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

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

Vote For Your Favorite Cliven Bundy Quip | 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:

  • Rushmore today, the White House lawn tomorrow.
  • My cows always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. I had no beef about it.
  • Hey! Who moved my trough?
  • We’re bullish on America!
  • America, home of the brave and free for the taking!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on May 4 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 5:23 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Boehner Challenger Let Go Over ‘Electile Dysfunction’ Ad

J.D. Winteregg, a tea-party-aligned Republican challenging Speaker John A. Boehner, has lost his post as an adjunct professor at a Christian university for a campaign ad touting his congressional bid as a cure for “electile dysfunction.”

“If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention,” says the ad’s narrator.

Winteregg works as an adjunct French professor at Cedarville University, a Baptist institution in Ohio, but the parody of television’s ubiquitous erectile dysfunction commercials prompted the school to tell him they’d be cutting ties.

“My supervisor from the university called and told me that because of that ad, my relationship with them would end at the end of my contract,” Winteregg told CQ Roll Call.  “It’s a private institution.  They can do what they want and I respect their decision.”

The ad “did not represent the views or values of Cedarville University,” spokesman Mark Weinstein said in a statement. “Cedarville University does not engage in partisan politics and holds a high regard for displaying Christian values in the community.”

Winteregg said he does not regret the campaign ad, acknowledging that his goal was to increase his name recognition and “it worked.”

The high school French teacher said he wanted to focus on the ad’s message. Winteregg said Boehner is “out of touch with us.  He’s been in D.C. too long.”

The ad takes some personal punches at Boehner, saying, “Other signs of ‘electile dysfunction’ may include extreme skin discoloration, the inability to punch oneself out of a wet paper bag or maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition.”

The video has more than 320,000 views on YouTube.

Entrepreneur Schleps Cure-Alls Ahead of Nerd Prom

We’re just hours away from the marathon schmoozing session that is White House Correspondents Dinner weekend.

(Warren Rojas/CQRC)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Which means now is not the time to tap out with an internal ouchie.

Good thing entrepreneur Jennifer Jenkins stands ready to help speed away any lingering ickiness with ready-made remedy packs.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Her MommaLu bundles — the company name is an homage to her malady-defusing mother, Mary Lou — are designed to get one back on track after being derailed by a sudden illness.

The two current offerings — $29.95 each; use promo code “WHCD” for free same-day delivery this week — are the “Sick Sack,” which is anchored by a can of Campbell’s chicken & mini round noodles soup to go (‘natch) and the “Puke Pack,” an amalgam of offerings aimed at settling rumbly-bumbly tummies.

A cheat sheet tucked into the aforementioned Puke Pack ticks off why each item is essential (lip balm can be a lifesaver when you are evacuating fluids like nobody’s business) as well as offering some encouraging words (“Feel better soon!”).

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Upon further inspection, HOH has decided that MommaLu is really selling herself short. Full story

April 29, 2014

Gabby Giffords Speech at EMILY’s List Dinner: Yoga Helped Recovery

Giffords is a former congresswoman from Arizona. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Giffords is a former congresswoman from Arizona. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Back in 2012, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords addressed an EMILY’s List dinner in a pre-recorded video.

On Tuesday evening, the Arizona Democrat delivered her remarks in person.

“It’s been a long, hard haul, but I am getting better,” Giffords said to an adoring, riotous crowd. “I am still fighting to make the world a better place.” Full story

Alan Grayson’s Divorce Keeps Getting Weirder

The problem isn’t that Rep. Alan Grayson and his spouse, Lolita, are stuck in a horrifically troubled union. It’s that the two should have never been allowed to take the misguided plunge in the first place.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At least, that’s what the Florida Democrat is now arguing, after discovering that Lolita didn’t officially split from a previous beau until four years after the Graysons had tied the knot.

The Orlando Sentinel has all the sordid details about the kooky chronology, as well as the latest he said, she said from the feuding camps’ flabbergasted legal teams.

The one development we simply could not ignore is that the lawmaker is now petitioning for possession of the 1981 DeLorean in his auto collection.

No word on whether he’s got a flux capacitor in there that could help him race back to 1990 and halt this train wreck of a relationship from ever happening.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Floats Lifeline for Local Watering Holes

Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was so bummed out about the imminent shuttering of the Pour House, she rushed to Twitter to rally support for a bold new initiative: the DRINKS Act.



According to a Ros-Lehtinen aide, the umbrella proposal “includes but is not limited to 18th Amendment, Hawk and Dove, Lil’ Pub, and Pour House” — all venerable Capitol Hill hangouts, save for the struggling Hawk ‘n’ Dove, that have blinked out of existence over the past few months.

Overheard: Kissing Congressman ‘Respectfully Disagrees’

“I do not feel it’s in my constituents’ best interest to leave them without representation for the second time in less than a year.”

— Rep. Vance McAllister, explaining why he has rebuffed Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s request that he resign.

Senate Aide Campaigns for Husband’s Fly Gear

Lisa Schultz, the chief of staff of the Senate Chaplain’s Office, is on a mission to make sure her man, aspiring fashion template Tim Schultz, does D.C. proud in terms of looking, hmm-hmm-good.

(Courtesy Lisa Schultz)

(Courtesy Lisa Schultz)

The only thing standing between Tim and a fabulous new wardrobe (suggested retail value: $1,815) are the would-be Dapper Dons currently leading the pack in The Style Blogger’s April Reader giveaway. Online voting for the sartorial showdown closes April 30.

Per Lisa, Tim got turned on to fine threads later in life. But he’s catching on fast.

“He became interested in men’s fashion as he entered his ‘mid-life crisis,’” she quipped, adding that “his interest is growing.”

That learning curve has impacted Tim’s professional life — Lisa said he’s been a featured writer on the men’s style site Dappered — as well as his personal shopping habits.

“Otherwise, we’d shop at my favorite thrift store in the DMV area, Value Village,” Lisa said of her predisposition toward bargain hunting.

‘Compared to What’ Prompts Barney Frank to Look Back (and Forward)

Seeing one’s life unspool before you on the silver screen would undoubtedly make anybody take stock in whom they had surrounded themselves with, what all had been accomplished and perhaps what, if anything, there is left to do.

It certainly did for retired Rep. Barney Frank.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The Massachusetts Democrat mentally ping-ponged through the space-time continuum while watching, “Compared to What,” a documentary about his political and private life that debuted this past weekend at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

In the movie, Frank credits the late Rep. Allard K. Lowenstein, D-N.Y., with motivating him to travel to Mississippi in 1963 to champion civil/voting rights, and is later shown wrestling with a decision to break the news about his sexuality to friend and mentor Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., D-Mass.

During a post-screening Q&A with co-executive producer Alec Baldwin, Frank revealed that he was, in fact, close to a number of lawmakers, both past and present.

The members he said he missed most include:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
  • Ex-Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif.
  • Former North Carolina Democrat-cum-Federal Housing Finance Agency Director  Melvin Watt
  • Ex-Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo.
  • Ex-Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, D-Calif.

He also expressed affection for Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine — an e-vangelist who, apparently, helped drag Frank into the 21st century.

A devotee of traditional newspapers — the voracious reader is seen devouring different sections of his beloved New York Times in just about every scene of the film during which he’s not being directly interviewed — Frank noted that he once borrowed a tablet from Pingree. That experience evidently gave him a new appreciation for the public fascination with e-readers.

“I’m going to get the Kindle,” he alerted the assembled film aficionados at Tribeca. Full story

The 9 Kinds of Capitol Hill Flacks

Is there any job out there better than being a Capitol Hill flack? No, this is not a rhetorical question. There’s something about pitching your boss, day-in and day-out, through votes, campaigns, cable TV interviews and the occasional scandal, that allows you to go home with a satisfied grin of a job well done.

But beneath that pile of press releases are flacks with different styles — and degrees of success. As campaign season comes into full swing, Roll Call’s Team Politics and Hill Navigator put together a list of the most common kinds we’ve seen come through our inbox, and HOH heartily endorses. Full story

April 28, 2014

Lincoln’s Cottage Hosts Special Citizenship Ceremony

Oscar Umanzor, 9, center, originally from El Salvador, participates in the citizenship ceremony at Lincoln’s Cottage in Northwest D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Oscar Umanzor, 9, center, originally from El Salvador, participates in the citizenship ceremony at Lincoln’s Cottage in Northwest D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On April 22, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with leaders in faith, business and law enforcement to discuss immigration enforcement and implore Congress to act on stalled immigration overhaul legislation.

A few miles away, in a small room steeped in history, 20 children raised their right hands and swore allegiance to the United States of America.

These children hailed from 15 different countries: from Egypt to El Salvador, Pakistan to Peru, South Korea to Syria.  “I was born in India. I came here when I was 3,” said 10-year-old Pratyush Vijayakumar. For him, being an American citizen means “that I’m from the U.S.” Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 7:40 p.m.

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