Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 16, 2014

Posts by Hannah Hess

40 Posts

April 3, 2014

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

It sounded like Kenny G was visiting the Senate chamber around noon on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got a brief saxophone serenade from the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who bumped into the Nevada Democrat during the “GRAMMYs on the Hill” lobbying day.

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

(Photo courtesy of David Helfant.)

“I whipped out my saxophone and just said, ‘I’ll play you a song,” saxophonist and vocalist Mindi Abair told CQ Roll Call. She picked a song called “Summertime,” which she said Reid appeared to enjoy.

Abair, who has toured and recorded with artists ranging from the Backstreet Boys and Duran Duran to Adam Sandler and Aerosmith, was visiting Capitol Hill with about 200 other recording industry advocates to push for legislation that would ensure songwriters and composers are fairly paid for their work.

Abair and other advocates had a full day of meetings with the California delegation. They were saying goodbye to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., when they bumped into Reid outside the chamber.

They will be pushing for the Songwriter Equity Act of 2014, and perhaps playing a few impromptu serenades.

April 2, 2014

Robert Brady Really Wanted to Be a Zookeeper

House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., adjourned Wednesday’s panel on the future of the National Zoo with a joke about ranking member Robert A. Brady “wearing his khaki shorts … with his whip ready.”

The safari outfit fits perfectly with Brady’s childhood ambition of being a zookeeper. The Pennsylvania Democrat shared his dream of riding around with the wild creatures that populated Philadelphia’s zoo, the oldest in the nation, during his opening statement.

The panel of management officials from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park were also treated to some footage of Bao Bao the panda during their visit to Congress.

Miller, who claims to be “addicted” to the zoo’s “Panda Cam,” requested that committee staff play a brief clip of the panda cub. Afterward, she released a statement saying, “The National Zoo has a unique role as a federal zoo supported by the taxpayers. It is truly a zoo provided by and for the people.”

Especially for Brady, the hopeful zookeeper.

March 28, 2014

Powder Scare Draws Sirens Outside Union Station

A suspicious substance found in Amtrak’s main office in Washington, D.C., drew nearly a dozen emergency vehicles to Union Station on Friday morning, but it turned out to be nothing more than a scare.

Powder Scare Draws Sirens Outside Union Station

D.C. Fire and EMS responded to the scene at 10:58 a.m., according to Fire Department spokesman Oscar Mendez, and a hazardous materials unit began investigating. Police were also on the scene and officers with K-9 units stood on guard outside gates to the train tracks.

Trains appeared to be operating as usual inside the station Friday morning, but outside traffic was crawling around Columbus Circle. Capitol Police warned people to avoid the area shortly before noon, throwing some lunch plans into flux around the Capitol community.

Kimberly Wood, a spokeswoman for Amtrak, said in an email that first responders were “investigating an unknown substance found on the premises” and directed further questions to D.C. Fire and EMS.

By 12:30 p.m., ambulances were starting to pull away from the scene. Mendez confirmed that nothing hazardous had been found.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:46 p.m.
DC, Drama, HillSide

March 27, 2014

Capitol Police Bust Senate Gallery Visitor With Pot

Capitol Police stationed outside the Senate gallery got a surprise Thursday afternoon when they asked one visitor to empty his pockets in accordance with procedure.

Sherman Tyrone Edwards Jr., 32, placed a bag of marijuana on the stand next to the security checkpoint, manned by three uniformed officers.

According to sources on the scene, Edwards pulled out a bag of bud big enough that the U.S. Attorney could probably hold onto it and bust him for distribution, rather than tossing the evidence, as normally happens when lesser amounts — such as joints — are confiscated.

Sources also said that based on his demeanor and expression, they were not too shocked that this particular Capitol visitor would be in possession of large quantities of dope.

He looked stoned, apparently, but the prediction on distribution charges turned out to be bogus.

Edwards was arrested at 2:33 p.m. on Thursday, then transported to Capitol Police headquarters. He was charged on two counts — possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to a Capitol Police spokesperson.

March 25, 2014

Washington Monument to Re-Open May 12

Washington Monument to Re Open May 12

Workers began dismantling the scaffolding around the monument in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Washington Monument sheds its final layer of scaffolding later this week in preparation for the monument’s May 12 re-opening.

Repairing the 150 cracks caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked D.C. in August 2011 shut down the monument to visitors for 32 months. It is now in the final stages of the $15 million restoration.

“We are delighted to be in the homestretch with the repairs to the Washington Monument almost complete, and we look forward to the re-opening on May 12 so we can once again welcome visitors to this iconic monument to our nation’s first President,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a statement.

Because of the nearly three-year closure, the NPS plans to begin extended operating hours on May 12. The monument will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the end of summer.

The NPS and the Trust for the National Mall will host a re-opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 12, and the first tour will kick off at 1 p.m. Those who want to be a part of the opening day tours should plan to come early. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. that day at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives.

Tickets for May 13 and all future dates will be available online, starting on April 16 at 10 a.m.

Jarvis thanked philanthropist David Rubenstein for his $7.5 million donation, made via the trust, which funded half of the repair bill. Rubenstein’s support “sets a high standard for park philanthropy nationwide and is appreciated by every visitor who will learn something about President Washington or simply enjoy the view from the top,” Jarvis said.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:26 p.m.
AwesomeSauce, DC

March 20, 2014

CBO Sets Wheels in Motion for Annual D.C. Soap Box Derby

The Congressional Budget Office says hosting the 73rd annual Greater Washington Soap Box Derby on the Capitol grounds won’t cost the federal government any significant money, clearing the way for the June 14 competition.

Enterprising young builders will careen down Constitution Avenue in home-assembled vehicles this summer, pending a green light from the House and Senate.

Unlike other derbies around the nation, the D.C. event requires an act of Congress to authorize the Architect of the Capitol, the Capitol Police Board and the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby Association to negotiate the necessary requirements to hold the race at the Capitol. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:09 a.m.
HillSide

March 18, 2014

Police Identify Teen Killed in Shootout With Authorities

Police Identify Teen Killed in Shootout With Authorities

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Police have identified the teen who died following a gun fight with authorities that took place a few blocks northwest of Union Station Tuesday morning as a 19-year-old from Hyattsville, Md.

Daquan Hendrix was wanted in the Feb. 27 homicide of Tykia Dickerson in Northeast D.C., according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The shootout ensued shortly after 6:17 a.m., when officers from a fugitive task force showed up on K Street Northwest with an arrest warrant. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:23 p.m.
Uncategorized

Suspect Killed in Gunfight With Police Near Union Station

A homicide suspect was killed in a gunfight with D.C. Police a few blocks north of Union Station early Tuesday morning.

Officers reported to the suspect’s home on K Street NW shortly after 6:15 a.m. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 9:02 a.m.
Uncategorized

March 12, 2014

D.C. Pranksters Play on Darkened Capitol Dome

A brief outage of some of the exterior lights on the Capitol Dome, likely caused by tornado-like winds, jump-charged some local pranksters.

The parody “Uncle Earl” account — established in the wake of a political corruption scandal involving many of the District’s top elected officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray — jumped into the midst of the 30-minute spell of darkness claiming he’d cut the lights as part of yet another pay-to-play scheme.

D.C. Pranksters Play on Darkened Capitol Dome

D.C. statehood activist Josh Burch, who blogs for the51st.org, also made a joke out of the blackened Dome. Burch invited D.C. residents to “seize equal representation under the cover of darkness!”

D.C. Pranksters Play on Darkened Capitol Dome

In reality, no one is quite sure what caused the lights to go down from about 8:15 p.m to 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Matt Guilfoyle, a spokesman for the Architect of the Capitol, told CQ Roll Call that the AOC was aware of the power outage and working to address the problem.

The Capitol Police continued patrolling inside and outside the Dome, checking for power outages and damage to report to the AOC, according to Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the department.

HOH tipsters working inside and burning the midnight (or late evening) oil reported that lights were flickering in the press galleries but never actually went out.

March 7, 2014

Police Conclude Investigation Into Capitol Car Crash (Updated)

Police Conclude Investigation Into Capitol Car Crash (Updated)

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police have cleared the scene of a fatal single-car crash that propelled a silver SUV into a tree south of the Capitol early Friday morning.

No details have been released on what may have caused the high-speed collision as the driver headed northbound on South Capitol Street. The car hit a large, decorative flower pot — ironically designed to deter crashes and traffic — with such force that the vehicle was flung airborne, ripping branches nearly 30 feet above the ground from two nearby trees.

Updated 6:42 p.m.

First responders arriving on the scene around 3 a.m. found the silver SUV vertically wrapped around a tree, about 50 feet from the cracked pot. The force of the crash catapulted pieces of the car into the intersection with D Street Southeast. The Metropolitan Police Department identified the driver, who died in the accident, as 19-year-old Hunter B. Harries of McLean, Va. A toxicology report is “pending autopsy,” said MPD spokesman Hugh Carew.

Full story

Crash Lands Car in Tree on South Capitol Street (Updated)

Crash Lands Car in Tree on South Capitol Street (Updated)

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Update 11:53 a.m. | A high-speed crash at the intersection of South Capitol and D streets Southeast landed a driver in the hospital early Friday morning — and the car in a nearby tree.

Capitol Police responded to the scene of the crash at approximately 3 a.m., according to department spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

The car hit one of the massive, round decorative flower pots outside the barricade on the South side of the Capitol campus and went airborne before landing in the tree, Schneider reported. The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed northbound on South Capitol Street. The car was still in the tree as of 7:37 a.m. Friday.

Immediate street closures remain in effect until the scene is cleared. Due to the traffic accident investigation, nearby streets are closed including portions of Washington Avenue, New Jersey Avenue and South Capitol Street Southeast.

Update 11:53 a.m.

The cause of the crash remains unknown and Capitol Police have not yet released any information on the driver’s condition or whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Officers were already on the scene when D.C. Fire and EMS responded to a single, overturned vehicle around 3:02 a.m., according to D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Oscar Mendez. The driver was transported to George Washington Medical Center at 3:28 a.m. with life-threatening injuries, Mendez said.

The single-car accident involved a lone driver and no passengers. There was no chase involved, according to Schneider.

Debris from the crash, including the small engine of the small, silver SUV littered the intersection, and officers on the scene said car parts had been found on the roof of the nearby Longworth Office Building Parking Garage.

Read our new post on the investigation finishing here.

More photos below.

Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 8:43 a.m.
Capitol Police, DC

February 25, 2014

Regilding of Union Station Continues Apace

In August 2011, a 5.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Union Station, cracking the ornate, vaulted ceiling above the transportation hub’s Main Hall.

Structural repairs began immediately, and it was soon realized that the iconic building, where generations of powerful people have arrived by train and walked to Capitol Hill to lead the nation, would need further work to preserve its historic integrity. More than 100,000 people pass through the station each day, and it is the busiest Metro stop in the District, serving about 32,000 Red Line riders every weekday.

On Tuesday, the groups behind a $350,000 grant to regild the aged ceiling and restore its original grandeur — American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation — gave the media a peek at the ongoing repairs.

Regilding of Union Station Continues Apace

The team led reporters on a climb to the surface of the 96-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling, up a scaffolding tower constructed by the same company that raised scaffolding for projects at the National Cathedral and the Washington Monument.

To date, only 20 percent of the ceiling has been restored and regilded with a 23-karat goldleaf material, promised to be more lustrous and more durable than the current 22-karat finish. As repairs continue, the scaffolding will roll the entire length of Main Hall, from east to west.

When repairs are completed in 2016, officials promise the Main Hall will be returned to the grandeur and elegance it had when it opened to the public in 1908.

February 12, 2014

Stop Right There, Cupid! Valentines Barred From Campus Delivery

Cupid had better steer clear of the Capitol this Valentine’s Day.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving has requested that staffers advise their sweeties to refrain from sending any crimson roses or romantic gift packages to the offices under his purview.

The delivery policy of the House prohibits commercial couriers and vendors from making deliveries directly to House office buildings and the House wing of the Capitol, Irving warned in a memo to staff obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Singing telegrams ready to deliver a serenade will be turned away at the door, and FedEx can’t bring cuddly stuffed animals or chocolate hearts past security checkpoints.

Couples who exchange gifts on Friday morning can bring the long-stemmed roses they receive to their desks, but guidelines apply. Only cut flowers set in water or “arranged in an unsealed box or carton” are allowed inside. In case of a surprise delivery or a persistent Valentine who insists on workday delivery, staffers can meet delivery people bearing cut flowers in an outside public area and bring the bouquet inside themselves.

Sealed envelopes and containers are not allowed, so sappy cards and love letters must be opened outside.  Boxes of caramels, truffles or other sugary spoils also need to be unsealed.

Finally, last-minute declarations of affection might be thwarted by the House policy on overnight deliveries. All flowers, cards, candy or lovey-dovey gifts sent via a nationwide system such as FedEx or UPS will be processed offsite at the Postal Operations screening facility, “which may result in delay of delivery,” Irving warns.

In past years, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer has implemented a similar policy to ensure Senate lovebirds can receive Valentine’s Day bouquets delivered to Capitol Hill.

The Senate office buildings and the Senate side of the Capitol also allow only cut flowers set in water or arranged in an unsealed box or carton, and place the same prohibition on sealed envelopes or containers.

At least one Senate staffer can vouch for the fact that sending fresh blooms to the Hill isn’t the best idea. Her beau casually asked, “Did you get anything at work today?” after shipping a bouquet her way.
She received the romantic gesture three days late, after the gift underwent a thorough inspection. The flowers were still pretty, she recalled, but “a little sad.”
By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:22 p.m.
Coupling, Staffers

December 18, 2013

Booze, Books, Model Cars Traded Among Senate Secret Santas

Senators briefly set aside their budget deal bickering on Tuesday night for the chamber’s third annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange, organized by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

The holiday spirit inspired more than 60 senators to participate, roaming the marble corridors of the second floor with packages containing booze, food, dog toys and model vehicles after enjoying the Christmas cookie spread at the reception.

Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy bellowed out “ho, ho, ho” as he breezed in and out, clutching a new Batman figurine from New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte to add to his extensive collection.  Full story

December 11, 2013

U.S. Treasurer Will Autograph Currency at Holiday Sale

Searching for the perfect gift for the coin collector who is near and dear to your heart?

You may strike gold (or nickel, or copper) in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer on Thursday, during a holiday sale hosted by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the people of Capitol Hill will have the opportunity to shop for rare currency, un-circulated coins, medals and limited-edition 2013 collector sets.

As an added bonus sure to thrill any currency enthusiast, U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios will be on site to autograph the products for four hours. Rios — whose signature appears on U.S. currency — will have her pen ready from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Full story

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