TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: From California’s Pineapple Express to Another Shutdown Drama

Watch this week's #KnowRightNow to catch up on all the latest stories

The House passed a $1.1 trillion spending package late Thursday to ensure that the government will avoid another damaging shutdown. “This compromise proposal merits bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and hopefully will arrive on the President’s desk in the next few days, and if it does, he will sign it,” stated White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

A tropical storm called the Pineapple Express pummeled the Pacific Northwest on Thursday. In drought-stricken California, flooding and mudslides prompted rare school closures in the north of the state. Powerful winds knocked out power to more than 150,000 homes in Washington.

Gas prices hit a 4-year low this week, with the average price of gas in the United States sinking to $2.72 per gallon. That’s the lowest gas prices have been since November 2010. Prices are dropping due to higher North American oil production and less demand. New Mexico has the lowest gas prices at $2.38 per gallon, and San Francisco has the highest gas prices at $3.04 per gallon.

And lastly, on Wednesday, TIME Magazine chose the Ebola fighters as 2014’s Person of the Year. “They risked and persisted, sacrificed, and saved,” TIME editor Nancy Gibbs wrote.

TIME

Dem Frenemies: Pelosi, Hoyer Again on Opposite Sides of a Leadership Debate

Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., followed by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, to introduce the Democratic leadership team for the 114th Congress. ) Susan Walsh—AP

Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are backing rival candidates to be top Democrat on the powerful Energy and Commerce committee

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives re-elected Nancy Pelosi of California as Minority Leader and Steny Hoyer of Maryland as Minority Whip on Tuesday with little drama, according to House members who took part in the vote. But the apparent comity hides the re-emergence of a long-simmering competition between the top two Democrats over lower level spots in their Congressional roster.

With leadership votes expected for key committees as soon as Wednesday, the race to replace retiring powerhouse Rep. Henry Waxman as top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce committee has turned into a test of influence between Pelosi and Hoyer.

For months, California Rep. Anna Eshoo and New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone have been competing for votes to serve as the next ranking member of the powerful committee, which has authority over a large part of the U.S. economy and traditionally plays an outsized role in investigations and oversight.

Pelosi backs her longtime friend and ally, Eshoo, sending letters to colleagues urging them to support her fellow Californian since shortly after Eshoo’s announcement. Eshoo’s priorities, Pelosi says, align with the “future of America’s vibrant and competitive environment.”

Hoyer has been stumping for Pallone, though not nearly as openly as Pelosi. Aside from touting Pallone’s work on the committee, Hoyer embraces the system of seniority that traditionally, but not inevitably, gives preference to longer-serving members of Congress. Pallone is currently the number three Democrat on Energy and Commerce, while Eshoo is the fifth-most senior member on the panel.

“A major component [of the Eshoo-Pallone fight] is the proxy war between Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer,” says a House Democratic aide.

Pelosi and Hoyer have a long-running rivalry. Both interned for Sen. Daniel Brewster in the 1960s, and later joined each other in the House or Representatives. In 2001, they duked it out for a seat in the Democratic leadership and though both insisted they had they votes to become the Minority Whip, Pelosi won the job. In 2002, she became the Democratic leader and the first woman to serve as a party leader in Congress. In 2006, after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and Pelosi was boosted to Speaker of the House, she backed Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania for the number two spot, despite Hoyer’s candidacy for the job. Hoyer beat Murtha 149 to 86.

Many thought Hoyer would take on Pelosi when Democrats faced their brutal loss in 2010, but he told Politico that year he never considered challenging her for the seat: “Obviously, [Pelosi] had to make a decision on whether she could be an effective leader. I think she can.”

Hoyer, a centrist, has found common cause with some liberals in the Eshoo-Pallone fight. Members of Congressional Black and Congressional Hispanic Caucuses support the elevation of Pallone because they think seniority should decide who takes on leadership roles in committee. “Those who through years of service have gained significant expertise and knowledge should be given priority to lead our committees and sub-committees,” wrote Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio in a recent letter to colleagues.

Some House Democratic aides, however, insist it isn’t a proxy fight; Hoyer supports Pallone because he respects the work he’s done. “This race ultimately comes down to personal relationships,” one senior aide says.

House Democrats are scheduled to vote on the committee position early Wednesday.

-With reporting by Alex Rogers

TIME Congress

John Dingell, Longest-Serving U.S. Representative, Is Hospitalized

John Dingell
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7, 2014 Lauren Victoria Burke—AP

The 88-year-old Congressman expects to be back in Washington next week

Congressman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) was admitted Monday to Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital with abdominal pain, his office announced.

“Dingell is doing well, is receiving an IV treatment of antibiotics, and remains in good spirits,” wrote Christopher Schuler, Dingell’s communications director, in a public statement. “Doctors expect him to be released in a few days, and Dingell expects to be in Washington for Congressional session next week.”

Dingell, 88, has served in Congress since 1955, making him the longest serving representative in congressional history. His wife Deborah is running to succeed him in office after he retires this year.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 25

1. Slavery’s long shadow is inextricably linked to modern income inequality in the south.

By Stephen Mihm in the Boston Globe

2. Superdistricts in the House of Representatives could end the tyranny of incumbency in Congress.

By Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post

3. Yelp the Police: Georgia teens build an app to rate law enforcement interactions.

By Rebecca Borison in Business Insider

4. The new Egyptian government’s policies of repression and exclusion could push citizens into the arms of extremist groups.

By Michele Dunn and Scott Williamson at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

5. Transforming oil and gas rigs into artificial reefs could save the delicate ecosystems formed around the structures.

By Amber Jackson in Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Congress

Eric Cantor and John Boehner: The Bromance Is Over

As told through the lyrics of Alan Jackson's "Remember When"

On Thursday, Congressman Eric Cantor will step down from his post as House majority leader, following his shocking primary defeat in June, thus ending his Capitol Hill bromance with House Speaker John Boehner — a relationship that captivated so many hearts across the nation.

When Cantor first assumed the role of HML in 2011, some speculated that the up-and-comer was angling for Boehner’s job, but the GOP’s two top dogs were not to be defined by acrimony — after all, what good romance doesn’t begin with a little tension? (Have you seen The Notebook?)

Here, we’ve assembled a scrapbook that illustrates the bromance heard round the Beltway, each photo captioned with a lyric from Alan Jackson’s “Remember When,” because obviously. It is highly advisable to play the song as you click through the photos.

TIME Congress

House Grants Boehner Authority to Sue Obama

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on June 19, 2014 Kevin Dietsch—UPI/Landov

The measure passed 225 to 201 on the backs of House Republicans

The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday granting House Speaker John Boehner the authority to sue President Barack Obama, marking the first time the legislative branch has endorsed such a lawsuit.

The measure, which passed 225 to 201 without a single Democrat “yea,” underscores the burning frustration of House Republicans, who believe that the President has failed to execute the law properly on a number of measures. Boehner has said that the lawsuit will focus on the President’s decision to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which Republicans oppose. That July 2013 decision gave companies with at least 50 full-time employees an extra year — until 2015 — to provide health insurance or pay a fine. Earlier this year, the Administration delayed the mandate again, until 2016, for companies employing between 50 and 99 workers.

“I oppose the employer mandate in the president’s health care law,” Boehner wrote in a USA Today op-ed published this week. “The House of Representatives has voted to delay or eliminate it (and we will do so again if we prevail in court). But it is the letter of the law that was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. He simply cannot unilaterally rewrite it.”

Democrats are furious at the lawsuit and have called it a political stunt.

“This is the least productive Congress in decades,” wrote White House Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer in an email to supporters. “And instead of doing their job, they are suing the President for doing his.”

“This resolution is a waste of time and money,” Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, said on the House floor Wednesday. “Today, Mr. Speaker, we’ve reached a low, a very low point. This resolution to sue the President just goes a little too far. It is a shame and a disgrace that we’re here debating the suing of the President.”

The House will have a difficult time winning the lawsuit. In a letter to the House Rules Committee two weeks ago, Harvard constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe wrote that the House “cannot plausibly allege, much less demonstrate, any distinctive injury to itself or its members.” He called the activity a “wholly meritless attempt to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary.”

“We’ll find out” whether or not the House has legal standing,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican.

“I would tell you that on many occasions, this President has overstepped his authority,” Diaz-Balart told TIME. “Now whether that gives us standing to sue is the big question. But we won’t know until we try.”

— With reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME

Congressman Mistakes U.S. Officials For Indian Ones

"I am familiar with your country, I love your country," Florida Congressmember Curt Clawson told high-ranking U.S. officials Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar

Rep. Curt Clawson, a freshman Republican congressman from Florida, mistook two senior U.S. officials for representatives of the Indian government during a House hearing on Friday.

“I am familiar with your country, I love your country,” Clawson said to Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, addressing fellow U.S. citizens who hold high-ranking positions in the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively.

“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there,” he told Biswal and Kumar. “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

After a lingering silence, Clawson smiles slowly. Kumar appears to grin, while Biswal echoes Clawson’s sentiment, informing him it should probably be directed to the Indian government. It’s unclear whether Clawson realized his error.

Nisha Biswal serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, while Arun Kumar is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service. Both were introduced was U.S. officials before testifying before the House Asia and Pacific subcommittee, according to Foreign Policy.

TIME House of Representatives

Capitol Hill Staffer Arrested With Gun

The press secretary for Pennsylvania Republican Tom Marino was taken into custody carrying a gun through the security checkpoint

An aide to a U.S. Congress member was arrested Friday morning as he attempted to carry a nine-millimeter handgun into a congressional office building.

Ryan Shucard, who was hired as a press secretary for Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tom Marino on May 27, was taken into custody about 9:15 a.m. after carrying a Smith & Wesson pistol to a security check point entering into the building. The gun was not loaded, U.S. Capitol Police told TIME. Shucard has been charged with Carrying a Pistol Without a License, a felony.

It is illegal to carry a gun outside of one’s home or business in Washington, D.C.

Bill Tighe, Congressman Marino’s chief of staff, told TIME the Capitol Police indicated that Shucard taking a gun to the Cannon office building is likely not “anything other than an accident.”

“I think it is a situation where he lives in Virginia and he transported the firearm into D.C. accidentally,” Tighe said. “We’re very disappointed that he did not display responsible gun ownership.”

Tighe said he spoke with Shucard this morning at the time of his arrest.

“He’s broken up,” he said. “He’s disappointed in himself.”

TIME Congress

Boehner: Obama’s Not Getting a ‘Blank Check’ for the Border

John Boehner
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers questions during his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee—Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner indicates that the House won't pass President Obama's bill to combat the border crisis

House Speaker John Boehner brushed off President’s Barack Obama’s bill to address the border crisis as a “blank check” Thursday, indicating his chamber won’t pass the legislation as written. Boehner said the House should take action on the border crisis this month, but said any concrete steps are “yet to be determined.”

Obama announced Wednesday that he would consider sending the National Guard to better secure the border — a move Boehner supports — if the President receives the $3.7 billion he requested in supplemental spending legislation. Boehner slammed that added condition as political.

“He won’t do it for the kids; it’s all about politics,” said Boehner.

Boehner and Obama, however, do agree that a 2008 bill that dictates how the government handles unaccompanied child migrants should be reformed. One provision in that law mandates that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection must hand over within 72 hours the unaccompanied minors in its custody over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which takes care of them until the immigration cases are decided. Under the law, Border Patrol agents have the authority to determine whether children from contiguous countries—Mexico and Canada—are eligible to stay in the country.

Boehner said Thursday that he supports changing the law to apply to children hailing from noncontiguous countries. More than 50,000 unaccompanied minors have been caught on the southwest border this year; most hail from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

TIME Congress

Boehner Explains Why He Wants to Sue Obama

John Boehner
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 24, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The president has "circumvented the American people," House Speaker says

House Speaker John Boehner says President Obama has “not faithfully executed the laws” of the Constitution “when it comes to a range of issues, including his health care law, energy regulations, foreign policy and education” in a defense of the lawsuit he plans to bring against the president.

The Ohio Republican, writing in a CNN editorial, says Obama has “circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold — at times even boasting about his willingness to do it.”

Boehner announced his plans for the lawsuit in June. This month he will introduce a bill to the House that would grant the House General Counsel and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group the authority to sue the president.

Obama has previously called the lawsuit “a stunt,” saying that he was “not going to apologize for trying to do something while [Congress is] doing nothing” during an appearance on Good Morning America.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has said he thinks the lawsuit is “the kind of step that most Americans wouldn’t support” and that Obama’s actions have been consistent with his presidential authority, according to CBS.

“The legislative branch has an obligation to defend the rights and responsibilities of the American people, and America’s constitutional balance of powers,” Boehner writes, “before it is too late.”

[CNN]

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