Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

November 6, 2013

Quite a Hairy Situation | Capitol Quip

Quite a Hairy Situation | 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. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • If you like your facial hair, you will be able to keep it. Period.
  • We’re not shaving until HealthCare.gov works!
  • Look, I really think these bipartisan beards will help us grow the economy.
  • It’s about time we had some growth around here.
  • Has anybody found out if razor burn is covered by the Affordable Care Act?

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Nov. 10 and in the Nov. 12 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 5:18 p.m.
Capitol Quip

John Schlimm To Join Next Vegetarian Staff Shindig

The ever-optimistic Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association is hosting another educational event on Thursday, part of an evolving outreach effort accentuated this time by the chance to hobnob with vegan cookbook author John Schlimm.

The late lunch/discussion is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center, room 217 (colloquially known as “meeting room south.”) Per staff, the complimentary luncheon — featuring sandwiches from Zenful Bites and sweets from the award-winning Sticky Fingers — is open to everyone (no RSVP required).

Schlimm, who released his latest work, “The Cheesy Vegan,” just last month, wasn’t born a devout plant-eater:

But it sounds like taking in the myriad sights/sounds/smells of a butcher shop at a young age made choosing his current lifestyle a no-brainer.

Church Sends Congress a Message

Church Sends Congress a Message

Are the Methodists sending a message to Congress? (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a slow week on Capitol Hill, with only the Senate in, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t political messaging. Across the street from the Capitol lies the United Methodist Building, which seemed to be sending a message to Congress with its front-yard sign: “God’s Justice Never Shuts Down.” The shutdown might be over, but the fallout apparently is not.

November 5, 2013

Heller Staff Pokes Nevada’s Journalistic Tiger

Heller Staff Pokes Nevadas Journalistic Tiger

Sen. Dean Heller in January at a press conference for his “No Budget, No Pay” measure, which Jon Ralston has criticized (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jon Ralston has had it with Sen. Dean Heller’s office.

In an epic rant on his Ralston Reports website, the longtime Nevada political journalist called the Republican senator’s staff “the most unprofessional I have worked with (or not!) in a quarter-century of covering politics.”

Ralston notes he is not upset that the senator won’t talk to him or go on his weekly Nevada political show, because that happens to him from time to time. He notes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and others have “snubbed” him in the past, but Ralston has never had a problem with the staffers before.

“I acknowledge that it is impossible to write about this topic without seeming self-serving, like a peevish, arrogant journalist not getting his way,” Ralston writes.

But he says the Heller staff’s refusal to respond to any of his inquiries with even a “no comment” has driven him to go on the offensive.

“Heller’s turtle act is just sad and cowardly. But his staff’s behavior is more than merely pathetic and unprofessional; it is an outrageous affront to taxpayers who pay their salaries.”

HOH did get a response from Heller’s staff to Ralston’s complaints. “Although we disagree with him, Jon Ralston is welcome to express his opinion,” said Heller spokesman Chandler Smith in an email.

Heller’s staff ran into trouble earlier this year with other Senate offices when aides were accused of preventing members from viewing the Nevadan’s office suite during the Senate’s biennial office lottery.

By Emily Pierce Posted at 9:35 p.m.
FightingWords, Sens

Quorans Dissect Political Stereotypes

Election Day might be the only time some Americans even bother thinking about politics. But for a handful of true believers, wrestling with the weight of party affiliation appears to be an all-consuming challenge.

Members of the inquisitive Quora community have been opening up about the lowlights of pledging allegiance to all sides of the political spectrum.

Marcia Peterson Buckie, a self-described liberal, lampooned her day-to-day existence thusly:

“Well, it’s a hectic life: with collecting my monthly payments from George Soros and riding around in my limousine encouraging everyone to get on the governments teat. Then there are my lesson plans to teach how to be a lesbian and a communist. … Then there is the climate change hoax that I’m trying to spread,” she joked in a post delineating purported leftist agenda items.

Her actual gripe?

“Having other people define your views for you, through their filter or lens,” Buckie explained.

Michael Lee, who fields questions under the “Ask a Rational Conservative” banner, was equally droll. Full story

Sensenbrenner Stogies Have Staff Smoking Hot

It seems some congressional neophytes don’t quite get that Capitol Hill plays by its own rules.

Sensenbrenner Stogies Have Staff Smoking Hot

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Take the enraged aide who’s had enough of a certain Wisconsin Republican’s stogie habit.

“Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner likes to smoke cigars. Lots and lots and lots of cigars. How do I know that? Because the entire 4th floor of the west side of the Rayburn office building smells … whenever he is in the office,” our irate tipster fumed. “Staff is in revolt.”

Riot all you like.

Though smoking is, in fact, verboten in common areas, the House smoking policy (approved by Congress in 2010 and outlined by the House Office Building Commission) clearly states that each member/office is the boss of each individual space. That means any office could suddenly become a smoking den at any time. Full story

Horton’s Kids to Transport Fans to 1980s for Fundraiser

Horton’s Kids, a kid-friendly nonprofit founded a quarter-century ago by former Hill staffer Karin Walser, is celebrating its latest anniversary by hosting an ’80s-themed party Wednesday at the House of Sweden.

The “Give Thanks and Give Back” party is scheduled to take place 6:30-10:30 p.m. at the House of Sweden (2900 K St. NW). Individual tickets — named after ’80s anthems ($5,000 donation snags the top-tier title, the “Eye of the Tiger” sponsorship) — start at $150 a pop.

An event aide told HOH that no members of Congress are officially on the hook this time around, but held out hope that lawmakers would participate in a 25th anniversary party scheduled for February.

Attendees at the Georgetown soiree will have to make do with former Roll Call cartoonist (long live “Capitol Hell!”)-turned-CNN anchor Jake Tapper, local cover band, Dr. FU and an open bar.

Main Event Caterers will provide heavy hors d’oeuvres, including: five-spice duck moo shoo wraps, smoked salmon barquettes, mustard-crusted chicken, gourmet sliders (“two bite” Angus burgers), grilled vegetable quesadillas and port-poached pears with brie. Full story

November 4, 2013

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

As part of his last-ditch effort to rally the GOP faithful, Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli brought Sen. Marco Rubio to the Old Dominion to help tag team a campaign rally.

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Courtesy Ken Cuccinelli)

From the looks of things on Facebook, it would seem that many folks did not approve of Cuccinelli’s choice of political arm candy.

While support for Cuccinelli poured in from all over the country — HOH spotted well-wishers from as far west as Nevada and down south into Texas — a slew of detractors took direct aim at Rubio, attacking the Florida Republican’s:

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Screenshot)

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Screenshot)

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Screenshot)

Conservative bona fides Full story

Lord Stanley’s Cup Visits Capitol Hill, Parties in Durbin’s Office

Lord Stanleys Cup Visits Capitol Hill, Parties in Durbins Office

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman talks to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, at a reception for the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

For the second time in four years, the Stanley Cup found its way to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin’s Capitol leadership suite as Illinois ex-pats, Capitol Police hockey superfans, Senate pages and ogling reporters (including this one) celebrated the Chicago Blackhawks.

Or at least they snapped photos with one of sports’ most iconic and unhygienic trophies.

Durbin spent much of the Monday afternoon open house holding court, sitting on his desk and chatting up reception attendees such as National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and fellow Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley.

As HOH friend Jordan Fabian of ABC News-Univision points out, perhaps Durbin’s talk with Bettman would have been more useful during the shutdown, as the NHL head has some experience with work stoppages stemming from an “impasse” between two sides.

Earlier Monday, the Stanley Cup was at the White House, where adopted Chicagoan President Barack Obama celebrated the Blackhawks players and staff.

Obama, a declared White Sox fan, even squeezed in a jab at the Cubs.

“Since I’ve been president, only one team has brought the world championship to my hometown of Chicago, and now the Blackhawks have done it twice,” Obama said. “Three years ago, the ‘Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Keep in mind the Cubs have been waiting for 105. So 49 might not have seemed so bad.”

Sorry, Dad.

Democrats Embrace Michaud’s Decision to Come Out

Democrats Embrace Michaud’s Decision to Come Out

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael H. Michaud went on the offensive Monday against “whisper campaigns” about his sexuality, declaring himself a gay man in a Bangor Daily News op-ed — an announcement that garnered Democratic endorsements from all around the country for the six-term Maine Democrat who is running for governor.

According to campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt, Michaud had previously come out to friends and family members — including, apparently, other members of Congress — but felt compelled to address the issue publicly because of outside forces that were up to no good.

“Like most Mainers, Mike believes his private life is just that, private,” Reinholt said of Michaud’s decision to keep quiet until now. “This election is too important to let personal matters distract from the important issues at hand … like the economy, health care and education.”

Michaud did not shrink from the task in his editorial — “That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am,” he wrote — urging others, who might perhaps be wrestling with a similar decision, to take heart.

“If seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better,” Michaud suggested in print. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:45 p.m.
media, Nationwide, Reps

Take Five: Rep. Steve Daines

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. Steve Daines, R-Mont., discusses mountaintop experiences, doing business in China and just when exactly he plans to announce his bid for Senate.

Q. You have been married for 25 years to your wife, Cindy. Tell me about your wedding or how it all came to be.
A. Before we got married, I proposed to Cindy on top of a Montana mountain peak. We got engaged on Hyalite Peak, which is a 10,000-foot peak. It was a round-trip, 15-mile hike from the car and back. I surprised her with a diamond on the top.

Q. Tell me about your 13 years with Procter & Gamble before you ran for Congress.
A. I was hired right out of college when I went to work for P&G. We were asked one day if we would consider moving to China to launch a business; it was not to outsource in any way. It was to take an American company and market it to China. We went over there with two [kids] and we came back with two more.

Q. What’s the biggest surprise when you fly back to Montana?
A. It’s just the wide open space we have and the beauty of our state. There’s a certain culture we have in Montana, a can-do attitude and strong work ethic. It’s a state and a country that doesn’t want to be told what to do. It’s that free spirit that really separates the American West and runs through the veins of Montana.

Q. Some members live in boats, rent row houses on the Hill or live out of hotels. What’s your preference for your home away from home in D.C.?
A. I look at how I can maximize my productivity; being a fifth-generation Montanan, I’m not real patient with traffic. I’ve got a little one bedroom apartment that I walk to work from every day. I don’t have a car here. The days start early and finish late; it’s nothing very fancy. It kind of reminds me of going back to my college days. We’ve got a Costco blow-up mattress for when the kids come out to visit.

Q. What’s the big takeaway for you personally from the government shutdown and how did it affect your rumored Senate bid announcement that was supposed to take place in early October?
A. 
It was never the desire of anybody to see that [shutdown] happen. We kept our team focused on serving the people that we were elected to serve. We kept a skeleton crew going, working back in Montana to tell Montanans what’s going on. I have $1.1 million in cash on hand and we will announce it soon.

November 3, 2013

Band of Boston Beards | Capitol Quip

Band of Boston Beards | Capitol Quip

The Boston Red Sox overcame a traumatic season of discontent to band together, over baseball and beards, to win the World Series. Is there a lesson in that for Washington as it looks to make government work? This all 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 Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

A Scary HealthCare.gov Experience | Capitol Quip

 A Scary HealthCare.gov Experience | 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.

Joaquin Castro Ties the Knot

Rep. Joaquin Castro wed his expectant fiancee, Anna Flores, Saturday during a private ceremony attended only by family.

“Anna and I have had an eventful and very blessed year. We are excited to embark on our journey together as a family,” the Texas Democrat told HOH via email after making things official in San Antonio.

Joaquin Castro Ties the Knot

Castro and Flores, seen here in the Cannon House Office Building earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

According to a Castro aide, the freshman lawmaker is planning a more all-inclusive affair for 2014. “They are planning a Catholic ceremony next summer to celebrate with friends,” Team Castro said.

Castro proposed to Flores earlier this summer.

November 1, 2013

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

Hatfield, right, is serenaded on his 73rd birthday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A trio of documentarians is working to ensure that the political legacy of the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon does not fade into obscurity, producing a feature-length retrospective on the compromise-embracing Republican, titled “The Gentleman of the Senate.”

Rick Dancer, one of the co-executive producers of “The Hatfield Project,” said his group has woven interviews with nearly six dozen people who worked with, and often alongside, Hatfield throughout his long-winding career into the roughly 150-minute film. The who’s who of Hatfield’s political pals includes: Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (he eulogized Hatfield on the Senate floor upon his passing in late 2011), ex-Rep. Elizabeth Furse, D-Ore., former Sens. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., and John Warner, R-Va., the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and President Bill Clinton.

Inouye, who toiled with Oregon’s longest-serving senator (30 years) on the Senate Appropriations Committee, revealed that he was so impressed by the then-chairman’s character, he crossed the aisle to contribute to Hatfield’s 1990 re-election campaign.

“He did not really believe in partisanship,” Inouye asserted.

To this day, Dancer says, left-leaning voters in hyper-liberal Portland continue to revere Hatfield’s penchant for putting sound policy above ideology. “They’ll say, ‘That’s the one Republican I voted for … because he stood on principle,’” Dancer said of the esteem in which Hatfield is still held back home.

All of which got Dancer et al. wondering: Could Hatfield make it in the modern political arena? Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:13 p.m.
Flicks, Nationwide, Sens

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