Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 20, 2014

April 4, 2014

FLOTUS Injects New Life Into Kitchen Garden Project

FLOTUS Injects New Life Into Kitchen Garden Project

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

No longer satisfied with fostering better eating habits amongst humans, First Lady Michelle Obama is now making a bid to nurture Mother Nature by weaving pollinator-friendly flowering plants into the agricultural mix that makes up the White House kitchen garden.

FLOTUS broke ground on the project in 2009 and has only seen interest in the ultimate testament to homegrown food multiply with each successive planting.

The carefully tended garden routinely doubles as an instructional tool for Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, a pet project designed to spur healthier eating and increased physical activity among America’s youth.

Sam Kass, executive director of “Let’s Move!” and senior advisor on nutrition policy, listed the pollinator plants, a bed of Lincoln oats and a recently transplanted pawpaw tree as the latest additions to the garden party. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:50 p.m.
FLOTUS, Food, Kiddies

A Kansas Primary Debate in Alexandria?

A Kansas Primary Debate in Alexandria?

(CQ Roll Call File Photo Composite)

Alexandria, Va., and Alexandria, Kan., are nothing alike.

One is a suburb of the national’s capital. The other is just a few miles from Leavenworth. But a tea party group based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., wants to host a Kansas Senate primary debate, and the long-shot challenger has already accepted the invitation.

A group known as the Northern Virginia Tea Party is offering to host a debate between veteran Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf may be best known to HOH readers as a distant relative of President Barack Obama.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:31 p.m.
DC, Nationwide

House Agriculture Discloses the Real News | Madisonville

House Agriculture Discloses the Real News | Madisonville

Not much can beat the House Agriculture Committee for showing what a rich and diverse country we live in. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s appearance Thursday for a “Review the State of the Rural Economy” had moments that felt like the scene in “Men in Black” where Tommy Lee Jones turns to the National Enquirer to get reliable news.

The mainstream media are missing some big stories.

Like “the black vultures problem that is plaguing the Southeast,” says Tennessee Republican Scott DesJarlais. The vultures are attacking livestock, often going for the eyes — but not always. “They also attack the backside of animals,” DesJarlais says. That detail prompts a quick mental check about April Fools’ Day. There’s no comfort in confirming that it was two days earlier.

Farmers are setting off fireworks and firing their guns into the air because they can’t kill the vultures without a permit. Unruffled (heh heh), the vultures keep coming back. Full story

Ex-Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

Gary Meltz, a one-time aide to Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., who has since carved out a niche for himself in the crisis management game, is inviting friends and colleagues to come celebrate the birth of Meltz Communications.

The fledgling communications firm officially threw open its doors in late January. But Meltz suggested that the myriad demands of actually setting up shop have made it nearly impossible to stop and enjoy a single minute of the momentous life change.

Ex Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

(Courtesy Meltz Communications)

He hopes to rectify all that by indulging friends with a few drinks, some gourmet treats and signature matchbooks (‘natch) at an invite-only reception scheduled to take place April 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Science Club (1136 19th St. NW). Full story

Coats Wanders Into Wrong Committee Hearing (Video)

Have you ever ducked into a meeting you weren’t supposed to, or stepped into the wrong showing at a movie theater?  Sure you have.  But lucky for you, the mishap wasn’t captured on camera.

We can’t say the same for Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who wandered into a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday and began asking the Treasury Department’s witness a series of questions before a staffer informed him he was in the wrong place.

“I just got a note saying I’m at the wrong hearing,” the Indiana Republican said. “I’ve got the right room number, but the wrong hearing. Well this is the first time this has ever happened to me.”

Coats, who responded to his recent ban from Russia with a top 10 list of things he would miss, quickly left the hearing after realizing his mistake.

“I’ll go try to find out where I’m supposed to be.”

Watch the full exchange below:

HOH gives props to Coats and his staff for treating the situation with the appropriate levity.

Harry Reid’s Instagram Feed is Picture Perfect

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be new to Instagram, but the veteran lawmaker is clearly well rehearsed in the art of putting one’s best face forward.

 

 

Though just a few hours old, the Nevada Democrat’s online photo diary is already chock full of cookie-cutter campaign art, including:

The Power Huddle

Just, you know, shooting the breeze with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif. Full story

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 31 (Video)

Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., tells zookeepers how to dress, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., stages an “intervention”, Senator Dan Coats, R-Ind., shows up to the wrong hearing and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he is not afraid of the Koch brothers – again.

April 3, 2014

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

Performers from across the musical spectrum helped star-stuck lawmakers get loose Wednesday night, as the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill awards once again blew the socks off of straight-laced Washington.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The invite-only affair gave politicos the opportunity to mingle with chart-topping artists from every decade dating back to the 1960s, a who’s who of vocal talent that included singer Dionne Warwick, Tejano band Los Lonely Boys, the Hanson Brothers and Grammy winners Lady Antebellum. The musicians, in turn, tipped their hats to those on Capitol Hill who’ve proved to be real good listeners, handing out awards to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“There’s very few places in this country that they would actually honor members of Congress,” the California Republican quipped while on stage with songwriter Booker T. Jones and Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. Full story

When Politics and Softball Collide …

There is one teensy problem with playing on a bipartisan congressional athletic team: Sometimes politics comes first.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat and star slugger for the Congressional Women’s Softball team, is set to campaign in West Virginia this weekend on behalf of Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant.

An innocuous political move, except that Tennant’s opponent is one of Team Congress’ captains, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

The pair play on a team of female members who battle the women of the Washington press corps in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

Heitkamp weighed in on the issue in an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

Full story

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

It sounded like Kenny G was visiting the Senate chamber around noon on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got a brief saxophone serenade from the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who bumped into the Nevada Democrat during the “GRAMMYs on the Hill” lobbying day.

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

(Photo courtesy of David Helfant.)

“I whipped out my saxophone and just said, ‘I’ll play you a song,” saxophonist and vocalist Mindi Abair told CQ Roll Call. She picked a song called “Summertime,” which she said Reid appeared to enjoy.

Abair, who has toured and recorded with artists ranging from the Backstreet Boys and Duran Duran to Adam Sandler and Aerosmith, was visiting Capitol Hill with about 200 other recording industry advocates to push for legislation that would ensure songwriters and composers are fairly paid for their work.

Abair and other advocates had a full day of meetings with the California delegation. They were saying goodbye to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., when they bumped into Reid outside the chamber.

They will be pushing for the Songwriter Equity Act of 2014, and perhaps playing a few impromptu serenades.

Congressmen and Staffers Get a Taste of Michigan

Ever wonder what beer that tastes like coffee would be like?

Staffers and members of Congress found out Wednesday as they sampled Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery in Detroit at the 5th Annual Taste of Michigan.

Dozens of staffers and a handful of congressmen gathered in the Gold Room in the Rayburn House Office Building for the event hosted by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

The event was an effort to raise awareness about Michigan craft beers, wine and spirits, and also to show appreciation for the members of Congress whom the MLBA lobbied for the past two days.

“On both sides of the aisle, we were able to get out our biggest concern, which is tipped minimum wage,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis.  The MLBA represents around 1,700 businesses, including bars and taverns in Michigan.

Ellis said they received “mixed reviews” from lawmakers regarding their argument against raising the tipped wage, which he feels would negatively affect business owners and the workers themselves.

At least four members of the Michigan delegation attended the Taste of Michigan  eventWednesday evening, although the majority of attendees included congressional staffers.

As they relaxed after a day’s work and mingled in the Gold Room and the balcony, the staffers and lawmakers could choose from the 30 craft beers on hand, all brewed in Michigan, as well as 10 different wines and a sampling of bourbon and vodka.

Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., stood out on the balcony with other attendees, overlooking the Rayburn courtyard with the Washington Monument in the distance.

“This is fabulous,” said Benishek. “I’m happy to stop in and say ‘hello’ to these guys and learn a little more about this great beer and wine, and now vodka, I find out,” he added, lifting the cup in his hand.

‘Parts Is Parts’ in This #tbt HOH Item


Parts Is Parts in This #tbt HOH Item

Oh, the things we learn reading the HOH stacks, such as this gem from the Feb. 26, 1996 edition of Roll Call by reporter Craig Winneker:

Above and Beyond Dept. The things Members do to help constituents. Consider the following letter from Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich) to Agriculture Department official P. Scott Shearer:
“Dear Mr. Shearer: I am writing to you on behalf of Mr. R. Miles Handy II, President, Oink-Oink Inc., 15526 Dale, Detroit, MI 48223.
“According to Mr. Handy, The United States Department of Agriculture was allowing Oink-Oink to purchase pork penises for use as a pet treat. They were purchasing the raw product from Iowa Packing Company. After several months of doing so, the USDA began to ‘dye the raw penises green.’ As a result of this, Oink-Oink Inc. is unable to use them because of this discoloration.
“I would greatly appreciate your comment on this situation.”
Knollenberg’s press secretary, Frank Maisano, told HOH Friday that “as far as our pets are concerned, parts is parts.”
He added that the Congressman was concerned “about Michigan jobs and allowing our pets to have the choices they deserve.”
Oh, and HOH suggests checking the label on Fido’s next box of biscuits.

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:27 p.m.
#tbt

April 2, 2014

Five Captions for Bruce Braley to Ponder | Capitol Quip

Five Captions for Bruce Braley to Ponder | 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 wouldn’t bet the farm on him.
  • He better keep his foot in there until after the election …
  • He’s gonna need a personal injury attorney …
  • I think he’ll be cowed into retracting his comment.
  • Looks like he’s picked up the dreaded “foot-in-mouth” disease.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on April 6 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 4:37 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Mulvaney Gives Jordan the Finger

Walking into Wednesday’s Republican Study Committee meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said he’d vote for the budget unveiled this week by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan and was asked if he expects his conservative colleagues who voted against other budget deals to take the same approach.

“I actually do, but you’ll have to talk to [Mick] Mulvaney to get the full answer,” Jordan said of his South Carolina colleague.

Mulvaney, who had just said he was undecided on the budget, was sitting on a bench outside of the meeting on his phone. Upon hearing the Ohio Republican’s remark, he looked up and gave Jordan the finger.

Everyone laughed.

Zombie Pandemics and Gobbeledygook Grace GPO’s Funny Title List

“Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.”  It wasn’t an April Fools’ joke — this government document actually exists and was one of the Government Printing Office’s Top Ten Funny Federal Titles proving government documents aren’t always mundane.

Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t actually predicting a zombie apocalypse with its contribution to the mix, so there’s no need to hoard water and binge-watch “The Walking Dead” — yet.  The agency was creatively informing the public how to be prepared for emergencies.  And the CDC wasn’t the only agency having some fun with their document titles.

Among those listed by Jennifer Davis on the GPO’s blog were “Gobbeledygook Has Gotta Go,” highlighting the issues with complex language in government documents, “America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor,” and “USDA Saves French Donkey.”

“I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny,” Davis wrote.  “And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too.”

And sometimes perhaps he laughs a little too hard? Read “Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report on the Project.”

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