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

April 4, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 31 (Video)

Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., tells zookeepers how to dress, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., stages an “intervention”, Senator Dan Coats, R-Ind., shows up to the wrong hearing and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he is not afraid of the Koch brothers – again.

April 3, 2014

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

Performers from across the musical spectrum helped star-stuck lawmakers get loose Wednesday night, as the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill awards once again blew the socks off of straight-laced Washington.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The invite-only affair gave politicos the opportunity to mingle with chart-topping artists from every decade dating back to the 1960s, a who’s who of vocal talent that included singer Dionne Warwick, Tejano band Los Lonely Boys, the Hanson Brothers and Grammy winners Lady Antebellum. The musicians, in turn, tipped their hats to those on Capitol Hill who’ve proved to be real good listeners, handing out awards to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“There’s very few places in this country that they would actually honor members of Congress,” the California Republican quipped while on stage with songwriter Booker T. Jones and Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. Full story

When Politics and Softball Collide …

There is one teensy problem with playing on a bipartisan congressional athletic team: Sometimes politics comes first.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat and star slugger for the Congressional Women’s Softball team, is set to campaign in West Virginia this weekend on behalf of Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant.

An innocuous political move, except that Tennant’s opponent is one of Team Congress’ captains, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

The pair play on a team of female members who battle the women of the Washington press corps in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

Heitkamp weighed in on the issue in an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

Full story

Harry Reid Treated to Impromptu Saxophone Serenade

It sounded like Kenny G was visiting the Senate chamber around noon on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got a brief saxophone serenade from the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who bumped into the Nevada Democrat during the “GRAMMYs on the Hill” lobbying day.

(Photo courtesy of David Helfant.)

(Photo courtesy of David Helfant.)

“I whipped out my saxophone and just said, ‘I’ll play you a song,” saxophonist and vocalist Mindi Abair told CQ Roll Call. She picked a song called “Summertime,” which she said Reid appeared to enjoy.

Abair, who has toured and recorded with artists ranging from the Backstreet Boys and Duran Duran to Adam Sandler and Aerosmith, was visiting Capitol Hill with about 200 other recording industry advocates to push for legislation that would ensure songwriters and composers are fairly paid for their work.

Abair and other advocates had a full day of meetings with the California delegation. They were saying goodbye to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., when they bumped into Reid outside the chamber.

They will be pushing for the Songwriter Equity Act of 2014, and perhaps playing a few impromptu serenades.

Congressmen and Staffers Get a Taste of Michigan

Ever wonder what beer that tastes like coffee would be like?

Staffers and members of Congress found out Wednesday as they sampled Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery in Detroit at the 5th Annual Taste of Michigan.

Dozens of staffers and a handful of congressmen gathered in the Gold Room in the Rayburn House Office Building for the event hosted by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

The event was an effort to raise awareness about Michigan craft beers, wine and spirits, and also to show appreciation for the members of Congress whom the MLBA lobbied for the past two days.

“On both sides of the aisle, we were able to get out our biggest concern, which is tipped minimum wage,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis.  The MLBA represents around 1,700 businesses, including bars and taverns in Michigan.

Ellis said they received “mixed reviews” from lawmakers regarding their argument against raising the tipped wage, which he feels would negatively affect business owners and the workers themselves.

At least four members of the Michigan delegation attended the Taste of Michigan  eventWednesday evening, although the majority of attendees included congressional staffers.

As they relaxed after a day’s work and mingled in the Gold Room and the balcony, the staffers and lawmakers could choose from the 30 craft beers on hand, all brewed in Michigan, as well as 10 different wines and a sampling of bourbon and vodka.

Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., stood out on the balcony with other attendees, overlooking the Rayburn courtyard with the Washington Monument in the distance.

“This is fabulous,” said Benishek. “I’m happy to stop in and say ‘hello’ to these guys and learn a little more about this great beer and wine, and now vodka, I find out,” he added, lifting the cup in his hand.

‘Parts Is Parts’ in This #tbt HOH Item


HOH25-Icon.jpg

Oh, the things we learn reading the HOH stacks, such as this gem from the Feb. 26, 1996 edition of Roll Call by reporter Craig Winneker:

Above and Beyond Dept. The things Members do to help constituents. Consider the following letter from Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich) to Agriculture Department official P. Scott Shearer:
“Dear Mr. Shearer: I am writing to you on behalf of Mr. R. Miles Handy II, President, Oink-Oink Inc., 15526 Dale, Detroit, MI 48223.
“According to Mr. Handy, The United States Department of Agriculture was allowing Oink-Oink to purchase pork penises for use as a pet treat. They were purchasing the raw product from Iowa Packing Company. After several months of doing so, the USDA began to ‘dye the raw penises green.’ As a result of this, Oink-Oink Inc. is unable to use them because of this discoloration.
“I would greatly appreciate your comment on this situation.”
Knollenberg’s press secretary, Frank Maisano, told HOH Friday that “as far as our pets are concerned, parts is parts.”
He added that the Congressman was concerned “about Michigan jobs and allowing our pets to have the choices they deserve.”
Oh, and HOH suggests checking the label on Fido’s next box of biscuits.

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:27 p.m.
#tbt

April 2, 2014

Five Captions for Bruce Braley to Ponder | Capitol Quip

CapitolQuip-03-31-14.jpg

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:

  • I wouldn’t bet the farm on him.
  • He better keep his foot in there until after the election …
  • He’s gonna need a personal injury attorney …
  • I think he’ll be cowed into retracting his comment.
  • Looks like he’s picked up the dreaded “foot-in-mouth” disease.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on April 6 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 Jason Dick Posted at 4:37 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Mulvaney Gives Jordan the Finger

Walking into Wednesday’s Republican Study Committee meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said he’d vote for the budget unveiled this week by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan and was asked if he expects his conservative colleagues who voted against other budget deals to take the same approach.

“I actually do, but you’ll have to talk to [Mick] Mulvaney to get the full answer,” Jordan said of his South Carolina colleague.

Mulvaney, who had just said he was undecided on the budget, was sitting on a bench outside of the meeting on his phone. Upon hearing the Ohio Republican’s remark, he looked up and gave Jordan the finger.

Everyone laughed.

Zombie Pandemics and Gobbeledygook Grace GPO’s Funny Title List

“Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.”  It wasn’t an April Fools’ joke — this government document actually exists and was one of the Government Printing Office’s Top Ten Funny Federal Titles proving government documents aren’t always mundane.

Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t actually predicting a zombie apocalypse with its contribution to the mix, so there’s no need to hoard water and binge-watch “The Walking Dead” — yet.  The agency was creatively informing the public how to be prepared for emergencies.  And the CDC wasn’t the only agency having some fun with their document titles.

Among those listed by Jennifer Davis on the GPO’s blog were “Gobbeledygook Has Gotta Go,” highlighting the issues with complex language in government documents, “America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor,” and “USDA Saves French Donkey.”

“I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny,” Davis wrote.  “And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too.”

And sometimes perhaps he laughs a little too hard? Read “Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report on the Project.”

Coloring Book Chief Draws on Success of Ted Cruz Title

Really Big Coloring Books ® Inc. publisher Wayne Bell captured the imagination of the politisphere last fall by releasing “Ted Cruz to the Future,” an activity book chronicling the rise to power of  a certain headline-grabbing Texas Republican.

RBCBtcf

The kiddie book is such a runaway hit — “Amazon the company itself orders by the pallet. Several pallets in fact,” Bell gushed — that RBCB has rushed three more politically themed projects into production. Bell declined to identify whom, exactly, might grace the mostly blank pages (“We prefer not to tell, as we really do not want those being profiled to ‘see it coming,’ ” he told HOH), but did intimate that a handful of Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are on the short list, while House members remain more iffy.

The new books are expected out within the next six months.

Having amassed six years of political workbook savvy beneath his belt, Bell has learned to pick his subjects carefully.

He published the debut entry in his burgeoning catalog of  “cultural event and political coloring books and novels” shortly after President Barack Obama clinched the keys to the Oval Office. Full story

Robert Brady Really Wanted to Be a Zookeeper

House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., adjourned Wednesday’s panel on the future of the National Zoo with a joke about ranking member Robert A. Brady “wearing his khaki shorts … with his whip ready.”

The safari outfit fits perfectly with Brady’s childhood ambition of being a zookeeper. The Pennsylvania Democrat shared his dream of riding around with the wild creatures that populated Philadelphia’s zoo, the oldest in the nation, during his opening statement.

The panel of management officials from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park were also treated to some footage of Bao Bao the panda during their visit to Congress.

Miller, who claims to be “addicted” to the zoo’s “Panda Cam,” requested that committee staff play a brief clip of the panda cub. Afterward, she released a statement saying, “The National Zoo has a unique role as a federal zoo supported by the taxpayers. It is truly a zoo provided by and for the people.”

Especially for Brady, the hopeful zookeeper.

April 1, 2014

Team Boehner Recasts HIMYM Stars as Budget ‘Splainers

Look out, President Barack Obama: House Republicans are done ceding the hipster vote to your social media savvy ways.

Less than a month after social conservatives browbeat 44 for dragging his bully pulpit to “Between Two Ferns,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, took to the Web to drum up support for House Republicans’ latest spending blueprint via a series of GIFs culled from the just-wrapped sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

Boehner’s debut BuzzFeed post breaks the ongoing budget fight into seven easy pieces — most of which focus on deriding Senate Democrats for effectively passing the buck on budget writing during the past few years.

Thanks for the Pranks, Congress

Hill types had their fun this April Fools Day, filling the online ether with bogus press releases — or, in the case of New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce, just really weird news — designed to make everyone question the fragile construct we call reality.

One eagle-eyed observer shared a snapshot of a psych-out perpetrated on the most gullible souls wandering through Statuary Hall:

No word on whether mischievous Capitol Hill cops or fed-up tour guides have taken credit for the moratorium on intra-chamber babbling, but kudos to whoever attempted to orchestrate some blessed silence.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., was more ambitious in his trouble making, widely broadcasting plans to formally bridge the gap between his home district and the nation’s capital. His tongue-in-cheek pitch to S-T-R-E-T-C-H the Bay Area Rapid Transit System all the way to Capitol South posits that the 41-hour long ride would only set riders back a paltry $347.28 a pop.

“We need bold solutions that increase connectivity, helping grow our economy. If you live in California, why shouldn’t you enjoy direct access to the corridors of power in our nation’s capital?” he suggested.

Colorado Democrat Jared Polis took a more introspective tact, firing back at snarky tweets questioning his sartorial judgment by unilaterally declaring himself GQ’s head fashionista.

“I am thrilled to join the definitive authority on men’s fashion as their chief congressional fashion spokesman,” Polis announced via email. “The ‘potie’ revolution brings the classic, formal look of a bow tie with the comfort and flexibility of a polo shirt, and I knew it was only a matter of time before my new look was appreciated.”

Meanwhile, Pearce worked in a plug for the “Out of This World Job Fair” scheduled to take place April 9 from 2-6 p.m. at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center in Roswell, N.M. Pearce is once again hosting the hiring fest, which plays up the regional connection to a supposed UFO crash, in conjunction with several local employment agencies.

No word if he’ll be canvassing the crowd for a new press secretary.

House Taxwriters Lobby for Taste of ‘Ways & Means’ Brew

Port City Brewing Company has worked up a new rye-based American special bitter dubbed “Ways & Means.” And thanks to Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., House taxwriters won’t have to wander beyond the Capitol to sample the 4.8 percent alcohol by volume beverage.

(Courtesy Port City Brewing Company)

(Courtesy Port City Brewing Company)

The new beer, which PCBC Founder Bill Butcher described as “really refreshing … with a hoppy bite,” made its unofficial debut over the weekend in the Alexandria, Va.-based brewery’s tasting room and is scheduled for wide release on April 7.

Becerra has helped organize a bipartisan reception featuring PCBC’s seasonal draft to be co-hosted by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander M. Levin, D-Mich. The off-the-record mixer is tentatively scheduled to take place on the evening of April 7, after votes have wrapped.

Those not privy to the invite-only affair can give the experimental IPA a whirl April 10 at a Hawk ‘n’ Dove-hosted release party. “Ways & Means” will be the featured draft from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. that evening, and there’ll be PCBC swag (glassware, etc.) on hand.

Artists to Sing House Leaders’ Praises at GRAMMYs on the Hill

The Recording Academy’s annual gala, the toe-tapping GRAMMYs on the Hill awards show, will once rock and roll its way through The Hamilton on Wednesday.

Chart-topping performers Lady Antebellum are slated to be honored with The Recording Academy’s Recording Artists’ Coalition Award, while House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will move from behind the scenes — McCarthy became co-chairman of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus in 2013; Pelosi addressed GRAMMYs on the Hill advocates during their 2010 lobbying day — to center stage to receive the GRAMMYs on the Hill Award.

Other musicians expected to mix and mingle with lawmakers and their entourages Wednesday night include:

Hanson

The nearly shot-for-shot remake of the Ray Charles-led number from the original “Blues Brothers” they did for their “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” video was absolutely brilliant. Full story

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