, 16 of my members decide they’re going to go this way, and all the sudden I have nothing,” he said.
  • Former vice-president Dick Cheney met behind closed doors with Republican members of Congress on Tuesday to urge them to adopt a more muscular military posture in the Middle East. The private meeting came as leading Republican hawks are clamouring for a ramped-up confrontation with the Islamic State (Isis) militant group, with some openly discussing the redeployment of ground troops in Iraq. Cheney did not address the specifics of any military involvement in the Middle East, according to several people present at the meeting, which took place in the Capitol Hill Club and was open to all House Republicans.
  • The former vice president tries to sell reluctant House Republicans on “comprehensive” action against ISIS by blaming the president, of course. Dick Cheney spoke to House Republicans on Tuesday about the need for military action in Iraq. With President Obama poised to give a major speech on Wednesday about military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Cheney spoke to the assembled Republican congressmen about the situation in the Middle East at their weekly caucus meeting. And while the GOP has been fiercely divided over foreign policy in recent years, Cheney didn’t wade into that debate, instead opting to pillory Obama in front of an audience giving him “rapt attention.”
  • Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave his farewell address Thursday as the No. 2 most-powerful Republican on the House side of Capitol Hill. In remarks filled with gratitude and touches of humility, the Republican who was shockingly turned out of office by Virginia voters in a June 10 primary thanked his colleagues and staff. He also sent good wishes to Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, his close friend, who inherits a big to-do list when Congress returns from its August recess.
  • If you attack the president repeatedly for law-breaking, executive overreach and deceiving the public and Congress, do you have an obligation to impeach him? This is the logical question Republicans are now trying to duck. There is a reason why impeachment is a big deal in Washington this week. It’s not just because a call to defend President Obama motivates the Democrats’ base, although it surely does. John Boehner is having trouble countering fears that House Republicans will eventually try to oust the president because the speaker’s colleagues have spent years tossing around impeachment threats as a matter of routine.
  • Congressional Republicans have spent the majority of 2014 doing very little even marginally controversial. They put talk of government shutdown showdowns to rest and avoided another stand-off over raising the debt ceiling. The goal was simple: Keep the focus on the unpopular President Obama in hopes of turning the midterm election into a referendum on him.
  • Last week, House Republicans huddled in a Capitol conference room to figure out what kind of emergency immigration bill they might be able to pass. In his telling, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho wanted the party to jam the White House, to pack the bill with new border security measures and threaten to impeach Obama if he ignored them.
  • The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily. Memories of Bill Clinton and the campaign of 1998 may help explain why Speaker John Boehner and the current GOP leadership want no part of such talk now, although conservatives increasingly clamor for it. And also why President Barack Obama's White House seems almost eager to stir the impeachment pot three months before midterm elections.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated Tuesday by a little-known economics professor in Virginia's Republican primary, a stunning upset and major victory for the tea party. Cantor is the second-most powerful member of the U.S. House and was seen by some as a possible successor to the House speaker.
  • Republicans are beginning to nudge GOP Rep. Vance McAllister out of Congress. Just two days after video footage of him in a romantic encounter with a staffer became public, the state Republican chairman has tried unsuccessfully to reach McAllister by telephone to encourage him to resign, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
  • Obamacare crossed the 7 million sign-ups milestone before the midnight deadline Monday, sparking angst and introspection among conservative policy wonks about the future of their quest to wipe the health care law off the books. Central to their dilemma is the emerging discovery that many people will end up benefiting from Obamacare. Despite the health care law's problems, unanswered questions and unknown costs, it can hardly be denied that millions of American are slated to reap the benefits of its insurance subsidies, the Medicaid expansion and beefed-up consumer protections.
  • You've got to give them credit for . . . for . . . persistence? House Republicans voted for the 50th time, voted 250-160 to roll back part of Obamacare. This time it was for a delay of the individual mandate, and a tacit acknowledgment that, yeah, the law is here to stay. Otherwise why vote to delay part of it?
  • This week you’re likely to read stories and headlines suggesting that House Republicans will be voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act again, or are approaching their 50th Obamacare repeal vote or some variation thereof. President Obama even clowned on them for it in a speech to the DNC on Friday: “You know what they say: 50th time is the charm. Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize. Maybe if you buy 50 repeal votes, you get one free.” And, yes, this week, House Republicans will again vote to delay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for a year — or, more specifically, to reduce its penalty in 2014 to $0.
  • Republicans may need immigration reform to avoid extinction in the long run, but there's a growing fear within the party that bringing it up now -- as House GOP leaders have laid the groundwork to do by releasing a pro-reform blueprint -- would depress conservative voter turnout and damage their standing in the 2014 elections. "No way it happens. I just don't see it going anywhere," said one House Republican aide, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity. "I think 2014 is a slam dunk to us otherwise and this would really piss off the base."
  • As Republicans look ahead to the 2016 presidential race, they are hoping to avoid the kind of chaotic and protracted nominating battle that dismayed party elders and damaged the eventual candidacy of Mitt Romney. That, however, could be a hard thing to prevent.
  • After talking it over with John Boehner last night, Joe Biden says he’s pretty confident that House Republicans will be able to pass a consensus immigration reform bill. According to Nancy Pelosi, she believes Republicans will adopt a reasonable position on immigration reform that most if not all Democrats will ultimately support.
  • Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) will resign from Congress on Monday, according to multiple sources. Radel, 37, was caught buying cocaine last year from an undercover federal agent in Washington and spent nearly a month in a rehabilitation facility. He returned to Congress after the winter recess.
  • The Republican Party, which should have the wind at its back, enters 2014 in disarray bordering on open warfare. President Obama and the Democrats have had, let’s face it, a bumpy few months. The debut of the Affordable Care Act was not quite the hair-pulling, garment-rending, world-historical disaster that some critics claim, but it was — and remains — messy enough to buff the shine on the GOP’s badly tarnished brand.
  • The Obamacare website is open for business. But the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Folkston, Georgia, is closed. Because Republicans in half the states have blocked the expansion of Medicaid, funds to public hospitals with large uninsured populations have been slashed. So far, at least five public hospitals have been closed this year and 5,000 hospital employees have been laid off nationwide. The closures are expected to worsen in the coming years.