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

January 17, 2013

The ‘House’ That MLK Built

“The primary emphasis has been bringing the mountain to Mohammad,” filmmaker Eugene Jarecki said of bringing his searing documentary about the war on drugs, “The House I Live In,” to Washington on Saturday to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

Thanks to a quirk of the calendar, the public swearing-in ceremony on Monday for President Barack Obama falls on the holiday marking the civil rights icon’s birthday.

Obama has asked people to join him in a day of service Saturday to mark King’s birthday, but the inaugural pomp and circumstance has overhadowed the holiday a bit.
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By Jason Dick Posted at 6:30 p.m.
Parties

Inauguration Eats

Inauguration weekend has presented us with a dusk-till-dawn buffet of eating opportunities. Some of our favorites:

Friday/Saturday Breakfast

The forthcoming Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is celebrating President Barack Obama’s swearing in by serving up “Obama Then” and “Obama Now” doughnuts.

Pastry chef/founder Jason Gehring pays tribute with the “Obama Then” — a
chocolate-glazed doughnut drizzled with caramel sauce and sprinkled with Maldon smoked sea salt, and the “Obama Now” — a honey-glazed, oatmeal raisin doughnut topped with crumbled granola. There’ll be 300 of the specialty doughnuts — orders capped at six per person — each day, with sales beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and continuing until they’re gone.

Astro Doughnuts Inauguration Pop-Up: 475 H St. NW; starting 8:30 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m.  Saturday

Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 6:29 p.m.
Food

The (D.C.) Kids Are All Right

Fiasco, a Grammy nominee, will be performing at the StartUp RockOn party at The Hamilton on Jan. 20. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Do you think the president’s fancy party and the first lady’s dress will be the most interesting parts of this inaugural weekend? You’re dead wrong.

Unlike 2009’s celebration, the 2013 inaugural weekend isn’t about famous outsiders sashaying to a series of events. It’s better understood as a celebration of local innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.

Some of the most interesting events are being organized by young Washingtonians to honor or “elevate” the new blood and energy that has flooded into town the past few years.

Look no further than two marquee events this weekend: StartUp RockOn and M Central, two local groups done good.

The StartUp RockOn party is at The Hamilton on Jan. 20 and features hip-hop superstar and 2013 Grammy nominee Lupe Fiasco. While it has a respectable congressional host committee, this inauguration event caps an event-filled year for the group dedicated to partying and getting young entrepreneurs in the same place at the same time.

Meanwhile, in the Atlas District, M Central is putting on an entire weekend of events focused on entrepreneurs and young people. These include an ideas forum, art gallery, musical showcase and a ball.

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New York’s Grabbiest Pastry Chef

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., may excel at bringing home the bacon to the Empire State, but he’s apparently an absolute terror in the kitchen.

Just watch as the Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies snatches away a sample of Toma Celena (an Italian-style cheese produced by Cooperstown Cheese Company), dips his digit into the caramel-maple syrup sauce and tears into the apple pie mere seconds after the artfully arranged dessert is plated.

No need to consult with anyone at Hyde Park’s famed Culinary Institute of America: With those grabby mitts, Schumer wouldn’t last a single shift on a restaurant line anywhere.

Roof Blaze Won’t Close Hank’s on the Hill for Long

Oyster-lovers, rest easy. The fire at the Pennsylvania Avenue location of Hank’s Oyster Bar early this morning didn’t cause any damage that would force the eatery to close for long.

The building suffered “minimal” damage, a spokeswoman for the restaurant said, and it looks as if it could be up and running — or “up and shucking” as they say at Hank’s — in a matter of days.

Hank’s was planning to be open extended hours over inauguration weekend. While that plan is off the table now, the restaurant could reopen in time for Inauguration Day festivities.

According to the spokeswoman, there was “a small fire on the roof” in the wee hours of the morning. The cause is still unknown.

Initial reports claimed that one person suffered minor injuries, but HOH has confirmed that everyone at Hank’s is safe and well — including neighboring buildings, which suffered no fire damage.

GQ’s Political Hotties of the Millennium

The brain trust behind Gentlemen’s Quarterly has decided that even though we’re only a decade in, it’s never too early to hand out superlatives to the most-obsessed-about women of the 21st century.

The list is, of course, dominated by the most scantily clad among us, a sorority of alluring actresses, busty lingerie models and morally bankrupt reality TV starlets.

And while Beyonce Knowles sports the “Miss Millennium” crown, a few women from the politisphere did manage to crash the prurient party. Full story

GOP Grills Administration About Menendez Intern Bust

Sen. Charles Grassley

Grassley, above, and other Republican senators have queried Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano twice about Zavaleta’s case. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The timing of the arrest of Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, a registered sex offender who got plucked by immigration officials last December while interning for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., continues to trouble several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Zavaleta was arrested Dec. 6 on a visa violation.

A timeline provided to lawmakers by government whistleblowers suggests Homeland Security Department agents held off on taking Zavaleta out of circulation ahead of the November elections for fear the enforcement action would spark “significant Congressional and media interest.”

Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Orrin G. Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma have queried Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano twice about Zavaleta’s convoluted case, once on Dec. 19 (former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., lent his support to the opening salvo) and most recently on Jan. 7.

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D.C. Real Estate Blog Waxes About Obama’s First Apartment

As President Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in for four more years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, local real estate blog Urban Turf DC takes a look at his first District residence — a one-bedroom unit inside a Stanton Park apartment building.

In a chat with the Johnsie Walsh, the landlord who leased Obama the “plain jane” apartment at 227 Sixth St. NE, the president is described as a very good tenant who tastefully decorated his small quarters. A sleigh bed occupied the single bedroom, and the tiny kitchen contained a half-size stove.

Obama described the vibe during a November 2008 interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes”: “It had kind of the vintage college dorm … pizza, empty beer bottle feel to it.” (Questions about the apartment start at about the 4:40 mark.)

The president said he used to get teased by his staffers saying, “You’re the only senator who has a worst apartment than your 25-year-old staff people.”

Obama began leasing the apartment in 2005 and stayed there until 2008, when the presidential race started to heat up and the Secret Service decided it would be easier to protect Obama if he stayed in a hotel. The apartment has since been passed on to Obama staffers.

Walsh, who lives in California, never met Obama in person. She did hold on to a copy of his $1,200 rent check, dated May 2008 and signed by Michelle Obama.

The first lady was not a fan of the modest digs. During the same “60 Minutes” interview, she told host Steve Kroft, “I visited, but I didn’t sleep there.”

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:59 p.m.
HillSide

January 16, 2013

Kucinich Joins Fox News

Political gadfly Dennis J. Kucinich has found a new home: Fox News.

Kucinich at minimum wage presser

Kucinich, left, is starting his post-congressional career at Fox News. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The anti-war, progressive poster boy, who until very recently represented Ohio’s 10th District, will now share his far-left views across the entire Roger Ailes-run newsiverse.

“I’m basically getting an open invitation to participate in any and all of them,” Kucinich told HOH of his soon-to-be-unfettered access to the “fair & balanced” programming hub. Kucinich suggested  he could pop up on-screen as early as Thursday night on “The O’Reilly Factor,” but said he’ll definitely be chatting about all things inauguration this weekend during “Your World” with Neil Cavuto.

The former Congressman said he’s excited about reconnecting with all the Fox hosts and interviewers he’s verbally sparred with during his 16-year run as a House lawmaker, estimating that this contributing gig will simply continue that running conversation.

White House to Dole Out Digital Swag for Good Deeds

In an effort to motivate Americans to get out and serve during Saturday’s National Day of Service, the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the location-based social-networking application Foursquare have teamed up to offer some digital swag for those who participate in a volunteer project.

Foursquare users who “check-in” on the application at a volunteer event near them will receive a special badge acknowledging their good deeds.

“January 19 is the National Day of Service, and there are thousands of events across the country where you can honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering,” according to a blog post on Foursquare’s website. “We’ve partnered with the Presidential Inaugural Committee to recognize Americans who are taking part in the National Day of Service this Saturday by awarding our first-ever volunteer service badge.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend volunteer events during inauguration weekend.

But if you can’t make it to a volunteer event Saturday, those who survive a trip on the D.C. Metro on Inauguration Day and check-in on the National Mall can also receive the service badge. (In other words, if you’re lazy and sleep in Sunday, but you still want your do-gooder badge, just make sure you show up Monday.)

January 15, 2013

Messina Is the Italian-American Democrat of the Year

President Barack Obama isn’t going to be the only ball belle. Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina will finally get his moment in the sun, even if that sun is indoor lighting at Carmine’s Restaurant on Seventh Street.

On Sunday, Messina will be crowned 2012’s Italian-American Democrat of the Year by the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council. The council’s motto? “I’m Italian American and a Democrat. (Some people just have it all.)”

The party in his honor will be held at the family-style Italian restaurant from 4:30 pm to 6 pm. Messina will attend and accept his award in person.

He’ll be joined by Democratic Reps. George Miller of California and Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, former Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota and many Italian-Americans.

Even better? The event is open to the public. If you would like to RSVP, do so at iademocrats@gmail.com.

Members Recite (Most) of the Constitution on House Floor

Members of Congress took to the House floor Tuesday morning to read the secular scripture that is the United States Constitution, an effort to remind them of the institution’s guiding principles as the 113th Congress gets under way.

One would think such a document should be read in its entirety to remind this crop of congressional leaders of the entirety of its history, complete with imperfections, and the quest for a more perfect union that has distinguished the history of the country and its guiding document.

However, in what is becoming a tradition for these mass Constitution readings, the members have left out the parts of the Constitution that had been amended after the document was ratified Sept. 17, 1787.

Full story

January 14, 2013

Breaking Into the Gossip Pages

Dear members of the 113th Congress:

While there are those, including some of your own colleagues, who loathe the government and all things congressional, we here at Heard on the Hill can’t wait to get to know each and every one of you.

We’re genuinely curious about your thoughts about, well, everything. We’re dying to know where you like to unwind after work. And we’re always interested in who you hang with when you think no one’s looking.

If near-anonymity is your goal this session, consider NOT engaging in the following:

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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.
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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.”

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