Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

December 2, 2013

Big John Cornyn Hangs Out on Google

In describing his typical week, Sen. John Cornyn said in a Google Hangout Monday that he’s “kind of a boring guy.” Outside of work, the Texas Republican said he likes to hunt, read and exercise, but he doesn’t want constituents to think he doesn’t like his job in Senate.

That squares with the “Big John” imagery of his last campaign’s advertising, but we digress.

“If you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work,” he said. Full story

Pols Post Up for Community Basketball Court Christening

Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., will join iconic District sports figures at the Tuesday unveiling of a new basketball court erected outside the Horton’s Kids Community Resource Center at 2500 Pomeroy Road SE.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment and Hoops for Youth sprung for the “modern” blacktop, which replaces a woefully run-down predecessor.

Pols Post Up for Community Basketball Court Christening

(Courtesy Horton’s Kids)

“Most of the concrete was uneven and cracked,” a Horton’s Kids aide said of the dilapidated, single-hoop play area the local nonprofit had to contend with prior to the monthlong renovation.

Monumental CEO and Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will be on hand to help break in the new court, and he’s bringing along Wizards players Otto Porter Jr. and Jan Vesely to, presumably, run a few drills with local youths. The official program will run 4-5:30 p.m.; after that, the open-air court will be available to anyone who wants to drive to the hoop. Full story

Capitol Jewish Forum Hosts 20th Annual Hanukkah Celebration

All of Congress is invited to mingle with members of the tribe Tuesday at the annual Hanukkah celebration hosted by the outreach arm of American Friends of Lubavitch, the Capitol Jewish Forum.

The all-inclusive party, now in its 20th year, is scheduled to take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Mike Mansfield Room (S-207) of the Capitol. All lawmakers and staff are welcome to attend. (Non-staffers must RSVP to by no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.)

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, said the event typically draws a few hundred guests, including leaders from both sides of the aisle.

Capitol Jewish Forum Hosts 20th Annual Hanukkah Celebration

(Courtesy LM Photography)

“As they say, ‘Only in America!’” he quipped about being flanked at last year’s event by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Shemtov said the festivities this year will be marked with plenty of fried latkes (plain, with sour cream and applesauce on the side), jelly doughnuts, live music and complimentary Hanukkah gifts (simple menorah, candles and a dreidel included in each set) for the kids.

“We’re delighted to have this opportunity to bring the festival of lights to the Capitol,” Shemtov said of the goodwill gathering.

District Taco Eating Crown Up for Grabs

Got any room left in the old hollow leg after all that Thanksgiving feasting?

District Taco is searching for whoever has the guts to try to break the current taco-eating record Tuesday night, at its debut eating challenge at the new(ish) Capitol Hill location.

Those interested in stripping food brawler Randy Santel of his claim to local fame — he polished off 18 tacos not a month ago — should RSVP ASAP via email ( or Twitter (@districttaco) to join the pool of aspiring competitive eaters. Then it’s just a matter of putting on your hungry pants and showing up at 656 Pennsylvania Ave. SE before the dinner bell officially rings. (Contestants should show up at the Capitol Hill location no later than 6:45 p.m. The actual taco eating is expected to commence around 7:15 p.m.)

Team DT launched the friendly eat-offs  several years back in Arlington, Va., and now hosts a new contest whenever another location comes online. Co-founder Marc Wallace, however, noted that anyone is welcome to brave the taco gantlet whenever they like.

“Any person can come in and pay $40 to challenge the record,” he said, adding that those who break the current record are automatically refunded the money and receive a $100 gift card to the restaurant.

The winner of Tuesday’s challenge, who will have to dispatch more than 18 tacos — served in flights of four, featuring a fully dressed breakfast (eggs, cheese, potatoes), carne asada (grilled beef), pollo asado (grilled chicken) and carnitas (pulled pork) taco each — in under 15 minutes, will be rewarded with a $100 gift card, a District Taco hat, a District Taco T-shirt and their photo on the wall of fame.

We here at HOH tend to believe a fresh roll of Tums might also come in handy.

Then again, we’ve never really had the stomach for speed-eating contests.

Christina Bellantoni Returns Home to Roll Call

If you’ve been anywhere near Twitter in the past hour, you will have heard the big news that former Roll Call Politics Associate Editor/current PBS NewsHour Politics Editor Christina Bellantoni is headed home to Roll Call to run the ship as editor-in-chief.

Here’s to you, Ms. Bellantoni:

TMZ Gets Cheeky With Joe Garcia

It took about a year, but freshman Rep. Joe Garcia has officially landed on Harvey Levin’s radar.

The celebrity gossip site took notice of the Florida Democrat after he was photographed strolling surfside with a lady friend sporting barely-there swimwear. Remember: You can’t un-see things: Full story

December 1, 2013

Watch for Nuclear Fallout | Capitol Quip

Watch for Nuclear Fallout | Capitol Quip

We are now living in a post-”nuclear option” world, at least in the Senate. Will this be the end of the world’s greatest deliberative body? Will it mean the Senate will confirm more judges and executive nominees? What will it mean that some of the world’s chattiest people can’t talk until the cows come home now? This all 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 Dec. 4, and everyone can vote for the winner through Dec. 5.

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

November 27, 2013

Heritage Thankful for Political Targets

It’s the holidays.

Heritage Thankful for Political Targets


Why not take a little time off from battling partisan foes and let The Heritage Foundation handle the cyber-feuding for you?

The conservative think tank has created a half-dozen e-cards poking fun at the administration for everything from first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy-eating efforts to the polarizing Affordable Care Act:

Heritage Thankful for Political Targets


Now, let’s all be thankful for the common-sense rule that NO ONE should be wasting time checking their email at the Thanksgiving table.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:40 p.m.
FightingWords, FLOTUS, Food

Nationals’ Franchise History With Roofs Is Not a Happy One

Maybe it’s best the Washington Nationals franchise stays away from retractable roofs.

Tuesday’s news that the baseball team had approached D.C. government officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray, about the possibility of retrofitting a retractable roof onto Nationals Park at the city’s expense generated widespread scorn and comparisons to the somewhat different situation playing out in Atlanta, where the Braves are planning to move outside the city limits to nearby Cobb County. In doing so, the Braves will vacate Turner Field, an outdoor ballpark which was constructed as the Olympic Stadium for the 1996 summer games.

Of course, the team now known as the Nationals used to have a retractable roof on an old stadium, though one might not know it because it seldom, if ever, functioned. That was in the 1976 Olympic Stadium in Montreal, the home of the Expos from 1977 until they departed for Washington following the 2004 season. That stadium, known to Montrealers as “The Big O”, opened for the 1976 Olympics without a roof, although it was supposed to have one.

Nationals Franchise History With Roofs Is Not a Happy One

The Big O, as it’s known in Montreal, has seen its share of heartache when it comes to its roof. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

ESPN compiled a list of Olympic Stadium failures and cost overruns back in 2003, many of which related to the retractable Kevlar roof (yes, the material most notable for use in bulletproof vests). Full story

Overheard: Neil Cavuto’s Fascinating If/Then Statement

“By the way, if I had a dime for every time my wife was reassessing everything I decided, I could write Encyclopedia Britannica, but I digress.”

— Neil Cavuto, in the midst of interviewing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Fox News on Tuesday.

By Jason Dick Posted at 10:59 a.m.

November 26, 2013

Murkowski, Fellow Alaskans Give Thanks

With the holiday season in full swing, Sen. Lisa Murkowski is using social media to poll those in the Last Frontier about that which they are most thankful for.

The Alaska Republican launched her #AKThanks campaign Nov. 22, urging her Web-connected constituents to share snippets of what makes their home state so great. The project will culminate today with the release of the “Appreciating Alaska” mini-documentary Murkowski is producing in conjunction with the Alaska Channel.

She got the ball rolling late last week with a video valentine to the frozen stuff that’s already threatening to paralyze the Mid-Atlantic region over the next few days:

“As an Alaskan, I am always thankful for winter,” she notes on YouTube before launching into a rundown of the meteorological hits Seward’s Icebox has already sustained this year — slipping in what would seem to be a prescient dig about the District’s precipitation-based mania.

“I’ve got this little motto: Keep calm and think snow,” she quips.

Her fellow Alaskans, meanwhile, have expressed love for all kinds of stuff, including:


The Affordable Care Act Full story

Radel Press Crew Jumps Into Kurt Bardella’s Waiting Arms

As Mark Leibovich wrote on Twitter in response to the news, “#ThisTown writes itself.”


Radel Press Crew Jumps Into Kurt Bardellas Waiting Arms

Bardella, right, has some company in his communications startup. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As if the cocaine-busted Rep. Trey Radel needed another problem, he now has an empty press shop to deal with.

His communications director, Amanda Nunez, and a press aide, Caitlin Rush, announced Monday that they were leaving the Florida Republican’s office to join Endeavor Strategic Communications, the public relations shop headed by Kurt Bardella, former press aide, most famously, for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. #ThisTown

Bardella started Endeavor in September as a PR firm that “specializes” in a number of image management fields, including “crisis communications.”

All three players have some experience in that one field.

Full story

Senator Wants Chatty Future Air Travelers to Get Off His Lawn

Bad news potentially promiscuous air travelers: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., doesn’t want to know about your “last night’s love life.”

Senator Wants Chatty Future Air Travelers to Get Off His Lawn

Alexander: Not a fan of cellphone use on planes. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alexander issued a statement on the eve of one of the busiest air travel days of the year urging Federal Communications Commission heads to ban phone calls on planes, even as the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would ease its cellphone policy.
The old-man statement — which this HOH scribe endorses and thinks you will, too — is too good not to publish in its entirety: Full story

Overheard: Obama’s Genuine Beliefs

“I think he genuinely believes in dialogue.”

— Rep. Peter T. King, speaking on Fox News today about President Barack Obama and the Iran nuclear deal.

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:03 p.m.
Overheards, POTUS, Reps

November 25, 2013

Turkey Hill Farm Prepares to Welcome Presidential Birds

Turkey Hill Farm Prepares to Welcome Presidential Birds

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

LEESBURG, Va. — Franklin, the one-and-a-half-year-old Bronze turkey who currently has the Morven Park staff all to himself, will be getting some high-profile roomies early next year. That’s when the gobblers President Barack Obama is scheduled to pardon Wednesday afternoon in the Rose Garden will make their way west to their new home, Turkey Hill Farm.

The reprieve for the twin birds coming from Badger, Minn., will mark a quarter-century of forgiveness handed down by consecutively sitting presidents.

Turkey Hill Farm Prepares to Welcome Presidential Birds

(Courtesy Pete Souza/White House)

Previously pardoned presidential birds have been retired to local sites including Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Va., and, most recently, Mount Vernon estate. Of course, being pardoned doesn’t prevent the grim reaper from eventually coming a-calling.

Morven Park spokeswoman Teresa Davenport and the rest of the staff that tends to the sprawling Leesburg estate once owned by the late Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis are hoping this year’s turkeys will thrive in their new facility. Full story

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