Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

November 8, 2013

John Schlimm Delivers a Mouthful for Veggie Caucus

John Schlimm grew up in rural Pennsylvania working in his father’s butcher shop — a long way from the Capitol Visitor Center, where the vegan cookbook writer lunched on Thursday with the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association.

The veggie caucus, as it’s known colloquially, has been hosting vegetarian lunches and educational events since a small group of like-palated staffers decided to fight back against the lack of vegetarian fare in congressional dining halls.

The group had an event planned last month, but the government shutdown forced it to postpone. For Thursday’s to-do, about 60 staffers filled the room to learn about eating a plant-based diet while munching away on vegan wraps provided by Zenful Bites and vegan chocolate chip cookies from Sticky Fingers. Full story

Business Leaders to Rock Out With Reality TV Star

How does one properly reward those willing to spend the better part of a day debating the nuts and bolts of intellectual property rights and innovation policy? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center figures a few tunes from a long-forgotten “American Idol” winner ought to about cover it.

The GIPC is hosting its inaugural global IP summit Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a daylong gathering featuring guest speakers — including Rep. George Holding, R-N.C. — and discussion panels galore.

Once it’s all over, attendees will be treated to a 15-minute performance by singer/songwriter Lee DeWyze.

Name not ringing a bell for you?

That’s probably because DeWyze won the ninth cycle of American Idol — and immediately faded into obscurity. Full story

Overheard: Obama on How “This Town” Works

“I’ve now been in this town long enough to know that, you know, folks like to seem important by getting their version of events in the press.”

— President Barack Obama, in an interview with NBC News that aired Thursday.

November 7, 2013

This Week in HOH: Jay McInerney Considers This Town

This Week in HOH: Jay McInerney Considers This Town

Long before Mark Leibovich took this town to task in his book “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital,” another celebrated writer zeroed in on the power and the glory that float through the air in Washington.

In the Nov. 6, 1988, Heard on the Hill column, Bill Thomas chronicled the D.C. visit of Jay McInerney, the author of “Bright Lights, Big City” and a zeitgeist-catching scribe of the times. Full story

Rand Paul Rebrands Amid Plagiarism-gate

Following a full week of being battered by mounting reports that he cribbed parts of others’ intellectual capital and repackaged them as his own, Sen. Rand Paul appears to have finally found safe harbor in the conservative blogosphere.

Rand Paul Rebrands Amid Plagiarism gate

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

The Kentucky Republican has come under fire as of late for liberally borrowing third-party content (ranging from pop culture references on Wikipedia to rhetorical red meat produced by conservative think tanks) to pad his own speeches and publishing projects. After others pointed out that he’d used unattributed material from The Week for a recent Washington Times piece, the Times yanked away his weekly soapbox.

The unrelenting scrutiny appears to be throwing Paul for a loop. Full story

Overheard: Inhofe’s Warm Memories of the Cold War

“I’ve often said that recently, you know, I look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War.”

— Senate Armed Services ranking member James M. Inhofe, at today’s committee hearing on sequestration and the military.

November 6, 2013

Quite a Hairy Situation | Capitol Quip

Quite a Hairy Situation | 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:

  • If you like your facial hair, you will be able to keep it. Period.
  • We’re not shaving until HealthCare.gov works!
  • Look, I really think these bipartisan beards will help us grow the economy.
  • It’s about time we had some growth around here.
  • Has anybody found out if razor burn is covered by the Affordable Care Act?

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Nov. 10 and in the Nov. 12 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 5:18 p.m.
Capitol Quip

John Schlimm To Join Next Vegetarian Staff Shindig

The ever-optimistic Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association is hosting another educational event on Thursday, part of an evolving outreach effort accentuated this time by the chance to hobnob with vegan cookbook author John Schlimm.

The late lunch/discussion is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center, room 217 (colloquially known as “meeting room south.”) Per staff, the complimentary luncheon — featuring sandwiches from Zenful Bites and sweets from the award-winning Sticky Fingers — is open to everyone (no RSVP required).

Schlimm, who released his latest work, “The Cheesy Vegan,” just last month, wasn’t born a devout plant-eater:

But it sounds like taking in the myriad sights/sounds/smells of a butcher shop at a young age made choosing his current lifestyle a no-brainer.

Church Sends Congress a Message

Church Sends Congress a Message

Are the Methodists sending a message to Congress? (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a slow week on Capitol Hill, with only the Senate in, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t political messaging. Across the street from the Capitol lies the United Methodist Building, which seemed to be sending a message to Congress with its front-yard sign: “God’s Justice Never Shuts Down.” The shutdown might be over, but the fallout apparently is not.

November 5, 2013

Heller Staff Pokes Nevada’s Journalistic Tiger

Heller Staff Pokes Nevadas Journalistic Tiger

Sen. Dean Heller in January at a press conference for his “No Budget, No Pay” measure, which Jon Ralston has criticized (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jon Ralston has had it with Sen. Dean Heller’s office.

In an epic rant on his Ralston Reports website, the longtime Nevada political journalist called the Republican senator’s staff “the most unprofessional I have worked with (or not!) in a quarter-century of covering politics.”

Ralston notes he is not upset that the senator won’t talk to him or go on his weekly Nevada political show, because that happens to him from time to time. He notes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and others have “snubbed” him in the past, but Ralston has never had a problem with the staffers before.

“I acknowledge that it is impossible to write about this topic without seeming self-serving, like a peevish, arrogant journalist not getting his way,” Ralston writes.

But he says the Heller staff’s refusal to respond to any of his inquiries with even a “no comment” has driven him to go on the offensive.

“Heller’s turtle act is just sad and cowardly. But his staff’s behavior is more than merely pathetic and unprofessional; it is an outrageous affront to taxpayers who pay their salaries.”

HOH did get a response from Heller’s staff to Ralston’s complaints. “Although we disagree with him, Jon Ralston is welcome to express his opinion,” said Heller spokesman Chandler Smith in an email.

Heller’s staff ran into trouble earlier this year with other Senate offices when aides were accused of preventing members from viewing the Nevadan’s office suite during the Senate’s biennial office lottery.

By Emily Pierce Posted at 9:35 p.m.
FightingWords, Sens

Quorans Dissect Political Stereotypes

Election Day might be the only time some Americans even bother thinking about politics. But for a handful of true believers, wrestling with the weight of party affiliation appears to be an all-consuming challenge.

Members of the inquisitive Quora community have been opening up about the lowlights of pledging allegiance to all sides of the political spectrum.

Marcia Peterson Buckie, a self-described liberal, lampooned her day-to-day existence thusly:

“Well, it’s a hectic life: with collecting my monthly payments from George Soros and riding around in my limousine encouraging everyone to get on the governments teat. Then there are my lesson plans to teach how to be a lesbian and a communist. … Then there is the climate change hoax that I’m trying to spread,” she joked in a post delineating purported leftist agenda items.

Her actual gripe?

“Having other people define your views for you, through their filter or lens,” Buckie explained.

Michael Lee, who fields questions under the “Ask a Rational Conservative” banner, was equally droll. Full story

Sensenbrenner Stogies Have Staff Smoking Hot

It seems some congressional neophytes don’t quite get that Capitol Hill plays by its own rules.

Sensenbrenner Stogies Have Staff Smoking Hot

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Take the enraged aide who’s had enough of a certain Wisconsin Republican’s stogie habit.

“Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner likes to smoke cigars. Lots and lots and lots of cigars. How do I know that? Because the entire 4th floor of the west side of the Rayburn office building smells … whenever he is in the office,” our irate tipster fumed. “Staff is in revolt.”

Riot all you like.

Though smoking is, in fact, verboten in common areas, the House smoking policy (approved by Congress in 2010 and outlined by the House Office Building Commission) clearly states that each member/office is the boss of each individual space. That means any office could suddenly become a smoking den at any time. Full story

Horton’s Kids to Transport Fans to 1980s for Fundraiser

Horton’s Kids, a kid-friendly nonprofit founded a quarter-century ago by former Hill staffer Karin Walser, is celebrating its latest anniversary by hosting an ’80s-themed party Wednesday at the House of Sweden.

The “Give Thanks and Give Back” party is scheduled to take place 6:30-10:30 p.m. at the House of Sweden (2900 K St. NW). Individual tickets — named after ’80s anthems ($5,000 donation snags the top-tier title, the “Eye of the Tiger” sponsorship) — start at $150 a pop.

An event aide told HOH that no members of Congress are officially on the hook this time around, but held out hope that lawmakers would participate in a 25th anniversary party scheduled for February.

Attendees at the Georgetown soiree will have to make do with former Roll Call cartoonist (long live “Capitol Hell!”)-turned-CNN anchor Jake Tapper, local cover band, Dr. FU and an open bar.

Main Event Caterers will provide heavy hors d’oeuvres, including: five-spice duck moo shoo wraps, smoked salmon barquettes, mustard-crusted chicken, gourmet sliders (“two bite” Angus burgers), grilled vegetable quesadillas and port-poached pears with brie. Full story

November 4, 2013

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

As part of his last-ditch effort to rally the GOP faithful, Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli brought Sen. Marco Rubio to the Old Dominion to help tag team a campaign rally.

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Courtesy Ken Cuccinelli)

From the looks of things on Facebook, it would seem that many folks did not approve of Cuccinelli’s choice of political arm candy.

While support for Cuccinelli poured in from all over the country — HOH spotted well-wishers from as far west as Nevada and down south into Texas — a slew of detractors took direct aim at Rubio, attacking the Florida Republican’s:

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Screenshot)

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Screenshot)

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Screenshot)

Conservative bona fides Full story

Lord Stanley’s Cup Visits Capitol Hill, Parties in Durbin’s Office

Lord Stanleys Cup Visits Capitol Hill, Parties in Durbins Office

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman talks to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, at a reception for the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

For the second time in four years, the Stanley Cup found its way to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin’s Capitol leadership suite as Illinois ex-pats, Capitol Police hockey superfans, Senate pages and ogling reporters (including this one) celebrated the Chicago Blackhawks.

Or at least they snapped photos with one of sports’ most iconic and unhygienic trophies.

Durbin spent much of the Monday afternoon open house holding court, sitting on his desk and chatting up reception attendees such as National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and fellow Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley.

As HOH friend Jordan Fabian of ABC News-Univision points out, perhaps Durbin’s talk with Bettman would have been more useful during the shutdown, as the NHL head has some experience with work stoppages stemming from an “impasse” between two sides.

Earlier Monday, the Stanley Cup was at the White House, where adopted Chicagoan President Barack Obama celebrated the Blackhawks players and staff.

Obama, a declared White Sox fan, even squeezed in a jab at the Cubs.

“Since I’ve been president, only one team has brought the world championship to my hometown of Chicago, and now the Blackhawks have done it twice,” Obama said. “Three years ago, the ‘Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Keep in mind the Cubs have been waiting for 105. So 49 might not have seemed so bad.”

Sorry, Dad.

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