Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 5, 2015

May 15, 2014

George Takei Talks Snowden, Japanese Internment and YouTube

George Takei is a frequent visitor to Washington

Takei, left, seen here in a previous Hill visit with Rep. Henry A. Waxman, remains politically active. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Actor George Takei is in town, in part, to promote the AARP YouTube show he hosts, and he chatted with your HOH Technocrat correspondent about his personal history, political activism and his thoughts on the National Security Agency surveillance program.

At a “Selfies with George” AARP event promoting its Takei’s Take channel, which starts its second season next month, the original Mr. Sulu stated a simple demographic fact that was nevertheless startling: “My Star Trek fans are now of AARP membership generation.”

Regardless, Takei is still a part of the emerging tech world, as illustrated in his video on online dating.

Full story

May 14, 2014

Murkowski Throws Herself Into ALS Relief Efforts

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski isn’t much for all the game playing that goes on in the Senate.

But if flinging a bean-filled, felt square into a hole several yards away helps the Alaska Republican stamp out Lou Gehrig’s disease once and for all, so be it.

“My family has been living and dying with ALS for eight years,” she shared. Her cousin Jenny Gore Dwyer’s husband, Pat Dwyer, succumbed to the debilitating illness in June 2013. That’s why she and Gore will be heading to Penn Social on Saturday to partake in the “Washington DC Corntoss Challenge,” an annual fundraiser benefiting the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, Mass.

“I’d like to think that one of these days we’re gonna make a little progress,” Murkowski said of the work she’s put in to informing others about Lou Gehrig’s disease. She credits Gore with helping to educate her about the all-consuming malady.

“I learned that even though we have identified the disease and named it, we haven’t come any closer to any cure in the many decades since Lou Gehrig,” Murkowski said.

She estimated that inaction has been abetted by the psychologically draining outcome that comes with every diagnosis. “There are no survivors of ALS,” she warned, citing the absence of success stories that have elevated contemporary causes such as breast cancer awareness. “The caregivers are often so exhausted … it’s hard for them to be the daily advocates after their loved one has passed.”

The appropriator said she continues to fight to add more resources for ALS research to military budgets, and that she confers regularly with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — “Every time I see Secretary Shinseki, it’s an issue we discuss,” she said — about sparing combat veterans from its ill effects.

She also touches base about it with physician and fellow anti-ALS crusader Sen. Tom Coburn. The Oklahoma Republican’s longstanding chief of staff, Michael Schwartz, lost his battle with the disease in early 2013.

As for Saturday, Murkowski is focused on improving at least one little thing.

“I have not set a fundraising goal. But I am hoping to improve on my cornhole performance from last year,” she shared.

(Courtesy Young Faces of ALS)

(Courtesy Young Faces of ALS)

“It was absolutely pathetic.”

Vote For Your Favorite Congressional Shopping Center Capitol Quip

CapitolQuip-05-12-14.jpg

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!

  • I envisioned the “National Mall” differently.
  • Oh Look! There’s even an international house of pandering.
  • I remember when this land was all amber waves of grain.
  • And you thought we wouldn’t be able to find a parking space!
  • Did you hear they’re planning to reopen the Whitewater Pool and Spa store?

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on May 18 and in the following 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 Rebecca Gale Posted at 3:45 p.m.
Capitol Quip

The Case of the Missing Senate Bean Soup

Politically motivated government shutdowns. Bottom of the barrel public approval ratings. Career-ending sex scandals.

Few things seem to phase congressional staffers anymore — save for the absence of their daily helping of Senate Bean Soup.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

A well-seasoned aide sent out a distress call late Tuesday, after making a terribly unsettling discovery.

“A tipster just emailed me asking why the Senate Carryout isn’t serving Senate Bean Soup this week for the first time in the two decades he has been working here. The people want to know,” a colleague alerted your trusty HOH reporter.

Was this the end of an era?

Had an out-of-town catering operation unilaterally decided to shun the social compact that has kept the signature brew — a hearty blend of creamy white beans, smoked ham and savory onion — on the minds (and lips) of D.C. lawmakers for more than a century?

Yup.

But it was only a temporary cataclysm.

“Yes, we ran out and replaced it temporarily with another soup until we restocked the Senate Bean Soup,” Restaurant Associates spokeswoman Gina Zimmer said of the momentary drought that devastated bean soup devotees.

The dish, which first filled congressional bellies in the early days of the 20th century, has long-since evolved from mere sustenance to rhetorical hallmark.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy invoked it as a punch line in late 2000, during a heated debate of a sweeping bankruptcy overhaul bill.

“This is a no-brainer. We already debated it and voted on it 80-17. We have a hard time getting an 80-17 vote here to support the bean soup in the Senate cafeteria,” the Vermont Democrat razzed naysayers. (Remember simple majority votes? Ahhh, good times.)

Then-Sen. Frank Murkowski heralded the fabled foodstuff on the Senate floor during a tribute to his fellow Alaska Republican, the now-late Ted Stevens, back when Ace of Base still ruled the airwaves. He called it “one of Sen. Stevens’ favorites.”

Will the next generation solons be robbed of this gustatory reference point?

“Have no fear, the soup is here to stay!” Zimmer assured us, noting that her company typically stirs up three gallons of the stuff every single day.

Of course, our heart still skipped a beat when we strode into the Senate Carry Out on Wednesday and spotted only oatmeal and a roasted tomato-spinach offering bubbling in the warming pots. “If it’s not out there, there should be some in the Refectory upstairs,” a carry out staffer clued us in. (She was right.)

Or one could put on a pot of boiling water and follow the incredibly simple recipe on the Senate website.

House Hopeful Paints Brad Sherman as a Bum

Ex-congressional aide Marc Litchman is coloring in his campaign themes by leveling a new line of attack against cash-strapped incumbent, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

The one-time district director for ex-Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif. — the same lawmaker Sherman overcame last cycle in a bare-knuckle brawl of a redistricting fight — has plastered a none-too-flattering, Shepard Fairey-like depiction of his opponent all over social media.

Litchman also wove the colorful broadside into a campaign email poking fun at both the Sherman campaign’s debt, as well as a fundraising solicitation Sherman’s campaign sent out that bemoans his non-existent war chest and that “most people I know are too busy to come to fundraising events. If you have the time, we have an event in Washington on May 19.”

Sherman’s most recent FEC filings show him with $563,284.43 in debt and $105,968 in cash on hand. His race against Berman in 2012 was the fourth-most expensive House race, with the candidates spending approximately $6.8 million and outside groups throwing in another $8.5 million.

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

Looks like the folks in California’s 30th District may be in for another wild ride.

May 13, 2014

Have You Seen This Man? Drew Willison’s Mug Posted

Thanks to this memo, the new SAA should be good to go if he forgets his ID. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Thanks to this memo, the new SAA should be good to go if he forgets his ID. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Less than a week before he became the Senate’s chief law enforcement officer, Sergeant-at-Arms Drew Willison had an ego-bruising incident with Capitol Police.

Willison arrived at work on April 30 without an ID and was told by officers guarding the doors that he would need to get a visitor badge before going into the Capitol.

Being shooed along under standard protocol by the rank and file likely led to what happened next. Around 6:30 that evening, the SAA’s office sent an email to Capitol Police brass with mug shots of Willison and incoming Deputy SAA Michael Stenger, instructing him to “please ensure” that the photos were posted at each division in the department’s Uniformed Services Bureau.

“Obviously, we would like to avoid this in the future,” wrote Ronda Steward, senior program manager for police operations with the Senate SAA.

Deputy Chief Donald A. Rouillier passed the email along with a simple “FYI” note to his team. Soon, the one-page memo explaining the incident was posted around the campus and at police headquarters to help officers recognize their incoming boss.

Willison seemed to take it all in stride. “I forgot my Senate ID at my desk when I ran over to the credit union that day. The officer did not recognize me, so he did the right thing and stopped me. ‎It wasn’t a big deal. I don’t know if the photos (standard practice for new officers of the House and Senate) help or not because I almost always wear my Senate ID,” he said.

Food Lovers Bombard Cory Booker’s Twitter Feed

Sen. Cory Booker was up and at ’em early Tuesday, greeting his social media flock with an invitation to toss a few local shops his way in order to some them much-deserved love during Small Business Week 2014.

 

 

The New Jersey Democrat quickly learned that food is what fuels 99.99 percent of ALL discussions online.

Sure, there was an architecture group named here. And a woman-owned outfit was heralded there.

 

 

But the majority of folks were determined to spread the word about personal dining gems, a must-hit list that included:

Bagel Buffet, Hackensack: A local bakery/café specializing in sandwiches and such that also donates baked goods to neighboring food pantries (“Sounds delicious,” Booker suggested).

Giorgio’s Pasticcerie, Hoboken: Family-owned bakery specializing in Italian and French pastries.

Blueplate, Mullica Hill: Neighborhood restaurant specializing in Modern American cuisine.

Benny’s, Fair Lawn: Old school luncheonette dealing in home fries, patty melts and their signature “Overstuffed Hot Pastrami Sandwich.”

Bischoff’s Ice Cream, Teaneck: An 80-year-old sweets shop that dabbles in the likes of pumpkin fudge, coffee-cookie crush ice cream (coffee cream with crumbled Oreos) and strawberry ice cream sodas. (“I’ll believe it when I taste it,” Booker asserted)

Judicke’s Bakery, Bayonne: Family-run bakery renowned for cranking out old favorites (baklava, mascarpone mousse cake) as well as trendy treats (“Frozen”-themed cupcakes).

White Manna, Hackensack, and Kosher Nosh, Glenn Rock: The former is a fast-food haven renowned for its onion-packed sliders while the latter is a traditional deli dishing smoked fish platters, triple-decker sandwiches and Jewish comfort foods (chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, chicken-in-a-pot).

DP’s Pub, Garfield: A dive bar with a thing for seafood. (“Their garlic sauce is legendary,” Booker shared)

SeaGrass Restaurant, Ocean Grove: Polished eatery with a penchant for seasonal cooking.

Mount Royal Bagel Company, Marlton: The house that wood-fired, “Montreal-style” bagels (“boiled in honey water before baking,” the website explains) built.

Biggie’s Clam Bar, Hoboken: A nearly 70-year-old raw bar that’s since spun off into other states (Tennessee).

Osteria Procacci, Kingston: Upscale pizza joint specializing in gourmet pies.

Magic Fountain Ice Cream and Grill, Elizabeth: Deep-fried everything plus frozen goodies.

Carlo’s Bakery, Hoboken: The spot that catapulted reality TV vet- Buddy Valastro to “Cake Boss” fame. (“A favorite of mine, too,” Booker revealed)

Southside Roast, Cranford: Local java source with a few nibbles (soups, sandwiches) to boot.

To wit, the only way out of the restaurant rumble for the food-fatigued solon was to retreat to the relative safety of the chamber:

 

 

Looks like Mr. Text Happy bit off more than he could chew this time.

Bill Maher: Michael Grimm Has ‘Likely Flipped Himself’ on #FlipaDistrict

Has Grimm "flipped himself?" (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Has Grimm “flipped himself?” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bill Maher might be giving up on “flipping” Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s district.

The liberal comedian explained on his HBO show “Real Time” last week that the New York Republican is probably now capable of putting his seat in Democratic hands all by himself.

“There has been a development that I must tell you we here at ‘Real Time’ could not foresee,” said Maher, “and that is that the very first schmoe that we put up on our Tweet 16 board of finalists … has most likely flipped himself by getting arrested and possibly going to prison.” Full story

May 12, 2014

DC Vote Rounds Up Pols, VIPs for Inaugural Ball

Advocates for extending voting rights to the District are adding another weapon to their coalition-building arsenal: the (local) star-studded gala.

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:57 p.m. | Politicos expected to strut their stuff at the inaugural “3 Star Ball: Party With a Purpose” include: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., shadow Sen. Paul Strauss and councilmembers-turned-mayoral-hopefuls Muriel Bowser and David Catania. The event is scheduled to take place May 22 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on the scenic rooftop of the National Association of Realtors’ HQ (500 New Jersey Ave. NW).

Tickets to the gala, which will feature gourmet finger foods, frosty pours of DC Brau’s “The Citizen” and “Public Ale” and live entertainment, are $75 per person.

Organizers carved out a place for newly minted U.S. citizen José Andrés on the host committee. But, sadly, the bicoastal restaurateur will not be working his culinary magic for the mingling masses. That task falls to Alexandria, Va.-based Windows Catering, which is expected to ply partygoers with the likes of lobster rolls, beef Wellington, grilled vegetable quesadillas and cheesecake lollipops (among other nibbles).

DC Vote also plans to honor a pair of hometown heroes that night: regional suds slinger DC Brau, and Nancy Bagley, ex-aide in the administration of President Bill Clinton turned media maven (Washington Life Magazine).

“DC Brau has displayed extraordinary efforts to educate consumers about DC’s lack of congressional representation. They include messaging about DC statehood and representation on their cans of beer as well as in promotional advertising for their products,” DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry said of the brewery’s in-your-face campaigning.

Washington Monument Reopens (Video)

Sgt. First Class Crystal Lee and Staff  Sgt. Troy Paolantonio of the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, practice on the Mall before performing at a ceremony that re-opened the Washington Monument to the public.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Lee and Staff Sgt. Troy Paolantonio of the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, practice on the Mall before performing at a ceremony that opened the Washington Monument to the public. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Washington Monument reopened Monday morning, nearly three years after an earthquake shook the nation’s capital, cracking the monument and forcing renovations.

“Our Washington Monument is back!” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said at the ceremony.  The $15 million restoration repaired 150 cracks in the monument that resulted from the August 2011 earthquake.

Holmes joined other dignitaries, members of the Obama administration and wounded veterans and tourists at the event hosted by Al Roker of “The Today Show.”

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:13 p.m.
DC

Diaz-Balart Aide Assists in Pot Bust

An aide to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., has sent some bumbling drug dealer’s dreams up in smoke.

 

 

After stumbling upon a suspicious looking bundle somewhere down in South Florida, the congressional staffer did exactly as Homeland Security has instructed — who knew anyone actually paid attention to those “if you see something, say something” ads plastered just about everywhere? — alerting the proper authorities about the puzzling parcel. Per Diaz-Balart, the plastic-wrapped parcel turned out to contain marijuana.

No word on how much weed the Miami Police Department recovered at the scene. Or whether Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., angrily flung a pristine pack of rolling papers into the waves a little bit further up the beach.

May 11, 2014

Benghazi and IRS Are So Hot | Capitol Quip

CapitolQuip-05-12-14.jpg

In case you missed it, Obamacare is so out. Benghazi and contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner are totally in. 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

How Congress Is Like a Doughnut | Capitol Quip

Capitol Rotunda

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.

May 9, 2014

Louie Gohmert Goes There With Nazi Comparison (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, likened the cancellation of HGTV’s “Flip It Forward” to Nazism during a speech on the House floor Friday.

According to Gohmert, backlash from anti-gay remarks that the show’s hosts made demonstrates a totalitarian atmosphere. Paraphrasing the hosts, Gohmert relayed on their behalf that, “Look we love homosexuals, we love all people. But it doesn’t mean that you have to support, embrace, encourage particular lifestyles that you believe are harmful to the individuals and harmful to the society in general. So it is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen,” he said.

Gohmert likened the situation to “going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. First they would call people haters and evil and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage.”

Gohmert also lamented the “rise of fascism in American universities” and said, “Those who are the most hate filled who do not follow the teachings of Jesus seek to impose or project … their own hate, their own intolerance.”

 

Roll Call Trivia Night: Stump Your Friends

Compiled by Margaret Prothier

It’s Taste of America season, and Roll Call appropriately hosted a kickoff party this week with a trivia contest.

The winners (“Team Linked” — Oscar Santillana, Emma Chaiken, Linda Santiago, Amanda Kaster and Chris Averill) scored 12 points. Can you beat them? Put your knowledge to the test and give it a try. The questions are below. No Googling! We’ll post the answers next week.

Full story

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