Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 3, 2015

March 5, 2014

Getting to Know Ron Wyden’s Spokesarmy

Now that he wields the gavel to the agenda-setting Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden has also inherited a much bigger microphone.

Luckily, the Oregon Democrat has assembled an eight-person answer squad — including four issues-specific spokespeople — to help carry his message into the world.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time there will be four designated spokespeople for the SFC Chairman,” tax and investigations specialist Lindsey Held told HOH of the dedicated response team. In addition to the other three policy point people, like herself, Wyden will be supported by a digital director (Rebecca Steele), press secretary/speechwriter (Ryan Carey), deputy press secretary (Samantha Offerdahl) and press assistant (Taylor Harvey), Held explained.

Per Held, many of the mouthpieces have already been working together for years, either under newly minted diplomat Max Baucus, D-Mont. (Held, Carey, Harvey), carrying over from Wyden’s Finance staff or switching over from his Energy and Natural Resources Committee crew.

“It’s a melding of the two families, ‘Brady Bunch’-style,” Held suggested.

Congressional media aides confirmed that Wyden’s hydra-like communications hub dwarfs every other Senate press shop. The three-person outfit tasked with cranking out Maryland Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski’s Appropriations Committee missives came in a distant second.

Unlike the Byzantine tax code, Team Wyden is committed to not hiding behind complexity.

“If you can’t figure out who to call for something, or just need help navigating an issue, call me and I’ll get you an answer,” Held pledged.

Krist Novoselic Rolls to Republic for Democracy Party

Nirvana bassist cum political activist Krist Novoselic will trumpet the need for electoral reform around 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Republic (6939 Laurel Avenue, Takoma Park, Md.) during a fundraiser piggybacking on the unveiling of the restaurant’s live shows.

The grunge rocker has been dabbling in politics for a while now, lending his voice and stature to candidates and causes that resonate with his personal philosophy. He joined FairVote’s board of directors nearly a decade ago and has been advocating for change ever since.

A Republic spokeswoman suggested that those more interested in reliving 90’s musical angst rather than rocking the vote might be better off staying home.

“We’re not certain if Krist is performing as yet, as he’ll be there in the capacity of his FairVote chairmanship,” the restaurant aide told HOH, adding that local acts The Cowards Choir and The Beanstalk Library are scheduled to play. Full story

Capitol Hill to Face Off Against K Street— on the Ice

John Kerry

From left, Dayspring, Goodwin and Kerry skate in the 2012 game. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The boys and girls of winter are set to face off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge in Arlington, Va.

This is the sixth year that “Team Lawmakers,” comprised of members of Congress, federal staffers and campaign committee operatives, will cross hockey sticks with  “Team Lobbyists.”

The record headed into Wednesday is 3-2, in favor of the Team Lobbyists.

The game will take place at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. It’s just a few blocks off from the Ballston Metro. You can buy your $10 tickets here. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the puck drops at 7 p.m.

It all started in back in 2009, with a group of lobbyists and Hill staffers who played informal Monday night pickup hockey.

Full story

DeFazio Swears Small-Brewers Caucus Is Legit

During last night’s debut of Web talk show “Bills and Brews,” congressional reporter Matt Laslo quizzed Oregon Democrat Peter A. DeFazio about his duties as chairman of the House Small Brewers Caucus.

Per DeFazio, the bipartisan crew is not just in it for gratis pours:

Catch the full DeFazio interview — and learn more about Laslo’s beer-centric show — here.

March 4, 2014

Grayson Feud Boils Over Into Abuse Claims

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Alan Grayson’s rapidly unraveling marriage is spinning even further out of control amid dueling allegations of spousal abuse.

As first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Lolita Grayson sought out a protective order against the Florida Democrat after a mutually agreed upon flare up at the family home this weekend. Per the Sentinel, Lolita accused her husband of forcefully shoving and knocking her down.

Alan Grayson’s office issued a statement not only refuting the claims, but also challenging Lolita’s current mental state. Full story

‘Bills and Brews’ Pours Itself Into Politics of Drinking

Congressional reporter Matt Laslo may only have one episode of his new Web show, “Bills and Brews,” in the can, but he’s already got designs on exporting the barley-and-hops-fueled gabfest to a brewery near you.

“I want to take this on the campaign trail,” Laslo said of the pet project he’s been nurturing for nearly a decade. He’ll premiere the pilot episode — featuring a freewheeling discussion with Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., at Bluejacket— for media at 6-11 p.m. Tuesday night at The Dunes (1402 Meridian Place NW).

Laslo said inspiration for the show first struck back in 2006 while he was covering the West Coast brewing scene for public radio. “It occurred to me that, hey, this could be a fun show,” he said of the passionate and interesting people he got to know while researching the beer world.

He has since refined the scope and mission of that original vision, carving out room for a show he hopes will work on multiple levels. In DeFazio’s case, that means preparing an 8- to 9-minute segment that’s all about Oregon brews (staff told HOH DeFazio brought along IPAs from Hop Valley Brewing Co., Ninkasi Brewing Co. and Oakshire Brewing to share) and his personal drinking history (something about shoulder-tapping at gas stations); this is designed to reel in the casually interested, “Colbert Report”-viewing crowd.

Beer nerds can plunge into a subordinate 10- to 12-minute clip delving specifically into craft brewing issues. Finally, wonks are invited to drink in another 10- to 15-minute carve-out dealing with beer-related policies (taxes, regulation, etc).

The guest and location of the second show is still being worked out, but Laslo has some solid contenders. He said he’s interested in meeting Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., for a swing through Asheville’s booming craft-brewing community, and would love to sit down with Del. Eleanor Homes Norton, D-D.C., at neighboring DC Brau.

Team DeFazio said the seasoned homebrewer was happy to spend some more time at Bluejacket. “He has taken the behind-the-scenes tour and often dines there with friends,” aides said of the Southeast D.C. beer haven. His allegiance, however, remains with breweries in the greater Northwest.

Per staff, DeFazio dined at Plank Town in Springfield, Ore., this past weekend. And while he’s pleased some home-state brews are making their way eastward, DeFazio would love to see more on local shelves.

“Although the D.C. area has a good and quickly growing craft brew scene, folks are missing out on a lot!” Team DeFazio said.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:49 p.m.
Booze, DC, media, Nationwide, Reps

Overheard: GPO Is Really Old

“I am especially glad to be here on this day of all days because it is the 153rd anniversary of the day that GPO first opened its doors for business in 1861. In other words, today is GPO’s birthday”

— Davita Vance-Cooks, public printer of the United States, shares an agency milestone with House appropriators to kick off Budget Day.

Pols Eat Up James Beard ‘America’s Classics’ Honors

Just thinking about the landmark restaurants the James Beard Foundation will formally crown as “America’s Classics” this May has lawmakers who have dined at the treasured eateries licking their lips with anticipation.

The hospitality industry awards celebrate a handful of timeless establishments each year; the 2014 honorees include: Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in New Orleans, Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, Ore., Olneyville New York System in Providence, R.I., Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas, and Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin has fond memories of fueling up at Olneyville during his college days.

“I remember going there sometimes after class or after a night out downtown,” Langevin recounted, noting that he prefers the signature hot dogs dressed with meat sauce and celery salt (“Not to be confused with ‘all the way,’ which includes onions and mustard.”)

“It’s been a while, but I’m looking forward to going back,” Langevin said.

News of the national recognition made Rep. David Cicilline nostalgic for a taste of home.

“Olneyville New York System has served the best wieners for decades and when I walk in today, the same smells and sights remind me of my visits there years ago,” the Rhode Island Democrat shared.

In addition to enjoying the food and the familial atmosphere, Cicilline hailed the restaurant for participating in his “Main Street” initiative to bolster local businesses. “I congratulate Olneyville New York System on receiving this much deserved award,” he said.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer hailed the gourmet community for finally getting wise to what he already knows: Perini’s is good eating. Full story

March 3, 2014

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

Comedian Bill Maher isn’t the only one cracking wise about cleaning house on Capitol Hill.

Now that his “Flip a District” campaign is officially under way, “Real Time” viewers have begun firing off videos denouncing the lawmakers they’d most like to see shown the door.


The candidates for early retirement profiled on the latest episode of Maher’s HBO show include:

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas



“Bill Maher, as one pot smoking atheist to another, I hope you’re not full of s— with this flip a district plan,” the plaintiff pleaded. Full story

Fitness Lobby Cheers on Earl Blumenauer, Shelley Moore Capito

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association will once again flood Capitol Hill with famous athletes on March 4 and 5, taking lawmakers to the mat for additional physical education grants and workout-related tax breaks.

The SFIA is expected to take time out from the full court press to honor two legislative movers, Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Shelley Moore Capito. The dynamic duo will be honored during an invitation-only reception scheduled to take place Tuesday from 5:30-8 p.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

In addition to riding his bicycle almost everywhere he goes, a Blumenauer aide said the Oregon Democrat fills his days with kinetic activities. Per his office, Blumenauer’s daily routine is typically crowded with vigorous morning walks, which he typically takes with California Democrat Sam Farr, and stress-relieving yoga sessions (in the members’ gym).

The avid runner — Team Blumenauer says he’s knocked out 36 marathons (and counting) — also maintains a special birthday tradition: walking one lap around the quarter-mile track of a hometown high school for each year of his life.

Blumenauer is known for for being a fitness guy and for his bow ties. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Blumenauer is known for for being a fitness guy and for his bow ties. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“I don’t think anyone has ever made it through the whole walk with him,” Blumenauer spokesman Patrick Malone said of the now 16-plus mile (Blumenauer is 65) challenge.

The West Virginia Republican prefers getting sweaty around diamonds. Capito is a vet of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game and co-captain of the members’ team, and also played on the GOP’s Congressional Baseball Team in years past.

Capito knows her way around a diamond. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Capito knows her way around a diamond. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Off the field, Capito stretches her legs solo and works her core with friends.

“I run four miles four times a week, mostly outside, and I’m running through the finish line for the Senate,” she quipped, adding that she’s done one half-marathon and pines to tackle a full one.

“I have also been doing spinning and yoga with Tim Murphy, Tulsi Gabbard and Paul Ryan,” Capito shared of her workout crew.

Sports stars expected to fan out across the halls of Congress during this year’s “National Health Through Fitness Day” include: NFL legend/reality TV star Herschel Walker, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin, Baltimore Ravens players Matt Elam and Lardarius Webb, Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch, Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones, Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Tommy John, Ultimate Fighting Championship brawler Benson Henderson, three-time track and field All-American Brenda Martinez, Olympic water polo silver medalist Peter Hudnut, former NFL player John Booty and four time NFL Pro-Bowler and ex-Washington Redskin Ken Harvey.

Don Beyer’s ‘Cups’ Song Campaign Assist

How do you stand out in a crowded Democratic primary field with nearly a dozen well-connected, viable candidates?

Distribute a catchy ditty created by children of your family friends.

That’s what former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer is doing in the Democratic primary in Virginia’s open 8th District race.

Beyer, who recently finished up a stint as ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein, is one of 11 Democrats running to replace retiring Rep. James P. Moran in this heavily Democratic Northern Virginia House seat.

His campaign recently release a YouTube video created by Mae and John Keating, two middle-school students whose parents are friends of the Beyers, which touts Beyers’ credentials for the race. The video, released Feb. 17, already has more than 1,400 views.

Full story

House Hopeful Brent Roske Is Having a Blast

Entertainer cum independent candidate Brent Roske has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. It looks like his bid to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is following suit.

(Courtesy Brent Roske)

(Courtesy Brent Roske)

“I got the last of my signatures for the nomination papers at the Venice Mardi Gras parade today,” told HOH of his festive canvassing.

Roske’s self-styled campaign has also included party cruises and a pitch to turn the seat into a tandem gig.

The “Chasing the Hill” producer appears to all about mixing and mingling. Full story

Senate to Seth Rogen: ‘Absenteeism Does Not Equal Apathy’


Seth Rogen, center, came to the Hill to advocate for research on Alzheimer's Disease. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Seth Rogen, center, came to the Hill to advocate for research on Alzheimer’s Disease. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Actor/comedian Seth Rogen was dead serious when he blasted Senate lawmakers for presumably tuning out his testimony on Alzheimer’s during a sparsely attended Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.



“All those empty seats are senators who are not prioritizing Alzheimer’s. Unless more noise is made, it won’t change,” he charged on Twitter, posting a pic of the near-empty dais facing his secondary panel.

Rogen also called out Sen. Mark Kirk specifically, taking the Illinois Republican to task for introducing himself ahead of time but then excusing himself before Rogen had a chance to say his piece.



The shaming campaign is playing well on social media.

But the cold hard reality is: life on the Hill is just plain hectic. Full story

March 2, 2014

House Retirement Bingo! With Capitol Quip


It seems like each time she turns around, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is losing a longtime colleague to retirement. That brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.


By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Wordplay With Russian Autocrats | 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. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

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