Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

June 23, 2014

Rangel Rap Ain’t All That

Rep. Charles B. Rangel has released a career-recapping rap ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

The last-minute attempt at shoring up the New York Democrat’s street cred isn’t completely terrible.

Yes, the background remains frozen on the campaign’s dull but clearly needed get-out-the-vote instructions rather than flipping through, say, nostalgic images of Rangel’s four decades on Capitol Hill. And the lyrics — main chorus: “If you gonna vote, you gonna vote for da Rangel/Charlie-Charlie-Charlie Rangel!” — could sound a bit more inspired. (Team Rangel did not respond to emails seeking information as to who penned and performed the supportive ditty.)

But the background chimes are hauntingly beautiful. And the song is jam-packed with information about Rangel’s upbringing, military exploits and political accomplishments.

Still, the jingle lacks the grittiness of the anthemic rhymes Memphis-based rapper Al Kapone spit for then-House hopeful Dr. George Flinn (the aspiring politico is attempting to knock off Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., this time around) during the previous cycle.

Full story

Bob Casey Wants FIFA to Strip Qatar of 2022 World Cup

Bob Casey Wants FIFA to Strip Qatar of 2022 World Cup

Casey wants FIFA to strip the World Cup from Qatar. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

As the U.S. national team prepares to take on Germany Thursday to qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wants soccer’s governing body to take the 2022 tournament away from Qatar.

“I’m urging FIFA to remove the cloud that hangs over the 2022 World Cup and swiftly reallocate this event,” Casey said in a Monday letter to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, adding that the United States conveniently stands ready to host.

Casey, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, cited  labor practices and allegations of corruption and bribery as reasons to strip the tournament from the Gulf state monarchy.  Full story

Bill Maher’s #FlipADistrict Project Enters Final Countdown

Bill Mahers #FlipADistrict Project Enters Final Countdown

Coffman, left, and Walorski are two of the House Republicans targeted in the Bill Maher ‘Flip a District’ project. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There are just two chances left to nominate House GOP lawmakers for ousting at the hands of HBO’s Bill Maher.

The political comedian announced during the June 20 “Real Time With Bill Maher” that he has added Republican Reps. Tim Walberg of Michigan and freshman Jackie Walorski of Indiana to his list of incumbents who might be vulnerable in the November midterm elections.

Full story

Trey Gowdy Does His Best Don Rickles With Boehner Joke

Trey Gowdy Does His Best Don Rickles With Boehner Joke

Gowdy, right, needles colleagues Boehner, Graham and Harris. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Who knew Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., was so deft with a punchline (admittedly, a pretty corny one)?

The former prosecutor had the audience at Maryland GOP’s Red, White and Blue dinner last week howling over a shaggy-dog tale featuring fellow Republicans Speaker John A. Boehner, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Andy Harris in heaven.

Here’s a transcript of the joke, currently getting a lot of attention on YouTube:

“Before we talk about how to win again — and I know this is the first time I’ve met many of you and it’s socially inappropriate to share the details of a dream with a group that you’ve just met. I don’t know how many of you have a background in psychiatry or psychology, but I did, I had a horrible dream last night. If you’d give me just a couple of minutes I’d love to share it with you and if any of you can interpret it, that’d be great too.

“In my dream John Boehner, Lindsey Graham and Andy Harris all tragically died and, and went to heaven the same day. It can happen, I guess. Two of ‘em for sure. I think, I think it was a lightning bolt hitting a golf cart but I am not for sure how they died.

“But I know that they got to heaven and St. Peter said, “Look, I know you’re big shots on earth but there are rules up here. You need to follow the rules or there are going to be consequences.” Well Speaker Boehner was the first person to break the rules in heaven. He broke into a CVS to steal some cigarettes and some tanning lotion.  It’s my dream, it happened. Trust me, I’m a lawyer.

“So in my dream I see John Boehner and he is chained to Nancy Pelosi with a ten-foot long chain. And in a voice as loud as thunder I hear, ‘John Boehner you violated the rules of heaven and this is your punishment for all of eternity.’

“And then I see Lindsey Graham. And Lindsey’s running around in heaven, wanting to know where John McCain is. I’m not going to get into why McCain wasn’t there. That’s up to somebody else but in my dream, in my dream, Senator Graham was chained to Roseanne Barr with a five-foot, a five-foot long chain. And a voice as loud as thunder I hear, ‘Lindsey Graham you have violated the rules of heaven and this is your punishment for all of eternity.’

“And this is where I get emotional because Andy’s a friend. Andy’s a friend but in my dream I see Dr. Andy Harris and he is chained with a five-foot long chain to the former supermodel Cindy Crawford. And in a voice as loud as thunder I hear, ‘Cindy Crawford you have violated the rules — ‘ [interrupted by laughter]

Marion Barry Discusses His Book, the Blues and Yogurt

Marion Barry Discusses His Book, the Blues and Yogurt

Barry, seen here at a 2009 rally, has thoughts about healthy diets and the Clinton marriage. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Marion Barry told reporters at a local restaurant he’s not afraid of their questions, as long as they read his book first.

The D.C. councilmember and former mayor is on a book tour promoting “Mayor for Life,” which he describes as “very honest.”

“I have no fear of being around reporters,” Barry told the group of roughly 20 journalists on June 20. “The only thing I ask you all to do, read the book first. … It’s the truth: the good, the bad, the ugly.”

While the reporters sat down to a dinner at Look Supper Club on K Street, a singles mixer occurred on the other side of a thin curtain. With the chattering of small talk and music, there was some confusion throughout the night as Barry and the journalists strained to hear above the noise.

At one point, the four-term former mayor was asked about the proposed yoga tax in D.C., but he thought the reporter said “yogurt,” which prompted a passionate defense of the snack.

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 1:28 p.m.
Books, DC

June 22, 2014

House Republicans’ Happy Marriage | Capitol Quip

House Republicans Happy Marriage | Capitol Quip

House Republicans have chosen a new majority leader and whip, setting up a more stable leadership team for the remainder of the 113th Congress. Right? 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

A Brat in the House? | Capitol Quip

A Brat in the House? | 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.

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

Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame (Video)

Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame (Video)

Stupak plays first base as the Democrats practice at Brentwood Park in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some ballplayers rack up win after win from the pitcher’s mound. Others bash hit after hit. Managers capture the coveted Roll Call trophy and put it on display in their offices. Any of these career paths can lead to recognition and honors.

But what about the low-key player who, over the course of 14 years, out-pitches his more celebrated teammates, wins an MVP award for his defensive prowess, changes the way pitchers are handled — and is the only player to ever strike out a Hall of Famer? One man has accomplished all of the above, and for that we have selected former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., as the 2014 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame.

Full story

June 21, 2014

Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games

Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle — or “Coach Doyle,” as he’s deferentially called by colleagues — doesn’t want to see anybody get hurt at the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

That’s a good thing for a team of amateur athletes with an average age far past that of a professional ballplayer in his prime, and perhaps especially good for Rep. Joseph Crowley.

“I’ve been hurt twice in the last three seasons,” the New York Democrat readily admitted. “I’ve been hurt at the game. Typically, it’s pulling a muscle.

“We’re so psyched,” Crowley explained. “The adrenaline’s pumping. You’re running from votes, you’re changing in the car, you’re running into the stadium. There’s no time to warm up, the game starts. You’re just, like, pumping. All those people there!”

He paused and smiled. “It’s a really, really cool thing.”

Crowley, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus when he’s not manning first base, played in his first Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game in 1999, as a freshman lawmaker. He’s seen a lot and has a humble idea of his place in the scheme of things. “The second year, I remember I was out in the outfield, and I didn’t have my cleats that morning, and I was shagging a fly ball,” he recalled. “The field was so wet and dewy, I just lost my feet completely. Bang! Right smack on my back. And I got up and I said, ‘Why am I doing this? I don’t know why I’m doing this.’”

Crowley uses the word “hate” for anyone who’s a standout player, and “jealous” for anyone who competes to play first base. The latter point has been the source of a rivalry between him and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

But despite his somewhat imposing stature and gruff baritone, Crowley is quick with a laugh and his eyes twinkle when he’s talking trash — a sign he takes it all in stride.

Some of Crowley’s favorite memories? “I enjoyed watching the Weiner years,” said Crowley of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a fellow New York Democrat and Mets fan.

Crowley’s nicknamed the Democrats’ star pitcher, Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, “Franchise” and calls freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida, “Franchise 2.” Murphy, Crowley said, is “like a gazelle” on the field.

He says his favorite moment inside the diamond was in 2012, the same day the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.

“Folks made signs out in the field,” Crowley said. “‘Supreme Court 1, Republicans Nothing.’ Something like that.”

Was there ever a low-point in his congressional baseball career?

“Yeah,” Crowley said, trying to deadpan but ultimately bursting out laughing. “The day Steve Largent struck me out my only time at bat. I said, ‘I’m never gonna be here again!’ ”

The Oklahoma Republican who’s in two halls of fame — pro football’s and the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game’s — made him look silly. “I was there at the plate, and he threw a ball, and I fouled it off. And he threw another ball, and it was a ball. And he threw another ball, it was a strike, and I knew it was coming, and all I could do was look at it. And I watched it. It was a beautiful pitch, it was a curveball over the plate, and I remember thinking: ‘That guy is such a great athlete. I hate him.’

“But that was 15, 16 years ago,” Crowley shrugged. “Every year is a new beginning. I’m hoping to hit it out soon.”

Get your tickets to the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

 

Related:

Republican and Democratic team rosters for the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game

Congressional Baseball Game Helps D.C. Adults Get Second Chance at Washington Literacy Center

 

 

June 20, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 16 (Video)

As summer approaches, members turned to flavored e-cigarettes, arithmetic and CIA analysts on acid to make it through the heat of the week.

Senate Panel Goes Back to (Dr.) Oz | Madisonville

Senate Panel Goes Back to (Dr.) Oz | MadisonvilleSen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., brought a bit of glamour to the Senate to get to the bottom of why Americans want to lose weight without really trying. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the star of “The Dr. Oz Show,” came to explain why he speaks so kindly about products that McCaskill said combine promises of weight loss and a “lack of serious effort.”

You could tell Oz was a star because his entourage included somebody to knot his tie. Bright studio lights were stationed in the corners for the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance hearing Tuesday. Other witnesses knotted their own ties and mostly faded into the wings.

McCaskill gave Oz a tongue-lashing, telling him to stop talking about the benefits of green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia and raspberry ketone — “The number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat!” — on his show. “Why don’t you tell people to take a walk instead of a pill?” McCaskill asked. She was on such a roll that you expected her to accuse Oz of being the inspiration for the 64-oz. soda. Full story

Eric Cantor’s Next Move: Dancing With the Stars?

Eric Cantor’s Next Move: Dancing With the Stars?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After his shocking primary loss, outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s days are numbered on Capitol Hill. So will the Virginia Republican’s next move be to the dance floor?

It will if Sara Benincasa has her way. Benincasa, a California-based writer and comedian, recently started a Change.org petition asking ABC to offer Cantor a spot on their competition series “Dancing with the Stars.”

“If Tom DeLay can do it, Eric Cantor can freaking rock this show,” Benincasa wrote on the petition. “He is a dreamboat and even if you don’t like his politics, you need to admit that the man’s got swag. Plus, he’s got some time on his hands, and this is a way better use of time than becoming some lobbyist. He can do that AFTER he wins Dancing With The Stars. “

The petition has more than 80 signatures so far, but Benincasa says Cantor should be getting more support. “I think Eric Cantor deserves better than 83 people,” Benincasa said in a phone interview.

Benincasa is editor-in-chief of the site “Happy Nice Time People,” a political humor website. She said she started the petition because she is “really interested in anything that could get a politician involved with entertainment,” adding that Cantor would also be nice to watch on TV.

“Even though I don’t agree with his politics, I agree with his face,” Benincasa said. She added that he could also use dance as a way to express himself once he leaves Congress.

“I feel like Eric Cantor has demonstrated a lot of passion in his life,” she said. “And I feel like the only way for that passion to find a voice now is through the magic of dance.”

So if Cantor decides to become one of the dancing stars, he can at least call another former House majority leader for cha-cha tips.

 

Congressional Baseball Game Helps D.C. Adults Get Second Chance at Washington Literacy Center

Congressional Baseball Game Helps D.C. Adults Get Second Chance at Washington Literacy Center

Students Denise Herbert, Donna Snowden and Luke Adams get warmed up before a reading class as instructor Martha Tansey looks on. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Latisha Powell pointed to a paper pinned to the bulletin board on the bright blue wall and said, “When I came here, I couldn’t write that essay.”

Powell, 46, was once one of the thousands of adults in the District who do not have basic reading skills.

But after several months at the Washington Literacy Center, Powell was able to write that essay, about mothers, which began: “Don’t be ashamed.”

Shaking off the shame that comes with being functionally illiterate is a common experience for the 100 adults the WLC serves each year. Most of them do not have a high school diploma, but have completed 10 to 12 years of education.

Donna Snowden, 50, said she used to be embarrassed that she could not read, but she no longer felt alone after she came to the WLC. “I said, ‘Whoa, all of them can’t read either?’ I’m not ashamed no more. That’s what helped me back.”

That sense of camaraderie flows through the classrooms at the WLC, located in the Thurgood Marshall Center just off U Street in Northwest D.C.

The WLC was able to relocate to the center two years ago with help from funds raised by the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. Last year, the funds helped the WLC purchase the Wilson Reading System, a teaching technique that breaks down words.

According to WLC Executive Director Terry Algire, the Wilson system has been extremely successful. “The Wilson Reading System works,” Algire said.

She said the combination of small class sizes, professional instructors, eight hours of instruction per week and a successful reading system has helped make the WLC an effective program.

Algire is looking to expand the WLC and incorporate math tutoring as well.

“While we’re moving students, transitioning students into GED programs, job training programs and employment, what we’re hearing back is, ‘Their reading is really good, now can you help with the math?’ ” Algire said. “So what we’re going to do is find a math program that’s similar in technique to the way Wilson is taught.”

This year’s 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game donation will be used to research potential math programs and expand pilot projects where the WLC sends instructors to other adult education programs in an effort to reach more adults.

Algire said an estimated 64,000 to 90,000 adults in D.C. lack basic reading skills, which means just filling out a job application is an arduous task. She also said these adults face an unfair characterization.

“A lot of times, there’s a stereotype that adults don’t care,” said Algire, who added that the adults who drop out of high school are not apathetic. Instead, they are frustrated by learning differences that do not coincide with standard teaching techniques.

For students like Powell, the WLC is a place to learn what she was not able to learn in school. “I love it here,” she said.

Get your tickets to the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

 

Related:

Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games

Republican and Democratic rosters for the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game

The Updated Staffer Guide to the Congressional Baseball Game

Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame

Love Sparked From Beehive State: Clay White, Tanya Robertson Engaged

Love Sparked From Beehive State: Clay White, Tanya Robertson Engaged

White proposes to Robertson on speaker’s balcony. (Courtesy Allison Barker)

It didn’t take long for Clay White to decide that Tanya Robertson was the girl for him.

It was “love at first sight.” Robertson was interning for Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. She walked into the office of another Utah Republican, Rep. Chris Stewart and caught White’s eye. White, a legislative correspondent for Stewart, knew he had to take immediate action.

Under the guise of “work,” he made multiple visits to the Chaffetz office before he mustered up the courage to ask Robertson on a date. They dated long distance when Robertson returned to school in Utah. Upon graduation, she became Chaffetz’s scheduler.

Full story

By Rebecca Gale Posted at 12:38 p.m.
Weddings

June 19, 2014

DWS Sustains Hamstring Injury at Congressional Women’s Softball Game

DWS Sustains Hamstring Injury at Congressional Womens Softball Game

Wasserman Schultz celebrates the win. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Good thing the next Congressional Women’s Softball Game is a year away.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., tore her hamstring Wednesday night as she was rounding the bases during the annual charity softball game and will be sidelined for “at least a couple of weeks” as she undergoes physical therapy for the injury, her office said Thursday afternoon.

Despite Wasserman Schultz’s injury early on in the game, the female members of Congress went on to defeat the female reporters in a triumphant 10-5 win — taking back the coveted trophy after a two-year slump.

Full story

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