Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 21, 2015

September 18, 2013

Nothing to See Here, Says Erica Elliott

Erica Elliott, spokeswoman extraordinaire for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had the unenviable task of calming frayed nerves Wednesday, after the House community had been informed that plans for the foreseeable future had been officially flushed down the toilet.

Because Congress can’t figure out how to pass appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year, the word went out around 3:45 p.m. that the House would be in session longer than anticipated.

“Members are advised that on Wednesday, September 25, the House will reconvene at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.  Members further are advised that the House will remain in session through the week, and possibly the weekend, until the completion of the CR. This is a change from the previously announced schedule,” the notice read.

Apparently, all hell broke loose, not that anyone enjoys finding out their schedule’s been thrown into a chaos of their own making. But the wording was a bit confusing, prompting some people to not be very pleased at all. Elliott sent out a missive a little while later, chiding everyone and, for good measure, she included a YouTube link to a scene at the end of “Animal House” that depicted mass hysteria, as well as a young Kevin Bacon yelling, “All is well,” before being flattened by the frightened hordes.

“To clarify all of the confusion and panic: The House was supposed to be out next week. Instead of being out next week, we will be in starting Wednesday. We will consider the CR before we leave this week. C’mon y’all …” her missive read, followed by the YouTube link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDAmPIq29ro

So remember, as we get closer to a government shutdown and a possible worldwide economic slowdown: All is well!

After all, look how it turned out for Kevin Bacon’s character!

H&M Courts Union Station Shoppers

Swedish-based retailer H&M is throwing open the doors to its new Capitol Hill store Thursday at 11 a.m.

H&M Courts Union Station Shoppers

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Promotional materials promise can’t miss deals (pants for under $10) as well as free giveaways to the first 300 people in line.

Have at it, clotheshorses …

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of its soiree-tracking “Political Party Time” project, the Sunlight Foundation threw a shindig of its own — a lighthearted affair with one killer amenity.

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is, in fact, a fully functional, blaze orange-barreled zapper tethered to a vintage Nintendo Entertainment System console.

Sunlight Foundation Media Director Liz Bartolomeo told HOH the group struck on having a “Duck Hunt” station at the anniversary party after combing through its ever-growing database of fundraising invitations and figuring out that lawmakers love to unload on assorted fowl (pheasants, pigeons, turkeys, quail) every chance they get.

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Their rogues’ gallery of trigger-happy solons included: Reps. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn. (two events), Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Bill Owens, D-N.Y., as well as former lawmakers Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., Frank Kratovil, D-Md., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Jason Altmire, D-Pa., and Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan.

All that video sharpshooting, naturally, tends to work up a mighty hunger.

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Luckily, Sunlight thought ahead and set out lobbying standard-specific snacks.

Whether members appreciate having their sporting activities mocked is debatable.

But congressional types should take comfort in the fact that Sunlight staff — the majority of which, Bartolomeo explained, are under 40, may be (at least temporarily) — so distracted by the 8-bit distraction, they might not have time to catch EVERYTHING pols get into around Capitol Hill.

“I’m sure it’ll stick around awhile,” Bartolomeo said of the ’80s time waster.

Should the mood strike, Sunlight gamers can also blow off some steam by conquering the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 or Tecmo Bowl.

Don Young’s Wild Kingdom

Don Young’s Wild Kingdom

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young on Wednesday invited curious congressional types to take on the wild side, carting a trio of would-be predators into Longworth for a well-attended photo op and some animal-assisted lobbying.

Staffers were offered the opportunity to cuddle up to a pair of cute but growly tiger cubs and a bright-eyed chimp, courtesy of the Rare Species Fund. RSF Director Dr. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle’s group was in town to advocate against any regulations that might hamper the ownership of exotic pets such as the ones he brought along to crawl all over Hill aides.

“Doc’s lifelong work demonstrates the complementary and beneficial relationship that responsible, privately operated, animal exhibit facilities can have toward critical, on-the-ground, international wildlife conservation activities,” Young told his co-workers in the “Dear Colleague” announcing the event. Full story

Five Lines to Cross | Capitol Quip

Five Lines to Cross | Capitol Quip

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 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • Might as well, we’re running out of paint anyway.
  • Okay, if he crosses THIS red line, then we’ll have no choice but to forgo diplomacy.
  • He’s crossed the line for the last time! This time we’ll really hold our breath until we turn blue!
  • He’s using Obamacare against his own people!
  • You gotta be kidding me. Nothing stops this guy.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 22 and in the following day’s 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

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:52 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Embassies Get Their Entertainment On

As September draws to a close, several embassies are opening their doors to the public with films and celebrations.

Kicking things off Friday is Film by the Pool at the Embassy of Switzerland (2900 Cathedral Ave. NW.) RSVP tickets will be available online Thursday morning.

“We are very much looking forward to hosting the first-ever movie night at the pool,” said Andrea Kienast, the embassy’s event manager.

“The beautiful embassy park is usually closed to the public,” Kienast said, adding, “We wanted to invite people this fall to enjoy an unusually romantic setting and two great movies.”

The first film is “Un Mundo para Raúl,” a short film Mauro Mueller that tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who must entertain his father’s boss’ son. The film will have English subtitles, and Mueller will be present to take questions from the audience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eSV8S1C7F4

Full story

Softball: Ex-Collegiate Ballplayer Eyes Congress

Have the women of Congress found their ringer?

Democrats may have landed a recruit in California’s 21st District against Republican Rep. David Valadao, according to Nathan L. Gonzales of The Rothenberg Political Report. Her name is Amanda Renteria and she is not just a former Capitol Hill staffer, but also a four-year softball player for the Stanford Cardinals.

Why does this matter? Because the women of Congress band together each spring to face off against the women of the Washington press corps in a softball game. After two losses, Team Congress is on the prowl for a win and, maybe after the 2014 midterms, a new ringer.

But this is a bipartisan team. And a Renteria recruitment poses the age-old question to the likes of Reps. Martha Roby, Kristi Noem, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and any other House Republicans on Team Congress: Would you rather hold the seat or “Beat the Press“?

Gonzales, a colleague and “friend” of HOH had some fun on Twitter with this development:

 

Full story

John Green Rips Health Care a Few New Ones

John Green, author and co-creator of vlogbrothers, shares the bitter pill that is the current state of the American health care system:

(h/t Upworthy)

His prognosis: “It is not a simple problem. There will not be a simple solution. … And it’s vital that we grapple with it meaningfully instead of just treating health care costs as political theater.” Full story

Joaquin Castro, Girlfriend Expecting First Child in December

It’s been an eventful week for Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.

On Monday, he and his twin brother, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, celebrated their 39th birthday. At their birthday party at San Antonio’s Pearl Stable, the congressman told guests that he and his longtime girlfriend and finacee, Anna Flores, were expecting their first child, a girl, in December, San Antonio’s News 4 reported.

Joaquin Castro, Girlfriend Expecting First Child in December

Joaquin Castro, left, and twin brother Julian, the mayor of San Antonio, celebrated their birthday on Monday. Joaquin also announced he and his fiance Anna are expecting a child. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.)" src="http://hoh.rollcall.com/wp-content/uploads/Castros-445x297.jpg" width="445" height="297" /> Rep. Joaquin Castro, left, and twin brother Julian, the mayor of San Antonio, celebrated their birthday on Monday. Joaquin also announced he and his fiancee, Anna, are expecting a child. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

No word yet on when the nuptials will be.

By Jason Dick Posted at 11:51 a.m.
Kiddies, Reps

September 17, 2013

Public Pledges Big Bucks for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Stuff

There’s still a full week to go before any of the prospective buyers will be able to decisively claim a piece of disgraced Illinois Democrat Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s life, but early bidding bodes well for federal authorities hoping to recoup $750,000 in grossly mismanaged campaign funds.

Jackson and his wife, Sandi, are both facing serious jail time — 30 months and 12 months, respectively — for money misspent on everything from luxury items to everyday toiletries.

Online auctioneers Gaston & Sheehan on Tuesday offered up a baker’s dozen of the pair’s former belongings via public auction, a menagerie of random memorabilia designed to fetch at least a couple of thousand dollars (minus now-missing Lot 1007).

Here’s what was leading the bidding war toward the end of the first full day:

1. Framed Michael Jackson poster: $1,360; opening bid: $300 Full story

Rap Legends Convening for Carson’s Hip Hop & Politics Primer

As part of his contribution to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference (being held Wednesday through Saturday), Rep. André Carson will spitball with rap luminaries about the best ways to transform music fans into full-fledged political activists.

Rap Legends Convening for Carson’s Hip Hop & Politics Primer

André Carson's office)" src="http://hoh.rollcall.com/wp-content/uploads/AChhp.jpg" width="445" height="576" /> (Courtesy André Carson’s office)

“We’re gonna talk about how the hip hop generation can be a driving force for change in the political sphere,” Carson spokeswoman Lauren Burke told HOH of the former battle emcee’s plan to usher urban youth to the table.

The Indiana Democrat will be joined in his recruiting efforts by Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, pioneering female rapper MC Lyte, and Hank Shocklee, producer for the politically charged rap group Public Enemy. Political players the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus; Michael Skolnik, president of Global Grind; and Angela Rye, president of IMPACT Strategies will round out the “Hip Hop & Politics” discussion scheduled to take place Friday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (Room 202B).

Carson hosted a similar event in 2011, and his staff said he looks forward to addressing everything that’s on the minds of African-American youth today.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about stand your ground and Trayvon Martin,” Burke said.

Mary Fallin’s Second-Chance Wish List | Overheard

Mary Fallin’s Second Chance Wish List | Overheard

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Actually, I might focus on political science. I didn’t focus on that or speech or debate” — representative-turned-Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin tells a National Press Club luncheon about the skill sets she’d pursue if enrolling in college today.

Rekindled Hill Vs. Hacks Rivalry Fuels Centennial Spelling Bee

It’s been a century since Ohio Republican Frank B. Willis wrestled the “Best Speller in the United States” crown from Washington Post editor Ira E. Bennett, sealing the fate of the flummoxed scribes at the National Press Club’s inaugural spelling contest.

The media will get the chance to redeem itself at 8 p.m. Wednesday when head-scratching words again start flying in the Press Club Ballroom.

Tickets to the fundraiser —  benefiting the non-profit NPC Journalism Institute — are $15 for NPC members and students, or $25 general admission.

Political contenders include: Reps. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., and Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

The competing journos include: fellow Roll Caller and World’s Greatest Deliberative Body maven Meredith Shiner, Heard on the Hill alumnus-cum-Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post, Major Garrett of CBS News, Kate Nocera of BuzzFeed, Rebecca Sinderbrand of Politico, Ashley Southall of the New York Times, Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post and Toby Zakaria of Reuters.

Event coordinator Katy Steinmetz told HOH that Merriam-Webster is covering the word selection/pronunciation duties. Scripps National Spelling Bee vet Paige Kimble — she won the national contest in 1981 and now serves as its executive director — will co-judge the event alongside Heidi Hamilton, chairwoman of the linguistics department at Georgetown University. Peter Sokolowski, editor/pronouncer at Merriam-Webster, is on standby should the need for a third judge (can you spell T-I-E-B-R-E-A-K-E-R?) arise. Full story

Grassley *Hearts* America

Someone is feeling particularly patriotic this morning:

 

 

Thank you, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, for taking a break from browbeating the History Channel long enough to remind us how lucky we all are to spend our days living/working/playing in the District of Columbia.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:55 p.m.
DC, HillSide, Sens, Webtastic

September 16, 2013

Tween to Pols: Disposable Straws Suck

Milo Cress, the eco-minded 12-year-old who’s spent the past few years trying to convince restaurant-goers to pass on unneeded straws, is back in town this week to share his “offer first” strategy with lawmakers and District administrators.

The mission-driven youngster is scheduled to debrief Congress about his “green” plan at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Room 2456 of the Rayburn House Office Building; the meeting is being sponsored by Colorado Democrats Rep. Jared Polis and Sen. Mark Udall.

Cress founded his “Be Straw Free” campaign in 2011, after realizing that nearly every time he went out to eat, wait staff automatically tossed a disposable plastic straw into the mix — whether he wanted one or not.

“That seemed like a huge waste because I don’t usually need a straw,” Cress told HOH. The enormity of the problem only became more jarring once he researched straw usage trends and discovered that Americans use and discard 500 million straws per day, a figure that reflects our rising dependence on single-serving juice boxes and milk containers.

“I decided, ‘This is something I can do something about,’” Cress said of his newfound mission to curb mindless straw pushing.

He is not advocating for everyone to eschew straws entirely. He totally gets that some people need/prefer straws when imbibing beverages. But, at the very least, he’d like to have hospitality providers inquire if a patron desires one in the first place. Full story

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