Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2015

May 5, 2014

Post-WHCD, No Rest for D.C. Party Hoppers

Anyone get up to anything interesting this weekend?

For those of you who did not brave the press-packed ballrooms and glitterati-studded after-parties that have come to define White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend, This Town just finished indulging in epic amounts of booze, bad jokes and selfies.

The good news is there’s only 360-odd days until Hollywood next invades the nation’s capital — and immediately regrets it:



Assuming you and your liver remain on speaking terms, there are still plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle with local “celebrities” in the days ahead:

On Tuesday, the Asian Republican Coalition plans to introduce itself to sitting politicos via a splashy rollout at the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). The program — which is expected to feature complimentary speeches by Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., as well as House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. — kicks off promptly at 6:30 p.m. and flows right into cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dean Heller of Nevada should interrupt the festivities at some point to provide their two cents (four cents?) on Asians and the GOP.

Also on Tuesday, the ASCAP Foundation, the engagement arm of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, will give another round of musicians their due at the “We Write the Songs 2014” celebration.

Performers at this year’s event, scheduled to take place at the Library of Congress beginning at 7 p.m., include:

Freewheeling bandleader Jon Batiste

Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu is scheduled to introduce the N’awlins native. Full story

Alanis Morissette Sings Her Heart Out for Marianne Williamson

Award-winning songstress Alanis Morissette has released a new inspirational ditty. And it’s all about making the world a better place — by voting for House hopeful Marianne Williamson.

The anthemic “Today” — which includes the refrain, “Less we revive this constitution/From sure disintegration/Live out this revelation/Today” — was recorded by Morissette explicitly for Williamson’s campaign. Williamson, a self-help guru, is vying for the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., in a race that has brought out dozens of potential successors looking to cast themselves as the official face of Hollywood in Washington, D.C.

Per Williamson’s campaign, Morissette was approached about putting together a musical tribute a few weeks back and immediately jumped at the opportunity.

“I was attempting to capture the passion, mission, activism, deep humanity and tenderness of Marianne, the new political sensibility she represents and the consciousness that produced it,” Morissette shared on YouTube about the writing experience, adding, “I love this song. I love this woman and I love a world that would vote for her.” Full story

So, Nancy Pelosi’s Tattoo Parlor Trip Makes More Sense Now

About a week ago, the Hungry Lobbyist Twitter account posed a truly baffling question:

Now we know.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was shooting a 22-second cameo for a video that aired at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on May 3. The video went completely viral and is now closing in on 1 million views since it was posted online late that night.

Full story

May 4, 2014

Under the 6,100-Pound Doughnut | Capitol Quip

Capitol Rotunda

The Capitol is about to undergo extensive renovation to restore the iconic Dome and Rotunda, and workers have installed a massive 6,100-pound doughnut to make sure debris doesn’t get all over the place, hitting members, tourists and staffers. 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. 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

Cliven Bundy’s Manifest Destiny | 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.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7 p.m.
Capitol Quip

WHCD Video of Joe Biden Goes Viral Overnight

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. did not attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, but he was the star anyway.

Mid-way through the dinner, President Barack Obama presented a seven-minute long video of Biden taking “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus on an adventure around the White House and Washington, D.C.

Biden played a Steve McQueen-esque version of himself, sporting a bomber jacket and driving a Corvette around the grounds of the Naval Observatory while wearing aviators … at night.

Word spread fast online over the video. While dinner attendees rushed off to after-parties, and eventually bed, there were nearly 35,000 views of the video on YouTube as of 9:20 a.m.

Full story

May 3, 2014

Nancy Pelosi: A Good Sport

I learned Friday evening that one of the perils of making fun of people in public is that sometimes you encounter those individuals in real life. And sometimes they confess their epic photobomb was an “accident.”

A month or so ago, I saw a hilariously awkward photo of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in my Facebook feed. I had a bit of fun with it in this column space.

Pelosi photobomb

The post took about fifteen minutes to write and surprisingly garnered a lot of traffic — more than my usual stories about campaign media buys and Medicare Advantage.

Pelosi gamely responded on Twitter within an hour: “Oops.” It impressed me that whomever handles her account played along with the nonsense, and that I did not catch any hell from her office.

But I wasn’t prepared for actually meeting Pelosi not long after the post. But there she was at the Google/Netflix party, having a good time with a remarkably small entourage.

Full story

May 2, 2014

Too Much Regulation? There Oughta be a Law | Madisonville


Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, underlined his solemnity of purpose on Wednesday by noting that congressional hearings too often get titled merely to attract attention. So he called his hearing: “The First Step to Cutting Red Tape: Better Analysis. ” If the number of people in the room was an indication, he succeeded in not attracting attention.

Two Minnesotans were enough to account for a third of the congressional participation, and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen hijacked a good chunk of time to promote the state’s medical device industry, described by some as “Minnesota’s medical alley.” That’s a fine echo of Silicon Valley if you can block out the image of used syringes littering a poorly lit street.

Red Tape is something all political denominations can agree on.  The pejorative Red Tape is one cue about how to think about it.  Better Analysis is just as uncontroversial, as long as everybody overlooks the reality that Better Analysis is the kind that supports the already established view of one side or another. Full story

Looking Up and Seeing Nancy Pelosi

There he was. Nearly 4,400 miles from home.

Just another Washington insider trying to enjoy a few precious moments in sunny Italy away from work without fixating on Congress or politics, when whom should his wandering gaze fall upon, but her.

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

“That time you went to a restaurant in Florence on vacation and [House Minority Leader] Nancy [Pelosi] has … enjoyed a meal there,” our tipster shared after stumbling upon a snapshot of the California Democrat during a recent European retreat.

Pelosi led a congressional delegation through the region in early 2009, stopping in Florence, Rome and Naples along the way.

Our forensics lab is still crunching all the data.

But the ‘do (length, hairstyle, color) seems to match this puckerrific pose captured just outside the Capitol in March of the same year.

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Regardless of the time frame, the proud Italian-American leader appears to have made a lasting impression. Our overseas spy said her smiling mug is prominently featured “just under a picture of the owner with [singer Bruce] Springsteen, and on the same wall as photos with [actors John] Travolta and Brad Pitt — among others.”

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of April 28 (Video)

Members teach us about the singing group “50 Cent” and the Capitol Hill fox, while Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., informs us that we don’t know what we don’t know because we don’t know it.

The ‘True Nerd Prom’ Parties Down

Washington’s upscale party set was out in full force Thursday night as Nerd Prom weekend kicked off.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner and all its ancillary events bring together politicians, members of the media and celebrities decked out in tuxes and gowns. But compared to the upscale dinner this Saturday, events Thursday night gave D.C. insiders a chance to let loose with two parties taking place roughly one mile away from each other in Northwest D.C.

More than 100 party-goers gathered at 18th Street Lounge in Dupont Circle to celebrate the one-year anniversary of BlueLabs, an analytics, data and technology company founded by top analysts from the Obama campaign.  One source told HOH this was “the true ‘nerd prom.’ ” Full story

May 1, 2014

Lawmakers Honor Life and Legacy of Anne Frank

On the eve of Jewish Heritage Month, members of Congress gathered in the Capitol to honor the life and legacy of Anne Frank as part of Holocaust remembrance week.

Lawmakers dedicated the Anne Frank Memorial Tree Wednesday; it was planted on the West Front Lawn two weeks ago. The sapling derives from the chestnut tree that grew outside of the Dutch home where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

“From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree,” Frank wrote in her diary.  “I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

Due to inclement weather, the dedication ceremony took place in Statuary Hall.  Lawmakers and about a dozen Holocaust survivors and relatives sat in the hall as speakers recalled Frank’s story.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans attended the event and spoke of Frank’s global effect.  “Anne Frank’s diary has become a sapling of humanity,” said Timmerman.  “It has been translated in so many languages. It is read all over the world.”

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., organized the ceremony.

Although McConnell and Reid sat on opposite sides of the podium during the event, the two leaders struck similar tones in their remarks, both saying how it is difficult to imagine Frank’s world and that we must all strive to follow her example.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the tree would remind Americans that their country rejects the hatred that fueled the Holocaust.

“This is your Capitol and that means this will always be your tree,” said Cantor.

The Capitol’s tree is one of 11 saplings derived from the original chestnut tree that were sent to the United States.  The Anne Frank Center USA received the saplings in 2009 and is in the process of planting them throughout the country.

Yvonne Simons, the center’s executive director, said the trees are planted in “places that aligned themselves with our mission, which is raising awareness on the consequences of intolerance.”

Simons said, “To me, this is the center of democracy,” adding that the Capitol is where “all of those pieces that are so close to our mission are actually put into action.”

The Capitol tree is the sixth sapling to be planted. “Initially it was meant to be planted in the White House garden, but evidently you can’t make any changes to that,” said Simons.  “So that’s when I chose the Capitol.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was a driving force behind bringing the tree to Capitol Hill. About a year ago, she began working with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in collaboration with the Architect of the Capitol and the U.S. Botanic Garden, to choose the best place to plant the sapling.

“As a representative of one of the largest Holocaust survivor populations in the country and as a Jew, it is deeply moving and meaningful both personally and professionally to have helped bring a sapling from Anne Frank’s chestnut tree here to the Capitol,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

She was brought to tears earlier Wednesday, when she was presented with a framed black-and-white photograph of the window through which Frank admired the chestnut tree.

“You offer a window of hope and inspiration to younger generations,” Ron Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, told Wasserman Schultz and other lawmakers at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an Anne Frank exhibit in the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda that was also held on Wednesday.

“For me, as the mother of twin young Jewish-American kids who will turn 15-years-old in two weeks, it’s incredibly impactful and emotional to be able to be part of this ceremony,” Wasserman Schultz said Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D- Md., and Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and received the commemorative picture of the window.

The exhibit involves six-foot tall banners that line the Russell Rotunda, detailing in English and Spanish, Frank’s life and the history of the Holocaust, culminating in the publication of her diary.  The banners are part of the Anne Frank Center USA’s traveling exhibits and will be on display through May 9.

However, long after the Rotunda exhibit is dismantled, the Anne Frank Memorial Tree will remind visitors and lawmakers of Frank’s resilience and hope in the face of hatred and injustice.

“With Anne’s tree keeping watch here on the Capitol grounds, and around the world,” said McConnell, “we know the lessons of her experience will not be forgotten.”

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 4:37 p.m.
DC, HillSide

DOJ Takes a Calculated Risk

Do the math.


(Facebook Screenshot)

How long before your merry little cabal winds up on a government watch list?

Or, worse yet, on double secret probation

(This message will self-destruct in five … four … three … two … )

Nobody Weird Like Us: Assembling a New Third Party

Call us crazy, but we believe a meme making the rounds on social media could serve as the cornerstone for a hybrid political party boasting the biggest tent possible.

A bold vision, to be sure.

But just imagine all the coalition building opportunities.

Left-wingers could easily fall in line behind the marriage equality plea. (LGBT crowd: check!)

Libertarians should be cool with personal pot use. (Stoner vote: check!)

And lifelong Republicans disenchanted with the status quo can stand their ground on firearms. (NRA members/Second Amendment fans: check!) Full story

April 30, 2014

Rand Paul’s Flatizza Run Causes Near Riot

Never mind grandstanding in Iowa and New Hampshire.

People in This Town absolutely lose their s— when presumed presidential contenders — in this case, Sen. Rand Paul — step out for a bite to eat.



A simple visit by the Kentucky Republican to the home of the global leader in 11-inch sandwiches resulted in a barrage of emails bearing surreptitiously snapped photos and links to bizarro tweets that flooded the HOH inbox as if the second coming were upon us.



Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:25 p.m.
DC, Food, Foolishness, Sens, Whuck

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