Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2014

November 1, 2013

Overheard: Roy Blunt on Producing Nothing

“Whether it’s the appropriations bills or just the normal work that Congress does, we’ve fallen into this pattern of thinking, ‘If I don’t get what I want, I don’t want anything.’ And that’s going to produce nothing.”

— Sen. Roy Blunt, on MSNBC Friday morning.

October 31, 2013

Cory Booker Already Making the Rounds

Well, that didn’t take long.

Cory Booker Already Making the Rounds

(Courtesy Andy Shallal)

Sen.-elect Cory Booker, D-N.J., evidently bee-lined for No. 3 on our list of custom-tailored dining recommendations, posing for a pic Wednesday evening with political activist and restaurateur Andy Shallal.

And he got the workplace introductions under way Thursday morning by paying his respects to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. — popping by for a collegial breakfast.

“He brought some of his staff as well and even his mom,” our spy shared.

Hello, Gourdgeous: A Very Political Halloween

Polls, schmolls.

We here at HOH choose to believe you are no one in the politisphere until someone takes the time to carve your visage into a defenseless gourd.

With Halloween just a few hours away, what better time to take a look at those who’ve captured the imagination of jack-o’-lantern enthusiasts:

President Barack Obama Full story

October 30, 2013

House Hopeful Brandishes Birther Credentials, Flunks Civics Test

Were the special election to replace retired Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., based solely on correct answers delivered during a recent candidate Q&A, aspiring lawmaker Dean Young wouldn’t have to think too hard about why he fell terribly short.

The proudly anti-establishment candidate went 0-3 on of civics questions posed by The Guardian, in a side-by-side comparison with his opponent, Bradley Byrne, including:

House Hopeful Brandishes Birther Credentials, Flunks Civics Test


Where President Barack Obama was born, Full story

Five Messages for | Capitol Quip

Five Messages for | 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. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • “ must have a lot of boneheads.”
  • “Hey, Frankenstein, do you know a good doctor?”
  • “Let’s see: this is Halloween 2018. He’s been trying for 5 years!”
  • “I guess he’s looking for a bare-bones health plan and forgot to buy candy!”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Oct. 27 and in the Oct. 28 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 5:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Collegian Slams Sebelius’ Defense of Comprehensive Coverage

That testy exchange Wednesday between Rep. Renee Ellmers and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — you know, the one where the North Carolina Republican and the Affordable Care Act administrator sparred about whether men needed maternity coverage — inspired at least one young man to take a stand on Twitter.

Having caught the heated debate on Capitol Hill, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fan who calls himself the “SpacePope” on social media, offered this highly enlightened rebuttal of the administration’s policies:  Full story

Bison Lobby Stampeding Into Rayburn Tonight

Fans of the noble buffalo should roam over to the Rayburn Foyer this evening for a “National Bison Day” warm-up featuring gourmet sliders, wine and small batch bourbon honoring the majestic beast.

A reception sponsor told HOH that Wednesday’s reception, which is open to all, will feature bison sliders provided by Ted’s Montana Grill as well as samples of bourbon poured by Buffalo Trace Distillery. The festivities are set to kick off at 6:30 p.m.

Bison Lobby Stampeding Into Rayburn Tonight

(Courtesy Vote Bison Coalition)

This marks the second year in a row that the bison lobby has partied with Congress. Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt — the Washington Nationals’ “racing presidents” version of him, anyway — joined lawmakers at last year’s inaugural fete.

The Vote Bison Coalition has much to celebrate, having just scored the Senate’s endorsement of earmarking Nov. 2 as “National Bison Day.” Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., who is sponsoring a bill to designate bison as the “national mammal,” is also expected to say a few words.

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.

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