Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 1, 2014

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

76 Posts

October 26, 2014

Pete Rose Hustles Into Kentucky Senate Race

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken a pass on making a call about one of America’s great sports controversies.

Asked if baseball legend Pete Rose should finally be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Republican said, “He’s the Hit King, but I’ll leave it to those who do the voting.”

That’s according to a survey published by the Lexington Herald-Leader, which asked candidates on the ballot about a series of less serious policy questions.

Full story

October 2, 2014

Overheard: Being Biden Is a ‘Bitch’? (Video)

Overheard: Being Biden Is a Bitch? (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minutes after repeating his familiar warning that sometimes he does not know when to stop saying all that he means, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. let out quite a quip at Harvard’s Institute of Politics Thursday night.

When a questioner identified himself as the vice president of the Harvard student body, Biden chimed in, “isn’t it a bitch, I mean … that vice president thing?”

Full story

September 19, 2014

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

September 17, 2014

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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September 12, 2014

Menendez Unexpectedly Sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Akaka

Menendez Unexpectedly Sings Happy Birthday to Akaka

Akaka, seen her getting a kiss from Rep. Loretta Sanchez, is feeling the love. The former senator celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Daniel K. Akaka got an unexpected birthday song on Thursday.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., had been trying to reach the Hawaii Democrat to wish him a happy 90th birthday. When Akaka returned the call, he was riding the Dirksen subway toward the Capitol along with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.

Full story

September 11, 2014

Overheard: Martin Dempsey’s Eventful Week

Overheard: Martin Dempseys Eventful Week

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Every day is eventful. … Today Iraq, tomorrow Ebola.”

— Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey, crossing the Senate basement on Thursday

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 8, 2014

Overheard: McConnell Blasted for Going to Work

Overheard: McConnell Blasted for Going to Work

(Win McNamee/Getty Images News)

The campaign of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell this fall, is criticizing the minority leader for heading to Washington, D.C., as the Senate returns.

“Today, scandal-ridden Mitch McConnell is running back to Washington, DC, in an attempt to dodge the tough questions he faces back home. In a new web ad released Monday, Alison for Kentucky holds McConnell accountable for his refusal to answer to the people of Kentucky,” the Lundergan Grimes campaign said in announcing the video.

Full story

September 2, 2014

Flashback: Moira Bagley Smith’s Guide to Hill Booze Scene

Flashback: Moira Bagley Smiths Guide to Hill Booze Scene

Bagley Smith chronicled the intricacies of flip cup at the Ugly Mug during her time at Roll Call. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By now, you’ve seen the announcement that Moira Bagley Smith is joining the staff of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., as communications director.

While on staff here at Roll Call in the aughts, Bagley Smith wrote regularly for our old Mug Shots feature. In that role, she brought readers to Sonoma just a year after the wine bar opened, to board games at Trusty’s and to a flip cup tournament at The Ugly Mug.

“The bar sport — a beer-chugging, cup-flipping relay race — is a test of concentration and nerves, rather than strength,” Bagley Smith said in describing flip cup in 2006.

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August 28, 2014

New Englanders, and Political Figures, Relieved as Market Basket Standoff Ends

New Englanders, and Political Figures, Relieved as Market Basket Standoff Ends

Market Basket employees wave to cars in Londonderry as they call for customers to boycott the embattled New England grocery store chain on Aug. 17. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LONDONDERRY, N.H. — Across a broad swath of New England, there’s cause for celebration this Thursday — about the local supermarket.

Driving around New Hampshire last week, the scene was unavoidable: Protesters waving signs outside of local Market Basket stores, with cars honking as they drove by. Inside the stores, bare shelves abound, especially with the perishable goods, little fresh dairy or produce to speak of, an empty butcher case. Most importantly, there were hardly any customers. The public had backed the employees with an old-fashioned boycott.

Politicians across the spectrum had called for resolution, and thus it came as no surprise when the statements started to appear lauding the announcement late Wednesday that an agreement had been reached to bring back the popular previous management, including from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Full story

August 25, 2014

Sherrod Brown: Switch to Wendy’s or White Castle if Burger King Goes to Canada (Video)

Sherrod Brown: Switch to Wendys or White Castle if Burger King Goes to Canada (Video)

Brown is not happy with Burger King’s reported plans to go Canada. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a statement that might make the late Dave Thomas proud, Sen. Sherrod Brown said Monday that if Burger King sets up shop in Canada as part of a tax inversion, customers should switch to Wendy’s or White Castle.

“Burger King’s decision to abandon the United States means consumers should turn to Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers or White Castle sliders. Burger King has always said ‘Have it Your Way’; well my way is to support two Ohio companies that haven’t abandoned their country or customers,” Brown said.

Full story

August 22, 2014

How Expensive Is a Mug of Bacon?

How Expensive Is a Mug of Bacon?

From the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

MANCHESTER, N.H. | One Republican senator from the Midwest might as well be asking: Will taxes raise the sticker price of this mug of bacon?

The menu item at the iconic Red Arrow diner currently goes for $13.99 — and for six bucks more you can keep the mug. The diner is a must stop for any politician stumping in the Granite State. Your correspondent ate breakfast this week at a counter spot marked with a small plaque noting that former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., (now a candidate for Senate in New Hampshire) had once graced the same seat.

How Expensive Is a Mug of Bacon?But Sen. Ron Johnson’s office has a beef about government regulation of the porky breakfast product.

A new blog entry on the Wisconsin Republican’s website says, “the idea that government should be able to use taxes and regulations to make its citizens avoid the wholesome foods they prefer is repulsive.”

It references a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Oklahoma State professor Jayson Lusk about the promotion of  a vegetarian diet by some as a means to combat climate change.

Full story

August 13, 2014

Dean Heller Challenges Harry Reid to Grow a Beard

Dean Heller Challenges Harry Reid to Grow a Beard

 Reid will not be growing a beard. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Dean Heller has issued a challenge to his Democratic counterpart from Nevada.

The Republican has challenged Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to grow a beard in honor of the sesquicentennial of the Silver State. It’s a challenge that Heller said Reid did not accept, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:58 a.m.
FightingWords

July 30, 2014

Marking the Quarter-Century Point for the Greatest Floor Speech of All Time (Video)

When a young man, likely an intern, approached Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin near the Capitol basement ATM Tuesday afternoon asking the Illinois Democrat to sign a baseball, he faced an unexpected question from this reporter: Did he prefer wooden or aluminum bats?

“I like both. Wooden’s better. It never hurts your hands,” he said.

That was, of course, the correct answer to the question in the presence of Durbin, who just days ago celebrated the 25th anniversary of what HOH previously declared “unquestionably the greatest diatribe to ever grace the House floor.”

It was July 26, 1989, when Durbin said in a one-minute speech (in the House, of course, Durbin’s oratory was more limited by a clock): “I don’t want to hear about saving trees, any tree in America would gladly give its life for a day of glory at home plate.”

Durbin signed the young man’s baseball, though it was unclear how many in the basement scrum knew the story behind the prodding. But in the immortal words of former HOHer Meredith Shiner, this column knows for sure: “May we mark this day every year to remember what America is really all about, and that even though it’s unclear who Durbin was addressing with this little ditty, aluminum bats have remained out of professional baseball for decades.”

Here, here.

July 25, 2014

Murkowski Tells Alaskans to Show Their ‘Inner Ted’ Stevens (Video)

Murkowski Tells Alaskans to Show Their Inner Ted Stevens (Video)

Murkowski is encouraging fellow Alaskans to honor the late Stevens, seen here posing with the Incredible Hulk in 2003. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a new video message, Sen. Lisa Murkowski is encouraging her fellow Alaskans to celebrate Ted Stevens Day on Saturday.

“Sen. Stevens, or ‘Uncle Ted’ as many of us knew him, was the Alaskan of the 20th century and always put Alaska above partisan politics,” the Alaska Republican said. “This year, Alaskans have seen me put on my Hulk scarf and channel my inner Ted Stevens to fight in the Senate for what is important to Alaska.”

Full story

July 18, 2014

Grassley’s Sky Diving Advice

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has some advice for anyone pondering following the lead of former President George H.W. Bush and jumping out of an airplane.

The Republican senator is known for having one of the most fascinating Twitter feeds in Congress, whether he posts about his complaints of a lack of historical programming on the History Channel or hitting a deer while traveling in Iowa. Grassley even highlighted his use of Twitter in a 2010 campaign ad:

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