Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 18, 2014

February 12, 2014

Gulf Coasters Bait Congress With the Good Stuff

Hurried meetings on Capitol Hill might do for social media pushers or app designers.

But the business execs in charge of skippering a good portion of the country’s seafood supply to market prefer to slow things down a bit, serving up the delicious fruits of their labor and talking big picture when they sail into town.

Gulf Coasters Bait Congress With the Good Stuff

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Members of the Gulf Coast Industry Council and the East Coast Shellfish Association will get the chance to do just that during their upcoming “Let the World Be Your Oyster” reception. The annual outreach effort, now in its 20th year, is scheduled to take place Feb. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Acadiana (901 New York Ave. NW).

Attendees will be treated to a smorgasbord of regional specialties, lovingly prepared by visiting chefs from across Louisiana. Featured items include: oysters on the half shell courtesy of Acme Oyster House in New Orleans; oyster Rockefeller soup (fashioned from fresh oysters, butter, chopped spinach, Pernod and more) courtesy of Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette; oysters voisin (fried oysters, creamed spinach, bacon, bordelaise sauce and extra cheese spooned over toasted baguettes) courtesy of Drago’s Seafood Restaurants; pickled oysters with sea beans, radish and caviar courtesy of Cotton in Monroe; open-faced oyster ravioli courtesy of Ruffino’s Restaurants; and charbroiled oysters courtesy of Acadiana toque Jeff Tunks. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 1:25 p.m.
DC, Food, Nationwide, Reps, Sens

Stop Right There, Cupid! Valentines Barred From Campus Delivery

Cupid had better steer clear of the Capitol this Valentine’s Day.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving has requested that staffers advise their sweeties to refrain from sending any crimson roses or romantic gift packages to the offices under his purview.

The delivery policy of the House prohibits commercial couriers and vendors from making deliveries directly to House office buildings and the House wing of the Capitol, Irving warned in a memo to staff obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Singing telegrams ready to deliver a serenade will be turned away at the door, and FedEx can’t bring cuddly stuffed animals or chocolate hearts past security checkpoints.

Couples who exchange gifts on Friday morning can bring the long-stemmed roses they receive to their desks, but guidelines apply. Only cut flowers set in water or “arranged in an unsealed box or carton” are allowed inside. In case of a surprise delivery or a persistent Valentine who insists on workday delivery, staffers can meet delivery people bearing cut flowers in an outside public area and bring the bouquet inside themselves.

Sealed envelopes and containers are not allowed, so sappy cards and love letters must be opened outside.  Boxes of caramels, truffles or other sugary spoils also need to be unsealed.

Finally, last-minute declarations of affection might be thwarted by the House policy on overnight deliveries. All flowers, cards, candy or lovey-dovey gifts sent via a nationwide system such as FedEx or UPS will be processed offsite at the Postal Operations screening facility, “which may result in delay of delivery,” Irving warns.

In past years, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer has implemented a similar policy to ensure Senate lovebirds can receive Valentine’s Day bouquets delivered to Capitol Hill.

The Senate office buildings and the Senate side of the Capitol also allow only cut flowers set in water or arranged in an unsealed box or carton, and place the same prohibition on sealed envelopes or containers.

At least one Senate staffer can vouch for the fact that sending fresh blooms to the Hill isn’t the best idea. Her beau casually asked, “Did you get anything at work today?” after shipping a bouquet her way.
She received the romantic gesture three days late, after the gift underwent a thorough inspection. The flowers were still pretty, she recalled, but “a little sad.”
By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:22 p.m.
Coupling, Staffers

Did the RNC Steal Its Beats for Anti-Senate Dems Ad From B.o.B and 2 Chainz?

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., might not be “booty poppin’ in a headstand,” but he did vote for Obamacare, and the Republican National Committee would like you to know — in seven web ads attacking 2014 Senate Democrats that seem to lift beats from B.o.B. featuring 2Chainz’s song “Headband.”

The 40-second Web-only spots can be viewed here. They hit Pryor, along with Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado and Mark Warner of Virginia, all of whom are up for re-election in 2014.

“Out of work? It’s tough out there,” the ad reads, before splicing together clips on the health care law and a Congressional Budget Office report about its impacts on the job market (which, of course, lacks the context for what the report really said, because … YOLO, it’s 40 seconds).

Now, here is the video for the B.o.B./2 Chainz jam. HOH should warn you that many of the lyrics are NSFW and there are quite a few scantily clad ladies featured throughout. But everything is sort of amazing when you think about the RNC’s message against the seven vulnerable Democrats set to this beat.

“She broke it down started moving like Shakira/Like she do it in the mirror,” a cleaner lyric reads.

Insert “Jeanne Shaheen” for “she” and you’ve got a solid sequel for the next “HeadBand”-inspired RNC spot: “Jeanne Shaheen’s hips don’t lie … or do they?”

Whatever. Maybe the beats are different and the RNC added a “little bitty ting.”

“I can assure you we purchased this music and didn’t steal anything,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in an e-mail.

By Meredith Shiner Posted at 12:52 p.m.
AwesomeSauce

February 11, 2014

Members of Congress Attending the White House State Dinner

It’s one hot ticket: Not just a State Dinner, but a State Dinner for the president of France, Francois Hollande. How would you like to be the chef in charge of the souffle tonight?

Members of Congress have gotten a lot of cold shoulders from the White House during the Obama presidency, having seen traditional picnics and socials be postponed, then canceled, for instance. So how did the legislative branch come out on the invite list?

A roster from the Office of the First Lady shows 11 current members of Congress on the guest list, although FLOTUS tried goose the number to 12 by promoting Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams to federal office by identifying her as “United States Representative (Georgia).” Oh, well. They’ll just have to wait for an intervening election.

Here’s the list of members attending:

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s eight House members and three senators. Among those, there are seven Democrats and four Republicans.

Noted congressional alumni are former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., who is now secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission; former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., now secretary of Defense, and former Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., currently secretary of State, along with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., formerly the distinguished senator from Delaware.

Tim Ryan Readies for New Arrival

Rep. Tim Ryan is beside himself about welcoming a new baby into the fold, a milestone event poised to take place this summer.

Tim Ryan Readies for New Arrival

(Courtesy Tim Ryan)

The Ohio Democrat has gotten a taste for fatherhood while raising his two stepchildren, Mason and Bella. But staff said he is “simply ecstatic” about adding Brady Zetts Ryan, his first child with wife Andrea, into the mix this June.

No word on how “Brady” made the final cut; a Ryan aide explained that Zetts is Andrea Ryan’s maiden name.

Best of luck with all the diapering, sir!

Relief Agencies Share Hardware, Liquid Courage With Congress

Assuming Mother Nature doesn’t orchestrate her own brand of government shutdown over the next 48 hours, staffers should prepare to get their geek on Thursday during the “Innovation at the U.N.” reception.

The science-fair-themed gathering, organized by the Better World Campaign, is scheduled to take place Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Rayburn foyer. Those interested in participating are encouraged to RSVP to events@UNfoundation.org.

An event promoter told HOH the plan is to highlight the tools relief groups such as the U.N. Foundation, U.N. Development Programme, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, World Food Programme, UNICEF and UNESCO are deploying around the globe. Attendees will be able to inspect one of those innovations, an Ikea-designed “refugee housing unit” designed with expediency (no tools required), longevity and sustainability (potential to be outfitted with solar power sources) in mind.

Too wonky for your tastes?

The party is also expected to feature “bartenders wearing lab coats/goggles” serving (what else?) “fizzy drinks in test tubes.”

“There will be blue cocktails dubbed ‘Ban Ki-moon blasts’!” our source said of the boozy entertainment named after the current UN secretary general. Those looking to lap up the experimental libation should expect splashes of vodka, lime juice and blue Curacao.

Tareq Salahi Switches to a Pets-First Footing for Congressional Bid

Aspiring lawmaker Tareq Salahi didn’t seem to get much traction out of the pro-business, anti-regulatory positions he built his failed gubernatorial bid around. For this next act, he’s going to the dogs.

Tareq Salahi Switches to a Pets First Footing for Congressional Bid

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Salahi, who has tossed his hat into the ring to replace retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., now wants to be the animal lover’s candidate of choice.

“When I am elected to Congress, I plan on introducing a bill to create a national animal abuser registry,” the former reality TV personality announced Tuesday.

The corresponding news release suggests the sudden policy shift was at least partially predicated on the impending arrival of Love Your Pet Day (Feb. 20) — though Salahi certainly appears to have strong feelings about the issue.

“Study after study shows that violent criminals often begin their downward spiral by abusing animals and eventually escalating to abusing humans,” the House hopeful charged.

How best to institute the pet project remains a work in progress.

“Once Mr. Salahi becomes Congressman, he would like to work with a nationally recognized animal welfare nonprofit, like HSUS or the ASPCA, to ask their input,” a campaign aide told HOH, referring to the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Team Salahi might be better off hooking up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Full story

Ricki Lake Passes on Congressional Bid

Former daytime talk show host Ricki Lake will not run for Congress.

Granted, no one expected her to do so, but she is part of Roll Call’s ongoing experiment to bait as many celebrities as possible to run in the open-seat, west-Los Angeles House race to replace retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif.

Lake (graciously) responded to Roll Call’s query on Monday night:

Additionally, film director Rob Reiner endorsed Democratic candidate Wendy Greuel on Monday.

Full story

February 10, 2014

Rubio Looses Epic Smokescreen Regarding Marijuana Use

Sen. Marco Rubio sees absolutely no upside to clearing the air about any previous drug use.

But as he proved on Monday, he’ll ramble on and on about why it’s a lose-lose for elected officials to speak candidly about ever having consumed cannabis.

Fusion talk show co-anchor Mariana Atencio attempted to light a fire under the Florida Republican by probing the one-time tea party favorite about the burgeoning endorsement of medical marijuana at the state level.

“I’ll tell you why I never answer that question,” the father of four got rolling. Full story

Chewing on Beto O’Rourke’s Snacking Habits

Rep. Beto O’Rourke is a brave man. And not just because he’s open to rolling around town on public transportation, which he did late last week.

Nope.

The Texas Democrat wowed us by broadcasting his love for a certain guilty pleasure: Thin Mints.

 

 

Around midday on Feb. 7, O’Rourke interrupted his #BusingwithBeto adventure to stock up on the controversial confection.

Within minutes of the casual disclosure, the social-media-sphere passed judgment on O’Rourke’s shopping selection:

 

Full story

Overheard: Phil Roe’s Hands-On Politicking

“I am an OB-GYN doctor. And I delivered most of my own voters.”

– Physician-turned-Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., shares the secret to breeding loyal constituents with Heritage Action’s Conservative Policy Summit

Libertarian Conference Lands Pols, Conspiracy Theorists and Comics

The 2014 International Students for Liberty Conference is rolling into town for a weekend (Feb. 14-16) celebration of freedom, information-sharing and spirited discussion.

The annual gathering attracts students from around the globe but typically features homegrown speakers and performers who share the same passion for living sans restrictions. House Republicans Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky are scheduled to address the youth-oriented gathering, as are Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone, veteran newsman John Stossel and former Hill-staffer-turned-comedian Andrew Heaton.

Heaton, who made light of the congressional grind as bumbling Chief of Staff Elliot Clarice in the satirical Web series “Cap South,” has been tapped to do standup on Saturday night.

“The federal government is a large, slow-moving target, much like a solitary buffalo on opioids. I’ll be whacking at that some,” he told HOH of his plans for the gathering. But Heaton noted that his material is much broader than what’s typically wrong with Capitol Hill.

“First, I’m not particularly mean-spirited by nature, so I’d rather make fun of concepts than people,” Heaton said of his big-picture approach to joke writing. Sure, he might lay into Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for getting all, well, Biden-y (“He strikes me as a genuinely likable person whom I’d happily get drunk with,” Heaton said), but Heaton would rather keep things more “conceptual.”

Plus, he can’t count on every audience being as inside baseball as those of us who live and die by C-SPAN.

“Since Saturday will be a group of international students, there’s no guarantee they would pick up on Chuck Schumer references or gems about Sheila Jackson Lee,” Heaton said, referring to New York’s senior Democratic senator and the Texas Democratic House member.

Not that he’s letting that stop him from putting the finishing touches on a new book of political humor — “Laughter Is Better Than Communism” — that he plans to unveil at the conference.

“Hopefully a few of the scholars will read it and further irritate their professors!”  he quipped.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:27 a.m.
DC, Hollyweird, Reps

February 9, 2014

The Immigration Bobsled | Capitol Quip

The Immigration Bobsled | Capitol Quip

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was all set to make a run at an immigration overhaul, releasing principles for going forward. Then his Republican colleagues started to weigh in. That brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. 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.

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

It’s a Long Way Down | Capitol Quip

Its a Long Way Down | 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.

February 7, 2014

Paul Gosar’s Love for Legislation He Voted Against

Paul Gosars Love for Legislation He Voted Against

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama signed the long-awaited farm bill into law Friday, prompting the traditional outpouring of congressional press releases. But among the digital back-pattings was one carefully worded missive that lauded Obama for signing provisions of Rep. Paul Gosar’s wildfire prevention legislation into law — even though Gosar voted against the final bill.

“When it comes to wildfires, 2013 wasn’t a good year, which is why I’m especially proud that the majority of my wildfire prevention legislation was signed into law today,” Gosar stated. Full story

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