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

August 5, 2014

Tea Party Rhetoric Strikes Some as Muy Shady

No one is surprised the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund is holding Sen. Lamar Alexander’s feet to the fire on the raging border security battle. But the group’s use of foreign punctuation has left some in Washington wondering ¿que paso?

Tea Party Rhetoric Strikes Some as Muy Shady

(Screenshot)

In the email attack, the group repeatedly frames the Tennessee Republican’s name in inverted exclamation points — punctuation typically associated with the Spanish language.

Some fellow hacks considered this rhetorical jab to be nothing short of racist. Tea party leaders attempted to brush aside any such aspersions.

“It’s a play on Alexander’s use of campaign signs with exclamation marks,” the group told HOH via email. “The Spanish exclamation mark signifies Sen. Alexander’s vote for amnesty and support for an open-borders or no-borders immigration policy.” Full story

August 4, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of July 28 (Video)

As cell phones, rhetorical questions and Chinese drywall graced the House and Senate floor, some members prepped for “summer vacation,” while others just could not wait to get to Waffle House.

Exit Interview: Doug Heye

Keeping the party on message is what GOP communications guru Doug Heye has always been paid to do. Thinking things through and behaving graciously are the highly prized extras colleagues say he brought to the negotiating table.

Exit Interview: Doug Heye

Heye slips while pushing a car after a winter storm hit D.C. in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A seasoned political operative who helped the Republican National Committee get the word out before rising through the ranks to become deputy chief of staff for communications to ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Heye is saying goodbye to Congress (for now) while he goes in search of new adventures.

“I hear the Yankees need a new shortstop next season,” he floated in his farewell email to the Capitol Hill community.

He leaves Congress with few regrets. “I never learned how to get to the Dunkin’ Donuts in the Library of Congress — that’s probably a good thing,” he quipped.

Heye even managed to sound wistful about burning the midnight oil.

“On some summer nights, the military bands will play on the east front of the Capitol. Opening up the window to listen while working late is nice,” he said. Full story

Bill Maher Flip a District: Coffman Rounds Out Final Four

Bill Maher Flip a District: Coffman Rounds Out Final Four

Coffman is in a Tossup race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Bill Maher Flip a District effort is going after Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, rounding out the final four Republicans the comedian wants to give the boot from Congress.

What’s interesting about the Coffman selection is he is the only lawmaker on Maher’s list actually representing a competitive seat.

Coffman’s race in the 6th District is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. The three others — Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, John Kline of Minnesota and Blake Farenthold of Texas — are in contests rated Safe Republican.

Maher said on the Aug. 1 summer finale of his HBO show “Real Time” that Coffman earned the final slot.

“That’s right, Mike is a deep-red conservative trying to keep pace with a district that’s turning purple and smokin’ green,” Maher said, grinning. “He once said that [President Barack] Obama is just not an American. Wow, you’d have to be high to re-elect a guy like that.”

That’s a reference to a May 12, 2012, fundraiser, during which Coffman reportedly said he isn’t sure about Obama’s citizenship. The Denver Post reported the quote as, “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.”

Full story

August 3, 2014

Touché Dear Readers, Touché | Capitol Quip

Touché Dear Readers, Touché | 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.

With the August recess, we’ll be taking a short break with Capitol Quip, but we’ll be back in September!

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

August 1, 2014

Hot Mic: Senator Can’t Wait to ‘Jet’ Out of Town (Video)

As the Senate worked through a series of procedural motions and votes on Thursday night, one senator just wanted catch his flight home.

Caught on a clerk’s microphone as the roll call for a vote on the Highway Trust Fund patch was read, the senator tells the clerk it is time for “summer vacation.”

“We have a plane home … [at] 9:30,” the senator says to the clerk. “Bags are packed, ready to go … leaving on a jet plane.”

Although the Senate is in session today, the next vote series is scheduled for Sept. 8,  when senators return from a five-week recess.

 

Eric Cantor’s Intent to ‘Serve Out My Term’ Didn’t Last 2 Months

Eric Cantors Intent to Serve Out My Term Didnt Last 2 Months

Cantor, on his way out quicker than first stated. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the aftermath of Rep. Eric Cantor’s defeat in Virginia’s June 10 Republican primary, he stated the very next day that he would step down as majority leader but intended to stay through the remainder of the 113th Congress.

Here’s what Cantor said at the June 11 presser where he announced his plans: ”Now while I intend to serve out my term as a member of Congress from the 7th District of Virginia, effective July 31st, I will be stepping down as majority leader. It is with great humility that I do so, knowing the tremendous honor it has been to hold this position.”

Fast forward to Aug. 1, when the chimes struck midnight and the Richmond Times-Dispatch posted an interview with Cantor, who explained he would resign his seat Aug. 18.

By Jason Dick Posted at 9:48 a.m.
Outta Here!, Reps

July 31, 2014

Don Young Gets Grabby With Congressional Aide (Updated)

Don Young Gets Grabby With Congressional Aide (Updated)

Young confronts an aide who tried to stop him from entering the side door of a House Republican meeting. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 8:12 p.m. | With the August recess in jeopardy and House Republicans in total disarray, the arm-twisting on Capitol Hill is getting pretty intense.

Just ask the unfortunate aide who dared cross the path of a tardy Don Young.

NBC News producer Frank Thorp V caught the late-for-the-conference-meeting Alaska Republican’s manhandling of an unsuspecting staffer on camera. Per Thorp’s Twitter feed, the aide had attempted to redirect Young to enter the already in-progress GOP strategy session through another doorway when things got physical.

“While returning to the GOP conference meeting to discuss the ongoing situation on our southern border, I was caught off guard by an unidentified individual who was physically blocking me from reentering the room,” Young said in a statement. “Regardless, my reaction was wrong and I should have never placed my hands on the young man.”

Related:

Don Young Said to Have Barged Through Barriers Blocking Asbestos Spill

Fight Night: Reid Intervenes to Get Visa for Boxer Diego Chaves

Fight Night: Reid Intervenes to Get Visa for Boxer Diego Chaves

The fight must go on! (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Between managing a busy pre-recess agenda, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., squeezed in some help for a boxer who needed a visa to be able to fight in the United States this weekend.

Reid, a former boxer and avid fan of the sport, saved the day for Argentinian Diego Chaves, set to face off against Brandon Rios as the chief supporting bout of a split-site HBO card with Rios-Chaves headlining the part of the show at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, promoter Top Rank canceled a conference call with the boxing reporters to hype the bout, and news broke about Chaves’ visa troubles. Top Rank’s Bob Arum told Yahoo! on Wednesday, “When we became aware of this, we immediately called Sen. Reid’s office,” he said. “Christina Martinez from his office is assigned to these type of problems and she really worked hard. She got the State Department to cut through everything and got the visa issued.”

Arum, a close friend of Reid’s, is one of the sport’s most colorful figures and one of its most successful promoters for almost 50 years, whose best-known quote is, “Yesterday I was lying, today I’m telling the truth.” (This week he made news for saying he participated in a two-day orgy with Muhammad Ali right after the “Thrilla in Manila” between Ali and Joe Frazier.)

But Arum’s story about Reid’s intervention on behalf of Chaves is true, Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.

Reid got a visit on the campaign trail during his 2010 re-election battle against Republican Sharron Angle from Top Rank-promoted boxer Manny Pacquiao, who doubles as a congressman in the Philippines and is idolized by Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. Pacquiao has boasted that the campaign appearance essentially won Reid reelection.

Pacquiao beat Rios in his last fight, who’s getting into the ring Saturday with Chaves.

Some of Reid’s other boxing-related adventures over the years include a controversy over ringside tickets, support for a government-funded study on the connection between combat sports and brain injuries, backing an investigation into the scorecards for the Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight and calling for a pardon of Jack Johnson.

Seersucker Fashion: Capito and Ros-Lehtinen Clash

Seersucker Fashion: Capito and Ros Lehtinen Clash

Happier times for Capito and Ros-Lehtinen? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

We wish we could blame it on the heat, but it was only 79 degrees in Washington on Wednesday.

Republican Reps. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, a pair often seen hanging out together on the House floor, exchanged fierce words Wednesday over appropriate footwear for Seersucker Day.

It all started on Tuesday, when Capito threw a jab at Ros-Lehtinen.

Both women were surveyed for advice to women ahead of the return of Seersucker Thursday in the Senate. Ros-Lehtinen, approached first, grumbled about her lack of buck shoes because of their price.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” she said. “They need to come down for Mama.”

When Capito was asked about footwear, she pointed to Ros-Lehtinen as the example of what not to do.

“Don’t do what Ileana Ros-Lehtinen does and wear matching seersucker shoes,” she said. “That is a no-no.”

Thirty-nine minutes after the story posted on Wednesday, the Ros-Lehtinen camp emailed this photo and message: “She says she went full Seersucker just to upset Shelley Moore Capito.”

Seersucker Fashion: Capito and Ros Lehtinen Clash

Courtesy Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ros-Lehtinen stopped on her way into Wednesday evening votes to show off her shoes and gripe about Capito.

Capito’s office responded to the photo with a statement not backing off one bit.

“Not a good look,” Capito said.

Bless their hearts.

Think you nailed the seersucker look? See a member preening around Russell in the threads? A staff colleague? Snap a pic on Thursday, send it here with “seersucker” in the subject line, and we’ll determine “Who Wore It Best.” Can the Senate side can keep up with the House? Only time will tell …

Related:

Trent Lott: Happiest Man Alive Over Return of Senate Seersucker Day

Seersucker Day Returns to House, Who Wore It Best?

Seersucker Day: Trent Lott’s Fashion Do’s and Don’ts

July 30, 2014

Congressional Jam Band Returns to Cantina Marina

Part-time rocker Rep. Collin C. Peterson can no longer recall which iteration (the fourth, maybe?) of “The Amendments” he’s playing in these days.

Congressional Jam Band Returns to Cantina Marina

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

But the Minnesota Democrat fully expects to have a blast Thursday night, when the lawmaker-led band featuring a revolving roster of current and former pols takes the stage at Cantina Marina (600 Water St. SW).

The show, headlined by “Blame It On Jane,” a group of ex-congressional aides and lobbyists routinely on the convention circuit, is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; no cover charge.

Per Peterson (lead singer/rhythm guitarist), he and current band-mates Tennessee Republican Stephen Fincher (bassist), ex-Missouri Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof (percussion/keyboards), and former Hulshof Chief of Staff Manning Feraci (lead guitar) are looking forward to dazzling concertgoers with the latest cover tunes they’ve added to their sonic toolbox, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” and Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely.”

Other former lawmakers that have cycled through the constantly evolving troupe include: politician-turned-pundit Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., as well as Republicans Dave Weldon of Florida, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan and Jon Porter of Nevada.

Vote for Your Favorite Do Nothing Congress Capitol Quip

Vote for Your Favorite Do Nothing Congress 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:

  • This is the most productive I’ve been in months!
  • This is fun, but shouldn’t we be voting down legislation?
  • How can Roll Call call us a “Do-Nothing Congress” when we help ‘em to fill 24 pages every issue?
  • This is what the millennials call “funemployment.”
  • Think voters know this is what we do when we’re in session too?

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Aug. 3 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 Rebecca Gale Posted at 4:09 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Marking the Quarter-Century Point for the Greatest Floor Speech of All Time (Video)

When a young man, likely an intern, approached Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin near the Capitol basement ATM Tuesday afternoon asking the Illinois Democrat to sign a baseball, he faced an unexpected question from this reporter: Did he prefer wooden or aluminum bats?

“I like both. Wooden’s better. It never hurts your hands,” he said.

That was, of course, the correct answer to the question in the presence of Durbin, who just days ago celebrated the 25th anniversary of what HOH previously declared “unquestionably the greatest diatribe to ever grace the House floor.”

It was July 26, 1989, when Durbin said in a one-minute speech (in the House, of course, Durbin’s oratory was more limited by a clock): “I don’t want to hear about saving trees, any tree in America would gladly give its life for a day of glory at home plate.”

Durbin signed the young man’s baseball, though it was unclear how many in the basement scrum knew the story behind the prodding. But in the immortal words of former HOHer Meredith Shiner, this column knows for sure: “May we mark this day every year to remember what America is really all about, and that even though it’s unclear who Durbin was addressing with this little ditty, aluminum bats have remained out of professional baseball for decades.”

Here, here.

Gabbard, Meng, Sinema Help Launch ‘Cocktails for Change’

EMILY’s List is hoping to connect more young professionals with the growing universe of female Democrats via its fledgling “Cocktails for Change” initiative.

Freshman lawmakers Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Grace Meng of New York and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are scheduled to participate in the inaugural reception, set to take place Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Policy (1904 14th St. NW).

According to an EMILY’s List spokeswoman, the evening is meant to be fun — “We’ll be featuring the EMILY’s Twist (a version of a lemon drop),” the aide said of the featured cocktail — with a little positive messaging mixed in. Those lucky enough to snag a spot at Wednesday’s kick-off should expect to hear inspiring words from the  assembled solons, as well as from EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.

Didn’t make the initial cut? (Sorry folks, they’re full up this time around.)

Dry those tears.

EMILY’s List is just getting started with its happy hour diplomacy. Female pols-in-training heading to the West Coast during recess can look forward to a similarly themed happening in San Francisco come late August.

And, don’t worry, EMILY’s List is not done stirring things up here in D.C.

Seersucker Thursday: Ladies’ Fashion Do’s and Don’ts

Seersucker Thursday: Ladies Fashion Dos and Donts

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After two years, Seersucker Thursday finally returns to the Senate. Back in June, when the House side hosted its own seersucker celebration, HOH ran an item Seersucker Day: Trent Lott’s Fashion Do’s and Don’ts.

Upon reflection, we realized that most of his advice was applicable predominantly to males. We reached out to Lott for female etiquette. But he shied away, referring us to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., one of the players integral to bringing back the tradition. Feinstein declined to give advice, but did issue a statement.

“Seersucker Thursday is a light-hearted tradition that fosters camaraderie, nothing more and nothing less,” Feinstein said. “It’s a brief, bipartisan reprieve from our normal routine.”

So we took the party over to the House side, and conducted a survey of Southern and Southern-ish female representatives of how to best wear seersucker.

Our panel:

  • Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (Though there’s much debate, we’re counting West Virginia as Southern for this project.)
  • Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.
  • Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y. (Born and raised in North Carolina.)
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
  • Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala.

Full story

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