Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 1, 2014

September 20, 2013

‘Alpha House’ Elects to Keep It Real

Cameras are rolling. The cast keeps growing. And politically plugged-in visitors who have scouted the New York-based set are purportedly loving every minute of it.

That’s the incredibly early read on “Alpha House,” the forthcoming Web series about the life and times of a group of Republican senators who reside together in a group house, as envisioned by “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau.

The show, which is scheduled to debut on Amazon Prime sometime this November, follows the exploits of the titular roomies: John Goodman, playing embattled North Carolina Republican Gil John Biggs; Mark Consuelos, playing newly minted Sen. Andy Guzman; Matt Malloy, playing Sen. Louis Laffer; and Clark Johnson, playing Sen. Robert Bettencourt.

The latest additions to the star-studded ensemble include “Sex and the City” alumna Cynthia Nixon, playing Sen. Carly Armiston, D-N.Y.; “Strangers with Candy” alumna Amy Sedaris, playing Louise Laffer; “Curb Your Enthusiasm” alumna Wanda Sykes, playing Democrat Rosalyn DuPech; and Julie White as Mrs. Biggs.

Alpha House Executive Producer Jonathan Alter told HOH they’re done shooting about a third of the first season (four episodes are in the can), and that Trudeau is busily shaping the satiric arc of the remaining installments.

“There are definitely going to be some things that strike people as familiar … but we’re not writing it from the headlines,” he said of the general tone of the show. And don’t expect a lot of stunt casting.

“It won’t be like ‘K Street,’” he asserted, citing HBO’s attempt to make stars of those inside the Beltway bubble. Full story

House CSA Fans Send Out SOS

House staffers who’ve feasted all summer on healthful produce from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative don’t want the vitamin-rich party to stop. But they need some help to keep the fiberrific times rolling.

House CSA Fans Send Out SOS

(Courtesy Barbara Riley)

Barbara Riley, an aide to Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., tells HOH those partaking in the nascent community-supported agriculture program are in danger of losing their neighborhood drop-off point (First and E streets Southeast) if they don’t round up more subscribers.

By Riley’s count, the group needs to nab 10 new members before the fall harvest gets under way (Nov. 4) or else they risk losing the cherry location.

“There is another pickup at 907 Maryland Ave. NE, but not as convenient for many staffers,” Riley said.

A Lancaster Farm aide indicated that the congressional clique has until Oct. 25 to corral new recruits. “I haven’t been contacted for a check on their number,” the CSA administrator said, noting that the group, at least so far, has had no trouble meeting the ordering quota.

Should they fall short, Lancaster would attempt to relocate the remaining buyers to the nearest pickup point at Maryland Avenue. Last resort: issuing full refunds to everyone involved.

But help is on the way: Lancaster is mailing out promotional materials to all its member sites on Sept. 23.

September 19, 2013

H&M Mobbed on First Day at Union Station

The grand opening of retailer H&M’s Union Station store drew scores of visitors Thursday, including Hill staffers on lunch hour.

“For us, it’s really about opening and inviting everyone in today, showing strength in light of recent events,” said Nicole M. Christie, acting communications manager for North America at H&M.

Eager shoppers waited in line while employees entertained the masses with cheers and dancing to the music of DJ Bounce as everyone waited for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Among the customers visiting H&M on its first day of business were a number of Hill staffers, whose lanyards gave them away. No members of Congress were seen.

The new store joins more than 30 other H&M locations in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area and is the 281st store to open in the United States. The space previously housed a Barnes & Noble, which closed on March 1.

The 8,000-square-foot area is being used as the company’s first-ever boutique-style space and will feature both ladies’ and men’s styles. Although the average H&M is 20,000 square feet, this location was expected to see 600 visitors in its first day of opening, according to Ashlee Griffin, the Union Station store manager.

For the 90,000 people that pass through Union Station’s doors daily, opening a business there meant capitalizing on commuters at one of the nation’s largest transit hubs.

“It gives us a unique advantage to focus and hone in on what’s working here so we can tailor and bring in certain parts of collections, maybe even our capsule collections,” Christie said. “We understand the market that we are in, so we could have after-work events for the D.C. professional. We try to think of unique ways to think locally and connect; this really is a great space and atmosphere for it to happen.”

See scenes from the opening on our Pinterest board.

GOP Hopeful Has Miss Alabama 2012 in His Corner

Beauty pageant vet Katherine Webb is trying on the pundit hat for a change, tossing her support behind aspiring lawmaker Wells Griffith in the race to replace retired Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala.

 

Webb gave Griffith the nod Thursday on Twitter, heralding the former Republican National Committee operative’s political vision (“He will do great things for our country”) and personal values (“Great guy and great family!”). Full story

Spike Mendelsohn, Tommy Wells Tag Teaming Splashy Fundraiser

Restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn is not just throwing his support behind D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells for the next mayoral race, he’s helping the Capitol Hill personality stage a so-long-to-summer bash Sunday at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.

Spike Mendelsohn, Tommy Wells Tag Teaming Splashy Fundraiser

(Screenshot)

“The Last Hoorah of Summer” shindig is scheduled to run from 2-7 p.m. (or later, depending on how the scene is going) at the hotel’s rooftop pool (10 Eye St. SW). A suggested $25 donation to Wells’ mayoral campaign gets you in the door; potential revelers can RSVP here.

The entrance fee covers access to the water features and entitles attendees to snack on the selected nibbles — beef tartare on crostini, Brussels sprouts with béarnaise sauce, smoked trout mini tartines, mini croque Monsieurs — Béarnaise toque Brad Race will crank out for the occasion.

No dice on free booze, though Capitol Skyline General Manager Jeff Ragonese assured HOH that District Lounge plans to sling discounted beers ($5 a pop for Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling, Corona, Corona Light, Heineken) and cocktails ($8 for Jose Cuervo-spiked margaritas and regular rail drinks) throughout the event. Full story

Essential Senate GOP Staffer to Fellow Republicans: Let’s Avoid a Shutdown

Apparently the Senate administrative director’s Listserv got a little sassy Thursday morning, with Sen. Susan Collins’ administrative director telling Sen. David Vitter’s administrative director that her office’s priority should be to avoid a government shutdown, not determine who is nonessential staff.

Multiple sources of both parties (laughs are bipartisan!) sent this exchange HOH’s way, and it is awesome. If we can’t laugh at the upcoming tedium of being at the Capitol at all hours for days on end as a government shutdown looms, what can we laugh at? Full story

September 18, 2013

Tennesseans Blindsided by Must-See C-SPAN

Comcast subscribers in the Volunteer State got caught in public access hell Tuesday night after the cable provider broadcast an Amber Alert that inadvertently locked a slew of set-top boxes on C-SPAN during prime time.

“Last night, the Comcast system serving the Nashville area experienced a problem with its emergency alert system when an AMBER alert was triggered by state authorities. Impacted customers had their equipment locked onto CSPAN for about 15 minutes,” a Comcast spokesman told HOH via email. “The company has been investigating this issue and plans to install a new EAS system as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience this disruption caused our customers and their entertainment experience.”

The drama played out in real-time on Twitter, as TV viewers struggled to understand why Congress was suddenly streaming into their living rooms.

 

Some were absolutely incredulous. Full story

Nothing to See Here, Says Erica Elliott

Erica Elliott, spokeswoman extraordinaire for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had the unenviable task of calming frayed nerves Wednesday, after the House community had been informed that plans for the foreseeable future had been officially flushed down the toilet.

Because Congress can’t figure out how to pass appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year, the word went out around 3:45 p.m. that the House would be in session longer than anticipated.

“Members are advised that on Wednesday, September 25, the House will reconvene at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.  Members further are advised that the House will remain in session through the week, and possibly the weekend, until the completion of the CR. This is a change from the previously announced schedule,” the notice read.

Apparently, all hell broke loose, not that anyone enjoys finding out their schedule’s been thrown into a chaos of their own making. But the wording was a bit confusing, prompting some people to not be very pleased at all. Elliott sent out a missive a little while later, chiding everyone and, for good measure, she included a YouTube link to a scene at the end of “Animal House” that depicted mass hysteria, as well as a young Kevin Bacon yelling, “All is well,” before being flattened by the frightened hordes.

“To clarify all of the confusion and panic: The House was supposed to be out next week. Instead of being out next week, we will be in starting Wednesday. We will consider the CR before we leave this week. C’mon y’all …” her missive read, followed by the YouTube link.

So remember, as we get closer to a government shutdown and a possible worldwide economic slowdown: All is well!

After all, look how it turned out for Kevin Bacon’s character!

H&M Courts Union Station Shoppers

Swedish-based retailer H&M is throwing open the doors to its new Capitol Hill store Thursday at 11 a.m.

H&M Courts Union Station Shoppers

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Promotional materials promise can’t miss deals (pants for under $10) as well as free giveaways to the first 300 people in line.

Have at it, clotheshorses …

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of its soiree-tracking “Political Party Time” project, the Sunlight Foundation threw a shindig of its own — a lighthearted affair with one killer amenity.

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is, in fact, a fully functional, blaze orange-barreled zapper tethered to a vintage Nintendo Entertainment System console.

Sunlight Foundation Media Director Liz Bartolomeo told HOH the group struck on having a “Duck Hunt” station at the anniversary party after combing through its ever-growing database of fundraising invitations and figuring out that lawmakers love to unload on assorted fowl (pheasants, pigeons, turkeys, quail) every chance they get.

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Their rogues’ gallery of trigger-happy solons included: Reps. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn. (two events), Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Bill Owens, D-N.Y., as well as former lawmakers Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., Frank Kratovil, D-Md., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Jason Altmire, D-Pa., and Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan.

All that video sharpshooting, naturally, tends to work up a mighty hunger.

Sunlight Foundation Targets Congressional Shooting Events

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Luckily, Sunlight thought ahead and set out lobbying standard-specific snacks.

Whether members appreciate having their sporting activities mocked is debatable.

But congressional types should take comfort in the fact that Sunlight staff — the majority of which, Bartolomeo explained, are under 40, may be (at least temporarily) — so distracted by the 8-bit distraction, they might not have time to catch EVERYTHING pols get into around Capitol Hill.

“I’m sure it’ll stick around awhile,” Bartolomeo said of the ’80s time waster.

Should the mood strike, Sunlight gamers can also blow off some steam by conquering the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 or Tecmo Bowl.

Don Young’s Wild Kingdom

Don Young’s Wild Kingdom

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young on Wednesday invited curious congressional types to take on the wild side, carting a trio of would-be predators into Longworth for a well-attended photo op and some animal-assisted lobbying.

Staffers were offered the opportunity to cuddle up to a pair of cute but growly tiger cubs and a bright-eyed chimp, courtesy of the Rare Species Fund. RSF Director Dr. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle’s group was in town to advocate against any regulations that might hamper the ownership of exotic pets such as the ones he brought along to crawl all over Hill aides.

“Doc’s lifelong work demonstrates the complementary and beneficial relationship that responsible, privately operated, animal exhibit facilities can have toward critical, on-the-ground, international wildlife conservation activities,” Young told his co-workers in the “Dear Colleague” announcing the event. Full story

Five Lines to Cross | Capitol Quip

Five Lines to Cross | 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:

  • Might as well, we’re running out of paint anyway.
  • Okay, if he crosses THIS red line, then we’ll have no choice but to forgo diplomacy.
  • He’s crossed the line for the last time! This time we’ll really hold our breath until we turn blue!
  • He’s using Obamacare against his own people!
  • You gotta be kidding me. Nothing stops this guy.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 22 and in the following 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 3:52 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Embassies Get Their Entertainment On

As September draws to a close, several embassies are opening their doors to the public with films and celebrations.

Kicking things off Friday is Film by the Pool at the Embassy of Switzerland (2900 Cathedral Ave. NW.) RSVP tickets will be available online Thursday morning.

“We are very much looking forward to hosting the first-ever movie night at the pool,” said Andrea Kienast, the embassy’s event manager.

“The beautiful embassy park is usually closed to the public,” Kienast said, adding, “We wanted to invite people this fall to enjoy an unusually romantic setting and two great movies.”

The first film is “Un Mundo para Raúl,” a short film Mauro Mueller that tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who must entertain his father’s boss’ son. The film will have English subtitles, and Mueller will be present to take questions from the audience.

Full story

Softball: Ex-Collegiate Ballplayer Eyes Congress

Have the women of Congress found their ringer?

Democrats may have landed a recruit in California’s 21st District against Republican Rep. David Valadao, according to Nathan L. Gonzales of The Rothenberg Political Report. Her name is Amanda Renteria and she is not just a former Capitol Hill staffer, but also a four-year softball player for the Stanford Cardinals.

Why does this matter? Because the women of Congress band together each spring to face off against the women of the Washington press corps in a softball game. After two losses, Team Congress is on the prowl for a win and, maybe after the 2014 midterms, a new ringer.

But this is a bipartisan team. And a Renteria recruitment poses the age-old question to the likes of Reps. Martha Roby, Kristi Noem, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and any other House Republicans on Team Congress: Would you rather hold the seat or “Beat the Press“?

Gonzales, a colleague and “friend” of HOH had some fun on Twitter with this development:

 

Full story

John Green Rips Health Care a Few New Ones

John Green, author and co-creator of vlogbrothers, shares the bitter pill that is the current state of the American health care system:

(h/t Upworthy)

His prognosis: “It is not a simple problem. There will not be a simple solution. … And it’s vital that we grapple with it meaningfully instead of just treating health care costs as political theater.” Full story

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