Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 23, 2015

January 27, 2014

Grassley Aide Leaves His Mark on D.C.

David Young may not be as present these days on Capitol Hill as he used to be while playing traffic cop for Sen. Charles E. Grassley, but his name has managed to stick.

Grassley Aide Leaves His Mark on D.C.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The former chief of staff for the Iowa Republican left D.C. last year to pursue a bid for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa — but not before affixing this discarded ID badge on the back of a parking sign at the corner of Second and E streets Northeast.

The amateur vandal has since switched gears and is now running for the House seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa.

Pols Seed SOTU Crowd With Living Talking Points

President Barack Obama may be the only one with an open mic during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, but members of Congress are surrounding themselves with guests who speak volumes about their personal priorities.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are rolling out the red carpet for flesh-and-blood political statements from all walks of life, including:

Budding Politicos

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has invited 11-year-old Zev Dickstein, an aspiring political activist, to accompany her to the speech. Per Warren’s office, Dickstein began volunteering on political campaigns two years ago and has already served as campaign manager for a committee race at Cambridge Street Upper School in Cambridge, Mass.

Combat Veterans

Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, has invited retired Marine Staff Sgt. Johnny ”Joey” Jones to accompany him to the speech. Jones, who lost the majority of both of his legs while disarming improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, now assists a slew of veteran-aiding organizations (Boot Campaign, Armed Forces Foundation, Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors).

Food Insecurity

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has invited Witnesses to Hunger member Tianna Gaines-Turner to accompany him during the speech. The working mom and advocate is part of a network of cash-strapped Americans on the front lines of the war against hunger. A Witness to Hunger aide said Casey has been a staunch supporter for years, helping the group organize an exhibition of members’ photos in the Russell Rotunda as well as back home in Pennsylvania.


Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has invited former lumber mill operator Jennifer Phillippi to accompany him during the speech. As the owner of the now-shuttered Rough and Ready Lumber operation, Phillippi remains out of work due to a shortage of raw materials. According to Walden, the Senate could provide some relief by acting on a languishing bill the House approved last fall. Full story

Picturing POTUS in a Different Light

It’s not every day that the leader of the free world invites himself into our collective living room.

Picturing POTUS in a Different Light

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

So it’s very likely that Tuesday’s nationally televised State of the Union address will be the most animated that many Americans will see President Barack Obama all year.

Not so on the Internet, where the artsiest among us expend a great deal of time and energy reimagining what various presidents might look like under different circumstances.

Some unload on conservative policies (such as Ronald Reagan’s famous “trickle down” philosophy):

Picturing POTUS in a Different Light

(Courtesy Egar Enterprises)


Full story

January 26, 2014

Parting the Red or Blue Sea | Capitol Quip

Parting the Red or Blue Sea | Capitol Quip

It’s that time of the year again, the congressional Super Bowl, better known as the State of the Union. This brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Note that the caption can come from either side of the aisle this week, or both even. 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

Pull Over for This Caption | Capitol Quip

Pull Over for This Caption | 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.

January 24, 2014

Cantwell Backs Richard Sherman, Blames Crabtree, Rebuffs McCain

Cantwell Backs Richard Sherman, Blames Crabtree, Rebuffs McCain

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:56 p.m. | Sen. Maria Cantwell is defending cornerback Richard Sherman after Sen. John McCain ripped him as “a loudmouth from Seattle” following his boastful rant after the Seattle Seahawks’ NFC Championship victory.

The Washington Democrat told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree is to blame for provoking Sherman.

“If I had a Richard Sherman jersey, I’d wear it,” Cantwell said when asked about McCain’s remarks.

“I think he should focus on changing the name of the Washington football team that right now is an insult to Native Americans,” Cantwell told the newspaper.

The NFL disagreed with Cantwell, fining Sherman $7,875 for taunting (not, as we originally wrote, for the outburst).

SOTU Watch Party Patrol

Updated Jan. 27, 2:35 p.m. | For true political junkies, the House chamber is the ONLY place to be come 9 p.m. Tuesday night.

That’s when President Barack Obama will share his annual State of the Union address with select guests, the entirety of Congress, whatever members of the Supreme Court cross the street to attend and anyone who happens to tune in to a major network or cable news channel that evening.

If creeping into the Capitol is a non-starter, perhaps you’ll be more comfortable at one of the SOTU watch parties cropping up all over town.

Here’s what we’ve found in the immediate area (radiating out from the Hill):


The Capitol Hill standby (223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) will be cranking the flat-screen TVs in the upstairs lounge and offering free eats (truffle popcorn, hummus with flat bread) and discounted drinks ($4 Peronis, $5 red/white/sparkling wines, $5 rails) during Obama’s speech.

Generation Opportunity’s Inaugural SOTU Watch Party

“For too long politicians have talked down to young people and it’s time that young people start talking back,” Gen Opp spokesman David Pasch said of the inaugural event at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove (329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.) The party, which will feature light hors d’oeuvres and two hours of open bar, is scheduled to run 8-10 p.m.

They’ve also created a SOTU drinking game that should slake the modern thirst for social-media stardom.

“Twitter will be displayed live on a screen with responses to the SOTU in correspondence with the game. It’s totally interactive and people around the country can participate even if they can’t make it to the event in person,” Pasch told HOH.

The group hopes to accommodate up to 100 guests. Register here.

Washington Examiner’s SOTU Bingo

The news outlet is hosting its debut SOTU Bingo fest at 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE) from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

The self-styled game — “war on women,” “Solyndra” and “make no mistake” are just some of the buzzwords/phrases players shouldn’t sleep on — will feature giveaways ranging from a $100 Visa gift card (grand prize) to Examiner swag. “Everyone should leave with something,” Team Examiner suggested.

Drink specials include half-price Belgian beers, half-price bottles of wine, $14 buckets of Goose Island beers, $5 infused bourbons, $5 Jameson and $5 signature Examiner cocktail.

Register here.

Busboys and Poets

All four locations of D.C. mayoral candidate Andy Shallal’s politically progressive eateries will broadcast Obama’s speech in their respective viewing rooms. A B&P aide suggested that each restaurant would likely offer some sort of specials, and noted that the Arlington Democrats are expected to host a panel discussion about the speech at the Shirlington, Va., outpost.

The viewing parties are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. and are open to the general public. (No RSVP required.)

5th Annual SOTU Progress Party

A handful of left-leaning organizations will again take over Local 16 (1602 U St. NW) from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. for a pro-Obama blowout. Network for Progress President Jim McBride said upward of 500 people have participated in the communal watch party in years past.

“We expect a few hundred,” he suggested of the latest go-around.

The long-running shindig features discounted food and drink deals ($5 beers and rails), a $1 raffle (gift certificates to Local 16, Taan Noodles and Absolute Noodle are all up for grabs this year), a $20 discount for first-time Uber users and complimentary admissions to Nakid Social Sports leagues.

Register here.

The Diner

The Diner (2453 18th St. NW) plans to ply SOTU fans with cheap wings and discounted pitchers from 8 p.m. till last call.

The kitchen will crank out chicken wings for 50 cents a pop, while bartenders will be pouring $18 pitchers of Peak Organic Brewing Co. Nut Brown Ale, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Baltimore Washington Brew Works Pendulum Pilsner and Brewery Ommegang Witte all night.

Featured raffle prizes run the gamut from a complimentary dessert to tickets to a local sporting event. No RSVP required.


The sports entertainment hub (707 G St. NW) is playing up SOTU by broadcasting the speech on 50 TVs and rolling out extended happy hour specials. Discounted deals include: $4 domestic drafts, $5 rail drinks, $6 glasses of wine and 20 percent off appetizers. No RSVP required.

Star & Shamrock

The Atlas District pub (1341 H St. NE) is getting politically active with its “politics & pints & pastrami” promotion. Guinness reps will be on hand from 6 to 9 p.m. to pour brews and silkscreen custom T-shirts (free with the purchase of a Guinness or Harp). The watch party will take place from 9 to 11 p.m. No RSVP required.

Flying High With Former N.H. Sen. Bob Smith

Ex-Sen. Scott P. Brown may not have officially announced his candidacy for New Hampshire’s Senate seat, but former Sen. Bob Smith has — sort of.

Flying High With Former N.H. Sen. Bob Smith

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican lawmaker has filed papers for the New Hampshire Senate seat he held for 12 years — though he hasn’t exactly announced his candidacy formally.

He is, however, hitting the D.C. circuit in search of money and support. And HOH had the unplanned pleasure of sitting next to him on his return flight from Baltimore to Manchester, N.H., on Thursday.

If you ask Smith, he has every intention of beating sitting New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and fellow Senate alumnus Brown.

“I’m not running for my health. I’m serious,” Smith told HOH over the course of a roughly 45-minute discussion that ranged from the current race to the sheer magnitude of the universe. (He couldn’t seem to shake a recent Discovery Channel special on the solar system.) Full story

Boehner Waxes About Surly Drunks, His Tan

Speaker John A. Boehner finally graced “The Tonight Show” with an interview on Thursday, sharing bits and pieces about his upbringing, his famous tan and his high-pressure post with outgoing host Jay Leno.

The Ohio Republican seemed perfectly at ease on the late-night gabfest — he brought a hanky in case things got too heavy — casually chitchatting with Leno during a quick moving segment.

When probed about how his early life informed the man he is today, Boehner joked that learning how to negotiate with an army of siblings and, later, surly drunks, has proven integral to handling his day job.

And while he suggested that the caucus is largely unified behind its overarching goal, the GOP leader conceded there are still plenty of stumbling blocks to contend with along the way.


January 23, 2014

Overheard: Louie Gohmert on ‘These Young Women’

“The left tried to say I was attacking single moms, and if you listen to what I said, the whole point was it bugged the fire outta me that these young women, and the stories were usually very, very similar, they got bored with high school, and somebody’d say, ‘Hey, drop out, the government will send you a check for every child you can have out of wedlock.’ They have one child, and they find out, that’s really not enough to live on, have another and another.”

— Rep. Louie Gohmert on Fox News Thursday

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:36 p.m.

Gainer Doesn’t Want Hacks to End Up All Wet

Believe it or not, fellow congressional reporters, the Capitol Police are watching out for us every step of the way.

So sayeth the office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, which took to Twitter Thursday to build its case against distracted walking by offering up the pratfalliest of warnings:

“Just wanting to keep everyone safe and avoid this,” Senate staff shared via social media.

Where were you all when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., needed a spotter?


January 22, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Capitol Quip

Vote for Your Favorite 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. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • We may be trailing, but we’re gaining on you.
  • I know we’ve had our differences, but can we stop for a bathroom break?
  • This is the Tea Party! Please pull over. You have exceeded the spending limit.
  • We were expecting AAA.
  • Drop the baggage and come out of the bus with your hands out of the taxpayers’ pockets!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Jan. 26 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 3:04 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Leaders Line Up to Critique SOTU

President Barack Obama will deliver his latest State of the Union address (now with online Easter eggs!) to the nation on Jan. 28, an annual temperature-taking that has spawned a cottage industry of alternative evaluations.

Leaders Line Up to Critique SOTU

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Academics from the free-market-loving Cato Institute aren’t even waiting to hear what “44” has to say this year, offering up their pre-buttal of POTUS’ read on the yearly status report on Friday. The “Libertarian State of the Union” luncheon (food courtesy of Cato) is scheduled to take place beginning at noon in Rayburn B-369, and will feature in-depth discussions about politically charged issues (Affordable Care Act, NSA information tracking, the congressional budget process) by Cato contributors Chris Edwards (tax policy), Julian Sanchez (technology/national security) and Ilya Shapiro (constitutional studies).

Interested parties can RSVP to attend in person ( or catch the fireworks on

Utah Republican Mike Lee will follow in the footsteps of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — last year’s mouthpiece — by delivering the “official” tea party response for 2014.

“For the Tea Party movement, 2014 is not just about taking back the Senate, but it is also about putting forward conservative ideas that will allow for America to prosper,” Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer announced in a release.

Lee is scheduled to share his undoubtedly blistering assessment of Obama’s performance at the First Amendment Lounge at the National Press Club (529 14th St. NW) immediately following the president’s speech. Casual observers can watch from home via

The Green Party is hosting a virtual shindig. The group is planning to broadcast the entire SOTU online and will then toss its 2012 presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, into the mix for a real-time Q&A about everything the country will have just heard. Sign up to participate via the GP Facebook page.

The Log Cabin Republicans are keeping a low profile. No marquee speakers or frenzied news conferences. But an aide tells HOH the group does expect to post something on its website and blast out an official response once Obama signs off for the evening.

Overheard: Charm City Mayor Charms Cable News

“Listen, I’m a big fan of the DNC chair. She has been a friend and a mentor and I was extremely flattered. It — it doesn’t feel much different. My daughter doesn’t think I’m much different.”

— Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning about Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments that the mayor is a rising star.

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:26 p.m.
media, Overheards

McCain: Richard Sherman’s a ‘Loudmouth From Seattle’

It wasn’t all serious business when Sen. John McCain showed up on a local Phoenix radio show Tuesday.

Arizona’s senior senator made sure to call out the Seattle Seahawks’ trash-talking cornerback Richard Sherman as a “loudmouth” and underscored his grudge against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

McCain said he was picking Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos over Sherman’s Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

“I think Denver. You know, everybody is such a Manning fan,” McCain told KFYI radio. “That loudmouth from Seattle sort of epitomizes the Seattle team to me. … I’m sure I’m going to get in trouble for that one, too.”

Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...