Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

November 19, 2013

HOH Alumna Recalls the One That Got Away

Former Heard on the Hill scribe Emily Heil is gearing up to grab the gossip reins as co-author of the Washington Post’s Reliable Source column in just a few weeks.

But at a dinner Monday in her honor, she shared the tale of one particularly frustrating HOH item she was never able to successfully pin down. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 2:44 p.m.
DC, media

November 18, 2013

GOP Aide Recruits Tour Companions for Proposal

Senate Republican Policy Committee counsel Michael Stransky not only fulfilled his sweetheart’s wish of finally taking in the breathtaking view from the top of the Capitol Dome, he also convinced visiting tourists to pose as paparazzi during the surprise proposal he sprung on his now-fianceé, Jennifer Pollom.

GOP Aide Recruits Tour Companions for Proposal

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

“We had been talking a little bit about it. But I certainly didn’t see the Capitol Dome coming,” Pollom told HOH about the extra-special spot Stransky selected to pop the question on Nov. 15. Full story

What We Learned From Manchin’s AMA

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., opened up last week, answering 10 questions submitted by Redditors in a video posted by The Atlantic.

In a visual version of Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” posts, Manchin spoke widely on his political beliefs. In fewer than 20 minutes, Manchin said he believes in traditional marriage, that redistricting can and should be done by objective computer models and that identification should be required when voting in federal elections.

“I just don’t have a problem showing an ID,” he said. “I show an ID everywhere I go.” Full story

Take Five: Rep. Bill Flores

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, discusses Texas A&M football, life on the ranch and snow skiing.

Q. As a Texas A&M alumnus, how do you feel about Johnny Manziel’s behavior on and off the football field?

A. His behavior on the field is exceptional. He still has a little maturing to go through off the field. Hopefully that’ll come with age. We all go through that same struggle when we’re younger.

Q. What was life like growing up on the ranch?

A. The work was hard, the hours were long, and since I was working for family, there was no pay involved. But I have to say, the work was very fulfilling. For instance, if I built a mile of fence, the feeling of satisfaction I got when I looked back and looked at that mile of fence … that made me feel good.

Q. How long has your family been in Texas? How do you define a Texan?

A. My family came from Spain and settled in the area near Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1725. So I’m a ninth-generation Texan. But I don’t know if you’d call us Texans because it predates Texas; it predates the United States. I’ll have to go back and come up with a better definition.

Q. What are some of your hobbies?

A. Well, my two primary hobbies are snow skiing and flying. I learned how to ski when I was in high school, when I was 18. And I just love that particular sport. My other hobby of flying is something I’m passionate about as well. I’m a private pilot … I have about 2,500 hours of pilot and command time.

Q. Where do you do your snow skiing?

A. The primary place I go is Telluride, Colo. There’s just no more beautiful place in the world to ski — well, I don’t think there’s any more beautiful place in the world to do anything.

Montana Campaign Ad Prompts Political Guessing Game

A recent job posting seeking a highly motivated campaign manager got tongues wagging about just who the mystery employer might be. When you start off a post with “Duties include everything,” it’s the kind of honesty normally not seen in job listings.

The HOH tipster who stumbled across the matter-of-fact solicitation — “If you don’t already know what it takes to run a multi million dollar statewide campaign, you’re not qualified,” is far and away our favorite caveat — just assumed that the bid for a seasoned congressional strategist was coming from Senate hopeful John Bohlinger. The former lieutenant governor is the latest Democrat to toss his hat into the ring to succeed retiring Montana Democrat Max Baucus.

Turns out, the opening in question is to help usher forth Dirk Adams’ bid.

“People have realized it’s going to be a contested primary,” political fundraiser Jerald Lentini told HOH about the brewing race.

Lentini stressed that Adams, who announced his candidacy earlier this year, is determined to represent the same people he’s grown to know and love during the nearly three decades he’s spent as a cattle rancher. “We’re going to be putting on a first-class race … because that’s exactly what the people of Montana deserve,” Lentini asserted.

He noted that Adams was making the rounds in Washington, D.C., this week and is looking forward to formally announcing his full team (he’s still hunting for a finance director, as well) in early December.

Meanwhile, Montana Republican Rep. Steve Daines has officially announced his desire to make the leap from the House to the Senate.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:01 p.m.
Nationwide, Reps, Sens

November 17, 2013

Today’s Political Football | Capitol Quip

Todays Political Football | Capitol Quip

The furor over the rollout of the new health care law continues unabated, with message bills, windy floor speeches, presidential mea culpas and hearing after hearing after hearing. Which brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Nov. 20, and everyone can vote for the winner through Nov. 21.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

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

Stuck in the Middle With You | Capitol Quip

Stuck in the Middle With You | 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.

November 15, 2013

Swalwell Puts San Fran’s Fate in Batkid’s Hands

California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell has an urgent message for Miles, the 5-year-old leukemia survivor who donned his Dark Knight costume to help secure the Bay Area today: San Francisco needs your help.

“Only you can defeat the Riddler and the Penguin. … We’re all counting on you, Batkid, to use your superhero powers to protect our city,” Swalwell said in a special S.O.S. to be delivered to the heroic youth who has captured the imagination of just-for-the-day Gotham.

Swalwell Puts San Fran’s Fate in Batkid’s Hands

(Courtesy Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area)

Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area has recruited tens of thousands of people to help choreograph Miles’ dream day as the caped crusader. Follow along with the unfolding adventure here.

Ranking congressional Bat-fan (and “Dark Knight” guest star) Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., tweeted out his best wishes for the youngster.


The House Wrath and Forgiveness Committee | Madisonville

The House Wrath and Forgiveness Committee paraded four more hapless Obamacare functionaries in for ritual humiliation on Wednesday. The committee is formally called Oversight and Government Reform, but the Republicans hurl so much wrath and the Democrats offer so much forgiveness that oversight and reform don’t even get out of bed on meeting day.

Chairman Darrell Issa of California and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland nevertheless make the panel worth the price of admission.  Words are barely necessary. Body language says it all.

The House Wrath and Forgiveness Committee | MadisonvilleAs one talks, the other contorts his body in such a way to create as much distance as possible without actually getting up and moving. Issa holds his head still as his shoulders and torso shift away from Cummings. Eventually, he discovers that his head has to go where his body goes. Cummings tries to disguise the movement, but there’s a perceptible slant in the other direction when Issa talks. He’s the leaning tower of Maryland’s 7th District.

Cummings has the demeanor of a man who has seen every evil under the sun. The rings under his eyes are so pronounced he might have been present when the tablets came down from the mount. God cursed him by making him sit on this committee and encounter ever new levels of depravity, often committed by his own side.  Cummings runs those big hands up and over his head and wonders whether it can get worse.

Issa usually finds a way. He’s more of a New Testament person, by way of California and show business. Issa is the supporting actor who believes he deserves top billing. God cursed him by constantly finding someone to challenge his view of himself. Issa gets ornery when that happens. As a result, he doesn’t always stay on point.

Democrats noticed his mood Wednesday and quickly started to bait him. It beats listening to four technology experts from the administration explain why — or for most people, not explain why — things are working.

Massachusetts’ John F. Tierney tweaks Issa for talking four minutes more than he allowed Cummings. Virginia’s Gerald E. Connolly builds a case that Issa and Co. smeared one of the witnesses by selectively leaking documents. Jim Cooper of Tennessee calls the hearing a kangaroo court. Pennsylvania’s Matt Cartwright says the Republicans are circulating a playbook on how to exploit the Obamacare problems for political gain. Tierney baits him a second time by walking a witness into testimony that Issa is telling untruths on national television.

Issa leaps to his own defense. He corrects, adds context, contradicts, pleads ignorance, complains that his words are being disparaged and mischaracterized.

The four guys from Obamacare — Obamacarriers? — must have wondered what the committee needed them for.

Manchin Preaches Common Sense at Common Ground Awards

The D.C.-based group No Labels wants to bridge the growing gap between Republicans and Democrats, a lofty goal but one that the Search for Common Ground praised at its Thursday night awards ceremony.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., were on hand at the National Geographic Museum to accept the award. A couple of hundred people crowded into the museum’s auditorium for the ceremony.

Before joining the Senate in 2010, Manchin was the governor of the Mountain State. Manchin, now a co-chairman of No Labels, said he had hoped to bring the common-sense solutions he worked on there to the Senate.

“I found out common sense wasn’t so common here,” he said to laughs.

Manchin Preaches Common Sense at Common Ground Awards

Manchin is a co-chairman of No Labels. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

‘You’ve Got Hate!’ What Not to Wear Edition

The consensus appears to be that playing fashion critic is not my strong suit.

‘You’ve Got Hate!’ What Not to Wear Edition

(Courtesy Jamison Foser)

A recent 93-word intrusion into Federal Reserve nominee Janet L. Yellen’s wardrobe has spawned pages and pages of unbridled outrage, prompting feminists, economists and all-around pragmatists to flood comment boards and social-media feeds with burning questions about this publication’s sudden interest in sartorial decision-making.

Where is the blistering assault on President Barack Obama’s strict rotation of blue or gray suits, some wondered. Why no exposés about current Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s penchant for Jos. A. Bank wear, prodded others. Hell, when have you ever taken note of a man’s appearance? (Oh, let’s see, just in the recent past there were musings about South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford’s shorts, North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble’s blazer and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s sleeveless gear.)

Then, of course, there were the personal attacks.

Outraged peers and readers alike urged me to “suck a fat one” for polluting the politisphere with “Breitbart-level juvenile” “garbage” I presumably vomited onto my keyboard because I am “obviously a sexist douchebag.”

“Are you Claudia from the Babysitters Club, determined to never wear the same outfit? Do you burn your clothes the minute you take them off?” demanded one email interrogator. (No clue. Never read that series.)

“How would you like comments on your heritage or weight being relevant to your worth?” asked another. (Fair point.) Full story

Overheard: ‘Let’s be Honest’

“Let’s be honest, the Upton bill today does not fix this thing.”

Texas GOP Rep. Michael C. Burgess, appearing on Fox News on Friday morning.

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:53 p.m.
Overheards, Reps

November 14, 2013

Jim Cantore Visits Barbara Mikulski, Gets Senate Umbrella

When Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski met Thursday with Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, she offered an appropriate gift: a Senate umbrella.

Cantore, of course, is a longtime Weather Channel meteorologist frequently dispatched toward the eyes of hurricanes and the areas most pummeled by winter storms. He’s also something of a fixture on other NBC News programs during times when severe weather makes headlines.

Jim Cantore Visits Barbara Mikulski, Gets Senate Umbrella

(Office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski)

That Cantore and Mikulski would want to meet should come as no surprise.

Full story

Italian Envoy Drops by CVC for Lunch

Italian-American members of Congress broke bread with Claudio Bisogniero, Italy’s ambassador to the United States, on Thursday at a Capitol Visitor Center lunch.

Italian Envoy Drops by CVC for Lunch

Bisogniero, center, dropped by Capitol Hill for lunch on Thursday. (Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images)

“For those of you who haven’t met him, he speaks incredibly good English, better than many of my constituents and certainly better than Pascrell’s constituents,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, ribbing himself and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J.

Tiberi, Pascrell and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Tom Marino, R-Pa., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., were all on hand for the National Italian American Foundation’s Frank Guarini Public Policy Forum luncheon, the last of the year. Full story

This Week in HOH: Speaker Jim Wright’s ‘Busy-Beaver’ Co-Author

This Week in HOH: Speaker Jim Wrights Busy Beaver Co Author

Texas Democrat Jim Wright became the first speaker of the House to resign his office because of scandal in May 1989. Perhaps the handwriting was already on the wall in November of the previous year, when news broke about the titillating bibliography of the man who was set to help him write a book about his time in Congress.

From the Nov. 13, 1988, Heard on the Hill:

Tome on the range. Just as the controversy over Speaker Jim Wright’s last book, Reflections of a Public Man, seems to be dying down, the literary lawmaker is writing a new one, appropriately titled Mr. Speaker. The book is being co-authored by George Mair, Wright’s busy-beaver press secretary. Mair, the famed author of The Sex-Book Digest: A Peek Between the Cover of 113 of the Most Erotic, Exotic and Edifying Sex Books, is typing away on a tome of his own to be called The Rules of Love, illustrated by Scott Bennett. Both works have yet to find a publisher.

Wright went on to write other books, but “Mr. Speaker” wasn’t one of them. Mair wrote many more books, making quite a name for himself as a celebrity biographer and ghostwriter.

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