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

October 16, 2013

Scott Brown Takes Tokyo

While many of his former colleagues were burning the midnight oil all week in hopes of saving the world economy from completing an anticipated death spiral, former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., has been living large in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Scott Brown Takes Tokyo

(Courtesy Scott Brown)

Granted, he’s not been preoccupied with all the royal engagements he once claimed crowded his schedule — when he wasn’t tending to his floofy wittle friends, of course — but the Massachusetts Republican appears to be keeping busy during what seems to be a whirlwind tour of Japan.

According to his Twitter feed, the Japanese government specifically requested Brown make the globe-spanning trek so that he could huddle with “business, political, education and industry leaders.”

Brown has, at least so far, made the most of the experience, spending his time:

Did Michelle Obama Snub Richard Simmons?

Richard Simmons has a dream: to team up with first lady Michelle Obama and lead exercises on the White House lawn. But for now, that dream remains unrequited.

Simmons said in a pair of interviews with CQ Roll Call that the White House has rejected his overtures to help with the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” childhood anti-obesity initiative.

“I’ve tried to reach my hand out to President Obama and the first lady,” he said. “They have rejected me.”

“I was with childhood obesity long before any of them,” he added.

A number of emissaries, including House and Senate members, offered to connect Simmons with the White House, he said, with no success.

“I guess they think I’m too silly or they think I’m not their kind of person,” he said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that the presidency is a “hard job.” He offered specific praise for the president’s “absolutely amazing” efforts to turn around the economy. He is likewise impressed with the first lady’s White House garden.

“It’s just amazing,” he said. “Look at how many children the first lady has touched with the garden.”

As for his dream, he envisions an event on the White House lawn with an orchestra.

“The White House lawn only fits so many and when you think of the millions and millions who are overweight, it just takes takes your breath away,” he said. He went on to suggest that the event could be taped and posted on YouTube.

“So then everyone can do the exercises,” he said.

For now, Simmons continues his crusade against obesity with his workout studio, videos and motivational television appearances.

“You know, everyone can’t like you. I found that out in my life,” he said. “Everybody can’t like you or appreciate you. So you really have to focus on the ones who do.”

“We all feel hurt when we get rejected,” he added.

October 15, 2013

Media Flying Blind as Congress Futzes About

Fiscal ruin is imminent. Confidence in Congress is nearly nonexistent. And end game strategies are crashing and burning faster than anyone can Twitter-hate on them.

Media Flying Blind as Congress Futzes About

(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

And our poor colleagues are desperately attempting to make sense of it all. (Granted, some more cavalierly than others.)

Team Chabot Spills About Exploding Fish Tank

Team Chabot Spills About Exploding Fish Tank

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“It looks like a giant frown,” Mark Wellman, chief of staff to Rep. Steve Chabot, said of the gaping crack stretched across the front of a 65-gallon aquarium that inexplicably burst Monday, showering the Ohio Republican’s personal office in constantly aerated freshwater and shell-shocked sea life.

Chabot spokesman Adam Scheidler told HOH the pet-astrophe occurred around 2 p.m. Monday.

“They heard a big ‘whoosh’ and rushed in here to see what had happened,” Scheidler said of the two congressional aides who happened to be in the office when the tank glass suddenly fractured and gave way. Staff rushed to save as many of the floppy, gasping fishies as they could by dumping them into water-filled trash bins, but Scheidler calculates that 10 to 12 of the more than three dozen occupants of the original tank did not survive the transition to the new aquarium.

Per Scheidler, Chabot purchased that first tank for himself around last Christmas, getting his new hobby going with about a dozen tiny tenants. Full story

Kirsten Gillibrand on Crutches

Kirsten Gillibrand on Crutches

Gillibrand in healthier times. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is on crutches.

The Empire State’s junior senator caused a small frenzy on Monday when several reporters spied her coming out of votes in injured form.

Such an awesome statement from Gillibrand was catnip to HOH and just about everyone else:

Alas, her spokeswoman’s account is far less mysterious and exciting. Full story

Tortilla Coast: Basement “Not So Secret Anymore”

Tortilla Coast is having some fun with its newfound national notoriety.

The Capitol Hill restaurant became the talk of the town overnight with Roll Call’s exclusive report that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and 15 to 20 House Republicans were spotted meeting in the Mexican restaurant’s basement Monday night.

By 6 a.m., Tortilla Coast was the topic of conversation at the “Morning Joe” roundtable and various monikers emerged on Twitter for the meeting (#TortillaCoastRebellion, The Tequila Rebellion and #TortillaCoastCaucus).

Here is the official T-Coast take on the madness:



Tareq Salahi Elects to Keep Dragging Things Out

Tareq Salahi Elects to Keep Dragging Things Out

(Courtesy Salahi campaign)

“My political goals are not about me, not about publicity, but about serving the hard-working people of Virginia who deserve a representative who actually represents them, their values, their concerns and their needs,” reality TV personality Tareq Salahi assured voters in a campaign blast urging them to write him in — the “not so bad after all” alternative — for the upcoming governor’s race in Virginia.

Failing that, the infamous White House party crasher appears inclined to run for Congress next fall.

Shutdown Is John Boehner’s Cross to Bear

As Senate leaders race to hammer out a last-minute game plan on the budget ahead of Thursday’s debt limit deadline, all eyes are turning back to Speaker John A. Boehner.

And two weeks of trial and error have left CNN anchor Chris Cuomo wondering whether the Ohio Republican will be able to handle the legislative Hail Mary.

“Hopefully, you can get the work done, because as we know, it all comes down to WWBD. What will Boehner do when he gets this deal?” Cuomo warned gang of 12 members Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on Tuesday during a discussion of the tenuous Senate deal. “If he can’t sell it to his caucus, it’s not going anywhere.”

The bipartisan duo expressed optimism that the developing package, which would theoretically reopen the government and the extend government borrowing authority ASAP while kicking the broader spending fight down the road a few months, is on the right track. But neither seemed pleased about all the roadblocks lawmakers have had to try to overcome every step of the way.

“It’s an embarrassment to me that we have spent all this time on a rabbit trail, leading us to where we are,” Corker said of the perilous journey. And it’s far from over. “There’s a lot of work that’s going to be done over the next two or three days. I don’t think it’s time to spike the football in the end zone yet,” he warned.

According to Heitkamp, the most important thing is that cooler heads have seemingly prevailed.

“Not to criticize anyone, but the adults have taken over,” she asserted.

October 13, 2013

Things Fall Apart | Capitol Quip

Things Fall Apart | Capitol Quip

Imagine, the government shutdown began over a fight against the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Republicans in both the House and Senate started out the fight in an effort to defund the law … which brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

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

The Flame Will Never Die | Capitol Quip

The Flame Will Never Die | 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.

October 12, 2013

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Anna Pederson and her son pick up trash on the west side of the Capitol on Saturday morning. (Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)

Former Marine Ian Grinnals drove six hours from Syracuse, N.Y., to pick up trash on the National Mall as part of the “Fix Up DC” National Day of Service event on Saturday morning.

Approximately 700 attendees showed up at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol  to clean up what 12 days of furloughed park rangers and maintenance officials have not been able to maintain.

The spontaneous community service event was organized on Thursday by FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots and Glenn Beck in an effort to enable citizens “to make a difference and do what government is not doing,” explained Deneen Borelli, FreedomWorks outreach director and Fox News contributor.

Leading officials in the tea party movement addressed volunteers, including television and radio host Beck and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

“We came up with this idea when we saw the man from South Carolina come out and mow the lawn. We thought all of us could do the same thing,” said Ellen Wheeler, director of messaging for FreedomWorks. “Congress may try to shutdown the government but they can’t shutdown the people.”

Individuals and families raked and bagged leaves near the outer paths of the National Mall grounds between 3rd and 7th streets NW.

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Amanda O’Donovan of Eldersburg, Va., made the hour trip with her husband and children to rake leaves in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. “It’s a good cause for the family and community to come together and take care of the problem.”

The majority of volunteers walked westward with the Lincoln and World War II Memorials as the final destinations.

Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin said the event’s purpose was “to show America that while the government shutdown is happening we are still doing what we can to take care of the Mall.”

Martin and Diana Banister, vice president and partner of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs, walked separately from the crowds and arrived at the World War II Memorials with bags nearly full.

Beck, who unofficially led the way down the Mall, arrived at the World War II Memorial shortly after noon and greeted dozens of veterans despite the signs of closure surrounding the oval-shaped space.

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Glenn Beck greets a veteran from World War II.
Photograph by Anna Giaritelli

Grinnals, who served two tours in the Middle East between 2004 and 2008, had personal reasons for making the road trip down to Washington.

“I want to make sure these memorials stay clean for future veterans, especially veterans on these honor flights that are coming here usually on their last leg. They should have a place to come and be remembered,” added Grinnals, a member of the Sons of Sam motorcycle club, which supports men and women of the armed forces.

October 11, 2013

Steve Stockman Loses Wild Man Credentials

What in the world has happened to Rep. Steve Stockman?

The Texas Republican and HOH favorite has delighted previously, whether it’s because he brought rock star/gun activist/hunter/crazy man Ted Nugent to the 2013 State of the Union; equating support for the Affordable Care Act to infanticide or schmoozing with the Missouri State Fair’s Obama Rodeo Clown, Stockman’s shoot-from-the-hip antics have always produced pretty good copy.

Until Oct. 8.

The previous day, Stockman announced he would be letting the world know whom he was inviting to be his guest for the 2014 State of the Union. Imaginations went into overdrive. How could he top Nugent? Who else in the conservative show biz pantheon could match the Motor City Madman?

The answer: He didn’t even try, opting for a dull political statement by inviting Chad Henderson, whom the administration touted as an Obamacare enrollee when the health insurance exchanges opened but hadn’t actually signed up. “He pushed ObamaCare on other people but refused to buy it himself because he would pay more,” Stockman said in a release. “I hope Chad will join me at the State of the Union Address so Obama can point to someone who personifies his policies,” he continued.


We expected more. Rep. Stockman, please don’t start giving stock talking points.

‘You’ve Got Hate!’ Partisan Scrub Edition

Believe it or not, some people do not like everything published in this space.

Crazy talk, we know.

Still, the blessing and the curse of a gossip column is that, if you are doing the job correctly, each time you publish, somebody, somewhere is sweating bullets hoping that whatever’s about to be printed does not happen to expose their deepest, darkest secrets. Or that lame food bet they made, anyway.

Granted, we occasionally miss the mark.

And as we recently learned from one incensed reader — whose antagonistic rant inspired us to share the dregs of our mailbag with the world — we’re nowhere near as clever as we’d like to believe:

Subject: Mr. Rojas

Message: Dining Editor? Tax Reporter? How about Left-Wing provocateur? This gentleman runs a pointless, mirthless, space consuming article that’s not even close to being funny, and you folks gave him the valuable platform to do it.

Pathetic and stupid.

The timing of this particular tongue-lashing would suggest our good friend did not enjoy Frank Kelly’s dream theater.  Either that or someone HATES the Marx Brothers.

Latino Magazine Profiles Hispanic Frosh, Except One

Latino Magazine recently profiled the newest Hispanic members in Congress but left out one person who seems to be in plenty of news stories already: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

In the 2012 election cycle, 10 Hispanic candidates were elected to their first terms in Congress, but the article, “New Kids in Town,” only makes mention of nine.

Latino Magazine Profiles Hispanic Frosh, Except One


But the editor of Latino Magazine, Alfredo Estrada, said the omission was only because Cruz was the only the senator in the group and the article focused on freshman members of the House instead.

The omission was in no way tied to politics, as Estrada noted that Latino Magazine has often covered Cruz in the past. Plus, Estrada noted, the article was published before Cruz made gonzo headlines with his not-quite-a-filibuster leading up to the government shutdown.

The article’s author, Patricia Guadalupe, said she had included Cruz, albeit briefly, when she wrote and submitted the article.

“I definitely put Cruz in there,” Guadalupe said.

Still, she stressed that there was no way his absence was politically motivated and figured that he was not included because he was in the Senate.

Nonetheless, the unintentional omission of Cruz couldn’t have come at a more interesting time.


An Open Letter to the GOP

There we were, pacing around the White House compound searching for some ridiculous news conference promising words of wisdom from a pint-sized budget savior (the purported “lil superhero” never actually showed), when a scrap of what initially looked like litter fluttered across our path.

An Open Letter to the GOP

The hand-scrawled indictment was doing a little dance just outside the shutdown-shuttered Treasury building, twisting and twirling in the breeze like that impish grocery bag that broke up all the melodrama in “American Beauty.”

Its involuntary acrobatics made us, ever so briefly, forget about the ideological tug of war that’s kept the government on hiatus for going on two weeks.

Until, of course, we read the note.

The unidentified author really let the GOP have it, rebuking Republicans for abandoning the guiding principles of their forefathers in favor of the political flavor of the month.

“The Republicans have gone stupid … They will never again be the party of Lincoln … Stop your idiotic thinking just to stay with your group no matter what!” the unsigned missive raged.

HOH can’t help but wonder what would possess someone to pour their thoughts onto paper — Willard Intercontinental stationary, no less (Did they pause between bites of their $18 Angus cheeseburger to pen this? Or was the drafting done after the $9 pastry basket had been sufficiently picked over?) — and then casually discard the end product on the streets of D.C.

At the very least the mystery critic should have tacked the talking points to the door of the Capitol Hill Club, Martin Luther-style.

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