Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 18, 2015

August 29, 2013

Norton Wags a Finger at Secret Service After March

Norton Wags a Finger at Secret Service After March

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton had a dream for Wednesday’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — shorter lines.

In a letter penned Thursday to Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, Norton accuses the agency of a “massive failure to organize, prepare and coordinate to receive visitors.”

She holds the Secret Service responsible for the “misery” induced by security checkpoint backups at the general public entrance, including “huge lines and wait times, which left visitors, many of them elderly, frustrated and even ill and overcome by the heat and rain.”

“It is inexcusable that people had to wait on their feet for long hours in such hot and humid conditions, that a number of people fainted, that the D.C. Fire and EMS Department had to give medical assistance to over 100 people, and that some had to be hospitalized,” she wrote. “As a result of your poor planning and execution, many were unable to attend and participate in the event altogether.”

Daniel van Hoogstraten, spokesman for Norton, told HOH that the congresswoman heard the complaints “firsthand” from constituents who approached her during the ceremony on Wednesday and that people have continued to contact her about it.

Norton sympathizes with the “unusual challenge” the Secret Service confronted in trying to keep Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama safe, and then points to past inaugurations as positive proof that the agents can do better.

“I am, therefore, very disappointed that you failed to prevent an organizational breakdown that was entirely unnecessary. There is no doubt that the many failures could have been prevented. Security personnel belatedly added magnetometers and hand-held metal detector wands to speed up the long delays, showing that with routine, advanced planning, the misery your agency caused could have been avoided.”

After the seal of disapproval, Norton requests a meeting with the agency.

Update 6:03 p.m.

George Ogilvie, a public information officer for the Secret Service, emailed HOH a response to Norton’s allegations.

“Our goal for any protected event is to develop and implement, with other participating agencies, a security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for our protectees, other dignitaries, event participants, and the general public. During this event every effort was made to adapt with resources and personnel to accommodate the surge in attendees that arrived after [11:00 a.m.] for security screening. Throughout the entire event, we continued to process people to make sure that everyone that wanted to attend the event was able to attend — no one was denied access to the event.”

As for a meeting with Norton, Ogilvie writes: “We will conduct an after action review with the National Park Service and if areas for improvement are identified the Secret Service will take corrective action.”

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:25 p.m.

Relax POTUS — Team America’s Got This

President Barack Obama and his military advisers can quit trying to convince folks of the need to put a hurting on Syria.

Relax POTUS — Team Americas Got This


Our preeminent puppet protectors — Team America: World Police — are evidently well aware of the situation and ready to roll. Full story

Pelosi’s ‘Star Wars’ Nod Really a Lifetime Achievement Award

Women’s Intercultural Network President Marilyn Fowler doesn’t hand out the group’s cheeky Princess Leia Award to just anybody. In reality, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is only the third woman to earn the space-fantasy-inspired mantle — and it’s been an honor a long time coming.

Pelosi was granted the interstellar title over the weekend; her daughter, Christine Pelosi, attended the ceremony in San Francisco and collected the corresponding booty: a collapsible toy lightsaber.

“We give the ‘Princess Leia Award’ to women who have battled great odds successfully in their work on behalf of others — of women and their families,” Fowler told HOH of the vetting process.

Prior recipients include, Mimi Silbert, founder and director of the Delancey Street Foundation, an organization specializing in addiction and recovery aid, and Charlie Toledo, founder and director of the Suscol Intertribal Council, a group devoted to Native American issues.

It’s the California Democrat’s ongoing commitment to standing up to House Republicans that made WIN want to place Pelosi among the pantheon of sci-fi royalty. Full story

August 28, 2013

Rigell Letter Bravely Opposes Obama’s Plan to Bomb … Libya?

Rigell Letter Bravely Opposes Obamas Plan to Bomb ... Libya?Scott Rigell" src="" width="445" height="295" />

Rep. Scott Rigell’s letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday was by most measures a win for the Virginia Republican, who gained valuable media exposure in finding 116 lawmakers to urge congressional authorization before striking Syria.

But the letter wasn’t a complete success for the congressman or his office.

Throughout the day, Rigell’s office sent a list of current signatories that had a number of errors (left the second ‘n’ off of Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, guys). Michigan Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio was, somehow, “Rep. Jim Bentivolio.” And Raúl R. Labrador became, in what was either a mistake or a subtle shot at the Idaho Republican, “Rep. Raul Labrabor.”

But, perhaps, the most comical mistake came in Rigell’s press release touting his letter. The headline?

“Rigell Leads Bipartisan Effort Urging President Obama to Get Congressional ApprovalBefore Striking Libya”

While Rigell’s letter criticizes Obama for his 2011 intervention in Libya, the congressman’s staff might have wanted to check the timeline on that whole Libya thing.

His office did send out a corrected press release. Crisis (in Libya) averted.

By Matt Fuller Posted at 6:57 p.m.

I Have (Five) Speeches | Capitol Quip

I Have (Five) Speeches | 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:

  • How about “I have a tempered aspiration?”
  • Mr. President, You have the wrong speech! I gave you the “Blame Republicans” speech!
  • How about “I have a drone?”
  • No, no, not THAT one!
  • Mr. President, wait! That is your March Madness bracket, not your March on Washington speech!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 2 and in the following 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 6:12 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Kerry Bentivolio Just Sic About Lack of Legislative Comprehension

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., took to Twitter to plead for greater transparency within the legislative process:

May we suggest that the freshman lawmaker crack a dictionary — they’re “roll call” votes, sir — before launching any deep-dives into the Federal Register?

Restaurant Associates Rebuts Mold Rumors

Congressional diners have nothing to fear.

So says Restaurant Associates spokeswoman Gina Zimmer, who assures HOH that the moldy food bulletin an HOH tipster caught while cutting across the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria was a precautionary tale, not an admission of defeat.

“While the staffer overheard one of our recent food safety training sessions, rest assured there is absolutely NO issue regarding mold in any of our products served at the House and there never has been,” Zimmer relayed a few days after HOH reported on the unsettling menu update.

Per Zimmer, every morning, RA convenes a pre-service meeting at which crew members often openly discuss food-handling concerns.

“At the pre-meal that the aide was present at, our manager was reminding our staff of the RA food quality standards,” she said.

Moreover, Zimmer maintains that when they do encounter spoiled supplies, the suspect offerings are spirited away post-haste.

“If any RA employee sees a product that is not to our specifications, they remove it immediately and bring it back to our receiving department to return back to the vendor,” she said of the company’s quality-control protocol.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 2:27 p.m.
Food, Staffers

Jerry McNerney’s Social Media Aide Is Killing It Today

Recess, shmecess.

Jerry McNerney’s Social Media Aide Is Killing It Today


Whoever is in charge of archiving the speeches Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., rattles off in the course of his legislative duties is taking advantage of the relative quiet to weave together what appears to be an all-encompassing — Hispanic heritage stuff? ¡Si Señor! Veterans Affairs claims? Ooo-rah! Cyber intelligence issues? You betcha — highlight reel.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:31 p.m.
Reps, Staffers, Webtastic

House GOP Aide Denies Sandbagging Filner Flack

House staffer Jeff Leieritz assures HOH that, contrary to what San Diego CityBeat says, he did not deliberately set out to ruin Lena Lewis — spokeswoman for embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner — when the pair posed for a now-infamous snapshot in Las Vegas.

Leieritz, who when we last caught up with him was accused of making waves at home by playing house with his fiancée, explained that he was in Las Vegas the weekend of Aug. 16 — bidding farewell to his single days (natch) — and did cozy up to Lewis, who was in the midst of her own bachelorette send-off, for a quick pic.

But he maintains that the encounter was purely serendipitous — not the premeditated takedown the West Coast weekly made it out to be on Monday.

“As a part of my bachelor party, I was prompted by friends to pose for pictures with several bachelorette parties who were also celebrating that night,” he said, suggesting that he and Lewis “just happened to be at the same location.”

“Any suggestion that I was involved in any ‘orchestrated’ activities against anyone is simply not true, and way overblown,” Leieritz asserted. “I’m very disappointed that this blogger jumped to such an outrageous conclusion.” In a previous political life, Leieritz worked for Republican Carl DeMaio, who is exploring a run for mayor of San Diego now that Filner is on his way out.

Leieritz did not address how Derek Wixon, whom he admitted to knowing in high school (“I have not seen him in several years,” Leieritz said), would have known enough about the piano bar shenanigans to brag on Facebook about bringing Lewis down, nor would he reveal who snapped the incriminating photo. Full story

August 27, 2013

Enviros Pin Disastrous Weather to Pols

The 350 Action Fund has poured some money into a new campaign aimed at naming catastrophic meteorological events after sitting lawmakers who seem to pay the weather no mind.

In addition to the handful of elected officials lampooned in the promotional video, the powers that be behind call out more than three dozen elected officials — mostly Republicans, though a few Democrats made the cut — that the group believes are either actively opposing or dragging their feet on climate issues.

The environmentalists are asking supporters to sign a petition urging the World Meteorological Organization to switch from arbitrarily naming threatening storms to hanging them around the necks of perceived obstructionists.

Should they succeed, the nightly news may soon be flooded with election-crushing visuals like these:

Enviros Pin Disastrous Weather to Pols


Full story

August 26, 2013

Tortilla Coast Celebrates the First Day of School

Haven’t seen enough cute first-day-of-school pictures in your Facebook feed?

Here’s one more:

Tortilla Coast Celebrates the First Day of School

(Abby Livingston/CQ Roll Call)


House GOP Hopeful Compares N.C. Voter ID Law to Excrement

Jason Thigpen, a political newcomer looking to unseat Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., has parted company with his fellow Tar Heel State Republicans over a voter ID change he insists just plain stinks.

“You can paint a turd and sell it as art, but it’s still a turd,” Thigpen asserted in a Facebook post denouncing the election tweaks that state lawmakers approved in late July.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the new restrictions — which mandate voters to show a government-issued ID, trims the early voting window by a week and abolishes same-day registration — into law on Aug. 12.

“This is 2013 and any legislator that puts forth such a discriminatory bill should be laughed out of office. This is America, not Russia,” Thigpen argued.

His opposition, however, appears to be more technical than purely ideological. Full story

Pelosi Pleased About Princess Leia Award

Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., collected a rather curious prize for her mom this weekend, attending a Women’s Equality Day celebration to accept the otherworldly “Princess Leia” award.

For those of you with a tragically low midi-chlorian count, Princess Leia, as portrayed by actress Carrie Fisher, is the heroine of the original “Star Wars” trilogy (episodes IV-VI).

The tribute was presented on behalf of the Women’s Intercultural Network. The group did not respond to requests for comment about the history of an award named for an empire-bucking, rebellion-leading Jedi scion, or any past recipients.

Team Pelosi, on the other hand, seemed only to happy to play along.

“Leader Pelosi knows that from Alderaan to America, the full participation of women in society provides A New Hope to restoring freedom to the galaxy,” a Pelosi aide told HOH about the unique honor. “House Democrats’ women’s economic agenda — When Women Succeed, America Succeeds — would ensure that the force of women will be with you.” Full story

John Lewis Tops Best-Seller Lists

John Lewis Tops Best Seller Lists

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. John Lewis’ debut graphic novel, “March,” is a bona fide hit, landing in the top spot on multiple best-seller lists — including the coveted Gray Lady’s.

The book is currently No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list for paperback graphic novels and leads The Washington Post’s entire nonfiction section. Full story

August 25, 2013

I Have a Speech | Capitol Quip

I Have a Speech | Capitol Quip

With President Barack Obama slated to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech this week, the pressure may be on him to inspire as King did back in 1963. No doubt his speechwriters are working overtime to come up with something grandiose and visionary.

So what’s your take? Send us your caption for this week’s Capitol Quip. Leave it in the comments section below.

Editors will pick five finalists Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. To check out past winners, visit Pinterest.

By Emily Pierce Posted at 7:10 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...