Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 18, 2014

June 18, 2013

Joaquin Castro Takes the Plunge

Updated 4:24 p.m. | Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is reportedly off the market.

According to local news outlets, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro first revealed his twin brother’s very recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Anna Flores on Facebook.

Castro aides said the boss made it official June 15, proposing to Flores in front of the Memorial Church at Stanford University, his alma mater. Castro was visiting that weekend to address graduates from the Stanford Latinos group:

News spread quickly on the Internet — “Congrats to @JoaquinCastrotx on his engagement. Being happily married will make politics seem like a big waste of time, my friend,” Austin American-Statesman/MSNBC columnist Jason Stanford proclaimed on Twitter — but things slowly trickled back to us folks in Washington, D.C.

Per staff, there is no wedding date yet.

But Castro does plan to have some people from Capitol Hill join in the festivities. “Haven’t started invite list, but expect to invite many colleagues,” Team Castro told HOH.

Now, on to the registry hunt …

June 17, 2013

Jesse Jackson Jr. Lobbies to Be Locked Up First

All things being equal, former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill., would like to get this whole going-to-prison thing out of the way.

Chicago Sun-Times D.C. bureau chief Lynn Sweet reports that attorneys for the embattled lawyer have done an about-face on which of the Jacksons, Jesse or his wife, Sandi, should get locked up first should the court throw the book at them for the $750,000 they funneled from campaign accounts.

“Mr. Jackson’s health issues preclude him from working at this time. If he serves his period of incarceration first, Mrs. Jackson would be able to work and could stabilize the family’s finances,” Lynn said the ex-lawmaker’s lawyers proposed in a memo filed Monday.

With sentencing hanging over both of their heads just before the July Fourth holiday, it would seem Jesse is ready to get on with the rest of his life ASAP.

Pinching Pennies, the Lincoln Way

We’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that most lawmakers remain blissfully ignorant of the nightmarish haggling that goes into composing a nonbinding congressional budget blueprint.

Here’s hoping local schoolchildren can stomach the same with a little help from a guy in a stovepipe hat and a pocketful of shiny copper pieces.

Michael Shank, a one-time aide to Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., who has since moved on to serve as director of foreign policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation, will be returning to the Hill on Tuesday for an encore performance of his 2010 portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln.

Full story

Road-Tripping With a Dash of ‘Hating’

You’ve got to give it to the Tea Party Patriots: They really know how to organize a rockin’ road trip.

It seems the TPP is organizing an “Audit the IRS Rally” in Washington on Wednesday, and, as an extra enticement for the long bus rides tea partyers might be in for from parts unknown to the capital, the party is announcing its own in-ride movie entertainment.

Ah, the American road trip. Is there any better film genre? It’s given us everything from “The Wizard of Oz” to “Easy Rider,” from “Smokey and the Bandit” to “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Road Trip” and a personal favorite, “Midnight Run.”

So which indelible flick is going to help pass the long hours on the road?

“The Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest tea party organization, today announced they will show ‘Hating Breitbart,’ a documentary that explores the life and impact of the late media guru Andrew Breitbart, on the buses carrying local and national tea party groups to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for the ‘Audit the IRS Rally.’ The film chronicles Breitbart, the man, through some of his biggest media battles as he exposed the corporate media’s unwillingness to cover certain stories,” the TPP said in a Monday release.

Oh, well. Can’t be entertained all the time.

Blake Farenthold Develops Photo Fixations

It was virtually impossible to miss Rep. Blake Farenthold at the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, and it wasn’t because he was sporting an Aloha shirt emblazoned with all things Texas Rangers.

Blake Farenthold Develops Photo Fixations

(Courtesy Blake Farenthold)

It was the 350-millimeter lens he was pointing every which way at Nationals Park.

The Texas Republican told HOH he’s been a shutterbug for decades, noting that he took lots of candid shots for his high school yearbook and had a dark room at home while growing up. The passion only intensified once he became a parent, a move that prompted him to invest in his first professional grade camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Full story

Claire McCaskill at Her Most Multitaskingest | Overheard

“Mammogram over my lunch hour today. Do this ladies! Especially if you are my age.” – Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill takes to Twitter to combat breast cancer.

June 16, 2013

The Writing’s on the Wall | Capitol Quip

The Writings on the Wall | Capitol QuipIllustrator R.J. Matson’s latest cartoon needs a caption.

As the Senate plods forward on a bipartisan immigration overhaul, many House members have been reluctant to take up a comprehensive bill. And one of the Senate bill’s authors, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, is insisting his own bill needs stronger border security provisions to pass either chamber. What’s the future for this mine field of a policy debate?

Leave us your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and then everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. The winner gets a signed print from Matson.

Your Votes Were Properly Recorded | Capitol Quip

Your Votes Were Properly Recorded | 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.

June 14, 2013

Pot-Seeking Seniors Hope to Light a Fire Under Pols

Legalization activists young and old will fan out across the Capitol on June 17 as part of Federal Marijuana Lobby Day, a pro-pot push poised to include food, booze and pep talks from sympathetic policymakers.

Silver Tour founder Robert Platshorn, a convicted drug trafficker cum reform advocate — “I caught the first kingpin charge for marijuana,” he shared, having served three decades of a whopping 64-year sentence — is bringing busloads of senior citizens who are interested in medical marijuana along for the congressional tour.

An old school pitchman (he listed Vitamix and Ginsu as former clients), Platshorn produced an infomercial-style video about the health benefits of legal pot called, “Should Grandma Smoke Pot?” He’s been airing it in various TV markets for the past several months.

Full story

The Modest Pepperoni Roll Abides

West Virginians, or at least fans of the Mountain State’s pepperoni roll, are basking in the glory of the savory food’s victory in the CQ Roll Call Taste of America competition.

The winner, announced at Thursday’s 52nd Annual Congressional Baseball Game, rose above the rest of the Elite Eight: Iowa bacon, Arizona chimichangas, Illinois Italian beef, Maryland crab cakes, South Carolina shrimp and grits, Oregon pear tarts and Georgia peach cobbler.

Voting seems to be similar to that of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Some states have inherent advantages, kind of like the New York Yankees’ and Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-market reach. But the whole point is to have fun and introduce people to foods they might not normally try.

“I’ll eat one of your [chimichangas] if you eat some Georgia cobbler,” Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., offered to HOH at the Taste of America soiree.

Some of the crowd might have been a little perplexed at the success of the modest pepperoni roll, a humble pastry-protein combo first developed, as legend has it, by Frank Argiro in the 1920s. Argiro, an Italian-American coal miner, happened upon the idea of baking small slices of pepperoni into Italian rolls so he and his fellow miners could easily transport their lunch down into the mines. It was successful enough that he opened up the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, W.Va., which operates to this day.

When reached for comment by HOH, the woman at the Country Club Bakery asked us to hold on for a minute, put the phone down, took a few orders from customers — “Two dollars? And eight cents? Oh, that’s right,” HOH overheard — then picked the phone back up and said, “You’re going to have to call back on Monday. That’s when the manager gets back.” Before we could get a name, she hung up the phone.

So it is: the allure of the mysterious pepperoni roll. Stay tuned.

Could GOP Turn to Texas for Pitching Help?

For the third year in a row, the pitching disparity between the Democrats and Republicans was the key to the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

The Democrats are in a great position with Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond burning through the GOP lineup, giving up three hits in a complete game, 22-0, shutout. He’s given up only four runs in three games. And he’s 39 years old and represents a safe district.

Could GOP Turn to Texas for Pitching Help?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond in action at Thursday night’s 52nd Annual Congressional Baseball Game. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

On the other side of the field, Republicans are looking to shore up their rotation. Democrats hooked early into Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, the only GOP pitcher not to give up a run last year, scoring five runs in the first. Stutzman, at 37, is younger than Richmond. But his relievers Thursday evening (Reps. Patrick Meehan and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania) are both 57,  which doesn’t bode well for the future of the team.

Perhaps the Republicans should recruit Roger Clemens, who gave some campaign cash to his friend Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. Also, Clemens wouldn’t have to worry about those pesky performance-enhancing drug allegations because the Congressional Baseball Game doesn’t test.

Could GOP Turn to Texas for Pitching Help?

Could Roger Clemens be the answer to the GOP’s pitching woes? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Another opportunity could be with Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who campaigned for former Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul. He’s currently the president of the Texas Rangers.

Former President George W. Bush was co-owner of the franchise, and the Rangers started life as the expansion Washington Senators before moving to Arlington, Texas, in 1972, so the bloodlines make the franchise the equivalent of an elected official farm team.

Steny Hoyer and the Gang of NOH8

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., is not afraid to ink up his knuckles:

Steny Hoyer and the Gang of NOH8

(Courtesy HOH Tipster)

Nor are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii.

It all comes on the heels of Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., musing on the floor that he had been in so many gangs in the Senate that “it might be time to get some tattoos.”

Your move, Durbin, et al.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

Standing at the entrance to Nationals Park on Thursday evening afforded sightings of the big names and big quirks that convened for the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. Just a few highlights for the HOH reader’s viewing pleasure are below.

First off, don’t think for a second you can break out of the two-party system. It’s Republicans or Democrats all the way:

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., accepts an official game program from Mary Cadwallader.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., rocks boat shoes, mini cargo shorts and hardcore sock marks around his calves. But we can’t fault him; a man’s got to wear socks some of the time.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Staffers Rebecca Nathanson and Karen De Los Santos were ready to root for their boss, Rep. Adam “Adam Bomb” Smith, D-Wash.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

And finally, what would a game in Nationals Stadium be without the mascots?

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Here’s to next year.

GOP CoS Ranks Congressional Baseball Game Foils

Fans were still filtering out of Nationals Park — having just witnessed the 22-0 trouncing of Republicans by Democrats in the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game — when the HOH inbox lit up with accusations of impropriety.

GOP CoS Ranks Congressional Baseball Game Foils


“Is this tweet stupid, or just wildly inappropriate for a chief of staff to be making?” one of several HOH tipsters wondered after stumbling upon the unflattering comment Chris Connelly, right-hand man to Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., broadcast to his online flock.

The consensus was that Connelly had crossed the line into —ist (Race? Sex? Elite?) territory.

More like sour grapes, he insists.

Full story

The Baby-Faced Assassin | Overheard

“Raul Ruiz: The baby-faced assassin!”

– Unidentified staffer at Thursday’s 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, enthusiastically assessing the freshman California Democrat.


The Baby Faced Assassin | Overheard

(Courtesy Rep. Raul Ruiz’s Facebook Page)

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