Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 2, 2014

April 21, 2014

Who You Gonna Call? John Lewis!

It’s not every day that you can be within 10 feet of both a member of Congress and a Ghostbuster.

But those streams could have crossed at Awesome Con on the afternoon of April 19. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Hill staffer Andrew Aydin’s booth to promote “March,” their graphic novel on Lewis’ role in the civil rights movement, was across the aisle from where Ernie Hudson, also known as Winston Zeddmore in “Ghostbusters,” posed with fans in front of Ecto-1 while “Who You Gonna Call?” played on a loop.

Lewis and Aydin have been to several comic conventions since “March” was published last year, but Awesome Con was their first in Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, Lewis and Aydin participated in a panel discussion about their book, where they were interviewed by Washington Post comics writer Michael Cavna and answered con-goers’ questions.

Noting the number of superhero costumes at the con, Cavna introduced Lewis by calling him “a true hero — maybe the truest hero in the house.” Full story

Dearest, Dearest Colleague | Capitol Quip

Dearest, Dearest Colleague | 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.

April 18, 2014

The Congressman and the Sweet Onion Queen

The Congressman and the Sweet Onion Queen

Barrow, right, poses with Miss Georgie Sweet Onion Sarah DeLoach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.)

These are the pictures we live for at HOH. Hats off to our own Bill Clark, whose full caption is something we simply cannot improve upon:  ”Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., poses for photos with 2014 Miss Georgia Sweet Onion Sarah DeLoach at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher’s pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014. A crowd of more than one thousand law enforcement, government officials and guests from across the state of Georgia gathered to enjoy BBQ and Brunswick stew at the annual event.”

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

 

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Perhaps even superheroes can’t stand the thought of getting too close to Congress. That was one possible explanation for the failure of Awesome Con to secure a world record for assembled costumed players photographed at one time.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Super turnout was relatively sparse at the Capitol Reflecting Pool. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Promoters had hoped to turn out thousands on Friday at noon for a record-breaking photo in front of the Capitol’s Reflecting Pool. The stage was set. Social media was activated. Commissioner Gordon sent out the Bat signal. There might have been an Aquaman siting in the murky depths of the duck-riddled Reflecting Pool.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. At 11:45 a.m., only a few dozen costumed players were milling around. Guinness World Record officiants were there, folders in hand, to see if D.C. Awesome Con could best China’s World Joyland, which assembled 1,530 crusaders in 2011.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

As the final calls went out over Twitter as the clock struck close to 1 p.m., explanations were bandied about. Some cosplayers apparently went to the Reflecting Pool connecting the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial. Apparently, superpowers didn’t include map-reading skills for that bunch. Didn’t matter. Only around 200 or so showed, well short of the record.

“Can I get a picture of Little Batman in front of the Capitol?” one tourist asked a mother-son dynamic duo. As Little Batman obliged, the shutterbug asked, “Are you there to protect Congress?”

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

At least somebody is.

April 17, 2014

Rep. John Lewis’ ‘March’ Nominated for Will Eisner Award

A trailblazer in more ways than one, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., has another first to add to the list: the first member of Congress to be nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award.

Rep. John Lewis March Nominated for Will Eisner Award

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Eisner Awards, one of the industry’s highest honors, are awarded to the year’s best comics and graphic novels.  Lewis’ graphic novel “March Book One was honored with two nominations this year, receiving a nod in the Best Publication for Teens and Best Reality-Based Work categories.

The novel is the first in a three-part autobiographical series about Lewis’ participation in the civil rights movement.  The first installment explores Lewis’ childhood in Alabama and his early involvement in civil rights protests as a student at Fisk University.

Lewis co-wrote the novel with Andrew Aydin, his telecommunications legislative assistant, along with artist Nate Powell. The first-time novelists have been extremely successful, with “March” topping The New York Times best-seller list for paperback graphic novels and The Washington Post’s nonfiction list last year.

The winners of the Eisner Awards will be announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego this July.

Lewis is certainly no stranger to Comic-Con, becoming the first sitting Congressman to attend the convention last year. In San Diego, Lewis was met by enthusiastic supporters as he promoted his graphic novel.

Although Lewis will have to wait until this summer to see how “March” fares, a nomination certainly gives him a reason to dance.

April 16, 2014

Five Quips for Cherry Blossom Hanky Panky | Capitol Quip

Five Quips for Cherry Blossom Hanky Panky | 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:

  • Now that’s a Dear Colleague!
  • He’s been watching “Lame Duck Dynasty.”
  • Looks like the idiots are in full bloom as well.
  • Mon Cheri! An affair in full bloom!
  • McAllister’s up the creek without a paddleboat!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on April 20 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 3:15 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

Another day, another few thousand costumed characters kicking back outside the U.S. Capitol. That’s how Awesome Con organizers see things coming into focus on Friday, when they’ll attempt to assemble a collection of cosplayers by the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol in a bid to break a standing world record.

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

(Courtesy Awesome Con)

The point of the whimsical stunt is to trump the swarm of would-be superheroes that mugged for cameras outside China’s World Joyland in 2011.

According to one account of that Guinness World Record-breaking gathering, approximately 1,700 people showed up to participate in the momentous occasion — but roughly 10 percent were disqualified by stickler GWR judges because they had modeled their attire on “characters from video games, TV shows or story books instead of comic books.”

The remaining 1,530 cosplayers still carried the day, surpassing a previous effort during which 1,016 comic book fans stepped out in full regalia.

As we learned last summer, during our inaugural swing through Comic-Con, cosplay is all about freedom of expression and stretching one’s imagination.

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

April 15, 2014

Web Comic Riffs on Jim Moran’s Plea for Higher Pay

Internet celeb Remy Munasifi has worked up a new tax day ditty ridiculing wasteful government spending, tedious filing practices and a certain Virginia pol’s pitch to have Uncle Sam slip lawmakers a few extra bucks.

In his latest bid to again strike viral gold, the right-leaning comedian twists Pharell’s smash hit “Happy” into an anthem for those beset by paying their fair share.

One of the talking heads featured in the video is ID’ed as Rep. Jim Moranmor — a none-too-veiled-shot at Virginia Democratic Rep. James P. Moran, who recently told our colleague, Hannah Hess, that Congress-folk can no longer afford to live in This Town.

“We are so underpaid,” the Moranmor character mutters as the song begins to trail off. Full story

April 14, 2014

Frazier Glenn Cross Has Long Had His Sights Set on Capitol Hill

Frazier Glenn Cross, the man suspected of killing two people on Sunday at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan., has been trying to hitch a ride to Washington on the racial purity ticket for decades.

Cross’s purported hate crime rattled a nation still reeling from the April 2 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, a nightmarish scenario that once again featured a disturbed service man — the late Army Spc. Ivan Lopez orchestrated the most recent outbreak of violence, whereas Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan took over a dozen lives in November 2009 — ambushing unsuspecting colleagues.

A former Ku Klux Klan activist who later founded the exclusionary White Patriot Party, Cross has repeatedly — and rather unsuccessfully — tried to bring others around to his peculiar way of thinking.

Some online outlets suggest the perennial write-in candidate has been at it since 1984; he has, luckily, never gained significant traction in any contest.

He mounted an unsuccessful attempt to unseat then-Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in 2006, as well as a failed bid in 2010 (Cross received just seven votes) to replace retiring Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo. Full story

Future Civic Leaders Fosters Youth Participation in Government

Future Civic Leaders Fosters Youth Participation in Government

Payne thinks Congress can provide a better example for future leaders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Public figures, members of Congress and other Washingtonians gathered recently to celebrate five years of Future Civic Leaders, an organization that fosters political engagement among high school students.

The Embassy of Luxembourg opened its doors on April 9 to about 200 people for “The Political Party.” The attendees milled around the first floor of the embassy enjoying specialty drinks, appetizers and gelato as a jazz trio played, all the while preparing for this summer’s Future Civil Leaders conference.

While the atmosphere was certainly celebratory, the event also highlighted the importance of fostering political engagement as young people are increasingly disillusioned by partisan gridlock.

“A lot of people my age, in my generation, look at the government today and all they see is the shutdown or they see a dysfunctional government,” said Sarmat Chowdhury, a student at George Mason University who participated in the first Future Civic Leaders conference in 2009.

“Sometimes my colleagues and I don’t set a very good example,” Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., admitted, “but we need people to be committed to the leadership in government, to continue to focus on those issues that we know are important.”

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 1:31 p.m.
DC, Parties

Take Five: Pedro R. Pierluisi

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Puerto Rico’s Democratic representative in Congress, Res. Cmmsr. Pedro R. Pierluisi, discusses his trip on Air Force One and working as a staffer.

Q. While you were attending law school at GWU, you worked as an aide to then-Res. Cmmsr. Baltasar Corrada del Río. How did working as a congressional staffer prepare you for returning to Capitol Hill as a member of Congress?

A. I remember walking with him at a fast pace, in between the office and committee hearing room and trying to talk to him about this or that. And seeing the way that he handled himself — always welcoming people from Puerto Rico. What I do when people come in — the way I run this office — is similar to the way he ran it.

Q. After serving as Puerto Rico’s attorney general for four years, you practiced law in the private sector for a decade. Why did you decide to run for public office again?

A. I was approached by then-Res. Cmmsr. Luis Fortuño — he was going to be running for governor. He approached me and proposed that we run as a ticket from day one. Two out of [my] four [children] had already graduated from college. So I had two out of four and I said, “Well, if I’m going to ever do it, let me do it now.”

Q. You were one of five children, so can you describe what it was like growing up in a large family?

A. I was the middle child so I was a bit spoiled by my mother. … When I was in her belly she had an oven — estufa — a stove that blew up. And she was like six months pregnant or something like that when it happened. And she burned herself badly so she was so worried about me. And so when I was born it was like a gift of God that I was alive and well.

Q. In 2011, President Barack Obama visited Puerto Rico, the first sitting president to do so since John F. Kennedy. What is your fondest memory from his trip?

A. My Air Force ride back with him. I came back with him, pretty much on our own with a couple of people and the Secret Service. And you know he was in his office and so on and I was at the VIP area having dinner, watching a movie. Right after the movie ended, the president comes in.  So he says, “So did you have a good time?” “Yeah the dinner was great, I watched a movie.”  He said, “So what did you see?” And I said, “Unknown.”

And then he says, “Is it any good?” And I said, “You know what, yeah, it’s pretty good. But you know this plane is too noisy. I think I’m going to have to rent it at home because I missed half of the dialogue.” So he laughed because I think I’m the first one who’s on Air Force One and I’m complaining about it!  He’s cracking [up] — like saying, “This guy’s a character, look what he tells me!”

Q. What is one thing you would like your fellow members of Congress to know about Puerto Rico?

A.  People from all over the world live in America and you can be an American and yet also be very proud of your ethnic, racial, cultural, roots. That’s Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s what America’s becoming.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 1:06 p.m.
Reps, TakeFive

April 13, 2014

Spring Forward With This Capitol Quip

Spring Forward With This Capitol Quip

Love is in the air! The cherry blossoms are blooming and members of Congress are getting spring fever. Just ask GOP Rep. Vance McAllister! 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.

Correction April 16, 1:21 p.m.

An earlier version of this post misspelled McAllister’s name.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Money Talks, and Politicians Walk | Capitol Quip

Money Talks, and Politicians Walk | 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

April 11, 2014

Appropriations Chairman Piles On to Moran’s ‘Underpaid’ Remarks (Video)

Turns out not even the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee can avoid weighing in on whether members are “underpaid.

At an appropriations markup Wednesday, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., laid into Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., after Moran’s amendment to raise each member’s pay by $2,800 was rejected by voice vote.

“I might with tongue and cheek say that this issue got a raise out of Mr. Moran,” the Kentucky Republican said.

The issue of member pay has created a rift on Capitol Hill of whether members are “underpaid” or out of touch.

By JM Rieger Posted at 4:18 p.m.
DC, Reps, TV Land

Grover Norquist’s Global Suckdom Index

Welcome to the suck. It’s not as bad as it seems. That was sounds-negative-actually-positive sentiment from Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, at a panel following Thursday night’s screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ “Documented,” at the Newseum.

Grover Norquists Global Suckdom Index

Norquist, perhaps thinking about the GNGSI, at a Thursday tax event on Capitol Hill with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.)

The documentary, which chronicles Vargas’ path as an undocumented immigrant and successful journalist and his involvement in the movement for ab immigration overhaul, played to a full house. After, Norquist joined Vargas, The Atlantic’s Megan Garber, producer Janet Yang and Joe Green, a founder of Fwd.us, to discuss the movie and the politics and culture that surround it.

Cue Norquist, one of Washington’s most lively: “The reason why the United States is the future and Japan is not and China is not and Europe is not, is because we do immigration and because we do it better than everyone else. As poorly as we do it, we do it better than everybody else, kind of like our government, it just sucks less than all the other governments. And that’s a big advantage: sucking less.”

So there you have it. The Grover Norquist Global Suckdom Index, over which the United States sits atop. USA! USA!

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