Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 27, 2015

September 25, 2013

Jokesters Use Ted Cruz to Air Personal Grievances

The Twitterverse has seemingly enjoyed every minute of the non-filibuster Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and pals have engaged in over the past 20-some hours on the Senate floor.

Jokesters Use Ted Cruz to Air Personal Grievances


Which is not to say everyone has continued hanging on Cruz’s every word.

As part of their ongoing anti-Obamacare campaign, Cruz and conservative commentators decided to punctuate their anger by appending online missives with the #MakeDCListen tag.

And while they’ve gotten plenty of traction from the rhetorical challenge, some social-media users have elected to take the taunt in much different directions, including:


Drawing local battle lines, Full story

September 24, 2013

Stockman: Democrats Want to Kill Infants

Rep. Steve Stockman is never one to disappoint when it comes to questionable tweets. Here’s the Texas Republican’s latest attempt to put the Senate debate on Obamacare defunding and Sen. Ted Cruz’s extended speechifying in perspective.

Stockman, it should be noted, does not always write his own tweets. They are often authored by his communications director, Donny Ferguson, who also has his own twitter handle @DonnyFerguson.


Ex-GOP Aide Weaves Sex, Politics Into Debut Novels

After what seemed like a lifetime of campaigning — most notably with the Republican National Committee and its offshoots (Pennsylvania Victory) — Cristin Harber discovered that her guiltiest pleasure wasn’t carrying the day or grinding opponents underfoot: It was good, old-fashioned love stories.

“While on a few campaign trails, I’d jot down short stories and read political thrillers during the down time. Someone gave me a romance novel and I thought, ‘This is exactly what I always thought was missing,’” the amateur wordsmith said of the final push she needed to graduate to full-blown author.

Ex GOP Aide Weaves Sex, Politics Into Debut Novels


After two solid years of writing, Harber is entering the market with her five-part Titan series, a string of romantic thrillers that sound like they fall somewhere on the spectrum between former Sen. Byron Dorgan’s wonky adventures and “50 Shades of Grey” scribe E L James’ insanely successful stabs at mommy porn. Full story

Jewish Group Builds Sukkah Just for Congress

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot has almost run its course, with the ancient harvest festival drawing to a close on Wednesday.

Jewish Group Builds Sukkah Just for Congress

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But the American Friends of Lubavitch made sure to give congressional members of the tribe one last chance to worship during the holiday by erecting a short-lived sukkah just steps from the Capitol.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, told HOH his group relishes the opportunity to provide congressional aides an easily accessible place to worship. But he noted that erecting a sukkah in the shadow of the Capitol Dome — something he said the group has strived to do every year (barring inclement weather or absentee lawmakers) for the past two decades — remains “an emphatic statement of religious freedom.” Full story

Herb Kohl Can’t Quit The Monocle

He may have retired from politics, but it seems that former Sen. Herb Kohl’s lunch habits die hard.

Herb Kohl Can’t Quit The Monocle

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

The Wisconsin Democrat gave up his seat at the end of the last cycle, paving the way for Tammy Baldwin to join the largest class of female lawmakers to ever inhabit the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

No word on what brought Kohl back to his old stomping grounds. Perhaps he just missed the avocado-laden chicken salads, spicy-chili-butter-spiked steaks or blue crab burgers of his (relative) youth.

‘Inside Edition’ Hunting for D.C.’s Sexiest Dude

Feminists, rejoice!

“Inside Edition” has turned the tables on televised toplessness, training its full tabloid resources on finding ultra-toned dudes here in the D.C. metro area.

Sadly, no one from Capitol Hill — nary a single pretty boy from all those “most beautiful” lists is involved — or government service in general (we’re looking at you, administration heartbreaker Reggie Love) tossed his hat tank top into the ring to vie for “D.C.’s Sexiest Bachelor.”

But show publicist Irene Rogers told HOH that one of the 14 finalists is a “mentalist who also has political aspirations.” (MindReader2016?)

‘Inside Edition’ Hunting for D.C.’s Sexiest Dude


Full story

September 23, 2013

Take Five: Howard Coble

Take Five: Howard Coble

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., talks about first jobs, post-Coast Guard life and the Grammys.

Q. You started out working in retail in Greensboro, N.C.?

A. I worked at Belk’s department store, mostly in men’s clothing. I started at probably 14 years old. My dad worked there for 42 years, mostly at the downtown store. It was kind of a non-negotiable. He said, “You will go to work.”

Q. Greensboro, N.C., is home to six colleges, so what caused you to attend Guilford College?

A. I transferred to Guilford from Appalachian State to be near home. I was thinking about studying for the ministry at the time, and I thought a liberal arts college would be a better fit for that.

Q. You spent more than two decades serving in the Coast Guard. How has it enabled you to better understand that niche within the military in the subcommittees you now serve on?

A. I enlisted 61 years ago on Sept. 16. I had a couple of friends that had enlisted earlier, and they’re the ones that talked me into joining the Coast Guard. It was a good learning experience that served me well, particularly on the Coast Guard Committee. I was the former chairman and I was the only member of the Coast Guard now serving in Congress.

Q. The Triad region of North Carolina is world-famous for its annual furniture market. Have you found any good furniture places in Washington?

A. I hadn’t really looked because I found all of mine back home. I bought a house up here, though. It’s located 10 blocks from Navy Yard.

Q. You attended the Grammys in 2008. What was your favorite or most memorable part of the show?

A. The late Earl Scruggs. He was confirmed with his Lifetime Achievement Award. They asked me to present him that award since Earl was from Cleveland County in North Carolina. I was very pleased and honored to do that.

Overheard: Harry Reid’s Love of Grocery Shopping

“One of my favorite things I like to do in Nevada and here in Washington is to go grocery shopping. It is such a diversion for me. I love going grocery shopping to look around, buy things. Landra and I are without our children and our grandchildren — we live alone — but we still buy food and I enjoy that so very much.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor Sept. 19

Rob Portman Plunges Forward With Boating Hobby

Sen. Rob Portman spent the weekend doing something he loves: working hard toward a definable goal with a tangible outcome.

Needless to say, this all happened miles away from Washington, D.C.

The Ohio Republican put the finishing touches on a boat storage project he’d been tinkering with beneath his home; the end product looks well thought out and perfectly secure — attributes no longer shared by most anything up for consideration in the bitterly partisan Senate.

Still, it sounds like Portman doesn’t let the acrimony dampen his spirit.

A longtime kayaking enthusiast — he’s carved his way through waterways ranging from the Colorado River to the Yangtze — Portman has, in recent years, begun volunteering with Team River Runner, a group dedicated to helping disabled military veterans develop a passion for paddling. Full story

George Washington Spirits Society Toasts Heidi Heitkamp

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Tuesday night will join the growing fraternity of lawmakers held in the highest regard by the booze lobby, taking her place among the handful of pols who have previously been honored by the George Washington Spirits Society.

George Washington Spirits Society Toasts Heidi Heitkamp

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Heitkamp and former Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, R-Idaho, will be inducted into the burgeoning group as part of the annual “Spirit of Mount Vernon” gala held at the first president’s sprawling Virginia estate.

The swanky invite-only affair, which features top-shelf liquor at nearly every turn, as well as the auctioning of rare tipples, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with — what else — a see-and-be-seen cocktail reception held on the picturesque Mount Vernon lawn.

Heitkamp’s selection, and Kempthorne’s for that matter, is a bit of a break from the norm for GWSS, which tends to favor solons from the South. The group has tapped four members from the Kentucky delegation — Reps. John Yarmuth, a Democrat, and Harold Rogers, a Republican, were brought aboard in 2010 and 2011, respectively, while ex-Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican, and GOP former Rep. Ron Lewis got the nods in 2003 and 2005 — and welcomed South Carolina Democrat James E. Clyburn in 2007.

The others residing above the Mason-Dixon Line to get the call include Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin (2008) and ex-Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley (2009).

Per GWSS, Heitkamp is being recognized for the work she’s done during her tenure on the advisory board of The Century Council, an organization committed to stamping out problem drinking (underage, driving-related).

September 22, 2013

The Shutdown Gambit | Capitol Quip

The Shutdown Gambit | Capitol Quip

To shut down the government or not to shut down, that is the question for Congress, one that occurs with an unfortunate regularity around these parts. Which brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip contest.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section of our Heard on the Hill blog. 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

Many Lines to Cross | Capitol Quip

Many Lines to Cross | 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.

September 20, 2013

Howard Coble Gets a Call From the Fashion Police

Howard Coble Gets a Call From the Fashion Police

Howard Coble, R-N.C., takes a call from the "fashion police," according to his office. (Courtesy Howard Coble)" src="" width="240" height="320" /> Coble takes a call from the “fashion police,” according to his office. (Courtesy Howard Coble)

He may be one of the oldest members of the House, but North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble, 82, is still looking to start trends on the House floor.

During the House’s rancorous debate over a continuing resolution that would fund the government but defund Obamacare, Coble rocked a light blue and green madras sport coat.

His fashion choice lit up Twitter and even earned the congressman a call from the fashion police, according to his office. Full story

‘Alpha House’ Elects to Keep It Real

Cameras are rolling. The cast keeps growing. And politically plugged-in visitors who have scouted the New York-based set are purportedly loving every minute of it.

That’s the incredibly early read on “Alpha House,” the forthcoming Web series about the life and times of a group of Republican senators who reside together in a group house, as envisioned by “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau.

The show, which is scheduled to debut on Amazon Prime sometime this November, follows the exploits of the titular roomies: John Goodman, playing embattled North Carolina Republican Gil John Biggs; Mark Consuelos, playing newly minted Sen. Andy Guzman; Matt Malloy, playing Sen. Louis Laffer; and Clark Johnson, playing Sen. Robert Bettencourt.

The latest additions to the star-studded ensemble include “Sex and the City” alumna Cynthia Nixon, playing Sen. Carly Armiston, D-N.Y.; “Strangers with Candy” alumna Amy Sedaris, playing Louise Laffer; “Curb Your Enthusiasm” alumna Wanda Sykes, playing Democrat Rosalyn DuPech; and Julie White as Mrs. Biggs.

Alpha House Executive Producer Jonathan Alter told HOH they’re done shooting about a third of the first season (four episodes are in the can), and that Trudeau is busily shaping the satiric arc of the remaining installments.

“There are definitely going to be some things that strike people as familiar … but we’re not writing it from the headlines,” he said of the general tone of the show. And don’t expect a lot of stunt casting.

“It won’t be like ‘K Street,’” he asserted, citing HBO’s attempt to make stars of those inside the Beltway bubble. Full story

House CSA Fans Send Out SOS

House staffers who’ve feasted all summer on healthful produce from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative don’t want the vitamin-rich party to stop. But they need some help to keep the fiberrific times rolling.

House CSA Fans Send Out SOS

(Courtesy Barbara Riley)

Barbara Riley, an aide to Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., tells HOH those partaking in the nascent community-supported agriculture program are in danger of losing their neighborhood drop-off point (First and E streets Southeast) if they don’t round up more subscribers.

By Riley’s count, the group needs to nab 10 new members before the fall harvest gets under way (Nov. 4) or else they risk losing the cherry location.

“There is another pickup at 907 Maryland Ave. NE, but not as convenient for many staffers,” Riley said.

A Lancaster Farm aide indicated that the congressional clique has until Oct. 25 to corral new recruits. “I haven’t been contacted for a check on their number,” the CSA administrator said, noting that the group, at least so far, has had no trouble meeting the ordering quota.

Should they fall short, Lancaster would attempt to relocate the remaining buyers to the nearest pickup point at Maryland Avenue. Last resort: issuing full refunds to everyone involved.

But help is on the way: Lancaster is mailing out promotional materials to all its member sites on Sept. 23.

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