Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 27, 2015

November 3, 2013

Joaquin Castro Ties the Knot

Rep. Joaquin Castro wed his expectant fiancee, Anna Flores, Saturday during a private ceremony attended only by family.

“Anna and I have had an eventful and very blessed year. We are excited to embark on our journey together as a family,” the Texas Democrat told HOH via email after making things official in San Antonio.

Joaquin Castro Ties the Knot

Castro and Flores, seen here in the Cannon House Office Building earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

According to a Castro aide, the freshman lawmaker is planning a more all-inclusive affair for 2014. “They are planning a Catholic ceremony next summer to celebrate with friends,” Team Castro said.

Castro proposed to Flores earlier this summer.

November 1, 2013

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

Hatfield, right, is serenaded on his 73rd birthday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A trio of documentarians is working to ensure that the political legacy of the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon does not fade into obscurity, producing a feature-length retrospective on the compromise-embracing Republican, titled “The Gentleman of the Senate.”

Rick Dancer, one of the co-executive producers of “The Hatfield Project,” said his group has woven interviews with nearly six dozen people who worked with, and often alongside, Hatfield throughout his long-winding career into the roughly 150-minute film. The who’s who of Hatfield’s political pals includes: Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (he eulogized Hatfield on the Senate floor upon his passing in late 2011), ex-Rep. Elizabeth Furse, D-Ore., former Sens. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., and John Warner, R-Va., the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and President Bill Clinton.

Inouye, who toiled with Oregon’s longest-serving senator (30 years) on the Senate Appropriations Committee, revealed that he was so impressed by the then-chairman’s character, he crossed the aisle to contribute to Hatfield’s 1990 re-election campaign.

“He did not really believe in partisanship,” Inouye asserted.

To this day, Dancer says, left-leaning voters in hyper-liberal Portland continue to revere Hatfield’s penchant for putting sound policy above ideology. “They’ll say, ‘That’s the one Republican I voted for … because he stood on principle,’” Dancer said of the esteem in which Hatfield is still held back home.

All of which got Dancer et al. wondering: Could Hatfield make it in the modern political arena? Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:13 p.m.
Flicks, Nationwide, Sens

This Week in HOH: Member of Congress Sells Used Car

This Week in HOH: Member of Congress Sells Used Car

With the recent plunge in Congress’ approval ratings, members of Congress are frequently finding themselves lower on the trust spectrum with the American public than used-car salesmen. So perhaps it’s time to take a look at an instance, 25 years ago, when a member of Congress became one, albeit temporarily, in this glance back at HOH from the Nov. 6, 1988, edition:

Low mileage. Retiring Rep. Robert Badham (R-Calif.) left Capitol Hill last week, but his 1982 Cadillac (A/C, leather seats, AM/FM tape deck) didn’t. The soon-to-be-ex-lawmaker has another one just like it back home in sunny Newport Beach. So he put an ad in Roll Call (see our reasonable rates on page 34). Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.) saw it, and drove home in style for $3,500.”

We were struck by a couple of things, chiefly among them paying $3,500 in 1988 dollars for a 6-year-old automobile. Sure there are leather seats, but that seems pricey, no? And then there’s the plug for the “AM/FM tape deck.” Those of you under 30 years of age out there should just find someone with some gray hair, and they’ll explain it. Depending on your satellite radio/iPod deck setup, it might be hard to believe how fancy it was to have a tape deck in the early ’80s.

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine Enjoyed Spooking Incoming Va. Governor

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine Enjoyed Spooking Incoming Va. Governor

(Courtesy John Arundel)

Another Halloween may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean a good scare won’t await the next inhabitant of Virginia’s executive mansion come January.

It seems outgoing Virginia governors have a habit of pranking the new guy — a tradition Virginia Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, now both in the Senate, wholly embraced before leaving Richmond in the rearview.

Current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Kaine kept him and his family on edge by triggering strategically placed cellphones (hidden behind walls and atop elevators) late into the night.

That disclosure prompted Kaine to reveal how his lifelong buddy, Warner (the two met at Harvard Law School in 1980), had wreaked a little havoc on his own moving-in day. Full story

Overheard: Roy Blunt on Producing Nothing

“Whether it’s the appropriations bills or just the normal work that Congress does, we’ve fallen into this pattern of thinking, ‘If I don’t get what I want, I don’t want anything.’ And that’s going to produce nothing.”

— Sen. Roy Blunt, on MSNBC Friday morning.

October 31, 2013

Cory Booker Already Making the Rounds

Well, that didn’t take long.

Cory Booker Already Making the Rounds

(Courtesy Andy Shallal)

Sen.-elect Cory Booker, D-N.J., evidently bee-lined for No. 3 on our list of custom-tailored dining recommendations, posing for a pic Wednesday evening with political activist and restaurateur Andy Shallal.

And he got the workplace introductions under way Thursday morning by paying his respects to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. — popping by for a collegial breakfast.

“He brought some of his staff as well and even his mom,” our spy shared.

Hello, Gourdgeous: A Very Political Halloween

Polls, schmolls.

We here at HOH choose to believe you are no one in the politisphere until someone takes the time to carve your visage into a defenseless gourd.

With Halloween just a few hours away, what better time to take a look at those who’ve captured the imagination of jack-o’-lantern enthusiasts:

President Barack Obama Full story

October 30, 2013

House Hopeful Brandishes Birther Credentials, Flunks Civics Test

Were the special election to replace retired Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., based solely on correct answers delivered during a recent candidate Q&A, aspiring lawmaker Dean Young wouldn’t have to think too hard about why he fell terribly short.

The proudly anti-establishment candidate went 0-3 on of civics questions posed by The Guardian, in a side-by-side comparison with his opponent, Bradley Byrne, including:

House Hopeful Brandishes Birther Credentials, Flunks Civics Test

(Screenshot)

Where President Barack Obama was born, Full story

Five Messages for HealthCare.gov | Capitol Quip

Five Messages for HealthCare.gov | 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. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • “HealthCare.gov must have a lot of boneheads.”
  • “Re-BOOOOOOOOOOO-t! Re-BOOOOOOOOOO-t!
  • “Hey, Frankenstein, do you know a good doctor?”
  • “Let’s see: this is Halloween 2018. He’s been trying for 5 years!”
  • “I guess he’s looking for a bare-bones health plan and forgot to buy candy!”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Oct. 27 and in the Oct. 28 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 Jason Dick Posted at 5:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Collegian Slams Sebelius’ Defense of Comprehensive Coverage

That testy exchange Wednesday between Rep. Renee Ellmers and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — you know, the one where the North Carolina Republican and the Affordable Care Act administrator sparred about whether men needed maternity coverage — inspired at least one young man to take a stand on Twitter.

Having caught the heated debate on Capitol Hill, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fan who calls himself the “SpacePope” on social media, offered this highly enlightened rebuttal of the administration’s policies:  Full story

Bison Lobby Stampeding Into Rayburn Tonight

Fans of the noble buffalo should roam over to the Rayburn Foyer this evening for a “National Bison Day” warm-up featuring gourmet sliders, wine and small batch bourbon honoring the majestic beast.

A reception sponsor told HOH that Wednesday’s reception, which is open to all, will feature bison sliders provided by Ted’s Montana Grill as well as samples of bourbon poured by Buffalo Trace Distillery. The festivities are set to kick off at 6:30 p.m.

Bison Lobby Stampeding Into Rayburn Tonight

(Courtesy Vote Bison Coalition)

This marks the second year in a row that the bison lobby has partied with Congress. Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt — the Washington Nationals’ “racing presidents” version of him, anyway — joined lawmakers at last year’s inaugural fete.

The Vote Bison Coalition has much to celebrate, having just scored the Senate’s endorsement of earmarking Nov. 2 as “National Bison Day.” Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., who is sponsoring a bill to designate bison as the “national mammal,” is also expected to say a few words.

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

For Rep. Peter T. King, the most salient part about “Killing Kennedy,” a TV movie dramatizing President John F. Kennedy’s doomed ride through downtown Dallas in late 1963, was reliving the utter chaos the shooting loosed on the unsuspecting American public.

“It just captured the way the whole country just came to a halt,” King told HOH about the paralysis that gripped the nation in the wake of Lee Harvey Oswald’s defining political statement.

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The film tracks the lives of JFK, played by Rob Lowe, and Oswald, portrayed by Will Rothhaar, from 1959 until that fateful November day in Texas. It is based on a book by the same title co-written by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly and presents grim portraits of everyone involved.

The dark sides of JFK (troubled leader burned by the Bay of Pigs debacle) and Oswald (paranoid psychotic with monumental delusions of grandeur) propel both of the main characters along their collision course, with their respective counterparts (Jackie Kennedy spends most of her time smoking, crying and/or fawning all over her unfaithful spouse while Marina Oswald is little more than an emotional, and sometimes physical, punching bag for her malcontent of a mate) dragged along for the brutal ride. Full story

Overheard: Coburn Explains His Anatomical Reference to Reid

“My words weren’t appropriate, but my frustrations are real.”

— Sen. Tom Coburn, explaining the reason he referred to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as an “absolute” orifice on the backside of the human body at a Republican gala in New York on Monday.

The Oklahoma Republican was asked about it Wednesday on Fox News by Elisabeth Hasselbeck before a segment Coburn was doing on national parks maintenance woes.

Roger Daltrey Keeps Shirt On at Churchill Ceremony

“Who better to represent rock royalty than Roger Daltrey … an icon on both sides of the Atlantic,” Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday as he introduced The Who co-founder, who performed in Statuary Hall at the dedication ceremony for a bust of Winston Churchill.

The Ohio Republican showed a bit of giddiness in introducing Daltrey, who went on to sing Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” perhaps a reference to the “special relationship” of the United States and Great Britain.

For anyone wondering whether Daltrey would add some rock ‘n’ roll to what are typically dry affairs, it must have been disappointing. Although some of the speakers at the ceremony, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, made mention of Churchill’s legendary humor and irreverence, most everyone made sure to note how very serious it all was, and that Churchill indeed saved the world, etc. Daltrey’s gospel-like rendition of the American pop standby was as tame as it gets.

Boehner made bringing a bust of the former British prime minister to the Capitol one of his first priorities as speaker. During that debate, he called the British politician “the best friend America ever had.”

Full story

October 29, 2013

Somebody Please Update Webster for the NSA’s Brave New World

In a world where the administration has already had to cop to not only spying on its own citizens, but also pals around the globe, it’s nice to know the Senate intranet still thinks so highly of the good old U.S. of A.:

“Did You Know?

Foreign nations don’t often support the same privacy laws we enjoy here in the United States, and may track tourists or eavesdrop on their communications through mobile communication devices like BlackBerrys. If you don’t need these devices when traveling overseas, don’t take them.”

An HOH tipster noticed that the Senate’s terribly trusting intranet (currently dubbed Webster; perhaps it’s time to switch to Pollyanna?) continues to browbeat staffers about inadvertently exposing sensitive data while traveling abroad.

Save yourselves the hassle, folks: If you need to retrieve critical data while overseas, just email yourself about said topic — consider using strongly worded subject lines such as: “OBAMA will EXECUTE me for holding this issue HOSTAGE” — copy PRISM on it and then kick back and wait for the super-helpful National Security Agency to come to the rescue.

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