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

January 8, 2014

Gabby Giffords Flies High on Tragic Anniversary

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords spent Wednesday morning soaring through the clouds above the Grand Canyon State to mark the third anniversary of her survival of a horrific shooting.

Jared Lee Loughner shot the Arizona Democrat in the head on Jan. 8, 2011, at a Congress on Your Corner gathering in suburban Tucson, Ariz.

The still-recovering Giffords elected to mark the harrowing occasion Wednesday by plummeting from a perfectly good airplane while strapped to a close friend.

Gabby Giffords Flies High on Tragic Anniversary

(Courtesy Gabrielle Giffords)

“I have the opportunity to do something I love: skydiving with my friend, former Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch,” she alerted the Twitterverse before heading out to the airfield.

Per her social media posts, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped Giffords a line before takeoff. Full story

Keeping Up With the Capitol Hill Fox

And the hits keep coming.

Keeping Up With the Capitol Hill Fox

(Courtesy Chris Burger)

Chris Burger, who left D.C. for Nashville, Tenn., not too long ago, told HOH he’s been enjoying our ongoing coverage of the photogenic phenomenon that is the Capitol Hill Fox. And — who’d believe it! — he, too, recently had a run-in with the four-legged bandit during a holiday visit to the District.

“We ran into the red fox at the FDR Memorial,” Burger shared. “He just ran across the memorial into grass and just kept going — he seemed to just be enjoying the cold day.”

Our furry friend appears to have this whole town wired: Full story

January 7, 2014

Alan Grayson Facing a Leaner 2014

Rep. Alan Grayson faces a new year fraught with financial uncertainty, a one-two punch predicated on a bogus stock loan plan that sapped tens of millions of dollars from his expansive portfolio, as well as a newly publicized divorce.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Lolita Grayson formally filed for divorce from her husband — the two had already separated — on Monday, petitioning the state for possession of the family home, “equitable distribution” of the family nest egg, alimony and child support.

Those assets helped the Florida Democrat land smack dab in the middle of our latest 50 Richest list; his roughly $18 million in stocks, $5 million-plus in cash and collection of luxury homes (two in Florida, one in Virginia and another in West Virginia) earned him the No. 21 spot this time around.

But it’s been a bumpy ride.

As reported by The Washington Post, the lawmaker has repeatedly been burned by bad investments, including a decadelong fleecing that relieved him of $18 million.

With divorce proceedings now officially under way, he might also soon have to say goodbye to the $1 million home he has in Orlando. He’ll likely be on the hook for living expenses for his four underage children. And he can thank Florida Gov. Rick Scott for keeping the controversial “permanent alimony” provision on the books until now.

The Capitol Hill Fox Gets Around

It seems that the stray red fox — which shall go nameless for the time being (and recently made itself known to staffers) —  is not afraid to mingle with the little people.

The Capitol Hill Fox Gets Around

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

Another Hill aide snapped this pic of the auburn critter circulating with tourists right outside the Capitol. Again, nothing life-threatening to report: just a furry-footed visitor out for a leisurely stroll.

Should our pointy-eared pal ever get outta line, may we suggest putting Sen. Charles E. Grassley on the case?

The Iowa Republican is not only a seasoned farmer, he’s also an avid runner.

By the way, how about we name our new Capitol Hill denizen? Send us suggestions in the comments section below. And keep sending in tips/photos/video of any sightings!

Tucson Picks Site for Jan. 8 Shootings Memorial

Wednesday marks the third anniversary of the shooting in Arizona that killed six and injured 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and now-Rep. Ron Barber. To commemorate the event, Tucson officials have announced the location for the memorial to the day and its aftermath.

On Monday, Barber, other survivors, victims’ families, members of the January 8 Memorial Foundation and others gathered at the old Pima County Courthouse in Tucson, Ariz., to announce that the memorial would be sited at the landmark location.

“This memorial will remind the world of what happened here,” Barber said, according to the Arizona Daily Star. “But more importantly … what happened afterwards: the kindness, the caring and love that came forward. And you will see that when you look at the archives, it represents Tucson at it’s [sic] very, very best.”

Tucson Picks Site for Jan. 8 Shootings Memorial

The Tucson community rallied around Giffords and other victims. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After the shootings at Giffords’ Congress on Your Corner event, which left her critically injured and eventually led to her retirement from Congress, the Tucson community rallied around her and the other victims. At a tribute at the University of Arizona’s McKale Center where President Barack Obama spoke, many out-of-town media members were shocked to witness a celebratory atmosphere, with crowds cheering on the trauma surgeons who tended to the victims, as well as people like Daniel Hernandez, who administered first aid to Giffords.

It was no somber gathering. For Tucson, a quirky city whose “Old Pueblo” roots stretch back more than a millennium, it was par for the course — a way to grieve unique to its own carefree identity. That essence is apparently what the memorial planners, who are aiming to complete the process in two to three years, have in mind.

The foundation has been collecting and archiving the memorial tribute material that sprung from the event, be it stuffed animals, get-well cards or photos, as well as those that have since arrived on anniversaries and the like.

The shooting resonated on Capitol Hill not just because of the injuries to Giffords and her staffer-turned-successor Barber. Among the dead were Giffords’ community outreach director, Gabriel Zimmerman. Last year, Congress named a Capitol Visitor Center conference room in honor of Zimmerman.

Tucson Picks Site for Jan. 8 Shootings Memorial

This tribute to the dead was at the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson after the shootings. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

January 6, 2014

Mark Pocan Plays Mr. Wizard in Frigid Wisconsin

Frigid conditions got you down?

Not Rep. Mark Pocan.

After one of the Wisconsin Democrat’s aides saw Milwaukee Journal Sentinel multimedia guru Mike De Sisti investigating what happens to boiling water suddenly exposed to below freezing temperatures:

Pocan decided to conduct a copycat experiment on the streets of Madison:

The conclusion: Flinging stuff outside is crazy fun, whether you can feel your fingers or not.

Pat Toomey Portends Ellen Page’s Chilling Demise

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey has a message for the plucky, pint-sized star of 2007’s teen pregnancy dramedy: bundle up.

While everyone else in Washington, D.C., continues to obsess about the polar vortex poised to chap lips (and possibly worse) all over town, the Pennsylvania Republican broke the news that Ellen Page’s core temperature has already plummeted from our life-sustaining 98-degree range into organ-stopping territory.

Pat Toomey Portends Ellen Page’s Chilling Demise

(Screenshot)

Or could it be that he’s confusing the name of the award-winning movie with the capital of Alaska — Juneau?

Toomey has since amended his tweet to properly reflect the geographic location in question. Full story

Team Roskam Puts Capitol Dome in Perspective

Ever glance up at the Capitol and think to yourself, “Ehh”?

That’s never been the case for professional artist and Dome admirer Elizabeth Roskam.

Team Roskam Puts Capitol Dome in Perspective

(Courtesy Rep. Peter Roskam)

The painter wife of Rep. Peter Roskam spent 18 months preparing various takes on the symbolic structure. The completed works are featured in a 2014 calendar the Illinois Republican sent out to thousands of colleagues, constituents and friends in lieu of a Christmas card.

“At the beginning it was going to be a series just of Washington and scenes from around town. But then each time it came back to this Capitol building that looks so different and so dramatic and so interesting, and it really built from there,” Peter Roskam said of the vibrantly colored labor of love.

Per staff, the congressman and his brood snapped tons of pics of the Capitol for Elizabeth to work from — “February’s Dome was from a picture one of his kids took,” a Roskam aide explained — including shots taken at varying hours of day and with dramatically different lighting. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:49 p.m.
HillSide, Reps

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.

Yee-haw!

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.

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