- Jerry Moran Kicks Off 2016 Cycle With $1.4 Million War Chest
- Exclusive: DSCC Hires National Political Director, Press Secretary
- First Look: Can Democrats Win the Senate in 2016?
- Democrats Lose Candidate and Hope in New York Special Election
- DCCC Announces Final Fundraising, Debt Figures for 2014
December 20, 2013
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is not only confident he will be vindicated in an ongoing legal tussle — a rather nasty affair in which a former landlord claims that the California Republican and his family caused tens of thousands of dollars in property damage — he’s fairly certain he brought it on himself by serving in the public eye.
“If I wasn’t a member of Congress, no one would pay attention to this at all,” he said of the dirty laundry being aired by Robert Polyniak regarding a home he rented to the Rohrabachers a few years back. Full story
In Roll Call’s final installment of Congressional Hits and Misses before the new year, we are reminded senators can, in fact, read, translate and philosophize.
December 19, 2013
Call it a Christmas miracle.
Following months where they have openly and often vehemently clashed on everything from the administration’s divisive drone program to the fate of Federal Reserve Board nominee Janet L. Yellen, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed Thursday that he’s actually quite fond of conservative firebrand Rand Paul.
“I met in the last few days with Rand Paul, spent a lot of time with him, and I have grown to really like him,” Reid told reporters during a press conference where he reflected on the challenges of the remarkably unproductive legislative session that even now threatens to derail staffers’ holiday plans.
Although he’s well aware of political opponents who thrive on making him miserable (“I need not give you names, but it’s just a handful of people,” the Nevada Democrat posited), Reid doesn’t seem to believe Paul belongs exclusively in that camp.
“He’s — even though he has some set political views, he wants to get things done here,” Reid said of the libertarian-leaning Kentucky lawmaker. “And I find that throughout the Republicans. I think they want to get things done. And I hope that’s true.”
Team Paul did not respond to calls and emails inquiring as to whether Reid’s sudden chumminess might pave the way for increased cooperation in the second half of the 113th Congress.
But Reid certainly sounds like he’s ready for less confrontation in 2014.
“Maybe all of you have a better memory than I have, but I think the only thing we’ve gotten done since summer was implement nondiscrimination. I don’t think there’s anything else we’ve done,” Reid bemoaned.
“This is not the Marine Corps that I know and love.”
– Rep. Michael Grimm, on Fox News, regarding the case of Maj. Jason Brezler, who is facing charges he brought classified documents on his personal hard drive back from a war zone and shared them inappropriately. Brezler faces possible disciplinary action.
December 18, 2013
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:
- Sure I’ll spell it for you one more time. C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E.
- Sorry, this isn’t The Biggest Loser.
- The rest of these clowns bought into our budget, now why don’t you two?
- The Price is Right is on right after this.
- Patty and I have BINDERS of compromises!
The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Dec. 22 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.
Holiday greeting maven Loretta Sanchez has become famous around these parts for dreaming up elaborately staged Christmas cards featuring herself, her family members and her beloved pets.
But her predilection for weaving political humor into the mix gave the Disneyland folks pause when the California Democrat approached them about having Mickey’s home figure into her latest holiday installment.
“It’s difficult to get Disney to go along with something like this. They’re worried about their brand,” Sanchez said of the monthslong negotiations required to capture the magic moment framed against one of the tourist attraction’s enchanting fairy tale castles.
To wit, Sanchez said she and husband Jack Einwechter posed for pics in various spots around the park — including a shot of them in a dizzying teacups ride she briefly considered using to tweak ultra-conservative Republicans.
Last year’s missive featured a cheeky take on all the fiscal-cliff craziness, while the 2011 salutation bore an “occupy”-themed punch line.
This time around, Sanchez opted for a purely festive tone. Full story
Senators briefly set aside their budget deal bickering on Tuesday night for the chamber’s third annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange, organized by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.
The holiday spirit inspired more than 60 senators to participate, roaming the marble corridors of the second floor with packages containing booze, food, dog toys and model vehicles after enjoying the Christmas cookie spread at the reception.
Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy bellowed out “ho, ho, ho” as he breezed in and out, clutching a new Batman figurine from New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte to add to his extensive collection. Full story
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.
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
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.
December 17, 2013
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.
Yeah, I’m in the mood 4 stone crabs. That’s all.MT @RollCallAbby: Any other members of Congress want 2 get anything off their chest my vacay
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) December 17, 2013
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.”
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.
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.
Throwback Thursday. http://t.co/Ev271d9vdK Statute of limitations expires today; irrelevant since Congress never had interest in truth!
— Tareq Salahi (@SalahiTareq) November 21, 2013
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.