Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 21, 2014

September 19, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of September 15 (Video)

With Congress set to leave for seven weeks, members spent their final work week forgetting names, talking baseball and discussing the bad food at their uncle’s house.

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Michele Bachmann Asks Al Franken to Help Defeat Al Franken

Michele Bachmann Asks Al Franken to Help Defeat Al Franken

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michele Bachmann wants Sen. Al Franken to make a campaign contribution — to defeat Al Franken.

The retiring Minnesota Republican congresswoman’s campaign fundraising pitch for her home state’s GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden reached the personal residence of Franken in Minneapolis, according to a copy of the mailer obtained by HOH.

Full story

Embracing Politics and Art Is a Milstein Tradition

D.C. denizen Connie Milstein has invested a great deal of time and effort into turning her Georgetown home into a beauty to behold and a wonder to explore.

Embracing Politics and Art Is a Milstein Tradition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The philanthropist and political booster, who played host to Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand, D-N.Y., Monday evening, has an eye for detail that is apparent throughout her carefully appointed domicile.

One gets the feeling that every single element spread throughout has been given incredible consideration, from the mythological beings that silently keep watch over the premises,

Embracing Politics and Art Is a Milstein Tradition
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

To the sassy seat cushions that encourage self-medication. (“Keep calm and have a cocktail” sounds like sage advice to us.) Full story

September 18, 2014

Rank and File Blast Opposing Leaders for Dropping the Legislative Ball

Having effectively set the country on cruise control until just beyond Election Day, House and Senate leaders did their damnedest Thursday to look really, really busy without actually doing anything that could get them into political trouble.

Foot soldiers from both sides of the aisle, undoubtedly tired of the inactivity that’s plagued Congress in recent years, used social media to fire back at partisan big-wigs for making the whole legislative body look bad.

 

 

 

Full story

Elizabeth Roskam Paints Capitol for Ukrainian Leader

Elizabeth Roskam Paints Capitol for Ukrainian Leader

(Courtesy Peter Roskam)

Artist Elizabeth Roskam, the wife of Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, on Thursday delivered a one-of-a-kind portrait of the U.S. Capitol to visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

A Roskam aide told HOH that sending Poroshenko home with the brightly colored rendering of the Capitol dome — a painting she dubbed, “Bright Horizon” — meant the world to Elizabeth, a proud descendent of Eastern European immigrants.

Full story

Sports Stars’ Stumbles Spark Fresh Round of ‘Slam the Solons’

As if engineering new ways to kinda-sorta green light foreign wars without getting booted out of office in a few weeks weren’t stressful enough, elected officials must once again — thanks to wildly inappropriate behavior by marquee athletes — contend with age-old accusations about everything that’s wrong with Capitol Hill.

The rapid succession of domestic scandals that have upended the careers of professional running backs Ray Rice (aggravated assault) of the Baltimore Ravens, and Adrian Peterson (indicted for child abuse) of the Minnesota Vikings appears to have stirred up anti-congressional sentiments, leading to the reappearance of a meme designed to highlight pols’ absolutely worst qualities.

 

Sports Stars’ Stumbles Spark Fresh Round of Slam the Solons

(Screenshot)

 

Per the urban myth slayers at Snopes, the original laundry list of political loserdom was most likely distilled from a five-part series called “Congress: America’s Criminal Class” which Capital Hill Blue unveiled in 1999.  Six years later, the muckraking website revisited the myriad personal and professional shortcomings documented in the original expose and found a governing body still rife with human imperfection.

Team Snopes had a lot of issues with the original barrage, citing content ranging from distressingly vague (“the original publisher has steadfastly declined to provide any documentation for these claims”) to borderline absurd (“they would have no way of knowing how many members of Congress had been stopped for traffic violations without being cited”).

None of that, however, Team Snopes suggests, has halted armchair critics from subbing in the target du jour (British Parliament, the NFL, etc.) to get their preferred point across.

 

Sports Stars’ Stumbles Spark Fresh Round of Slam the Solons

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

Making up horror stories about Congress seems like such an incredible waste of time.

Their real-life misdeeds are so much more engrossing:

The war at home

  • Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.: Love’s labor’s lost.
  • Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.: Perfect strangers
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.: Do as I say, not as I do.

Sexcapades

  • Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.: Your cheating heart
  • Ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill.: Does not compute.
  • Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.: Danger is his middle name.

Self-destructive tendencies

  • Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y.: Give me somethin’ to break.
  • Ex-Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.: You holding?
  • Ex-Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill.: Shopaholic

Questionable judgment

  • Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas: Rules are for suckers.
  • Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga.: What, me worry?
  • Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont.: Don’t quote me on that.

Meanwhile, at least one incensed lawmaker is refusing to let the badly bruised NFL off the hook.

 

 

Guess that means the ball’s in your court, Web trolls.

Related:

Female Senators Write Letter to Goodell, Want NFL to Adopt ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy

Blumenthal Floats Changes to NFL Antitrust Exemption (Video)

Critics of Washington Team Name Target NFL Nonprofit Status (Video)

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Getting Our Fill of Vacationland

Getting Our Fill of Vacationland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine — Two airplane flights (four hours in airports, combined) and roughly 120 minutes of creeping along two-lane roads that snake their way through stoplight-free Northeastern hamlets later, I finally arrived in the bayfront oasis I would call home for the next few days.

The most pressing problem, other than a serious lack of sleep, was how to kill the 17 hours until my first official work dinner.

Coming up to investigate the gastronomic enterprises Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree is fostering on North Haven was always meant to be the crux of my assignment. The critic in me, however, could not pass up the opportunity to feast upon  — without completely spoiling my appetite — this personally uncharted territory.

I pressed Pingree for recommendations, but the savvy lawmaker kept things totally diplomatic. Full story

September 17, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Bringing Up the Rear Capitol Quip!

Vote for Your Favorite Bringing Up the Rear 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:

  • I’m glad it’s a single-seater!
  • Maverick goosed us again!
  • Come back! You forgot your Nobel Peace Prize!
  • Hey, wait for us!
  • Wait! You forgot to take the approval ratings!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 21 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 3:53 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Revving the Engines of Bipartisanship

Revving the Engines of Bipartisanship

Biden spoke to the crowd at the reception Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t be too surprised if you see a Mustang and Corvette racing around Northwest D.C … followed by a motorcade of Secret Service officers.

“We agreed to a one loop race around the Naval yard,” former Utah Gov. John Huntsman joked Tuesday evening, saying he challenged Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to a race to see if his Mustang could outpace Biden’s Corvette.

Huntsman, the former GOP presidential candidate and ambassador to China, was joking but that would be certainly one way to bring Democrats and Republicans together, which was the focus of a Tuesday evening reception at the British ambassador’s residence and hosted by No Labels, the organization Huntsman co-chairs that works to bridge partisan divides. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:46 p.m.
DC, Parties

Michele Bachmann and the Right to Bare Arms

Michele Bachmann and the Right to Bare Arms

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Michele Bachmann came to the floor Wednesday afternoon to preside over the House chamber, there was one problem: She was wearing a dress — without sleeves.

After Speaker John A. Boehner opened the House, Bachmann was due to step in the chair. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Republican, the dress code governing the House chamber was written before the time when Michelle Obama was first lady. Bare shoulders are not allowed on the House floor.

According to a source who saw the hubbub, floor staffers huddled for a moment before approaching Bachmann and telling her she could not preside until she covered up.

“I was just told that I needed to have a jacket and it was no problem,” Bachmann told HOH on Wednesday afternoon. “I called the staff and said ‘grab one’ — I keep an extra one in my office — and they ran it over lickety-split.”

Bachmann said she agreed with the dress code, which is stricter for members when they are presiding over the House chamber than it is for when they’re on the floor. “And it isn’t different for women than it is for men, which I absolutely agree with,” she said.

While Bachmann waited roughly five minutes for her staff to bring over a jacket, Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., stepped in to pinch-hit as the presiding officer.

When her staff did arrive, they brought two options: a dark blazer and a white one. Bachmann, who was wearing a black dress, tried on both, opting for the black jacket in the end.

“I just thought this would look more professional,” she said.

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Grover Norquist’s Burning Man Dream Team

Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist so enjoyed his time at Burning Man this year that he’d like to return next summer with a “Dream Team” of Republican lawmakers.

A festival virgin, Norquist admitted to HOH that his presuppositions of what transpires each August in the pop-up community in northwestern Nevada might have been a tad off-base.

“I thought everybody dressed up almost in costume,” he said, sharing that he’d carted along a Guy Fawkes mask, a Russian-style army jacket and French foreign legion hat (complete with neck flaps) for his four-day stay in the desert.

Once there, the conservative firebrand quickly realized being a freethinker doesn’t always correlate to acting freaky. Full story

Chuck Grassley’s Birthday Blizzard

Chuck Grassleys Birthday Blizzard

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley plans to put a birthday present to good use to grab himself a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but he hasn’t quite decided on the flavor yet.

“Either Reese’s or Snickers,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced during a committee hearing that he and ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah were giving Grassley the gift certificate to Dairy Queen for his 81st birthday. Grassley is a former chairman and ranking member of the Finance panel.

Grassley’s birthday coincides with Constitution Day, which he highlighted on Twitter by announcing he had completed his annual 6.21-mile birthday run from his D.C. house to the Capitol, dubbed the “Home to the Dome” run. Grassley said his usual run is 3 miles.

Grassley also received birthday greetings from his longtime Iowa colleague, Tom Harkin.

 

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NRSC Kicks It Old School Online

Turns out, the coding masters at Wide Eye Creative aren’t the only ones having fun behind your computer screen.

A National Republican Senatorial Committee operative said his group gave itself a little pat on the back during a recent Web overhaul.

 

NRSC Kicks It Old School Online

(Screenshot)

 

“We’re the rare Republican ASCII-bird, I guess,” the tipster said of the three-dimensional NRSC logo embedded in the GOP portal’s back end.

HOH scanned a smattering of Republican-related pages in search of online “Easter eggs” similar to those WEC automatically weaves into its digital branding for Democrats, but we came up empty-handed.

Related story:

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind The Scenes

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The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree Experience

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree Experience

Boats sit moored in the harbor off North Haven, Maine, home of the Nebo Lodge owned by Pingree. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine — Once aboard the boat that will speed us to North Haven, a Connecticut man opens up about his affinity for the Pine Tree State.

“It’s just waves and rocks and sky. It’s very relaxing after a year of work,” he said of his annual sojourn north.

A Camden, Maine, resident relates how he and his wife make their way across the white-capped expanse for dinner at least once each summer; he hopes to spend a night at Nebo Lodge sometime in order to take the full measure of the island.

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree ExperienceSo go the conversations aboard the Equinox, the privately owned boat tasked with moving mainlanders across the 12 miles of open water that separates Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree’s dining empire from the contiguous United States.

Equinox Captain John Morin calculates he’s transported some 2,200 people to North Haven over the course of this summer. And he loves to educate them about how their patronage benefits the community at large.

Full story

September 16, 2014

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

There are those who suspect that politicians and, by extension, their corresponding messaging operations, will say one thing even if they secretly believe something else entirely.

Not so with Wide Eye Creative, a Web design outfit which champions its clients every bit of the way.

BuzzFeed’s Jeremy Singer-Vine stumbled upon just how deep the site developer’s devotion permeates while sniffing around the back end of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign page.

 

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

(Screenshot)

 

Those who view the page via its assigned URL would never know about the ASCII love Team WEC tucked into the coding language — because it’s not meant for them.

“Just a nice little easter egg for anyone who looks at the code,” WEC creative director Ben Ostrower said of the digital valentine inserted into a jumble of characters that give the Web meaning.

According to Ostrower, WEC began seeding its political sites with similar signatures about a year ago. Full story

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