Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2014

January 14, 2013

Desperately Seeking Debt Limit Solutions

The fight over the debt ceiling is back, as evidenced by President Barack Obama’s combative news conference Monday and the GOP’s barbed reaction to it.

Even with the pretty fantastic solutions already offered up — minting a trillion-dollar coin, issuing scrips, pretending like it doesn’t exist — we figured HOH should offer our own readers the opportunity to chime in.

What else can the country do to avoid the need for all this debt limit nastiness? Don’t be afraid to come up with something bizarre.
Full story

A Bundle of Joy

A Bundle of Joy

(Courtesy Ambreen Ali)

Congratulations to our CQ Roll Call colleague Ambreen Ali on welcoming her first child, Sufiyan, into the world.

The baby boy bounced into the Alis’ lives — dad Bilaal is purportedly well on his way to perfecting the newborn-calming swaddle technique — on Jan. 13 at 8:15 p.m.

Sufiyan, whose name means “devoted” in Arabic, weighed in at 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was born “in the caul” (Google at your own risk).

Mom and baby are reportedly “both healthy and doing well.”

Rangel for Gobernador? It’s The Name You Know

So there HOH was, soaking in the local scenery of South America, when this political graffiti caught our eye:

Rangel for Gobernador? Its The Name You Know

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Could it be that the New York Democrat Rep. Charles B. Rangel was looking to trade historic Harlem for the rainforests of southeastern Venezuela?

No es verdad.

Turns out this particular piece of propaganda was for Francisco José Rangel Gómez, a member of the Hugo Chavez-led United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the newly installed governor of the state of Bolivar.

A family member who resides in El Callao, one of the epicenters of gold production within the mineral-rich state, said the recent election remained clouded by controversy, with some maintaining that Rangel Gómez and the United Socialist Party stole the seat from opposition candidate Andrés Velásquez. HOH’s cousin has his doubts but said he abstained from voting because, at least lately, all the parties have been guilty of running the cash-strapped country into the ground.

“We have to wait in line to fill our tanks, purchase food [sugar and flour were painfully scarce during my recent visit] or take money out of the bank,” he said of Venezuela’s dire state of affairs.

There but for the grace of God…

January 11, 2013

A Disappointing Inaugural Dress Excursion

Attention ladies: If you’re looking for a show-stopping gown for your Inauguration Day soirees, you might want to take a pass on the Rent the Runway pop-up shop currently occupying LivingSocial’s Chinatown event space.

On the hunt for evening wear for our full inauguration weekend schedules, the lady of HOH (Neda Semnani), and her disciples (this reporter and Meredith Shiner), took a field trip to the online dress rental company’s pop-up shop in hopes of finding a fabulous black tie gown to rent for the inaugural balls on our schedules.

Upon arrival, we were immediately underwhelmed by the small selection of gowns to try on. To us, the entire purpose of a Rent the Runway pop-up shop is to mitigate the chance of renting a dress online that does not fit correctly. Having a small selection was a let down.

Even more so, there was a dearth of show-stopping, long gowns, which are in high demand for the litany of formal, black tie inaugural balls being held around the city. The three of us overheard sales staff telling women looking to rent long gowns that their choices were not available for rental on Jan. 21, the marquee night of inaugural events.

Sales staff at the event space were also for the most part unhelpful; none of us were offered help when we were contemplating the dresses we had on. Most curious.

The three of us – who have all lived in the District for a considerable amount of time – rolled our eyes when we overheard the sales staff explaining to a dress rental hopeful about conservative D.C. style. As women who live in this city, we respectfully disagree. At minimum, a stylist is meant to help their clients dress to their strengths, take risks, develop a look and, ultimately, a clear style.

Also, a warning for similarly curvy women like this reporter: There were not many larger sizes to try on. For the most part, you’d have to trust that the gown you order would fit in the size you choose – again, a let-down when you attend an event expecting to try on gowns.

Overall, the dress selection at the pop-up shop did not have enough “special” gowns to try on that were worth the price. We suggest you spend the time and shoe leather that goes into buying the gown that becomes your signature, rather than settling for the small selection at this D.C. event.

Mick Mulvaney Has Amendments and the Flu

Rep. Mick Mulvaney has come down with the hard-hitting influenza virus, according to his office, but he’s planning on being back on Capitol Hill Monday.

The South Carolina Republican’s office sent out a release Friday about his concerns about the Superstorm Sandy supplemental appropriations bill that is expected on the House floor next week. Mulvaney supports aiding the communities affected by Sandy, according to the release, but he’ll be offering amendments to offset the cost and keep an eye on how the money is used.

The release ended with the following statement: “Rep. Mulvaney is currently at home with the flu and will not be available to comment further.”

But even though he is convalescing at home with this wickedly terrible flu virus, a tipster tells us he’s planning on being at Monday’s Rules Committee meeting on the supplemental. We wish the congressman a speedy recovery, but we also advise those attending the Rules meeting to keep their distance, just in case. And wash your hands.

State of the Union Intrudes on Mardi Gras Revelry

Bad news for revelers wanting to cut loose before the beginning of Lent: Speaker John A. Boehner has invited President Barack Obama to deliver his State of the Union address on Feb. 12. That happens to be Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.

“Oh, my,” said one bummed-sounding staffer for a Louisiana House member.

Calls to several offices of Louisiana’s congressional delegation went out. Boehner’s invitation was sent Friday morning and, at least for the offices we called, the ramifications hadn’t sunk in yet. “Not yet,” said a staffer for Democratic Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, who represents New Orleans. Noting that it was kind of a slow Friday, she promised to try to run down a reaction.

Ditto for the office of Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, whose family hails from the Crescent City.

We’ll update this as we get reaction, but Obama could help spice up his speech and make amends to Pelican State lawmakers if he threw beads from the podium.

Still, there is one silver lining: the Louisiana Society of D.C.’s Washington Mardi Gras 2013 Ball is scheduled for Feb. 2 at the Washington Hilton, so Washingtonians can attend that without having to ditch the SOTU. But even that posed a conflict for New Orleanians because it conflicts with the Super Bowl, which is being held in New Orleans on Feb. 3. That decision was described last year by New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jonathan Tilove as an “epic scheduling conflict.”

Don’t Have Tickets for the Big Day? Inauguration Dress Rehearsal Offers Alternative

Were you snubbed by Ticketmaster in your quest for seats to the inaugural ball and the Inauguration Day parade? Are you weary of the throngs of tourists that will descend on the District on Inauguration Day and clog up our already taxed commuting system?

There’s an answer to your woes.

On Sunday, the Department of Defense will hold a dress rehearsal of a number of Inauguration Day events, including President Barack Obama’s Capitol departure ceremony, a dry-run of the swearing-in and a run-through of the parade with military musical units, marching bands and color guards.

The Inauguration Day rehearsal will provide Washingtonians a low-key — albeit unofficial — alternative to the madness of the official Inauguration Day activities.

Beginning at 8 a.m. and going to 11:30 a.m., a full run-through of the parade will take place, including rehearsals for nonmilitary participants in the parade at the official reviewing stand in front of the White House.

Later on, from 11:30 a.m. to noon, stand-ins for the president and vice president will hold a mock swearing-in ceremony on the official inauguration platform that has been erected on the West Front of the Capitol.

“The purpose is to practice large-scale movements of military personnel and resources and finalize any logistical or staffing considerations for Inauguration Day,” according to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region, which is providing the military support for this year’s Inaugural festivities.

January 10, 2013

The Nixon Faithful Stand By Their Man

“Thank you for your loyalty,” Ron Walker, chairman of the Richard Nixon Foundation, told the crowd at the Mayflower Hotel. “All of us in this room have a special bond: We worked for Richard Nixon.”

Nixon would have turned 100 on Wednesday, and although the former president’s legacy is inextricably linked with the Watergate scandal and his own reputation for gruff, quirky awkwardness, his most faithful admirers and staffers gathered at the Mayflower on Wednesday evening to pay tribute.

The setting was Washington perfect. The Mayflower, after all, has been the site of politics and scandal for decades — from being a favorite hangout for children’s author/British spy Roald Dahl to being the site of the trysts of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The party was thrown by the Richard Nixon Foundation, and attendees included the Nixon daughters, the president’s youngest brother, Ed, former Nixon aides Patrick Buchanan and Ben Stein, Harry Shearer, the actor who played Nixon in the UK series “Nixon’s the One” and the evening’s keynote speaker, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

“Hello, Dr. Kissinger,” this HOH reporter said. “Sorry to interrupt. I’m a reporter with Roll Call.”

“What is that?” he asked.

Full story

By Neda Semnani Posted at 2:12 p.m.
Nationwide, Parties

January 9, 2013

U.S. Mayors to Get Double Bill of VP Biden and MC Hammer

We knew the vice president was “2 Legit 2 Quit” — we just never realized how legit he was.

On Jan. 17, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will address the nation’s mayors “at the Opening Plenary Luncheon of the 81st Winter Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Capitol Hilton Hotel.”

Performing at the same luncheon: hip-hop great MC Hammer.

Did your face just melt? Did your heart swell with joy?

The correct answer is: yes.

Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em, but during Biden’s quality Hammer time, these are some classic Hammer tracks we would like our vice president to go ahead and get down with at the luncheon: Full story

January 8, 2013

Amodei Happy to Be Among the ‘Normal People’

Following a particularly challenging week in the Capitol during the fiscal cliff debate, Republican Rep. Mark Amodei says he’s relishing the opportunity to head back to his Northern Nevada district over the recess to be among “normal people.”

According to news release from Amodei, those so-called normal people include Native American tribes, members of the U.S. Forest Service, local police and fire departments, city business leaders, local chambers of commerce and veterans.

We here at HOH were curious, though. If the aforementioned groups of people are “normal,” who are the unlucky “abnormal” folks?

“Normal people don’t view everything through the prism of political winners and losers,” Amodei Communications Director Brian Baluta told HOH. “I’d say there’s something abnormal about celebrating so-called political wins that do nothing to solve the nation’s problems.”

So the takeaway from Amodei’s office? Native American tribes, members of the U.S. Forest Service, local police and fire departments, city business leaders, local chambers of commerce and veterans are apolitical or, more optimistically, winningly nonpartisan.

Missed Connection on the L2

Love and public transportation are governed by the same laws.

Neither love, nor the bus, will come when you’re desperate; both love and the train run on their own timetables; and there are a lot of strange people heading in your general direction.

There is something especially lovely when love and public transport collide.

On Jan. 3, a dude was riding the L2 bus, cruising down Connecticut Avenue. While on this ordinary commute, the dude met a female Senate staffer and, quick as a blink, was the most smitten kitten in Washington.

According to our tipster, the Mr. Smitten asked his Hill friends to circulate an email with a series of “gutsy haikus.”

“His big, bold gesture has been described as ‘adorable’ and ‘truly epic,’” the tipster tells HOH.

As far as we know, dude is not the tipster. If you have any information for this love-sick bus rider, email L2dreamscometrue@gmail.com.

Click through to read the story of their meeting in haiku form.

Full story

January 7, 2013

Ticketmaster’s Inaugural Nightmare Isn’t Over

Ticketmaster can’t catch a break.

The ticket-selling giant caused quite the ruckus Sunday when it sent out the link for buying tickets to the official presidential inaugural ball and parade earlier than it was supposed to. Before 8 p.m. Sunday, one day before tickets were supposed to be released, Ticketmaster’s servers were down and the events had been sold out.

The company quickly took responsibility for the glitch, but it also decided that the die had been cast and the tickets that had been sold would be honored.

Unfortunately for some, Ticketmaster’s original misfired email — the one sent Sunday with the link to buy tickets — was delayed in delivery.

On Monday afternoon, some unlucky few received the delayed email inviting them to buy tickets to already sold-out events.

“[S]ome customers … have just received the email about upcoming Inaugration events that was originally sent last night. This is not a new email,” Ticketmaster spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said in an email. ”It was originally sent last evening and it appears that either the ISP and/or the email provider(s) held the delivery of this email.”

They never had a chance.

Happy Birthday, Sen. Paul!

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., received an early birthday present from his 19-year-old son, William Hilton Paul, over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, the younger Paul was arrested at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina and charged with underage alcohol consumption, disorderly conduct and being intoxicated and disruptive after a flight from Lexington, Ky., to Charlotte, N.C., according to media reports. Sen. Paul’s 50th birthday was Monday.
Full story

The Private Tweets of Doug LaMalfa

The Private Tweets of Doug LaMalfa

Screenshot

Freshman Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., is one of a kind.

Out of 533 current members of Congress, LaMalfa is the only one whose Twitter account is protected from the curious eyes of the public. As of Monday afternoon, at least, the @DougLaMalfa account was locked. That means the new congressman must approve his followers individually.

According to his spokesman, the congressman said he thought he had unlocked his Twitter feed more than a month ago. Whatever his intentions, as of Monday afternoon, LaMalfa’s Twitter profile remained on lockdown.
Full story

A ‘Beautiful’ Life After Congress

A ‘Beautiful’ Life After Congress

(Courtesy Connie Mack)

Life away from Congress seems to be good for former Reps. Connie Mack, R-Fla., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif.

“We are excited about the future,” Mack said in an email to HOH. “We feel like a lot of weight has been lifted off of our shoulders and can live our lives. It’s a beautiful thing.”

After the 112th Congress came to a long-awaited close on Jan. 3, the couple — who both lost in the 2012 elections — traveled to Bono Mack’s former California district to attend the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Mack posted a photo Sunday night of the two of them at the festival glowing in their formal wear. “I have my very own Bond girl!” tweeted @ConnieMackIV.

Mack told HOH he and Bono Mack have been traveling the country in the first few days after their congressional tenures came to a close. He lost a bid to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and she lost a re-election bid to now-Rep. Raul Ruiz. Mack said they were at CNN’s New York offices Monday, a visit sure to fuel rumors that they are considering gigs with the Fourth Estate.

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