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

November 5, 2013

Quorans Dissect Political Stereotypes

Election Day might be the only time some Americans even bother thinking about politics. But for a handful of true believers, wrestling with the weight of party affiliation appears to be an all-consuming challenge.

Members of the inquisitive Quora community have been opening up about the lowlights of pledging allegiance to all sides of the political spectrum.

Marcia Peterson Buckie, a self-described liberal, lampooned her day-to-day existence thusly:

“Well, it’s a hectic life: with collecting my monthly payments from George Soros and riding around in my limousine encouraging everyone to get on the governments teat. Then there are my lesson plans to teach how to be a lesbian and a communist. … Then there is the climate change hoax that I’m trying to spread,” she joked in a post delineating purported leftist agenda items.

Her actual gripe?

“Having other people define your views for you, through their filter or lens,” Buckie explained.

Michael Lee, who fields questions under the “Ask a Rational Conservative” banner, was equally droll. Full story

Sensenbrenner Stogies Have Staff Smoking Hot

It seems some congressional neophytes don’t quite get that Capitol Hill plays by its own rules.

Sensenbrenner Stogies Have Staff Smoking Hot

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Take the enraged aide who’s had enough of a certain Wisconsin Republican’s stogie habit.

“Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner likes to smoke cigars. Lots and lots and lots of cigars. How do I know that? Because the entire 4th floor of the west side of the Rayburn office building smells … whenever he is in the office,” our irate tipster fumed. “Staff is in revolt.”

Riot all you like.

Though smoking is, in fact, verboten in common areas, the House smoking policy (approved by Congress in 2010 and outlined by the House Office Building Commission) clearly states that each member/office is the boss of each individual space. That means any office could suddenly become a smoking den at any time. Full story

Horton’s Kids to Transport Fans to 1980s for Fundraiser

Horton’s Kids, a kid-friendly nonprofit founded a quarter-century ago by former Hill staffer Karin Walser, is celebrating its latest anniversary by hosting an ’80s-themed party Wednesday at the House of Sweden.

The “Give Thanks and Give Back” party is scheduled to take place 6:30-10:30 p.m. at the House of Sweden (2900 K St. NW). Individual tickets — named after ’80s anthems ($5,000 donation snags the top-tier title, the “Eye of the Tiger” sponsorship) — start at $150 a pop.

An event aide told HOH that no members of Congress are officially on the hook this time around, but held out hope that lawmakers would participate in a 25th anniversary party scheduled for February.

Attendees at the Georgetown soiree will have to make do with former Roll Call cartoonist (long live “Capitol Hell!”)-turned-CNN anchor Jake Tapper, local cover band, Dr. FU and an open bar.

Main Event Caterers will provide heavy hors d’oeuvres, including: five-spice duck moo shoo wraps, smoked salmon barquettes, mustard-crusted chicken, gourmet sliders (“two bite” Angus burgers), grilled vegetable quesadillas and port-poached pears with brie. Full story

November 4, 2013

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

As part of his last-ditch effort to rally the GOP faithful, Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli brought Sen. Marco Rubio to the Old Dominion to help tag team a campaign rally.

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio

(Courtesy Ken Cuccinelli)

From the looks of things on Facebook, it would seem that many folks did not approve of Cuccinelli’s choice of political arm candy.

While support for Cuccinelli poured in from all over the country — HOH spotted well-wishers from as far west as Nevada and down south into Texas — a slew of detractors took direct aim at Rubio, attacking the Florida Republican’s:

Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio


Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio


Tea Partyers Pan Ken Cuccinelli for Hanging With Marco Rubio


Conservative bona fides Full story

Lord Stanley’s Cup Visits Capitol Hill, Parties in Durbin’s Office

Lord Stanleys Cup Visits Capitol Hill, Parties in Durbins Office

Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., at a reception for the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks." src="" width="240" height="180" /> NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman talks to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, at a reception for the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

For the second time in four years, the Stanley Cup found its way to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin’s Capitol leadership suite as Illinois ex-pats, Capitol Police hockey superfans, Senate pages and ogling reporters (including this one) celebrated the Chicago Blackhawks.

Or at least they snapped photos with one of sports’ most iconic and unhygienic trophies.

Durbin spent much of the Monday afternoon open house holding court, sitting on his desk and chatting up reception attendees such as National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and fellow Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley.

As HOH friend Jordan Fabian of ABC News-Univision points out, perhaps Durbin’s talk with Bettman would have been more useful during the shutdown, as the NHL head has some experience with work stoppages stemming from an “impasse” between two sides.

Earlier Monday, the Stanley Cup was at the White House, where adopted Chicagoan President Barack Obama celebrated the Blackhawks players and staff.

Obama, a declared White Sox fan, even squeezed in a jab at the Cubs.

“Since I’ve been president, only one team has brought the world championship to my hometown of Chicago, and now the Blackhawks have done it twice,” Obama said. “Three years ago, the ‘Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Keep in mind the Cubs have been waiting for 105. So 49 might not have seemed so bad.”

Sorry, Dad.

Democrats Embrace Michaud’s Decision to Come Out

Democrats Embrace Michaud’s Decision to Come Out

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael H. Michaud went on the offensive Monday against “whisper campaigns” about his sexuality, declaring himself a gay man in a Bangor Daily News op-ed — an announcement that garnered Democratic endorsements from all around the country for the six-term Maine Democrat who is running for governor.

According to campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt, Michaud had previously come out to friends and family members — including, apparently, other members of Congress — but felt compelled to address the issue publicly because of outside forces that were up to no good.

“Like most Mainers, Mike believes his private life is just that, private,” Reinholt said of Michaud’s decision to keep quiet until now. “This election is too important to let personal matters distract from the important issues at hand … like the economy, health care and education.”

Michaud did not shrink from the task in his editorial — “That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am,” he wrote — urging others, who might perhaps be wrestling with a similar decision, to take heart.

“If seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better,” Michaud suggested in print. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:45 p.m.
media, Nationwide, Reps

Take Five: Rep. Steve Daines

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., discusses mountaintop experiences, doing business in China and just when exactly he plans to announce his bid for Senate.

Q. You have been married for 25 years to your wife, Cindy. Tell me about your wedding or how it all came to be.
A. Before we got married, I proposed to Cindy on top of a Montana mountain peak. We got engaged on Hyalite Peak, which is a 10,000-foot peak. It was a round-trip, 15-mile hike from the car and back. I surprised her with a diamond on the top.

Q. Tell me about your 13 years with Procter & Gamble before you ran for Congress.
A. I was hired right out of college when I went to work for P&G. We were asked one day if we would consider moving to China to launch a business; it was not to outsource in any way. It was to take an American company and market it to China. We went over there with two [kids] and we came back with two more.

Q. What’s the biggest surprise when you fly back to Montana?
A. It’s just the wide open space we have and the beauty of our state. There’s a certain culture we have in Montana, a can-do attitude and strong work ethic. It’s a state and a country that doesn’t want to be told what to do. It’s that free spirit that really separates the American West and runs through the veins of Montana.

Q. Some members live in boats, rent row houses on the Hill or live out of hotels. What’s your preference for your home away from home in D.C.?
A. I look at how I can maximize my productivity; being a fifth-generation Montanan, I’m not real patient with traffic. I’ve got a little one bedroom apartment that I walk to work from every day. I don’t have a car here. The days start early and finish late; it’s nothing very fancy. It kind of reminds me of going back to my college days. We’ve got a Costco blow-up mattress for when the kids come out to visit.

Q. What’s the big takeaway for you personally from the government shutdown and how did it affect your rumored Senate bid announcement that was supposed to take place in early October?
It was never the desire of anybody to see that [shutdown] happen. We kept our team focused on serving the people that we were elected to serve. We kept a skeleton crew going, working back in Montana to tell Montanans what’s going on. I have $1.1 million in cash on hand and we will announce it soon.

November 3, 2013

Band of Boston Beards | Capitol Quip

Band of Boston Beards | Capitol Quip

The Boston Red Sox overcame a traumatic season of discontent to band together, over baseball and beards, to win the World Series. Is there a lesson in that for Washington as it looks to make government work? This all brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

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.

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

A Scary Experience | Capitol Quip

 A Scary Experience | 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.

Joaquin Castro Ties the Knot

Rep. Joaquin Castro wed his expectant fiancee, Anna Flores, Saturday during a private ceremony attended only by family.

“Anna and I have had an eventful and very blessed year. We are excited to embark on our journey together as a family,” the Texas Democrat told HOH via email after making things official in San Antonio.

Joaquin Castro Ties the Knot

Castro and Flores, seen here in the Cannon House Office Building earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

According to a Castro aide, the freshman lawmaker is planning a more all-inclusive affair for 2014. “They are planning a Catholic ceremony next summer to celebrate with friends,” Team Castro said.

Castro proposed to Flores earlier this summer.

November 1, 2013

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

Hatfield, right, is serenaded on his 73rd birthday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A trio of documentarians is working to ensure that the political legacy of the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon does not fade into obscurity, producing a feature-length retrospective on the compromise-embracing Republican, titled “The Gentleman of the Senate.”

Rick Dancer, one of the co-executive producers of “The Hatfield Project,” said his group has woven interviews with nearly six dozen people who worked with, and often alongside, Hatfield throughout his long-winding career into the roughly 150-minute film. The who’s who of Hatfield’s political pals includes: Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (he eulogized Hatfield on the Senate floor upon his passing in late 2011), ex-Rep. Elizabeth Furse, D-Ore., former Sens. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., and John Warner, R-Va., the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and President Bill Clinton.

Inouye, who toiled with Oregon’s longest-serving senator (30 years) on the Senate Appropriations Committee, revealed that he was so impressed by the then-chairman’s character, he crossed the aisle to contribute to Hatfield’s 1990 re-election campaign.

“He did not really believe in partisanship,” Inouye asserted.

To this day, Dancer says, left-leaning voters in hyper-liberal Portland continue to revere Hatfield’s penchant for putting sound policy above ideology. “They’ll say, ‘That’s the one Republican I voted for … because he stood on principle,’” Dancer said of the esteem in which Hatfield is still held back home.

All of which got Dancer et al. wondering: Could Hatfield make it in the modern political arena? Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:13 p.m.
Flicks, Nationwide, Sens

This Week in HOH: Member of Congress Sells Used Car

This Week in HOH: Member of Congress Sells Used Car

With the recent plunge in Congress’ approval ratings, members of Congress are frequently finding themselves lower on the trust spectrum with the American public than used-car salesmen. So perhaps it’s time to take a look at an instance, 25 years ago, when a member of Congress became one, albeit temporarily, in this glance back at HOH from the Nov. 6, 1988, edition:

Low mileage. Retiring Rep. Robert Badham (R-Calif.) left Capitol Hill last week, but his 1982 Cadillac (A/C, leather seats, AM/FM tape deck) didn’t. The soon-to-be-ex-lawmaker has another one just like it back home in sunny Newport Beach. So he put an ad in Roll Call (see our reasonable rates on page 34). Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.) saw it, and drove home in style for $3,500.”

We were struck by a couple of things, chiefly among them paying $3,500 in 1988 dollars for a 6-year-old automobile. Sure there are leather seats, but that seems pricey, no? And then there’s the plug for the “AM/FM tape deck.” Those of you under 30 years of age out there should just find someone with some gray hair, and they’ll explain it. Depending on your satellite radio/iPod deck setup, it might be hard to believe how fancy it was to have a tape deck in the early ’80s.

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine Enjoyed Spooking Incoming Va. Governor

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine Enjoyed Spooking Incoming Va. Governor

(Courtesy John Arundel)

Another Halloween may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean a good scare won’t await the next inhabitant of Virginia’s executive mansion come January.

It seems outgoing Virginia governors have a habit of pranking the new guy — a tradition Virginia Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, now both in the Senate, wholly embraced before leaving Richmond in the rearview.

Current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Kaine kept him and his family on edge by triggering strategically placed cellphones (hidden behind walls and atop elevators) late into the night.

That disclosure prompted Kaine to reveal how his lifelong buddy, Warner (the two met at Harvard Law School in 1980), had wreaked a little havoc on his own moving-in day. Full story

Overheard: Roy Blunt on Producing Nothing

“Whether it’s the appropriations bills or just the normal work that Congress does, we’ve fallen into this pattern of thinking, ‘If I don’t get what I want, I don’t want anything.’ And that’s going to produce nothing.”

— Sen. Roy Blunt, on MSNBC Friday morning.

October 31, 2013

Cory Booker Already Making the Rounds

Well, that didn’t take long.

Cory Booker Already Making the Rounds

(Courtesy Andy Shallal)

Sen.-elect Cory Booker, D-N.J., evidently bee-lined for No. 3 on our list of custom-tailored dining recommendations, posing for a pic Wednesday evening with political activist and restaurateur Andy Shallal.

And he got the workplace introductions under way Thursday morning by paying his respects to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. — popping by for a collegial breakfast.

“He brought some of his staff as well and even his mom,” our spy shared.

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