Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

May 21, 2014

Rocker Chad Smith Does D.C. Right

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith has banged out a whole bunch of special appearances this week, from hanging with first lady Michelle Obama at the first White House talent show to cracking wise about the music biz in front of the Capitol.

Smith has been rocking the Capitol this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Smith has been rocking the Capitol this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The best part of the trip, though, had to be showing his eldest son, Cole, around the White House.

“My son for some reason, 9 years old, all things presidential he is just enamored with,” Smith told HOH. To wit, Smith noted that while visiting the Oval Office, Cole dropped some knowledge on the tour guide about the reason behind the circular design — something about not being able to sneak up on POTUS — that the administration aide claimed to be unfamiliar with.

“So Cole is now giving tours of the White House,” Smith quipped.

He said Cole got the shock of his young life when President Barack Obama unexpectedly popped by a FLOTUS-led event and took a shine to the nattily attired young man.

“He had on this seersucker suit, my son. Which he never wears a suit. It’s the only suit he has,” Smith shared.

When 44 got up close and personal, Smith said, Cole got all the love.

“Barack was like, ‘Nice to meet you, Chad. … Hey, nice suit. Where’d you get that suit? Ah, Seersucker. Summer’s coming,’” Smith noted. “So he was talking to my son about fashion.”

Or was he?

“And Cole’s like, ‘The president called me a sucker,’” Smith said, choking back laughter. Full story

Vote For Your Favorite Washington Monument 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. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists!

  • Will this orbit exceed 14 days? I have an appointment at the VA.
  • Did anyone get a golden ticket for this ride?
  • This was originally designed as an escape pod for the Speaker of the House.
  • Georgetown finally decided to come up with some public transportation.
  • I knew we shouldn’t have labeled the elevator “Senators Only.”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on May 26 and in the following 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 Rebecca Gale Posted at 4:24 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Vance McAllister Set for Congressional Baseball Game Debut

Republicans could have a Louisiana star of their own to rival the Democrats’ Rep. Cedric L. Richmond in the form of Rep. Vance McAllister.

The Republicans have finalized their roster for the 53rd Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game and it includes the Louisiana Republican known colloquially as the Kissing Congressman.

McAllister, left, seen here with Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, will play ball next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McAllister, left, seen here with Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson, will play ball next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McAllister has said he will not seek re-election this fall after a video of the married congressman kissing a district staffer was leaked to the public.  And he told The Town Talk of Alexandria, Va., last week that his “intent is not to run for re-election.” But he added a caveat: “To say I’m 100 percent sure, I would never box myself in like that.”

Regardless of McAllister’s political future, he’ll get a chance to help Republicans improve their image on the baseball field after last year’s devastating 22-0 loss.

Two other congressmen were added to the Republican roster: Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama. Brooks was an all-city baseball player in high school.

Republicans lost seven team members this year, including one of their top players, Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is sitting out this year’s game due to an injury.

Other Republican veterans of the game who will not be playing this year include Reps. Mark Amodei of Nevada, Louie Gohmert and Pete Sessions of Texas, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and David Valadao of California.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 4:04 p.m.
Sports Desk

Time Running Out to Vote in Taste of America’s First Round

Time is running out to vote for your favorite food in the first round of this year’s Taste of America competition.  Voting ends Friday, when the first batch of some states’ tasty concoctions will be tossed out.

Taste of America is an annual competition that happens alongside the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game and pits signature dishes from each state against one another.

Last year’s winner, West Virginia’s pepperoni roll, is poised to advance to the next round with five times the votes of its competition, Boston Cream Pie.

One matchup to watch is the fried fruit face off, which is the closest contest of the first round. Only a few dozen votes separate Puerto Rico’s fried plantains and Alabama’s fried green tomatoes.

You can check out this year’s dishes and make sure that your state’s food will prevail at You can also learn more about some of the unique dishes vying for first place. Ever wonder what goes into Nevada’s chuckwagon buffet, Minnesota’s hotdish casserole or Nebraska’s handheld meat pie?  Now’s your chance to find out.

Overheard: Gohmert and Holder, Buddies Forever

“He called me his buddy. It’s a term of endearment.”

— Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, discussing his relationship with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., this morning on C-SPAN.

May 20, 2014

Dave Camp Aide Extracts Reality Show From Dustbin of History

“Spymaster USA” alumnus James Brandell — aka chief of staff to retiring Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., to you civvies — is marking the 10-year anniversary of his brief flirtation with reality TV stardom by screening the pilot episode of the short-lived show Wednesday night at 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE).

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

Brandell is resurrecting the British export (their version of the show survived for several seasons) in a bid to have a little fun while raising money for his latest Leukemia & Lymphoma Society campaign.

There is no charge to attend the two-hour extravaganza (think: drinks and chitchat from 6-7 p.m. and intense scrutiny of the unfolding melodrama from 7-8 p.m.), though Brandell would certainly welcome any contributions that arts aficionados would care to make.

“This is my kind of way of giving back,” the endurance sports vet told HOH of the low-key get-together.

Brandell originally made it his mission to stamp out cancer after his mother, the late Mary Ellen Brandell, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. He has since found another reason to keep up the good fight: his boss’ withering — but successful! — battle with lymphoma.

For those of you who missed the weekly nail-biter the first time around, the cult classic featured a handful of starry-eyed Capitol Hill denizens angling to enjoy just a taste of the spy game.

Given that no footage of the U.S.-based production remains in circulation — Brandell said a friend had the incredible foresight to burn a copy of the original The Learning Channel broadcast onto a DVD so many years ago — just imagine that this tense exchange from the U.K. programme was happening in a dilapidated cottage just south of Richmond, Va.:

In addition to Brandell, show-runners tapped Stephanie Whelpley, a Senate GOP aide who later worked her way up through the George W. Bush administration, as well as a certain then-tax reporter who may still be covering Congress today, to share in the pseudo-covert escapades. (For those who didn’t scour Tax Notes in the early part of the last decade, or follow other parts of this reporter’s un-IMDB-able show-biz career, keep digging.)

Do your part by drinking heavily (201 Bar is kicking back 10 percent of the booze tab to Brandell’s Team in Training efforts) while watching ex-Delta Force member cum “Spymaster USA” consultant Eric L. Haney put the would-be recruits through hell.

Former Lawmaker, Or Current? You Decide

We get that hanging it up after eight terms in the House must be tough. But ex-Rep. Leonard L. Boswell can’t seem to quit stretching the truth (facts be damned!) years after decamping from Capitol Hill.

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

Not only is he misrepresenting himself as a still-sitting politico (strike one!), the Iowa Democrat is way off in terms of his now-nonexistent regional authority; your trusty HOH reporter resides in the land of milk and honey known as “NoVa” (strike two!).

Then again, parting is such sweet sorrow, and some have trouble letting go.

And he was forcefully retired by colleague Tom Latham, R-Iowa, during the previous cycle.

So maybe we’ll let these glaring inaccuracies slide. (Just this once, though).

By Warren Rojas Posted at 2:13 p.m.
Foolishness, Reps

White House Surrogates Pregame at Big Bear Café

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities members Sarah Jessica Parker, Frank Gehry, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Chuck Close all made a night of if it Monday in Bloomingdale, taking over Big Bear Café at 1700 First St. NW for a private party filled with what sounds like good cheer and some pretty fabulous food.

HOH alumna Neda Semnani was unable to contain her excitement about the roaming celebs — the group is in town to help scrounge up additional resources for artistic programs; some have been recruited to do a little arm-twisting Wednesday while crisscrossing the Capitol — blasting out the news of the SPJ-led invasion to the Twittersphere.

A Big Bear staffer told HOH that the group of 25 enjoyed a casual dinner culled from the restaurant’s current menu — with some embellishments (natch).

“We did send out some special bites to start that included Keswick Creamery quark from the Sunday farmers market on a raisin crostini with black olive truffle tapenade, chicken liver pate with cherried brandies on sourdough crostini, smoked bluefish rillettes, and house pickled ramps and asparagus — grown by our friends at Bounty Hill Farms,” our tipster said of the gourmet nibbles sprung upon the visiting celebs.

Per our source, ex-Tabard Inn Executive Chef Paul Pelt was on hand to help craft some of the tasty new additions, including a shrimp remoulade accompanied by fried pickled green tomato that debuted Monday night and will remain on the BBC menu moving forward. We hear Parker also indulged in a portion of Pelt’s signature gumbo.

Meanwhile, newly minted pastry chef Huw Griffiths (another Tabard Inn alumnus) provided guests with sweet send-offs of rhubarb apple crisp and chocolate dacquoise.

With all those talented folks assembled under one roof, there had to be some drama, right?

Not so, swore the insider.

“Staff didn’t hear one crazy thing all night, strangely — but definitely witnessed a genuine bond and appreciation for each other; their involvement in the program and a love of kids,” our spy suggested.

The restaurant was so pleased with the way everything turned out, in fact, that staff extended an open invitation to have any (or all) of the first-timers return whenever they’re back in town.

And their local pals appear to be welcome too.

“The Obamas and Bidens have yet to visit Big Bear,” Team BBC noted. “But we’re hopeful that last night’s party will put in a good word for us.”

May 19, 2014

King, Collins: Bipartisan Texting Buddies (Video)

Kids these days are always texting, and by kids we mean Maine’s senators.

At a joint event on May 16 at the home of Margaret Chase Smith in which independent Angus King announced his endorsement of his Republican Susan Collins’ re-election bid, King said the pair traded messages about the endorsement that morning.

“Susan texted me this morning and said, ‘Thanks for the endorsement,’ and I texted her back and said this was a very easy call, and it absolutely was” King said. “I think the people of Maine are fortunate to have a representative of her caliber.”

Full story

Roll Call Cup Golf Trophy Stays in Republican Hands (Updated)

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.

Ander Crenshaw

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.)

Chad Smith, Others Beat Drums for Arts Funding

The National Association of Music Merchants and select members of the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities will storm the Hill this week to drum up additional resources for arts education programs.

The fly-in efforts include: an inaugural student “talent show” at the White House (Tuesday), the star-studded “Celebrating Music Education” reception at the Library of Congress (Tuesday night) and a camera-friendly press conference led by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., just steps from the Capitol (Wednesday).

Meanwhile, Chad Smith — you know, he who pounds the skins for the Red Hot Chili Peppers — is expected to huddle, in private, with Speaker John A. Boehner early Wednesday.

No word on whether the legendary percussionist plans to school the Ohio Republican in the art of getting folks marching to the same beat, or if he’ll share his strategy for besting comedian Will Ferrell in the charity battle (there’s a golden cowbell up for grabs) the dueling doppelgangers are expected to wage Thursday on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Not a part of Boehner’s inner circle?

Smith is also expected to float around the NAMM Foundation’s shindig at the Jefferson Building. The other celebs expected to walk the red carpet Tuesday night (flashbulbs should begin popping around 7 p.m.) include: actress Alfre Woodard, multimedia artist Chuck Close, ballet vet Damian Woetzel, Tony Award-winning actor John Lloyd Young, painter Kerry James Marshall, singer-songwriter Clarence Greenwood, “House of Payne” star Doc Shaw and “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Military Flicks Invade Capitol Hill, NoVa

The GI Film Festival is bringing its army of thought-provoking films to the forefront this week, beginning with a sold-out world premiere in neighboring Old Town Alexandria and VIP screening Tuesday in Congress.

Veteran turned Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, New York Republican Rep. Chris Gibson and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III are all slated to attend the invite-only reception and premiere of “The Civilian-Military Divide” on Tuesday.

The film, directed by Sean McNamara, explores the burgeoning disconnect between the modern military and the general public.

“The mission of GI Film is to relay the messages of what the military truly does for our country, including sacrifices made; its goal is to bridge the gap between civilians and military members,” festival spokeswoman Heather Mahoney said of the group’s eight-plus year mission.

The action gets underway a day earlier for those across the river.

GIFF actually kicks off with the world premiere of “Field of Lost Shoes;” the project, directed by Sean McNamara, explores the trying times faced by a band of untested Virginia Military Institute cadets facing a date with destiny at the Battle of New Market.

Actor — and sometime director — David Arquette, told HOH reinterpreting history is practically the family business.

“My grandfather Cliff Arquette had a Civil War Museum in Gettysburg, so we always grew up with Civil War books and collectables,” said the Virginia native, who portrays Capt. Henry A. DuPont in the harrowing drama. “It was a great opportunity to honor him.”

Sadly, our favorite night life impresario will not be visiting our neck of the woods this time around.

“I have no plans to go to Capitol Hill this trip. I’m just going to screen the film and hope the audience (and my grandfather somewhere) likes it,” Arquette suggested.

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The National Museum of the American Indian  is paying tribute to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a proud Pacific Islander who served as one of the founding directors for the interactive exhibition hall, as part of its “Living Aloha” festival.

Just don’t expect too big of a production if you visit.

Upon entering the funky, four-story structure, patrons are handed a snazzy brochure retracing the steps of the iconic Hawaii Democrat through the years.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The lobby, however, is dominated by a ring of arts and crafts stations dedicated to sharing native art forms with curious onlookers. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 9 a.m.
Artsy, DC, Sens, Whuck

May 18, 2014

A Monumental Capitol Quip


The Washington Monument has reopened! Gone are the structural problems caused by the 2011 earthquake. Back are, well, elevator problems. That brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Pick a Scandal, Any Scandal | Capitol Quip


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.

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.

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