Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

August 2, 2013

The Blotto Files: Congressional Staffers’ Greatest Misses

The Blotto Files: Congressional Staffers’ Greatest Misses

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As we were so beautifully reminded this week, sometimes Hill staffers hit the sauce a little too hard.

Mind you, bending the elbow is pretty much part of the job these days, with lawmakers and their lackeys obliged to flock from a cocktail hour for this to a policy reception for that just about every night they are actually here in town (lobbyists are hard-cases like that).

And while no one should begrudge overworked colleagues the opportunity to live a little, we’d just like to point out that many of these sad sacks effectively committed career suicide (ranked from most to least damaging outcome) all for a few drinks.

  • Rep. Rick Larsen’s doomed “December to Remember” crew: A trio of myopic social-media addicts decided to not only get wrecked while working for the Washington Democrat but also to advertise said debauchery via Twitter.
  • Rep. Steven M. Palazzo’s party girl: HOH rock star Whitney Donald swore there was nothing too crazy going on at the Annapolis, Md., home she secretly rented in the Mississippi Republican’s name for a weekend rager. The neighbors begged to differ.
  • Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s bleary-eyed super fan: Young love can be disorienting enough. Add in a serious bender, misplaced footwear and an office-wide declaration of your burning desire to bask in the glow of the Wisconsin Republican’s presence and you’ve got a teachable moment that clearly deserves its own chapter in the Cap Hill orientation manual.
  • Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’ mouth-bashing mouthpiece: Marc Goldberg, spokesman for the Florida Democrat, decided to let his fists do the talking during a dispute at a Dupont Circle watering hole. Guess when you gotta go, you gotta go …

Jo Bonner Comes Full Circle in Funny Farewell Speech

Retiring Rep. Jo Bonner signed off from his career in public life with a self-effacing address recalling the unintentional sexy-talk he broadcast to millions a decade ago.

The Alabama Republican, who is stepping down from Congress to join the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), took to the House floor Thursday to regale colleagues with the tale of his most embarrassing ad-lib of all time.

“I said, ‘We have a real problem with incest in South Alabama’. I said, in fact, ‘I would venture a guess, we have more problem with incest in my district in Alabama than in any other congressional district in America,’” Bonner shared of an off-the-cuff remark that was supposed to garner sympathy for an INSECT problem— pine beetles, to be exact — in his area.

Whether he’s simply misremembering things or hammed it up again for added effect or is open for debate.

Full story

August 1, 2013

Good Day for Vegetables, Fruits on Capitol Hill

Lettuce, cantaloupes — it was a good day to be a vegetarian on Capitol Hill.

First came the news of immigration activists delivering cantaloupes to the office of Rep. Steve King. The Iowa Republican recently bemoaned the number of undocumented immigrants he said are dope-smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes as the result of ferrying mounds of marijuana across the desert. That took care of the fruit course.

Good Day for Vegetables, Fruits on Capitol Hill

Immigration activists delivered these cantaloupes to King’s office. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Then came the vegetable course, with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hosting its annual veggie-dog lunch today, complete with the always popular “Lettuce Ladies.”

Good Day for Vegetables, Fruits on Capitol Hill

A staffer poses with the PETA “Lettuce Ladies” outside of the Rayburn House Office Building. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Who needs Meatless Mondays?

Senators Attend Bipartisan BBQ Before Recess Stampede

At least it wasn’t one of their colleagues on a spit.

Just minutes after a contentious vote on a Transportation-HUD spending bill, senators gathered for an August recess farewell barbecue lunch in the Kennedy Caucus Room.

Senators Attend Bipartisan BBQ Before Recess Stampede

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Dan Coats, Jeanne Shaheen and Charles E. Grassley arrive in the Russell Building for a bipartisan BBQ. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was unclear what the farewell fete was to celebrate, perhaps that many members won’t have to see each other for five weeks.

Not every senator went. Others still were seen exiting the Senate office buildings early to get back to the Capitol.

A few, though, embraced the proximity of bipartisanship. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., chatted collegially with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on an open-air subway car back to the Capitol. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stopped to talk briefly with TV cameras on her way out.

This was the second consecutive August send-off pig pickin’, with a similar gathering happening last year as well.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said he provided the food for the barbecue, which came from Sam’s BBQ 1 in Marietta, Ga., the same barbecue joint that catered the event last year. “I think it’s a good way to end the session for the summer and leave on a good note,” Isakson said.

Perhaps when senators come back after Labor Day, they can make a wager on a friendly game of cornhole to raise the debt limit.

Eddie Bernice Johnson Rips Into Lamar Smith

Eddie Bernice Johnson Rips Into Lamar Smith

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With the August recess looming large, members are slipping in the last partisan jabs they can before everyone retreats to the echo chambers of their respective districts.

During her opening statement on a resolution to authorize subpoenas for research data the Environmental Protection Agency uses to justify air quality regulations, House Science ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas got a little too personal, in the opinion of the panel’s Republicans. Full story

Vicky Hartzler Gets All Warm and Fuzzy

Rep. Vicky Hartzler had some fun on the House floor Wednesday, railing against a federally mandated “rabbit disaster plan” as part of the GOP’s pre-recess blitz against odious government regulations.

But don’t let the cuddly prop fool you: She’s a pistol.

Approximately 24 hours before championing the business rights of the furry-footed, the Missouri Republican had been busy laying waste to paper thugs at the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Va. Full story

July 31, 2013

House Republicans Own Casual Wednesday

Perhaps inspired by the bygone days of Seersucker Thursday, members of the House GOP appear to be testing out a new weekday dress code: Casual Wednesday.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., raised eyebrows last week when he showed up for an evening vote series sporting a sweaty T-shirt, gym shorts and sneakers.

This week, an HOH tipster spotted a tie-less Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., behind the dais at a Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee.

Hunter, who wields the gavel as chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, also neglected to wear a jacket on Wednesday morning.

As a three-term congressman, Hunter is no stranger to what constitutes proper attire. Is the laid-back look a nod to his San Diego roots?

Not quite, Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Kasper, informed HOH.

A complicated surgery — anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, to be exact — prevents the congressman from suiting up. Hunter’s surgeon made a small incision in his neck to reach disks in his spinal cord, decompressing tension and relieving the congressman of “an old Marine Corps injury,” Kasper said.

He’s under “doctor’s orders” to go tieless for a while, Kasper said. But rest assured, dress code sticklers, he’ll be back in a tie after the August recess.

Blotto Intern Falls Hard for Paul Ryan

Blotto Intern Falls Hard for Paul Ryan

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A well-in-his-cups intern sparked a pseudo manhunt on Capitol Hill today, as staff from the office of a House Republican tried to contain a stumbling, bumbling aide apparently dead set on getting some face time with his dream guy, ex-GOP vice presidential pick and current House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan.

Per an email circulated internally by an intern wrangler for the House Republican, the drama began when the wasted youth moseyed into work a few hours late, still stinking of the night before.

Things only got hairier once the underage boozehound began proclaiming his love for the Wisconsin Republican and then raced off to try to catch a glimpse of the P90X devotee at work. Full story

‘Cap South’ Courts Staffers for Season Finale

The powers-that-be over at “Cap South” — a nascent Web series that views Congress through a fun-house mirror — are so excited about wrapping up their first season on Thursday that they’re offering Hill folks a chance to get in on the act.

Cast and crew will be congregating at Top of the Hill  (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for a real happy hour/fake farewell party for fictional Rep. Gracie Todd Englewright. Creator Rob Raffety told HOH he’s looking to host as many folks as possible (capacity will probably be limited to around 100), and plans to retain partygoers as extras for a post-HH filming scheduled to run from 7 p.m. till ???

Those looking to partake in the festivities should email media@capsoutheseries.com or RSVP via the show’s Facebook page. Full story

Five Captions to Watch Out For | Capitol Quip

Five Captions to Watch Out 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:

  • It’s coming right at me — Yes, I definitely feel threatened.
  • 3 minutes. This is not working. Let’s just try to repeal it again.
  • Yes, I expect a crime is about to occur.
  • The guy took my peanuts and Big Gulp, then he threatened me with a mandate!
  • Profiling Democrats? Who, me?!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog Aug. 5 and in the next day’s 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 3:22 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Nancy Pelosi Plies POTUS With Chocolate Cake

Nancy Pelosi Plies POTUS With Chocolate Cake

(Courtesy Nancy Pelosi’s office)

From Bill Cosby’s lips to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s ears.

Following this morning’s huddle with party lawmakers, Pelosi plans to surprise President Barack Obama with an early birthday gift: a cake smothered in her favorite treat, dark chocolate.

44 will turn 52 on Sunday.

Mind you, POTUS appears to be more of a meat eater than a sweets fiend.

But as we learned from the first father of black sitcoms, chocolate cake should be considered a nutritional bonanza.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:28 a.m.
Food, HillSide, POTUS

July 30, 2013

Al Roker Lobbies for Biden TV

“Today” show personality Al Roker wants to flood the airwaves with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., be it via reality programming or by handing over the reins to the early morning gabfest.

VPOTUS responded in kind on Twitter: Full story

John Yarmuth Eulogizes His Cat

On a day when some on Capitol Hill were busy trying to connect with the animal kingdom, Rep. John Yarmuth had to say goodbye to one of his whiskered buddies.

The Kentucky Democrat broke the news about the passing of Rice, his 13-year-old cat, via Facebook.

“Rice was a dedicated family man, close adviser, and friend to virtually any visitor to the Yarmuth home,” Yarmuth said of his cherished companion. A Yarmuth aide told HOH the beloved pet died of natural causes.

The cat, who was apparently named after NFL receiving legend Jerry Rice, seems to have been an integral part of Yarmuth’s existence. Full story

Cloture Club’s Ready for Recess

Cloture Club’s Ready for Recess

(Courtesy Cloture Club)

The merry-makers at Cloture Club want to help you kick off the so-close-you-can-almost-taste-it August recess with a bang — that bang being a whole mess of fancy booze and an incriminating photo booth coupled together for their “Summer Bash” soiree.

The all-night rager (RSVP via Facebook) is scheduled to take place Thursday, 7 p.m.-??? at 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE).

Featured stress-busters include: $5 imports (Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe Blonde) and craft drafts  (Goose Island), $5 Cointreau-laced beverages (Rickeys, Cosmos), $4 house wines and craft bourbons, select tastings of WhistlePig straight rye whiskey (free for VIP guests) and free movie passes.

Here’s to making memories (and perhaps headlines in HOH).

Pet Lobby Brings Congress to Its Knees

Pet Lobby Brings Congress to Its Knees

Rep. Lois Capps greets Marley, a beagle mix, and handler Kelly Andrews of the Prince George’s County Animal Shelter during an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Congressional Animal Protection Caucus event in the Cannon Building. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For once, all the barking and screeching on Capitol Hill was coming from real animals rather than rabid political types.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals got members and their congressional aides to forget party differences and join together in “ooohing” and “aaahing” for hours Tuesday during their second annual “Paws for Celebration!”, a pet adoption fest featuring ready-to-race-you-home critters currently cared for by various local animal shelters and rescue organizations.

An ASPCA spokeswoman said previous adoption outreach efforts on the Hill — the inaugural “Paws” gathering in 2012 and a Valentine’s-themed version earlier this year — have resulted in almost two dozen adoptions by staffers. Full story

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