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

January 6, 2014

Jared Polis’ Punctuation Push

Rep. Jared Polis has as of late been having some trouble squeezing in everything he wants to share on social media.

But the Colorado Democrat has a plan to streamline overly wordy thoughts: tildes.

The Education and the Workforce Committee member floated his idea about recasting the summarily ignored squiggly sign to his Twitter flock after perusing an ongoing discussion on an etymological message board about how best to offset paraphrased content.

“It is challenging to condense quotes from articles into 140 characters,” Polis said in an email regarding his struggles with concise, but still cogent microblogging. Per his unsatisfactory research, Polis found far-from-definitive advice urging content shrinkers to employ everything from multicolored fonts to plain brackets. Full story

Capitol Hill: Where the Wild Things Are

It appears that there’s a slightly dangerous, but very colorful character roaming around the Capitol complex in 2014.

Multiple sources tell HOH they have seen a sizable vulpes vulpes, or red fox, making itself comfortably at home here on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill: Where the Wild Things Are

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

“It seems like he is just running around having a good time,” a congressional aide who crossed paths with the furry-faced interloper just outside the Capitol Visitor Center told HOH. According to our Wild Kingdom correspondent, the fox darted across the opening facing the Supreme Court before disappearing into the surrounding bushes.

A fellow staffer, who said he was strolling back toward the House office buildings after visiting the Capitol Christmas tree, stumbled across what both parties suspect is the same animal about a half hour before the Capitol Visitor Center sighting. “I saw this fox bounding across the sidewalk there,” he said of the encounter along the West Front, adding, “It was not a small creature.” Full story

January 5, 2014

The Department of New Year’s Resolutions | Capitol Quip

 The Department of New Years Resolutions | Capitol Quip

It’s that time of year again for new year’s resolutions. With a difficult 2013 behind it, what will Washington, D.C., want to do with the coming year, which also happens to be a midterm congressional election year? This 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 Jan. 8, and everyone can vote for the winner through Jan. 9.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

January 3, 2014

Kay Hagan’s Klingon Problem

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., knew she would be facing a tough re-election battle this year. But she probably didn’t account for the latest development in the North Carolina Senate race: an opponent who’s tight with the Klingons.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Indian Trail Councilman David Waddell has tendered his resignation from the council in a letter written in the language of the Klingon warrior race of “Star Trek” fame, so he can pursue a write-in bid for the Senate.

So as not to confuse his political colleagues, Waddell included an English translation of the letter.

“Waddell ended his four-sentence resignation letter by paraphrasing a Klingon proverb: “Perhaps today is a good day (to) resign,” the newspaper reported.

When Cooter Joined Gopher in Congress

When Cooter Joined Gopher in Congress

It was 25 years ago this month that Congress, and the country, braced for the swearing-in of a new Congress that featured not one, but two television stars of the late 1970s and ’80s: Cooter from “The Dukes of Hazzard” and Gopher from “The Love Boat.”

Rep. Fred Grandy, R-Iowa, who played ship’s purser, “Gopher” Smith, on the Pacific Princess from 1977 to 1986, was elected to the People’s House in 1986 and was about to start his second term. Rep. Ben Jones, D-Ga., who played Cooter, mechanic savant good ol’ boy and pal to the Duke Boys from 1979 to 1985, fell short in his first bid for Congress, in 1986. The second time, in 1988, was the charm for Jones, who served two terms before losing his primary bid in 1992 to Rep. Don Johnson.

From the Jan. 15, 1989, edition of Roll Call’s HOH: “Deja Video. With Rep. Ben ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Jones (D-Ga.) joining Rep. Fred ‘Loveboat’ Grandy (R-Iowa) in Congress, the Hill could have its own sitcom. The last time Jones performed in Washington, he played in ‘Desire Under the Elms’ at the Kennedy Center in 1974. ‘The night Richard Nixon resigned,’ he says, ‘they stopped the show between the first and second acts and broadcast his speech over the sound system. That got the biggest applause of the evening.’”

Grandy ran for governor in 1994, but lost in the primary. He went on to head Goodwill Industries, had a career in radio as a talk show host and has dabbled again in acting.

Jones made another run for Congress in Virginia in 2002, but fell short. He runs Cooter’s Place, a Dukes shrine and gift shop that has locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tenn. In 2008, his memoir, “Redneck Boy in the Promised Land: The Confessions of ‘Crazy Cooter,’” was released.


January 2, 2014

Bono to Present Bono With Bono

The headlines write themselves sometimes. On Saturday, ex-Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., will present U2 with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Bono, recently divorced from ex-Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., and wife of the late Rep. Sonny Bono, is honorary chairwoman of the festival and will present U2 frontman Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., with the Sonny Bono award. Making it timely, U2′s song “Ordinary Love” is in the new film, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” about the life of the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

“We normally present the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to a director, but for our 25th anniversary we wanted to take the occasion to celebrate U2, a visionary group and the world’s premier rock band, for their unparalleled humanitarian work against extreme poverty, disease, and social injustice,” the festival’s chairman, Harold Matzner, said in a statement.

Sonny Bono, long before being elected to Congress in 1994, was a singer/songwriter/producer one-half of Sonny and Cher and mayor of Palm Springs.

Capitol Tourists Jump for Joy

Capitol Tourists Jump for Joy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ah, tourists. Sometimes they really are the lifeblood of the city. With Congress still in recess and many staffers using vacation time until things heat back up on Jan. 6, these visitors, spotted jumping for a photo on the East Front, injected a little life into an otherwise quiet Capitol campus on Thursday.

December 31, 2013

HOH Year in Review: It Takes a Village Edition

Keeping tabs on all the shenanigans our elected officials get into is what this column is all about. And, as you might have noticed, there’s more than enough ridiculousness to go around.

My former partner, Neda Semnani, was a wiz at ferreting out amazing tidbits about blundering pols and sex-starved government workers. And I manage to stumble into chuckle-worthy happenings every once in a while.

But, as we all learned from 80’s screwball comedies, the name of the game is teamwork.

Which is why I would like to lavish praise on all my hardworking CQRC colleagues for always keeping their radars up for bizarre political behavior.

Our entire newsroom helps make this little column shine.

Here’s just a sample of some of the whip-smart reporting I most enjoyed reading this year: Full story

HOH Year in Review: Ode to Semnani Edition

As die-hard HOH fans are undoubtedly aware, this institution underwent a paradigm shift earlier this year when my co-columnist and partner, Neda Semnani, took her leave in order to pursue her dream of becoming a full-fledged author.

HOH Year in Review: Ode to Semnani Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The indomitable yin to my sophomoric yang, Semnani approached each looming deadline with verve and aplomb.

Armed with incisive wit, a healthy amount of skepticism and a burning desire to crawl inside the headspaces of those who make their living from supposedly exercising the will of the vox populi, Semnani fearlessly probed those in power — and their often tragicomic associates — until she got to the heart of what was really going on.

I miss her every day.

Luckily, I’ve got these gems to remind me of how lucky I was to have worked alongside a true congressional junkie. Full story

December 27, 2013

Rand Paul Boo-Hoos the Lack of Burgoo

Dry those tears, Sen. Rand Paul.

For while you may not have used the regular channels fellow Hill denizens Dave Gustafson, Sara Bondioli or Shana Teehan utilized to have me hunt me down their favorite foodstuffs, this dining sleuth picked up on your online bellyaching about the dearth of burgoo stew in Congress all the same.



The Kentucky Republican made note of the hole in his diet earlier this week whilst channeling his inner Frank Costanza.

Rand Paul Boo Hoos the Lack of Burgoo

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

A huntsman’s feast, not unlike Virginia’s own Brunswick stew, burgoo is based upon slow-cooking your choice of meat — beef, chicken or pork will do in a pinch; strict traditionalists might clamor for gamier fare (squirrel, mutton) — with a full complement of fresh vegetables. A splash of bourbon hitches a ride as well.

The wintry dish was typically assembled by reducing said ingredients in an iron kettle over a roaring flame — all of which sounds quite heavenly given that I can feel a seasonal chill numbing my fingertips even as I tap away on this keyboard. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:05 a.m.
DC, Food, HillSide, Restos, Sens

December 25, 2013

2013′s Most Interesting Financial Disclosures

The annual congressional financial disclosure forms come in various sizes (from three pages to hundreds), styles (some are hand-written, others are farmed-out to third party accountants) and submissions (from on-time to extensions and even, possibly, amendments) with listed assets varying from college savings plans  to professional sports teams.

As another year comes to an end, here is a look back at some of the most notable items gleaned from this year’s forms, which report assets from the 2012 calendar year.

Full story

December 24, 2013

Team Lujan Grisham Looks Ready to Eat

Team Lujan Grisham Looks Ready to Eat


How are your Christmas Eve dinner plans coming along?

December 22, 2013

Merry Capitol Quip Christmas

Merry Capitol Quip Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Capitol Quip! No caption contest this week. Enjoy the season!

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

Take It or Leave It | Capitol Quip

Take It or Leave It | 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.

December 20, 2013

Grin and Bear and Long-Term Care | Madisonville

Grin and Bear and Long Term Care | Madisonville  “Continuing the conversation” was the subtitle of the Senate Aging Committee’s hearing Wednesday on the future of long-term-care policy.  Continuing the conversation is a formulation with a lovely gentleness, an effort to reassure, to conjure up endless sunshine and an elderly couple taking long walks under autumn leaves surrounded by several generations of handsome, smiling descendants.

The easy-going feeling of “continuing the conversation” is also in hopeless contradiction to the grim reality.  The witnesses flood the panel with detail, but it mostly added up to an insolvable problem. Americans aren’t arranging for care in old age. Congress isn’t going to spend the money to do it for them. And the ratio between those needing care and those available to provide it is getting worse. At least nobody mentioned death panels. Full story

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