Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

November 13, 2013

Hill Staffers Capitalize on Few Remaining Dome Tours

A planned overhaul of the time-worn Capitol Dome has sent Hill staffers into a frenzy for constituent-appeasing tours, a mad dash for the closely guarded reservations that’s spawned a black market of promised food, drink and even forced labor.

Hill Staffers Capitalize on Few Remaining Dome Tours

The Capitol Dome is set to undergo a long-overdue renovation, and tours will be curtailed after it starts. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The announcement of the two-year restoration project touched off a behind-the-scenes bidding war among those in congressional offices charged with securing the walk-throughs for folks back home. Architect of the Capitol aide Justin Kieffer confirmed that the last of those tours are scheduled to take place Dec. 15.

An HOH tipster provided us with a glimpse into the panicky exchanges bouncing back and forth on an internal administrative message board. Full story

Al Franken Helps Radio Pal Flog New Show

Progressive radio personality Ben Wikler is convinced his left-leaning views will thrive on the web. So he’s taking his daily radio show online — and he’s bringing his friend and mentor, Sen. Al Franken, along for the first on-demand ready episode.

Wikler will promote his new show, “The Good Fight,” from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at The 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE) during an invitation-only preview party. Franken is scheduled to attend the kickoff festivities, along with Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org’s Civic Action program.

MoveOn, which also sponsored Wikler’s previous show, “The Flaming Sword of Justice,” is banking on the Franken alumnus — he served as lead researcher on Franken’s media-bashing tome, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” and also served as a producer and writer for the Minnesota Democrat’s eponymous Air America show — to shake up political talk.

Per Wikler, the first installment of the revamped program — “We’re moving a lot more towards ‘This American Life,’” he said, citing the Holy Grail of public affairs broadcasting — will be available both by subscription and in the iTunes store on Thursday.  Full story

K Street Heads to Reddit

Two veteran lobbyists are about to go boldly where others on K Street have not — Reddit, where they’re scheduled for an “Ask Me Anything” session this afternoon.

At 3 p.m., Jack Quinn and John Feehery of QGA Public Affairs will start their AMA on the popular social media site, subjecting themselves to questioning by anyone with an Internet connection.

Politicians are popular fare for AMAs, but the people behind politics, such as those who work on K Street, are not. While Reddit has communities for every point on the political spectrum, a common sentiment is against corporate spending in politics. In other words, Quinn and Feehery should expect some blunt questions.

What could be more telling than the answers Quinn and Feehery give are the ones they don’t. Good luck, lads!

Overheard: Cory Booker on a Roll

“He’s on a roll. You don’t want to stop him. Go right ahead, please.”

– Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper, encouraging Sen. Cory Booker to continue introducing Homeland Security Secretary-designee Jeh Johnson at the panel’s hearing on Wednesday.

November 12, 2013

Redditors Ask Joe Manchin, Well, Anything

Sen. Joe Manchin will release a video response on Friday to questions submitted to a thread on Reddit over Monday and Tuesday.

The West Virginia Democrat will spend a fair amount of his screen time addressing the Mountain State’s long ties to the coal industry, a popular theme in the user-submitted comments. Manchin will divvy up the rest of his time talking about gay rights, voter identification requirements, gun control and more.

Redditors Ask Joe Manchin, Well, Anything

Manchin will respond to the Reddit AMAs on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Many public figures, including President Barack Obama and Sen. Cory Booker, have hopped on Reddit to participate in an “Ask Me Anything,” or AMA, where users often pose thousands of questions. Questions rise to the top by being “upvoted” by other users, and the subject can respond to questions at will with a comment.

Manchin’s AMA page states he “will be answering your top ten questions.” While politicians who hold AMAs typically answer many more than just 10 questions, they do choose which questions to answer or to ignore.  Full story

Library of Congress All Aglow About New Carl Sagan Collection

“This one’s for you,” said Carolyn Porco, leader of the imaging team monitoring the Saturn-circling Cassini spacecraft and friend of the late Carl Sagan, as she unveiled the mesmerizing new snapshot of Saturn she dedicated to the pioneering stargazer.

A rare scientific love fest on Capitol Hill, the Tuesday gathering of academics and entertainers at the Library of Congress was spearheaded by subversive cartoonist and trash-talking teddy bear creator Seth MacFarlane.

Library of Congress All Aglow About New Carl Sagan Collection

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The comedian, via his charitable foundation, helped make the “Seth MacFarlane Collection of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan” available to the Library of Congress. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington giddily welcomed the addition of the 1,705 boxes of archival material chronicling Sagan’s deeply inquisitive life.

“It is exciting that the rich Sagan-Druyan archive is joining other great collections of scientific knowledge,” he said of the treasure trove of documents set aside for credentialed researchers.

While he had nothing but complimentary things to say about Sagan, MacFarlane unloaded on both political parties for failing the scientific community. He lambasted the far right for making too much noise (“Evolution really happened. It’s not in debate,” he jeered, adding, “I’ve never seen gravity questioned”), while browbeating the left for remaining eerily silent.

“They’ve allowed it to fester,” MacFarlane said of the cacophony of flat-Earth-style rumblings resonating in the national echo chamber. Full story

Baby Announcement by Steve King Gets Political

There are few things cuter than a proud grandfather, even if Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, used the newborn’s photo op to talk politics.

The six-term member took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to share that his sixth grandchild, Wallace Henry King, had arrived at 5:21 a.m.

Full story

Phishing Scammers Use Liberal Talk Show Host as Bait

It seems Nigeria has run out of down-on-their-luck princes.

There is no other logical explanation for a new phishing scheme touting one-time congressional candidate D. Arnie Arnesen as a stranded traveler desperately in need of a quickie cash infusion.

Phishing Scammers Use Liberal Talk Show Host as Bait

(Screenshot)

The bogus plea, which invaded the HOH inbox on Monday afternoon and appears to have originated from a hacked Gmail account, features detailed information about the liberal talk show host.

Arnesen — who ran for Congress in 1996, losing to then-Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., by 7 points — is a broadcaster at WNHN in Concord, N.H.

But the veteran pundit is not currently poundless in Britain.

The awful truth is that Arnesen is in New Hampshire dealing with the recent loss of her husband, Marty Capodice, who died on Oct. 31 after battling cancer.

None of that appears to be fazing the would-be grifter who has glommed onto her identity. That scumbag is apparently too busy trying to coax $4,000 in emergency aid (FYI: We found flights from Heathrow to Manchester, N.H., for under $1,500) out of terribly gullible Good Samaritans.

The would-be cyber-thief, who is corresponding via nharnie@gmail.com and nharniie@gmail.com, has apparently set up dummy accounts at Western Union and MoneyGram in the United Kingdom under Arnesen’s name to collect any ill-gotten loot.

Here’s hoping karma catches up with you real soon, pal.

Overheard: An Endangered Political Species in Montana

“The party of which I was once a member no longer exists today in Montana.”

John Bohlinger, a former Republican who is a candidate for the Democratic Senate nomination in Montana, on MSNBC.

November 11, 2013

Health Care Newsreels | Madisonville

The search for the unique combination of illness, income and family status that ends the health care debate once and for all continued last week in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Senate Finance committees.  The winner, apparently, will be the case that reveals the total perfection/awfulness of Obamacare, causing one side or the other to abandon the cause.

Health Care Newsreels | MadisonvilleBut in the spirit of it being better to travel well than to arrive, the Senate delivered a few en-route revelations, including the rediscovery of a familiar voice from long ago.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., sounds like the voice-over on a 1940s newsreel, the kind that delivered momentous news to moviegoers in the days before television. Teachers later relied on them to bring history to life and they’re available today on YouTube.

Remember?

Full story

House Baby Boom Is in Full Effect

House Republicans Kevin Yoder of Kansas and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio have officially entered into the fatherhood phase of their careers, welcoming Caroline Lucille Yoder and Brad Robert Wenstrup Jr., into their respective folds over the past week.

Yoder’s daughter was born at 2:16 p.m. Nov. 7 at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Shawnee Mission, Kan. The little girl, the first for Yoder and his wife, Brooke, weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce, and was named in honor of several family members on her mother’s side.

“Caroline is a derivative of a male name ‘Carroll’ which dates back 200 years in Brooke’s father’s family and has been used many times as first and middle names since. Lucille is Brooke’s [late] maternal grandmother who Brooke always admired,” a Yoder aide told HOH.

“Someone once told us that having a baby is the one chance we get to help God perform a miracle. We’re so fortunate and blessed to add Caroline into our lives and thankful of God’s miracle of life that brought her into our family,” Yoder announced to the world on his Facebook page.

Wenstrup’s son — who logged in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces — arrived on the morning of Nov. 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Wenstrup and his wife, Monica, had held off on learning the sex of the baby before the birth. But the proud poppa appears to have slipped right into doting parent mode.

“I can fully understand, even more than I did before, the need to not only protect and defend, but to nurture and provide for one that follows us. Monica and I have always felt called to try to leave the world at least a little better than we found it,” Wenstrup declared in a release. “Brad renews that commitment for us.”

The era of good feelings is set to keep going — House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is expecting her third child next month.

Take Five: Rep. Tony Cardenas

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., talks about saving an elephant, growing up in the Valley and getting lost underground.

Q. While on the Los Angeles City Council, you were a major animal rights activist. What motivated you to get involved with that cause?
A. My staff was given some info about Billy the Elephant suffering in our zoo. To be honest, I told my staff I don’t want to look at it, it’s not what I came here for, but it was so horrific, when I sat down and read it, I had to do something about it. I got involved in that issue and immediately got involved in domestic animal issues.

Q. You launched district and city-wide efforts to improve the environment, collecting more than 56,000 tons of trash. How did you go about that project?
A. This is the district I grew up in. Half is residential, [the] other half is chrome-plating plants, dump sites, things of that nature. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I created an environmental justice improvement zone. It was important for us to have the fire department and San Fernando city attorney’s office [involved] before we allowed someone to … expand.

Q. You are one of 11 children. What’s one stereotype that people may have about large families that isn’t true?
A. One of the stereotypes is that the family has too many kids. We actually heard that one. They would say “they live in the Valley” and assumed some of us would end up being a gang member. I’m the youngest, I’m 50. None of us have ever been in the backseat of a police car or involved with drugs or alcohol.

Q. Have you ever gotten lost in Washington?
A. Just last week! When I get in those tunnels, in the basement, I end up taking the wrong turn and getting frustrated. It’s kind of embarrassing for staff when they see that lost look on your face and the pin.

Q. What sporting team do you have to see when they travel through D.C. or when you’re back home in California?
A. My favorite sporting team is the Lakers. I used to love football when I was a kid and my favorite team was the Rams. If I go to one game a year, that’s a big year for me.

Overheard: Christening a Ford, not a Lincoln

“It carries the name of a president who showed us America at its best, an America that strives to bring hope to every corner of the planet and to do so with strength, but without bluster. Then-Congressman Ford brought a moment of modest humor to the solemn moment he was sworn in as vice president. He told America, ‘I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.’”

Sen. Carl Levin, speaking on Nov. 9 at the christening of the USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Va.

Kevin Yoder Welcomes New Baby Girl

Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., has leaped into the parenthood fray, welcoming daughter Caroline Lucille to the world on the afternoon of Nov. 7.

Kevin Yoder Welcomes New Baby Girl

(Courtesy Kevin Yoder)

Per Yoder’s press office, the newborn — measuring in at 20 inches long and weighing 6 pounds, 1 ounce, as recorded by the staff at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Shawnee Mission, Kan. — officially joined the family at 2:16 p.m. last Thursday.

“Someone once told us that having a baby is the one chance we get to help God perform a miracle. We’re so fortunate and blessed to add Caroline into our lives and thankful of God’s miracle of life that brought her into our family,” Yoder announced to the world on his Facebook page.

This is the first child for Yoder and his wife, Brooke.

November 10, 2013

Putting the Cart Before the Horse | Capitol Quip

 Putting the Cart Before the Horse | Capitol Quip

The foibles surrounding the rollout of the new health care law dominate Capitol Hill discussions. Who’s to blame for HealthCare.gov glitches? When will the exchanges be up and running smoothly? What kind of effect will this have on the political environment? 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 of our Heard on the Hill blog. Editors will pick five finalists on Nov. 13, and everyone can vote for the winner through Nov. 14.

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

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

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