Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 21, 2014

October 21, 2013

Reform Advocates Spoof Unsavory Lobbying Practices

Reform Advocates Spoof Unsavory Lobbying Practices


If the video of the stripping senator didn’t make you lose your lunch, the new “feeding frenzy” spot from Represent.Us most certainly will.

In its latest assault against conventional politics, the nearly year-old public advocacy project depicts an encounter between an unscrupulous lobbyist and morally suspect lawmakers, all of whom take turns shoving food and drink in each other’s increasingly messy faces at a fictional dinner meeting.

The gross-out negotiations, which include discussion of sneaking a publicly opposed provision into a must-pass bill, come to an abrupt halt when an activist attempts to inject herself into the conversation — an invasion of privacy that scatters the political insiders to the four winds, leaving the petition-waving interloper stuck with the tab for the garish feast.

The nightmare scenario is just the latest wake-up call Represent.Us has shared with the voting class. The grass-roots organization is continuing to build support for its Anti-Corruption Act (386,000-plus signatories and counting), a comprehensive plan designed to purge politics of dirty money. Full story

Mustache Lobby Digs Into Discrimination

The furry-lipped folks behind the American Mustache Institute are so certain that those with facial hair lead fuller and more productive lives that they’re hitting the road to chronicle the state of the ‘stache in the modern workplace.

As part of their fact-finding mission, the group — which first popped up on our radar after an aide to cookie-duster sporting former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., got drawn into a procedural firestorm — has launched an online poll seeking to discern whether the general public assumes that the mustachioed amongst us are otherwise gifted (exhibiting, for example, exceptional professionalism, athleticism or a really impressive grip):

Mustache Lobby Digs Into Discrimination


Full story

October 20, 2013

Taking the Economy for a Ride | Capitol Quip

Taking the Economy for a Ride | Capitol Quip

Well, Congress avoided one economic catastrophe last week, but lawmakers set themselves up to fight over the same fiscal matters all over again in January and February. 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 Emily Pierce Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Ka-Boom! | Capitol Quip

Ka Boom! | 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 18, 2013

Activist Plans to Show Congress the Bunny

Thank god the ridiculousness of the ill-fated government shutdown is finally behind us, so that Congress can get back to business as usual.

Activist Plans to Show Congress the Bunny

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Like the “sunny bunny” dance party scheduled to take place Monday morning. promoter Patricia Taylor can’t take the negativity constantly being spewed by lawmakers. So she’s dispatching her mascot, the “Positive Bunny” — whom we last encountered over by the White House — to strut his stuff outside the Capitol from 10 a.m to  noon on Oct. 21.

“He’ll be doing the ‘sunny bunny’ dance. America needs to get its sunny disposition back!” she told HOH of her plan to lighten things up.

Taylor’s proposed annual venting holiday is pretty much straight from Frank Costanza’s Festivus playbook:

The difference being, she’d like to bring lawmakers into the fold.

“The whole concept of being open and positive … it would change Congress to ‘bring the bunny to the table,’” Taylor said of her vision.

Self-Helper Urges Staffers to Let It All Out

As pundits turn to hashing out the economic and political implications of the recent government shutdown, behavioral coach Beverly Flaxington wants put-upon staffers to know that while they can’t control high-level political stalemates, they can attempt to control the emotional fallout.

“People are on these ups and downs,” Flaxington said. “We let ourselves be taken away.”

Throughout the 16-day federal standoff, Flaxington estimates many people likely accumulated unnecessary feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. And that needs to be discussed.

“I mean, people are getting sick over this,” she said, noting that even non-furloughed workers were undoubtedly affected by the administrative chaos. Full story

October 17, 2013

Furloughed Feds Feasted on Shutdown Giveaways

Back when the 16-day shutdown was still a mere glimmer in Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s eye, local restaurants began offering a helping hand to civil servants displaced by the ideological tug of war consuming Capitol Hill.

Here’s some of the fallout from the feeding frenzy of the furloughed:


The José Andrés-led outfit gave away 2,783 sandwiches across its various properties.

The furloughed flocked mostly to Zaytinya, the location that served up the most complimentary meals and the most popular of the free sandwiches, the chicken shawarma.

Pork Barrel BBQ

This suburban barbecue shop, the brainchild of former congressional staffers turned cook-off competitors, dished out 2,047 gratis pulled pork sandwiches (estimated retail value: $13,000) throughout the course of the shutdown.

Pork Barrel Co-Owner Bill Blackburn said they took the biggest hits early on, preparing 351 free sandwiches on Oct. 1 and 418 free sandwiches Oct. 2.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Frustrated feds ate their feelings by way of chomping through just under 1,000 free donuts.

What flavor most comforted those burned by the budget battle? The lightly torched crème brulee, of course.

And then there’s poor Z-Burger.

The local chainlet revels in rolling out timely giveaways (Election Day, National Cheeseburger Day), but bit off more than it could chew with its promise of free burgers for badge-flashing patrons at both lunch and dinner. The company had to kill the promotion within the first 96 hours of the shutdown — a desperation move prompted by their having to eat the loss of approaching 16,000 in free sandwiches, or roughly $88,000.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:24 p.m.
DC, Food, Restos, Staffers

Five Explosive Captions To Choose From | Capitol Quip

Five Explosive Captions To Choose From | 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 10 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • We shut down the government and destroyed our reputation, and you let Obamacare get away?!
  • Dang! That Cruz missile was supposed to soar, not blow up in our faces.
  • That’s how you solve all the nation’s problems with a push of a button.
  • We’ll get ‘em next time. Can’t say we didn’t make an impact!
  • Well, we blew SOMEthing up. Not bad for government work.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Oct. 20 and in the Oct. 22 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 Emily Pierce Posted at 1:21 p.m.

October 16, 2013

Biggest Losers in the Shutdown Logjam: Lumberjacks

Of course the mainstream media fumed about the sickly babies denied medical care by the defunded National Institutes of Health, the single moms forcefully weaned off assistance by suddenly shuttered Women, Infants and Children program offices, and visiting combat veterans unable to pay their respects at national monuments deemed off-limits during the protracted government shutdown.

But is it possible us political hacks miss the forest for the trees?

Business watchdog Jillian Eugenios sure as heck didn’t.

Biggest Losers in the Shutdown Logjam: Lumberjacks


The multitalented newshound — she’s currently juggling a web producing gig at the “TODAY” show, freelance writing and graduate studies at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism — decided to take a step back from the budget fight fray and think about who, other than those already swept up in the headline wars, might be taking it on the chin in the ideological squabble.

All the talk about national parks, naturally, planted a seed in her mind.

“I feel like a lot of attention was given to the tourists not being able to have the vacation they imagined, which is fair,” she said of the outcry the administrative hiatus evoked from the leisurely minded. “But I thought, what about the people who rely on those same tourist destinations as their livelihood?”

Stopping the chopping: Shutdown causes lumber stocks to fall from Jillian Eugenios on Vimeo.

Full story

Overheard: FreedomWorks Bemoans Shutdown Bargain

“The line separating the Democrats and the Republican establishment is fading — it might have disappeared today. This is about Washington insiders versus the rest of America now.”

— incensed about the looming budget deal, FreedomWorks stokes the tea party faithful by redrawing the battle lines

Scott Brown Takes Tokyo

While many of his former colleagues were burning the midnight oil all week in hopes of saving the world economy from completing an anticipated death spiral, former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., has been living large in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Scott Brown Takes Tokyo

(Courtesy Scott Brown)

Granted, he’s not been preoccupied with all the royal engagements he once claimed crowded his schedule — when he wasn’t tending to his floofy wittle friends, of course — but the Massachusetts Republican appears to be keeping busy during what seems to be a whirlwind tour of Japan.

According to his Twitter feed, the Japanese government specifically requested Brown make the globe-spanning trek so that he could huddle with “business, political, education and industry leaders.”

Brown has, at least so far, made the most of the experience, spending his time:

Did Michelle Obama Snub Richard Simmons?

Richard Simmons has a dream: to team up with first lady Michelle Obama and lead exercises on the White House lawn. But for now, that dream remains unrequited.

Simmons said in a pair of interviews with CQ Roll Call that the White House has rejected his overtures to help with the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” childhood anti-obesity initiative.

“I’ve tried to reach my hand out to President Obama and the first lady,” he said. “They have rejected me.”

“I was with childhood obesity long before any of them,” he added.

A number of emissaries, including House and Senate members, offered to connect Simmons with the White House, he said, with no success.

“I guess they think I’m too silly or they think I’m not their kind of person,” he said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that the presidency is a “hard job.” He offered specific praise for the president’s “absolutely amazing” efforts to turn around the economy. He is likewise impressed with the first lady’s White House garden.

“It’s just amazing,” he said. “Look at how many children the first lady has touched with the garden.”

As for his dream, he envisions an event on the White House lawn with an orchestra.

“The White House lawn only fits so many and when you think of the millions and millions who are overweight, it just takes takes your breath away,” he said. He went on to suggest that the event could be taped and posted on YouTube.

“So then everyone can do the exercises,” he said.

For now, Simmons continues his crusade against obesity with his workout studio, videos and motivational television appearances.

“You know, everyone can’t like you. I found that out in my life,” he said. “Everybody can’t like you or appreciate you. So you really have to focus on the ones who do.”

“We all feel hurt when we get rejected,” he added.

October 15, 2013

Media Flying Blind as Congress Futzes About

Fiscal ruin is imminent. Confidence in Congress is nearly nonexistent. And end game strategies are crashing and burning faster than anyone can Twitter-hate on them.

Media Flying Blind as Congress Futzes About

(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

And our poor colleagues are desperately attempting to make sense of it all. (Granted, some more cavalierly than others.)

Team Chabot Spills About Exploding Fish Tank

Team Chabot Spills About Exploding Fish Tank

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“It looks like a giant frown,” Mark Wellman, chief of staff to Rep. Steve Chabot, said of the gaping crack stretched across the front of a 65-gallon aquarium that inexplicably burst Monday, showering the Ohio Republican’s personal office in constantly aerated freshwater and shell-shocked sea life.

Chabot spokesman Adam Scheidler told HOH the pet-astrophe occurred around 2 p.m. Monday.

“They heard a big ‘whoosh’ and rushed in here to see what had happened,” Scheidler said of the two congressional aides who happened to be in the office when the tank glass suddenly fractured and gave way. Staff rushed to save as many of the floppy, gasping fishies as they could by dumping them into water-filled trash bins, but Scheidler calculates that 10 to 12 of the more than three dozen occupants of the original tank did not survive the transition to the new aquarium.

Per Scheidler, Chabot purchased that first tank for himself around last Christmas, getting his new hobby going with about a dozen tiny tenants. Full story

Kirsten Gillibrand on Crutches

Kirsten Gillibrand on Crutches

Gillibrand in healthier times. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is on crutches.

The Empire State’s junior senator caused a small frenzy on Monday when several reporters spied her coming out of votes in injured form.

Such an awesome statement from Gillibrand was catnip to HOH and just about everyone else:

Alas, her spokeswoman’s account is far less mysterious and exciting. Full story

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