Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 25, 2015

November 7, 2014

Pro-Japanese Politicians Honored for Their Global Outreach

While the rest of us spent the week fixating on everything that is wrong with Congress, the Japanese extolled the good that federal lawmakers can do by conferring one of that country’s top honors upon Washington Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott and Wisconsin Republican Reps. Tom Petri and Jim Sensenbrenner.

The three lawmakers recently received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star in recognition of their working relationships with the island nation.

Rep. Tom Petri wearing his Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star awards in Japan. (Courtesy Tom Petri)

Petri displays his Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star awards in Japan. (Courtesy Tom Petri)

“For a long time they have been making contributions to promoting Japan-U.S. legislative exchange, and maintaining and deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance through the promotion of enhanced understanding of Japan in the U.S. Congress,” Japanese officials stated in a release, adding, “It is unprecedented for 3 members of the U.S. Congress to simultaneously receive this honor.” Full story

Meet the Wipeout Caucus: Republicans Who Didn’t Catch the Wave

Brown, left out in the cold. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Brown, left out in the cold. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sometimes you catch the wave. Sometimes the wave, um, doesn’t let you catch it? Crashes down on you before you can catch it?

Republicans had quite a night on Nov. 4, picking up more than a dozen House seats, reclaiming the Senate majority, knocking off Democratic governors. It was party time for the GOP.

But what about the Republicans who didn’t catch the wave? How weird is it for them to lose in a year that was so good for the party, one has to reach back to a time when the American people saw fit to elect Herbert Hoover president for comparison. Call them the Wipeout Caucus. Full story

Bend the Elbow With Northwesterners at Annual Beer Fest

The state societies for expats from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington are once again taking over the North Hall of Eastern Market to celebrate their favorite regional export: craft beer.

The annual “Go West Beer Fest” is scheduled to take place Nov. 14 from 7 to 10 p.m. and will feature, for the very first time, signature pours from Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Company.

Non-members can get a taste of what they’ve been missing by forking over $30 — a fee which has, in past years, entitled guests to unlimited pours from participating breweries (Redhook, Big Sky and Deschutes).

According to one organizer, mobile vendors DC Slices (specializing in thin crust pies and fully loaded tater tots) and Dirty South Deli (grilled Andouille sausage and pimento cheese sammie, please) have been tasked with making sure that visiting bellies remain full.

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November 6, 2014

Barbara Lee Delivers Her Own Wave

Yes, yes, the Republicans have decisively taken over both chambers of Congress for the first time in nearly a decade.

But what’s that trivial feat got to do with the 40 seconds of awkward arm flapping California Democrat Barbara Lee endured on Wednesday’s episode of “The Colbert Report”?

The faux pundit, who is expected to bury his conservative-leaning cable news persona next month in preparation for assuming hosting duties of CBS’s “Late Show,” set up the face-to-face fanning duel (starts at the 3-minute mark) by noting during the latest installment of the pol-baiting “Better Know a District” segment that the signature sports move originated at the Oakland Coliseum.

According to ESPN, the first recorded version of the stadium-wide salute took place on Oct. 15, 1981, during a playoff game between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees.

So Lee’s district’s got that going for it. As well as a congresswoman who’s not afraid to rise and fall with the best of ’em.

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Politics and Prose, Busboys and Poets on Same Page About Expanding Readership

The independent D.C bookstore no serious author — lawmakers included — can ignore and the socially conscious meeting place fostered by political activist Andy Shallal are coming together to help venerate the written word.

According to a joint statement, the partnership between literary haunt Politics & Prose and hospitality haven Busboys and Poets will take flight next month, with the debut of the newest B&P location in Brookland.

“Politics and Prose epitomizes the greatness and reach of independent bookstores, and we are thrilled that they will partner with us to continue in our tradition of offering multicultural books that represent the diversity of Washington DC,” Shallal touted in a release.

Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, the husband and wife team behind P&P, are expected to take the lead on the forthcoming restaurant’s companion retail operation, and are scheduled to follow suit by putting their stamp on the bookselling component of the B&P slated to open in Takoma Park this January.

“We’re especially grateful to Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal for suggesting this venture and for believing in the power of books to enliven, educate, and enrich our community,” Graham and Muscatine stated online.

P&P currently serves as a second home for lawmakers, past and present, with captivating stories to tell. Once the integration wraps in 2015 — P&P is scheduled to assume control of the pre-existing book nooks at the B&P outposts in Mount Vernon Triangle; Hyattsville, Md.; and Shirlington, Va. — Graham and Muscatine will have a half-dozen spaces at which to welcome wordsmiths with something to say.

According to The Washington Post, the nonprofit Teaching for Change will continue to operate the bookstore at the flagship Busboys and Poets and 14th and V streets NW.

“We see great synergy in this new initiative and believe that working with Busboys will enable P&P to make books and authors more available throughout the metro region,” Graham and Muscatine assured local readers.

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Congresswomen Pick a New Roommate

Maloney finds a new roommate for her house of Congresswomen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Maloney’s house will welcome a new roommate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“The Maloney House” has a new roommate.

Newly elected Long Island Democrat Kathleen Rice is the pick to join fellow New Yorker Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney’s townhouse of several congresswoman, HOH has confirmed.

Rice will replace Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., who is moving into a place of her own, according to several sources.

Rice  joins Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a longtime roommate in the Capitol Hill crib.

Rice won her bid Tuesday evening to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in New York’s 4th District.

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November 5, 2014

Virginia Democrats: Kind of Blue

The raft of incoming GOP lawmakers that flooded the rapidly reddening maps TV news outlets relentlessly flashed on election night did little to shake the resolve of Virginia Democrats.

The slightly reshuffled crew, anchored by 11-term lawmaker Robert C. Scott, three-term member Gerald E. Connolly, and newly minted Rep.-elect Don Beyer, remained confident they could still effect change in the soon-to-be solidly Republican legislative branch.

“We belong to a Commonwealth in which your diminishment is mine and your rights are also mine,” Connolly told attendees at a re-election night rally in the suburbs of Washington D.C. “[And] while we may take some knocks around the country tonight, I assure you those values are majority values and they are the values that are going to dominate polity going into this next half-century in America.”

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (center), flanked by his wife, Cathy (far left), his daughter, Caitlin (left), and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (right), during his 2014 victory speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Connolly (center), flanked by his wife, Cathy (far left), his daughter, Caitlin (left), and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (right), during his 2014 victory speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Beyer, the former two-term lieutenant governor of Virginia and ex-European ambassador moving into the post being vacated by retiring Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., expressed optimism that compromise can still be reached on Capitol Hill. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5 p.m.
Freshman, Reps

Vote for Your Favorite Election Results 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. Eastern Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • Can I borrow that after you’re done with it?
  • You are just proving that money really does influence voters.
  • So a twenty-five cent coin trumps a billion dollars in attack ads?
  • Heads Republicans win; tails Democrats lose.
  • When I gave you a penny for your thoughts, I did not know that this is how you would waste it!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Nov. 9 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.

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By Rebecca Gale Posted at 3:25 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Mark Warner and the (Almost) Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night

ARLINGTON, Va. — After stringing a hotel ballroom full of supporters along for over four-and-a-half hours — and, himself, being kept in the dark about his professional future by nebulous return results — Sen. Mark Warner made an executive decision to call the still-undecided race in his favor.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., (right), joined on stage by fellow Virginia Democrats Sen. Tim Kaine (far left) and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (left), signals victory as minutes before midnight on Nov. 4 as his wife, Lisa Collis (far right), looks on. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Warner, right, joined on stage by fellow Virginia Democrats Sen. Tim Kaine, far left, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, signals victory as minutes before midnight on Nov. 4 as his wife, Lisa Collis, looks on. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“I think we know about close races in Virginia,” the battle-scarred incumbent — who fell 5 points short of knocking out his predecessor, now-retired five-term Sen. John W. Warner, back in 1996 — joked with guests just minutes before election night furiously ticked to a close.

The 11th hour appearance (literally) was weirdly scored. Who puts the Pitbull-Kesha collaboration “Timber” and Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” on the same playlist? And the yawning victory party (one bored-to-tears photog played solitaire for two hours straight) transpired regardless of the fact that network news anchors continued reporting that things were too close to call in the contest between Warner and his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie.

Even as the rest of the electoral map broadcast by CNN perilously flooded with red, ardent supporters attempted to keep their cool. Full story

Exit Polls: Congress Not Held in High Regard

Voters wait for their turn in one of the voting booths at Eleanor McMain School in New Orleans on Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Voters wait for their turn in one of the voting booths at Eleanor McMain School in New Orleans on Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress, consider the American public skeptical.

In Election Day’s mega-sampling of exit poll data, the public is pretty firm in its disapproval — 78 percent — of how Congress is handling its job. That disapproval rating was split between 52 percent of Republicans surveyed, 45 percent of Democrats and 3 percent other. Full story

Election Night Partyers Drink It All In

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Keeping tabs on the shifting electoral landscape is much easier to do with a drink in your hand. At least that’s what HOH took away from the spirited exchanges we encountered in D.C. on election night 2014. At a watch party in The Jefferson Hotel organized by owner Connie Milstein, guests were greeted with warm smiles and air kisses — and then immediately hustled into a faux voting booth.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“Now that you voted, you can go to the bar!” one of the evening’s bubblier hostesses informed guests who’d just finished casting their ballots for those they’d most like to see run for president during the next cycle. Full story

Clay Aiken Lost! Long Live Clay Aiken!

Clay Aiken won’t be coming to Congress. But that doesn’t mean Clay Aiken is going away, not if Esquire Network’s “four-hour limited documentary series” on the “American Idol” runner-up-turned-wannabe0lawmaker has anything to do with it.

Aiken lost to Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina’s 2nd District on Tuesday night, 58 percent  to 41 percent. While Aiken’s celebrity profile attracted attention to the race, he faced an uphill battle from the start in a GOP district. He didn’t solidify his hold on the nomination until his primary opponent, Former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, died in May. The Nov. 4 GOP tidal wave confirmed Aiken’s runner-up status.

But with Esquire’s documentary, put together by filmmakers Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn, Aiken is due for another encore in public life. “We were granted incredible access during the making of this documentary, and in turn were able to capture the internal workings of an American campaign – the good, the bad and the ugly,” Simon Chinn said in a statement announcing the series, which is scheduled to air early next year. Ugly? Clay Aiken? Who would have thought?


Clay Aiken Primary Opponent Dies

Clay Aiken Returns to TV

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Overheard: ‘Enough’ With All This Reflection

“Enough about 2014. Let’s talk about 2016.”

— CNN Anchor John Berman this morning, making sure the nation doesn’t linger too long on an election that we still don’t know the final results of.

November 4, 2014

In the Trenches With Mark Preston: Election Overload Edition

While some Washingtonians blissfully lounged around this weekend, Mark Preston, the Roll Call alumnus now serving as executive editor of CNN Politics, was in the office Saturday morning, all suited up and ready to help demystify the election projections process.

Preston — along with other veteran CNN personalities such as omnipresent anchor Wolf Blitzer, Chief National Correspondent John King, Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist and a slew of others — was on hand for a day-long dry-run featuring every possible voting scenario political prognosticators could throw at the magic wall.

HOH reached out to Preston about what to watch out for on election night.

HOH: Most compelling race(s) on your radar?

MP: Early in the night I think the focus needs to be on North Carolina and New Hampshire, which close at 7:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET, respectively.

If the GOP defeats these two Democratic incumbents, then it is hard to argue that it is not going to be a good night for Republicans. Kansas offers the most suspense, because if independent Greg Orman defeats GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, the pressing question is going to be will Orman align himself with Senate Democrats or Senate Republicans?

If Orman wins, I doubt he will show his cards Tuesday night.

HOH: Satellite location you would have enjoyed covering?

MP: No question, Alaska. Not only does it have one of the most competitive Senate races, but it also features a close governor’s race where independent Bill Walker and a Democrat Byron Mallott have formed a unity ticket to try and defeat GOP Gov. Sean Parnell.

Adding intrigue to the governor’s race is that Sarah Palin has endorsed the unity ticket over Parnell, her former lieutenant governor. Alaska is the great unknown in politics; it is a difficult state to accurately poll and it will make staying up late well worth it.

Full story

In the Trenches With Jake Tapper: Election Overload Edition

It’s Election Day 2014!

Which means its like Chrismukkah for political reporters who’ve spent several weeks/months/years weathering the avalanche of numbing campaign emails, soldiering through awkward interviews with combative candidates and crisscrossed countless counties to pick potential voters’ brains about what they want from their elected leaders.

Jake Tapper, a one-time Roll Call cartoonist turned host of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” has been in the thick of things seemingly forever.

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the countdown on to another marathon session of gorging on real-time voting returns, HOH quizzed Tapper about the good, the bad and the ugly of midterm mania.

HOH: Most compelling race(s) on your radar?

JT: Too many to count, but if I had to pick three Senate races that I’m really watching intensely, they are Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and North Carolina. OK, that’s four. And Wisconsin and Florida for governor. But honestly, it’s not fair asking political junkies to pick faves with so many good ones to pick from!

HOH: Satellite location you would have enjoyed covering?

JT: Florida, because if the winner has a margin of victory of 0.5 percent or less — which looks to be entirely possible — it goes to an automatic recount. And last time that happened I ended up all but a resident of Tallahassee for more than a month. So in addition to covering an intense race and getting a jump on the recount story, I would have squatters’ rights on a hotel room. (Anyone who lived through that knows the importance — especially for the FSU-Florida game weekend.)

Full story

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