Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

October 23, 2013

José Andrés Draws Jim McGovern Into the TEDx Fold

Restaurateur-cum-philanthropist José Andrés is presiding over his first TEDx conference this weekend here in D.C., and he’s bringing along a close buddy — Rep. Jim McGovern.

A Think Food Group aide confirmed that Andrés, who is serving as “guest curator” for the upcoming TEDxMidAtlantic gathering Friday and Saturday, personally invited the Massachusetts Democrat to attend.

“They’ve actually been friends for a really long time now,” Think Food Group spokeswoman Stephanie Salvador said of the bond that’s formed between her cheflebrity boss and the anti-hunger advocate through their continued efforts to feed the world, one mouth at a time:

Per his office, the congressman is expected to continue sounding that particular alarm during his debut TEDx talk, electing to share his thoughts on the “politics of hunger” with the enlightenment-seeking crowd. Full story

Meghan McCain Chats Up Dad on Pivot TV

Meghan McCain Chats Up Dad on Pivot TV

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Politically incorrect pundit Meghan McCain returns to Arizona for this week’s installment of “Raising McCain,” a homecoming that allows her to turn the camera on her outspoken paterfamilias, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

While mom Cindy has popped up in previous episodes of her daughter’s reality-style trek across America for the millennial-chasing Pivot network, this appears to be the first time the former GOP presidential contender has made an appearance this season.

During the reunion, Meghan McCain makes a point of picking her father’s brain about life within the political bubble — including asking how he deals with being constantly trolled:

“You’ve just gotta develop a thick skin,” the senator opines. Full story

October 22, 2013

Watch Sid Yudain Reflect on Roll Call (Video)

When Sid Yudain came to Capitol Hill in 1951, he knew something was missing.

“I thought this place really needs a community newspaper,” the founder of Roll Call said during a 2011 interview. “Over the years I noticed that the national and local newspapers paid little attention to the people in Congress or the community. … As time went on, I thought that maybe we could use a newspaper, just devote it to the Congress.”

Yudain, who died Sunday at the age of 90, said “The Newspaper of Capitol Hill” began as a combination of a local newspaper, fan magazine, trade magazine and The New Yorker, but concentrated on the people and community of Congress. He said the paper never used to identify a person’s political party unless writing about a political event.

“We had local briefs, we had birthdays, we had people who caught a big fish, we’d have a picture, we had weddings, new staff people,” Yudain said. “And one of the things we got some criticism for was we ran a hill pin-up every week, and regardless of the criticism the congressmen loved it; that was the first thing they looked at in the paper.”

By JM Rieger Posted at 5:13 p.m.
DC, media, VIPs

Social Media Shill Sabotages Congressional Email

First the government shuts them out of their offices. Now, a corporate vendor has robbed congressional staffers of sleep and rendered their inboxes unnavigable.

According to various House aides the latest affront happened early Tuesday morning, when an introductory email from 4PIA CEO Rani Yadav-Ranjan wreaked havoc on the Hill.

The cookie-cutter message, one would assume, was intended to plug the product (a daily report about Twitter mentions and related social media activity) by showcasing a custom report for each individual member of Congress.

The only problem is that the company sent EACH report to EVERY member office.

“We got hit with 500-something emails, each one directed to a different [representative] or senator. They starting dinging on my BlackBerry and woke me up at 2:00 this morning, and I had to silence the ringer before I could get back to sleep,” one Democratic aide said of the disruptive experience.

“It was unreal,” affirmed a GOP aide, who said the deluge created a serious backlog in the office. “Nothing like going to bed and waking up to 600 unread email messages.”

A 4PIA aide offered no explanation for the spam surge.

“We tested this system multiple times without a glitch,” the appointment setter assured HOH. “Our tech teams are still trying to understand what happened.”

To wit, the 4PIA aide said some offices had taken the bait and signed up for the service.

“Would Roll Call like to be on the list?” the shameless saleslady inquired.

No thanks. We have enough trouble sleeping already.

Obamacare Is All Anyone Wants to Talk About

Guess that shutdown backlash didn’t really take.

Not only are House and Senate Republicans still busily loading up the congressional hopper with all kinds of delaying tactics against the polarizing Affordable Care Act, now President Barack Obama’s signature health care law has become the centerpiece of campy political spots on both sides of the aisle.

The Colorado Consumer Health Insurance Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Tuesday rolled out a series of “Got Insurance?” plugs modeled after the dairy industry’s iconic ads.

Obamacare Is All Anyone Wants to Talk About

(Screenshot)

Obamacare Is All Anyone Wants to Talk About

(Screenshot)

Obamacare Is All Anyone Wants to Talk About

(Screenshot)

Several images feature the same set of dudes doing potentially life-threatening things (guzzling beer while doing a keg stand, recovering from a purportedly jarring bike wreck). Full story

Indian Caucus Hopes Diwali Fest Can Heal Capitol Hill

Given everything lawmakers have been through in the past month, perhaps this town could use a good old-fashioned spiritual cleanse. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans wants to give everyone on the Hill the opportunity to do just that via the first-ever Diwali reception hosted by Congress.

The debut holiday gathering is scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the Rayburn foyer. Those interested in attending should RSVP to diwali@ssvt.org.

“We’re setting a major precedent that will hopefully last for years and decades to come,” caucus Co-Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., said of the opportunity to share the mysteries of the “festival of lights” with fellow lawmakers.

Crowley, who told HOH he’s had the privilege of participating in Diwali festivals in the Indo-American enclave of the Jackson Heights section of Queens, praised freshman Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, the first Hindu lawmaker elected to to the House, and Ami Bera, D-Calif., the lone Indian-American politician in Congress, for helping to plan the event and “stirring up interest amongst our members.”

“I think it is a testament to the growth of the Indian-American community,” Crowley said.

Gabbard is fairly certain the timing couldn’t be better for the holiday gathering.

“According to spiritual tradition, Diwali is observed as the victory of light over darkness, truth over untruth and righteousness over wrong, and as a time of spiritual renewal,” she explained to HOH. “This message has great relevance at a time when politics and partisanship seem to overshadow compassion and concern for the greater good.” Full story

October 21, 2013

John Lewis Brings ‘March’ Madness to Fantom Comics

After months of sharing his incredible life story on the road, Rep. John Lewis will bring local fans along for the ride Wednesday evening during a signing of his debut comic book, “March,” a graphic novel depicting his civil-rights-era exploits.

John Lewis Brings ‘March’ Madness to Fantom Comics

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The event will take place in the East Hall of Union Station from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Lewis will be joined at the Fantom Comics-supported event by his co-author and aide, Andrew Aydin.

Lewis has been making the rounds with his illustrated history — including a well-attended stop at this year’s Comic-Con — since earlier this summer. Fantom Comics manager Esther Kim, who told HOH she considers Aydin to be both a valued customer and a friend of the store, said the shop has had a hard time keeping up with the demand for the duo’s handiwork.

“It has been extremely popular. It actually sells out every time we stock up,” Kim said of the critically acclaimed work.

According to Kim, these types of promotional events are typically handled in-store (like a recent visit from “Star Trek” alumnus Robert Picardo). But she said the anticipation this time around is so great that they decided to lock down the larger space.

“Everyone who hears about it is very excited,” she said.

Reform Advocates Spoof Unsavory Lobbying Practices

Reform Advocates Spoof Unsavory Lobbying Practices

(Screenshot)

If the video of the stripping senator didn’t make you lose your lunch, the new “feeding frenzy” spot from Represent.Us most certainly will.

In its latest assault against conventional politics, the nearly year-old public advocacy project depicts an encounter between an unscrupulous lobbyist and morally suspect lawmakers, all of whom take turns shoving food and drink in each other’s increasingly messy faces at a fictional dinner meeting.

The gross-out negotiations, which include discussion of sneaking a publicly opposed provision into a must-pass bill, come to an abrupt halt when an activist attempts to inject herself into the conversation — an invasion of privacy that scatters the political insiders to the four winds, leaving the petition-waving interloper stuck with the tab for the garish feast.

The nightmare scenario is just the latest wake-up call Represent.Us has shared with the voting class. The grass-roots organization is continuing to build support for its Anti-Corruption Act (386,000-plus signatories and counting), a comprehensive plan designed to purge politics of dirty money. Full story

Mustache Lobby Digs Into Discrimination

The furry-lipped folks behind the American Mustache Institute are so certain that those with facial hair lead fuller and more productive lives that they’re hitting the road to chronicle the state of the ‘stache in the modern workplace.

As part of their fact-finding mission, the group — which first popped up on our radar after an aide to cookie-duster sporting former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., got drawn into a procedural firestorm — has launched an online poll seeking to discern whether the general public assumes that the mustachioed amongst us are otherwise gifted (exhibiting, for example, exceptional professionalism, athleticism or a really impressive grip):

Mustache Lobby Digs Into Discrimination

(Screenshot)

Full story

October 20, 2013

Taking the Economy for a Ride | Capitol Quip

Taking the Economy for a Ride | Capitol Quip

Well, Congress avoided one economic catastrophe last week, but lawmakers set themselves up to fight over the same fiscal matters all over again in January and February. 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 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 Emily Pierce Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Ka-Boom! | Capitol Quip

Ka Boom! | 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.

October 18, 2013

Activist Plans to Show Congress the Bunny

Thank god the ridiculousness of the ill-fated government shutdown is finally behind us, so that Congress can get back to business as usual.

Activist Plans to Show Congress the Bunny

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Like the “sunny bunny” dance party scheduled to take place Monday morning.

PurgeDay.org promoter Patricia Taylor can’t take the negativity constantly being spewed by lawmakers. So she’s dispatching her mascot, the “Positive Bunny” — whom we last encountered over by the White House — to strut his stuff outside the Capitol from 10 a.m to  noon on Oct. 21.

“He’ll be doing the ‘sunny bunny’ dance. America needs to get its sunny disposition back!” she told HOH of her plan to lighten things up.

Taylor’s proposed annual venting holiday is pretty much straight from Frank Costanza’s Festivus playbook:

The difference being, she’d like to bring lawmakers into the fold.

“The whole concept of being open and positive … it would change Congress to ‘bring the bunny to the table,’” Taylor said of her vision.

Self-Helper Urges Staffers to Let It All Out

As pundits turn to hashing out the economic and political implications of the recent government shutdown, behavioral coach Beverly Flaxington wants put-upon staffers to know that while they can’t control high-level political stalemates, they can attempt to control the emotional fallout.

“People are on these ups and downs,” Flaxington said. “We let ourselves be taken away.”

Throughout the 16-day federal standoff, Flaxington estimates many people likely accumulated unnecessary feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. And that needs to be discussed.

“I mean, people are getting sick over this,” she said, noting that even non-furloughed workers were undoubtedly affected by the administrative chaos. Full story

October 17, 2013

Furloughed Feds Feasted on Shutdown Giveaways

Back when the 16-day shutdown was still a mere glimmer in Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s eye, local restaurants began offering a helping hand to civil servants displaced by the ideological tug of war consuming Capitol Hill.

Here’s some of the fallout from the feeding frenzy of the furloughed:

ThinkFoodGroup

The José Andrés-led outfit gave away 2,783 sandwiches across its various properties.

The furloughed flocked mostly to Zaytinya, the location that served up the most complimentary meals and the most popular of the free sandwiches, the chicken shawarma.

Pork Barrel BBQ

This suburban barbecue shop, the brainchild of former congressional staffers turned cook-off competitors, dished out 2,047 gratis pulled pork sandwiches (estimated retail value: $13,000) throughout the course of the shutdown.

Pork Barrel Co-Owner Bill Blackburn said they took the biggest hits early on, preparing 351 free sandwiches on Oct. 1 and 418 free sandwiches Oct. 2.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Frustrated feds ate their feelings by way of chomping through just under 1,000 free donuts.

What flavor most comforted those burned by the budget battle? The lightly torched crème brulee, of course.

And then there’s poor Z-Burger.

The local chainlet revels in rolling out timely giveaways (Election Day, National Cheeseburger Day), but bit off more than it could chew with its promise of free burgers for badge-flashing patrons at both lunch and dinner. The company had to kill the promotion within the first 96 hours of the shutdown — a desperation move prompted by their having to eat the loss of approaching 16,000 in free sandwiches, or roughly $88,000.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:24 p.m.
DC, Food, Restos, Staffers

Five Explosive Captions To Choose From | Capitol Quip

Five Explosive Captions To Choose From | 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 10 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • We shut down the government and destroyed our reputation, and you let Obamacare get away?!
  • Dang! That Cruz missile was supposed to soar, not blow up in our faces.
  • That’s how you solve all the nation’s problems with a push of a button.
  • We’ll get ‘em next time. Can’t say we didn’t make an impact!
  • Well, we blew SOMEthing up. Not bad for government work.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Oct. 20 and in the Oct. 22 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 Emily Pierce Posted at 1:21 p.m.
Uncategorized

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