Updated 7:33 p.m. | Republicans won the 13th annual First Tee Congressional Challenge on Monday, taking home the coveted Roll Call Cup for the third straight year.
Ten Republicans and 10 Democrats faced off on the sunny links of Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md. All of the players hailed from the House and included Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the new special committee on Benghazi, Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., and Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game star Cedric L. Richmond, D-La.
But for members of Congress, playing in this competition is about more than bragging rights. The funds raised from the competition are donated to The First Tee, a youth golf program.
“People want to play well. I think most everybody has a pretty competitive nature,” said three-time Republican captain Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida. “But big picture, we get to raise money for First Tee. I think everybody would say that’s the main reason we’re out here.”
Compared to last year’s nail-biting match that ended in a tie, the Republicans won outright this year, 14-6. Because the cup must be “taken,” if a match ends in a tie, the team in current possession of the cup retains it — hence last year’s tie resulting in the GOP holding onto the cup they had won in 2012.
Crenshaw holds the trophy after the GOP victory. (Christina Bellantoni/CQ Roll Call)
The GOP players dominated the three nine-hole rounds of golf. The first two rounds of team competition gave Republicans plenty of confidence going into the final round of individual match-ups.
Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, who has served as the Democrats’ captain for four years, said the game also gives lawmakers a chance to get to know one another as people, not just politicians.
“We’re often yelling at each other within the political theater that we occupy, but this way we can actually talk like reasonable human beings,” said Yarmuth. “And it’s very refreshing just to form personal relationships.” He joked at an awards ceremony later that he already has told DCCC they need to recruit some good players.
Crenshaw, Yarmuth, Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., left early so they could vote on HR 2203, a bill to recognize golfer Jack Nicklaus for his service “in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy.”
Niklaus is speaking on the Hill Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. (It’s National Golf Day.)
“Alright, I’m on the way to a town hall, but first, let me take a selfie.”
So says Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis., who goes on to post a spoof of the viral video “#SELFIE” by The Chainsmokers on YouTube, mixing the song with his own self-taken pictures with constituents, fellow lawmakers and others.
Duffy posed with Barbara Walters and Speaker John A. Boehner and even took a “bipartisan selfie” with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.
He’s even included some of Roll Call’s own documentation of him selfie-ing! Toward the end of the video, that picture of him doing a video selfie on the East Front? Photo Editor Bill Clark took that one.
“I’m jumping on a trend to try to engage my younger constituents,” Duffy told Mashable. “They need to know that a lot of what’s happening now will impact their futures. If taking a ‘selfie’ with the chair of the SEC, Steny Hoyer or Alzheimer’s research advocates, gets their attention, then it’s worth it. Plus, it’s fun.”
Duffy has been taking selfies and posting selfie videos for more than a year. “It’s more candid and he can be more off the cuff, which people respond to,” said Duffy’s spokesperson, Cassie Smedile.
Smedile said when constituents and other groups come into Duffy’s office, they often want to take a selfie with the congressman, in addition to the posed photo.
When Duffy’s staff saw the song “#SELFIE” taking off online a few weeks ago, they thought it would be a fun idea to use Duffy’s photos to create their own video and the congressman was on board. According to Smedile, the House Republican Conference’s digital team helped assemble the video during the recent recess.
The response has been “overwhelmingly positive in a way that I think even surprised us,” said Smedile. She said Duffy’s younger constituents have been especially responsive to the video, sharing it with friends online and retweeting it as well.
“The point of it was to try and engage this younger constituency that isn’t necessarily paying attention to what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and we were shocked that they responded to it like they did.” said Smedile.
So far, the video has nearly 9,000 views on YouTube. The Wisconsin Republican is no stranger to the limelight; he was a cast member on MTV’s “Real World” and “Road Rules” reality programs.
Not much can beat the House Agriculture Committee for showing what a rich and diverse country we live in. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s appearance Thursday for a “Review the State of the Rural Economy” had moments that felt like the scene in “Men in Black” where Tommy Lee Jones turns to the National Enquirer to get reliable news.
The mainstream media are missing some big stories.
Like “the black vultures problem that is plaguing the Southeast,” says Tennessee Republican Scott DesJarlais. The vultures are attacking livestock, often going for the eyes — but not always. “They also attack the backside of animals,” DesJarlais says. That detail prompts a quick mental check about April Fools’ Day. There’s no comfort in confirming that it was two days earlier.
Farmers are setting off fireworks and firing their guns into the air because they can’t kill the vultures without a permit. Unruffled (heh heh), the vultures keep coming back. Full story
Updated 1:55 p.m. | Russia sanctioned nine top U.S. officials on Thursday, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker John A. Boehner, a retaliation after President Barack Obama announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian officials over the annexation of Crimea.
Those sanctioned took their appearance on the list as a badge of honor.
One women’s group is pulling the strings in a new ad campaign aimed at raising awareness and support for a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception.
The new ad follows a puppet voiced by Daily Show co-creater Lizz Winstead as her boss and a judge follow her from the office to her bedroom, taking away her birth control.
Ultraviolet, a women’s advocacy group, is funding the “five-figure” ad campaign, which is targeting women in swing states. The campaign was launched ahead of the final arguments in Supreme Court case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which questions whether or not the ACA provision violates an employer’s religious freedom. Full story
In an email blast sent Monday, the Friends of John McCain invited supporters to join their private ESPN bracket group. More than 150 people and counting have signed up for the “McCain Bracket Challenge.” McCain’s campaign has been hosting its own bracket competition since 2007.
The McCain supporter with the most successful bracket will win a basketball signed by the Arizona Republican.
But McCain isn’t the only one getting into the March Madness action. The White House put together its own bracket competition, but this one is not related to “the Big Dance.”
The White House launched “16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered” Monday, prompting participants to vote for their favorite reason to sign up for health care coverage. The competition is part of an effort to boost signups on Healthcare.gov by the March 31 deadline. Full story
AUSTIN, Texas — The doors to South By Southwest Interactive closed Tuesday after five days of nonstop events, just as the madding crowds for the music festival started arriving.
Austin has a counterculture reputation, and SXSW’s origins are in the Wild West of the tech space. But recently, the festival has turned into what critics have called a brand orgy, and some SXSW attendees didn’t seem all that surprised that Washington was getting in on the action. (Early SXSW attendees have been saying the festival has jumped the shark for years.)
By one count, the number of members of Congress who stopped by South By this year was 17. Roll Call was able to confirm the presence of 12 (not counting at least a dozen Hill staffers), from both sides of the aisle.
Here’s what some of them had to say about South By: Full story
Sen. Tim Scott, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, and former Sens. Carol Moseley Braun and Roland Burris at an event to honor America’s black senators. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Chaplain Barry Black stood in front of a packed auditorium Tuesday and discussed one of the two times he was late to open the Senate because of D.C. traffic.
Former Sen. William “Mo” Cowan of Massachusetts had been the freshman Democrat delegated that day to preside over the chamber and gavel Black in. Though Black said he is loathe to pick favorites among lawmakers and parishioners, Cowan is one because on that morning, he offered the Senate prayer in the chaplain’s place.
“Fortunately, No. 1, he’s African-American. No. 2 he has a bald head, and No. 3 he wears bow ties,” Black joked with a mostly African-American crowd at the Library of Congress, there for a Black History Month panel organized by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. Black noted that several people could and had confused him with Cowan, who is one of only nine African-Americans to ever serve in the Senate.
Black’s anecdote was a joke, but in telling it, he shined light on an unfunny truth: Minority politicians are still the outlier in the Senate and its history. Full story