Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

March 7, 2013

Bernhard Gushes Over Michelle Obama

Comedian Sandra Bernhard took her one-woman show to the Howard Theatre last weekend, and it sounds like, more than anything, she wanted the Obamas to come.

“[We] reached out to the Obamas,” Bernhard told HOH, adding, “I hope that at the very least Michelle comes, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps the sequester prevented the motorcade from heading to Shaw? But we digress.

Regardless, Bernhard adores the first lady.

Full story

When Val Met Bill

What does an actor who’s conquered Tinseltown do for sport? Introduce special someones to the leader of the free world.

Just take a gander at the huge smiles spread across the mugs of thespian Val Kilmer, President Bill Clinton and the sparkly blonde caught in everyone’s cross hairs at this White House event:

When Val Met Bill

(Courtesy Val Kilmer)

Kilmer, who liberally hopscotched across the Hollywood landscape — “True Romance” (dramedy), “Tombstone” (western), “Heat” (thriller), “Batman Forever” (action), “The Ghost and the Darkness” (period piece), “The Saint” (TV reboot) — during the Clinton era, has flirted with the political sphere before. He once toyed with the idea of running for governor of New Mexico and was spotted hovering around the office of New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall during a 2009 trip to Capitol Hill.

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Senators Drone On About Barbarella

Actress and activist Jane Fonda hasn’t tweeted in several days.

Could it be that the liberal stalwart is terrified she’s the target of American drones? Um, probably not, but it is very strange that Fonda has been name-checked repeatedly on the Senate floor the past 48 hours.

Fonda was first cited during Sen. Rand Paul’s Wednesday night “filiblizzard.” Full story

Overheard on the Hill

“And what I have learned from my experiences in talking filibusters is this: To succeed, you need strong convictions but also a strong bladder. It’s obvious Sen. Paul has both.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in floor remarks during Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., Wednesday night talking filibuster.

March 6, 2013

#Filiblizzard Spurs a Tweetstorm

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been filibustering the nomination of John O. Brennan to head the CIA for hours now, and neither he nor the commentators on Twitter have stopped for so much as a drink of water.

Moira Bagley, communications director for Paul, tweeted in the morning that #filiblizzard was to be the official hashtag for following Paul’s speech, which might have provided more drama than the actual “snowstorm” outside.

#Filiblizzard Spurs a Tweetstorm

Though it’s hard to tell whether she was joking, the tag has taken on a life of its own on all sides of the issue.

#Filiblizzard Spurs a Tweetstorm

#Filiblizzard Spurs a Tweetstorm

As Paul went on (and on), he was joined by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and others.

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Boehner’s Tours of Duty

So you came to the nation’s capital and you’re disappointed to learn that the White House is no longer offering public tours, a casualty of the sequester.

Never fear: Cruise director John A. Boehner has a backup activity the kids will love.

“I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue,” the Ohio Republican and Speaker wrote in a letter to his constituents on Wednesday. “I encourage you and your family to visit the U.S. Capitol during your trip to Washington, D.C.”
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Shark Week Promises Sonic Buffet, Discount Sushi

Washington, D.C., rockers Shark Week are road-tripping to Austin, Texas, for the fabled South by Southwest festival, but not before blowing minds — and the doors off the Rock N Roll Hotel — on Friday with a sendoff and single release party.

The globe-trotting quartet — including singer/acrobat Ryan Hunter, guitarist Alberto Pacheco, bassist Danielle Vu and CQ Roll Call hack-cum skins-pounding percussionist Daniel Newhauser — plans to premiere a new track recorded during a recent trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the all-ages show.
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Overheard on the Hill

“This is the wimpiest town I have ever seen.”

— Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, on Washington’s reaction to the “snowquester.” Her Cleveland-based district is known to get snow from time to time.

Documentary’s Title Lets It All Hang Out

The release of the global-warming documentary “Greedy Lying Bastards” on Friday marks a turning point for environmental advocates, as the filmmakers decided to go for a more in-your-face title.

“While the title is provocative and a bit outrageous, after consultation with our PR team we concluded that in order for the project to obtain as wide a distribution as possible we needed to stand out from other films,” said director Craig Rosebraugh. His film, an exposé of the fossil fuel industry’s international attempts to defeat laws and regulations targeting global warming, opens in Washington and nationally on Friday.
Full story

Capitol Quip: Choose Among Five Rock-Solid Contenders

Capitol Quip: Choose Among Five Rock Solid Contenders

Here are the five finalists for this week’s caption contest. Now it’s your turn to vote.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

• “Don’t point fingers! It’s definitely your fault.”

• “Maybe we can pick up the pieces …”

• “… but he dared me to push it.”

• “Stop! We need to build our campaigns around you.”

• “It’s a little late to get ahead of this issue …”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on March 11 and in that 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 4:48 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Mike Lee, From Drones to Jell-O

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, offered his colleague Sen. Rand Paul a brief respite on the Senate floor after the Kentucky Republican spoke for more than three hours in a talking filibuster of President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA.

When Lee finished his relief appearance, he returned to his office in the Hart Senate Office Building to meet and greet an assortment of constituents, Senate pages, students and other visitors who had stopped by for the office’s weekly Wednesday afternoon constituent Jell-O. The event is an open house of sorts, similar to the constituent coffees popular in Senate other offices.

A few pages made the trip from the floor, where they’ve been carefully watching Paul lead Lee and other colleagues in the unusual in-person talk-a-thon style of filibuster, which came about to highlight Paul’s objection to the topic of the Obama administration’s policy regarding targeted drone strike killings.

Visitors to Lee’s third floor office in Hart were treated to traditionally green Jell-O with just a touch of whipped topping, as well as photos and introductions with Lee.

Not coincidentally, Jell-O brand gelatin is the official state snack of Utah, and yes, HOH means the brand name. In Utah it seems, the state legislature will accept no substitutes.

Snowquester Shutters Durbin’s Front Office in D.C.

Being from Illinois, Sen. Richard J. Durbin is used to heavy snowfall.

The long-serving Democrat has been known to take jabs at Washington, D.C., and its inability to handle a few flakes.

So when HOH was reporting from the CQ Roll Call weather desk this week, we naturally reached out to the Senate majority whip’s office to ask what it thought of the frenzy the city was whipping itself into surrounding the snowstorm that was heading our way.

Durbin Communications Director Max Gleischman had this to say on Tuesday (emphasis our own):

“It is currently 51 degrees and sunny in Washington. We’ll address our D.C. office status if/when it actually starts to snow. Until then, everyone should get a grip. Chicago is currently being hit with the biggest show storm of the season and our [district] office is open.

Well, it seems Durbin’s D.C. office was not as tough as its Chicago counterpart.

An eagle-eyed tipster spotted signs taped to Durbin’s Hart Senate Office Building doors announcing that the office was closed “due to inclement weather.”

Snowquester Shutters Durbins Front Office in D.C.

An eagle-eyed HOH tipster spotted this sign on Durbin's D.C. office door Wednesday morning.

Snowquester Shutters Durbins Front Office in D.C.

The closure signs are visible on Durbin's Hart Building doors.

Gleischman said the senator and many staffers are in the office and working but that the front office in Hart is closed for the day because of the snow.

“If only Chicago Streets and San were in charge of keeping roads clear in D.C. … While our front office in Hart is closed, the office is open,” Gleischman told HOH via email. “We’re staffed and working out of the Capitol. Meetings will be taken in both offices all day. In fact, I’m sitting at my desk right now looking at the green grass on the National Mall.”

Team McConnell Does the Harlem Shake

In a shocking turn, the chairmanship for the Senate Harlem Shake Caucus is still up for grabs.

Last week, Republican wunderkind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted a simple question: “If I put a [Harlem Shake] video 2gether in the Senate who should be in it?

On Wednesday, however, Rubio’s shake was scooped by Team Mitch. The campaign office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., posted its own version of the ubiquitous Harlem Shake videos. It is important to note that it is the first official congressional Harlem Shake video to date.

Whether McConnell can wrest the Harlem Shake Caucus from Rubio’s grasp is up for speculation, but his office has cleared the way for other Senate offices to make similar videos.

It is only a matter of time before the dream of a bipartisan Senate-wide Harlem Shake video comes to pass.

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated which of McConnell’s office posted the video. It was his campaign team.

Swirling Storm Taunts D.C. From Cyberspace

The nation’s capital has fallen victim to a lobbying campaign that has, at least so far, produced plenty of paranoia but little of actual substance — save for a smart alec Twitter feed.

 

Swirling Storm Taunts D.C. From Cyberspace

(Screenshot)

For days now, winter lovers have hung on the every cautionary word spewed by radar-tracking meteorologists, who all warned the area to expect to slog through inches — nay, a foot! — of powdery precipitation.

Pre-emptive school and office closings went into effect even though the streets are black as pitch and the current accumulation wouldn’t overflow your average snow cone.

Not that that’s stopped @Snowquester from talking mad smack.

Full story

March 5, 2013

Twitter Unrepresents Popular Opinion

And now, some news that will come as a surprise to all of us Beltway-bubble, Twitter-addicted political types: Reaction on Twitter to major political events is often very different from measured public opinion.

According to a new yearlong study by the Pew Research Center, Twitter reaction to political events and policy changes is often much more partisan — and much more negative — than the scientifically gathered data on public opinion.

In layman’s terms, the general public does not agree with the snarkiness all of us Capitol Hill denizens and flacks spill on Twitter about the news of the hour.
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