Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 31, 2015

June 27, 2013

LGBT Documentary Lands at CVC Amid Court Decisions

On the eve of the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage in the United States, members of Congress made a sparse showing at Capitol Visitor Center screening of “Born This Way,” a new documentary on the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Cameroon whose title is a direct reference to Lady Gaga’s pro-LGBT anthem.

The film follows a chapter in the lives of Cedric and Gertrude, Cameroonians who claim in the film to have faced violence in the streets and persecution under the law for being homosexual in their home country. During a time when LGBT rights are at the forefront of politics in Washington, directors Sean Kadlec and Deb Tullmann brought their film to the Capitol Visitor Center without a legislative goal in mind, Kadlec said.

“[We’re] trying to get people to look a little bit outside of the United States at these issues and understand what it’s like for the people who are living there,” he continued. Full story

Fantasy Softball Winner Did His Homework (UPDATED)

Updated 2:08 p.m. | And the winner of Roll Call’s first Fantasy Softball Challenge is … William Cusey, who put up 430 points with a fantasy team selected from the two rosters of last night’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game, pitting members of Congress against members of the press.

He will receive a $150 gift certificate to the 201 Bar on Capitol Hill.

Cusey’s winning lineup consisted of:

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
  • Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
  • Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.
  • Leigh Ann Caldwell, freelance reporter
  • Emmarie Huetteman, New York Times
  • Kasie Hunt, NBC
  • Abby Livingston, Roll Call
  • Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

Entrants scored points based on the stats of their chosen players in last night’s game: Singles = 10 points each, doubles = 20, triples = 30, home runs = 40, walks = 10, runs = 10 and RBIs = 10.

Cusey, a former staffer at House Energy and Commerce Committee who now works for the legislative affairs office of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, did his homework before submitting his entry.

“I looked at the stats from last year’s game to help me formulate my roster,” he said in an email. “So, I knew ‘my team’ had a good shot at attaining the most points.”

Cusey said he enjoyed being part of a good cause.

“Last night’s … game gave fans of politics a chance to see many of DC’s political icons as themselves, away from the numerous political battles raging on the Hill,” he said. “The intimate atmosphere, the healthy competition between the members and the press, allowed everyone to forget — at least for a couple of hours — about all of the difficult policy decisions left to be made.

“It was a wonderfully enjoyable experience that also raised money for a very good cause. I look forward to next year’s game!” he said.

The other top fantasy scorers include a number of the game’s players(*), but as far as we know, there’s no Pete Rose rule in this league.

2. Ashley Southall

3.(tie) Tamara Keith (NPR)*

3.(tie) Jennifer Bendery (Huffington Post)*

5.(tie) Caroline Horn (CBS)*

5.(tie) Shawna Thomas

7.(tie) B. Knowlton

7.(tie) Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times)*

9.(tie) Marge Vindaloo

9.(tie) Elise Foley (HuffPost)*

Nice going all.

June 26, 2013

Bad News Babes Win Softball Title for Second Consecutive Year

The female members of the press won a seesaw battle of softball brawn Wednesday night at the Fifth Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, defeating female members of Congress 11-8 to take home the coveted softball trophy for the second consecutive year.

The contest was close through many of the game’s seven innings, flipping leads several times between the member team and the press, who call themselves the Bad News Babes. But in the top of the sixth, the Bad News Babes opened up a lead that the members could not quite overcome.

Bad News Babes Win Softball Title for Second Consecutive Year

The game raised $115,000 for breast cancer charity. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

Full story

Chew On These Shark-Inspired Captions | Capitol Quip

Chew On These Shark Inspired Captions | 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. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • I think they’ve all crossed the red line.
  • I’m on top of the situation.
  • I think we’re going to need a bigger moat!
  • “Arab Spring” sounded SO much nicer than “Shark Week.”
  • Fins to the left, fins to the right …

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog July 1 and in the next day’s 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 5:39 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Rand Paul Jockeys for Facebook Domination

Whether he’s running for president in 2016 is immaterial: Sen. Rand Paul really just wants EVERYONE to like him.

While thanking supporter Miles Wobbleton for contributing the 100,000th “thumbs up” on his official Senate Facebook page, the Kentucky Republican indicated that he wants to see his online flock grow exponentially.

Rand Paul Jockeys for Facebook Domination


“We’re excited to be at 100,000, but really we’d like to see it at a million,” Paul proposed, tossing out that familiar Washington enticement — the proverbial “free lunch” — to those still on the fence about registering their virtual approval. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:31 p.m.

Lincoln, Alive and Sweating

Lincoln, Alive and Sweating

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

What you see here is the face of patriotism.

It’s the prize awarded for tooling around outside the White House in the dead of a sweaty afternoon. This young man, who identified himself to HOH only as “Wayne or Abe,” is set to spend his summer walking back and forth on Pennsylvania Avenue, passing out coupons to the White House Gifts souvenir store.

And the proof of the young man’s patriotic affection? His suit is all synthetic.

“We have two suits. This is the bad one,” he said.

This poor guy has it rougher than the last White House Gifts toiler, James Ollerhead, whom CQ Roll Call last spotted in more temperate climes for a recent Capitol Lens.

House Staffers Crave ‘Meatless Monday’ Answers

Vegetarian Hill staffers are feeling seriously disenfranchised after lobbyists complained to Congress about a “Meatless Monday” program that has subsequently been allowed to wither on the vine.

Per staff, “Meatless Monday” only took place once (June 3).

Steve Kopperud, executive vice president of Policy Directions Inc., helped stamp out the produce-friendly promotion — congressional dining operator Restaurant Associates’ plan to provide vegetarian fare at a single food counter in the Longworth cafeteria once per week — after it was sniffed out by a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition. Kopperud fired off a letter to the House Administration Committee (making sure to cc Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and a handful of relevant GOP committee chairmen) denouncing the alterna-dining outreach as pure propaganda. Full story

Pelosi: ‘Who Cares?’ About Bachmann’s DOMA Reaction

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act sent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle bounding off in search of open microphones, a race to rapidly respond that led to some very knee-jerk reactions.

Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., bemoaned the DOMA verdict, castigating the high court for wading into spiritual territory.

“Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy god has instituted,” Bachmann warned in a tersely worded statement.

Pelosi: Who Cares? About Bachmanns DOMA Reaction

Bachmann wasn’t too pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When pressed about Bachmann’s pious posturing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defiantly shrugged it off.

“Who cares?” Pelosi asked a packed news conference.

Pelosi: Who Cares? About Bachmanns DOMA Reaction

Pelosi didn’t really care about Bachmann’s reaction to the DOMA verdict. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., attempted to be more diplomatic about all the conservative hand-wringing.

“In the fullness of time, I firmly believe, with every conviction in my heart, that every American will come to celebrate this decision,” the openly gay freshman lawmaker asserted. “This decision was not imposed on the American people. It merely ratified what was already in the hearts and minds of the … great majority of the American people.”

The Capitol’s Gentleman Callers | Overheard

“Who’s calling my name? It could be any of these fine gentlemen.”

— Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, walking off the floor after Tuesday votes

McCain Ignores Gay Marriage Ruling on Twitter

One of these things is not like the other:

McCain Ignores Gay Marriage Ruling on Twitter


While congressional Democrats raced to social media to revel in the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions gutting the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing California’s polarizing Proposition 8, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sounds the alarm about bloodshed in Syria.



The Squeaky Wheel Gets the … Insult? | Overheard

Man 1: “God, this thing sounds like crap.”
Man 2: “Yeah, I know. Taxpayers’ money.”

A pair of pseudo-engineers (photographing track features, debating Capitol Police procedures) chuckling about the state of the Senate subway system.

June 25, 2013

Kasie Hunt Advances in Fantasy Softball, Smack Talk Goes Into Overdrive

In a little more than 24 hours, female members of Congress and the press corps will suit up for The Game.

The teams face off Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in a charity fundraiser to support young women facing breast cancer. Two and a half months of practice in, the fundraising expectations for the Young Survival Coalition are nearing $125,000 and the trash talk is utterly out of control.

Think we’re taking this game too seriously? Our readers are just as into it — and they can channel that energy in Roll Call’s Fantasy Softball game.

“How can I rig fantasy softball? Can I slip a hard ball to the pitcher when one of my players is up? Move the foul poles? Are you testing for HGH?” Democratic operative Andy Barr jokingly emailed to Heard on the Hill. “We can split the gift card.”

Here were the standings as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Full story

An Earful: HOH’s NSA Mix Tape

We Act Radio wants to flood D.C.’s streets with spinning spokes and booming speeches this Independence Day via a multi-ward, anti-domestic spying protest dubbed the “NSA Mixtape Bike Ride.”

The event, which is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. July 4 at WAR HQ (1918 Martin Luther King Ave. SE), is being billed as “part flash mob, part street theatre, and part march … in opposition to ‘Big Brother’” by organizers on social media.

Planners have also promised to feed the demonstrators a steady diet of “relevant songs and speeches against surveillance” during the evolving ride; per online bantering, the length of the ride remains in flux (2-3 hours appears on the table), as does the ultimate destination (“possibly ending on the Mall to provide context to the fireworks and/or U street for beer”).

Ride wrangler Kymone Freeman did not respond to queries about what might pop up on the promised mix tape, so we here at HOH compiled what we believe to be an apropos playlist:

“Somebody’s Watching Me” — Rockwell

The new normal. Full story

Nebraska Zoo Likens Frisky Red Panda Pop to Strom Thurmond

Looks like Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., has let the cat red panda out of the bag:

Nebraska Zoo Likens Frisky Red Panda Pop to Strom Thurmond

(Courtesy Jeff Fortenberry)

While weighing in on the origins of Rusty, the 1-year-old red panda who took to the streets of D.C. Monday for an impromptu look-see, Fortenberry inadvertently leaked a Nebraska habitat’s nickname — “Strom Thurmond” — for the randy elder mammal from which he sprung.

John Chapo, Lincoln Children’s Zoo president and CEO, told HOH he bestowed the moniker on the furry pawed-paterfamilias, whose real name is “Disney,” for obvious reasons.

“According to the national Red Panda Species Survival Plan chair, Disney was and still is the oldest red panda male in captivity to successful sire healthy offspring at the age of 15. Before that, the oldest was 12,” Chapo explained. Full story

‘Senatorial’ Actor No Virgin to Political Roles

The lead actor in a political video caught our attention with his saucy moves as a salacious senator who strips down to his red, white and blue underwear and pole dances for a pack of lascivious lobbyists.

As it turns out, Peak Kwinarian, who plays the senator, is no virgin to political roles. Kwinarian played a deputy committee chairman in an episode of “House of Cards,” the Netflix success that stars Kevin Spacey and romanticizes the dark underbelly of Washington politics. In a recent interview, Kwinarian told HOH that was a “high pressure” gig, but said he enjoyed working with Spacey.

An advocacy group for changing the role of money in politics, Represent.Us, posted the stripping ad on YouTube recently and is currently pushing to get it on national television.

“He’s very senatorial,” video producer Randy Hackett said of Kwinarian. “He looks like that kind of classic, patrician white-haired, New England type.”

“I think we could probably get him elected if he had the right campaign managing and team,” Hackett continued.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely — and not just because of the campaign finance laws with which Represent.Us takes issue. When asked about his view on politics as a career, Kwinarian said, “Why anyone would want to be a politician in the first place is beyond me.”

A Stamford, Conn., native, Kwinarian said his conservative sensibilities on health care, gay marriage and especially unions render him uncommon in his adopted home of Manhattan. Despite his views on unions, however, he is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. “You have to be,” he clarified.

Kwinarian considered the psyche of the senator he played in the Represent.Us video and wouldn’t condemn the fictional lawmaker’s actions. “I think he’s just probably more of a victim of the environment in which he was working and living, in which maybe a lot of politicians find themselves,” he said.

Kwinarian also works for the Onion News Network, where he plays an anchor named Brandon Armstrong. In a 2008 video, Armstrong argues with the fake CEOs of major motor companies for not making flying cars. We’re not kidding.

Senatorial Actor No Virgin to Political Roles


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