Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

June 17, 2013

Claire McCaskill at Her Most Multitaskingest | Overheard

“Mammogram over my lunch hour today. Do this ladies! Especially if you are my age.” – Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill takes to Twitter to combat breast cancer.

June 16, 2013

The Writing’s on the Wall | Capitol Quip

The Writings on the Wall | Capitol QuipIllustrator R.J. Matson’s latest cartoon needs a caption.

As the Senate plods forward on a bipartisan immigration overhaul, many House members have been reluctant to take up a comprehensive bill. And one of the Senate bill’s authors, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, is insisting his own bill needs stronger border security provisions to pass either chamber. What’s the future for this mine field of a policy debate?

Leave us your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and then everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. The winner gets a signed print from Matson.

Your Votes Were Properly Recorded | Capitol Quip

Your Votes Were Properly Recorded | 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.

June 14, 2013

Pot-Seeking Seniors Hope to Light a Fire Under Pols

Legalization activists young and old will fan out across the Capitol on June 17 as part of Federal Marijuana Lobby Day, a pro-pot push poised to include food, booze and pep talks from sympathetic policymakers.

Silver Tour founder Robert Platshorn, a convicted drug trafficker cum reform advocate — “I caught the first kingpin charge for marijuana,” he shared, having served three decades of a whopping 64-year sentence — is bringing busloads of senior citizens who are interested in medical marijuana along for the congressional tour.

An old school pitchman (he listed Vitamix and Ginsu as former clients), Platshorn produced an infomercial-style video about the health benefits of legal pot called, “Should Grandma Smoke Pot?” He’s been airing it in various TV markets for the past several months.

Full story

The Modest Pepperoni Roll Abides

West Virginians, or at least fans of the Mountain State’s pepperoni roll, are basking in the glory of the savory food’s victory in the CQ Roll Call Taste of America competition.

The winner, announced at Thursday’s 52nd Annual Congressional Baseball Game, rose above the rest of the Elite Eight: Iowa bacon, Arizona chimichangas, Illinois Italian beef, Maryland crab cakes, South Carolina shrimp and grits, Oregon pear tarts and Georgia peach cobbler.

Voting seems to be similar to that of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Some states have inherent advantages, kind of like the New York Yankees’ and Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-market reach. But the whole point is to have fun and introduce people to foods they might not normally try.

“I’ll eat one of your [chimichangas] if you eat some Georgia cobbler,” Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., offered to HOH at the Taste of America soiree.

Some of the crowd might have been a little perplexed at the success of the modest pepperoni roll, a humble pastry-protein combo first developed, as legend has it, by Frank Argiro in the 1920s. Argiro, an Italian-American coal miner, happened upon the idea of baking small slices of pepperoni into Italian rolls so he and his fellow miners could easily transport their lunch down into the mines. It was successful enough that he opened up the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, W.Va., which operates to this day.

When reached for comment by HOH, the woman at the Country Club Bakery asked us to hold on for a minute, put the phone down, took a few orders from customers — “Two dollars? And eight cents? Oh, that’s right,” HOH overheard — then picked the phone back up and said, “You’re going to have to call back on Monday. That’s when the manager gets back.” Before we could get a name, she hung up the phone.

So it is: the allure of the mysterious pepperoni roll. Stay tuned.

Could GOP Turn to Texas for Pitching Help?

For the third year in a row, the pitching disparity between the Democrats and Republicans was the key to the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

The Democrats are in a great position with Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond burning through the GOP lineup, giving up three hits in a complete game, 22-0, shutout. He’s given up only four runs in three games. And he’s 39 years old and represents a safe district.

Could GOP Turn to Texas for Pitching Help?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond in action at Thursday night’s 52nd Annual Congressional Baseball Game. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

On the other side of the field, Republicans are looking to shore up their rotation. Democrats hooked early into Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, the only GOP pitcher not to give up a run last year, scoring five runs in the first. Stutzman, at 37, is younger than Richmond. But his relievers Thursday evening (Reps. Patrick Meehan and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania) are both 57,  which doesn’t bode well for the future of the team.

Perhaps the Republicans should recruit Roger Clemens, who gave some campaign cash to his friend Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. Also, Clemens wouldn’t have to worry about those pesky performance-enhancing drug allegations because the Congressional Baseball Game doesn’t test.

Could GOP Turn to Texas for Pitching Help?

Could Roger Clemens be the answer to the GOP’s pitching woes? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Another opportunity could be with Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who campaigned for former Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul. He’s currently the president of the Texas Rangers.

Former President George W. Bush was co-owner of the franchise, and the Rangers started life as the expansion Washington Senators before moving to Arlington, Texas, in 1972, so the bloodlines make the franchise the equivalent of an elected official farm team.

Steny Hoyer and the Gang of NOH8

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., is not afraid to ink up his knuckles:

Steny Hoyer and the Gang of NOH8

(Courtesy HOH Tipster)

Nor are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii.

It all comes on the heels of Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., musing on the floor that he had been in so many gangs in the Senate that “it might be time to get some tattoos.”

Your move, Durbin, et al.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

Standing at the entrance to Nationals Park on Thursday evening afforded sightings of the big names and big quirks that convened for the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. Just a few highlights for the HOH reader’s viewing pleasure are below.

First off, don’t think for a second you can break out of the two-party system. It’s Republicans or Democrats all the way:

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., accepts an official game program from Mary Cadwallader.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., rocks boat shoes, mini cargo shorts and hardcore sock marks around his calves. But we can’t fault him; a man’s got to wear socks some of the time.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Staffers Rebecca Nathanson and Karen De Los Santos were ready to root for their boss, Rep. Adam “Adam Bomb” Smith, D-Wash.

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

And finally, what would a game in Nationals Stadium be without the mascots?

Before the Storm: Highlights Leading Up to the Congressional Baseball Game

(Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Here’s to next year.

GOP CoS Ranks Congressional Baseball Game Foils

Fans were still filtering out of Nationals Park — having just witnessed the 22-0 trouncing of Republicans by Democrats in the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game — when the HOH inbox lit up with accusations of impropriety.

GOP CoS Ranks Congressional Baseball Game Foils


“Is this tweet stupid, or just wildly inappropriate for a chief of staff to be making?” one of several HOH tipsters wondered after stumbling upon the unflattering comment Chris Connelly, right-hand man to Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., broadcast to his online flock.

The consensus was that Connelly had crossed the line into —ist (Race? Sex? Elite?) territory.

More like sour grapes, he insists.

Full story

The Baby-Faced Assassin | Overheard

“Raul Ruiz: The baby-faced assassin!”

– Unidentified staffer at Thursday’s 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, enthusiastically assessing the freshman California Democrat.


The Baby Faced Assassin | Overheard

(Courtesy Rep. Raul Ruiz’s Facebook Page)

June 13, 2013

Richmond Dominates Again for Democrats

House Democrats may not be able to reclaim the majority for another decade because of redistricting, but for as long as Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., is an elected official, they’re certain to reign supreme on the baseball diamond.

Richmond Dominates Again for Democrats

Richmond slides headfirst into third for a triple during the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Richmond, donning an old-school Brooklyn Dodgers No. 42 jersey in honor of the late Jackie Robinson, dominated the game, pitching 7 shutout innings, notching 4 hits and driving in 2 runs, to lead the Democrats to the most lopsided win in 52 years of CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball, 22-0. The Louisiana Democrat told teammates and reporters he was sick before the game. Yet he recorded a Michael-Jordan-in-Game-Five-Of-The-1997-NBA-Finals-like performance, making everyone else on the field look like the out-of-shape congressional amateurs that they are.

“If it was high school or college, I wouldn’t dare try to get away with it,” Richmond told Roll Call before the game at Nationals Park.

Richmond said there was a lot of pressure being the best athlete on the field, but he was sure to point out fellow Democrats who also know how to play ball. In particular, he said, freshman Patrick Murphy of Florida, a former varsity high school baseball captain, was a “true story.” “He can play and he can hit,” Richmond said.

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., no relation, overhearing a claim of Patrick as “the better Murphy” outside the dugout pregame, bristled at such a designation.

“He hasn’t even played a game, how can you say he’s the better Murphy yet?” the Democrats’ catcher quipped. While the senator might not be the better player, he impressed this reporter by passing my baseball trivia test, knowing that former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona was Jordan’s manager at Double-A Birmingham (See? And you thought I wouldn’t tie all my obscure sports references together?).

With their victory Thursday night, Democrats took their fifth straight win from Republicans, a small solace for being the House minority for three years and counting. The previously most lopsided win was a 17-1 GOP drubbing of the Democrats in 1999.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, dressed in a casual light-pink dress shirt, tried to rally his troops in the dugout before first pitch. True to form, the speaker’s effort was valiant but ultimately futile.

“Keep your eye on the ball. When it comes to you in the field, just keep your eye on it,” Boehner said, his voice raised. “Let’s go out there and kick their ass!”

Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., the only female player, was a fan favorite, getting to first base twice and taking second base on an error in the 5th inning after notching a single.

Roll Call’s most quotable player award, however, goes to Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y. Crowley, dressed head-to-toe in Mets gear, warmed up before the game on the third-base line with Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who once mulled challenging the New Yorker for his leadership post.

Crowley said he’s “still a Mets fan” despite the recent demotion of family friend Mike Baxter to Triple-A Las Vegas. Roll Call asked if he would play better than the last congressman to wear a full Mets uniform in the game, current New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, Crowley brought the quintessential Empire State lawmaker sass.

“I don’t know that I’m going to play better than him, but I’m definitely going to use the Internet better than him,” Crowley said.

When pressed on whether there was a “Sports Illustrated”-like Congressional Baseball Game cover jinx, given that this year’s program featured defeated Republican Rep. Robert Dold of Illinois in a Cubs jersey, Crowley had an answer for that, too.

“They had a hard time finding a decent picture of a Republican with a smile on his face, so that’s all they could come up with. it was a rough night for them,” Crowley said.

If only he knew there would be even fewer smiles this year, and more Republican staffers hitting the exits early.

But as the image of a smiling defeated congressman in a Cubs jersey reminds everyone, there’s always next year.

By Meredith Shiner Posted at 10:13 p.m.

Most Valuable Member of Congress?

Turn out the lights, the ballgame’s over, at least for the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

One last item of business, though? Who is your choice for Most Valuable Player?

Leave your vote in the comments section below.

By Jason Dick Posted at 10:04 p.m.

Mary Landrieu’s Kid Arrested on DWI Charges

Frank “Connor” Snellings, the 21-year-old son of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., was arrested Thursday morning on charges of driving while intoxicated, hit-and-run driving and driving the wrong way on a one-way street in the French Quarter, as well as possession of an alcoholic beverage in the car and not maintaining proper control of the car, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

According to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the car Snellings was driving hit a pedestrian, who was not seriously injured. Snellings and a passenger were not hurt.

“We love our son wholeheartedly, but we are extremely disappointed by his irresponsible actions last night,” Landrieu told the Times-Picayune. “These actions have serious consequences both at home and in our legal system.”

Landrieu asked people “to respect his privacy as we work through this challenging time for our family.”

Baez Tuned In to Tim Kaine

During her show Wednesday night at Wolf Trap, folk singer Joan Baez purportedly took the time to pay musical tribute to a local boy who works right here on the Hill: freshman Sen. Tim Kaine.

“Hey @JoanBaez — thanks for dedicating “Deportee” to me last night at Wolf Trap!” Kaine gloated on Twitter.

Staff told HOH the Virginia Democrat did not attend the actual concert and does not know Baez personally but that he had heard from friends who were at the show that he’d been name-checked.

Full story

Cheesemonger Serves Up FDA Protest

A Food and Drug Administration plan to curb domestic consumption of Mimolette, a French cheese that’s brought to market with the help of some microscopic, rind-chomping mites, has prompted one local businesswoman to give away the soon-to-be-contraband in protest.

According to Cheesetique Founder Jill Erber, the government crackdown was set in motion this past March, when the FDA put the brakes on further shipments of the bowling-ball-shaped fromage, trapping tons of the stuff at the port in New Jersey.

The biggest concern: that the aforementioned parasites, which Erber said remain relegated to the rough brown exterior of the cheese, might cause an unspecified allergic reaction among consumers.

“You would have to take an uncleaned wheel and rub it all over your face to get any significant exposure,” Erber argued, noting that, “Mimolette is not the only cheese in the world that has microscopic mites.”

Full story

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