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

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

52 Posts

April 4, 2014

A Kansas Primary Debate in Alexandria?

A Kansas Primary Debate in Alexandria?

(CQ Roll Call File Photo Composite)

Alexandria, Va., and Alexandria, Kan., are nothing alike.

One is a suburb of the national’s capital. The other is just a few miles from Leavenworth. But a tea party group based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., wants to host a Kansas Senate primary debate, and the long-shot challenger has already accepted the invitation.

A group known as the Northern Virginia Tea Party is offering to host a debate between veteran Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf may be best known to HOH readers as a distant relative of President Barack Obama.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:31 p.m.
DC, Nationwide

March 31, 2014

Wandering Tourist Enters Appropriations World

A March 28 meeting of Senate Democratic staffers about the appropriations process had an unexpected visitor.

According to sources familiar with what happened, a somewhat elderly tourist wandered into the meeting and sat down along with an array of senior Senate aides in the audience for a presentation by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s staff director. One source said the assumption was that the gentleman was most likely lost and wandered into a room where there was activity on a quiet Friday in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The outsider asked three questions, according to an HOH tipster, including one about how a Democrat from the state of Utah could be involved in the appropriations process. To the credit of the staff director, the individual was not tossed out of the room.

Democracy in action.

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:02 p.m.

March 25, 2014

McConnell Steers Clear of Louisville v. Kentucky

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows better than to take sides when Louisville and Kentucky meet on the basketball court.

McConnell Steers Clear of Louisville v. Kentucky

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“If college basketball is on, there are more eyeballs watching college basketball in the Louisville, Ky., media market than any other media market in the country,” McConnell said, an apparent reference to a recent report on the ratings for basketball games airing on ESPN.

“For the 12th consecutive year, Louisville was the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season telecasts, averaging a 4.5 rating. Greensboro, Kansas City and Raleigh-Durham finished tied for second with a 2.8 rating,” the sports network said in a recent release.

Full story

Mitch McConnell’s Ad-Maker Mistakes Duke Blue Devils for Kentucky Wildcats

It only lasted a few seconds, but one shot in a Web video released Tuesday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2014 campaign caught the attention of eagle-eyed college hoops fans.

The video highlighted the Kentucky Republican who would become majority leader in a GOP-led Senate, but a video montage of bluegrass greatness included shots of the basketball teams from the University Louisville and (gasp) Duke University. That’s not the NCAA champion blue-and-white team the ad makers had in mind. It should have featured the University of Kentucky Wildcats, of course.

Mitch McConnells Ad Maker Mistakes Duke Blue Devils for Kentucky Wildcats


Full story

March 18, 2014

John McCain’s Favorite Flick: Fargo

Sen. John McCain has rather dark taste in movies.

The Republican told a town hall meeting in his home state of Arizona on Tuesday that the 1996 Coen Brothers classic “Fargo,” which won multiple Academy Awards, is his favorite. McCain’s quip came in response to a question about the slow-moving approval process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“It’s still stalled in the Obama administration,” McCain said of the pipeline, before praising the economic boom in North Dakota as a result of energy production.

“Things that are happening in places like like North Dakota — do you know the unemployment rate in North Dakota today is less than 2 percent? They can’t get anybody to come up there and work, and I won’t go anywhere further with that,” McCain said. ”I happen to love North Dakota. My favorite movie is ‘Fargo’ … which was shot in Minnesota I understand, but anyway.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:57 p.m.

February 21, 2014

Fact-Checking ‘House of Cards’ and Its ‘Senate of Cards’ Sequence

By now, most binge-watchers have at least gotten through the first portion of the new season of the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

While we’ll steer clear of too many spoilers here, one particular sequence in the third episode caught the attention of parliamentary experts everywhere.

“We have to get medieval,” said the fictional Democratic Vice President Frank Underwood before a stint presiding over the Senate, twisting arms to get a deal with enough of the Senate’s GOP majority to keep the government from a shutdown while raising the retirement age.

Could the Senate really direct the sergeant-at-arms to arrest absent senators? Yes, of course.

Roll Call was there in 1988, when, acting on the direction of Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and an order of the Senate, Sergeant-at-Arms Henry Giugni set off from the chamber to arrest missing senators:

A Russell Building cleaning lady told Giugni that Sen. Robert Packwood (R-Ore.) was in his personal office. Using a pass key, Giugni opened the door just as Packwood tried to block it with his arm. Packwood ended up reinjuring a broken finger.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:31 p.m.
TV Land

Brothel Responds to Reid’s Prostitutes/2016 GOP Convention Remarks

One of Nevada’s legal brothels is rebutting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s argument that the state’s prostitution industry could be a reason Las Vegas loses out on hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Sheri’s Ranch Brothel points to the rates of sex trafficking in Tampa, Fla., as not exactly a disqualifying factor in the city’s hosting of the 2012 Republican convention.

“These serious prostitution-related issues didn’t seem to bother Republicans when they considered Tampa, so why would they have an issue with a state that enforces legal prostitution? After all, Nevada’s licensed brothels only allow safe sex between mature consenting adults in a secure, STD-free environment,” the brothel said in its response. “Sex trafficking and child prostitution are abhorred by representatives of the legal Nevada sex work community.”

Full story

February 7, 2014

McCain Says Costas ‘Didn’t Know What the Hell He Was Talking About’ With Putin

Sen. John McCain is no fan of a report about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in bringing the Winter Olympics to Sochi, Russia, that aired on NBC Thursday.

“Bob Costas ought to stick to sports because he obviously didn’t know what the hell he was talking about,” the Arizona Republican told Fox News of the host of NBC’s Olympics coverage.

“This is being recorded, senator,” quipped Fox News host Neil Cavuto.

Full story

January 31, 2014

Angus King Dashes Hopes to QB for Dan Snyder

Angus King Dashes Hopes to QB for Dan Snyder

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Angus King is no Robert Griffin III, and he concedes that backing an effort to strip the NFL of its tax-exempt status will not help that.

“I’ve always wanted to be the quarterback of the Redskins, and this may be the end of that,” King said. “So, there’s high stakes for me.”

King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, has signed on to a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would remove the tax status enjoyed by some professional sports organizations, including the NFL and the PGA.

Full story

January 28, 2014

Harry Reid Admits to Dozing Off During Previous SOTUs

Harry Reid Admits to Dozing Off During Previous SOTUs

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confessed Tuesday to dozing off during past State of the Union addresses, though not on President Barack Obama’s watch.

The response came somewhat unexpectedly when the Nevada Democrat was asked if there was anything he would not want to hear from Obama in the speech.

“The only thing that would ever trouble me [is if he] said ‘Reid, stop dozing off,’” Reid said. “I, frankly, have dozed off once or twice. Not during the Obama years, of course.”

Full story

January 22, 2014

McCain: Richard Sherman’s a ‘Loudmouth From Seattle’

It wasn’t all serious business when Sen. John McCain showed up on a local Phoenix radio show Tuesday.

Arizona’s senior senator made sure to call out the Seattle Seahawks’ trash-talking cornerback Richard Sherman as a “loudmouth” and underscored his grudge against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

McCain said he was picking Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos over Sherman’s Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

“I think Denver. You know, everybody is such a Manning fan,” McCain told KFYI radio. ”That loudmouth from Seattle sort of epitomizes the Seattle team to me. … I’m sure I’m going to get in trouble for that one, too.”

Full story

December 5, 2013

Lech Walesa Gets Another Day at the Capitol

A full house gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium Wednesday evening to see a new film about the life of Poland’s transformative pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa — and to hear from the man himself.

Lech Walesa Gets Another Day at the Capitol

Walesa, far left, and Dodd, far right, discuss the Cold War under gigantic images of their previous selves. (Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Poland)

The night, as does the Andrzej Wajda film that mixes archival footage with recreated scenes and some dramatic license, focused on Walesa’s rise from an electrician in the shipyard at Gdansk to the leader of the Solidarity Movement, through the fall of communism.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., told the audience about her own experience watching the events of early 1980s Poland unfold from her home in Baltimore, not long after the elation of the ascension of Poland’s native son Karol Wojtyla to be Pope John Paul II.

“As the summer went on in 1980, all of a sudden we heard something dramatic had happened in Poland. There was a strike in Gdansk shipyard. Some guy named Walesa jumped over a wall. What was going on in Poland? My sisters and I talked to each other. My mother called me,” the Maryland Democrat said. “Everybody was excited and everybody was frightened — what did this mean? Was this the beginning of a beginning, or was this an effort of gallantry, bravery and courage that could end in suppression and repression?”

Full story

November 27, 2013

Nationals’ Franchise History With Roofs Is Not a Happy One

Maybe it’s best the Washington Nationals franchise stays away from retractable roofs.

Tuesday’s news that the baseball team had approached D.C. government officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray, about the possibility of retrofitting a retractable roof onto Nationals Park at the city’s expense generated widespread scorn and comparisons to the somewhat different situation playing out in Atlanta, where the Braves are planning to move outside the city limits to nearby Cobb County. In doing so, the Braves will vacate Turner Field, an outdoor ballpark which was constructed as the Olympic Stadium for the 1996 summer games.

Of course, the team now known as the Nationals used to have a retractable roof on an old stadium, though one might not know it because it seldom, if ever, functioned. That was in the 1976 Olympic Stadium in Montreal, the home of the Expos from 1977 until they departed for Washington following the 2004 season. That stadium, known to Montrealers as “The Big O”, opened for the 1976 Olympics without a roof, although it was supposed to have one.

Nationals Franchise History With Roofs Is Not a Happy One

The Big O, as it’s known in Montreal, has seen its share of heartache when it comes to its roof. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

ESPN compiled a list of Olympic Stadium failures and cost overruns back in 2003, many of which related to the retractable Kevlar roof (yes, the material most notable for use in bulletproof vests). Full story

November 20, 2013

‘Alpha House’ Premiere Attracts Alpha Lawmakers

Alpha House Premiere Attracts Alpha Lawmakers

Durbin, left, speaks with Consuelos and Alter before a screening of “Alpha House” on Tuesday. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Two of the lawmakers who have called Capitol Hill’s real-life “Alpha House” their home away from home were among the distinguished guests on hand at a screening of the Amazon series Tuesday evening in D.C.

But Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., wanted to make clear that the real house was nothing like the one in the TV program, lacking the usual Hollywood blend of sex, drugs and violence.

“Violence would involve rats, drugs would involve Metamucil, and the closest thing to sex is pictures of our grandkids,” Durbin said of the row house he shares with fellow Democrats Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Rep. George Miller of California, who is the landlord. The fictional house is shared by four Republican senators.

One former roommate, retired Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., also attended the screening.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:48 a.m.
TV Land, VIPs

November 14, 2013

Jim Cantore Visits Barbara Mikulski, Gets Senate Umbrella

When Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski met Thursday with Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, she offered an appropriate gift: a Senate umbrella.

Cantore, of course, is a longtime Weather Channel meteorologist frequently dispatched toward the eyes of hurricanes and the areas most pummeled by winter storms. He’s also something of a fixture on other NBC News programs during times when severe weather makes headlines.

Jim Cantore Visits Barbara Mikulski, Gets Senate Umbrella

(Office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski)

That Cantore and Mikulski would want to meet should come as no surprise.

Full story

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