Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2014

September 11, 2013

Sanford Steps Out With Fiancee at CNN Party

Sanford Steps Out With Fiancee at CNN Party

(Courtesy CNN public relations)

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., walked the red carpet at CNN’s “Crossfire” launch party in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night with his fiancee, Maria Belén Chapur, on his arm.

Chapur, memorably, is the woman who was at the center of his 2009 extramarital affair when he was governor.

But Sanford and Chapur were only two of the attendees of the A-list party.

Republican Reps. Darrell Issa of California and Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho and Democrats Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also made the rounds. Former Sen. Rick Santorum stopped by after taping an appearance on the show’s second episode Tuesday evening.

Caroline Kennedy, Greta Van Susteren and Laura Ingraham were also among the well-known attendees at the swanky celebration at the Carnegie Library.

“CNN has its swagger back,” as one network executive put it to HOH.

CNN President Jeff Zucker told the Capitol Hill-centric crowd that when he was named head of the company late last year, he had two priorities: to bring back actor James Earl Jones’ marketing voice-overs and to resurrect the debate show.

Full story

September 10, 2013

Justin Amash’s Magical Twitter Rants

Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash became seriously disillusioned Tuesday — warning his social-media flock not once, not twice, but thrice about the procedural sleight of hand designed to blunt President Barack Obama’s looming health care expansion.

The tea party favorite became possessed with the idea of raising the alarm before lunch, broadcasting this cryptic warning amid a slew of anti-Syria missives:

 

That set the stage for a full-fledged attack on party leaders:

 

Amash closed the nowhere-near-secret circle with a nod to his pop culture muses:

No word on whether Twitter fans were spellbound by his appeals.

Next time, he should consider strapping on a prosthetic schnoz and choreograph a catchy song-and-dance number.

Believe It or Not! Heritage Goes Times Square

The engagement gurus at the Heritage Foundation are going for marketing gold in the race to cripple President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul, sounding interactive alarms against government-sponsored coverage on a towering new Times Square billboard.

Heritage strategist Genevieve Wood said the eye-catching advertisement — public relations analysts estimate that the mammoth marketing tools reach around 1.8 million passers-by each day and rake in millions of dollars in revenue from exposure-hungry organizations each year — is expected to go up Tuesday and should stay up for a month after.

“It’s not just for politicians. We want the American public to see it,” Wood told HOH of the rationale behind proselytizing in NYC instead of, say, administration-driven D.C.

The ad urges viewers to text “hazard” to a special number (33733) — attendees at a tea-party-led gathering on Capitol Hill received similar marching orders, though their password was “rally” — which triggers an auto-reply directing them to Heritage’s companion video:

Full story

Members, Lobbyists Slog It Out at Basketball Game

It was a suitable ending to an ugly affair when House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s shot at the buzzer stuck between the rim and backboard.

“Most people would try to just make it; I wanted it to stop,” the California Republican said.

Members, Lobbyists Slog It Out at Basketball Game

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Despite turnovers and poor execution, members of Congress held off a late surge by the lobbyists’ team to capture their second straight Hoops for Hope Championship on Monday, 25-19.  McCarthy, one of four participants honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the half, said everyone was a little rusty.

“This was one of the lowest scoring games [I can remember],” McCarthy said. “I think it shows we’re just coming back from break.” Full story

Republicans Braced for Syria Week at Bibiana

With marathon negotiations on Syria stretching into week two, House and Senate Republicans on Monday took the opportunity to regroup and do a little communal carbo-loading in a back room at Bibiana.

An HOH tipster said GOP lawmakers — including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina —overran the tony Italian eatery on Monday.

The information-starved group appears to be all over the place on the issue. Cantor, for instance, was one of the first to fall in line behind President Barack Obama’s call to action, while Cornyn and Scott remain question marks.

No word on whether the pols reached any type of consensus on whether to risk their necks for another Middle East showdown.

But confidence is high they would all agree that the house-made meatballs (a marriage of mouthwatering ground pork and veal), eggplant-stuffed arancini and squid ink pasta are to die for.

Public Ain’t Buying What POTUS Is Selling

With just hours to go before his prime-time address on Syria, it would seem that President Barack Obama has some seriously heavy lifting to do to win the hearts and minds of a deeply fractured electorate.

Public Ain’t Buying What POTUS Is Selling

(Screenshot)

Some online skeptics appear inclined to agree with Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., that there’s still plenty left to do around the home front, rather than barging into another country’s affairs.

September 9, 2013

Foleys Are Downsizing, but Keeping All the Memories

In a move aimed at clearing away some clutter, Heather Foley, wife of infirm ex-Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., is offering up almost two dozen rare collectibles set to be auctioned off this weekend.

“He’s frail. Fortunately, we bought long-term care insurance. Otherwise, I don’t know what I would do,” Heather told HOH of the financial toll treating the aspiration pneumonia Foley has battled off and on for the past year has taken on the family.

The 84-year-old Foley remains in hospice care at home.

The brunt of the lot, which is available for viewing and bidding via Quinn’s Auction Galleries, features modernist furniture and portraits produced by trendsetters Herman Miller and Paul Doering, respectively. There’s even a Hans Wegner lounge chair (minimum bid: $1,000). Heather says it is the first piece of high-end comfort Foley ever acquired.

But perhaps the most curious castoffs are the tiny figurines Heather snatched up while half a world away.

Foleys Are Downsizing, but Keeping All the Memories

(Courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries)

Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:41 p.m.
AwesomeSauce, Reps

Anti-War Activists Strive to Illuminate Capitol Hill

Anti War Activists Strive to Illuminate Capitol Hill

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A cadre of progressive organizations are urging those opposed to U.S. involvement in the Syria crisis to join their candlelight vigil Monday night just steps from the Capitol.

The demonstration, coordinated by MoveOn.org, CREDO Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Win Without War, is expected to take place beginning at 7 p.m. opposite the Cannon House Office Building.

Those hoping to add their voice to the choir of naysayers can sign up here.

IOC Wrestling Reversal Draws Bicameral Cheers

With the Syria vote looming and a knock-down, drag-out fight on the federal budget and debt limit just around the corner, lawmakers will take whatever victories they can get.

Take the reinstatement of traditional wrestling to the roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which finally gave Congress something to rally around.

IOC Wrestling Reversal Draws Bicameral Cheers

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Wrestling is an incredible sport loved by many Minnesotans, including myself, and one whose athletes deserve the opportunity to participate at the peak level of Olympic competition,” former high school wrestler and Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken trumpeted in a release. “I’m so pleased that the requests made to the IOC, including my own, to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport didn’t fall on deaf ears.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who counted nearly 50 supporters in his corner for a bipartisan resolution chiding the International Olympic Committee for even thinking of pulling Greco-Roman grappling from the program, was also very relieved.

“The history of collegiate and Olympic wrestling runs through Iowa and we know that the determination and the hard work it teaches our kids provides them the skills it takes to succeed in life,” Loebsack asserted.

No word yet from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 1:43 p.m.
Reps, Sens, Sports Desk

Take Five: Suzan DelBene

Take Five: Suzan DelBene

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work. This week, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., talks about her travels during recess, social media and the great outdoors.

Q. During recess you traveled with other members of Congress. Where did you go?

A. I went to Israel. [House Minority Whip Steny H.] Hoyer organized the trip and we went all over. It was an educational experience; we saw many different areas, from the southern part of the country and up north to the Lebanese border. We heard about the history of these places, which is important as we [head] back to Washington.

Q. What prompted you to want to be a member of Congress? You had several nice job titles before (Microsoft executive, Washington Department of Revenue director).

A. I had great opportunities despite financial struggles that my family went through growing up. I went to college with student loans and work study, and I believe that it’s important for everyone to have that opportunity. Folks are going to keep fighting for the chance for a better future, and I want us to preserve that. Full story

Is Illinois Teen’s Portrait a Political Statement?

To the casual observer, “Tea Party for One” may appear to be just another pic of a headless woman enjoying a proper cuppa.

Is Illinois Teen’s Portrait a Political Statement?

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But the longer we admired the award-winning portrait — which was produced by Geneva Community High School senior Avie Churchwell and now hangs in the tunnels beneath the Capitol, courtesy of Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill. — the more questions poured into our gray matter.

  • Could Churchwell be jamming her paint-speckled thumb into the non-existent eyes of the leaderless tea party movement — the very entity that helped sweep Hultgren into office in 2010?
  • Is a single person enough to bestow “party” status on a gathering, conservative-themed or otherwise?
  • Do all teenage girls slog through life convinced they are totally invisible to the world around them?
  • How much must disembodied tea drinkers spend on dry cleaning? (That drink’s just going to go everywhere.)

Sadly, Churchwell did not respond to requests to discuss her haunting vision — a snub that left us feeling very much unfulfilled, invisible even.

September 8, 2013

Congress Lines Up | Capitol Quip

Congress Lines Up | Capitol Quip

Advocates of military strikes against Syria say that country’s use of chemical weapons is a red line.

Has the line shifted now that Congress is debating whether to authorize military action?

Let us know how members should navigate this question in Capitol Quip. Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section of our Heard on the Hill blog. Editors will pick five finalists on Sept. 11, and everyone can vote for the winner through Sept. 12.

Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

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

A Titanic Caption Winner! | Capitol Quip

A Titanic Caption Winner! | 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.

September 6, 2013

Rangel Suggests Nuking Poverty, Not Syria

Korean War veteran Rep. Charles B. Rangel has taken to cyberspace to plead his case for the battle he’d rather see waged than the planned attack on Syria.

The New York Democrat used the latest jobs report to call on President Barack Obama and his fellow lawmakers to focus on decimating domestic “poverty, joblessness, homelessness, income-inequality, and hunger” rather than raining down missiles on the Middle East.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:38 p.m.
FightingWords, Reps

Satirist Scored Award for ’80s Lobbying Spoof

Local funnyman Dave Nuttycombe — he of Washington City Paper and Travesty Films fame — recently discovered that “How to Lobby Your Congressperson,” a tongue-in-cheek vignette about wooing Congress that he helped craft a quarter-century ago, won itself a Telly Award.

No small feat, given that only the suits that commissioned the project probably ever saw it.

How to Lobby Your Congressperson from Dave Nuttycombe on Vimeo.

“It didn’t air anywhere. It was an in-house instructional thing,” Nuttycombe told HOH about the clip, which he explained was part of a broader package of actual ethics guidance.

“That was part of a longer program that actually did try to teach lessons in lobbying,” he said. “I was hired to do the comic relief.” Full story

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