Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

February 25, 2014

Internet Confused About John Walsh, the College Years

Newly minted Sen. John Walsh is no stranger to academia, having bounced between three repositories of higher learning before securing a Master of Arts from the U.S. Army War College.

But if one were to believe the incongruous résumés available online, the source of his undergraduate degree is more puzzling than textbook.

CQ Roll Call’s official biography lists the Montana Democrat as having attended Carroll College (1984); he later graduated from distance learning-friendly Regents College (1990) with a Bachelor of Science.

Back then, Regents operated within the statewide scholastic network overseen by the overarching University of the State of New York. The school was rebranded as Excelsior College in 2001  — and we have not even gotten to the widespread goofiness yet.

On his campaign website, Walsh acknowledges the brief stint at Carroll College. He also, rather curiously, lists himself as having attended SUNY — the State University of New York.

The government-run biographical directory of the United States Congress does Walsh one better, not only placing him at SUNY but also bestowing bragging rights to having snagged his sheepskin in Albany.

While the five dozen-odd SUNY campuses do fall under the purview of USNY, the two organizational structures are not interchangeable.

Whether this is all predicated on a single, mistakenly transcribed character or an elaborate plot to rewrite history remains unclear. All we got from Team Walsh was a confirmation (“I double-checked with the Senator, and he did graduate from USNY (not SUNY),” his office relayed via email) of what we already knew.

African-American Senators Reflect on Their Own History

African American Senators Reflect on Their Own History

Sen. Tim Scott, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, and former Sens. Carol Moseley Braun and Roland Burris at an event to honor America’s black senators. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Chaplain Barry Black stood in front of a packed auditorium Tuesday and discussed one of the two times he was late to open the Senate because of D.C. traffic.

Former Sen. William “Mo” Cowan of Massachusetts had been the freshman Democrat delegated that day to preside over the chamber and gavel Black in. Though Black said he is loathe to pick favorites among lawmakers and parishioners, Cowan is one because on that morning, he offered the Senate prayer in the chaplain’s place.

“Fortunately, No. 1, he’s African-American. No. 2 he has a bald head, and No. 3 he wears bow ties,” Black joked with a mostly African-American crowd at the Library of Congress, there for a Black History Month panel organized by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. Black noted that several people could and had confused him with Cowan, who is one of only nine African-Americans to ever serve in the Senate.

Black’s anecdote was a joke, but in telling it, he shined light on an unfunny truth: Minority politicians are still the outlier in the Senate and its history. Full story

February 24, 2014

John Dingell, Ready to Sell the Bear’s Hide

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., and Roll Call have grown together on Capitol Hill, having both arrived in 1955. Now, with Dingell announcing his plans to retire at the end of the 113th Congress, it’s worth noting that over the half-century-plus of his tenure, he has remained remarkably consistent in his larger-than-life presence, coupled with his love of blunt, saucy language. This just so happens to fit right into HOH’s wheelhouse.

On the occasion of Roll Call’s 50th commemorative edition in 2005, as well as his own half-century of service, the dean of the House wrote: “I do wonder what the Speaker who first swore me into office — the great Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) — would say about this milestone year for both Roll Call and me if he were still around. I might be, let us say, colorful — but I guarantee you one thing, it would be brilliant. Sam knew how to craft a sound bite before CNN was a glimmer in Ted Turner’s eye.”

Dingell could well have been referring to himself. Sound bites, pull quotes, whatever you call them, Dingell can serve them up with the best. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:22 p.m.
Baller

John Dingell — Young Whipper Snapper

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., has been around Congress so long, it’s easy to forget he was once the youngest member of the House. But we have proof, as can be seen in this image from the Jan. 10, 1957, edition of Roll Call, that the dean of the House was once among its cubs.

John Dingell — Young Whipper Snapper

Dingell, who at 30 years old was the youngest member of Congress, discusses the upcoming 85th Congress with Sen. Theodore Francis Green, D-R.I., who at 89 was the oldest member of Congress.

Connolly Invites Pols to One-Man Show on Breast Cancer

Sam Simon is bringing his one-man show about coming to grips with potentially losing a loved one to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, a tumultuous journey he’s honored to share with lawmakers thanks to fellow theater buff Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va.

Connolly Invites Pols to One Man Show on Breast Cancer

(Courtesy Sam Simon)

The Actual Dance” chronicles Simon’s attempt at negotiating the dizzying circumstances surrounding his wife’s breast cancer diagnosis. The life-affirming show — “There is a happy ending,” Simon assured HOH — is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in Rayburn B-340.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP online, though a Connolly aide suggested “all who come will be admitted.”

Though they are both active in the community theater world, Simon said he and Connolly have not yet graced the same stage. The pair has, however, known each other dating back to Connolly’s days as a district supervisor in neighboring Fairfax County. “I would call him a longtime family and political friend,” Simon said.

While Connolly has not yet viewed this particular piece (“Everybody around him has seen it,” Simon estimated), Simon is certain it will strike a chord with the former seminarian.

“I think his interest [is] as much about the topic and its meaning as it is about the show itself,” Simon posited, adding that he’s deeply impressed by Connolly’s “faith and his understanding of people.”

Simon said he has staged the deeply personal performance 30 times since last spring — “This is a rare male voice in the breast cancer journey,” he said. And the most fulfilling part, without fail, remains the open and honest discussions that bubble up within the audience after the show comes to a close.

This time around, he’s very much hoping members who deal with health and aging issues will come and listen. “This isn’t a specific agenda. There is no policy change we are looking for,” he pledged.

February 23, 2014

The Olympic Flame, Burning in Ukraine, Syria? | Capitol Quip

The Olympic Flame, Burning in Ukraine, Syria? | Capitol Quip

This year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has taken place in the shadow of questions about Russia’s policies toward the regimes (and violence) in Ukraine and Syria. 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

Congress Hath No Fury Like Voters Scorned | Capitol Quip

Congress Hath No Fury Like Voters Scorned | 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

February 21, 2014

Ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds Ducks Zimbabwean Porn Charge

Former House lawmaker Mel Reynolds has been kicked out of Zimbabwe due to immigration issues but will not have to stand trial on since-dismissed pornography charges.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the trouble-prone pol — who was arrested earlier this week — pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to overstaying his welcome in the African nation and was subsequently ordered to leave the country. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:58 p.m.
Reps, ScandalFaced, Whuck

Fact-Checking ‘House of Cards’ and Its ‘Senate of Cards’ Sequence

By now, most binge-watchers have at least gotten through the first portion of the new season of the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

While we’ll steer clear of too many spoilers here, one particular sequence in the third episode caught the attention of parliamentary experts everywhere.

“We have to get medieval,” said the fictional Democratic Vice President Frank Underwood before a stint presiding over the Senate, twisting arms to get a deal with enough of the Senate’s GOP majority to keep the government from a shutdown while raising the retirement age.

Could the Senate really direct the sergeant-at-arms to arrest absent senators? Yes, of course.

Roll Call was there in 1988, when, acting on the direction of Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and an order of the Senate, Sergeant-at-Arms Henry Giugni set off from the chamber to arrest missing senators:

A Russell Building cleaning lady told Giugni that Sen. Robert Packwood (R-Ore.) was in his personal office. Using a pass key, Giugni opened the door just as Packwood tried to block it with his arm. Packwood ended up reinjuring a broken finger.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:31 p.m.
TV Land

Brothel Responds to Reid’s Prostitutes/2016 GOP Convention Remarks

One of Nevada’s legal brothels is rebutting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s argument that the state’s prostitution industry could be a reason Las Vegas loses out on hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Sheri’s Ranch Brothel points to the rates of sex trafficking in Tampa, Fla., as not exactly a disqualifying factor in the city’s hosting of the 2012 Republican convention.

“These serious prostitution-related issues didn’t seem to bother Republicans when they considered Tampa, so why would they have an issue with a state that enforces legal prostitution? After all, Nevada’s licensed brothels only allow safe sex between mature consenting adults in a secure, STD-free environment,” the brothel said in its response. “Sex trafficking and child prostitution are abhorred by representatives of the legal Nevada sex work community.”

Full story

Beware the Facebook Conversation That Spurs Birther Debate

An incredulous Redditor is trying to wrap his head around how anyone can so loathe President Barack Obama they would consciously — and deliberately — choose to cling to outright fabrications rather than cut 44 some slack.

Conversation starter Bleach3825 suffered the jarring revelation after confronting, initially on Facebook, a high-school acquaintance about her seemingly rabid disdain for POTUS.

After presenting her with what he apparently believed was adequate proof that Obama is a native-born American and questioning her unwavering allegiance to the citizenship-denying camp, the dissenting party only dug in deeper:

Beware the Facebook Conversation That Spurs Birther Debate

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

“Don’t really care if it is accurate or not at this point. Interesting fiction is still entertaining,” the die-hard detractor declared on Facebook.

How can you argue with that?

Not sure if there’s any room in your echo chamber for a little theme music, but this one’s for you, Madam Hater:

Rock. On.

Digesting News a la Spike Mendelsohn

Restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn doesn’t just make headlines in this town, he now also serves them up to those plugged into the gastro-themed feeds he’s created for news-sharing upstart Trove.

Digesting News a la Spike Mendelsohn

Mendelsohn, center, is sharing his interests via Trove. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The media aggregating service tapped the reality-TV-star-turned-culinary-empire-builder — Good Stuff Eatery, We, The Pizza and Béarnaise have all taken root on Capitol Hill — to serve as one of its featured curators. Mendelsohn has, so far, carved out three dedicated channels: Full story

February 20, 2014

Paul Broun To Tailgate Before Saturday Senate Debate

Come Saturday, Georgia Republican Paul Broun will once again face off against the cadre of aspiring Hill climbers eyeing the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Except this time, he plans to feast before leaping into the rhetorical lion’s den.

The Broun for Senate campaign is still putting the finishing touches on a planned pre-debate tailgate, dangling complimentary fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw and sweet tea for those willing to huddle with the candidate ahead of the Georgia GOP Debate scheduled to take place Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga.

Paul Broun To Tailgate Before Saturday Senate Debate

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

A campaign aide told HOH the tailgate concept was a first for Team Broun, but noted that the boss had distributed hot chocolate — “It was cold outside!” the aide shared — to those who waited patiently in line to watch local pols mix it up Feb 1. at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. Full story

February 19, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Capitol Quip

Vote for Your Favorite 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:

  • Do you think closing the government for the day will help?
  • I knew there was something wrong when the SuperPAC “Committee Against Elected Federal Officials” gave us this free ski trip!
  • At least something is moving on Capitol Hill.
  • “Only a flurry of voter fury,” you said?!
  • Quite frankly, I don’t think it cares about the Red-Blue construct.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Feb. 23 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 4:31 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Rose’s Luxury Puts Barracks Row on National Dining Map

Capitol Hill diners, your secret’s out.

If anyone thought scoring a table at critical darling Rose’s Luxury (717 Eight St. SE) was crazy hard before, good luck snagging a seat now that chef Aaron Silverman is in the running for a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award.

The captivating locale, which debuted last fall, is one of 30 semi-finalists vying for the coveted Best New Restaurant prize. The winner will be revealed in New York City on May 2 and 5.

Other D.C.-metro entities in contention for the nationwide honors include:

  • The Columbia Room – Outstanding Bar Program
  • Rogue 24 – Outstanding Bar Program
  • Neighborhood Restaurant Group pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac – Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Jaleo – Outstanding Restaurant
  • Vidalia – Outstanding Restaurant
  • Knightsbridge Restaurant Group founder Ashok Bajaj – Outstanding Restaurateur
  • Komi – Outstanding Service
  • Marcel’s – Outstanding Service, Outstanding Wine Program
  • CityZen – Outstanding Wine Program
  • Ripple/Roofers Union chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley – Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Restaurant Eve chef/founder Cathal Armstrong – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Iron Gate chef Anthony Chittum – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Proof chef Haidar Karoum – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Patowmack Farm chef Tarver King – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Mintwood Place chef/founder Cedric Maupillier – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Congrats to all the nominees.

Best of luck in the finals!

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