Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

February 3, 2016

Capitol Police Union Catch Congressman’s Ear

Leaders from the Capitol Police Labor Committee dropped by Rep. Richard Nugent’s office Wednesday to say thank you — in the form of a commemorative badge that recognizes the board’s 100 years of existence.

The visit also came with a little opportunity to catch the congressman’s ear about their needs, specifically how to lobby for cost of living raises and the benefits to delaying the retirement age days before budget season begins. Full story

Staffer Turned Entrepreneur to Make Shark Tank Début

Blount, left, and Rodgers, right, will appear on ABC on Friday night. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Long time House staffer Willie Blount will make his television debut on Friday on the ABC show, Shark Tank, where he’ll pitch a pair of gloves he’s invented to a panel of investors.

Blount is the director of information systems for the House Legislative Counsel and has worked on Capitol Hill for 16 years. Aside from his job, his veteran, inventor and motorcycle rider background got him on the show.

“I wanted to control music while I rode my motorcycle, so I decided it needed to be done with your hands,” Blount told HOH.

The idea came to him in 2009, in 2011 he pitched it to his cousin, Tarik Rodgers, and in 2012, the company launched. Rodgers was personally interested in investing because he is a skier and is now the chief operating officer.

The invention, BearTek Gloves, function as a remote control, which is used by touching your thumb to one of six points, two on each finger. The entity is a technology company that licenses through manufacturers so they can integrate it into their brands.

Shark Tank 2

Blount’s invention. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Blount, 41, served in the Marine Corps as an aviation radar technician for six years before working on the Hill.

“Balancing is very hard,” he said. “Something’s got to give when you’ve got a family, a job and a business. So what goes? Sleep.” He is the father of a 14-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

Blount was invited to the veteran’s episode of Shark Tank. About 40,000 companies apply to be on Shark Tank and only 130 get interviewed; Blount got the call to be interviewed on the show in September, but was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles at the same time as his sister’s wedding. ABC allowed him to come  the morning after the wedding, but he could tell only his wife where he was going.

ABC makes it very clear that just because your interview was filmed, doesn’t mean your segment will air. The station also stresses that even if none of the shark “investors” picks you, your interview can still air. Blount got a call that his interview would air a week and a half ago.

Don’t ask how he did. Blount has not even told his wife.

Tune into ABC at 9 p.m. on Friday. BearTek Gloves’ segment is 10 minutes long and 14 minutes into the episode. The company is having a viewing party on Friday at the Columbia, Md., Buffalo Wild Wings, and all are welcome.

Contact Gangitano at and follow her on Twitter @alexgangitano.

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By Alex Gangitano Posted at 4 p.m.

Office Space: Bob Casey’s Presidential Suite

Casey is Roll Call's guest on Office Space this week. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Casey is Roll Call’s guest on Office Space this week. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In this week’s edition of Office Space, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., shows off his office’s historical ties and explains his collection of Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia.

Full story

Rocking the Natural History Museum

natural history

An aggregates industry trade group is celebrating passage of the highway bill at the Natural History Museum. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers are invited to celebrate the nation’s infrastructure at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday.

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, a mining group, is hosting a reception at the museum’s rotunda, followed by an tour of the rocks gallery at the museum.

Full story

Take Five: Rep. John Delaney

Delaney (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Delaney (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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. John Delaney, D-Md., talks about Bruce Springsteen, the New York Stock Exchange and time with his four daughters.

Q: I hear you’re a big Bruce Springsteen fan, when did you start loving the Boss?

A: In high school is when it really started forming, so that’s when I really came to age with Bruce music, which was the late 70s, early 80s. It was kind of between [albums] Born to Run and the River.

Q: Do you have a favorite Springsteen song?

A: You know, I have so many. As a kid I loved Jungleland and more recently, it goes to [the Ghost of] Tom Joad that’s been kind of a favorite. I just like what it symbolizes. And, I’ve seen Springsteen about 30 times in concert.

Q: You’re a successful businessman, what is your biggest accomplishment in your business career?

A: Well, I would have to say one high point that comes to mind was when we took my first company public, which was in 1996. And, standing up there with my whole team on the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange, ringing the bell. The New York Stock Exchange is right across the Hudson River from basically where I grew up, in this blue collar neighborhood of New Jersey. And I was 33 at the time, at the time I think I was the youngest CEO in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. For the whole team, being able to do that in a relatively short period of time, we had only started the [health care financing] company three years earlier, was a big thrill for all of us.

Q: You studied biology at Columbia University, what did you originally want to do after graduation?

A: I thought I would go to medical school and while I was at Columbia and studying biology and thinking of going to medical school, I did two things. I worked at St. Luke’s Hospital, which was a hospital right near Columbia, and I also worked up at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. And it became pretty clear to me based on doing that, that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I largely was pursuing that because it was something my parents thought I should do, less because I was a good student.

Q: You’re the father of four daughters and one of the closest lawmakers to your home, what do you do with your daughters in your spare time?

A: I just like enjoying spending time with them, which often times is going to their activities, their games, whatever they may be doing at the time. And all the girls have had different interests across time. We tend to be pretty active, so one of the things we like doing as a family is spending time out in the mountains, whether it being skiing or hiking or any of those kinds of things.

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February 2, 2016

He Made the Gavel Boehner Wielded

Slagle made the gavel that Boehner used as speaker (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly File Photo)

Slagle made the gavel that Boehner used as speaker. (Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly File Photo)

Former Speaker John A. Boehner mourned the loss of a mentor and friend Tuesday who created the gavel the Ohio Republican used to lead the House.

Richard “Dick” Slagle, of Middletown, Ohio, died at 90 years old.

Full story

By Alex Gangitano Posted at 4:25 p.m.

Rep. Fattah’s Son Faces Five Years for Fraud

Rep. Chaka Fattah faces legal issues himself. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Chaka Fattah faces legal issues himself. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Chaka Fattah Jr., the son of Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah, was sentenced to 60 months in prison on 22 federal counts of bank and tax fraud.

Fattah Jr., who uses the nickname, Chip, was found guilty in November of bank fraud, making false statements to banks to obtain loans and settle loans for less than what he owed, filing false federal income tax returns and failing to pay income tax. He also is guilty of wire fraud and theft from a program receiving federal funds, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. Full story

Walker Plans to Relaunch POW/MIA Committee

Mark Walker

Walker is inviting all veterans and active duty members to his launch. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., plans on reintroducing the Select Committee on Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Affairs.

“My point of reference in this is, as a minister for nearly two decades, dealing with loss and grief many times, families were able to move on with their lives once they found peace and closure,” Walker told HOH. “Families are still hurting, we haven’t done all we can do.”

Full story

By Alex Gangitano Posted at 5 a.m.

February 1, 2016

McCain Pays Off a Bet


McCain (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McCain is confident Arizona will have Super Bowl caliber performances next year. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fulfilling a wager made last month, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., congratulated the Carolina Panthers on the Senate floor on Monday for winning the NFC Championship over his home state Arizona Cardinals the week before.

“Unfortunately, even tragically, this is what brings me before you today,” McCain started his speech, explaining the wager. “It’s also why I’m wearing this unsightly (Panther) blue tie, which I’m sure is an assault on the senses of C-SPAN viewers all over the world.”

Full story

By Alex Gangitano Posted at 4:22 p.m.
Sens, Sports Desk

Akon Discusses Electricity in Africa at the Chamber

Washington, DC, USA - February 1, 2016: Rapper Akon and Akon Lighting Africa with the U.S.-Africa Business Center. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Left to right: Eisner, Akon, Niang, Bathily. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Musician Akon visited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday to promote renewable energy in Africa.

Famous for his songs, “I Wanna Love You” and “Locked Up,” Akon co-founded the Akon Lighting Africa initiative, which works to provide electricity to countries in Africa from a grassroots level.

Full story

Sanders Leads Iowa Facebook Conversation

Sanders led the Facebook conversation in Iowa on Caucus Day. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sanders led the Facebook conversation in Iowa on Caucus Day. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., was the top presidential candidate discussed in Iowa on Facebook on Monday. On Iowa Caucus Day, the social media site measured users’ conversations from midnight to noon on Feb. 1.

Sanders led with 42.2 percent of the conversation, double what business mogul Donald Trump received, who came in second with 21.7 percent.

Full story

Fat Tuesday, Polish-Style

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER12: Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and his wife Rep.-elect Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., speak with reporters as they arrive for the 114th Congress Member Reception in the Cannon House Office Building on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Debbie Dingell is carrying on the tradition started by her husband, former Rep. John Dingell (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Look out for Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., carrying pastries through the Capitol on Tuesday. Paczki Day is a Mardi Gras tradition, also known as Fat Tuesday, for Polish Lent celebrators.

A paczki is a fried dough ball filled with anything from the traditional filling, rose-hip, cherry and prune, to more modern ingredients like custard, chocolate, jam or jelly.

Full story

Will Shkreli Show Up?

Martin Shkreli (C), a former hedge fund manager and Chief Executive Officer of Retrophin, leaves the federal court after getting bail, in New York on December 17, 2015. Shkreli, the pharmaceutical CEO who caused a storm in September by jacking up the price of a life-saving drug, was arrested Thursday on fraud charges, prosecutors said. His arrest was not linked to the 5,000-percent increase in the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat malaria and infections suffered by HIV-positive individuals. The FBI said he was targeted instead in an $11 million embezzlement probe at another company he once led, Retrophin. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Shkreli leaves federal court in New York after getting bail on Dec. 17. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Despite his dismissive tweets in answer to a subpoena, House Oversight and Government Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said he expects notorious pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli to testify on Capitol Hill on Thursday in arguably the most-hyped hearing so far in 2016.

The House Oversight and Government Committee hearing, titled “Developments in the Prescription Drug Market,” was rescheduled from Jan. 26 due to Winter Storm Jonas clean-up in Washington.

Full story

January 29, 2016

Clinton Adviser: Schumer Was ‘So Happy’ She Left the Senate

Schumer and Clinton served together as senators from New York. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Schumer and Clinton served together as senators from New York. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A longtime Hillary Clinton adviser seemed to think Sen. Charles E. Schumer was happy to see the current Democratic presidential candidate leave the world’s greatest deliberative body.

In an internal State Department email released Friday as part of the latest dump of Clinton emails from her time as secretary of State, Philippe Reines called Schumer “a good man who is just so happy she left the Senate.”

Full story

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Jan. 25, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid speaks with Sen. Chuck Schumer in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in December. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid speaks with Sen. Chuck Schumer in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in December. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate spent a week shortened by snow slapping podiums, retracting poor jokes and inhaling blackberries.

Full story

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