Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2014

April 2, 2013

NRA Rolls With Well-Armed Detail at Press Club Event

Does ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., know something we don’t?

The former lawmaker, Drug Enforcement Agency director and Homeland Security undersecretary brought several armed guards and a bomb-sniffing dog to the National Rifle Association’s School Shield Program press conference at the National Press Club on Tuesday.

Bags were searched as the members of the media were filed into the room. Water bottles were confiscated. However, when a reporter asked the current leader of the NRA’s School Shield Program why there were so many armed guards, she was ignored.

Then another reporter asked the question again: Why the excessive security detail?

“As you go into a mall there is security,” Hutchison said. “So there is security here at the National Press Club.”

“We come here a lot,” yet another reporter returned. All of the reporters HOH spoke to could not recall seeing this level of security at a press conference held at the press club.

Is Hutchinson afraid of something? The reporters wanted to know.

No, he said, he was “not afraid” and he was “wide open.” Although just how “wide open” a person surrounded by a dozen armed guards actually is is up for debate.

Hutchinson’s security detail at the event was not contracted by the press club, said Bill McCarren, executive director of the National Press Club. The security measures at the event were provided by the NRA for the NRA. Full story

By Neda Semnani Posted at 4:37 p.m.

Crash Davis’ Congressman and Other Useful Information

In the spirit of baseball season, HOH is kicking off a new series that examines the congressional representation of our favorite fictional characters in television, literature and the movies.

The rules go like this — we decide where a fictional character lives and then look up who represents them in the House.

We will make the best guess we can with analysis based on shooting locations, historical data, creepy Internet stalker websites, the creators of these characters when available, sources familiar with the region, obsessive friends, thinly-veiled locations and textual geographic references.

We welcome any dispute with our assessments in the comments section below.

And even if the characters are hundreds of years old, we’re only dealing with modern members of Congress. Because, after all, a truly great hero of fiction lives forever.

“Major League”
Pitcher Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen)
Cleveland: Democratic Rep. Marcia L. Fudge

We are not even certain if Vaughn’s criminal record qualifies him to vote, but if he could, he would have Fudge on his ballot, according to Ohio-native Christyn Keyes, communications director for Ohio Republican Rep. David Joyce.

“Rick ‘The Wild Thing’ Vaughn lives on West 6th in downtown Cleveland,” she wrote in an email. “Close proximity to two of his favorite things: the baseball stadium and the bar scene.”

That puts him smack in Fudge’s 11th District.

Keyes and Joyce outreach director Kevin Benacci said that it is their belief that third baseman Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) lives in Gates Mills, Ohio, and is one of Joyce’s constituents.

Oh, Wild Thing, you make our hearts sang.

Full story

April 1, 2013

Capitol Quip: The Elephant in the Room

Capitol Quip: The Elephant in the Room

CQ Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson has another cartoon for your quippy consideration this week. Submit your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists to go before readers for a vote. We’ll let you know the five finalists Thursday afternoon, and readers will have until 10 a.m. EDT Friday to pick their favorite.

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:02 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Capitol Quip: Easter Egg Rolling to Victory

Capitol Quip: Easter Egg Rolling to Victory

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: “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their dyes!” The winner, Sarah Crim of Bowie, Md., will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from CQ Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson.

Politics Makes for Rich April Fools’ Fodder

April Fools’ Day has come and gone, and while most of us have retained a certain amount of faith in the basic decency of humanity, others seem to have been taken in by the nation’s annual day of pranking.

For example, after “news” broke that Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., was throwing his hat in the gubernatorial ring in the Keystone State, one Pennsylvania reporter had to tell her editor this factoid was false.

“I had to break the news to him that it was a joke before he pitched it at the morning budget meeting,” the reporter told HOH. “I was like, ‘Simmer down. It’s fake.’”
Full story

Skilled Debaters to Tackle Minimum Wage

Rhetorical road show Intelligence Squared U.S. will be rolling into town on Wednesday, and podcast-loving policy wonks are invited to get in on the ideological smackdown.

The public affairs discussion, which airs on NPR and PBS, will tackle the merits of tossing out the minimum wage April 3 in front of a live audience at the Burke Theater at the U.S. Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets are $40 per person and $12 for students. Attendees are welcome to enjoy a pre-taping reception from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., and the main event is 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Full story

Soup’s On for FDA Protest

Food activists opposed to genetically modified crops will take their fight to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next week, sponsoring an old school eat-in at the agency’s College Park, Md., campus staged around a truly historic meal.

The anti-GMO protest is scheduled for 8 a.m.-6 p.m. April 8 outside the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (5100 Paint Branch Parkway) and will feature a full day of activities. It will include the preparation and consumption of a massive cauldron — “Don’t forget to bring your own bowl, spoon, mug, and vegetables!” the group advocates on its promotional materials — of all-inclusive “stone soup.”

Occupy Monsanto organizer Adam Eidinger told HOH that the event is geared toward one simple goal: a clear understanding of what we are all eating.

“We want transparency. This is a very reasonable thing to ask for,” he said, adding that protesters would, obviously, also have plenty to say about the controversial agri-industrial safeguards that hitched a ride to President Barack Obama’s desk via a recent spending bill.
Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:56 p.m.

April Fool It, Sen. Toomey!

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., and the Pennsylvania political community got a healthy dose of April Fools’ Day this morning.

“Some of you may know, I am seriously considering running for Governor of this Commonwealth,” Toomey was quoted as saying on the PoliticsPA blog. “I’m thinking of doing this because I believe that I can bring about the kind of reforms that can help get Pennsylvania growing again and restore the confidence of the people of Pennsylvania in the integrity of its government.”

Sy Snyder, a pseudonym for the editors of PolitcsPA, wrote that Toomey made this claim on Saturday and buoyed the joke by using a 2009 clip where Toomey actually mentioned he was considering a gubernatorial run.

Spoiler alert: Toomey did not make this announcement last weekend. Toomey’s office apparently had a busy morning slapping down media inquiries about the senator’s fake big plans. Toomey’s spokeswoman confirmed that the post was a joke and told Roll Call that the senator’s office wasn’t aware that the prank was in the works.

Shira Topelitz contributed to this post.


Kid Prez Takes Over 1600 Penn

A web-anointed “Kid President” took over briefly at the White House today, at least on YouTube.

The insanely cute youngster poked his head above the podium in a video released by the White House.

“It looks like you’re expecting somebody else, but April Fool’s on all y’all,” viral vid veteran Robbie Novak says. “I’m Kid President, and I hope everyone has an awesome day.”

The precocious would-be POTUS, who was invited to participate in the annual Easter Egg Roll festivities, has been presiding over his own online channel since just before the election.

March 29, 2013

Capitol Quip: Better Late Than Never

Capitol Quip: Better Late Than Never

Here are the five finalists for this week’s caption contest. Now it’s your turn to vote.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 10 a.m. Monday morning. (HOH is a little a little late posting finalists this week, so we’re giving some extra recess time for voting.)

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • SequEaster this.
  • Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their dyes!
  • I heard Cheney still roams around these parts … can’t be too careful!
  • I’ll assault them, you pepper them.
  • This is much better than last year’s “Easter Egg Subdue and Restrain.”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog April 1 and in Tuesday’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 Emily Pierce Posted at 12:09 p.m.

Garamendi’s ‘Learning Tour’ of Africa Comes in at $40,000

World traveler Rep. John Garamendi is gaining on fellow Rep. Jim McDermott.

Coming in at just more than $40,000, Garamendi’s recent four-day trip to South Sudan and Tanzania rivals McDermott’s $45,000 trip last year to Jakarta, Indonesia. Both Garamendi’s and McDermott’s trips were funded by international development organizations — CARE in Garamendi’s case and Chemonics in McDermott’s.

LegiStorm first reported the jaw-dropping price tag for Garamendi and his wife’s four-day privately funded trip. It was part of one of CARE’s Learning Tours, which the group organizes four times a year. The tours bring influential people — members of Congress, private sector leaders, media and others — to a country in the global south that receives foreign aid, both private and publicly funded. The Learning Tours are funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Full story

Don Young Thinks the Word ‘Wetbacks’ Is OK

Hey  Rep. Don Young — 1956 called and it wants its racial epithets back.

The Republican from Alaska gave a wide-ranging interview with a local radio station KRBD, which aired Thursday, when he used the term “wetbacks” to describe laborers on what apparently was an extraordinarily large ranch his family owned.

“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” the 79-year-old Young said. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”

Don’t believe us? You can listen to the audio here:

KTUU in Alaska has since reported that Young issued a statement Thursday night saying he was simply using the vocabulary of his youth.

“During a sit down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” Young said in the statement, according to KTUU. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”



By Meredith Shiner Posted at 8:09 a.m.

March 28, 2013

Senate Rules Committee = Killjoys

Dear Senate staffers: The Senate Rules and Administration Committee hates festive posters and that finger-paint drawing you taped to your window so the world could see your child’s genius.

And if you don’t immediately take them down from the windows of the Hart Senate Office Building, Big Brother is going to come around the fish bowl and take them down for you. Or so implied an email sent Wednesday to all Senate offices by the committee’s Chief Clerk Lynden C. Armstrong.

Please note the caps lock for emphasis.

“I’ve gotten some complaints and have seen a number of signs, posters, photos, charts, etc. that have been placed facing outwards into the Hart Atrium. It is against the regulations governing the Senate Office Buildings to place any kind of material facing the exterior of the building and into the Hart Atrium,” the e-mail, obtained by HOH said. “Because there are a NUMBER of violations, I’m asking each of you to walk your spaces and have any items removed or turned around. It will make life simpler for me when I don’t have to start tracking down every individual item and contacting you separately.”

Armstrong then included the full memo of building rules in case staffers already had forgotten office rules “do’s and don’t’s,” which includes the anti-window display edict. The justification provided for the rules was “to assure the safety of the thousands of staff and visitors who pass through these buildings and to maintain a professional appearance in the buildings.”

HOH’s favorite rule? The one based on the assumption that staffers would somehow treat food services like room service.

“Please do not place dishes or trays in the hallways. Any property of the Senate Restaurants should be returned to them. The Superintendent’s personnel are not responsible for returning restaurant items.”

March 27, 2013

Coons Is Red in the Face Over Gay Marriage

Sure, it’s become en vogue for Senate Democrats to come out in support of gay marriage this week. But several members are taking things a step further — with at least 13 members changing their Twitter avatars in support of gay marriage.

While most lawmakers took the easy way out by simply adopting the new red and pink equal sign, Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons painted his face red.

Coons Is Red in the Face Over Gay Marriage

Somewhat surprising — considering he announced just Monday his conversion on the issue — Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is proudly displaying the equal sign.

Coons Is Red in the Face Over Gay Marriage

Other members (all Democrats) who got into the spirit of the two day Supreme Court arguments over marriage equality include: Sens. Robert Menendez, N.J., Frank R. Lautenberg, N.J., Benjamin L. Cardin, Md., along with Reps. Diana DeGette, Colo., David Cicilline, R.I., Niki Tsongas, Mass., William Keating, Mass., Rosa DeLauro, Conn., Sam Farr, Calif., and James P. Moran, Va.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida also changed her avatar.

Seeing Red Over Gay Marriage

On Tuesday, after the Supreme Court heard the first of two days worth of oral arguments on same-sex marriage issues, it seemed most of Facebook went red.

Almost at the same time, thousands of people changed their avatar from a simple selfie, a picture of their wedding or a picture of their dog/cat/bird/child to the now ubiquitous red equal sign.

Enter those who can’t leave a good Internet meme alone, to whom we say: Thank you.

Full story

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