Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 18, 2014

May 24, 2013

Budget Brain Freeze, Please!

We realize it’s not particularly blazing hot outside right now. (C’mon sunshine!) But things could warm up over the course of the long weekend.

Assuming the mercury ever does manage to rise, 7-11 is offering sweet relief through Memorial Day via $0.49 medium Slurpees:

Budget Brain Freeze, Please!

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

HOH has confirmed that both of the Capitol Hill outposts — 407 Eighth St. NE, 429 Eighth St. SE — are participating in the slush-slinging promotion.

Currently on tap at Barracks Row: classic Coca-Cola, sugar-free Sprite, pina colada and assorted Fanta fruit flavors (blue raspberry, oddball orange, wild cherry) — many of which, we’re told, are easily enhanced by a long pour of vodka.


May 23, 2013

D.C. Log Cabin Republicans Fete Ex-Rep. Jim Kolbe

The Washington, D.C. chapter of organized gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Republicans hosted former Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., and his husband at a small mixer Wednesday night.

The D.C. Log Cabin Republicans convened the event at the Roosevelt Camden apartments on 16th Street Northwest to discuss the Senate immigration bill and Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s withdrawal of his amendment to include consideration for LGBT families in the bill’s provisions at this week’s markup.

D.C. Log Cabin Republicans Fete Ex Rep. Jim Kolbe

Kolbe and Kruse listen to a Log Cabin moderator’s question. (Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Kolbe expressed a personal and professional stake in the matter. Full story

Swalwell Fans the Flames of Bipartisanship

Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell rolled out the welcome mat in the Cannon House Office Building on Wednesday night, inviting fellow occupants of the fifth floor to what turned out to be a widely attended cookout.

Swalwell Fans the Flames of Bipartisanship

(Courtesy Rep. Eric Swalwell)

A Swalwell aide said the California Democrat wound up grilling more than 100 hot dogs, bratwursts, vegetarian burgers and smoked chicken wings, the latter being donated by neighbor Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.

“I’d estimate 12 offices were represented,” the Swalwell aide said of the BYOB gathering sprinkled with appearances by fellow penthouse dwellers Collins, Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., and Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.

Sounds like the gang had such a good time, they might give it a go again real soon.

“We’re hoping for a repeat!” the Swalwell aide said, adding, “A few other offices have offered to host a future BBQ.”

Count us in.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:38 p.m.
Food, HillSide

‘Arrested Development’ Takes Over D.C.

Everyone’s favorite dysfunctional family is coming to Netflix on May 26 (Squee!) and binge TV watchers everywhere are rejoicing at the return of “Arrested Development.”

Also barely able to contain themselves are the political types. Last week, for example, the House Republicans spoofed the show with the YouTube clip “Arrested Economic Development,” which compared the Democrats’ economic policy to the Bluths’.

And today the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has released a website comparing vulnerable California Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller with the hilarious but morally bankrupt George and Lucille Bluth. Full story

Reporters Caught Spying on Members’ Softball Practice

Two members of the press turned the tables Thursday morning and spied on the federal government. It took only about 20 minutes before our cover as morning power walkers was blown, but the intelligence gathered will be used in the upcoming Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

Heard on the Hill, with an assist from The New York Times’ Jill Agostino, walked around the Capitol Hill field where female members of Congress practiced at 7 a.m. in preparation for their annual meeting against the Bad News Babes on June 26.

After a couple of laps, eagle-eyed Democratic National Committee staffer and league co-chairwoman Kate Yglesias Houghton spotted us and alerted her boss, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. On the next lap, Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the team launched into various taunts and catcalls.

Since we were caught, we gave up the pretense and got an up-close look at the team’s progression.

The member team responded to the latest reporter intrusion by posting a Perez Hilton-style photo on Twitter and Facebook:

Reporters Caught Spying on Members Softball Practice

The gist of our intelligence report: While much has been made about new players’ impact (Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., are downright terrifying), the real story is the marked improvement of veteran players.

None of which is especially welcome news for the reporter side.

Most members seemed amused and ready to show off their new talent. But at least one took to Instagram to protest.

“I think we do need some type of press shield,” Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., commented on the photo.

Disclosure: The author of this post is a co-captain of the Bad News Babes, the press team. 

The Lightbulb Moment That Led to ‘Gridlock’

Solon-turned-author Byron Dorgan told HOH he got the idea for his forthcoming novel “Gridlock” — a geopolitical thriller focused on the sabotaging of the American electrical grid — while perusing a Wall Street Journal “What If?” piece regarding U.S. vulnerabilities.

“There’s a lot of discussion of cyber-terror. What it might mean. What form it may take,” the retired North Dakota Democratic senator said of the book, which hits stores July 9.

The second in a series of energy-disaster-related yarns, “Gridlock” pits returning protagonists Nate Osborne (lawman) and Ashley Borden (journalist) against foreign governments (Iran, Venezuela), cyber-threats (a Russian computer virus) and our own bravado.

Full story

Smith, Just Smith | Overheard

“You can call him ‘Smith.’”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., about D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Sri Srinivasan, to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Reid had said of Schumer: “He’s Harvard-educated, so he can say his last name. Not me. I’m struggling with his last name.”

Cowan’s Cravat Crisis

Team Cowan tried a show of solidarity Wednesday, strapping on bow ties just like the boss.

Cowans Cravat Crisis

(Courtesy Sen. William “Mo” Cowan)

Did it work?

“We noticed Sen. Cowan couldn’t help but wince when he saw that most of the ties … were clip-ons.  He usually stands by the originalist view of bow tie fashion,” an aide to the Massachusetts Democrat told HOH.

That’s what you get for sticking your necks out …

Ron and Rand Paul Roll Hard

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., unearthed this snapshot of him and his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, enjoying what looks to be some bonding time on a not-quite built for two bike:

Ron and Rand Paul Roll Hard

(Courtesy Sen. Rand Paul)

The following clip obviously predates the photo (Rand was born in 1963 and looks to be at least a year old here), but who doesn’t enjoy being serenaded by UNIVAC-era machines?


Ruffing It While Riding the Rails

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers want Amtrak to drop — Drop it. … OK, now roll over. Good boy! — its restrictions against packing pets onto trains, calling on the commuter line to allow four-legged friends equal passage across America.

An aide to California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham said the pet-loving pol and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials came up with his Pets on Trains Act plan following months of conversations with Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, passenger advocates and members of the Humane Society of the United States.

“It was just sort of, at the end of the day, just common sense,” Denham spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said of the proposal.

Ruffing It While Riding the Rails

(Courtesy Rep. Jeff Denham)

The plan would allow Denham to include his precious Lily, an 18-month-old French bulldog he gifted to his wife, Sonia, a little more than a year ago, in future train trips.

Full story

May 22, 2013

White House De-Tours Get Under Way | Capitol Quip

White House De Tours Get Under Way | Capitol Quip

The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are all set. Now it’s your turn to vote.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • “I heard about this tour on FOX News. It’s supposed to be GREAT!”
  • “Anything new on that phony birth certificate?”
  • “Our favorite guide is called Miss Information: will she be leading a tour today?”
  • “I see three ‘gates,’ but where’s the White House Entrance Gate?!”
  • “Bet they wish they kept the White House tours open!”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog May 28 and in that day’s 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 6:08 p.m.
Capitol Quip

#WallabyWednesday! for Team @RobPortman

Apparently the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium didn’t get the memo that Congress is already a zoo without its assistance.

The result? Staffers for Buckeye State lawmakers got to hang with wallabies, flamingos and lynx. (Lynxes? Lynxi? HOH is unclear how to pluralize such an animal.) And staffers for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, appear to have had a particularly good time. Portman’s communications team — new to Instagram — posted photos of their afternoon animal timeout in the Rayburn House Office Building basement. In the process, Jeff Sadosky and Caitlin Dunn are sure to have created the next viral Internet sensation: #WallabyWednesday. Like Seersucker Thursday, but less annoying.

Here is a photo of a lynx, brought by the Columbus Zoo to raise awareness about conservation efforts, on a conference table:

#WallabyWednesday! for Team @RobPortman

More pictures after the jump.

Full story

Mo’s Bows — Senator’s Staff Ties One On

Talk about team spirit! Sen. William “Mo” Cowan, D-Mass., and his staff all shared in the senator’s sartorial tastes for a team photo Wednesday, with everyone donning Cowan’s signature style, the bow tie.

Mos Bows — Senators Staff Ties One On

(Courtesy Sen. William “Mo” Cowan)

While the House has Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., flying the flag for bow ties, the Senate hasn’t had a regular bow-tie champion since the late Sens. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., retired.

May 21, 2013

Jeff Duncan: Scan and Deliver

Rep. Jeff Duncan prides himself on being as social-media accessible as possible. Just ask any of the tech-savvy constituents (or envious lawmakers) who’ve stumbled on the QR code affixed to his official nameplate.

Jeff Duncan: Scan and Deliver

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Spokesman Allen Klump said the South Carolina Republican was the driving force behind the smartphone-friendly tag, a digital welcome mat that’s been part of the office’s outreach for about a year now. When scanned, the QR code automatically imports to your device the congressman’s contact info, including office phone number, address, official website and a staff-monitored email address.

“He gets it. He’s a tech guy,” Klump said of Duncan’s desire to engage with people across every available platform. Full story

Toasting the U.N. Risk Takers

If you are planning to tie one one for Hump Day anyway, at least stumble over to the Thank a Peacekeeper reception happening in the Rayburn House Office Building and bend the elbow with a purpose Wednesday night.

“Please join us in raising a glass in honor of United Nations peacekeepers and leading troop contributing countries with drinks and special foods from around the world,” reads the invite to the third-annual reception, scheduled to take place 5:30-7 p.m. in Rayburn B-369.

An event organizer assured HOH that all are welcome, but requested that interested parties RSVP to all the same.

Democratic Reps. Karen Bass of California and Jim McDermott of Washington will join Edmond Mulet, U.N. assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, and Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, in saying a few words about ongoing humanitarian efforts. Full story

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