Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 1, 2015

September 11, 2013

Capitol Dance Party Hopes to Shake Things Up

After Wednesday’s solemn 9/11 commemorations, it falls to the organizers of Listen! Dance! Unite! to show people around the Capitol that unity events can have a little flair as well.

“This past year, we hosted a couple of successful nightclub events that were designed to bring together people from different communities and backgrounds under the power of soul-edifying music that gets you on your feet,” said Jordan Wilson, one of the event organizers. “Following our positive experience with these nights, we decided to take the idea to the nation’s capital, where divisive partisanship and bitterness have become somewhat of a plague.”

That decision led to Thursday night’s dance party, which will take place on the West Terrace of the Capitol from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. DJ “Stylus Chris” will spin the tunes for the fiesta, which is free.

“The purpose of the event is to use the power of music and dance to unite people, if only for one evening, on the footsteps of one of the most divided institutions in the country, the United States Congress,” Wilson said, adding, “and the tag line is ‘people over politics’ because it appears that amidst political arguments and debates, too often we lose sight of our shared humanity.”

Another organizer, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, told HOH that, “with the Capitol so divided, it is critical that we start putting ‘people over politics’ and start building personal relationships.”

‘Presidents’ Gatekeepers’ Puts POTUS Minding in Perspective

A good deal of the “The Presidents’ Gatekeepers,” a documentary-style look at the stiflingly high-pressure world White House chiefs of staff inhabit while serving as POTUS’ right-hand guy, is dedicated to the somber reflections and gut-wrenching decisions administration aides had to help make during America’s darkest hours.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Luckily, spirits were much higher (open bars always help) at Tuesday’s preview party.

The two-part series, airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on the Discovery Channel, features candid discussions with the 20 living ex-presidential confidants, as well as commentary from Presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter.

The screener focused on some of the most harrowing moments in recent history, taking the participants back in time to expound on their roles during trying times such as the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, the atrocities of 9/11 and the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

In the film, Andrew Card says he was as stunned as everyone else by the back-to-back assaults on the World Trade Center towers. But the aide to President George W. Bush insists he deliberately opted against causing a scene during the fateful morning “Dubya” was shown reading to schoolchildren in a Florida classroom.

According to Card, he leaned in, whispered, “America is under attack” to the visibly rattled Bush and then withdrew so 43 couldn’t engage him further.

“It wasn’t the place to have a conversation,” Card said. Full story

Brad Wenstrup Prepares for First Child

Freshman Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, will soon welcome a new member to the family.

Wenstrup and his wife, Monica, are expecting their first child in November, although they do not know whether it is a boy or a girl.

“We are not checking,” Wenstrup told HOH. “We’re going to wait to be surprised; we just hope for a healthy baby. We also have picked names, but we’re not telling people; we have a boy’s name and a girl’s name picked out, so we’ll know right away the day the baby’s born.”

Wenstrup, who married Monica in May 2012, said he is excited to be a father. Full story

Sanford Steps Out With Fiancee at CNN Party

(Courtesy of CNN public relations)

(Courtesy CNN public relations)

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., walked the red carpet at CNN’s “Crossfire” launch party in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night with his fiancee, Maria Belén Chapur, on his arm.

Chapur, memorably, is the woman who was at the center of his 2009 extramarital affair when he was governor.

But Sanford and Chapur were only two of the attendees of the A-list party.

Republican Reps. Darrell Issa of California and Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho and Democrats Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also made the rounds. Former Sen. Rick Santorum stopped by after taping an appearance on the show’s second episode Tuesday evening.

Caroline Kennedy, Greta Van Susteren and Laura Ingraham were also among the well-known attendees at the swanky celebration at the Carnegie Library.

“CNN has its swagger back,” as one network executive put it to HOH.

CNN President Jeff Zucker told the Capitol Hill-centric crowd that when he was named head of the company late last year, he had two priorities: to bring back actor James Earl Jones’ marketing voice-overs and to resurrect the debate show.

Full story

September 10, 2013

Justin Amash’s Magical Twitter Rants

Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash became seriously disillusioned Tuesday — warning his social-media flock not once, not twice, but thrice about the procedural sleight of hand designed to blunt President Barack Obama’s looming health care expansion.

The tea party favorite became possessed with the idea of raising the alarm before lunch, broadcasting this cryptic warning amid a slew of anti-Syria missives:


That set the stage for a full-fledged attack on party leaders:


Amash closed the nowhere-near-secret circle with a nod to his pop culture muses:

No word on whether Twitter fans were spellbound by his appeals.

Next time, he should consider strapping on a prosthetic schnoz and choreograph a catchy song-and-dance number.

Believe It or Not! Heritage Goes Times Square

The engagement gurus at the Heritage Foundation are going for marketing gold in the race to cripple President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul, sounding interactive alarms against government-sponsored coverage on a towering new Times Square billboard.

Heritage strategist Genevieve Wood said the eye-catching advertisement — public relations analysts estimate that the mammoth marketing tools reach around 1.8 million passers-by each day and rake in millions of dollars in revenue from exposure-hungry organizations each year — is expected to go up Tuesday and should stay up for a month after.

“It’s not just for politicians. We want the American public to see it,” Wood told HOH of the rationale behind proselytizing in NYC instead of, say, administration-driven D.C.

The ad urges viewers to text “hazard” to a special number (33733) — attendees at a tea-party-led gathering on Capitol Hill received similar marching orders, though their password was “rally” — which triggers an auto-reply directing them to Heritage’s companion video:

Full story

Members, Lobbyists Slog It Out at Basketball Game

It was a suitable ending to an ugly affair when House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s shot at the buzzer stuck between the rim and backboard.

“Most people would try to just make it; I wanted it to stop,” the California Republican said.


(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Despite turnovers and poor execution, members of Congress held off a late surge by the lobbyists’ team to capture their second straight Hoops for Hope Championship on Monday, 25-19.  McCarthy, one of four participants honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the half, said everyone was a little rusty.

“This was one of the lowest scoring games [I can remember],” McCarthy said. “I think it shows we’re just coming back from break.” Full story

Republicans Braced for Syria Week at Bibiana

With marathon negotiations on Syria stretching into week two, House and Senate Republicans on Monday took the opportunity to regroup and do a little communal carbo-loading in a back room at Bibiana.

An HOH tipster said GOP lawmakers — including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina —overran the tony Italian eatery on Monday.

The information-starved group appears to be all over the place on the issue. Cantor, for instance, was one of the first to fall in line behind President Barack Obama’s call to action, while Cornyn and Scott remain question marks.

No word on whether the pols reached any type of consensus on whether to risk their necks for another Middle East showdown.

But confidence is high they would all agree that the house-made meatballs (a marriage of mouthwatering ground pork and veal), eggplant-stuffed arancini and squid ink pasta are to die for.

Public Ain’t Buying What POTUS Is Selling

With just hours to go before his prime-time address on Syria, it would seem that President Barack Obama has some seriously heavy lifting to do to win the hearts and minds of a deeply fractured electorate.



Some online skeptics appear inclined to agree with Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., that there’s still plenty left to do around the home front, rather than barging into another country’s affairs.

September 9, 2013

Foleys Are Downsizing, but Keeping All the Memories

In a move aimed at clearing away some clutter, Heather Foley, wife of infirm ex-Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., is offering up almost two dozen rare collectibles set to be auctioned off this weekend.

“He’s frail. Fortunately, we bought long-term care insurance. Otherwise, I don’t know what I would do,” Heather told HOH of the financial toll treating the aspiration pneumonia Foley has battled off and on for the past year has taken on the family.

The 84-year-old Foley remains in hospice care at home.

The brunt of the lot, which is available for viewing and bidding via Quinn’s Auction Galleries, features modernist furniture and portraits produced by trendsetters Herman Miller and Paul Doering, respectively. There’s even a Hans Wegner lounge chair (minimum bid: $1,000). Heather says it is the first piece of high-end comfort Foley ever acquired.

But perhaps the most curious castoffs are the tiny figurines Heather snatched up while half a world away.

(Courtesy Quinn's Auction Galleries)

(Courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries)

Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:41 p.m.
AwesomeSauce, Reps

Anti-War Activists Strive to Illuminate Capitol Hill

(CQ Roll Call archives)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A cadre of progressive organizations are urging those opposed to U.S. involvement in the Syria crisis to join their candlelight vigil Monday night just steps from the Capitol.

The demonstration, coordinated by, CREDO Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Win Without War, is expected to take place beginning at 7 p.m. opposite the Cannon House Office Building.

Those hoping to add their voice to the choir of naysayers can sign up here.

IOC Wrestling Reversal Draws Bicameral Cheers

With the Syria vote looming and a knock-down, drag-out fight on the federal budget and debt limit just around the corner, lawmakers will take whatever victories they can get.

Take the reinstatement of traditional wrestling to the roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which finally gave Congress something to rally around.

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Wrestling is an incredible sport loved by many Minnesotans, including myself, and one whose athletes deserve the opportunity to participate at the peak level of Olympic competition,” former high school wrestler and Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken trumpeted in a release. “I’m so pleased that the requests made to the IOC, including my own, to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport didn’t fall on deaf ears.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who counted nearly 50 supporters in his corner for a bipartisan resolution chiding the International Olympic Committee for even thinking of pulling Greco-Roman grappling from the program, was also very relieved.

“The history of collegiate and Olympic wrestling runs through Iowa and we know that the determination and the hard work it teaches our kids provides them the skills it takes to succeed in life,” Loebsack asserted.

No word yet from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 1:43 p.m.
Reps, Sens, Sports Desk

Take Five: Suzan DelBene

Suzan DelBene

(Tom Williams/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 legislative work. This week, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., talks about her travels during recess, social media and the great outdoors.

Q. During recess you traveled with other members of Congress. Where did you go?

A. I went to Israel. [House Minority Whip Steny H.] Hoyer organized the trip and we went all over. It was an educational experience; we saw many different areas, from the southern part of the country and up north to the Lebanese border. We heard about the history of these places, which is important as we [head] back to Washington.

Q. What prompted you to want to be a member of Congress? You had several nice job titles before (Microsoft executive, Washington Department of Revenue director).

A. I had great opportunities despite financial struggles that my family went through growing up. I went to college with student loans and work study, and I believe that it’s important for everyone to have that opportunity. Folks are going to keep fighting for the chance for a better future, and I want us to preserve that. Full story

Is Illinois Teen’s Portrait a Political Statement?

To the casual observer, “Tea Party for One” may appear to be just another pic of a headless woman enjoying a proper cuppa.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But the longer we admired the award-winning portrait — which was produced by Geneva Community High School senior Avie Churchwell and now hangs in the tunnels beneath the Capitol, courtesy of Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill. — the more questions poured into our gray matter.

  • Could Churchwell be jamming her paint-speckled thumb into the non-existent eyes of the leaderless tea party movement — the very entity that helped sweep Hultgren into office in 2010?
  • Is a single person enough to bestow “party” status on a gathering, conservative-themed or otherwise?
  • Do all teenage girls slog through life convinced they are totally invisible to the world around them?
  • How much must disembodied tea drinkers spend on dry cleaning? (That drink’s just going to go everywhere.)

Sadly, Churchwell did not respond to requests to discuss her haunting vision — a snub that left us feeling very much unfulfilled, invisible even.

September 8, 2013

Congress Lines Up | Capitol Quip


Advocates of military strikes against Syria say that country’s use of chemical weapons is a red line.

Has the line shifted now that Congress is debating whether to authorize military action?

Let us know how members should navigate this question in 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 Sept. 11, and everyone can vote for the winner through Sept. 12.

Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

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