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

Posts in "Nationwide"

April 1, 2014

Thanks for the Pranks, Congress

Hill types had their fun this April Fools Day, filling the online ether with bogus press releases — or, in the case of New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce, just really weird news — designed to make everyone question the fragile construct we call reality.

One eagle-eyed observer shared a snapshot of a psych-out perpetrated on the most gullible souls wandering through Statuary Hall:

No word on whether mischievous Capitol Hill cops or fed-up tour guides have taken credit for the moratorium on intra-chamber babbling, but kudos to whoever attempted to orchestrate some blessed silence.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., was more ambitious in his trouble making, widely broadcasting plans to formally bridge the gap between his home district and the nation’s capital. His tongue-in-cheek pitch to S-T-R-E-T-C-H the Bay Area Rapid Transit System all the way to Capitol South posits that the 41-hour long ride would only set riders back a paltry $347.28 a pop.

“We need bold solutions that increase connectivity, helping grow our economy. If you live in California, why shouldn’t you enjoy direct access to the corridors of power in our nation’s capital?” he suggested.

Colorado Democrat Jared Polis took a more introspective tact, firing back at snarky tweets questioning his sartorial judgment by unilaterally declaring himself GQ’s head fashionista.

“I am thrilled to join the definitive authority on men’s fashion as their chief congressional fashion spokesman,” Polis announced via email. “The ‘potie’ revolution brings the classic, formal look of a bow tie with the comfort and flexibility of a polo shirt, and I knew it was only a matter of time before my new look was appreciated.”

Meanwhile, Pearce worked in a plug for the “Out of This World Job Fair” scheduled to take place April 9 from 2-6 p.m. at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center in Roswell, N.M. Pearce is once again hosting the hiring fest, which plays up the regional connection to a supposed UFO crash, in conjunction with several local employment agencies.

No word if he’ll be canvassing the crowd for a new press secretary.

March 31, 2014

Maher Continues to Bait Grimm, Farenthold for #FlipaDistrict

Comedian Bill Maher still wants to #flipadistrict from Republican to Democrat, and on his HBO show on March 28, he continued to lambast two of his GOP targets: New York’s Michael G. Grimm and Texas’s Blake Farenthold.

“They got pisssssssssssed!” chuckled Maher.

Maher read a statement from Grimm as reported in the lawmaker’s hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance: “From the ultra-liberal new Mayor Bill de Blasio and now the left-wing, anti-Catholic Bill Maher, a troubling pattern is emerging where the most radical progressives in the country are coming out and supporting my opponent.”

“I don’t even know who your opponent is!” Maher crowed. For the record, Grimm’s likely Democratic challenger is Domenic Recchia, a former city councilman from Brooklyn.

“It’s said that you can tell a lot about someone by who opposes them,” Farenthold told Breitbart News. “In the case of liberal pundit Bill Maher … I wear his disapproval of me as a badge of honor.”

The Texas Republican, in a separate interview with KTRH News Radio, said, “I do have a Democrat running against me. Unless Maher is able to get him a lot of money, I think I’m okay.”

“I love it when politicians reveal themselves like this,” Maher told his audience after quoting Farenthold. “That’s the point of us doing this. That yes, you have a big wallet, and I don’t think in America ‘I have the biggest wallet’ should always win.”

Fourteen additional House Republicans will be nominated by fans via Twitter over the next few weeks, ultimately to be whittled to one candidate whose midterm opponent Maher will support.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

March 25, 2014

House Hopeful Brent Roske Mulls Congressional Council

House Hopeful Brent Roske Mulls Congressional Council

(Screenshot)

Brent Roske, the entertainment vet currently running as an independent to replace retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., is brainstorming all kinds of ways to stay ahead of the burgeoning pack of contenders who’ve cropped up around him — including bringing some of them under his wing.

In a campaign spot shot somewhat on the fly March 23 — Roske swears it was done in one continuous take, with no teleprompter — the political neophyte builds upon an earlier plan to tag-team the job with Waxman, opening up potential slots on a “congressional district council” to the handful of fellow candidates he believes are most serious about the job.

Brent Roske for Congress (CA-33) - Commercial from Brent Roske for CA-33 on Vimeo.

Per the plan, a newly elected Roske would seek to convene weekly meetings with challengers he feels are most qualified to help him plug experience gaps, a roster that includes: former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel (fiscal issues), former candidate Bill Bloomfield (fiscal issues), state Sen. Ted Lieu (district concerns), Democratic candidates Barbara Mulvaney and Matt Miller (policy issues) and fellow independent candidate Marianne Williamson (cooperative governing).

“Just to be clear, I haven’t asked any of these people whether or not they’ll serve on this council,” Roske said. “But I bet if I get elected, they’ll show up.”

Roske told HOH his original offer to Waxman still stands, but noted he had not heard from the congressman about teaming up.

In terms of televising his work day on the Hill — part of his plan to deliver an “accessible open Congress” to constituents — Roske noted that he’s not yet worked out all the logistics of bringing a “Truman Show”-like experience to Capitol Hill, but he’s fired up about giving it a go.

“I would continuously be pushing the envelope if I was told ‘no’ in any particular circumstances,” Roske said of his desire to bring the public even deeper into the political process than is currently allowed, adding, “What I have in mind … is a totally different animal than C-SPAN.”

His last plank, a weekly stump speech out on the steps of the Capitol, has a very “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” ring to it. Which, it seems, is exactly what Roske is going for.

“It would be brazenly patriotic,” he said of the rah-rah rhetoric he hopes to shower upon slowly shuffling staffers and wide-eyed tourists at the crack of dawn (7 a.m. Eastern) each Wednesday.

March 17, 2014

PSA Urges Partisans to Quit Fighting, Focus on Real Foes

PSA Urges Partisans to Quit Fighting, Focus on Real Foes

(Screenshot)

Marvel Media founder Lily Marie wants hotheads on both sides of the political spectrum to chill out for a bit, so that the grown ups can figure out who we should really be angry with.

The pixel-packing prophet calls for an end to the whole blue- vs. red-state mentality in her “PSA for Political Partisans” — an SOS the self-proclaimed conservative/libertarian hopes will serve as a wake up call for us all.

A PSA for Political Partisans from Marvel Media on Vimeo.

“I believe that U.S citizens need to better understand that there are people in our own government and behind the scenes who are subversive. Their agenda is to move us in a direction that will be very bad news for all of us,” Marie told HOH of her motivation to digitally rattle some cages. “And that is already happening; we are losing freedom, rights and national sovereignty that many Americans have taken for granted.”

She considers the contentious Patriot Act “unconstitutional legislation that gives the government more power to spy on U.S. citizens and potentially do what they want with us,” and expressed concerns about other ongoing attempts to erode the time-honored protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

“If it continues, then ultimately it will affect everyone, even the people who naively supported those unconstitutional actions. They will be in the same boat as the people who they perceived as their political opponents,” Marie warned.

The worst part, according to Marie, is that no one really is to blame  — because everybody is.

“When it comes to those politicians (Obama, and many others) I knew early on that they would be bad news. So it wasn’t a surprise,” she suggested via email.

Given her druthers, Marie knows exactly whom she would want calling the shots: retired Texas lawmaker and three-time presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

“Ron Paul is … one of the only leaders who is honest and actually cares about the principles our country is supposed to stand for,” Marie asserted.

March 13, 2014

Members of Congress Sum Up SXSWi — in 3 Words

South By Southwest Interactive wrapped up Tuesday, just as the madding crowds for the music festival were arriving in Austin, Texas. Roll Call correspondent Grace Dobush was in town along with a surprising number of congressmen — 12 by our count. In addition to attending the panels they spoke on, covering topics from patent trolls to tech innovation, she caught up with a handful of members to get their sense of the experience — in three words.

Read more about Washington’s takeover of SXSWi (and see a photo of Darrell Issa testing out a new Microsoft dance game) here.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Charity Work Crushes the Competition — With His Tank

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Charity Work Crushes the Competition — With His Tank

(CQ Roll Call archives)

Forget breaking mere bread.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is upping the charity auction stakes by offering fans the opportunity to pump iron, co-pilot a tank and possibly chomp some stogies, all in the name of putting more money in the hands of After-School All-Stars.

Schwarzenegger has apparently owned the ground-pounding M47 Patton tank for 20-odd years now, but only trots it out on extra special occasions.

Keeping his youth-oriented athletic program going — the non-profit organization boasts chapters across the country, including an outpost in Washington, D.C. — clearly qualifies, as Schwarzenegger is contributing his time (“you’ll live like Arnold for a day!” the contest page trumpets) and the tank adventure for only $10 (single entry).

Whoever does win the all-inclusive trip out to LA should take comfort in knowing that their time will not be wasted: Ah-nuld has been on the vanguard of crushing stuff for decades. Full story

March 6, 2014

The Early Buzz on #CPAC2014

The Early Buzz on #CPAC2014

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference is just getting started at National Harbor, but the rat-a-tat online chatter about the far-right fest has already reached a fevered pitch.

At least one randy traveler is raring to go

 

A few early arrivals may have already overstayed their welcome

 

Full story

March 4, 2014

Grayson Feud Boils Over Into Abuse Claims

Grayson Feud Boils Over Into Abuse Claims

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Alan Grayson’s rapidly unraveling marriage is spinning even further out of control amid dueling allegations of spousal abuse.

As first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Lolita Grayson sought out a protective order against the Florida Democrat after a mutually agreed upon flare up at the family home this weekend. Per the Sentinel, Lolita accused her husband of forcefully shoving and knocking her down.

Alan Grayson’s office issued a statement not only refuting the claims, but also challenging Lolita’s current mental state. Full story

‘Bills and Brews’ Pours Itself Into Politics of Drinking

Congressional reporter Matt Laslo may only have one episode of his new Web show, “Bills and Brews,” in the can, but he’s already got designs on exporting the barley-and-hops-fueled gabfest to a brewery near you.

“I want to take this on the campaign trail,” Laslo said of the pet project he’s been nurturing for nearly a decade. He’ll premiere the pilot episode — featuring a freewheeling discussion with Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., at Bluejacket— for media at 6-11 p.m. Tuesday night at The Dunes (1402 Meridian Place NW).

Laslo said inspiration for the show first struck back in 2006 while he was covering the West Coast brewing scene for public radio. “It occurred to me that, hey, this could be a fun show,” he said of the passionate and interesting people he got to know while researching the beer world.

He has since refined the scope and mission of that original vision, carving out room for a show he hopes will work on multiple levels. In DeFazio’s case, that means preparing an 8- to 9-minute segment that’s all about Oregon brews (staff told HOH DeFazio brought along IPAs from Hop Valley Brewing Co., Ninkasi Brewing Co. and Oakshire Brewing to share) and his personal drinking history (something about shoulder-tapping at gas stations); this is designed to reel in the casually interested, “Colbert Report”-viewing crowd.

Beer nerds can plunge into a subordinate 10- to 12-minute clip delving specifically into craft brewing issues. Finally, wonks are invited to drink in another 10- to 15-minute carve-out dealing with beer-related policies (taxes, regulation, etc).

The guest and location of the second show is still being worked out, but Laslo has some solid contenders. He said he’s interested in meeting Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., for a swing through Asheville’s booming craft-brewing community, and would love to sit down with Del. Eleanor Homes Norton, D-D.C., at neighboring DC Brau.

Team DeFazio said the seasoned homebrewer was happy to spend some more time at Bluejacket. “He has taken the behind-the-scenes tour and often dines there with friends,” aides said of the Southeast D.C. beer haven. His allegiance, however, remains with breweries in the greater Northwest.

Per staff, DeFazio dined at Plank Town in Springfield, Ore., this past weekend. And while he’s pleased some home-state brews are making their way eastward, DeFazio would love to see more on local shelves.

“Although the D.C. area has a good and quickly growing craft brew scene, folks are missing out on a lot!” Team DeFazio said.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:49 p.m.
Booze, DC, media, Nationwide, Reps

Pols Eat Up James Beard ‘America’s Classics’ Honors

Just thinking about the landmark restaurants the James Beard Foundation will formally crown as “America’s Classics” this May has lawmakers who have dined at the treasured eateries licking their lips with anticipation.

The hospitality industry awards celebrate a handful of timeless establishments each year; the 2014 honorees include: Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in New Orleans, Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, Ore., Olneyville New York System in Providence, R.I., Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas, and Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin has fond memories of fueling up at Olneyville during his college days.

“I remember going there sometimes after class or after a night out downtown,” Langevin recounted, noting that he prefers the signature hot dogs dressed with meat sauce and celery salt (“Not to be confused with ‘all the way,’ which includes onions and mustard.”)

“It’s been a while, but I’m looking forward to going back,” Langevin said.

News of the national recognition made Rep. David Cicilline nostalgic for a taste of home.

“Olneyville New York System has served the best wieners for decades and when I walk in today, the same smells and sights remind me of my visits there years ago,” the Rhode Island Democrat shared.

In addition to enjoying the food and the familial atmosphere, Cicilline hailed the restaurant for participating in his “Main Street” initiative to bolster local businesses. “I congratulate Olneyville New York System on receiving this much deserved award,” he said.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer hailed the gourmet community for finally getting wise to what he already knows: Perini’s is good eating. Full story

March 3, 2014

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

Comedian Bill Maher isn’t the only one cracking wise about cleaning house on Capitol Hill.

Now that his “Flip a District” campaign is officially under way, “Real Time” viewers have begun firing off videos denouncing the lawmakers they’d most like to see shown the door.

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

The candidates for early retirement profiled on the latest episode of Maher’s HBO show include:

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

(Screenshot)

“Bill Maher, as one pot smoking atheist to another, I hope you’re not full of s— with this flip a district plan,” the plaintiff pleaded. Full story

House Hopeful Brent Roske Is Having a Blast

Entertainer cum independent candidate Brent Roske has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. It looks like his bid to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is following suit.

House Hopeful Brent Roske Is Having a Blast

(Courtesy Brent Roske)

“I got the last of my signatures for the nomination papers at the Venice Mardi Gras parade today,” told HOH of his festive canvassing.

Roske’s self-styled campaign has also included party cruises and a pitch to turn the seat into a tandem gig.

The “Chasing the Hill” producer appears to all about mixing and mingling. Full story

February 21, 2014

Beware the Facebook Conversation That Spurs Birther Debate

An incredulous Redditor is trying to wrap his head around how anyone can so loathe President Barack Obama they would consciously — and deliberately — choose to cling to outright fabrications rather than cut 44 some slack.

Conversation starter Bleach3825 suffered the jarring revelation after confronting, initially on Facebook, a high-school acquaintance about her seemingly rabid disdain for POTUS.

After presenting her with what he apparently believed was adequate proof that Obama is a native-born American and questioning her unwavering allegiance to the citizenship-denying camp, the dissenting party only dug in deeper:

Beware the Facebook Conversation That Spurs Birther Debate

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

“Don’t really care if it is accurate or not at this point. Interesting fiction is still entertaining,” the die-hard detractor declared on Facebook.

How can you argue with that?

Not sure if there’s any room in your echo chamber for a little theme music, but this one’s for you, Madam Hater:

Rock. On.

Digesting News a la Spike Mendelsohn

Restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn doesn’t just make headlines in this town, he now also serves them up to those plugged into the gastro-themed feeds he’s created for news-sharing upstart Trove.

Digesting News a la Spike Mendelsohn

Mendelsohn, center, is sharing his interests via Trove. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The media aggregating service tapped the reality-TV-star-turned-culinary-empire-builder — Good Stuff Eatery, We, The Pizza and Béarnaise have all taken root on Capitol Hill — to serve as one of its featured curators. Mendelsohn has, so far, carved out three dedicated channels: Full story

February 20, 2014

Paul Broun To Tailgate Before Saturday Senate Debate

Come Saturday, Georgia Republican Paul Broun will once again face off against the cadre of aspiring Hill climbers eyeing the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Except this time, he plans to feast before leaping into the rhetorical lion’s den.

The Broun for Senate campaign is still putting the finishing touches on a planned pre-debate tailgate, dangling complimentary fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw and sweet tea for those willing to huddle with the candidate ahead of the Georgia GOP Debate scheduled to take place Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga.

Paul Broun To Tailgate Before Saturday Senate Debate

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

A campaign aide told HOH the tailgate concept was a first for Team Broun, but noted that the boss had distributed hot chocolate — “It was cold outside!” the aide shared — to those who waited patiently in line to watch local pols mix it up Feb 1. at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. Full story

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