Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 5, 2015

November 14, 2013

Overheard: Someone’s Head Is a ‘Difficult Place To Be’

“And [Rep. Cedric L. Richmond] was touching on this notion of how do you get inside somebody’s head just a moment ago. I think it’s a very difficult place to be.”

— Rep. Mark Sanford, commenting on the Transportation Security Administration’s risk-methodology procedures at a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security  hearing on Thursday.

K Streeters Downplay Their Influence on Reddit

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

November 13, 2013

The Three Oversight Amigos | Madisonville

High school may be as good a preparation as one needs to understand how Congress works. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has a Republican trio most people will remember from growing up:  Utah’s Jason Chaffetz, Ohio’s Jim Jordan and North Carolina’s Patrick T. McHenry.

Madisonville-Logo(185x185)Jordan’s the jock who nobody expects to do much with his life; Chaffetz is the brain the teachers wish would perform up to his potential and McHenry’s the kid the jock and the brain found stuffed into a locker. They rescued him and the three have been inseparable since.

At least, that’s what it looks like when they sit side-by-side in the top row of House Oversight, to the left of the chairman — possibly striving to avoid his notice while they whisper and giggle as more studious classmates pay attention to the lesson. Full story

5 Ways to Push the Health Care Cart | 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:

  • Man, this is getting to be a drag ….
  • Hey, I’m concerned about my own legacy!
  • I liked it better when all we had to worry about was the government shutdown.
  • I hate to be such a jackass, but I don’t think I can pull this load.
  • It’s easier to see his view from up here.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Nov. 17 and in the Nov. 18 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 6:33 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Jim McDermott’s (Brief) Rap Phase

(Jonathan D'Amato/Damato Photography)

(Courtesy Jim McDermott)

According to an aide to Rep. Jim McDermott, the Washington Democrat enjoyed his first Sir Mix-A-Lot concert earlier this month. But confidence is low that the jazz and folk rock fan will delve much deeper into the rap world.

McDermott first became aware of the Seattle-born rhyme spitter when faux conservative newsman Stephen Colbert attempted to pin him down about his preference of posteriors during a recent “Better Know a District” segment.

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His curiosity piqued, McDermott ventured over to Mix-A-Lot’s Nov. 2 show to see what all the fuss was about.

“It was interesting. But it was a bit loud for his tastes,” a McDermott spokesperson related about the overall experience. The aide added that McDermott certainly enjoyed meeting Mix-A-Lot — “He thought he was very nice” — but suggested that he’s more likely to stick with longstanding musical favorites Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.

Hill Staffers Capitalize on Few Remaining Dome Tours

A planned overhaul of the time-worn Capitol Dome has sent Hill staffers into a frenzy for constituent-appeasing tours, a mad dash for the closely guarded reservations that’s spawned a black market of promised food, drink and even forced labor.

The Capitol Dome is set to undergo a long-overdue renovation, and tours will have to be curtailed after it starts. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The Capitol Dome is set to undergo a long-overdue renovation, and tours will be curtailed after it starts. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The announcement of the two-year restoration project touched off a behind-the-scenes bidding war among those in congressional offices charged with securing the walk-throughs for folks back home. Architect of the Capitol aide Justin Kieffer confirmed that the last of those tours are scheduled to take place Dec. 15.

An HOH tipster provided us with a glimpse into the panicky exchanges bouncing back and forth on an internal administrative message board. Full story

Al Franken Helps Radio Pal Flog New Show

Progressive radio personality Ben Wikler is convinced his left-leaning views will thrive on the web. So he’s taking his daily radio show online — and he’s bringing his friend and mentor, Sen. Al Franken, along for the first on-demand ready episode.

Wikler will promote his new show, “The Good Fight,” from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at The 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE) during an invitation-only preview party. Franken is scheduled to attend the kickoff festivities, along with Anna Galland, executive director of’s Civic Action program.

MoveOn, which also sponsored Wikler’s previous show, “The Flaming Sword of Justice,” is banking on the Franken alumnus — he served as lead researcher on Franken’s media-bashing tome, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” and also served as a producer and writer for the Minnesota Democrat’s eponymous Air America show — to shake up political talk.

Per Wikler, the first installment of the revamped program — “We’re moving a lot more towards ‘This American Life,'” he said, citing the Holy Grail of public affairs broadcasting — will be available both by subscription and in the iTunes store on Thursday.  Full story

K Street Heads to Reddit

Two veteran lobbyists are about to go boldly where others on K Street have not — Reddit, where they’re scheduled for an “Ask Me Anything” session this afternoon.

At 3 p.m., Jack Quinn and John Feehery of QGA Public Affairs will start their AMA on the popular social media site, subjecting themselves to questioning by anyone with an Internet connection.

Politicians are popular fare for AMAs, but the people behind politics, such as those who work on K Street, are not. While Reddit has communities for every point on the political spectrum, a common sentiment is against corporate spending in politics. In other words, Quinn and Feehery should expect some blunt questions.

What could be more telling than the answers Quinn and Feehery give are the ones they don’t. Good luck, lads!

Overheard: Cory Booker on a Roll

“He’s on a roll. You don’t want to stop him. Go right ahead, please.”

— Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper, encouraging Sen. Cory Booker to continue introducing Homeland Security Secretary-designee Jeh Johnson at the panel’s hearing on Wednesday.

November 12, 2013

Redditors Ask Joe Manchin, Well, Anything

Sen. Joe Manchin will release a video response on Friday to questions submitted to a thread on Reddit over Monday and Tuesday.

The West Virginia Democrat will spend a fair amount of his screen time addressing the Mountain State’s long ties to the coal industry, a popular theme in the user-submitted comments. Manchin will divvy up the rest of his time talking about gay rights, voter identification requirements, gun control and more.

Manchin will respond the Reddit AMA on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Manchin will respond to the Reddit AMAs on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Many public figures, including President Barack Obama and Sen. Cory Booker, have hopped on Reddit to participate in an “Ask Me Anything,” or AMA, where users often pose thousands of questions. Questions rise to the top by being “upvoted” by other users, and the subject can respond to questions at will with a comment.

Manchin’s AMA page states he “will be answering your top ten questions.” While politicians who hold AMAs typically answer many more than just 10 questions, they do choose which questions to answer or to ignore.  Full story

Library of Congress All Aglow About New Carl Sagan Collection

“This one’s for you,” said Carolyn Porco, leader of the imaging team monitoring the Saturn-circling Cassini spacecraft and friend of the late Carl Sagan, as she unveiled the mesmerizing new snapshot of Saturn she dedicated to the pioneering stargazer.

A rare scientific love fest on Capitol Hill, the Tuesday gathering of academics and entertainers at the Library of Congress was spearheaded by subversive cartoonist and trash-talking teddy bear creator Seth MacFarlane.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The comedian, via his charitable foundation, helped make the “Seth MacFarlane Collection of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan” available to the Library of Congress. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington giddily welcomed the addition of the 1,705 boxes of archival material chronicling Sagan’s deeply inquisitive life.

“It is exciting that the rich Sagan-Druyan archive is joining other great collections of scientific knowledge,” he said of the treasure trove of documents set aside for credentialed researchers.

While he had nothing but complimentary things to say about Sagan, MacFarlane unloaded on both political parties for failing the scientific community. He lambasted the far right for making too much noise (“Evolution really happened. It’s not in debate,” he jeered, adding, “I’ve never seen gravity questioned”), while browbeating the left for remaining eerily silent.

“They’ve allowed it to fester,” MacFarlane said of the cacophony of flat-Earth-style rumblings resonating in the national echo chamber. Full story

Baby Announcement by Steve King Gets Political

There are few things cuter than a proud grandfather, even if Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, used the newborn’s photo op to talk politics.

The six-term member took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to share that his sixth grandchild, Wallace Henry King, had arrived at 5:21 a.m.

Full story

Phishing Scammers Use Liberal Talk Show Host as Bait

It seems Nigeria has run out of down-on-their-luck princes.

There is no other logical explanation for a new phishing scheme touting one-time congressional candidate D. Arnie Arnesen as a stranded traveler desperately in need of a quickie cash infusion.



The bogus plea, which invaded the HOH inbox on Monday afternoon and appears to have originated from a hacked Gmail account, features detailed information about the liberal talk show host.

Arnesen — who ran for Congress in 1996, losing to then-Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., by 7 points — is a broadcaster at WNHN in Concord, N.H.

But the veteran pundit is not currently poundless in Britain.

The awful truth is that Arnesen is in New Hampshire dealing with the recent loss of her husband, Marty Capodice, who died on Oct. 31 after battling cancer.

None of that appears to be fazing the would-be grifter who has glommed onto her identity. That scumbag is apparently too busy trying to coax $4,000 in emergency aid (FYI: We found flights from Heathrow to Manchester, N.H., for under $1,500) out of terribly gullible Good Samaritans.

The would-be cyber-thief, who is corresponding via and, has apparently set up dummy accounts at Western Union and MoneyGram in the United Kingdom under Arnesen’s name to collect any ill-gotten loot.

Here’s hoping karma catches up with you real soon, pal.

Overheard: An Endangered Political Species in Montana

“The party of which I was once a member no longer exists today in Montana.”

John Bohlinger, a former Republican who is a candidate for the Democratic Senate nomination in Montana, on MSNBC.

November 11, 2013

Health Care Newsreels | Madisonville

The search for the unique combination of illness, income and family status that ends the health care debate once and for all continued last week in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Senate Finance committees.  The winner, apparently, will be the case that reveals the total perfection/awfulness of Obamacare, causing one side or the other to abandon the cause.

Madisonville-Logo(185x185)But in the spirit of it being better to travel well than to arrive, the Senate delivered a few en-route revelations, including the rediscovery of a familiar voice from long ago.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., sounds like the voice-over on a 1940s newsreel, the kind that delivered momentous news to moviegoers in the days before television. Teachers later relied on them to bring history to life and they’re available today on YouTube.

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