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

September 6, 2013

Decorum Police Have No Beef With Rude Snacks

In a place where every single syllable uttered or character woven into a release is religiously parsed for ulterior meaning, hunger apparently trumps civility.

How else to explain the wealth of preservative-laden “Big Az” products that stare back at famished House staffers circling the Longworth vending machines in search of microwaveable sustenance.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

There’s the standard cheeseburger, a staple of truck stop deli cases and convenience store carousels. Full story

September 5, 2013

John Kerry Getting Shelled on Twitter About Syria

This whole Syria thing has spawned an army of armchair foreign policy experts who are not afraid to savage sitting leaders in pursuit of their own rhetorical amusement.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., got caught in their crosshairs earlier this week.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State John Kerry is getting a taste of their wrath right now.

Online critics have launched a #JohnKerryWarMovies thread in which they float titles for fictional flicks lampooning the former lawmaker’s ongoing efforts to line up enough congressional votes to support President Barack Obama’s planned attack against Bashar al-Assad.

The combative creations include:

An homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s seminal contribution to the horrors of war genre Full story

Waxman Challenger Sails Into the Fray

Entertainment-veteran-turned-House-hopeful Brent Roske spent his Labor Day doing exactly what he wanted to do: drinking beer on his boat with a bunch of like-minded revelers.

(Courtesy Brent Roske)

(Courtesy Brent Roske)

The only difference between this marathon bull session (per Roske, circa 200 guests mingled from 11 a.m. till close to midnight) and previous dockside shindigs is that, this time, partygoers were not just hanging with a pal. They were providing perspective to the aspiring pol, who is taking on Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif.

“The title of the job is ‘Representative.’ In LA, that means there’s room to have some fun,” Roske told HOH about the deliberately low-key affair, adding, “Celebrating Labor Day with swimsuits and beer is about as American as you can get.”

His would-be constituents couldn’t agree more.

“When Brent told me he was running for Congress, I knew it would be an unconventional campaign. Spending Labor Day weekend sailing and barbecuing, while talking about campaign finance reform and why we need to get out of Afghanistan, proved it,” comedian Ben Gleib said of a summer send-off fueled by edible Americana (burgers and hot dogs) and imported brews (Red Stripe, Dos Equis, Pacifico). Full story

September 4, 2013

Five Captions Run Aground | 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:

  • Geez, who was steering that ship?
  • Here we go — from Baywatch back to the Planet of the Apes.
  • The one advantage of global warming!!!
  • What would America do without us?
  • Maybe if we rearrange the chairs …

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 8 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 6:22 p.m.
Capitol Quip

David Wu: Now More Than Ever

It’s been a while since we have seen our old friend, HOH favorite ex-Rep. David Wu, D-Ore. Good thing there was a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on such a weighty topic as war in the Middle East today to draw him out.

Is he in the seat that says "Reserved for former Members of Congress"? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.)

Is he in the seat that says “Reserved for former Members of Congress”? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


PO’ed Tweeters Pile On John McCain

In the 24 hours since he was caught sneaking a few hands of video poker during a Senate hearing attempting to hash out some way forward on Syria, outraged social media users have bombarded Sen. John McCain with some unequivocally brutal critiques.

The #JohnMcCainIsMoreUselessThan griping has been going full bore since Tuesday, with detractors incessantly firing off unflattering comparisons of the Arizona Republican to, well, everything.

The hit list of wasted efforts includes:

Senate hearings on Syria Full story

Cyber Lobbying on Syria Invades Andy Barr’s TV Time

From the looks of things, Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., just wanted to shut out the drumbeat of impending war for a little while on Tuesday night and cheer aspiring country crooner Jimmy Rose into the finals of “America’s Got Talent.”

No such luck.



As soon as the Kentucky Republican broadcast his support for Rose, social media user @fermentation8 — whose own Twitter stream features a mix of political outrage (including regular shout-outs to tea-party-favorites Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky), pop culture worship (appears to be a heavily invested in AGT) and random pics of topless ladies — leapt into action, leaning on Barr to blow up President Barack Obama’s plan to teach Bashar al-Assad a little lesson.

Administration officials spent most of Tuesday courting Senate support for tactical strikes in Syria, and will plead their case before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday. Full story

September 3, 2013

Query Us Behavior: Business as (Un)usual Edition

With sweet, sweet recess effectively over thanks to all the “do we/don’t we blow Syria to smithereens” tug-of-war gripping the Capitol, it’s time again to get a feel for what’s on the minds of those who seek solace in the loving arms of HOH.

As with previous plunges into the murky depths of Web search phraseology, we’ve taken a look back at the cryptic questions and half-baked theories that led inquiring minds into our neck of the virtual woods over the past week:

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

September 2, 2013

Take Five: Robert W. Goodlatte

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. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., talks about National League teams vs. American League teams, his favorite hiking trail and what’s on his reading list.

Q. What made you decide to transition from lawyer to congressman?

A. I had always been interested in Congress. In fact, after law school, I worked as district director for former Congressman Caldwell Butler before practicing law. My interest in politics and participation at the local level over the years, as well as my desire to serve the 6th District, led me to run for Congress. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, my law background is put to use on a daily basis!

Q. Where is your favorite place to go hiking? Why?

A. The Appalachian Trail, which winds across the ridges and valleys of my district for more than 200 miles. One of my favorite spots is McAfee Knob. It’s hard to beat the view from the top!  It is said to be the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.

Q. On Facebook you list the Red Sox as being a team you like. How did that happen? Do the Nationals get any love, as long as they are not playing the Red Sox?

A. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan, but the Nationals are now my National League team. The Salem Red Sox are a minor-league team right outside the 6th District that I also follow closely. I enjoy seeing players in Boston who have moved up through Salem and eventually make it to the big leagues. It would be great to see the Nationals play the Red Sox in the World Series.

Q. Of all the people you follow on Twitter, whose tweets do you enjoy the most and why?

A. I follow a lot of local news outlets. It’s a good way to keep up with what’s going on at home.

Q. Two books you like are on John Adams and Abraham Lincoln. Do you have a penchant for historical nonfiction or does your literary taste run the gamut?

A. I read just about every genre, but I am particularly interested in presidential history. I am currently reading “A Passion to Lead: Theodore Roosevelt in His Own Words,” which is edited by Laura Ross. Another interesting fact is that I have visited homes of 42 of the 44 presidents.

September 1, 2013

The Summer’s Out of Reach | Capitol Quip


The congressional recess is almost over, and holy cow do the boys and girls of summer have a lot on their plate as they return to the Capitol: the drums of war in Syria, spending legislation for the new fiscal year, a debt ceiling deal.

So what’s on their minds, Capitol Quip readers? 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.

Marching Right Along | 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.

By Jason Dick Posted at 11:55 a.m.
Capitol Quip

August 30, 2013

Internet Drools Over New Police Dog Sam

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department introduced its new bloodhound, Sam, this week, providing a valuable lesson in community-police relations: If you want a friend, get a dog.

On the Prince of Petworth blog, MPD shared photos of Sam licking Chief Cathy Lanier’s face, as well as her hugging the new rookie. Commenters could hardly contain themselves.

“Cathy, If you ever need a dog sitter for Sam – let me know!” wrote “Andy2.”

Another commenter took us for a ride in the Gen X way-back machine, writing out the song that introduced “The Bloodhound Gang” from the 1980s-era Children’s Television Workshop show “3-2-1 Contact.”

“Anon” wrote simply, “Sam is a cute batoot.”

Sam even compared well across breeds. One person on the MPD District 5 listserv wrote, “That’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen. And my Shih Tzu is pretty darn cute!”

According to the American Bloodhound Club, Sam’s breed is more than 1,000 years old and a product of breeding by monks of St. Hubert of Belgium. Through the centuries these dogs have been used to hunt animals, criminals and missing people. In D.C., Sam will be used to track missing persons, and MPD said he’s already found two since being acquired by the department on Aug. 14.

But Sam’s more immediate contribution might be breaking down a few barriers between police and the city they serve.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:01 p.m.
Critters, DC, media

Montana Brewer Taps Baucus Bill for Inspiration

While many of us (OK, maybe just me) spent the brunt of recess sucking down frosty beers, outgoing Sen. Max Baucus enjoyed the rare privilege of having one of his legislative passions celebrated by a commemorative brew.

Tamarack Brewing Co. unveiled its Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Ale, a limited-edition saison, in August.

The seasonal selection is brewed with local malt, honey and Blacktail Mountain blue spruce tips — a nod to the bounty of agricultural products found on the very lands the retiring Montana Democrat is fighting to preserve before hanging up his hat in 2014.

“It’s an easy-drinking, lightly spiced, flavorful summer ale,” Tamarack co-owner Andra Townsley said of the politically inspired potable. She noted that they brewed about 300 gallons of the stuff, about enough to keep the RMFHA taps at their two Montana brewpubs (Lakeside and Missoula) flowing until mid- to late September.

Baucus is intimately familiar with the Tamarack operation, having clocked in at the brewery for several hours in May 2012 as part of one of his constituent-oriented work days. Full story

Inhofe Cites Oliver North on Syria Strategy

When Sen. James M. Inhofe appeared on Fox News this morning to criticize possible U.S. intervention in Syria, he cited a military expert best known for his ties to a scandal about an administration acting without congressional authorization.

The Oklahoma senator, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was on the conference call between senior lawmakers and top administration officials Wednesday evening about the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

Inhofe, who is opposing intervention without changes to the broader Pentagon budget, described the call as “an hour and a half of John Kerry trying to sell us on the president’s program of military intervention in Syria.”

But, when asked by Fox News about the risk of mission creep if the U.S. military launches targeted missile strikes without congressional authorization, Inhofe cited comments by Oliver North, who rose to national prominence in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

“A lot of people are saying, well, you could do it clean, and go in and send a cruise missile in, and everything’s going to be fine, and we won’t get our hands dirty. That’s not the way it works,” Inhofe said. “On your program yesterday, Ollie North made it very clear that that would not work. You’re going to get — if you have military … intervention, you’re going to get involved again. We can’t afford to do that.”

The interview appears below:

Pret Preps Move to House Side

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Once the calendar flips, House staffers will no longer have to trek all the way to Union Station to feast on Pret A Manger’s gourmet goodies.

The British-based snack-monger has set up more than a half-dozen shops in D.C., and it plans to expand its reach on Capitol Hill by taking over the spot on 301 Pennsylvania Ave. SE currently occupied by the Cosi chain. Building manager Douglas Development expects Pret will be ready to take up residence “by spring 2014.” Full story

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