The second session of the 113th Congress is now fully under way.
And while we’re happy for the steady stream of fresh content, the truth is, it is an election year. So who knows how much time we have with the following striking personalities once the legislative wheels come careening off.
Two D.C.-based lobbyists bore down on their keyboards Wednesday, telling Redditors in their “Ask Me Anything” that lobbyists are people, too.
In a rare occurrence, K Streeters Jack Quinn and John Feehery of QGA Public Affairs came to Reddit — a site not known for its appreciation of corporate or special interests —with open arms.
AMAs are fast becoming the Internet equivalent of stump speeches for politicians, but K Street’s presence on Reddit is a novelty. The post received modest attention per Reddit standards, but still garnered more than 100 comments. Full story
Were the special election to replace retired Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., based solely on correct answers delivered during a recent candidate Q&A, aspiring lawmaker Dean Young wouldn’t have to think too hard about why he fell terribly short.
The proudly anti-establishment candidate went 0-3 on of civics questions posed by The Guardian, in a side-by-side comparison with his opponent, Bradley Byrne, including:
The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your votes.
Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 10 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Here are this week’s finalists:
We shut down the government and destroyed our reputation, and you let Obamacare get away?!
Dang! That Cruz missile was supposed to soar, not blow up in our faces.
That’s how you solve all the nation’s problems with a push of a button.
We’ll get ‘em next time. Can’t say we didn’t make an impact!
Well, we blew SOMEthing up. Not bad for government work.
The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Oct. 20 and in the Oct. 22 print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.
Anna Pederson and her son pick up trash on the west side of the Capitol on Saturday morning. (Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)
Former Marine Ian Grinnals drove six hours from Syracuse, N.Y., to pick up trash on the National Mall as part of the “Fix Up DC” National Day of Service event on Saturday morning.
Approximately 700 attendees showed up at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol to clean up what 12 days of furloughed park rangers and maintenance officials have not been able to maintain.
The spontaneous community service event was organized on Thursday by FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots and Glenn Beck in an effort to enable citizens “to make a difference and do what government is not doing,” explained Deneen Borelli, FreedomWorks outreach director and Fox News contributor.
Leading officials in the tea party movement addressed volunteers, including television and radio host Beck and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
“We came up with this idea when we saw the man from South Carolina come out and mow the lawn. We thought all of us could do the same thing,” said Ellen Wheeler, director of messaging for FreedomWorks. “Congress may try to shutdown the government but they can’t shutdown the people.”
Individuals and families raked and bagged leaves near the outer paths of the National Mall grounds between 3rd and 7th streets NW.
Amanda O’Donovan of Eldersburg, Va., made the hour trip with her husband and children to rake leaves in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. “It’s a good cause for the family and community to come together and take care of the problem.”
The majority of volunteers walked westward with the Lincoln and World War II Memorials as the final destinations.
Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin said the event’s purpose was “to show America that while the government shutdown is happening we are still doing what we can to take care of the Mall.”
Martin and Diana Banister, vice president and partner of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs, walked separately from the crowds and arrived at the World War II Memorials with bags nearly full.
Beck, who unofficially led the way down the Mall, arrived at the World War II Memorial shortly after noon and greeted dozens of veterans despite the signs of closure surrounding the oval-shaped space.
Glenn Beck greets a veteran from World War II. Photograph by Anna Giaritelli
Grinnals, who served two tours in the Middle East between 2004 and 2008, had personal reasons for making the road trip down to Washington.
“I want to make sure these memorials stay clean for future veterans, especially veterans on these honor flights that are coming here usually on their last leg. They should have a place to come and be remembered,” added Grinnals, a member of the Sons of Sam motorcycle club, which supports men and women of the armed forces.
The House started voting around 7 p.m., but a few of its most progressive members may still be tied up with the Capitol Police.
Eight members of Congress were among the 200 people arrested at an immigration rally on the National Mall on Tuesday afternoon. Among those charged with “crowding, obstructing, and incommoding” were Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, John Lewis of Georgia, Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, Joseph Crowley of New York, Al Green of Texas, Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Charles B. Rangel of New York.
Each will face a $50 fine for their civil disobedience on behalf of immigration reform.
Before being cuffed, Gutierrez vowed he and other members would “lose a few hours of our freedom to stand for justice for the children who are being put in foster care today because their parent was deported last night.”
The arrests began at approximately 4 p.m. on First Street between Maryland Avenue Southwest and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. As of 6:30 p.m., Gutierrez had not yet been released, according to Press Secretary Douglas Rivlin.
Liberal Frank Kelly has penned his first one-act play, a dramedy in which the ongoing government shutdown is boiled down to a farcical horse race.
“I’m an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles (non-furloughed!). And I promise I don’t have a script I’m ‘working on,’” Kelly, who claims he doesn’t typically wade too far into politics, assured HOH via email. But he said he became so transfixed by the psychology behind the budget impasse — the idiocy of it all kept him up for a bit one night, then turned to resolve the following evening — he felt compelled to break down the fight for even the most casual of observers.
He blasted out the cheeky analysis, titled, “Government Shutdown as a Horse Race Metaphor,” to 18 friends — one of whom must have shared it with the GOP tipster who zapped it our way:
Scene: At the Horse Race Track
Republicans: “I don’t like that horse that’s winning.”
Democrats: “Oh, I actually kind of like that horse that’s winning.”
Republicans: “Well, you’re going to have to stop that horse from winning.”
Democrats: “Excuse me?”
Republicans: “Stop that horse from winning, I hate it.”
Democrats: “We already started the race, I can’t stop the horse from winning.”
Republicans: “Well fine, if you don’t stop that horse from winning I’m going to kill all the horses.”
Democrats: “What! You’re going to kill ALL the horses?”
Republicans: “Well, you leave me no choice.”
Democrats: “So just cause that horse is winning you are going to kill it and all the other horses in the race?”
Republicans: “Well, I actually can’t kill the one horse that’s winning.”
Democrats: “So you’re just going to to kill all the OTHER horses?”
Democrats: “How is that going to stop the horse that’s winning?”
Republicans: “I don’t know, but you sure will be depressed about all these dead horses laying about.”
“I think it was emailed to one person in DC who works in politics and is a Republican moderate. I think he is more upset about the whole thing than I am,” Kelly said of the shared contempt he believes the shutdown has fostered across the ideological spectrum.
To wit, Kelly hinted that he’d be just as wary of allowing the far left to wield absolute power.
“It’s like if a bunch of annoying hippies got to run the Democratic Party. ‘We’re not raising the debt ceiling until all the nuclear weapons and reactors and bad feelings are destroyed!’” he joked about his personal nightmare scenario.
Kelly may not be a comedic genius, but his comparison did make us chuckle. It remains, however, only the second-biggest debacle involving bumbling gamblers and perplexing messaging.
Voice of the People, a new non-partisan organization in Washington, announced Thursday its campaign to create a national citizen Cabinet that will allow the opinions of Americans to be heard by Congress.
The organization’s long-term goal is to pass legislation that will establish a “congressionally-chartered national academy for public consultation that will develop a full Citizen Cabinet so that every member of Congress will be able to hear from a representative sample of their constituents,” explained Steven Kull, president and founder of Voice of the People.
Joining the organization’s advisory board are former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; former Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del.; former Rep. Bill Frenzel, R-Minn.; and former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas.
The plan to scientifically-select a sample of 120,000 Americans — 275 from each congressional district throughout the country — will allow those chosen to first be informed by a set of facts agreed upon by experts on both sides. Full story
Signs like these are all over Washington and the rest of the country these days, but what makes this one unusual is that it was taken by this scribe’s mother-in-law in Waregem, Belgium, at the Flanders Field American Cemetery.
Yes, it appears even our overseas cemeteries honoring fallen U.S. soldiers from World Wars I and II are shuttered. Indeed, the American Battle Monuments Commission, which manages 24 cemeteries and 26 memorials, monuments and markers abroad, has shut down.
“The sacrifice of more than 218,000 U.S. servicemen and women is memorialized at these locations. Nearly 125,000 American war dead are buried at ABMC cemeteries, with an additional 94,000 individuals commemorated on Tablets of the Missing,” the ABMC’s website notes.
But the site also notes something else: “Due to a lack of funding for ABMC operations (U.S. Government shutdown), ABMC cemeteries and memorials are temporarily closed. We are unable to respond to your inquiries or provide the services and products described in the ‘Services Available’ section of this Web site. We regret any inconvenience these temporary actions may cause.”
Susan Parry, a D.C. resident (and mother to this reporter’s husband), said that one Belgian worker at the Flanders cemetery told her there are usually four people who man the site. The cemetery is the final resting place for 368 soldiers, who the ABMC said “gave their lives in liberating the soil of Belgium in World War I” in September 1918.
But the ABMC also serves larger and more popular tourist sites, such as the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial that contains the graves of 9,387 soldiers, most of whom died on D-Day.
House Republicans might be rethinking their Friday night movie plans after word got out that the members would be hitting up the Regal in Chinatown to see “Prisoners.”
In a series of emails obtained by CQ Roll Call, Republican staffers revealed that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wants to do a movie night for the Republican members in town. And the plan is to see “Prisoners.”
That’s when Erica Elliott, the spokeswoman for McCarthy, asks a prescient question:
“Any chance the media reads WAY too much into the title of the movie, Prisoners?”
To answer Ms. Elliott’s question: yes.
Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have made a concerted effort to cast Republicans as the bad guys for taking the nation’s credit “hostage” for a “wish list” of demands. Obama says he will not negotiate. Speaker John A. Boehner says, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
So when Republicans landed on “Prisoners” for their Friday night flick, it was probably going to raise some Democratic eyebrows — or at least prompt some Democratic press releases.
“Given Speaker Boehner’s crusade to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to Tea Party ransom demands, it’s not surprising that, in their free time, the Republican Conference would choose to spend their Friday night watching a film together about hostage taking.” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s communications director told CQ Roll Call.
“Perhaps, given the group, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ would be more appropriate for their movie night,” Hammill said.
But HOH will note that if you haven’t seen the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” then the sequel, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ (which is the movie actually playing at Regal), probably isn’t worth your time.
In fact, nothing at Regal looks all that good.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” — There was a Chapter 1?
“Don Jon” — Let’s not even go there.
“The Family” — 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so …
“Rush” — We think House Republicans, like us, have grown tired of Ron Howard.
“Baggage Claim” — 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — Seen it.
“Battle of the Year 3D” — Also ripe for ridicule, especially if you’re spotted in the 3D glasses.
“The World’s End” — Hard to see how that’s much better than “Prisoners.”
So “Prisoners,” with a 79 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and 90 percent audience approval, may not be the worst Friday night flick — even if Democrats are delighting in the choice.
Elliott, who took a stern tone over the matter using words like “confirm” and “logistics,” said Republicans were still figuring out which movie to see.
“I can confirm that our office has had internal discussions about potential member services activities this weekend. I can also confirm that a member of Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff was mistakenly copied on the email chain and chose to forward it to members of the media. At this time, no final decisions have been made about logistics for this weekend,” Elliott said.
But the letter wasn’t a complete success for the congressman or his office.
Throughout the day, Rigell’s office sent a list of current signatories that had a number of errors (left the second ‘n’ off of Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, guys). Michigan Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio was, somehow, “Rep. Jim Bentivolio.” And Raúl R. Labrador became, in what was either a mistake or a subtle shot at the Idaho Republican, “Rep. Raul Labrabor.”
But, perhaps, the most comical mistake came in Rigell’s press release touting his letter. The headline?
“Rigell Leads Bipartisan Effort Urging President Obama to Get Congressional ApprovalBefore Striking Libya”
While Rigell’s letter criticizes Obama for his 2011 intervention in Libya, the congressman’s staff might have wanted to check the timeline on that whole Libya thing.
His office did send out a corrected press release. Crisis (in Libya) averted.
Since you’ve heard it all before from these guys, send us your caption for this week’s Capitol Quip. Leave it in the comments section below. If you need inspiration, check out our compilation of how lawmakers have spent their summer vacations.
Editors will pick five finalists Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. To check out past winners, visit Pinterest.
Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill, and in a rare August recess event, members of the Roll Call newsroom. (We had a tie and needed to break it. But we can assure you, employees were under no undue influence to pick any particular caption, and they voted via the comments section like other readers.)
The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.