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

September 12, 2014

Menendez Unexpectedly Sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Akaka

Menendez Unexpectedly Sings Happy Birthday to Akaka

Akaka, seen her getting a kiss from Rep. Loretta Sanchez, is feeling the love. The former senator celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Daniel K. Akaka got an unexpected birthday song on Thursday.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., had been trying to reach the Hawaii Democrat to wish him a happy 90th birthday. When Akaka returned the call, he was riding the Dirksen subway toward the Capitol along with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.

Full story

September 11, 2014

Overheard: Martin Dempsey’s Eventful Week

Overheard: Martin Dempseys Eventful Week

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Every day is eventful. … Today Iraq, tomorrow Ebola.”

— Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey, crossing the Senate basement on Thursday

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Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich Spearhead New Reality Show

While the rest of us spent the August recess basking in the unseasonably cool temperatures that made summer in D.C. somewhat livable, Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., sneaked away to an uninhabited island in the South Pacific to find some common ground for a TV special dubbed, “Rival Survival.”

Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich Spearhead New Reality Show

(Courtesy Discovery Communications)

The one-hour episode, which chronicles the political odd couple’s attempts to keep each other alive during a one-week stint on Eru, one of the unforgiving rocks that make up the Marshall Islands, is scheduled to air Oct. 29 at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

According to a Discovery Channel aide, the pols actually pitched the show to the cable network, citing a desire to prove that people in Washington can work together — particularly when push comes to shove.

“Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington right now. We can both attest that no one is more frustrated than those of us trying to get things done in this environment. We recognize how difficult it can be to cut through the partisanship,” the duo relayed in a joint statement. “So we decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together. ” Full story

Republicans Bid Farewell to Bachmann … for Now

Republicans Bid Farewell to Bachmann ... for Now

Bachmann leaves Congress at the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“Guess what, Nancy Pelosi? I’m not going anywhere,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told the more than 100 people gathered at her private farewell event Wednesday evening.

Where exactly she is going is still a mystery. But Bachmann will be leaving the House at the end of the 113th Congress, having announced her retirement in May 2013. But on Wednesday night, a sense that the Minnesota Republican would not fade from public life permeated the tributes and discussions among the guests packed into the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill’s Eisenhower Room.

“It was wall to wall people,” one attendee told CQ Roll Call, who also said the guests enjoyed mini crab cakes and other finger foods and some drinks from the bar. The attendee spoke on the condition of anonymity because the event was closed to the press. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 12:15 p.m.
Parties, Reps

Just Try to Ignore Dan Kildee’s Piercing Gaze

If Congress ever gets around to handing out superlatives, HOH stands ready to nominate Rep. Dan Kildee for Stare Down Champ.

Just Try to Ignore Dan Kildee’s Piercing Gaze

(Screenshot)

The rather mesmerizing shot the Michigan Democrat shared of himself via Instagram would almost lead us to believe he’s come under the tutelage of universally acclaimed Broadway star, “The Amazing Alexander.”

 

 

Or perhaps he’s borrowed a page from the most persuasive of pets, the indomitable Hypnotoad.

 

 

Either way, we can’t take our eyes off you, congressman.

 

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September 10, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Eric Cantor Capitol Quip

Vote for Your Favorite Eric Cantor 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:

  • I hope I “lose” my re-election in a similar fashion.
  • Hard to tell if we won or lost.
  • He does know how to make an exit.
  • He does know how to make an entrance.
  • Looks like nobody told him the Capitol Quip is back!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 14 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.

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By Rebecca Gale Posted at 6:55 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Overheard: Jeb Hensarling Swallows Hard

“Not the first time that I’ve swallowed hard in my congressional career.”

— House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, regarding his support for a continuing resolution that includes an extension of the authorization of the Export-Import Bank.

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Arlingtonians Come Off the Sidelines to Pile On Kirsten Gillbrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appears to have made enemies out of former neighbors after bemoaning the time she spent in Arlington, Va., in her road map to female empowerment, “Off the Sidelines.”

The New York Democrat got red in the face after a slew of purple staters caught wind that she’d badmouthed their neck of the woods.

 

 

ARLnow.com touched off the original firestorm by pointing out that the rising lawmaker described the Northern Virginia enclave as a “soulless suburb” — from which she apparently fled to the welcoming arms of Capitol Hill — in her book.

Some critics fought fire with fire (the “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” camp).

 

Arlingtonians Come Off the Sidelines to Pile On Kirsten Gillbrand

(Screenshot)

 

Full story

September 9, 2014

Picking the Leadership’s Brains

As the Big Four hunkered down at the White House Tuesday in hopes of forging some sort of unified front in the campaign to eradicate the burgeoning terrorist threat known as ISIS, the Islamic State and/or ISIL, we couldn’t help but wonder what was really on everyone’s minds.

Picking the Leaderships Brains

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall…

 

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Pols Roll Out the Red Carpet for Tinseltown Workhorses

Creative Rights Caucus Co-Chairmen Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Howard Coble, R-N.C., are doing their part to help give unsung Hollywood film and TV workers their due by co-hosting an entertainment industry event showcasing the pivotal contributions the below-the-line set brings to the table.

The wide-ranging “Beyond the Red Carpet: Movie & TV Magic Day” exhibition is scheduled to take possession of the Cannon Caucus Room on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Event promoters told HOH members and staff are welcome to explore the interactive showcase.

Pols Roll Out the Red Carpet for Tinseltown Workhorses

(Courtesy Creative Rights Caucus)

“The shows and movies we’re all talking about, … these are the real people behind them,” a House aide said of the assembled talent expected to be on hand.

Support staff projected to get their moment in the spotlight include a make-up artist from the SyFy series “Face Off,” a costume designer from AMC’s spy-driven, Revolutionary War serial “Turn,” animators involved in Disney’s Oscar-winning, grrl power-fueled feature, “Frozen,” as well as a veteran film colorist.

Those more interested in snapping selfies than talking shop with technicians will have to make do with stalking “Breaking Bad” alumnus RJ Mitte (“Walter White Jr./Flynn”), longtime “Dallas” stars Patrick Duffy (“Bobby Ewing”) and Linda Gray (“Sue Ellen Ewing”), children’s programming star and deep sea-dweller SpongeBob SquarePants or “Cleatus,” Fox NFL Sunday’s sports robot.

 

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Sorting Out the Fax on Latest Terror Threat

The war on terror, it would seem, is increasingly being waged with microprocessors, with our nation’s enemies independently broadcasting their horrific acts of defiance online while the administration fires back with automated drone strikes from above.

Some alarmists, however, continue to rely on the vaguely familiar (but quickly fading from memory) bzzz-whirr-ping! of the lonesome office fax machine to get the word out about prospective evildoers.

An HOH tipster shared the following “alert” regarding a trans-Atlantic bombing scheme that would theoretically be perpetrated by one of Oxford University’s star rugby players.

Sorting Out the Fax on Latest Terror Threat

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

Full story

September 8, 2014

Lobbyists, Lawmakers Aim to Crush Crippling Disease

Anti-Duchenne muscular dystrophy crusader Joel Wood can’t force all of Congress to come around to his way of thinking regarding the need for more funding and research to wipe the life-threatening illness off the face of the planet. But he can keep chipping away at the problem — as he has for the past 14 years — one spectacular gathering at a time.

Lobbyists, Lawmakers Aim to Crush Crippling Disease

(Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, Inc.)

Wood and his wife, Dana, have made it their mission to see the degenerative disorder purged from the human condition ever since their son, James, was diagnosed with DMD in May 2000.

The duo intends to keep up the good fight Tuesday evening via their 14th annual “Dining Away Duchenne” fundraiser, a gourmet taste-around scheduled to take place in the North Hall of Eastern Market from 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets for the event, which benefits the Woods’ non-profit Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, start at $250. Full story

Mickey Edwards Says Laws, Not Lawmakers to Blame for Congressional Morass

Mickey Edwards Says Laws, Not Lawmakers to Blame for Congressional Morass

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ex-Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., hates to break it to everyone, but our horribly paralyzed, results-challenged Congress is, sadly, performing just about right, given current law.

“The Congress is working exactly the way it was designed … and it shouldn’t be,” the now-Aspen Institute scholar said of the tragically flawed electoral system that has thrust lawmakers into a battle royal-like existence.

On Tuesday night, Edwards is expected to share his sobering analysis of how individual states have set up Capitol Hill to fail with attendees of Morven Park’s “Distinguished Voices in Civics” series. He told HOH the dysfunction plaguing modern politics flows from exclusionary primaries and widespread gerrymandering.

“People are trying to figure out, ‘How we do we get out of this mess?’ My argument is: It’s not the people. It’s systemic,” he said of election laws that, rather than rewarding candidates with mass appeal, benefit those “reflective of what the partisans in their states want.” Full story

Overheard: McConnell Blasted for Going to Work

Overheard: McConnell Blasted for Going to Work

(Win McNamee/Getty Images News)

The campaign of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell this fall, is criticizing the minority leader for heading to Washington, D.C., as the Senate returns.

“Today, scandal-ridden Mitch McConnell is running back to Washington, DC, in an attempt to dodge the tough questions he faces back home. In a new web ad released Monday, Alison for Kentucky holds McConnell accountable for his refusal to answer to the people of Kentucky,” the Lundergan Grimes campaign said in announcing the video.

Full story

Grace Napolitano, Josh Thomas Team Up on Mental Health

Call us crazy, but the “Please Like Me” screening and subsequent discussion on the current state of mental health affairs co-hosted by actor/show creator Josh Thomas and Rep. Grace F. Napolitano on Tuesday sounds like it could actually be interesting.

The edutainment outreach, which is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. in Rayburn 2103, is coming to Congress courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Participant Media.

For those unfamiliar with Thomas’ droll coming-of-age saga, the fledgling show (airing Friday nights on the youth-oriented Pivot network) centers on a 20-something child of divorce suddenly forced to wrestle with his sexual identity. Part of the growth process involves dealing with oddball friends and family members — including his off-kilter mum.

The “Rose” character has some issues she’s dealing with — cast bios describe Rose as a bipolar empty-nester struggling with adjusting to her new “normal” (“She seems to have found a nice equilibrium, but for how long?”) — many of which the show naturally plays up for laughs.

According to Team Napolitano, the California Democrat appreciates the way Josh and Rose get on. “The relationship between the lead character, Josh, and his mother is helping to eliminate stigma by approaching the subject of mental illness in a thoughtful manner,” a Napolitano aide told HOH about the heart-felt moments shared by the quirk-filled duo. Full story

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