Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 25, 2014

Posts in "HillSide"

April 22, 2014

Homesick South Dakotans Take Heart, Taco John Is on the Way

Midwesterners desperately in need of a Taco John’s fix should strap on their hungry pants on May 10.

That’s when members of the South Dakota State Society will once again crank out mountains of the take-out joint’s signature Potato Ole (that’s specially seasoned potato crowns to you and me, Russ) to feed the homesick masses.

The sixth annual fundraiser is scheduled to take place at the US-Asia Institute (232 East Capitol St. NE) some time in the afternoon.

Can’t wait to have your fellow Mount Rushmore Staters fling deep-fried spuds down your throat?

Warm up for the West-Mex fiesta by giving homemade Potato Oles a go.

According to Food.com contributor Annabel31, the secret to the signature flavor is, well, no secret at all. Her copycat condiment calls for little more than seasoned salt, paprika, ground cumin and crushed red pepper.

Happy snacking!

April 21, 2014

Staffer Suspects Senate Burger Switcheroo

As if congressional dining options weren’t sketchy enough, a Senate aide is now all salty about a purported bait and switch, calling into question the integrity of the American Grill’s signature Senate Burger.

Staffer Suspects Senate Burger Switcheroo

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

According to the fed-up food spy, Restaurant Associates has replaced the Angus beef patties previously featured in the double-decker gut bomb with smaller, lesser quality patties while continuing to charge the premium rate ($6 solo; $8 to have extra crispy fries and a fountain drink ride shotgun).

In all honesty, we’ve not paid that close attention to the building blocks of the congressional burger offerings before (too busy breaking down the specialty misfires). And Restaurant Associates, per usual, did not respond to emails inquiring about the composition of the Senate Burger vs. the other grilled meats served around the Capitol complex.

So we got to munching.

A regular burger from the American Grill is, in fact, nothing to write home about. Full story

April 18, 2014

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

 

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Perhaps even superheroes can’t stand the thought of getting too close to Congress. That was one possible explanation for the failure of Awesome Con to secure a world record for assembled costumed players photographed at one time.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Super turnout was relatively sparse at the Capitol Reflecting Pool. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Promoters had hoped to turn out thousands on Friday at noon for a record-breaking photo in front of the Capitol’s Reflecting Pool. The stage was set. Social media was activated. Commissioner Gordon sent out the Bat signal. There might have been an Aquaman siting in the murky depths of the duck-riddled Reflecting Pool.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. At 11:45 a.m., only a few dozen costumed players were milling around. Guinness World Record officiants were there, folders in hand, to see if D.C. Awesome Con could best China’s World Joyland, which assembled 1,530 crusaders in 2011.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

As the final calls went out over Twitter as the clock struck close to 1 p.m., explanations were bandied about. Some cosplayers apparently went to the Reflecting Pool connecting the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial. Apparently, superpowers didn’t include map-reading skills for that bunch. Didn’t matter. Only around 200 or so showed, well short of the record.

“Can I get a picture of Little Batman in front of the Capitol?” one tourist asked a mother-son dynamic duo. As Little Batman obliged, the shutterbug asked, “Are you there to protect Congress?”

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

At least somebody is.

April 16, 2014

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

Another day, another few thousand costumed characters kicking back outside the U.S. Capitol. That’s how Awesome Con organizers see things coming into focus on Friday, when they’ll attempt to assemble a collection of cosplayers by the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol in a bid to break a standing world record.

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

(Courtesy Awesome Con)

The point of the whimsical stunt is to trump the swarm of would-be superheroes that mugged for cameras outside China’s World Joyland in 2011.

According to one account of that Guinness World Record-breaking gathering, approximately 1,700 people showed up to participate in the momentous occasion — but roughly 10 percent were disqualified by stickler GWR judges because they had modeled their attire on “characters from video games, TV shows or story books instead of comic books.”

The remaining 1,530 cosplayers still carried the day, surpassing a previous effort during which 1,016 comic book fans stepped out in full regalia.

As we learned last summer, during our inaugural swing through Comic-Con, cosplay is all about freedom of expression and stretching one’s imagination.

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

April 11, 2014

Tom Petri’s S.O.S (Save Our Sausages)

Wisconsin Republican Tom Petri took to the House floor Thursday to issue a dire warning to grill tenders the world over: Europe is coming for our pork products.

“Bratwursts are delicious,” he declared in a shout-out to Sheboygan’s claim to fame.

It seems the European Union wants to impose new restrictions on certain products, namely processed meats, cheeses and seasonal beers, as part of a swirling trade agreement — a power grab that’s left a bad taste in the Wisconsin delegation’s mouths.

“This is, frankly, getting ridiculous,” Petri argued, adding, “If anything, we should be trademarking the name ‘bratwurst,’ not them.”

Across the Capitol, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin has rallied nearly half the Senate to the cause, raising a bipartisan chorus of voices in favor of protecting homegrown snacks from the proposed geographic restrictions. Full story

April 8, 2014

Hill Staffers Swarm Taco Bell Tray, Terrify Server

Ustedes quieren Taco Bell!

Pity the poor Taco Bell employee who was tasked with delivering a tray of tacos to a gaggle of Hill staffers at a Tuesday reception in the Rayburn House Office Building.

“This reception shows no shame as staff fills up boxes and garbage bags of burritos,” our daring congressional staffer/tipster tell us. See for yourself:

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky-Panky

An offbeat observation by someone who sounded none-too-surprised to learn that Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister had been busted getting busy with a congressional aide got us thinking about whom, exactly, Capitol Hill playboys spend their time seducing.

“It’s always the schedulers,” an HOH reader opined online after perusing the tawdry tale of McAllister’s videotaped make-out session with district aide — and Facebook friend (social media has doomed us all) — Melissa Hixon Peacock.

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky Panky

(Screenshot)

The Ouachita Citizen exposed the interoffice dalliance (both McAllister and Peacock are married to other people) with the help of a grainy surveillance video purportedly leaked to the local paper by another McAllister aide.

While Peacock clearly fit our conspiracy theorists’ bill in this particular case, HOH decided to examine the past 20 years of congressional sexcapades to discern whether libidinous lawmakers do, in fact, have a clear cut “type.”

Ex-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky Panky

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Object of his affection: the late Chandra Levy, his intern. Full story

April 7, 2014

Washington State Society Hosts Oso Relief Effort

Evergreen Staters stuck here in the District want to help those back home still dealing with the aftermath of a devastating mudslide by raising a few glasses — and hopefully some big bucks — Tuesday night.

Washington State Society Hosts Oso Relief Effort

(Courtesy Washington State Society)

The Oso Mudslide Relief reception is scheduled to take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the State Room at 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE). There is a suggested donation of $20.

The natural disaster struck the Oso community on March 22; the administration officially took action on April 2.

Funds collected at 201 Bar are expected to benefit the United Way of Snohomish County. Event organizers are also planning a raffle featuring prizes such as an Xbox One and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Congressional aides told HOH that Washington Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene are planning to attend the fundraiser. The office of Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said the slightly hobbled lawmaker (currently on crutches) is aware of the event, but could not guarantee his participation.

April 4, 2014

Harry Reid’s Instagram Feed is Picture Perfect

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be new to Instagram, but the veteran lawmaker is clearly well rehearsed in the art of putting one’s best face forward.

 

 

Though just a few hours old, the Nevada Democrat’s online photo diary is already chock full of cookie-cutter campaign art, including:

The Power Huddle

Just, you know, shooting the breeze with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif. Full story

April 3, 2014

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

Performers from across the musical spectrum helped star-stuck lawmakers get loose Wednesday night, as the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill awards once again blew the socks off of straight-laced Washington.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The invite-only affair gave politicos the opportunity to mingle with chart-topping artists from every decade dating back to the 1960s, a who’s who of vocal talent that included singer Dionne Warwick, Tejano band Los Lonely Boys, the Hanson Brothers and Grammy winners Lady Antebellum. The musicians, in turn, tipped their hats to those on Capitol Hill who’ve proved to be real good listeners, handing out awards to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“There’s very few places in this country that they would actually honor members of Congress,” the California Republican quipped while on stage with songwriter Booker T. Jones and Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. Full story

April 2, 2014

Mulvaney Gives Jordan the Finger

Walking into Wednesday’s Republican Study Committee meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said he’d vote for the budget unveiled this week by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan and was asked if he expects his conservative colleagues who voted against other budget deals to take the same approach.

“I actually do, but you’ll have to talk to [Mick] Mulvaney to get the full answer,” Jordan said of his South Carolina colleague.

Mulvaney, who had just said he was undecided on the budget, was sitting on a bench outside of the meeting on his phone. Upon hearing the Ohio Republican’s remark, he looked up and gave Jordan the finger.

Everyone laughed.

April 1, 2014

House Taxwriters Lobby for Taste of ‘Ways & Means’ Brew

Port City Brewing Company has worked up a new rye-based American special bitter dubbed “Ways & Means.” And thanks to Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., House taxwriters won’t have to wander beyond the Capitol to sample the 4.8 percent alcohol by volume beverage.

House Taxwriters Lobby for Taste of Ways & Means Brew

(Courtesy Port City Brewing Company)

The new beer, which PCBC Founder Bill Butcher described as “really refreshing … with a hoppy bite,” made its unofficial debut over the weekend in the Alexandria, Va.-based brewery’s tasting room and is scheduled for wide release on April 7.

Becerra has helped organize a bipartisan reception featuring PCBC’s seasonal draft to be co-hosted by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander M. Levin, D-Mich. The off-the-record mixer is tentatively scheduled to take place on the evening of April 7, after votes have wrapped.

Those not privy to the invite-only affair can give the experimental IPA a whirl April 10 at a Hawk ‘n’ Dove-hosted release party. “Ways & Means” will be the featured draft from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. that evening, and there’ll be PCBC swag (glassware, etc.) on hand.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

The long-awaited return of baseball season (The Nationals’ home opener is Friday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves) means restaurants can once again slip their Nats-related promotions back into the rotation.

Tortilla Coast has wasted no time resurrecting its “Strasburger,” a double-decker meal deal erected in honor of D.C. hurler Stephen Strasburg.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The price of the big-mouth burger remains pegged to Strasburg’s career highlights — first pick (1) in the first round (1) of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft + jersey number (37) = $11.37 — and includes a heaping mound of french fries.

According to Tortilla Coast General Manager Bill Anderson, the Strasburger continues to be made the same way it always has: Two, 6-ounce patties of roughly 80/20 ground beef are flame grilled, glazed in chipotle-honey sauce, covered in Jack cheese, topped with fried onion strings, smothered in shredded lettuce and sliced tomato and parked between buns slathered with chipotle-spiked Thousand Island dressing.

Yet, somehow, today it tastes even less like it was supposed to when it left burger buff Jody Fellows wanting two summers before.

Back in 2012, the Burger Days blog founder gave the Capitol Hill watering hole high marks for presentation, but was struck by the disconnect between what was listed on the menu and what registered on his taste buds. “For all the stuff that goes into the Strasburger, it loses a whole hell of a lot when the entire thing gets into your mouth,” he warned. “We expected to be hit with a lot more taste.”

We dare say the kitchen may have actually lost a few more steps since then.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The patties placed before this hired mouth were adequately beefy and surprisingly juicy (with just a hint of smoke), but bore absolutely no sign of the promised honey sweetness or chili pepper-fueled heat. Ditto for the chipotle-Island dressing, which lacked the oomph of even fast food-grade special sauce. The melted cheese served as a decent binder and the tangle of breaded onions provided some crunch. But the mountain of damp lettuce caused the bottom half of our bun to collapse after just one bite.

We hoped the fries might save things, but, alas, the no-frills spuds were as dry and flavorless (the one time a bar decides to ease up on salt) as the burger was disjointed.

Still, people seem to love it.

Anderson said the restaurant sells up to a 20 of the specialty burgers a day during the season. And very few folks appear to be intimidated by its sheer bulk.

“The size and age of the guest has no bearing on their ability to finish the burger; we have been witness to ladies in their 70s and kids in grade school taking it down in one sitting,” Anderson shared.

As it’s done in the past, Anderson said the original Capitol Hill Tortilla Coast will crank out Strasburgers from open to close on days Strasburg takes the mound.

“TCCH will also do a bonus Strasburger day should Stephen Strasburg pitch during the All Star Game,” he said.

Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells

A former House staffer turned civic-engagement evangelist, Ted Henderson has amplified his efforts to connect Congress with constituents by introducing a new way to stake out personal positions: virtual “motions.”

The former aide to ome-time Michigan Democratic Rep. Dale E. Kildee told HOH that a fair amount of Hill types — 9,500 total users, including 6,800 House vote alert subscribers  (versus the 250 currently seeking Senate vote updates) — have taken notice of his fledgling tool.

Henderson estimates that roughly 200 to 250 House members and their staffers are utilizing the smartphone app (and companion website) to keep tabs on the issues folks from their home districts are rallying for/against online.

Lawmakers have begun taking their own stands by utilizing the app’s nascent motion-writing feature.

Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells

(Screenshot)

Instead of simply voting a certain issue up or down, the “motion” function gives CB users the opportunity to post a brief statement (up to 200 characters) that can then be shared on other social media platforms.

Per Henderson, the abbreviated stump speeches should help politicians cut through the legislative noise by injecting easily digestible appeals into the conversation.

“Here’s who I am. Here’s what I’m working on … and it’s all translated into regular English,” he said.

Some early adopters have already hopped on their virtual soapboxes, Henderson said, including Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright (the first to pen a “motion”) and Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (“a huge supporter”).

Moving forward, Henderson hopes to maximize CB’s vote matching capabilities — it currently only compares users’ positions to members from their home-state delegation — by opening up the cross-referencing to presidential and congressional candidates.

And he’s determined to draw even more lawmakers into the feedback loop.

“I want people to use it anytime they’re talking about a bill online … [because] it’s adding that gateway to constituent engagement,” Henderson asserted.

He plans to continue making his case to the online masses next week via Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum  (perhaps as early as April 7).

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

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