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

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

68 Posts

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:

July 16, 2014

Wicker, Feinstein Seek to Revive ‘Seersucker Thursday’

Wicker, Feinstein Seek to Revive Seersucker Thursday

Senators gathered in the Senate reception room for a “Seersucker Thursday” back in 2011. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the Senate’s great summer traditions will make a comeback shortly before August recess.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein are inviting fellow senators to observe “Seersucker Thursday” at the end of July.

Full story

July 15, 2014

Mitch McConnell, the New Tom Cruise?

 

Mitch McConnell, the New Tom Cruise?

(Screenshot)

Is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the senator who most reminds you of Tom Cruise?

Sure, there might be other politicians more likely to wear aviators (looking at you, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.), but if McConnell is the one you think of, then Heard on the Hill thinks the Kentucky Republican’s re-election campaign has the perfect gift for you.

Among the items available in the McConnell for Senate campaign store in conjunction with a $20 contribution to the Team Mitch effort is a unisex “pro-gun” T-shirt bearing an uncanny resemblance to the logo from the 1986 Cruise drama “Top Gun.”

“Top Gun” studio Paramount Pictures declined to comment for this report.

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:50 p.m.
Foolishness

July 14, 2014

Flashback: Members Face Danger From the Sun

Flashback: Members Face Danger From the Sun

In this 1989 photo, aides to Rep. John William “Jack” Buechner, R-Mo., are seen outside (Andrea Mohin/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the House Energy and Commerce Committee takes up legislation that would streamline the approval of new and modern ingredients for sunscreens, we discovered a column from the pages of Roll Call 25 years ago this week.

Back then, this newspaper featured a recurring column called “Capital Health.”

The column a quarter century ago warned of the dangers of unprotected exposure to the sun by members of Congress, featuring a great quote from Dr. Stephen Katz of the National Institutes of Health. As Lucretia Marmon wrote:

Premature aging of the skin and skin cancer are caused by prolonged and intermittent overexposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

And Members of Congress should take care. They might actually be more vulnerable than Americans in general.

Dr. Stephen Katz, chief of dermatology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), says Members are prime candidates for photodamaged skin and skin cancer. Says Katz, ”Congressmen are mostly white. They are more affluent and they vacation more. They are concerned about their looks and likely to prefer a tan. And they probably get their tans during short exposures to the sun.”

Along with this warning comes the good news that smile lines and “aging spots” don’t necessarily come hand-in hand with getting older. And skin cancer can be prevented. Professionals are urging Members to get smart and cover-up.

As for the new legislation, Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky., said in a statement that the bill “will allow Americans access to the best products on the market and also spur innovation in an area of significant public health importance.”

“With skin cancer being by far the most common form of this terrible disease, it’s important that consumers have access to the latest breakthroughs in sunscreen technology,” Whitfield said.

June 27, 2014

Harry Reid Would Rather Watch Tennis Than the NFL

Harry Reid Would Rather Watch Tennis Than the NFL

Reid, pictured here with Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, says he prefers baseball to the NFL. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Maybe Dan Synder isn’t worried about Harry Reid because professional football is not the Nevada Democrat’s favorite sport.

In fact, Reid says he would rather watch tennis than the NFL.

Reid has been among the most vocal in calling for the Washington Redskins to change the name of the franchise, saying that he would not attend another game until the team changes its name.

Full story

June 13, 2014

Fifty Years Ago, Jim Bunning’s Perfect Game at Shea Stadium (Video)

Fifty Years Ago, Jim Bunnings Perfect Game at Shea Stadium (Video)

(CQ Roll Call Archives)

It was Father’s Day 50 years ago that former Sen. Jim Bunning made history, pitching a perfect game at Shea Stadium.

The Kentucky Republican’s hall of fame career featured no shortage of milestones, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn’t let the anniversary go by without a tribute to his former colleague — a man with whom he at times famously disagreed.

“The date was June 21, and in front of his wife Mary, his eldest daughter Barbara, and more than 32,000 cheering fans, Jim Bunning delivered the perfect Father’s Day gift by pitching a perfect game,” McConnell said of the game day in New York.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:33 p.m.
Sports Desk

June 9, 2014

Reid Praises Miss USA Winner, Regrets Missing Pageant Finale (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid missed the ending of Sunday evening’s Miss USA pageant, but Monday on the Senate floor, he offered praise for the young woman who won — a fellow Nevadan.

The Nevada Democrat called Nia Sanchez “gifted beyond her physical beauty.”

“I’m disappointed that I kind of caved in in watching the final of the USA, Miss USA contest because Miss Nevada won, and I’d like to have seen that,” Reid said. “I placed a call to her and I’ll talk to her as soon as she gets out of the clouds, where I’m sure she is now. But I congratulate the newly crowned Miss USA and that is our own Nia Sanchez.”

Full story

May 19, 2014

King, Collins: Bipartisan Texting Buddies (Video)

Kids these days are always texting, and by kids we mean Maine’s senators.

At a joint event on May 16 at the home of Margaret Chase Smith in which independent Angus King announced his endorsement of his Republican Susan Collins’ re-election bid, King said the pair traded messages about the endorsement that morning.

“Susan texted me this morning and said, ‘Thanks for the endorsement,’ and I texted her back and said this was a very easy call, and it absolutely was” King said. “I think the people of Maine are fortunate to have a representative of her caliber.”

Full story

May 5, 2014

For Oberstar, Safe Routes to School Lives On

For Oberstar, Safe Routes to School Lives On

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar is continuing to give to transportation causes, even posthumously.

Oberstar, who died over the weekend at age 79, served in the House for 36 years after working as a staffer, including as administrator of the old Committee on Public Works.

A death notice for the longtime Minnesota Iron Range congressman says the family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations should be directed to either the Safe Routes to School National Partnership or So Others Might Eat.

Full story

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