Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 18, 2014

Posts in "Sens"

April 15, 2014

Web Comic Riffs on Jim Moran’s Plea for Higher Pay

Internet celeb Remy Munasifi has worked up a new tax day ditty ridiculing wasteful government spending, tedious filing practices and a certain Virginia pol’s pitch to have Uncle Sam slip lawmakers a few extra bucks.

In his latest bid to again strike viral gold, the right-leaning comedian twists Pharell’s smash hit “Happy” into an anthem for those beset by paying their fair share.

One of the talking heads featured in the video is ID’ed as Rep. Jim Moranmor — a none-too-veiled-shot at Virginia Democratic Rep. James P. Moran, who recently told our colleague, Hannah Hess, that Congress-folk can no longer afford to live in This Town.

“We are so underpaid,” the Moranmor character mutters as the song begins to trail off. Full story

April 14, 2014

Frazier Glenn Cross Has Long Had His Sights Set on Capitol Hill

Frazier Glenn Cross, the man suspected of killing two people on Sunday at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan., has been trying to hitch a ride to Washington on the racial purity ticket for decades.

Cross’s purported hate crime rattled a nation still reeling from the April 2 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, a nightmarish scenario that once again featured a disturbed service man — the late Army Spc. Ivan Lopez orchestrated the most recent outbreak of violence, whereas Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan took over a dozen lives in November 2009 — ambushing unsuspecting colleagues.

A former Ku Klux Klan activist who later founded the exclusionary White Patriot Party, Cross has repeatedly — and rather unsuccessfully — tried to bring others around to his peculiar way of thinking.

Some online outlets suggest the perennial write-in candidate has been at it since 1984; he has, luckily, never gained significant traction in any contest.

He mounted an unsuccessful attempt to unseat then-Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in 2006, as well as a failed bid in 2010 (Cross received just seven votes) to replace retiring Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo. 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

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of April 7 (Video)

While senators explain their beef with cable TV and representatives talk about Big Macs, Majority Leader Harry Reid just cannot get enough Koch.

April 8, 2014

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

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

Conservative artist/provocateur Sabo is no stranger to mixing members of Congress and California, as can be seen from his mock-up of a recent Ted Cruz, R-Texas, event in Beverly Hills.

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

But now that the Breitbart News Network has expanded to the Golden State, Sabo is helping mark the bi-coastal migration with a fresh batch of eyebrow-raising art.

The politically charged images, including one of a provocatively dressed and posed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., served as the welcome mat for the fledgling site, an act of aggression fitting with the anonymous artist’s MO.

“My aim as an artist is to be as dirty, ground level, and mean as any Liberal artist out there, more so if I can,” Sabo, who describes himself as a Republican and ex-Marine, declares on his personal website. He has previously taken shots at President Barack Obama and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, but elected to widen his scope this time around to better suit the media rollout.

Sabo assured HOH, however, that he is not on the Breitbart payroll.

“Just consider me a fan of Andrew, a kindred spirit with a common mission,” he suggested via email. “My contribution to said ‘mission’ is to help Conservatives find their creative voice. I admit my approach is rather hard edge. … That’s just the way I like it.”

He declined to specify how many posters had been papered across Los Angeles and indicated that it’s still too early too tell which anti-Democrat depiction will cause the biggest commotion.

“The posters just hit the street so, I can not comment on which has pissed ‘Progressives’ off more. I hope they all equally tie their panties in knots,” Sabo said.

Democrats here in Washington, D.C., had no such problem picking their least favorite contribution to the arts — the rather unflattering image of Pelosi.

“To say the least, the Breitbart News ad is foul, offensive, and disrespectful to all women. It is a disgusting new low and would be reprehensible against any woman — regardless of party,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., stated in a release. “It’s no wonder the Republicans are having problems appealing to women. If GOP leaders are serious about their rebrand, then both their elected and Party leadership should condemn this outrageous behavior, call on Breitbart News to immediately remove the ad, and not continue to use this website as a forum for their views.”

Per Sabo, Pelosi was on his hit list because she is “a typical gun grabbing liberal who fights to insure only the ‘authorities’ can possess firearms that way they, the political class, can run over us anytime they want without fear of retribution from the peasants.”

The others drawing fire — “They all suck, some slightly more than the other but not by much,” Sabo groused — this time around include:

California Gov. Jerry Brown

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

“Jerry Brown is back-wash. Californians were dumb enough to have brought back [him] from the dead; talk about a zombie invasion,” Sabo said of the boomerang pol.

 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

“Zuckerberg is a tech-klepto who’s nose is waaaaay too far up everyone’s business,” Sabo said.

 

CNN personality Piers Morgan

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

“Piers Morgan needs to go back home,” Sabo counseled.

Breitbart readers were, by and large, rather pleased to see their common enemies held up to ridicule and scorn:

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

 

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

One rabble-rouser even urged Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to take notes, but doubted the higher ups would hear her plaintive cries.

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

Meanwhile, a left-leaning observer vowed to counter the visual offensive by coining a new definition for “Breitbart” a la the homoerotic connotation sex columnist Dan Savage affixed to former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., years ago.

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

And while he may be persona non grata over in the House, Sabo appears to be in good with at least one member in the other chamber, the aforementioned Mr. Cruz.

Sabo reimagined the tea party favorite as an inked-up outlaw a few weeks back, and said the Texas Republican responded in kind. “I’m happy to report Senator Ted Cruz has a pair [of posters] and has yet to throw me under the bus,” Sabo said of his congressional fan base.

Cruz made light of the gritty depiction on Twitter, offering one small correction to the rather outlandish homage:

 

 

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

Solons See No Slam Dunks in Alabama BBQ Bracket

Alabama’s tourism authorities have flipped March Madness into a food fight, pitting many of the Yellowhammer State’s revered barbecue purveyors against one another in an online popularity contest.

Based on the most recent balloting, one of the following contenders will walk away with the title once voting closes April 7: Jim ‘N Nick’s in Birmingham (chicken, pork), Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence (ribs) and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer (sauce).

Trouble is, some of the folks here on Capitol Hill would beg to differ with the vox populi. Full story

Coats Wanders Into Wrong Committee Hearing (Video)

Have you ever ducked into a meeting you weren’t supposed to, or stepped into the wrong showing at a movie theater?  Sure you have.  But lucky for you, the mishap wasn’t captured on camera.

We can’t say the same for Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who wandered into a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday and began asking the Treasury Department’s witness a series of questions before a staffer informed him he was in the wrong place.

“I just got a note saying I’m at the wrong hearing,” the Indiana Republican said. “I’ve got the right room number, but the wrong hearing. Well this is the first time this has ever happened to me.”

Coats, who responded to his recent ban from Russia with a top 10 list of things he would miss, quickly left the hearing after realizing his mistake.

“I’ll go try to find out where I’m supposed to be.”

Watch the full exchange below:

HOH gives props to Coats and his staff for treating the situation with the appropriate levity.

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

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 31 (Video)

Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., tells zookeepers how to dress, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., stages an “intervention”, Senator Dan Coats, R-Ind., shows up to the wrong hearing and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he is not afraid of the Koch brothers – again.

April 3, 2014

When Politics and Softball Collide …

There is one teensy problem with playing on a bipartisan congressional athletic team: Sometimes politics comes first.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat and star slugger for the Congressional Women’s Softball team, is set to campaign in West Virginia this weekend on behalf of Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant.

An innocuous political move, except that Tennant’s opponent is one of Team Congress’ captains, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

The pair play on a team of female members who battle the women of the Washington press corps in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

Heitkamp weighed in on the issue in an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

Full story

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

It sounded like Kenny G was visiting the Senate chamber around noon on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got a brief saxophone serenade from the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who bumped into the Nevada Democrat during the “GRAMMYs on the Hill” lobbying day.

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

(Photo courtesy of David Helfant.)

“I whipped out my saxophone and just said, ‘I’ll play you a song,” saxophonist and vocalist Mindi Abair told CQ Roll Call. She picked a song called “Summertime,” which she said Reid appeared to enjoy.

Abair, who has toured and recorded with artists ranging from the Backstreet Boys and Duran Duran to Adam Sandler and Aerosmith, was visiting Capitol Hill with about 200 other recording industry advocates to push for legislation that would ensure songwriters and composers are fairly paid for their work.

Abair and other advocates had a full day of meetings with the California delegation. They were saying goodbye to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., when they bumped into Reid outside the chamber.

They will be pushing for the Songwriter Equity Act of 2014, and perhaps playing a few impromptu serenades.

April 2, 2014

Coloring Book Chief Draws on Success of Ted Cruz Title

Really Big Coloring Books ® Inc. publisher Wayne Bell captured the imagination of the politisphere last fall by releasing “Ted Cruz to the Future,” an activity book chronicling the rise to power of  a certain headline-grabbing Texas Republican.

Coloring Book Chief Draws on Success of Ted Cruz Title

The kiddie book is such a runaway hit — “Amazon the company itself orders by the pallet. Several pallets in fact,” Bell gushed — that RBCB has rushed three more politically themed projects into production. Bell declined to identify whom, exactly, might grace the mostly blank pages (“We prefer not to tell, as we really do not want those being profiled to ‘see it coming,’ ” he told HOH), but did intimate that a handful of Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are on the short list, while House members remain more iffy.

The new books are expected out within the next six months.

Having amassed six years of political workbook savvy beneath his belt, Bell has learned to pick his subjects carefully.

He published the debut entry in his burgeoning catalog of  “cultural event and political coloring books and novels” shortly after President Barack Obama clinched the keys to the Oval Office. Full story

April 1, 2014

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).

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