Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 22, 2014

December 20, 2013

Yule and YOLO: The 2013 Dingell Jingle

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., released his annual “Dingell Jingle,” a lyrical gift rife with potshots, holiday jeer and even the acronym “YOLO.”

Yule and YOLO: The 2013 Dingell Jingle

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Parodying the poem “A visit from St. Nicholas,” the longest serving member of Congress penned a rhyming condemnation of the 2013 government shutdown spanning a full eight stanzas.

Here’s one poetic nugget of how the Dean felt about this year: “And so rhetoric flared, rich with words set to rile them/ As the inmates controlled the Congressional asylum.”

Many thanks, congressman.

Here’s the jingle in full: Full story

Doug Heye’s Handsome Convention

Do we spy a dapper caucus in the making?

Doug Heye’s Handsome Convention

(Courtesy Doug Heye)

House GOP leadership aide Doug Heye has unveiled his latest holiday card, an annual tradition that includes striking a pose along all manner of celebrities. This time around, he’s buddying up to Rob Lowe, the “West Wing” alumnus who most recently shook up Washington with his portrayal of President John F. Kennedy in “Killing Kennedy.”

Heye’s entry into the escalating greeting card wars comes just days after Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., loosed her Disney-themed correspondence on a quarter-million fans.

Rohrabacher Comes Clean About Messy Housing Dispute

Rohrabacher Comes Clean About Messy Housing Dispute

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is not only confident he will be vindicated in an ongoing legal tussle — a rather nasty affair in which a former landlord claims that the California Republican and his family caused tens of thousands of dollars in property damage — he’s fairly certain he brought it on himself by serving in the public eye.

“If I wasn’t a member of Congress, no one would pay attention to this at all,” he said of the dirty laundry being aired by Robert Polyniak regarding a home he rented to the Rohrabachers a few years back. Full story

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Dec. 16 (Video)

In Roll Call’s final installment of Congressional Hits and Misses before the new year, we are reminded senators can, in fact, read, translate and philosophize.

December 19, 2013

Harry Reid Warms to Rand Paul

Call it a Christmas miracle.

Harry Reid Warms to Rand Paul

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Following months where they have openly and often vehemently clashed on everything from the administration’s divisive drone program to the fate of Federal Reserve Board nominee Janet L. Yellen, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed Thursday that he’s actually quite fond of conservative firebrand Rand Paul.

“I met in the last few days with Rand Paul, spent a lot of time with him, and I have grown to really like him,” Reid told reporters during a press conference where he reflected on the challenges of the remarkably unproductive legislative session that even now threatens to derail staffers’ holiday plans.

Although he’s well aware of political opponents who thrive on making him miserable (“I need not give you names, but it’s just a handful of people,” the Nevada Democrat posited), Reid doesn’t seem to believe Paul belongs exclusively in that camp.

“He’s — even though he has some set political views, he wants to get things done here,” Reid said of the libertarian-leaning Kentucky lawmaker. “And I find that throughout the Republicans. I think they want to get things done. And I hope that’s true.”

Team Paul did not respond to calls and emails inquiring as to whether Reid’s sudden chumminess might pave the way for increased cooperation in the second half of the 113th Congress.

But Reid certainly sounds like he’s ready for less confrontation in 2014.

“Maybe all of you have a better memory than I have, but I think the only thing we’ve gotten done since summer was implement nondiscrimination. I don’t think there’s anything else we’ve done,” Reid bemoaned.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:03 p.m.
HillSide, Sens

Overheard: Michael Grimm’s Marine Corps

“This is not the Marine Corps that I know and love.”

– Rep. Michael Grimm, on Fox News, regarding the case of Maj. Jason Brezler, who is facing charges he brought classified documents on his personal hard drive back from a war zone and shared them inappropriately. Brezler faces possible disciplinary action.

December 18, 2013

What’s Behind Door Number 3? | Capitol Quip

Whats Behind Door Number 3? | 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:

  • Sure I’ll spell it for you one more time. C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E.
  • Sorry, this isn’t The Biggest Loser.
  • The rest of these clowns bought into our budget, now why don’t you two?
  • The Price is Right is on right after this.
  • Patty and I have BINDERS of compromises!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Dec. 22 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 6:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Loretta Sanchez Had to Sell Disney on 2013 Christmas Card

Holiday greeting maven Loretta Sanchez has become famous around these parts for dreaming up elaborately staged Christmas cards featuring herself, her family members and her beloved pets.

Loretta Sanchez Had to Sell Disney on 2013 Christmas Card

But her predilection for weaving political humor into the mix gave the Disneyland folks pause when the California Democrat approached them about having Mickey’s home figure into her latest holiday installment.

“It’s difficult to get Disney to go along with something like this. They’re worried about their brand,” Sanchez said of the monthslong negotiations required to capture the magic moment framed against one of the tourist attraction’s enchanting fairy tale castles.

To wit, Sanchez said she and husband Jack Einwechter posed for pics in various spots around the park — including a shot of them in a dizzying teacups ride she briefly considered using to tweak ultra-conservative Republicans.

Last year’s missive featured a cheeky take on all the fiscal-cliff craziness, while the 2011 salutation bore an “occupy”-themed punch line.

This time around, Sanchez opted for a purely festive tone. Full story

Booze, Books, Model Cars Traded Among Senate Secret Santas

Senators briefly set aside their budget deal bickering on Tuesday night for the chamber’s third annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange, organized by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

The holiday spirit inspired more than 60 senators to participate, roaming the marble corridors of the second floor with packages containing booze, food, dog toys and model vehicles after enjoying the Christmas cookie spread at the reception.

Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy bellowed out “ho, ho, ho” as he breezed in and out, clutching a new Batman figurine from New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte to add to his extensive collection.  Full story

DCanter Pours Itself Into Philippines Relief Effort

Michelle Lim Warner and Michael Warner, owners of the wine and beer shop DCanter on Barracks Row, are launching a fundraising campaign this month for a cause that’s quite personal to their family.

DCanter Pours Itself Into Philippines Relief Effort

(Courtesy Michelle Lim Warner)

Carles is a small town on the northeastern edge of Panay Island in the Philippines and was greatly impacted by the recent typhoon that hit the islands. Carles is also where Michelle’s mother and grandmother, who died a few years ago, grew up.

Michelle says she has great memories of visiting the town and she and her mother want to raise $10,000 by Jan. 1 as a part of their Rebuild Carles campaign. According to Michelle, this would build modest, but strong, two-bedroom homes for 15 families. Full story

Loretta Sanchez’s 2013 Christmas Card Is Disneytastic

It’s that time of year again, when Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., sends out her much-anticipated Christmas card. Here’s a peek, with more to come.

Loretta Sanchezs 2013 Christmas Card Is Disneytastic

Loretta Sanchezs 2013 Christmas Card Is Disneytastic

Loretta Sanchezs 2013 Christmas Card Is Disneytastic

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:12 a.m.
Sens

December 17, 2013

Guess Who’s Not Retiring Today! Ileana Ros-Lehtinen!

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., took an opportunity Tuesday to remind the world that she is not retiring.

In what is quickly becoming known as ”Bloody Tuesday,” three members of the House announced, in a five-hour stretch, their retirements: Republican Reps. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia and Tom Latham of Iowa and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah.

Between the Matheson and Latham announcements at around 3 p.m, this reporter tweeted at the masses, sarcastically asking if any members of Congress “want to get anything off their chest before I go on vacation? Anyone? Anyone?”

Ros-Lehtinen, often the target of Democrats pushing retirement rumors, responded.

 

There is some context to the exchange. Ros-Lehtinen once let this reporter have it for following up on Democratic “retirement suggestions.”

“They have me as the next president of a university,” she told Roll Call in April. “Democrats put out that rumor every six months or so. They always cast a wide net to see what kind of fish they can get.”

Tareq Salahi Wants What Frank Wolf’s Got

Aspiring lawmaker Tareq Salahi may not have clinched the Virginia governorship that he wanted this past fall. But he’s more than willing to slide into the seat retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., has now put into play for 2014.

Tareq Salahi Wants What Frank Wolf’s Got

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The last time he visited the halls of Congress, the reality TV alumnus sat quietly while members of the House Homeland Security Committee grilled him and his now-ex-wife, Michaele Salahi, as to how, exactly, they had managed to gain entrée into one of President Barack Obama’s earliest state dinners. The next time, he’d prefer to walk through the chamber doors as a peer.

“I am well acquainted with the financial struggle and hardship many Virginians have been facing and have empathy and respect for the people who have somehow managed to tough it out in these challenging economic times,” Salahi said in a release announcing his candidacy for Virginia’s 10th District. “They need a strong voice on capitol hill.”

Salahi’s last bid at becoming a political player — the self-styled “Crash the Vote” campaign — involved him vying to become the next Republican governor of the Old Dominion. After GOP leaders named Ken Cuccinelli as their standard bearer in the politically charged race, Salahi rebranded himself as an independent and continued making the rather offbeat rounds.

“His recent gubernatorial campaign has become the launch pad for a more plausible run for congress,” Team Salahi asserted via email.

Of course, there’s still all that bad blood to deal with.

Then again, some party poopers maintain that Salahi needn’t worry too much about offending potential co-workers.

“The only way Tareq Salahi will get to Congress is by slipping past security,” a GOP campaign operative assured HOH.

December 16, 2013

Team Polis Treated to Barnyard Christmas

Rep. Jared Polis pulled out all the stops for this year’s office Christmas party, hosting nearly three dozen holiday revelers — along with a traveling petting zoo — at his Capitol Hill home on Dec. 12.

According to an HOH tipster, the Colorado Democrat allowed guests to spend a few hours getting up close and personal with a slew of cuddly animals, including: bunnies, ducks, sheep, goats, a llama and a mini pig named Junior.

There was even a mini horse on hand for everyone to fawn over.

Team Polis did not respond to multiple emails seeking clarification about the furry party favors. So we may never know whether the pint-sized steed procured by Polis was as revered by those present as NBC’s equine superstar Li’l Sebastian.

But at least one attendee was floored by the entire experience.

“It must be nice to work for a really rich member of Congress who likes to do fun things with his money,” the party-going spy suggested.

The 500 Nods of Elizabeth Warren | Madisonville

Most Americans of working age can’t remember when manufacturing wasn’t in decline.  It’s been a staple of news and politics since the Carter administration. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy tapped right into the mood of inevitable decay at a hearing last week on rebuilding American manufacturing.

The 500 Nods of Elizabeth Warren | Madisonville  The late afternoon timing of the hearing didn’t help anyone’s attention span.

Imagine the late shift at a factory out near the railroad tracks that’s been cutting back production for years.  The workers aren’t sure the foreign owners remember they have a factory there and the workers also aren’t sure whether it’s better to be remembered or forgotten.

Or alternatively, what with last week’s snow turning crusty and it already becoming dark outside, imagine the factory political commissars bringing next year’s production targets to workers at a ball-bearing plant in the Ural Mountains.

On a gloomy Washington day, even the lighting wasn’t interested in the hearing room.

Only three of eight senators showed up and there weren’t many more people in the audience.  The perkiest staff member turned out to be the one responsible for Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s crutches.  Both of them (Heller and the staffer, although both crutches also departed) left as soon as it was polite to do so. Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., kept the witnesses busy until Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., could get back from the Senate floor and take over the questioning.

Teaching at Harvard demands a few tricks to keep the students engaged. Warren has an entire repertory of nods and head shakes to do so. She’s Bartholomew Cubbins but with head gestures.  Warren’s moving head carries more nuance than many members of Congress can find in the dictionary.

She has a slow, methodical “aren’t you clever” nod to encourage a witness. She can do a rapid “hurry up and finish your point” nod and she can tweak that into a “good point, please continue” gesture or, just as subtly, turn it into its near opposite, the “I’ve heard this before and don’t believe it for a second” nod. Warren has an emphatic, chin-down-once-and-stop nod to say, “Well done for citing that obscure research,” and she varies that slightly in a, “The policy is obvious. How could anybody disagree?” nod. She’s got a middle-speed “as a witness before this committee you can have your say nod but nobody is taking you seriously” nod.

Warren has a combination nod and head shake to say, “The evidence is mixed.” She’s got a nod that turns into a head shake. She can shake her head to convey disbelief, and, like everybody else, she can shake her head in disagreement. What sets Warren apart is that she can even shake her head in agreement.  She pulled that one off at least once at Wednesday’s hearing.

American manufacturing should be so adept.

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