Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
June 30, 2015

August 6, 2013

Philanthropub Needs Charity, New Air Conditioner

Prepay for a cocktail and support a local business. Yes, prepay … and no, it’s not what you’re probably thinking.

Cause, the world’s first “philanthropub” opened last October with the premise “you eat, drink, and be merry, we pay all our bills, and we donate 100% of net profits to charities.” Its charitable donations rotate between different local and international organizations. One Acre FundYear Up and Life Pieces to Masterpieces are on the current receiving list. So, where does the prepaying and drinking come in?

Recently, Cause’s air conditioner unit went on the fritz. Instead of dipping into its own funds and cutting down on the amount of money it can give to its charities, it asked for the public’s support. The philanthropub has an Indiegogo campaign seeking $11,000 to purchase a new air conditioning system. With a little more than a day left in its campaign, Cause is still $10,184 short of its goal.

It’s an exchange, really. Typically when you donate or give a handout, you get nothing in return. Cause plans to give you something in return if you donate to its, well, Cause!

Give $11, and your next drink is on Cause. If you factor in classic cocktails that are $10, you’re essentially prepaying for a drink. Oh, and, please, 21 and over only for this.

For $20, the generous get an “I Drink CAUSE I Care” T-shirt. For $109, it’s dinner and drinks for four — two drinks each, two shareable appetizers and main course of choice. Want a cocktail party for you and nine of your friends? Hand over $500 and that’s what you’ll get!

Shadow Senator Power Lunches With ‘Chasing the Hill’ Star

D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss is doing some power lunching.

Strauss shared a midday meal today with “West Wing” alumna Melissa Fitzgerald, an actress he got to know on the set of Web-based political drama “Chasing the Hill.”

Strauss and Fitzgerald talked about a shared political passion — “how we get statehood for D.C.” — over Russian cuisine at Dupont Circle’s Mari Vanna, Strauss told HOH.

The pair met last year, when the shadow senator did some bit work in an episode starring Fitzgerald’s character, Samantha Clemons, and her fictional congressional campaign. Strauss said he makes “one cameo as ‘man getting cursed at the Democratic convention.’”

On Friday, Fitzgerald will help launch a real-life candidate into California politics.

The actress is scheduled to appear at a campaign event in Malibu, Calif. Fitzgerald will introduce “Chasing the Hill” director Brent Roske, as he kicks off his independent campaign against 39-year incumbent Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif.

Strauss did not comment on whether Fitzgerald mentioned the campaign during lunch.

August 5, 2013

Team Gosar Invents New SCOTUS Justice (Updated)

Updated 5:10 p.m. | Rep. Paul Gosar has been after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for weeks now, taking to the House floor for a series of tongue-lashings that include throwing a Supreme Court justice’s trepidation about privacy issues in the administration’s face.



The only problem is he’s citing a nonexistent authority.

An eagle-eyed HOH tipster noted that the Arizona Republican seemed to be relying on moral support from a “William Brandeis” when, in fact, he meant to stand on the shoulders of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

“I know it’s just a typo, but for the love of God, Louis Brandeis is one of the most important Justices in the Court’s history — at least get his name right,” the anonymous stickler griped.

Full story

Take Five: Robert Pittenger

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 Pittenger, R-N.C., talks about being banished from caffeine and what he’s learned from strong leaders.

Q. You have long days while Congress is in session. Are you a coffee/tea/soda addict now? What is your beverage of choice to get you through the day?

A. My staff won’t let me have caffeine. They say I’m high strung enough without it! The long days and busy schedule have forced me to start wearing rubber-soled shoes. After work, I enjoy a club soda with a splash of cranberry juice, and occasionally a glass of wine.

Q. You began your career in service to your faith. Do you continue working with faith-based projects?

A. Actually, I was in east Asia on a mission trip when I was first contacted about running for Congress. My wife and I met while working for a campus ministry organization, and we continue to be actively involved with several Christian ministry groups.

Q. What is your favorite movie of all time and why?

A. “Patton.” Gen. Patton was a remarkable military leader, and I am always interested in learning from great leaders.

Q. What are your plans over the congressional recess?

A. “Recess” was in the fourth grade when you go outside and play kickball! During August, I will host seven town hall meetings in the district, congratulate summer school graduates and travel to Israel with Majority Leader Eric Cantor. May I have my club soda now?

Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world [some place you have not visited], where would you go, and why?

A. Australia — a beautiful country that is fertile for growth and great opportunity.

August 4, 2013

The Winning Caption’s Coming Right at You | 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. And check out our past winners on Pinterest.

And … They’re Off! | Capitol Quip


Congress has left for its August recess — ahem, district work period — leaving critics to claim that the legislative branch is taking time off when the country can least afford it. Most members, though, will spend a great deal of the next five weeks in town halls and fundraisers, perhaps punishment enough.

Regardless of where you fall on this divide, send us a caption for this week’s Capitol Quip! Leave it in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon.

To check out past winners, visit Pinterest.

August 2, 2013

John Culberson’s Insanely Simple To-Do List

Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, is living the political version of “Groundhog Day.”

And he freakin’ loves it.

The Blotto Files: Congressional Staffers’ Greatest Misses

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As we were so beautifully reminded this week, sometimes Hill staffers hit the sauce a little too hard.

Mind you, bending the elbow is pretty much part of the job these days, with lawmakers and their lackeys obliged to flock from a cocktail hour for this to a policy reception for that just about every night they are actually here in town (lobbyists are hard-cases like that).

And while no one should begrudge overworked colleagues the opportunity to live a little, we’d just like to point out that many of these sad sacks effectively committed career suicide (ranked from most to least damaging outcome) all for a few drinks.

  • Rep. Rick Larsen’s doomed “December to Remember” crew: A trio of myopic social-media addicts decided to not only get wrecked while working for the Washington Democrat but also to advertise said debauchery via Twitter.
  • Rep. Steven M. Palazzo’s party girl: HOH rock star Whitney Donald swore there was nothing too crazy going on at the Annapolis, Md., home she secretly rented in the Mississippi Republican’s name for a weekend rager. The neighbors begged to differ.
  • Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s bleary-eyed super fan: Young love can be disorienting enough. Add in a serious bender, misplaced footwear and an office-wide declaration of your burning desire to bask in the glow of the Wisconsin Republican’s presence and you’ve got a teachable moment that clearly deserves its own chapter in the Cap Hill orientation manual.
  • Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’ mouth-bashing mouthpiece: Marc Goldberg, spokesman for the Florida Democrat, decided to let his fists do the talking during a dispute at a Dupont Circle watering hole. Guess when you gotta go, you gotta go …

Jo Bonner Comes Full Circle in Funny Farewell Speech

Retiring Rep. Jo Bonner signed off from his career in public life with a self-effacing address recalling the unintentional sexy-talk he broadcast to millions a decade ago.

The Alabama Republican, who is stepping down from Congress to join the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), took to the House floor Thursday to regale colleagues with the tale of his most embarrassing ad-lib of all time.

“I said, ‘We have a real problem with incest in South Alabama’. I said, in fact, ‘I would venture a guess, we have more problem with incest in my district in Alabama than in any other congressional district in America,’” Bonner shared of an off-the-cuff remark that was supposed to garner sympathy for an INSECT problem— pine beetles, to be exact — in his area.

Whether he’s simply misremembering things or hammed it up again for added effect or is open for debate.

Full story

August 1, 2013

Good Day for Vegetables, Fruits on Capitol Hill

Lettuce, cantaloupes — it was a good day to be a vegetarian on Capitol Hill.

First came the news of immigration activists delivering cantaloupes to the office of Rep. Steve King. The Iowa Republican recently bemoaned the number of undocumented immigrants he said are dope-smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes as the result of ferrying mounds of marijuana across the desert. That took care of the fruit course.

Immigration activists delivered these cantaloupes to the office of Rep. Steve King. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

Immigration activists delivered these cantaloupes to King’s office. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Then came the vegetable course, with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hosting its annual veggie-dog lunch today, complete with the always popular “Lettuce Ladies.”

A staffer poses with the PETA "Lettuce Ladies" outside of the Rayburn House Office Building for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals annual veggie dog event on Thursday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

A staffer poses with the PETA “Lettuce Ladies” outside of the Rayburn House Office Building. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Who needs Meatless Mondays?

Senators Attend Bipartisan BBQ Before Recess Stampede

At least it wasn’t one of their colleagues on a spit.

Just minutes after a contentious vote on a Transportation-HUD spending bill, senators gathered for an August recess farewell barbecue lunch in the Kennedy Caucus Room.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Dan Coats, Jeanne Shaheen and Charles E. Grassley arrive in the Russell Building for a bipartisan BBQ. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.)

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Dan Coats, Jeanne Shaheen and Charles E. Grassley arrive in the Russell Building for a bipartisan BBQ. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was unclear what the farewell fete was to celebrate, perhaps that many members won’t have to see each other for five weeks.

Not every senator went. Others still were seen exiting the Senate office buildings early to get back to the Capitol.

A few, though, embraced the proximity of bipartisanship. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., chatted collegially with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on an open-air subway car back to the Capitol. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stopped to talk briefly with TV cameras on her way out.

This was the second consecutive August send-off pig pickin’, with a similar gathering happening last year as well.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said he provided the food for the barbecue, which came from Sam’s BBQ 1 in Marietta, Ga., the same barbecue joint that catered the event last year. “I think it’s a good way to end the session for the summer and leave on a good note,” Isakson said.

Perhaps when senators come back after Labor Day, they can make a wager on a friendly game of cornhole to raise the debt limit.

Eddie Bernice Johnson Rips Into Lamar Smith

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With the August recess looming large, members are slipping in the last partisan jabs they can before everyone retreats to the echo chambers of their respective districts.

During her opening statement on a resolution to authorize subpoenas for research data the Environmental Protection Agency uses to justify air quality regulations, House Science ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas got a little too personal, in the opinion of the panel’s Republicans. Full story

Vicky Hartzler Gets All Warm and Fuzzy

Rep. Vicky Hartzler had some fun on the House floor Wednesday, railing against a federally mandated “rabbit disaster plan” as part of the GOP’s pre-recess blitz against odious government regulations.

But don’t let the cuddly prop fool you: She’s a pistol.

Approximately 24 hours before championing the business rights of the furry-footed, the Missouri Republican had been busy laying waste to paper thugs at the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Va. Full story

July 31, 2013

House Republicans Own Casual Wednesday

Perhaps inspired by the bygone days of Seersucker Thursday, members of the House GOP appear to be testing out a new weekday dress code: Casual Wednesday.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., raised eyebrows last week when he showed up for an evening vote series sporting a sweaty T-shirt, gym shorts and sneakers.

This week, an HOH tipster spotted a tie-less Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., behind the dais at a Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee.

Hunter, who wields the gavel as chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, also neglected to wear a jacket on Wednesday morning.

As a three-term congressman, Hunter is no stranger to what constitutes proper attire. Is the laid-back look a nod to his San Diego roots?

Not quite, Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Kasper, informed HOH.

A complicated surgery — anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, to be exact — prevents the congressman from suiting up. Hunter’s surgeon made a small incision in his neck to reach disks in his spinal cord, decompressing tension and relieving the congressman of “an old Marine Corps injury,” Kasper said.

He’s under “doctor’s orders” to go tieless for a while, Kasper said. But rest assured, dress code sticklers, he’ll be back in a tie after the August recess.

Blotto Intern Falls Hard for Paul Ryan

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A well-in-his-cups intern sparked a pseudo manhunt on Capitol Hill today, as staff from the office of a House Republican tried to contain a stumbling, bumbling aide apparently dead set on getting some face time with his dream guy, ex-GOP vice presidential pick and current House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan.

Per an email circulated internally by an intern wrangler for the House Republican, the drama began when the wasted youth moseyed into work a few hours late, still stinking of the night before.

Things only got hairier once the underage boozehound began proclaiming his love for the Wisconsin Republican and then raced off to try to catch a glimpse of the P90X devotee at work. Full story

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