Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

December 18, 2013

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.

Restaurant Associates Orchestrates Sea Change in Food Labeling

Rather than continue sparring with congressional staffers who keep clamoring for vegetarian-friendly dining options, Restaurant Associates is following the lead of crafty food lobbyists and is simply rebranding its output accordingly.

It’s that type of bold, outside-the-box thinking that enabled Restaurant Associates to brazenly slap an “I’m a vegetarian item” tag on a serving tray stacked with lemon baked cod.

Either that or everyone in the company has simply lost their minds.

Attempting to pawn off seafood as a vegetable might be a great way to one-up the hucksters at the frozen food lobby — Have you eaten your pizzegetables today? — but it does not inspire great confidence among diet-conscious clients.

Particularly when it’s part of a mind-blowing pattern.

The same HOH tipster who spotted the miscategorized cod in the Longworth cafeteria on Dec. 13 said the same wildly false advertising has previously been used to peddle chicken-based dishes and a mashed potato offering bolstered by bacon.

Members of the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association have been battling it out with the lunch lines operator for quite some time now, originally locking horns with the corporate caterer about an incredibly short-lived “Meatless Monday” program. The group has since moved on to hosting its own semi-regular policy events and cooking demos around the Capitol.

Restaurant Associates did not respond to multiple email inquiries seeking guidance as to how a fish dish could possibly qualify as vegetarian fare. Perhaps the group is too busy contemplating whether to market roasted bone marrow-topped rib eyes as “vegan” or “macrobiotic.”

One Last Press Club Party for Sid Yudain

Sid Yudain got in one last party at his beloved National Press Club, as his family, friends and colleagues celebrated the late Roll Call founder’s life, achievements and love of a good party on Dec. 14.

“If Sid is looking down, he’s loving this,” said Patsy Grady Abrams, the mistress of ceremonies. “Sid loved nothing more than a celebration.”

Yudain, who died on Oct. 20, was a “platinum owl” at the Press Club, someone with 60-plus years as a member, according to his longtime friend John Cosgrove, a former club president. Yudain was also, appropriately for someone who loved a good time, the entertainment chairman. “Sid stalked the halls of this club like he stalked the halls of Congress,” said his wife, Lael Yudain.

His son, Ray Yudain, recalled that his father was so well-liked it bled into his own social life, saying that when he and his sister, Rachel, were teenagers, they pretty much did whatever they could to avoid their friends’ parents. Not so in the Yudain household. “A lot of them, I don’t think they even came over to see us,” Ray Yudain said of his and his sister’s friends.

Satirist and entertainer Mark Russell, who knew Yudain for more than 50 years and was a one-time columnist for Roll Call, got most of the best lines in his remarks. “He was a Republican who didn’t hate anyone,” Russell said, adding, “Perhaps the only journalist Richard Nixon liked. … We’re talking about a reporter who thought Capitol Hill was fun.”

Above all, each person referred to the person who loved to bring others together for a good time, an attribute well-suited for a newspaperman and a raconteur. “If paradise is a place where there’s nothing to complain about,” Russell said, timing his voice to trail off, to accentuate that Sid did indeed like to get in a good gripe here and there, before adding, “But life on Earth with Lael would be very hard to top.”

And after Russell had unfurled his last line and the 150 or so attendees rose to sing “Amazing Grace,” which Abrams said was one of the few hymns Yudain liked, it was on to the open bar. “That’s the only way he would have had it,” Lael Yudain said.

H Street Restaurants Feast on Foie

As part of a special end-of-year promotion (Dec. 16-30), seven restaurants along the H Street Northeast corridor will serve holiday dishes featuring that most indulgent of ingredients, foie gras.

“During this time of year we want to revel in our favorite ingredient, and we thought it would be more fun to have a bunch of our neighboring restaurants celebrate with us,” Brad Walker, the chef at Boundary Road and creator of the “Foie La La” cook-off, said in a release praising fatty liver. “It’s rich, unctuous, luxurious, and the most delicious substance on earth.”

The seven participating restaurants — Boundary Road (414 H St. NE), The Big Board (421 H St. NE), Le Grenier (502 H St. NE), The Atlas Room (1015 H St. NE), Liberty Tree (1016 H St. NE), Granville Moore’s (1238 H St. NE) and Red Rocks (1348 H St. NE) — are welcome to work up whatever interpretation of the dish they like.

Patrons can then vote for their favorite version at foielala.com; the winner gets neighborhood “bragging rights.”

The gourmet treat has, in recent years, treaded into taboo territory as some cities and states have sought to curb consumption of the controversial comestible.

No such trouble in the Atlas District, where you’ll find the delicacy dressed to impress thusly:

  • Boundary Road: Seared foie gras with gingerbread blini, braised collards, crispy pork belly and a maple apple brandy gastrique ($19);
  • The Atlas Room: Seared and chilled foie gras torchon with spiced cherry walnut caramel nougatine and passion fruit gel ($15);
  • The Big Board: Seared foie gras with fig and onion compote ($10); available as a topping for the Port d’Amsterdam burger ($9 – 6 oz patty; $11 – 8 oz. patty);
  • Le Grenier: Foie gras crème brulee with Sauternes-quince gelee and toast ($8.95)

Bon appetit!

December 15, 2013

Let’s Make a Capitol Quip!

Lets Make a Capitol Quip!

Whoa, now! Contrary to the customary potshots over taxes, spending and everything in-between, House Republicans, led by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, and Senate Democrats, led by Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington, struck a deal on a long-overdue budget resolution. Despite some misgivings on both the left and right, it showed the art of compromise isn’t dead in Washington. Or is it?

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 Dec. 18, and everyone can vote for the winner through Dec. 19.

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

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

Some Cheese, Some Whine, Some Capitol Quip

Some Cheese, Some Whine, Some Capitol Quip

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

Joaquin Castro Welcomes First Daughter

 Rep. Joaquin Castro and wife, Anna, welcomed their first child, Andrea Elena Castro, into the world early Sunday morning.
Joaquin Castro Welcomes First Daughter

Castro and wife, Anna, seen here in the Cannon House Office Building earlier this year, had their first child. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The little girl, who weighed just over 8 pounds and measured 20 inches long, was born at 9:17 a.m. CST in San Antonio.
“Both mother and daughter are healthy and happy,” the Texas Democrat announced via a statement. “We are grateful to the staff at the Methodist Hospital and to all who have kept our family in their prayers. ”

December 13, 2013

What Ted Cruz Talked About at 10,000 Feet

Before he could make the late Nelson Mandela’s media-mobbed memorial service all about him by very publicly storming out (take that, Cuban President Raul Castro!), Sen. Ted Cruz had to get to South Africa.

His ticket to ride included a lengthy trans-Atlantic jaunt during which several members of the Congressional Black Caucus bent the Texas Republican’s ear about everything from swirling policy initiatives to personal issues.

What Ted Cruz Talked About at 10,000 Feet

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

HOH has confirmed that Cruz, who did not respond to email requests seeking clarification about any interactions whilst traveling, spent at least part of the 40-hour (round trip) voyage getting better acquainted with Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., John Lewis, D-Ga., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:51 p.m.
Freshman, Reps, Sens, VIPs

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Dec. 9 (Video)

Nothing caps off a week like mom’s cooking, empty boxes and tofu. It’s Roll Call’s third installment of Congressional Hits and Misses.

December 12, 2013

C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb Pressed About His Missing Credentials

Veteran broadcaster Brian Lamb learned a valuable lesson about the all-seeing eye of social media Thursday. The founder and former CEO of C-SPAN casually strolled into the Senate without updated press credentials.

“It’s hilarious,” Lamb told HOH about the brief run-in with Capitol gatekeepers.

Lamb, who began working as a Senate aide over four decades ago, explained that he had not renewed his press pass this year. When he wandered over to the second floor — en route to the radio/TV gallery for a vote by the executive board — staff stopped him and asked to see his congressionally issued ID.

Lamb explained the situation (“Everybody’s just doing exactly what they should have done,” he noted), got redirected upstairs to secure a temporary badge and then went about his business. But not before his gaffe was broadcast on Twitter.

C SPAN Founder Brian Lamb Pressed About His Missing Credentials

(Courtesy C-SPAN)

“I should have known better,” Lamb shared, adding, “Next time, I’ll make sure to stop at the desk and get my pass.”

By Warren Rojas Posted at 2:20 p.m.
HillSide, media

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