Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2014

September 2, 2013

Take Five: Robert W. Goodlatte

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work. This week, Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., talks about National League teams vs. American League teams, his favorite hiking trail and what’s on his reading list.

Q. What made you decide to transition from lawyer to congressman?

A. I had always been interested in Congress. In fact, after law school, I worked as district director for former Congressman Caldwell Butler before practicing law. My interest in politics and participation at the local level over the years, as well as my desire to serve the 6th District, led me to run for Congress. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, my law background is put to use on a daily basis!

Q. Where is your favorite place to go hiking? Why?

A. The Appalachian Trail, which winds across the ridges and valleys of my district for more than 200 miles. One of my favorite spots is McAfee Knob. It’s hard to beat the view from the top!  It is said to be the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.

Q. On Facebook you list the Red Sox as being a team you like. How did that happen? Do the Nationals get any love, as long as they are not playing the Red Sox?

A. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan, but the Nationals are now my National League team. The Salem Red Sox are a minor-league team right outside the 6th District that I also follow closely. I enjoy seeing players in Boston who have moved up through Salem and eventually make it to the big leagues. It would be great to see the Nationals play the Red Sox in the World Series.

Q. Of all the people you follow on Twitter, whose tweets do you enjoy the most and why?

A. I follow a lot of local news outlets. It’s a good way to keep up with what’s going on at home.

Q. Two books you like are on John Adams and Abraham Lincoln. Do you have a penchant for historical nonfiction or does your literary taste run the gamut?

A. I read just about every genre, but I am particularly interested in presidential history. I am currently reading “A Passion to Lead: Theodore Roosevelt in His Own Words,” which is edited by Laura Ross. Another interesting fact is that I have visited homes of 42 of the 44 presidents.

September 1, 2013

The Summer’s Out of Reach | Capitol Quip

The Summers Out of Reach | Capitol Quip

The congressional recess is almost over, and holy cow do the boys and girls of summer have a lot on their plate as they return to the Capitol: the drums of war in Syria, spending legislation for the new fiscal year, a debt ceiling deal.

So what’s on their minds, Capitol Quip readers? Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section of our Heard on the Hill blog. 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.

Marching Right Along | Capitol Quip

Marching Right Along | 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.

By Jason Dick Posted at 11:55 a.m.
Capitol Quip

August 30, 2013

Internet Drools Over New Police Dog Sam

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department introduced its new bloodhound, Sam, this week, providing a valuable lesson in community-police relations: If you want a friend, get a dog.

On the Prince of Petworth blog, MPD shared photos of Sam licking Chief Cathy Lanier’s face, as well as her hugging the new rookie. Commenters could hardly contain themselves.

“Cathy, If you ever need a dog sitter for Sam – let me know!” wrote “Andy2.”

Another commenter took us for a ride in the Gen X way-back machine, writing out the song that introduced “The Bloodhound Gang” from the 1980s-era Children’s Television Workshop show “3-2-1 Contact.”

“Anon” wrote simply, “Sam is a cute batoot.”

Sam even compared well across breeds. One person on the MPD District 5 listserv wrote, “That’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen. And my Shih Tzu is pretty darn cute!”

According to the American Bloodhound Club, Sam’s breed is more than 1,000 years old and a product of breeding by monks of St. Hubert of Belgium. Through the centuries these dogs have been used to hunt animals, criminals and missing people. In D.C., Sam will be used to track missing persons, and MPD said he’s already found two since being acquired by the department on Aug. 14.

But Sam’s more immediate contribution might be breaking down a few barriers between police and the city they serve.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:01 p.m.
Critters, DC, media

Montana Brewer Taps Baucus Bill for Inspiration

While many of us (OK, maybe just me) spent the brunt of recess sucking down frosty beers, outgoing Sen. Max Baucus enjoyed the rare privilege of having one of his legislative passions celebrated by a commemorative brew.

Tamarack Brewing Co. unveiled its Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Ale, a limited-edition saison, in August.

The seasonal selection is brewed with local malt, honey and Blacktail Mountain blue spruce tips — a nod to the bounty of agricultural products found on the very lands the retiring Montana Democrat is fighting to preserve before hanging up his hat in 2014.

“It’s an easy-drinking, lightly spiced, flavorful summer ale,” Tamarack co-owner Andra Townsley said of the politically inspired potable. She noted that they brewed about 300 gallons of the stuff, about enough to keep the RMFHA taps at their two Montana brewpubs (Lakeside and Missoula) flowing until mid- to late September.

Baucus is intimately familiar with the Tamarack operation, having clocked in at the brewery for several hours in May 2012 as part of one of his constituent-oriented work days. Full story

Inhofe Cites Oliver North on Syria Strategy

When Sen. James M. Inhofe appeared on Fox News this morning to criticize possible U.S. intervention in Syria, he cited a military expert best known for his ties to a scandal about an administration acting without congressional authorization.

The Oklahoma senator, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was on the conference call between senior lawmakers and top administration officials Wednesday evening about the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

Inhofe, who is opposing intervention without changes to the broader Pentagon budget, described the call as “an hour and a half of John Kerry trying to sell us on the president’s program of military intervention in Syria.”

But, when asked by Fox News about the risk of mission creep if the U.S. military launches targeted missile strikes without congressional authorization, Inhofe cited comments by Oliver North, who rose to national prominence in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

“A lot of people are saying, well, you could do it clean, and go in and send a cruise missile in, and everything’s going to be fine, and we won’t get our hands dirty. That’s not the way it works,” Inhofe said. ”On your program yesterday, Ollie North made it very clear that that would not work. You’re going to get — if you have military … intervention, you’re going to get involved again. We can’t afford to do that.”

The interview appears below:

Pret Preps Move to House Side

Pret Preps Move to House Side

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Once the calendar flips, House staffers will no longer have to trek all the way to Union Station to feast on Pret A Manger’s gourmet goodies.

The British-based snack-monger has set up more than a half-dozen shops in D.C., and it plans to expand its reach on Capitol Hill by taking over the spot on 301 Pennsylvania Ave. SE currently occupied by the Cosi chain. Building manager Douglas Development expects Pret will be ready to take up residence “by spring 2014.” Full story

Issa’s Facebook Fans Doting on Yearbook Photo

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been getting lots of love from his social media followers in the 12 hours since he posted a black-and-white yearbook photo to his Facebook page in honor of “Throwback Thursday.”

Issas Facebook Fans Doting on Yearbook Photo


By 9 a.m. Friday, Issa’s fresh-faced, smiling mug had picked up more than 600 likes and comments ranging from “Cutie patootie!” to  ”i wanna squezz those checks.” One adoring female fan compared youthful Issa to former Mouseketeer Johnny Crawford, who rose to fame in the early 1960s for his role as Mark McCain on the popular western series “The Rifleman.”

Issa’s Instagram audience also swooned. The social media savvy California congressman has more than 950 users following his feed of cute animal photos, food photography and posed shots with constituents.

One critiqued his tightly tapered hairdo and deep side part: “Totes adorbs!!! But dear, the haircut hasn’t changed. Keep the barber, but lets make him learn a sexier do, hmm?”

The yearbook photo isn’t quite as popular as Issa’s June 20 Throwback Thursday post, but it’s hard for a fresh-faced youth to outdo a mustache.

August 29, 2013

Norton Wags a Finger at Secret Service After March

Norton Wags a Finger at Secret Service After March

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton had a dream for Wednesday’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — shorter lines.

In a letter penned Thursday to Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, Norton accuses the agency of a “massive failure to organize, prepare and coordinate to receive visitors.”

She holds the Secret Service responsible for the “misery” induced by security checkpoint backups at the general public entrance, including “huge lines and wait times, which left visitors, many of them elderly, frustrated and even ill and overcome by the heat and rain.”

“It is inexcusable that people had to wait on their feet for long hours in such hot and humid conditions, that a number of people fainted, that the D.C. Fire and EMS Department had to give medical assistance to over 100 people, and that some had to be hospitalized,” she wrote. “As a result of your poor planning and execution, many were unable to attend and participate in the event altogether.”

Daniel van Hoogstraten, spokesman for Norton, told HOH that the congresswoman heard the complaints “firsthand” from constituents who approached her during the ceremony on Wednesday and that people have continued to contact her about it.

Norton sympathizes with the “unusual challenge” the Secret Service confronted in trying to keep Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama safe, and then points to past inaugurations as positive proof that the agents can do better.

“I am, therefore, very disappointed that you failed to prevent an organizational breakdown that was entirely unnecessary. There is no doubt that the many failures could have been prevented. Security personnel belatedly added magnetometers and hand-held metal detector wands to speed up the long delays, showing that with routine, advanced planning, the misery your agency caused could have been avoided.”

After the seal of disapproval, Norton requests a meeting with the agency.

Update 6:03 p.m.

George Ogilvie, a public information officer for the Secret Service, emailed HOH a response to Norton’s allegations.

“Our goal for any protected event is to develop and implement, with other participating agencies, a security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for our protectees, other dignitaries, event participants, and the general public. During this event every effort was made to adapt with resources and personnel to accommodate the surge in attendees that arrived after [11:00 a.m.] for security screening. Throughout the entire event, we continued to process people to make sure that everyone that wanted to attend the event was able to attend — no one was denied access to the event.”

As for a meeting with Norton, Ogilvie writes: “We will conduct an after action review with the National Park Service and if areas for improvement are identified the Secret Service will take corrective action.”

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:25 p.m.

Relax POTUS — Team America’s Got This

President Barack Obama and his military advisers can quit trying to convince folks of the need to put a hurting on Syria.

Relax POTUS — Team Americas Got This


Our preeminent puppet protectors — Team America: World Police — are evidently well aware of the situation and ready to roll. Full story

Pelosi’s ‘Star Wars’ Nod Really a Lifetime Achievement Award

Women’s Intercultural Network President Marilyn Fowler doesn’t hand out the group’s cheeky Princess Leia Award to just anybody. In reality, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is only the third woman to earn the space-fantasy-inspired mantle — and it’s been an honor a long time coming.

Pelosi was granted the interstellar title over the weekend; her daughter, Christine Pelosi, attended the ceremony in San Francisco and collected the corresponding booty: a collapsible toy lightsaber.

“We give the ‘Princess Leia Award’ to women who have battled great odds successfully in their work on behalf of others — of women and their families,” Fowler told HOH of the vetting process.

Prior recipients include, Mimi Silbert, founder and director of the Delancey Street Foundation, an organization specializing in addiction and recovery aid, and Charlie Toledo, founder and director of the Suscol Intertribal Council, a group devoted to Native American issues.

It’s the California Democrat’s ongoing commitment to standing up to House Republicans that made WIN want to place Pelosi among the pantheon of sci-fi royalty. Full story

August 28, 2013

Rigell Letter Bravely Opposes Obama’s Plan to Bomb … Libya?

Rigell Letter Bravely Opposes Obamas Plan to Bomb ... Libya?

Rep. Scott Rigell’s letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday was by most measures a win for the Virginia Republican, who gained valuable media exposure in finding 116 lawmakers to urge congressional authorization before striking Syria.

But the letter wasn’t a complete success for the congressman or his office.

Throughout the day, Rigell’s office sent a list of current signatories that had a number of errors (left the second ‘n’ off of Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, guys). Michigan Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio was, somehow, “Rep. Jim Bentivolio.” And Raúl R. Labrador became, in what was either a mistake or a subtle shot at the Idaho Republican, “Rep. Raul Labrabor.”

But, perhaps, the most comical mistake came in Rigell’s press release touting his letter. The headline?

“Rigell Leads Bipartisan Effort Urging President Obama to Get Congressional ApprovalBefore Striking Libya”

While Rigell’s letter criticizes Obama for his 2011 intervention in Libya, the congressman’s staff might have wanted to check the timeline on that whole Libya thing.

His office did send out a corrected press release. Crisis (in Libya) averted.

By Matt Fuller Posted at 6:57 p.m.

I Have (Five) Speeches | Capitol Quip

I Have (Five) Speeches | 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:

  • How about “I have a tempered aspiration?”
  • Mr. President, You have the wrong speech! I gave you the “Blame Republicans” speech!
  • How about “I have a drone?”
  • No, no, not THAT one!
  • Mr. President, wait! That is your March Madness bracket, not your March on Washington speech!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 2 and in the following day’s 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 6:12 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Kerry Bentivolio Just Sic About Lack of Legislative Comprehension

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., took to Twitter to plead for greater transparency within the legislative process:

May we suggest that the freshman lawmaker crack a dictionary — they’re “roll call” votes, sir — before launching any deep-dives into the Federal Register?

Restaurant Associates Rebuts Mold Rumors

Congressional diners have nothing to fear.

So says Restaurant Associates spokeswoman Gina Zimmer, who assures HOH that the moldy food bulletin an HOH tipster caught while cutting across the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria was a precautionary tale, not an admission of defeat.

“While the staffer overheard one of our recent food safety training sessions, rest assured there is absolutely NO issue regarding mold in any of our products served at the House and there never has been,” Zimmer relayed a few days after HOH reported on the unsettling menu update.

Per Zimmer, every morning, RA convenes a pre-service meeting at which crew members often openly discuss food-handling concerns.

“At the pre-meal that the aide was present at, our manager was reminding our staff of the RA food quality standards,” she said.

Moreover, Zimmer maintains that when they do encounter spoiled supplies, the suspect offerings are spirited away post-haste.

“If any RA employee sees a product that is not to our specifications, they remove it immediately and bring it back to our receiving department to return back to the vendor,” she said of the company’s quality-control protocol.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 2:27 p.m.
Food, Staffers

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