Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

September 27, 2013

House GOP Aide Questions Wisdom of Going to See ‘Prisoners’ Tonight

House Republicans might be rethinking their Friday night movie plans after word got out that the members would be hitting up the Regal in Chinatown to see “Prisoners.”

In a series of emails obtained by CQ Roll Call, Republican staffers revealed that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wants to do a movie night for the Republican members in town. And the plan is to see “Prisoners.”

That’s when Erica Elliott, the spokeswoman for McCarthy, asks a prescient question:

“Any chance the media reads WAY too much into the title of the movie, Prisoners?”

To answer Ms. Elliott’s question: yes.

Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have made a concerted effort to cast Republicans as the bad guys for taking the nation’s credit “hostage” for a “wish list” of demands. Obama says he will not negotiate. Speaker John A. Boehner says, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”

So when Republicans landed on “Prisoners” for their Friday night flick, it was probably going to raise some Democratic eyebrows — or at least prompt some Democratic press releases.

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“Given Speaker Boehner’s crusade to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to Tea Party ransom demands, it’s not surprising that, in their free time, the Republican Conference would choose to spend their Friday night watching a film together about hostage taking.” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s communications director told CQ Roll Call.

“Perhaps, given the group, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ would be more appropriate for their movie night,” Hammill said.

But HOH will note that if you haven’t seen the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” then the sequel, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ (which is the movie actually playing at Regal), probably isn’t worth your time.

In fact, nothing at Regal looks all that good.

“Insidious: Chapter 2” — There was a Chapter 1?

“Don Jon” — Let’s not even go there.

“The Family” — 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so …

“Rush” — We think House Republicans, like us, have grown tired of Ron Howard.

“Baggage Claim” — 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — Seen it.

“Battle of the Year 3D” — Also ripe for ridicule, especially if you’re spotted in the 3D glasses.

“The World’s End” — Hard to see how that’s much better than “Prisoners.”

So “Prisoners,” with a 79 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and 90 percent audience approval, may not be the worst Friday night flick — even if Democrats are delighting in the choice.

Elliott, who took a stern tone over the matter using words like “confirm” and “logistics,” said Republicans were still figuring out which movie to see.

“I can confirm that our office has had internal discussions about potential member services activities this weekend. I can also confirm that a member of Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff was mistakenly copied on the email chain and chose to forward it to members of the media. At this time, no final decisions have been made about logistics for this weekend,” Elliott said.

September 26, 2013

Eric Cantor All Revved Up After NASCAR Pitstop

With the government days away from shutting down, and Republicans still searching for votes on a measure to raise the debt ceiling, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took some time Thursday to focus on what’s really important: the children.

Eric Cantor All Revved Up After NASCAR Pitstop

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Of course, the children in question just happened to be accompanied by NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin and supermodel Niki Taylor.

The Virginia Republican met with the group, representing the March of Dimes, in his office to hear about their legislative priorities. At the top of their list are a Senate-passed bill to expand research and education on preterm birth and one of Cantor’s bills to end taxpayer financing for presidential campaigns and conventions and shift funding to pediatric research.

Hamlin, driver of NASCAR’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota, showed political shrewdness by getting straight to the point.

“The key to research is funding,” he told Cantor.

The majority leader agreed but noted to knowing chuckles, “There are things going on right now having to do with funding the government period.” Full story

Bipartisan Boozefest Happening Tonight at Top of the Hill

The Republican Communications Association and Democratic Communicators Network are burying the hatchet just long enough to co-host a “hacks and flacks” happy hour Thursday at Top of the Hill (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE).

The bipartisan mixer is scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. at the back bar.

Political scribes looking to bend the elbow with congressional mouthpieces should RSVP to RCA@mail.house.gov.

It’s a cash bar scenario. But a Top of the Hill aide assured HOH the standard happy hour specials — $3 Bud Lights, $5 house red or white wine and $5 Stolichnaya/flavored Stoli mixed drinks — will be in effect.

Billy Goat Tavern Gives Hill Chance to Eat Ted Cruz’s Words

Billy Goat Tavern Gives Hill Chance to Eat Ted Cruz’s Words

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Neighborhood dive Billy Goat Tavern has decided to get in on all the kinda-sorta-filibuster fun by dishing out a green eggs and ham special commemorating Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s recent dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss.

The politically inspired repast includes mint-colored eggs, hash browns, grilled ham and your choice of toast (white or wheat) for $4.75.

Billy Goat Tavern Gives Hill Chance to Eat Ted Cruz’s Words

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Billy Goat (500 New Jersey Ave. NW) is serving the hearty-har-har breakfast until noon Thursday.

When we strode into the Capitol Hill watering hole, the place was mostly empty, save for a few office drones nursing their late morning coffees. “Our first order!” cooed the grill cook when we placed our order for the fabled foodstuffs.

The meal was good; the generous plate featured fluffy eggs scrambled with bits of savory ham, onion-laced hash browns and a bonus piece of salty, griddle-seared swine.

One suggestion: maybe next time cap the whole thing off with a slice of creamy American (or queso fresco?) to commemorate the cheesiness of Cruz using public access television to snooker little ones into hearing his favorite bedtime book.

 

 

September 25, 2013

Five Options for This Week’s Capitol Quip

Five Options for This Weeks 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:

  • I’ve done that … with my shirt off.
  • Ha! Not what I expected when my spies mentioned the development of a new U.S. Cruz missile.
  • In Mother Russia we give opposing party much shorter fuse.
  • President Obama was right … America really is “exceptional.”
  • At least you’ll go out with a bang.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 29 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 4:53 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Hill Staffers Add Star Power to Upcoming Vegetarian Luncheon

Actress Marilu Henner and “Veganist” author Kathy Freston will share their thoughts on healthier eating with the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association at an intimate luncheon scheduled for Oct. 2.

House staffer Adam Sarvana told HOH the eco-conscious celebs — who were already coming into town to discuss dietary guidelines with the Agriculture Department — agreed to break bread with congressional aides who also favor a meat-free lifestyle.

Henner, best known for her role as Elaine O’Connor-Nardo on the classic sitcom “Taxi” but also for movies such as “L.A. Story,” has of late extolled health makeovers and dispensed advice on how to improve memory. Freston is one of the vegan movement’s rock stars, with New York Times best-selling books on the subject and regular appearances on television shows such as “Ellen” and “The View.”

Those interested in attending the luncheon, which is set to take place at noon on Oct. 2 at Rayburn 2456, must RSVP to Sarvana directly (Adam.Sarvana@mail.house.gov) to claim a seat. He suggested the event would likely be limited to the first 50 respondents. Full story

GOP Senate Hopeful Flubs Election Date

Aspiring senator Terri Lynn Land may want to see about locking down a new scheduler, lest she find herself staring out into an empty hotel ballroom later this fall.

GOP Senate Hopeful Flubs Election Date

(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

An HOH tipster passed along a campaign email Land blasted out to supporters Tuesday night in which the former Michigan secretary of state enthusiastically proclaimed that she’d like to sew up her race lickety-split.

“People know we can win the US Senate race in Michigan this year,” Land assured her followers.

That’d be one helluva of political coup — considering retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., isn’t stepping down until January 2015.

Perhaps Land could use a bit of a refresher?

Team Land did not respond to an email request seeking clarification about the very off-year grandstanding.

Jokesters Use Ted Cruz to Air Personal Grievances

The Twitterverse has seemingly enjoyed every minute of the non-filibuster Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and pals have engaged in over the past 20-some hours on the Senate floor.

Jokesters Use Ted Cruz to Air Personal Grievances

(Screenshot)

Which is not to say everyone has continued hanging on Cruz’s every word.

As part of their ongoing anti-Obamacare campaign, Cruz and conservative commentators decided to punctuate their anger by appending online missives with the #MakeDCListen tag.

And while they’ve gotten plenty of traction from the rhetorical challenge, some social-media users have elected to take the taunt in much different directions, including:

 

Drawing local battle lines, Full story

September 24, 2013

Stockman: Democrats Want to Kill Infants

Rep. Steve Stockman is never one to disappoint when it comes to questionable tweets. Here’s the Texas Republican’s latest attempt to put the Senate debate on Obamacare defunding and Sen. Ted Cruz’s extended speechifying in perspective.

Stockman, it should be noted, does not always write his own tweets. They are often authored by his communications director, Donny Ferguson, who also has his own twitter handle @DonnyFerguson.

 

Ex-GOP Aide Weaves Sex, Politics Into Debut Novels

After what seemed like a lifetime of campaigning — most notably with the Republican National Committee and its offshoots (Pennsylvania Victory) — Cristin Harber discovered that her guiltiest pleasure wasn’t carrying the day or grinding opponents underfoot: It was good, old-fashioned love stories.

“While on a few campaign trails, I’d jot down short stories and read political thrillers during the down time. Someone gave me a romance novel and I thought, ‘This is exactly what I always thought was missing,’” the amateur wordsmith said of the final push she needed to graduate to full-blown author.

Ex GOP Aide Weaves Sex, Politics Into Debut Novels

(Screenshot)

After two solid years of writing, Harber is entering the market with her five-part Titan series, a string of romantic thrillers that sound like they fall somewhere on the spectrum between former Sen. Byron Dorgan’s wonky adventures and “50 Shades of Grey” scribe E L James’ insanely successful stabs at mommy porn. Full story

Jewish Group Builds Sukkah Just for Congress

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot has almost run its course, with the ancient harvest festival drawing to a close on Wednesday.

Jewish Group Builds Sukkah Just for Congress

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But the American Friends of Lubavitch made sure to give congressional members of the tribe one last chance to worship during the holiday by erecting a short-lived sukkah just steps from the Capitol.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, told HOH his group relishes the opportunity to provide congressional aides an easily accessible place to worship. But he noted that erecting a sukkah in the shadow of the Capitol Dome — something he said the group has strived to do every year (barring inclement weather or absentee lawmakers) for the past two decades — remains “an emphatic statement of religious freedom.” Full story

Herb Kohl Can’t Quit The Monocle

He may have retired from politics, but it seems that former Sen. Herb Kohl’s lunch habits die hard.

Herb Kohl Can’t Quit The Monocle

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

The Wisconsin Democrat gave up his seat at the end of the last cycle, paving the way for Tammy Baldwin to join the largest class of female lawmakers to ever inhabit the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

No word on what brought Kohl back to his old stomping grounds. Perhaps he just missed the avocado-laden chicken salads, spicy-chili-butter-spiked steaks or blue crab burgers of his (relative) youth.

‘Inside Edition’ Hunting for D.C.’s Sexiest Dude

Feminists, rejoice!

“Inside Edition” has turned the tables on televised toplessness, training its full tabloid resources on finding ultra-toned dudes here in the D.C. metro area.

Sadly, no one from Capitol Hill — nary a single pretty boy from all those “most beautiful” lists is involved — or government service in general (we’re looking at you, administration heartbreaker Reggie Love) tossed his hat tank top into the ring to vie for “D.C.’s Sexiest Bachelor.”

But show publicist Irene Rogers told HOH that one of the 14 finalists is a “mentalist who also has political aspirations.” (MindReader2016?)

‘Inside Edition’ Hunting for D.C.’s Sexiest Dude

(Screenshot)

Full story

September 23, 2013

Take Five: Howard Coble

Take Five: Howard Coble

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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 Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., talks about first jobs, post-Coast Guard life and the Grammys.

Q. You started out working in retail in Greensboro, N.C.?

A. I worked at Belk’s department store, mostly in men’s clothing. I started at probably 14 years old. My dad worked there for 42 years, mostly at the downtown store. It was kind of a non-negotiable. He said, “You will go to work.”

Q. Greensboro, N.C., is home to six colleges, so what caused you to attend Guilford College?

A. I transferred to Guilford from Appalachian State to be near home. I was thinking about studying for the ministry at the time, and I thought a liberal arts college would be a better fit for that.

Q. You spent more than two decades serving in the Coast Guard. How has it enabled you to better understand that niche within the military in the subcommittees you now serve on?

A. I enlisted 61 years ago on Sept. 16. I had a couple of friends that had enlisted earlier, and they’re the ones that talked me into joining the Coast Guard. It was a good learning experience that served me well, particularly on the Coast Guard Committee. I was the former chairman and I was the only member of the Coast Guard now serving in Congress.

Q. The Triad region of North Carolina is world-famous for its annual furniture market. Have you found any good furniture places in Washington?

A. I hadn’t really looked because I found all of mine back home. I bought a house up here, though. It’s located 10 blocks from Navy Yard.

Q. You attended the Grammys in 2008. What was your favorite or most memorable part of the show?

A. The late Earl Scruggs. He was confirmed with his Lifetime Achievement Award. They asked me to present him that award since Earl was from Cleveland County in North Carolina. I was very pleased and honored to do that.

Overheard: Harry Reid’s Love of Grocery Shopping

“One of my favorite things I like to do in Nevada and here in Washington is to go grocery shopping. It is such a diversion for me. I love going grocery shopping to look around, buy things. Landra and I are without our children and our grandchildren — we live alone — but we still buy food and I enjoy that so very much.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor Sept. 19

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