Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 6, 2015

May 8, 2014

#TBT: A Series of Hits and Misses (Video)

It’s hard to believe, but Team HOH was actually entrusted with giving a presentation at the CQ Roll Call annual meeting recently.

How did it go? Well, we’re still employed (so far). Helping us out with our series of one-liners was ace Roll Call video editor J.M. Rieger, who wove together the following video that demonstrated that we at HOH will always have plenty of material to work with, as long as Congress is in session. In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look:

Jared Polis’ Legendary Gaming Campaign

Reason magazine has dubbed Rep. Jared Polis the “Gamer Congressman,” an honor earned by virtue of a lifetime spent mercilessly battling one’s way through fantasy worlds and virtual war zones.

The Colorado Democrat touched on a few of his favorite virtual pastimes — “I don’t really watch much TV. So, it’s a much more interactive thing, I think, to do with your spare time,” he told the interviewer — during a discussion that also touched on intellectual property rights, cyber-regulatory issues and blah-blah-blah.

We here at HOH were much more interested in getting to the bottom of the role-playing and online strategy games that have kept Polis glued to glowing computer screens for approaching four decades.


  • Age of Mythology
  • Rome
  • Later versions of Civilization


  • Diablo and Diablo II
  • Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights II
  • Defense of the Ancients
  • League of Legends (which he still plays)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic (later editions) Full story

May 7, 2014

Play Ball! Practices Begin for 53rd Annual Congressional Baseball Game

Richmond has dominated in the last few games. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Richmond has dominated in the past few games. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a little more than six weeks, Republicans and Democrats will lace up their cleats to compete in the 53rd Annual Congressional Baseball Game.

Both teams are gearing up for another fierce competition. The Democrats and Republicans both held practices Wednesday morning and will continue to practice every morning that Congress is in session until the game on June 25.

Democrats are looking to score their sixth straight win following their victory over the Republicans last year with an unprecedented score of 22-0.

“The pressure’s on us to perform the way we did last year,” said team manager Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. Doyle said the Democratic team is working to hone its skills in time for the game.

“We’ve got a long way to go to match last year’s performance,” he said, noting that Wednesday was the team’s first complete practice, as inclement weather at the end of April limited the team’s first two practices.

Republicans are hoping to redeem themselves after last year’s tough loss.

“I know we’re better than that,” said Republican manager Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas.

Barton said the team is not discouraged by last year’s loss and will focus on improving its fielding this year. “We’ve got a lot of enthusiasm and a real positive attitude,” he said.

After their first practice, the Republican roster is still in flux. However, even though the lineup is not set yet, one Republican senator is displaying his dedication to the team both on and off the field.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., showed up to the conservative Leadership Institute breakfast Wednesday morning in his practice baseball uniform. Paul gave a speech in a baseball shirt with “Republicans” across his chest, because the event was immediately following the team’s practice.

“We had practice this morning!” Paul tweeted. “Speaking of the baseball game, I am advocating Term Limits for Democrat pitchers.”

Paul, seen here last year, is raring to go. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul, seen here last year, is raring to go. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Paul’s tweet was a nod to Democratic star Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, who pitched seven shutout innings last year. The Louisiana lawmaker returns to the Democratic team once again, along with most of last year’s roster.

However, Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, will sit out this year due to an injury (not to mention the fact that he is caught up in a competitive race for the Senate.)

Democrats are anticipating a tough challenge from Republicans, despite last year’s blowout.

“These guys are going to be gunning for us,” said Doyle, noting that members of Congress have a particular distaste for failure.

“You don’t get to this place liking to lose,” said the Pennsylvania Democrat. “It’s no different when they get on the baseball field.”

Along with some healthy partisan competition, the annual game also raises funds for local charities. “The big winners are going to be the charities,” said Barton.

Proceeds will once again go to the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 6:35 p.m.
Sports Desk

Vote For Your Favorite Capitol Doughnut Quip

Capitol Rotunda

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!

  • And just like Congress, there is no center!
  • Caution: May contain nuts.
  • Where’s the coffee?
  • Hopefully it’s not too big to fail.
  • Did Michelangelo need a doughnut when he painted the Sistine Chapel?

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on May 11 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.

Songwriters Jam at Library of Congress

Even at a concert celebrating songwriters, politics was on everyone’s minds.  To be fair, the concert was right across from the Capitol.

WIlliams often reminds lawmakers about artists' rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

WIlliams often reminds lawmakers about artists’ rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a captivating performance of “Crazy on You” by Ann and Nancy Wilson of the legendary band Heart, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., joked about the tensions among lawmakers.

Boxer told the audience that included Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., “I think we found our new theme song when we’re debating: ‘Crazy On You,’ crazy!  Right, Lamar?  We could do that.” Full story

Alan Simpson Dishes About Sex, Love and Marriage

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson is truly milking this whole “I’m-retired-and-over-80-so-I-can-say-whatever-I-want-now” thing but good, letting it all hang out in an interview about affairs of the heart with WNYC reporter Anna Sale.

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

During her totally frank talk with the randy octogenarian, Sale discovers that the Wyoming Republican favors coarse language (“He peppers his sentence with cuss words,” she observes), reading “Othello” helped him recognize his own jealousy issues and that he still very much enjoys playing grab-ass with his wife of 60 years, Ann Simpson.

Moreover, the ex-lawmaker has no illusions about what it takes to keep a modern-day marriage from falling apart.

“It’s called sorting crap. But you have to take risks,” he counsels the divorce-scarred Sale.

Need to hear more?

The entirety of the almost NSFW-exchange — which was, curiously, set in motion by Sale’s lovelorn beau — should keep any helpless romantics out there completely riveted.

Wyden Channels ‘Portlandia’ at Senate Finance | Madisonville


The country’s roads and cars are a rich source of invention in our language, not to mention our music, literature and movies. You can find something for any purpose: living in the fast lane, moving on cruise control, running on empty, pedal to the metal, firing on all cylinders, asleep at the wheel, buckle up, we’re in for a rough ride, speed bump, my way or the highway, back-seat driver, one for the road, green light, bump in the road, hit the brakes, road kill, deer in the headlights, red light.

So when Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, holds a hearing about the depleted Highway Trust Fund — the biggest single source of funding for the nation’s roads — you expect him to find language to do justice to the cause.

“My bottom line is that you can’t have a big-league quality of life with little-league infrastructure,” Wyden said to open the hearing Tuesday.

A baseball metaphor? Little League? This is Wyden’s way of warning about potholes and deficient bridges? Either the country’s demography has changed far more than anybody realizes or Wyden is the senator from “Portlandia” — maybe both.

If ever a metaphor wasn’t built for purpose, this was it. Jack Kerouac didn’t write “On the First Base Line.” Bob Dylan didn’t sing “Right Field Revisited.” This was the Manchurian candidate of metaphors, a sleeper agent placed to betray the cause it was seemingly deployed to help. You could almost hear the air going out of the builders in the room. Full story

Staffer Stunned by John Culberson’s Monumental Rant

A House staffer learned, after sharing what sounds like a terribly uncomfortable elevator ride with Rep. John Culberson, that not everyone in Washington appreciates our museum-rich landscape.

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

According to our source, the Texas Republican opened up about his disdain for niche memorials, monuments and the like while shuttling from the basement of the Capitol to the second floor for votes.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., purportedly sparked the jarring conversation by needling Culberson about always “asking the tough questions” in GOP conference meetings.

Per the tipster, Culberson immediately launched into an anti-expansionist rant during which he questioned the need to carve out additional showplaces for African-Americans and Latinos — arguing that no one is clamoring to immortalize the struggle of the Czech-American immigrants that presumably populate his western Houston district.

The aide said Culberson then pivoted to fellow rider Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., and mumbled something about being “OK” with a women’s museum because that was “important for little girls.”

“It was just such a striking view into his world,” our spy said of the eye-opening encounter. “I was so profoundly offended. I couldn’t believe this happened in the Capitol.”

For what it’s worth, Culberson appears to be losing this fight.

Construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture is already under way (projected to open in 2015) along Constitution Avenue Northwest. And the House is taking the incredibly brave step of considering a bill authorizing a commission to study the merits of maybe, one day, green-lighting the construction of a permanent home for the nearly 20-year-old National Women’s History Museum project.

Culberson spokesman Stephen Worley told HOH his boss’ biggest beef with museum creep is the financial commitments involved.

“It’s my understanding that Rep. Culberson is concerned with the cost of building new museums when our current network of museums are in need of updates and repair,” Worley shared, adding that the proposed Women’s History Museum is exempt from his scrutiny because it “won’t come at a cost to taxpayers.”

That must come as a relief to Miller, who our tipster said stood stone-faced throughout Culberson’s spiel.

“Creating a commission, which would be paid for and maintained entirely with private funds, to study a future museum is an important step towards memorializing America’s memory of the deep and enduring contributions women have made. It is especially important to fully explore how such a museum would integrate within our existing Smithsonian Institution,” the House Administration Committee chairwoman said in a release following her panel’s endorsement of enshrining the combined efforts of American womanhood that her staff sent along to HOH.

Hastings did not reply to a request for comment.

May 6, 2014

Officer Debonair, at Your Service | Overheard

“If anyone gives you any problems about being late for your meeting, just tell ’em THE good-looking officer held you up. They’ll know who you’re talking about.”

— Capitol Police Officer offers female journalist delayed by the motorcade of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. an easy out.

Congressional Women’s Softball Rosters Are Out

The Congressional Women’s Softball Team and its archrival, The Bad News Babes, are out with their rosters about a month ahead of  the Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

Both teams feature 20 players. The member team will have strong delegations from Florida and Arizona. The press team boasts strong contingents from CNN, NBC News and The New York Times, and, of course, Roll Call.

Game day is June 18, and it benefits The Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer charity.

The big takeaway are the rookies. Rep. Katherine M. Clark, D-Mass., joined the team after her December special election win, along with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.

Similarly, The Bad News Babes added ABC Deputy Bureau Chief Sara Just and The New York Times’ Carolyn Ryan to its own roster.

Full story

Arkansans Host Tornado Relief Happy Hour at Hawk ‘n’ Dove

Heartbroken Razorbacks can help funnel money back to their storm-ravaged state by attending the D.C. Chapter of the Arkansas Alumni Association’s “Helping Like a Hog” fundraiser Wednesday night at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove (320 Pennsylvania Ave. SE).

A tornado devastated central Arkansas, killing 16, on April 27. President Barack Obama is scheduled to survey the ongoing disaster relief efforts on Wednesday afternoon.

The charity happy hour is scheduled to take place from 6 to 8 p.m. and will feature assorted drink specials, including a still-in-development “Arkansas-themed” cocktail ($3) as well as discounted beer ($3 Miller Lites), house wine ($4) and rail drinks ($5).

Chapter President Spencer Lucker assured HOH that 100 percent of the donations collected at the door would flow through to the American Red Cross, which has agreed to earmark the funds for Arkansas storm relief. Although there is no set fee to attend — “We’re open to any and all donations,” Lucker suggested — every $20 contributed earns the donor one entry into a special raffle.

Prizes include two sets of tickets to upcoming games at neighboring Nationals Park (gorgeous weather and timely floor wrap-up not included), as well as a gift bag assembled by the Personal Care Products Council.

Becerra Aides Help Spread Mariachi Madness

Sure, it’s a mostly manufactured holiday. But Cinco de Mayo can still mean big business here in D.C. — particularly for the well-connected musicians in Mariachi Los Amigos.

(Courtesy Team Becerra)

(Courtesy Team Becerra)

The band of rotating performers — an aide to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California said the current troupe has been in place since late 2007; clips on their Facebook page suggest some iteration of the group has been enchanting fiesta-goers since at least 2001 — includes Daniel Herrera (violinist), who currently serves as deputy communications director for the House Democratic Caucus; Lorenzo Olvera (guitar), a former Becerra staffer; and Lorenzo’s brother Roberto Olvera (trumpet).

Monday was a big day for the boys; the band had been booked for four nearly back-to-back gigs, beginning with a dignitary-packed breakfast hosted by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the United States Naval Observatory. Full story

May 5, 2014

For Oberstar, Safe Routes to School Lives On

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar is continuing to give to transportation causes, even posthumously.

Oberstar, who died over the weekend at age 79, served in the House for 36 years after working as a staffer, including as administrator of the old Committee on Public Works.

A death notice for the longtime Minnesota Iron Range congressman says the family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations should be directed to either the Safe Routes to School National Partnership or So Others Might Eat.

Full story

Angus King Extends Reid an Open Invitation to Maine (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  scored an unexpected invitation from Angus King to visit the independent senator’s home state of Maine.

King says Reid is welcome anytime in Maine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

King says Reid is welcome anytime in Maine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The invitation came after the Nevada Democrat conceded in a floor speech recognizing National Travel and Tourism Week that he had only once visited the state that calls itself Vacationland,  with King presiding over the chamber.

“This industry’s impact is not unique to Nevada. The presiding officer’s state of Maine, people go there year round — it slows down a little in the winter time — people go there year round because of the beauty of the state of Maine,” Reid said. “I’ve only been to Maine [on] one occasion, but I came as a tourist. I wanted to see that beautiful state, and I was able to do that.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:07 p.m.

Congressional Democrats Host Pussy Riot

Senate Foreign Relation Committee member Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., and House Judiciary Committee member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., are giving members of Pussy Riot, the all female punk collective that famously ran afoul of Russian President Vladimir Putin, an open mic on Capitol Hill with which to rail against human rights abuse and political oppression.

Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are scheduled to participate in a press conference Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. over on the Senate side of the Capitol.

The world-renowned protestors, who each spent nearly two years behind bars for publicly badmouthing Putin, have been speaking out about the sorry state of affairs within their home country since their release in late 2013.

The two were reportedly guests at Yahoo!’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner party over the weekend. Full story

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