Today in the Morning Line:
- Your rundown of Day 1 of the 114th Congress
- Boehner in jeopardy? Not exactly
- The new Congress’ priorities
- McDonnell faces up to 12 years in prison today
Welcome to the 114th Congress. How does this work exactly? Both the House and Senate, which will have a new majority leader in Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, will gavel in for the new Congress at noon EST today. The chambers each begin with a prayer, but then have slightly different choreography. Short version: the Senate has many more steps, the House has more action.
The Senate, led by Vice President Joe Biden, will go through a 22-step process beginning with presentation of credentials and the swearing-in of senators. (It will take a few minutes — done in groups of four.) No photos, please. Those generally aren’t allowed in the chamber and will be taken at a for-the-cameras swearing-in down the hall in the Old Senate Chamber later.
Boehner’s not in jeopardy, but could lose the most in two decades: The House jumps right into a vote, an electronic vote to establish quorum. Next, a defining political moment — electing the Speaker of the House. That roll call vote, by voice, is expected around 12:45 p.m. EST. Members may vote for anyone of their choosing, include Americans who are not in Congress. By the way, House Speaker John Boehner is not in jeopardy of losing the gavel, though, as The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reports, there could be more defections in a vote for speaker since 1923. There are anywhere from as few as 12 — which is how many he lost in 2013 and was the most in two decades — to two dozen conservative members, who might vote against him. Conservatives opponents are HOPING to get 29 votes against Boehner, because it would drop his votes to 217. That would require Boehner going to second ballot, which hasn’t happened in 92 years. (That would also be one fewer than the number needed to pass legislation.) But that scenario is unlikely to happen.
White House pushes Scalise flap: Another person who will be up for election is House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Over the holiday break, Scalise landed in some controversy with the revelation that he addressed a white supremacist group 12 years ago (about taxes, not apparently about race). Asked about Scalise Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “[T]here is no arguing that who Republicans decide to elevate into a leadership position says a lot about what the conference’s priorities and values are. I mean, ultimately, Mr. Scalise reportedly described himself as David Duke without the baggage. So it will be up to Republicans to decide what that says about their conference.”
Whilst watching the new faces, also pay attention to two significant seniority changes that come with the 114th.
New president pro-tem: As the longest-serving Republican (38 years), Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah will become the new president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate and third in line to the presidency after the vice president and speaker of the house.
New dean of the House: At least when it comes to seniority, the House is not as partisan as the Senate. Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, with 50 years in office, will be the new dean of the House and is expected to administer the oath of office to the speaker-elect today.
So what will Congress get to work on immediately? Energy and health care. In the Senate, one of those 22 steps will be introduction of a bill on the Keystone Pipeline. The House is expected to address the 30-hour work week requirement to get health-care coverage and vote on Keystone Friday.
Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1919, former President Theodore Roosevelt died. Roosevelt was the first president to be awarded to Nobel Peace Prize, for brokering a peace deal between Japan and Russia. Which presidents have also earned this prize? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out.
- The president is hitting the road this week, traveling to Michigan, Arizona and Tennessee to outline new economic proposals ahead of the State of the Union.
- Gay marriages began in Miami Monday, and will continue across the state today. Former Gov. Jeb Bush told the Miami Herald Sunday “It ought be a local decision. I mean, a state decision.” Bush added, “The people of the state decided. But it’s been overturned by the courts, I guess.”
- Later this week the Supreme Court will meet in a private conference to consider whether to take up any same-sex marriage cases and in turn give a nationwide ruling on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans.
- Former Gov. Bob McDonnell, convicted on corruption charges, faces sentencing today. Proceedings begin at 10 am ET. He faces up to 12 years in prison. McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, will be sentenced separately Feb. 20.
- The Washington Post looks at the lawmakers who have gotten the longest prison sentences in the past decade. No. 1 – former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, D-Ill., who is serving his fourth year of a 14-year sentence.
- Jack Abramoff’s prison advice for Bob McDonnell: “Prisoners can quickly pick out who’s a phony, who’s lying, who’s a BS artist.”
- In 2016 news, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is planning a “private briefing” with former aides in Washington next week.
- Another potential 2016 candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is headed to the Hawkeye State this week. Jindal will hold private meetings with religious leaders in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa today.
- Republican Sen. John Hoeven and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have co-sponsored a bill that will authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Hoeven says he will officially submit the legislation Tuesday.
- Some conservatives are now resisting the GOP’s first legislative priority — redefining who counts as a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act.
- Thanks to secret nighttime flights over the past two months, the president is making progress on his promise to vacate the Guantanamo Bay prison, with two more groups scheduled to be released from the remaining 127 prisoners soon.
- New York GOP Rep. Chris Gibson is expected to announce his retirement today.
- Mike Huckabee has two problems if he wants to have a more successful bid for the presidency this go-round: money and widespread, national support. Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Robert Costa look into the former Arkansas governor and now former Fox News contributor’s challenges if he runs in 2016.
- Maine Gov. Paul LePage spent $53,000 on private lawyers to try to remove low-income young adults from the state’s Medicaid program.
- During his second inauguration Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker didn’t even mention right-to-work legislation. That doesn’t mean the state’s Republican-led Legislature is giving up fighting for it, though.
- New York Times reporter James Risen, subpoenaed by the Justice Department in their case against a former CIA official who leaked information, appeared in federal court Monday but would not answer any questions that would reveal his sources.
- In ridiculous news…two years ago a West Virginia woman was visiting a congressional office when a staffer’s unattended dog bit her finger. She is now suing the House of Representatives for $200,000.
- Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.
— Washington Journal (@cspanwj) January 6, 2015
— Morgan Till (@mtill50) January 6, 2015
I’m so excited about the snow that I’m seriously considering walking to the U.S. Capitol today.
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) January 6, 2015
The Majority Leader name plate on Mitch McConnell office door about to be installed. pic.twitter.com/InwVeNtqHf
— Joe Arnold (@joearnoldreport) January 6, 2015
Welcome to winter in Iowa, Ronald Reagan. pic.twitter.com/OvzM6OYiFM
— Jason Noble (@jasonnobleDMR) January 5, 2015
It’s snowing in DC. Here is my roommate Kevin Brady recording it as we head in to work. pic.twitter.com/qK4oLegOEt
— John Shimkus (@RepShimkus) January 6, 2015
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP) January 6, 2015
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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.
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