Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2014

July 12, 2013

Congressional Politics, by the Numbers

Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown’s recent outburst — you know, the one during the heated farm bill 2.0 debate where she furiously spat 2012 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s fatalistic campaign calculus back in House Republicans’ faces — got us thinking about the numbers that matter most to Congress these days:

  • 99.98 percent — chances that, no matter what the issue or who threatens to drag their heels, the Senate will skip town by no later than Thursday night
  • 99 percent — outraged members of the Congress-bashing “Occupy” movement
  • 85 percent — chance it will rain in D.C. from now until FOREVER
  • 70 percent — functional support the “gang of eight” believed it needed to browbeat House Republicans into seriously considering its contentious immigration bundle (nice try)
  • 60 percent — minimum support required to even bring up a bill for a Senate vote
  • 51 percent — theoretical vote threshold required to pass a bill in the Senate (almost never happens)
  • 50.1 percent — theoretical vote threshold required to pass a bill in the House
  • 47 percent — part of the electorate GOP standard-bearer Romney infamously wrote off during a secretly taped speech at a private fundraiser
  • 33.33 percent — probability that the congressional hearing/speech/presser you desperately need to watch is on one of the OTHER C-SPAN channels
  • 17 percent — latest congressional job approval rating (per Gallup)
  • 1 percent — the ultra wealthy; presumed beneficiaries of most behind-closed-doors legislative haggling

Tryst Toasts Rickey All Month Long

As we approach the halfway point of one of the stickiest, dampest months in recent memory, it’s good to know that Tryst stands ready to refresh D.C. denizens with a trio of specialty Rickeys.

The iconic cooler — originally fashioned by blending bourbon, ice, fizzy water and a squeeze of lime in an effort to slake the thirst of 19th-century D.C. lobbyist Col. Joseph Rickey — has enjoyed a renaissance as of late. Its gin-based counterpart is faring even better, rising in recent years to become the District’s “native cocktail.”

Tryst in Adams Morgan is celebrating Rickey Month by fielding three twists on the traditional drink:

  • Gin Rhuby ($9): Edinburgh gin, house-made rhubarb-beet juice, Aperol, fresh lime, splash of soda
  • 1700 Park Road ($10): Bulleit bourbon, house-made tamarind puree, Black Strap rum, fresh lime, splash of house-made coconut water soda, halved hazelnut garnish
  • Flanders Soda ($12): Dickle rye, Bulleit bourbon/Edinburgh gin, fresh lime, house-made Flanders soda (forged from Rodenbach Red reduction)

Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:47 p.m.
Booze, DC, Restos

A New Beginning for Hill Vegans

Congressional staffers might soon have vegan dining options again.

Members of the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association (Veggie Caucus) and the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition agreed Thursday that while there will be no more “Meatless Mondays,” there should be more vegan dining options in congressional cafeterias.

Full story

By JM Rieger Posted at 12:40 p.m.
Food

July 11, 2013

Mitch McConnell’s Grave Warning

It appears that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., firmly believes fiddling with the filibuster rules would be the final nail in the coffin of Nevada Democrat Harry Reid’s career.

Veggie Caucus on a Roll With ‘Healthy on the Hill’ Lunches

More than 120 staffers gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building today for the second “Healthy on the Hill” luncheon, an event aimed at promoting a healthy, plant-based diet.

Co-sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association, or Veggie Caucus, the event featured a 9-year-old speaker, an outline of dining options around the Hill and 10 recipes, each made in front of the audience.

Veggie Caucus on a Roll With Healthy on the Hill Lunches

PCRM’s Jill Eckart, center, teaches staffers about healthy, vegan food options Thursday, alongside Food for Life Instructor Kara Blank-Gonzalez, left, and PCRM’s Joe Gonzales, right. (JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call)

The luncheon followed calls from vegetarian staffers to bring back “Meatless Monday” after it was shut down by congressional dining operator Restaurant Associates in June. Full story

By JM Rieger Posted at 4:39 p.m.
Food

Teacher Mark Takano is Rough on GOP’s Immigration Paper

Lawmakers just finished bloodying each other over the revamped farm bill.

Teacher Mark Takano is Rough on GOPs Immigration Paper

(Courtesy Mark Takano)

But longtime schoolteacher Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., is already looking forward to the next battle, breaking out his trusty red pen to mark up and grade a “Dear Colleague” letter from House Republicans warning Speaker John A. Boehner to tread carefully on any immigration overhaul.

A Takano aide told HOH the office found the developing missive on a congressional message board and immediately set about analyzing the arguments involved, as well as style points.

Per Team Takano, Republicans have yet to weigh on the California Democrat’s biting critique.

Catch Up With These Egyptian Finalists | Capitol Quip

Catch Up With These Egyptian Finalists | 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 9 a.m. EDT Friday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • That’s going to land in your President’s lap.
  • Coil de grace!
  • That’s how we take care of the tip of the iceberg. Now we can get to work on the rest of the problem!
  • It’s our way of saying, “Tut, tut.”
  • Hope for democracy springs eternal!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog July 14 and in the next 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.

D.C.’s Newest Chef: 9-Year-Old Noah Koch

D.C. may have found its newest food critic.

Noah Koch, the 9-year-old winner of the White House’s Let’s Move! national nutritious food contest, wowed congressional staffers today at the second Healthy on the Hill event, aimed at promoting a healthy, plant-based diet.

Koch, who won the contest with his Vegan Powerhouse Pesto Pasta recipe, even explained what was wrong with the picture posted alongside his recipe.

D.C.s Newest Chef: 9 Year Old Noah Koch

“The picture is incorrect,” Koch told more than 120 staffers gathered in Rayburn. “First of all, the pesto was supposed to be very thick, and as you see on the picture there is very little pesto. The spinach is supposed to be cut up by blender, which you see is whole, and then there’s Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, which I do not like and which does not fit vegan. And then the tomatoes are not supposed to be cut up; they’re supposed to be little cherry tomatoes.”

Koch also told the audience about his healthy lifestyle, and how he has never eaten his school’s cafeteria food.

“I run 5ks,” Koch said. “My family … they eat healthy just like me, but my friends in school aren’t as healthy and as physical as me.”

The Maine resident, who has cooked with his parents since he was 2, won a trip to the White House for his recipe and met President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House Kids’ State Dinner on Tuesday.

Titan Arum Set to Stink Up Botanic Garden

Staffers in need a break from the toxicity of partisan politicking and the now-daily downpours should boogie their way down to the Botanic Garden for a breath of not-so-fresh air: the manifestation of the infamous “corpse flower.”

Titan Arum Set to Stink Up Botanic Garden

The Titan Arum is set to bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden no later then Saturday, July 13. The flower, which is from the rainforest of Indonesia, only blooms once in several years and can go as long as a decade before blooming. Once fully open, it will remain in bloom for 24 to 48 hours. The last time the garden had one bloom was in 2007. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Per the USBG, the fabled flower, which breezed into town this morning, only blooms for around 48 hours.

But once it opens up, look out.

“Its putrid smell is most potent during peak bloom at night into the early morning. The odor is often compared to the stench of rotting flesh,” botanists warn, noting that the signature stink is like a beacon designed to “attract pollinators, such as dung and carrion beetles, from across long distances.”

The plant last came around in 2007. So if you can’t wait another six years to fill your nostrils with eau de decay, head down to the climate-controlled conservatory ASAP.

July 10, 2013

One Last Go-Round on Egypt | Capitol Quip

So, we don’t often do this, but we’d like to keep the comments section open for a few more hours on our Egypt Capitol Quip cartoon contest.

Since we first submitted the cartoon for your consideration, the situation on the ground in Egypt has gotten a bit more dire, with violence, loss of life and much controversy in Washington over how to even classify what happened.

So take a look again and use the extra time to submit a caption offering if you like. We value your input and want to see as wide an array of entries as possible. We’ll keep things open until 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, then issue a set of finalists for you all to vote on until Friday morning.

One Last Go Round on Egypt | Capitol Quip

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:48 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Suffer the Summer Interns

As if being obliged to work for free weren’t enough of a slap in the face, congressional interns might now be stripped of one of their few perks: access to staff-only entrances around the Capitol.

Congressional employees, as a whole, have already had to scramble to find open doorways after Capitol Hill police cut back on security checkpoints in the wake of sequestration.

But a fellow hack told HOH she spotted a green-badged aide attempting to work his way into the Cannon House Office Building, only to be redirected to the line designated for the general public.

The office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms said there’s been no change in policy regarding interns (good news!), but the House Sergeant at Arms did not respond to queries regarding any recent decisions (uh-oh).

Welcome to D.C. (Now get to the back of line!)

The Smooth Sounds of Radio Dan Coats

We can’t say for sure whether Sen. Dan Coats, who spent the early part of the last decade serving his country as ambassador to Germany, definitively left his heart in der Fatherland.

But we can confirm that he’s still sinking a few bucks into the joint.

Per his latest batch of financial disclosures, the Indiana Republican has a piece of Berlin-based Radio Paradiso, an easy-listening station determined to make life, well, easier.

“Radio Paradiso is Berlin’s only wellness-based radio station and connects with listeners between the ages of 30 and 49, who are trapped in the rat race. Let this station take the stress away and bring some peace and quiet to your life!” the FM broadcaster boasts online.

Team Coats confirmed that the boss used to tune in — “It was a Christian station … when he lived in Germany,” an aide told HOH — but suggested he’s more likely to scan SiriusXM these days.

The current RP playlist hopscotches across several decades (from ’70s to ’90s) and various musical genres, though the program appears to skew toward nice, soft tuneage.

Here’s just a sampling of what Coats’ investment feeds German listeners:

Madonna — “Secret”

No shame in being down with Madge. Full story

Female Hill Staffers Prep for Empowering Weekend

Slackers of both sexes: Consider yourselves warned.

While some of you may still be sleeping one off/just rolling out of bed this Saturday, a crowd of career-minded women will be hard at work piecing together their roadmap to future success at the Women’s Congressional Staff Association’s fourth annual leadership conference.

The mentoring fest, scheduled to take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. in room HVC 215 of the Capitol Visitor Center, promises a host of in-depth discussions with powerful ladies from both on and off Capitol Hill.

Admission costs $20 and prospective attendees must RSVP (currently on wait list) to gain entry.

“It’s all about getting a lot of great advice from women on both sides of the aisle,” congressional flack and WCSA events co-chairwoman Sabrina Singh said of the bipartisan bull sessions.

Full story

Giuliani Flies the Yankee Flag at Boston Hearing

Say this for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: He bleeds Yankee blue. Giuliani sported a wristband with his beloved baseball team’s “NY” logo at Wednesday’s House Homeland Security Committee hearing on assessing terrorist threats in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Giuliani Flies the Yankee Flag at Boston Hearing

Giuliani showed his true colors at the hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In his remarks to the committee, the former mayor told members, “So, in order to confront this threat effectively, we must purge ourselves of the practice of political correctness when it interferes with out rational and intellectually honest analysis.” He went on to denounce political correctness at length in his testimony.

Giuliani certainly was practicing what he preached. After the April 15 explosions at the Boston race, people from all over, including other American League East towns, voiced their support for the beleaguered hub by putting up signs that read “We Are Boston” and “Boston Strong,” frequently accompanied with the Boston Red Sox capital “B.” At a hearing about the Boston tragedy, anyone would have felt the pressure to go along with such sentiment.

So hats off to the Yankee fan for not giving in to political correctness. He showed up adorned with the gear of every Boston baseball fan’s archnemesis. Some rivalries never let up.

July 9, 2013

Lunching Like a King in ‘This Town’

Local media is up in arms about the dismissive treatment of D.C. dining — harshing most fiercely on our pizza and sandwiches corps — in reviews of Mark Leibovich’s bubble-bursting tell-all, “This Town.”

We were more fascinated by this not-so-subtle jab David Shribman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette executive editor and former D.C. bureau chief for the Boston Globe, slipped into his New York Times review of the too-cool tome:

“Mr. Leibovich will never be able to have lunch in This Town again, not that there is a respectable nonexpense-account lunch to be had in those precincts.”

Come again?

This town (couldn’t help it) is flush with amazing dining opportunities that won’t necessarily burn a hole in your pocket.

In the spirit of helping Shribman score a decent meal the next time he’s around, here’s a handful of crazy good, sit-down meals for less than $27.95 — the cost of Leibovich’s scathing score-settler. Full story

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