Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 23, 2014

January 12, 2014

A Concurrent Resolution for the New Year | Capitol Quip

A Concurrent Resolution for the New Year | 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.

January 10, 2014

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

One minute you’re stuffing your face with a burrito, and the next the Secret Service is snooping through your bags and subjecting you to a full body scan.

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

This is what happens when the president decides to chow down at the same D.C. restaurant as you.

So it went on Friday afternoon, when President Barack Obama trekked up to The Coupe in Columbia Heights for a policy luncheon at the 24-hour diner.

Patrons (this reporter included) were tipped off that someone notable was en route when an army of suits and earpieces showed up to sweep the place. The bomb-sniffing dog quickly changed the focus of everyone’s VIP theory from singer Chris Brown, who was in town for his arraignment earlier in the week, to either POTUS or FLOTUS.

Obama strode in a few minutes later and worked his way around the diner, shaking hands and making small talk with the 50 or so customers in the place.

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

Lest anyone think the infant-kissing stops when you’re a lame duck, he also picked up some babies — one of whom daringly played with 44’s face. Another baby appeared to be having a bad hair day, prompting Obama to jokingly compare the windswept child to coiffure kingpin Donald Trump.

According to the White House, the purpose of the president’s visit was to dine with five young people “who are spearheading creative outreach efforts to connect with and help enroll young consumers” in coverage expanded by the Affordable Care Act.

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

The group huddled together for about an hour, just five feet away from your Columbia Heights pooler, with Obama wearing shirtsleeves and ordering what appeared to be the Coupe Burger — accompanied by sauteed spinach as well as a side of hot-sauce-laced onion rings — drinking iced tea and eventually paying for the meal with a credit card.

No word on the generosity of the president’s tip.

Football Breeds Bipartisanship, Betting

Bipartisanship is in the air, at least when it comes to the National Football League. It’s not uncommon to see fans of college and professional sports in Congress wager their states’ wares and fares over the outcome of contests, but this week has produced some nice examples of bipartisan bonhomie over the gridiron.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is a fierce partisan warrior, but she and Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., have a cross-the-aisle bet on the outcome of Sunday’s Carolina Panthers-San Francisco 49ers divisional playoff game in Charlotte, N.C.

What’s on the line? Full story

The Coal War Chronicles | Madisonville

Finally. A war that Republicans think the Obama administration is waging effectively. Most Americans won’t have noticed the War on Coal, but the House Natural Resources Committee got together on Thursday to tut-tut about the president’s ruthless treatment of the enemy.

The Coal War Chronicles | MadisonvilleTut-tut may overstate members’ engagement in this hearing.  Chairman Doc Hastings from Washington and ranking member Peter A. DeFazio from Oregon were about as excitable as two doctors delivering babies and treating horse-kickings in a rural medical practice, circa 1955. Hastings and DeFazio also happen to look like two country doctors, circa 1955. Doc Hastings is the sterner, round-faced one. Doc DeFazio is the younger, smiling one. Doc DeFazio also gives the impression that he’s disappearing beneath his collar.

The committee brought in Robert Knox, an assistant inspector general for investigations who’s been looking into the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement at the Department of the Interior.  The Surface Mining people’s alleged War on Coal crime was to pressure a contractor to play down the number of jobs that would be lost because of a proposed regulation and then to fire the contractor for refusing to do so.

Republicans put more than twice as many soldiers on this battlefield as the Democrats, but it didn’t do much good.  Inspectors general aren’t very good witnesses. Members of Congress try to provoke them into comments that have nothing to do with the investigation, but Inspector General 101 class teaches them to avoid such elementary traps.

Knox said the contractor wasn’t fired, that reasonable explanations were available for the estimated jobs impact of the regulation, and that nobody applied any political pressure.  Republican forces’ morale sank. They couldn’t yield their time fast enough. Outnumbering the enemy by more than 2-to-1 doesn’t help if you’re unarmed.

North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer lifted the Republicans’ spirits briefly when he disclosed that he spent 10 years as his state’s coal-mining regulator.  Cramer’s website, by the way, says he has a doctorate in leadership. Doctor Leader Cramer, coal warrior. The Republicans must have felt like orcs watching Lurtz move into battle. But Cramer disappointed, focusing on an Interior Department employee that the inspector general discovered had made a smart-aleck comment about rule-making and the real world being different things.

The Democrats didn’t fare much better, but they didn’t have to. Doc DeFazio tried to yield his opening statement time only to discover his Democratic colleagues didn’t want it. New Jersey’s Rush D. Holt finally agreed and stammered something out.

The good news is that this coal war crime revolved around an estimated loss of 7,000 jobs and the wasted $3.7 million paid to a contractor said to have done an unsatisfactory job.  No zeros are missing in those numbers. You’d expect a couple of small-town doctors to pay attention to the little things.

Trey Radel Wanders Away From the Web

Back before he got pinched for cocaine possession, Rep. Trey Radel would light up his various social media channels several times a day with snarky observations, behind-the-congressional-scenes videos and quirky selfies.

Trey Radel Wanders Away From the Web

(Courtesy Trey Radel)

These days, his mind appears to be elsewhere.

Having recently returned to Congress after a brief stint in rehab, the Florida Republican has pretty much clammed up across the board. He has not shared anything on Facebook since blasting out his combo mea culpa/back-to-work statement on Dec. 29.

And Radel’s once robust Twitter feed boasts just three posts since a Dupont Circle drug buy blew up in his face back in November. Full story

Overheard: Minnesota Rockets Past Mars in Cold Wars

“You talked about the severe cold. I’m aware of this since people keep citing the number that northern Minnesota was colder than Mars for a period of time last week.”

— Sen. Amy Klobuchar steers the latest jobs report discussion by the Joint Economic Committee back to the polar vortex’s staggeringly chilling effect on her home state.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 1:11 p.m.
Nationwide, Sens

Capitol Hill Fox: Monuments Fan

We know money’s tight over at the U.S. National Park Service (thanks, sequester!), so HOH has taken the liberty of penning the following public service announcement free of charge:

Dear tourists,

If, as you’re making your way around all the iconic D.C. attractions, you happen to spot a whiskered face staring back at you from the surrounding foliage, don’t be alarmed.

It’s probably just Capitol Hill Fox out stretching its legs.

P.S. It doesn’t appear to be particularly camera shy, so snap away.

According to every person who’s bumped into the increasingly well-traveled and amazingly well-behaved creature, the Capitol Hill Fox pays little mind to the two-legged gawkers in its path.


View Capitol Hill fox sightings in a larger map

The humans who spy the critter, on the other hand, are typically entranced.

Particularly youngsters.

Former Hill staffer Matthew Bisbee credited the CHF with pretty much making his 5-year-old son’s day during an otherwise exhausting lap around D.C. last summer. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:05 p.m.
Critters, DC, Kiddies, Staffers

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Jan. 6 (Video)

Congressional Hits and Misses starts off the new year with a bang, mixing together Greg Maddux, Dennis Rodman, New Jersey bridges and the United Nations “global warming party.”

January 9, 2014

Gabby Giffords Chatty in Sky Dive (Video)

To mark the third anniversary of the Arizona shooting in which she was nearly fatally wounded, ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords took to the friendly skies over her home state to jump out of a functional aircraft. Here’s footage of the sky dive:

Geronimo! (Whose stomping grounds in the Grand Canyon State aren’t too far away from Giffords’ native Tucson, Ariz.)

Now That’s a Traffic Jam: Bullock Needles Christie About Bridgegate

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock offered embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a sneak peek at what it would take to bring commuters to a standstill in the Treasure State.

Christie has faced intense scrutiny since news broke that several of his aides purportedly orchestrated major traffic problems for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., last fall in a suspected act of political retaliation.

Harry Reid Professes His Love for Greg Maddux (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor Wednesday to congratulate fellow Nevadan and eighth-winningest pitcher in Major League Baseball history, Greg Maddux, for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame — and for being such a “nice man.”

During the tribute, Reid recalled Maddux’s loyalty and humor in a fitting anecdote from his last re-election race, when the Democratic leader phoned the jock on the golf course to ask him to be a “Republican for Reid.”  After the “Mad Dog” confirmed he’d go to bat for the senator, Reid turned the subject over to the pro’s golf game. “You gonna break 80 today?” he asked.

Maddux’s answer? “If you leave me alone, I can break 70.”

 

 

January 8, 2014

A Meditation on the Quiet Time Caucus

A Meditation on the Quiet Time Caucus

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When last we checked in with Rep. Tim Ryan, the contemplative pol was still laying the groundwork for a stress relief initiative he hoped fellow lawmakers and staffers would rally around.

A year after floating his mindfulness plan, the Ohio Democrat can now point to semi-regular staff meetings and a weekly, members-only powwow as proof that he’s not the only one in Congress desperate to shut out all the mind-numbing noise reverberating throughout the Capitol. Full story

Five Resolutions for the New Year | Capitol Quip

Five Resolutions for the New Year | Capitol Quip

The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your votes.

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

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • Let’s focus on resolutions we can keep, like continuous partisan rancor and paralyzing dysfunction.
  • You know, they’re about to take this scaffolding for the Capitol Dome renovation project.
  • At least our track record is better than WMATA’s.
  • I transferred from the Department of Roads Paved With Good Intentions.
  • What? Return to regular order?? I forgot what that looks like!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Jan. 12 and in the following 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 3:50 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Gabby Giffords Flies High on Tragic Anniversary

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords spent Wednesday morning soaring through the clouds above the Grand Canyon State to mark the third anniversary of her survival of a horrific shooting.

Jared Lee Loughner shot the Arizona Democrat in the head on Jan. 8, 2011, at a Congress on Your Corner gathering in suburban Tucson, Ariz.

The still-recovering Giffords elected to mark the harrowing occasion Wednesday by plummeting from a perfectly good airplane while strapped to a close friend.

Gabby Giffords Flies High on Tragic Anniversary

(Courtesy Gabrielle Giffords)

“I have the opportunity to do something I love: skydiving with my friend, former Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch,” she alerted the Twitterverse before heading out to the airfield.

Per her social media posts, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped Giffords a line before takeoff. Full story

Keeping Up With the Capitol Hill Fox

And the hits keep coming.

Keeping Up With the Capitol Hill Fox

(Courtesy Chris Burger)

Chris Burger, who left D.C. for Nashville, Tenn., not too long ago, told HOH he’s been enjoying our ongoing coverage of the photogenic phenomenon that is the Capitol Hill Fox. And — who’d believe it! — he, too, recently had a run-in with the four-legged bandit during a holiday visit to the District.

“We ran into the red fox at the FDR Memorial,” Burger shared. “He just ran across the memorial into grass and just kept going — he seemed to just be enjoying the cold day.”

Our furry friend appears to have this whole town wired: Full story

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