Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

62 Posts

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

Angus King Extends Reid an Open Invitation to Maine (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  scored an unexpected invitation from Angus King to visit the independent senator’s home state of Maine.

Angus King Extends Reid an Open Invitation to Maine (Video)

King says Reid is welcome anytime in Maine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The invitation came after the Nevada Democrat conceded in a floor speech recognizing National Travel and Tourism Week that he had only once visited the state that calls itself Vacationland,  with King presiding over the chamber.

“This industry’s impact is not unique to Nevada. The presiding officer’s state of Maine, people go there year round — it slows down a little in the winter time — people go there year round because of the beauty of the state of Maine,” Reid said. “I’ve only been to Maine [on] one occasion, but I came as a tourist. I wanted to see that beautiful state, and I was able to do that.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:07 p.m.
Nationwide

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.
HillSide

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

(Screenshot)

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.
Flicks
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