Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2014

November 25, 2014

Immigration Bill Killer Needs a New Home

A House Republican aide who fancies himself the straw that in 2013 broke a bipartisan immigration proposal’s back is hoping one of the conservatives coming to Congress next January could use a little help from a procedural wiz.

Immigration Bill Killer Needs a New Home

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Per the plea circulated internally amongst GOP staffers, Art Harman, the legislative director who most recently served beneath outgoing Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, is hoping to extend his stay here in Washington.

Although a short-timer — Harman first arrived on Capitol Hill just last year — the Stockman vet feels his particular skill set could be of use to a fellow rabble-rouser.

“Congressman Stockman credits me with having killed the 2013 Senate amnesty bill by drafting and circulating a ‘blue-slip’ letter,” Harman crows in his introductory note. “I am very interested in finding a similar position where I may continue to effectively advance the conservative agenda for a Member or committee.”

And it doesn’t sounds like he’s too picky about the next landing spot. Full story

Capitol Hill Cop Spices Things Up as ‘Three Sheets Chef’

Capitol Police Officer Terry Heffernan told HOH he caught the acting bug while in college.

If only the theater crowd could see him now.

Capitol Hill Cop Spices Things Up as ‘Three Sheets Chef’

While he spends most of his time keeping the congressional campus safe, Heffernan has also been actively pursuing any and every opportunity to perform since the 1990s. “Being a police officer is my favorite way to support myself being an actor,” he quipped.

That lifelong dream has led him to blending in with the thousands of freezing cold extras seen huddled around the National Mall in that iconic scene from “Forrest Gump.” It compelled him to take a shot in an almost Doritos ad. And it inspired him to create the demented instructional series, “Three Sheets Chef.”

“It came to me while I was ruthlessly hung over, sitting on my couch watching the Food Channel,” Heffernan said of the “a-ha!” moment that led to his satirical side-gig.

The extremely low-tech series debuted in late 2011. Since then, Heffernan and a rag tag crew — including a fellow Capitol Hill cop who handles editing duties — have cobbled together just over a dozen installments of horribly misguided culinary instruction.

“We haven’t really figured out what the purpose of the show is yet, but I’ll tell you this, we’re really hoping to get on HBO.  And I have a feeling the best way to do that is for me to say ‘cocksucker’ about every three minutes,” Heffernan, channeling his perma-tipsy counterpart, explains in episode one.

Sure enough, the wheels come off each time. Full story

November 24, 2014

John Dingell, Ed Roybal Honored at White House

John Dingell, Ed Roybal Honored at White House

Dingell is the longest serving member of Congress ever. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two congressional trailblazers were among the 19 people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Monday, the highest honor awarded to a civilian.

While Stevie Wonder smiled broadly as President Barack Obama related that one of Wonder’s records was the first he ever purchased with his own money, Obama also paid his respects to the late Rep. Edward Roybal, D-Calif., founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and retiring Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of Congress ever.

“I could not have been prouder to have John by my side when I signed the Affordable Care Act into law,” Obama said in the East Room after recapping Dingell’s support for civil rights and health care in his years since assuming his office in 1955. “His life reminds us that change takes time, it takes courage and persistence, but if we push hard enough and long enough change is possible.”

Also receiving the medal were scientists, artists, writers and dancers. Tom Brokaw, a well respected and influential journalist, was honored. Roybal’s daughter, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., received the medal for her late father. “When Edward told [Speaker Tip O'Neill] he was starting the [Congressional Hispanic Caucus], there were so few Hispanics, the joke was they could fit them in a … phone booth. He saw beyond the times,” Obama said of Roybal.

Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y., and a prominent activist, received the award as well.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, civil rights workers who were killed on June 21, 1964, near Philadelphia, Miss., after attempting to register voters, were also awarded the medal.

“While they’re often remembered for how they died, we honor them today for how they lived: with the idealism and courage of youth,” Obama said of the three whose deaths fueled inspiration for the Civil Rights Act’s passage.

The Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make important contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, or to culturally significant interests. The award was created by executive order in 1963.

Related:

John Dingell to Review Presidential Medal of Freedom

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By Clark Mindock Posted at 4:55 p.m.
POTUS, Reps

Word of the Week: Bold

“Bold: A politician’s most common description of their own or their party’s proposals. It manages to be a punchy, optimistic-sounding break with conventional thinking and deliberately vague all at once.”

— From “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs & Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang, and Bluster of American Political Speech,” by Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark.

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By Jason Dick Posted at 12:11 p.m.
Word of the Week

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Nov. 17 (Video)

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, members spent the week discussing dirty oil, political ads and “dumb-ass liberals.”

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November 23, 2014

Capitol Quip’s Thanksgiving Pardon

Capitol Quips Thanksgiving Pardon

It’s a short week, so Capitol Quip’s captioning contest is taking a break and wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all with RJ Matson’s take on the annual presidential turkey pardoning ritual.

We’ll be back with a new caption contest the week of Dec. 1, when Congress returns for the rest of this year’s lame-turkey, er, duck session.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

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By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Elephants Stampede Capitol Quip

Elephants Stampede Capitol Quip

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

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November 21, 2014

Who Still Has a BlackBerry?

Who Still Has a BlackBerry?

Obama holds up his Blackberry on Friday outside the White House. (Win McNamee/Getty Images News)

Thanks to the White House press corps, we might have found the most high-profile person who still has a BlackBerry: Barack Obama.

The tip comes from the Detroit News’ David Shepardson, who filed this pool report earlier today:

“Before departure, President Obama walked alone along Colonnade at 10:18 a.m. before heading back into the White House. A coatless POTUS walked to Marine One at 10:31 a.m. in near freezing 33 degree F weather checking his watch and waiving to reporters before getting aboard. Almost immediately, he got off helicopter — as his aides were headed across lawn to Marine One. POTUS went back into the White House through the Diplomatic Room doors telling reporters: ‘I forgot something.’

“After returning, he said: ‘Didn’t you guys ever forget something?’ After some shouted questions asking what he forgotten, he held up his his phone. ‘My BlackBerry’ he said as he returned to Marine One.”

As a friend of HOH said, someone get this man an iPhone.

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By Jason Dick Posted at 2:58 p.m.
POTUS

November 20, 2014

Members Rush to Recruit Freshmen to Softball Team

Members Rush to Recruit Freshmen to Softball Team

Love in her running gear in a campaign video.  (Courtesy YouTube)

Think it’s too early for softball? Think again.

Veteran members of the Congressional Women’s Softball Team fanned out across Washington last week to recruit members-elect to their softball team. They square off each summer against the Bad News Babes, a team of reporters, in a fundraiser for the Young Survival Coalition breast cancer charity.

“We are pumped to have one of the largest class of new recruits to the Congressional Women’s team since we started the game,” game founder/Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said in a statement.

“These women are ready to bond, ready to play, ready to win and most of all, fired up to beat cancer and beat the press — again!” Wasserman Schultz said, alluding to her team’s slight win over the Bad News Babes this summer. Full story

Aloha! Tammy Duckworth Welcomes Baby Girl

Soldier. Lawmaker. Mother.

Aloha! Tammy Duckworth Welcomes Baby Girl

(Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tammy Duckworth assumed a whole new heap of responsibilities Tuesday, welcoming baby girl Abigail O’kalani Bowlsbey into the world.

The Illinois Democrat divulged she was expecting earlier this year during an appearance on the “Today” show.

“Bryan and I were deeply honored that Senator [Daniel K.] Akaka acted as Hawaiian elder and selected her middle name,” Duckworth and her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, said in a statement that reintroduced the world to the former Democratic senator, who is now retired and back in the islands. “We are grateful for the love and support of our family and friends. We also appreciate the respect for our privacy during this important moment in our lives.”

No word on what the direct translation or cultural significance of “O’kalani” might be. But a cursory online search seems to suggest the Hawaiian term has something to do with the sky or heaven. Duckworth, who was born in Thailand, grew up in Hawaii and graduated from high school and college in the Aloha State.

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By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:05 p.m.
Kiddies, Nationwide, Reps, Sens

November 19, 2014

Lee Zeldin Making Friends All Over Congress

Rep.-elect Lee Zeldin has only been around Capitol Hill for a few days, but he’s already making quite the impression among the New York delegation.

As originally reported by Newsday, the incoming Republican huddled with Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer earlier this week for a strategy session about all things Empire State. At one point during that exchange, Zeldin reportedly asked Schumer if Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel was actually Jewish, to which the senior senator replied, “I think so.”

When word got back to Israel, the House lawmaker gave Zeldin some guff online.

Zeldin attempted to smooth things over by floating a “manischewitz summit” — an offer that’s still hanging out there.

“It has not been scheduled yet,” an Israel aide said of the proposed sit-down. Full story

Vote for Your Favorite GOP Elephant Walk Capitol Quip!

Vote for Your Favorite GOP Elephant Walk Capitol Quip!

The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your votes.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • Truncated policies are certainly on our agenda
  • There are two elephants in the room. Obama can’t ignore us now.
  • Now we can finally work together to get nothing done.
  • We’ll have to wait two more years for the THREE-Ring Circus.
  • Working for peanuts? Heck, I’d do this for free!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Nov. 23 and in the following print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.

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By Rebecca Gale Posted at 3:42 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Mark Pocan Dishes About Kringle

Square meals, schmare meals. Rep. Mark Pocan is more interested in circular arguments.

The Wisconsin Democrat expressed his love for kringle, an oval-shaped sweet, on social media, declaring the regional treat a “staple of any well rounded Wisconsin diet.”

A Scandinavian baking tradition that’s been carried on by Danish transplants to the Badger State, kringle features overlapping layers of flaky pastry dough historically stuffed with fruit or nut fillings. Modern versions include frosted rings run through with everything from caramel-drenched pecans (want) to peppermint-spiked chocolate cake (need).

Pocan told HOH he’s most fond of strawberry flavored kringle, though he’s open to trying new things.

“There are some good seasonal flavors like pumpkin caramel,” he said. Full story

Laying the Foundation for a Congressional Twitter Feed

Which came first: the rock-star hog castrator or the egg?

In the case of Sen.-elect Joni Ernst, it would appear the chicken embryo wins.

Laying the Foundation for a Congressional Twitter Feed

(Screenshot)

The Iowa Republican, who has already begun making the rounds in #ThisTown after clinching the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin, must now shift from campaign mode to (*fingers crossed*) full-on congressional over sharer. Full story

November 18, 2014

Pols Rally to Help Veterans Shift Into Tech Mode

A group of bipartisan lawmakers is lending a hand to a newly formed support network aimed at moving returning veterans onto the front lines of data crunching.

Sen. Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, both Republicans, have signed on alongside Maryland Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger to serve as honorary co-chairmen of the nascent NS2 Serves Training Program, a workforce-realigning initiative designed to usher military personnel into the field of information technology.

NS2 Serves, the charitable arm of SAP National Security Services Inc., is expected to share highlights from its ongoing efforts Tuesday during a congressional reception. The get-to-know-you event — formally dubbed “Improving the Well Being, Employment Status and Opportunities Available to Post 9/11 Veterans and Their Families” — is scheduled to take place in room SVC 209 of the Capitol Visitor Center from 5 to 7 p.m.

A budding coalition of like-minded organizations — including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Boeing Defense, Space and Security; Special Operations Warrior Foundation; Working Wardrobes and VetNet — should also be onsite for the roll out of the cooperative effort. Full story

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