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

October 30, 2013

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

For Rep. Peter T. King, the most salient part about “Killing Kennedy,” a TV movie dramatizing President John F. Kennedy’s doomed ride through downtown Dallas in late 1963, was reliving the utter chaos the shooting loosed on the unsuspecting American public.

“It just captured the way the whole country just came to a halt,” King told HOH about the paralysis that gripped the nation in the wake of Lee Harvey Oswald’s defining political statement.

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The film tracks the lives of JFK, played by Rob Lowe, and Oswald, portrayed by Will Rothhaar, from 1959 until that fateful November day in Texas. It is based on a book by the same title co-written by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly and presents grim portraits of everyone involved.

The dark sides of JFK (troubled leader burned by the Bay of Pigs debacle) and Oswald (paranoid psychotic with monumental delusions of grandeur) propel both of the main characters along their collision course, with their respective counterparts (Jackie Kennedy spends most of her time smoking, crying and/or fawning all over her unfaithful spouse while Marina Oswald is little more than an emotional, and sometimes physical, punching bag for her malcontent of a mate) dragged along for the brutal ride. Full story

Overheard: Coburn Explains His Anatomical Reference to Reid

“My words weren’t appropriate, but my frustrations are real.”

— Sen. Tom Coburn, explaining the reason he referred to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as an “absolute” orifice on the backside of the human body at a Republican gala in New York on Monday.

The Oklahoma Republican was asked about it Wednesday on Fox News by Elisabeth Hasselbeck before a segment Coburn was doing on national parks maintenance woes.

Roger Daltrey Keeps Shirt On at Churchill Ceremony

“Who better to represent rock royalty than Roger Daltrey … an icon on both sides of the Atlantic,” Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday as he introduced The Who co-founder, who performed in Statuary Hall at the dedication ceremony for a bust of Winston Churchill.

The Ohio Republican showed a bit of giddiness in introducing Daltrey, who went on to sing Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” perhaps a reference to the “special relationship” of the United States and Great Britain.

For anyone wondering whether Daltrey would add some rock ‘n’ roll to what are typically dry affairs, it must have been disappointing. Although some of the speakers at the ceremony, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, made mention of Churchill’s legendary humor and irreverence, most everyone made sure to note how very serious it all was, and that Churchill indeed saved the world, etc. Daltrey’s gospel-like rendition of the American pop standby was as tame as it gets.

Boehner made bringing a bust of the former British prime minister to the Capitol one of his first priorities as speaker. During that debate, he called the British politician “the best friend America ever had.”

Full story

October 29, 2013

Somebody Please Update Webster for the NSA’s Brave New World

In a world where the administration has already had to cop to not only spying on its own citizens, but also pals around the globe, it’s nice to know the Senate intranet still thinks so highly of the good old U.S. of A.:

“Did You Know?

Foreign nations don’t often support the same privacy laws we enjoy here in the United States, and may track tourists or eavesdrop on their communications through mobile communication devices like BlackBerrys. If you don’t need these devices when traveling overseas, don’t take them.”

An HOH tipster noticed that the Senate’s terribly trusting intranet (currently dubbed Webster; perhaps it’s time to switch to Pollyanna?) continues to browbeat staffers about inadvertently exposing sensitive data while traveling abroad.

Save yourselves the hassle, folks: If you need to retrieve critical data while overseas, just email yourself about said topic — consider using strongly worded subject lines such as: “OBAMA will EXECUTE me for holding this issue HOSTAGE” — copy PRISM on it and then kick back and wait for the super-helpful National Security Agency to come to the rescue.

Overheard: Mitch McConnell on Bigfoot

“Unsurprisingly, just 12 percent of Americans think the rollout has gone well. That’s less than 14 percent of Americans who believe in Bigfoot.”

— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking Tuesday on the floor about the health care law and Bigfoot.

Catering to Cory Booker’s Needs

Once he takes the oath of office Thursday, Cory Booker will become the only openly vegetarian lawmaker (come out, come out, wherever you are, closet greens eaters!) serving in the Senate today.

The incoming New Jersey Democrat broke down his dietary decision-making last year during an “Ask Me Anything” exchange on Reddit, explaining that he swore off meat in an effort to goose his exercise regimen.

“I was a competitive athlete back then and wanted to see what could take my body to the next level,” he shared. Booker added that he’s even flirted with veganism — but gave two simple reasons why the even more restrictive diet didn’t take.

“Ben & Jerry — I couldn’t leave them,” he joked, professing his love for the gourmet ice cream giants.

Given that he’s new in town, HOH has crafted a cheat sheet of local restaurants where Booker may want to book a table:

  • Sticky Fingers: This award-winning bakery cranks out crowd-pleasing vegan sweets (their cupcakes are legendary) as well as savory creations (half-dozen faux burgers, tofu scramble-filled breakfast burritos). 1370 Park Road NW;
  • Indigo: Co-owners Dinesh and Nidhi Tandon of traveling kitchen fame (Union Station, Eastern Market) recently put down roots in NoMa, setting up a cozy carryout specializing in fragrant curries (peas and potatoes), robust stews (paneer in tomato sauce) and flavorful breads (onion roti rocks). 243 K St. NE
  • Busboys and Poets: The pesto lasagna blew this professional meat-eater away. And given owner Andy Shallal’s abiding respect for problem-solving — take-charge pols, your money may prove to be no good here. Multiple metro-area locations;
  • Rose’s Luxury: Chef Aaron Silverman is so down with fresh produce, he’s got a trained horticulturist — Kate Lee, founder of Capital City Farm Co. — on staff. Their teamwork is manifested in a menu that’s roughly 40 percent vegetarian. 717 Eighth St. SE;
  • Rasika and Rasika West End: These joints kill it nearly every night. All you need to know about restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s twin Indian properties is your mouth will thank you (I often dream about the cauliflower bezule; so tender, so fiery), and hanging out here can only help your career (the Clintons and Obamas are regulars). 633 D St. NW and 1190 New Hampshire Ave. NW;
By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:41 p.m.
DC, Food, Freshman, POTUS, Sens

Gay Republicans Hold Out Hope for Grand Old Party

Gay Republicans Hold Out Hope for Grand Old Party

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The much more vocal (and typically vitriolic) tea party might be better at grabbing headlines, but Log Cabin Republicans — the original “fringe” wing of the modern GOP operation — remain confident they’ve got a better grip on how to win the hearts and minds of voters moving forward.

The group, which works to promote gay candidates who tend to embrace the conservative outlook on everything except social issues, has remained loyal to the broader party even as the GOP has closed ranks around its most combative constituency: the hyperpartisan, deeply religious tea party.

Still, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo believes that uniting forces need not be as difficult as some might think.

“At its core, the Tea Party movement is about conservative fiscal policy — something Log Cabin Republicans [fight] for as well,” Angelo said via email, adding, “If we consider each other allies against the Democrats instead of ‘factions’ in a party fighting each other, we’ll thrive.”

Angelo has made it his mission to foster as many open channels of communication as possible, courting support from grass-roots groups as well as those on Capitol Hill.

And his persistence appears to be paying off.

Gay Republicans Hold Out Hope for Grand Old Party

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

October 28, 2013

Ike Skelton, Former Armed Services Chairman, Dies at 81

Former Rep. Ike Skelton, a veteran public servant and Democrat who represented west-central Missouri for 17 terms in Congress, died Monday at age 81. Skelton died at Virginia Medical Center, according to several media outlets.

Ike Skelton, Former Armed Services Chairman, Dies at 81

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Skelton, one of the last vestiges of Missouri’s strong Democratic past and its links to Harry Truman, served as House Armed Services chairman from 2007 to 2011. Truman, who was close to Skelton’s father, actually urged him to run for Congress as early as 1962. Ike Skelton did not do so at the time, although he eventually ran for and won a Missouri Senate seat in 1970 and served there until he was elected to Congress in 1976. He was defeated in 2010 by now-Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican.

Skelton was the archetypal yellow dog Democrat: moderate-to-conservative on social issues, with a populist streak on economic issues and a strong hawk on defense and foreign policy. Before serving as Armed Services chairman, Skelton was the panel’s ranking Democrat from 1999 to 2007, when his party was in the minority. After being displaced in the 2010 GOP wave by Hartzler, Skelton went to work for the Kansas City-based law firm Husch Blackwell, and worked in the firm’s office in both Kansas City and D.C.

Skelton’s death, coming on the heels of the passing of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., earlier this month, represents a changing of the guard for Congress’s old defense bulls. Young, who at the time of his death chaired the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, was in his 22nd term in Congress. Between the two of them, they represented almost 77 full years in the House.

“The passing of Ike Skelton is a terrible loss for our nation. Ike was a giant in the lives of those who knew him, but he also affected the lives of so many who never had the opportunity to meet him,” said current House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash., who took Skelton’s place as the panel’s top Democrat in the last Congress.




By Jason Dick Posted at 9:57 p.m.

The Dean Cracks Wise About His Age

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., is typically not at a loss of words. But the dean of the House said being honored by the LUNGevity Foundation at its third annual Musical Celebration of Hope was one such occasion.

“I am humbled and I am rendered speechless,” he said.

The Dean Cracks Wise About His Age

Dingell joked about his age at the LUNGevity gala. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Dingell even got some laughs poking fun at his age when he said that while the award, called the “Face of Hope,” was given to him, he might need a facelift before he could accept it. Full story

Italian-American Gala Draws Top Federal, Hill Officials

Italian American Gala Draws Top Federal, Hill Officials

(Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)

Red and green lights enveloped the ceiling of the International Ballroom in the Washington Hilton on Oct.26, bathing the National Italian American Foundation gala — including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — in the colors of the Italian flag.

“I served in a number of offices in my public life. In every position that I served, there was one important lesson, which is if you’re going to make a difference, you’re going to have to fight for it,” said Panetta, who flew in from California to accept the foundation’s special achievement in government award.

Panetta, who also served as CIA director, White House chief of staff, Office of Management and Budget director and House Budget chairman, relayed stories that were a break from the government shutdown debate that had plagued public conversation in weeks past.

He told a tale about a boxer who did the sign of the cross over his chest before entering the ring and noted how the reliance on a belief is meaningless if it does not positively change the outcome of the fight.

Tying it to current political matters, Panetta explained that it is not enough to have hope — one must fight for its preservation and strengthen the degree at which it does exist.

In addition to Pelosi, the audience boasted a number of proud Italian-American members of the House, including Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., and Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh also attended, as did Italian Senate President Pietro Grasso.

“We have always had good participation in our government. We have an active delegation. They come out to our events and participate. If we call and need them, they’re there,” said John Viola, president and chief operating officer of the foundation.

David McKinley Right at Home on Megabus

Commuting to and fro can be a major hassle for some lawmakers.

David McKinley Right at Home on Megabus

(Courtesy Mary McKinley)

Not so for Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., who has no problem allowing cut-rate transporter Megabus to take him home along country roads.

The fiscal conservative made a point of trumpeting his frugality following a particularly contentious Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, during which House Republicans laid into the contractors responsible for constructing President Barack Obama’s embarrassingly buggy health insurance portal.

Staff told HOH that while he typically drives back and forth to his home in Wheeling, W.Va., McKinley does find his way onto the discount carrier “several times a year.”

“Talking to riders on the Megabus is a good way for him to listen to the concerns and ideas of a wide range of people. He actually recruited a college student to intern for our office on one of his trips,” a McKinley aide said of the connections the congressman has made over the years. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:23 p.m.

Take Five: Sen. Brian Schatz

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, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, discusses life on the islands, traveling between Hawaii and D.C., and his twin brother.

Q. What’s your favorite beach or getaway location that tourists don’t know about?

A. I’m not sure I want to tell you that. But actually, my favorite place is a body surfing spot in Honolulu called Point Panic. It also happens to be near the proposed Obama presidential center, so in the president’s post-presidential time, if he wants to jump in the water, he may.

Q: How do feel about the tourists there?

A. We’re big fans of tourism. We’ve set up a situation where it’s a symbiotic relationship. There are sometimes tension in the ocean, but for the most part everyone understands how to get along.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your work with nonprofit organizations before coming Congress.

A. I ran a social service agency on O’ahu, the main island, providing language translation, mental-health services and support for homeless and people who are having difficulty with housing. I did that for just over eight years and it helped to ground me.

Q. How do you manage having a life in both D.C. and Hawaii?

A. I drink an enormous amount of water and I try to follow one simple rule which is to never complain. … You gotta drink a lot of water when you’re on airplanes for [10 hours]. You get dehydrated very, very easily and so that’s the one piece of travel advice I was given and will give to everyone is, ‘Drink more water than you feel like drinking — before and after every plane ride.”

Q. Is there anything else that would be interesting to know about you?

A. You may not know that I have an identical twin brother who lives in Honolulu. … After I became lieutenant governor and then a U.S. senator, he has taken to shaving his head and growing out his goatee so he doesn’t have to spend all of his time saying, “I’m not Brian.”

October 27, 2013

A Fright-Filled Experience | Capitol Quip

 A Fright Filled Experience | Capitol Quip

What’s one terrifying way to spend Halloween? How about wading into the debate over the rollout of the new health care law? And, of course, that brings us to this week’s 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 Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

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

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

No Direction Home | Capitol Quip

 No Direction Home | 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.

October 25, 2013

Trey Radel’s Favorite Eats and Drinks, in D.C. and Naples

In an effort to spice up a routine flight home from D.C., Rep Trey Radel invited the Twitterati to chat about just about anything — “anything BUT politics or policy,” he pleaded — sparking a lively exchange in which the Florida Republican laid bare where he treats his mouth to food and drink.

His tastes, at least here in D.C., run the gamut from gourmet burgers to bookish retreats.

Radel tapped Capital Grille — which HOH was surprised to learn is apparently too rich for Arizona Republican John McCain’s blood — for power lunching purposes, favors the array of flavored aiolis Good Stuff Eatery makes available for slathering burgers with, enjoys the lighter side of Sonoma, and has been known to bend the elbow at Bullfeathers.

He also revealed that Afterwords Cafe, the beloved eatery attached to Kramerbooks, is his favorite brunch spot. (Zagat users seem to concur.)

“I love the vibe of the Dupont and Logan Circle area, and I especially like any place that has great outside seating,” Radel explained via email, adding that spotting their well-curated beer list didn’t hurt either.

“My go to brunch item is the chili cheese stuffed Obamlet which is a heart attack on a plate and I love it,” Radel shared. Full story

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