Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 1, 2015

March 13, 2014

Members of Congress Sum Up SXSWi — in 3 Words

South By Southwest Interactive wrapped up Tuesday, just as the madding crowds for the music festival were arriving in Austin, Texas. Roll Call correspondent Grace Dobush was in town along with a surprising number of congressmen — 12 by our count. In addition to attending the panels they spoke on, covering topics from patent trolls to tech innovation, she caught up with a handful of members to get their sense of the experience — in three words.

Read more about Washington’s takeover of SXSWi (and see a photo of Darrell Issa testing out a new Microsoft dance game) here.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Charity Work Crushes the Competition — With His Tank

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Charity Work Crushes the Competition — With His Tank

(CQ Roll Call archives)

Forget breaking mere bread.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is upping the charity auction stakes by offering fans the opportunity to pump iron, co-pilot a tank and possibly chomp some stogies, all in the name of putting more money in the hands of After-School All-Stars.

Schwarzenegger has apparently owned the ground-pounding M47 Patton tank for 20-odd years now, but only trots it out on extra special occasions.

Keeping his youth-oriented athletic program going — the non-profit organization boasts chapters across the country, including an outpost in Washington, D.C. — clearly qualifies, as Schwarzenegger is contributing his time (“you’ll live like Arnold for a day!” the contest page trumpets) and the tank adventure for only $10 (single entry).

Whoever does win the all-inclusive trip out to LA should take comfort in knowing that their time will not be wasted: Ah-nuld has been on the vanguard of crushing stuff for decades. Full story

David Jolly Fits ‘Right’ In

Newly minted Rep. David Jolly is already making waves here on Capitol Hill, bucking House GOP leadership the first chance he got.

David Jolly Fits ‘Right’ In

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

During his mock swearing-in Thursday for photographers and the press, the special-election-winning Florida Republican raised the wrong appendage, attempting to look like he was taking the oath of office southpaw rather than with the obligatory right hand.

Welcome aboard, sir! (HOH LOVES rule breakers.)

Wrap-up: The D.C. Experience at SXSW

AUSTIN, Texas — The doors to South By Southwest Interactive closed Tuesday after five days of nonstop events, just as the madding crowds for the music festival started arriving.

Austin has a counterculture reputation, and SXSW’s origins are in the Wild West of the tech space. But recently, the festival has turned into what critics have called a brand orgy, and some SXSW attendees didn’t seem all that surprised that Washington was getting in on the action. (Early SXSW attendees have been saying the festival has jumped the shark for years.)

By one count, the number of members of Congress who stopped by South By this year was 17. Roll Call was able to confirm the presence of 12 (not counting at least a dozen Hill staffers), from both sides of the aisle.

Here’s what some of them had to say about South By: Full story

By Grace Dobush Posted at 10:58 a.m.
Uncategorized

March 12, 2014

D.C. Pranksters Play on Darkened Capitol Dome

A brief outage of some of the exterior lights on the Capitol Dome, likely caused by tornado-like winds, jump-charged some local pranksters.

The parody “Uncle Earl” account — established in the wake of a political corruption scandal involving many of the District’s top elected officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray — jumped into the midst of the 30-minute spell of darkness claiming he’d cut the lights as part of yet another pay-to-play scheme.

D.C. Pranksters Play on Darkened Capitol Dome

D.C. statehood activist Josh Burch, who blogs for the51st.org, also made a joke out of the blackened Dome. Burch invited D.C. residents to “seize equal representation under the cover of darkness!”

D.C. Pranksters Play on Darkened Capitol Dome

In reality, no one is quite sure what caused the lights to go down from about 8:15 p.m to 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Matt Guilfoyle, a spokesman for the Architect of the Capitol, told CQ Roll Call that the AOC was aware of the power outage and working to address the problem.

The Capitol Police continued patrolling inside and outside the Dome, checking for power outages and damage to report to the AOC, according to Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the department.

HOH tipsters working inside and burning the midnight (or late evening) oil reported that lights were flickering in the press galleries but never actually went out.

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

For four years, one title has eluded Michele Bachmann, and it’s not “president.”

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

(Meredith Shiner/CQ Roll Call)

The Minnesota congresswoman and one-time Republican presidential hopeful just wanted to win Sen. Al Franken’s annual hotdish off Wednesday before leaving Congress.

Grandma Phoebe’s Sunday Supper:

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Unfortunately, just as Mitt Romney kept her from the top of the national ticket, two-time hotdish champion Tim Walz, D-Minn., vanquished Bachmann from the win she so desperately coveted.

Turkey Trot Tater Tot Hotdish:

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

To the victor, goes the Pyrex with a special plaque. Full story

Five Ways to Cut Off the Mic | Capitol Quip

Five Ways to Cut Off the Mic | 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:

  • Your captions will be duly noted.
  • Freedom of speech does not ensure the right to amplification.
  • I’m the chairman. I can outblurb you.
  • I think this only means one thing … I’m now the story! AGAIN!
  • Ain’t I a stinker?

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on March 16 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 4:37 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Special Olympics Rates Tom Harkin Pure Gold

The Special Olympics is expected to wrap its annual lobbying push Wednesday with a Hillside reception honoring Americans with Disabilities Act author Sen. Tom Harkin.

During the ceremony, which is scheduled to take place in Dirksen 106 from 6 to 6:30 p.m., the Iowa Democrat will become the first lawmaker to receive the “Spirit of Special Olympics Award.”

According to a Special Olympics aide, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver and Special Olympics athlete Corey Leonhard (from Iowa, ‘natch) are all slated to pay tribute to Harkin’s dogged leadership on disability issues.

Previous honorees include:

  • Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • The late Nelson Mandela
  • Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci
  • Four-time Super Bowl champion Rocky Bleier
  • Two-time World Series champion Ron Guidry
  • Award-winning musician Herb Alpert
  • Music mogul Jimmy Iovine
  • Author and ex-Playboy Playmate Vicki Iovine
  • Philanthropist Paul Marshall

Special Olympics personnel will also be visiting member offices to drum up support for funding initiatives designed to assist current and future participants.

Flacks Invited to Bipartisanly Commune at Tortilla Coast

Professional mouthpieces from both sides of the aisle are priming the pumps for recess via a “Bi-Party-San Communications Mixer.”

Flacks Invited to Bipartisanly Commune at Tortilla Coast

(Courtesy DCNet)

The media-related happy hour is scheduled to take place Thursday at Tortilla Coast (400 First St. SE) from 6 to 8 p.m. (That won’t crimp your style, will it, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas?)

The event, which is being sponsored by iConstituent and Broadnet, is designed to welcome new and returning members of the Democratic Communicators Network and Republican Communications Association.

According to DCNet board chair Hannah Kim, first-timers joining the respective advisory panels include:

  • Kezmiché “Kim” Atterbury, communications director for Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
  • Brett Morrow, communications director for Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.
  • Alex Nguyen, communications director for Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.
  • Rob Runyan, press secretary for Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del.
  • Michael Marinaccio, digital coordinator for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
  • Ben Miller, communications director for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
  • Michael Rekola, deputy press secretary for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
  • Trevor Foughty, deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind.

Those who swing by to congratulate the ascending messengers will be privy to two free drink tickets apiece and complimentary Tex-Mex-style appetizers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story inadvertently listed the positions panelists hold within their respective networking groups instead of their posts on Capitol Hill.

BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

BLT Steak plans to reward those who stick around town next week with a specially designed “recess menu” featuring nearly a dozen gourmet snacks.

The power lunching haven’s (1625 I St. NW) “10 Till 10” promotion will be available March 17 through March 21, 5-10 p.m. each evening at the main bar.

A restaurant spokeswoman said Executive Chef Jeremy Shelton experimented with the concept in February and has since decided to roll out seasonally inspired nibbles each time lawmakers are scheduled to high-tail it home.

Featured items ($10 each) for this month include:

  • Sweet & Sour Sweetbreads
BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

(Courtesy BLT Steak)

  • House-cured American Wagyu bresaola with toasted brioche bun and frisee
  • Artisanal cheese plate
  • Creamy polenta with spring pea ragout
  • Bacalao croquets paired with spicy tomato aioli
  • Yellowtail crudo accompanied by white balsamic, avocado and fennel
  • Bone marrow spring roll with  gorgonzola fonduta and candied walnuts
  • Head cheese escorted by violet mostarda and soft-boiled egg
BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

(Courtesy BLT Steak)

  • A “Corned Beef & Cabbage” creation forged from corned beef sausage, pickled baby Brussels sprouts and Dijon cream
  • Grilled baby octopus tied together by feta, olives and oregano

Shelton said he is particularly fond of the corned beef  (“It’s very fitting for St. Patrick’s Day,” he opined) and multi-layered polenta (“Works very well with the fresh flavors of English peas and chanterelles with parsley and mint,” he said), but really hopes folks give the head cheese a whirl.

“Maybe it’s a chef thing, but we all love it. I just haven’t been able to get it to catch on with the clientele,” Shelton said of the offal challenge.

No word on what he’s got in mind for April. But if history is any guide — during February’s soft launch he dished out beef tartar with house-made fries, Parmesan-crusted bone marrow with green tomato mostarda, polenta with pork ragu, escargot with garlic cream, roasted vegetables accompanied by date butter, sheep’s milk ricotta and hazelnuts, lobster fritters with lemon aioli, grilled sweetbreads married to marinated mushrooms, and local oysters — those left behind in the future might eat better than their district-bound counterparts.

March 11, 2014

Celebrities Running Out of Time to File for Congress

The clock is ticking for any celebrity considering a run for the open-seat race to represent Beverly Hills in Congress.

At 5 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, filing will close in the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman.

Waxman’s 33rd District covers Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, parts of West Hollywood and Malibu. Early on, we had high hopes that at least one fun celebrity would jump into the mix. But in the waning hours of the filing period, this scenario has not come to pass.

Despite our very best efforts to cajole/Twitter troll various celebrities, not one star opted for a run. Full story

Barack Obama’s Turn on ‘Between Two Ferns’

With the March 31 deadline looming to shepherd as many of the uninsured as possible underneath the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama has turned to Hollywood for a little help, appearing on Funny or Die’s parody talker, “Between Two Ferns.”

During the deliberately screwy program, host Zach Galifianakis typically walks guests through a minefield of insane questions and uncomfortable pauses.

POTUS fared better than most, firing back at Galifianakis with scripted comebacks skewering the comedian’s film career and personal hygiene. Joke writers apparently had plenty of time to prepare; The New York Times reported that Team BTF approached the White House about arranging the surreal sit-down last summer.

The preparation was wasted on Republicans, who were, understandably, not terribly amused.

Rep. Randy Weber of Texas couldn’t help but challenge the president’s priorities. (Benghazi’s still at the top of his list.)

 

 

Full story

Restaurant Associates Recruits Raw Foodie for Lunch Demo

Postmodern Foods Founder and CEO Denise Hicks will prepare eco-friendly dishes and drinks in the Longworth cafeteria Wednesday as part of a special arrangement worked out with the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association.

 

 

The green living demo is scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to Restaurant Associates spokeswoman Gina Zimmer, Hicks is expected to share tastes of her Raw Greens Juice, forged from celery, cucumber, apples, kale, spinach, parsley and lemon (among other things),  Cinnamon’y Cashew Milk and Massaged Kale Salad, featuring the titular greens, onion, assorted seeds (pumpkin, fennel), apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

“The guest chef thing was something we and Restaurant Associates agreed would be a good way to offer different food options,” CVSA staffer Adam Sarvana said of the pro-plant-based eating pop-up. “They deserve all the credit for choosing Denise to do it.”

Hicks is expected back on the Hill on March 28; that’s when she’ll join Miss DC 2013 Bindhu Pamarthi as co-headliner at the next CVSA event.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:01 a.m.
Food, HillSide, Staffers

March 10, 2014

Aaron Schock’s New Spox Is Ready to Rock

Benjamin Cole, a former pitchman for energy policy advocacy groups, has landed on Capitol Hill and is already burning up the communication circuits.

The newly minted spokesman for Illinois Republican Aaron Schock spent the past several years serving as the communications director for the American Energy Alliance, which is the mouthpiece for the think tank-y Institute for Energy Research.

Trouble is, Cole used the emails he had harvested at AEA to help introduce himself around Congress — which means his missive turned up in the inboxes of many unsuspecting (and thoroughly uninterested) Democratic press shops.

Aaron Schock’s New Spox Is Ready to Rock

(Screenshot)

Along with sharing his title and contact info, Cole assured everyone the he had “hit the ground running,” quickly working in a plug for the Schock sponsored, anti-Affordable Care Act bill poised for a floor vote this week. “I did not send to every Cap Hill Office. Only to a pre-existing contacts list that I have maintained, somewhat effectively, through the years,” Cole told HOH of the note he fired off.

Our tipster dubbed the self-congratulatory blast “embarrassing.”

“This guy was a flack for the dubiously named Institute for Energy Research … who used to blast all of our email boxes with similarly breathless triumphs,” the House staffer suggested.

Although initially annoyed, the Democratic operative quickly reconsidered and left the door open to getting fed more intel from uber-chatty counterparts on the other side of the aisle. “If House Rs want to add House Ds onto their staff listserves, it might help everyone make better sense of their rudderless leadership here,” our source quipped.

Gridiron Club Jokes: Congressional Edition

Gridiron Club Jokes: Congressional Edition

This dinosaur, seen wandering the Capitol in a 2007, is not the one from the Gridiron Dinner, where no photos are allowed. But you get the idea. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ted Cruz apparently doesn’t have a problem with being openly mocked. Even when he’s being called a “Flintstone Cowboy” by reporters dressed up like the cartoon characters — with a full-sized pink Dino the Dinosaur — presenting the Texas Republican as straight out of the Stone Age.

Cruz, the Republican keynote speaker for the exclusive, white-tie Gridiron Dinner on March 8, laughed heartily from the head table as the grizzled journalists danced around on stage to an original tune parodying the Glen Campbell ballad “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Full story

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