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

September 8, 2014

Lobbyists, Lawmakers Aim to Crush Crippling Disease

Anti-Duchenne muscular dystrophy crusader Joel Wood can’t force all of Congress to come around to his way of thinking regarding the need for more funding and research to wipe the life-threatening illness off the face of the planet. But he can keep chipping away at the problem — as he has for the past 14 years — one spectacular gathering at a time.

Lobbyists, Lawmakers Aim to Crush Crippling Disease

(Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, Inc.)

Wood and his wife, Dana, have made it their mission to see the degenerative disorder purged from the human condition ever since their son, James, was diagnosed with DMD in May 2000.

The duo intends to keep up the good fight Tuesday evening via their 14th annual “Dining Away Duchenne” fundraiser, a gourmet taste-around scheduled to take place in the North Hall of Eastern Market from 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets for the event, which benefits the Woods’ non-profit Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, start at $250. Full story

Mickey Edwards Says Laws, Not Lawmakers to Blame for Congressional Morass

Mickey Edwards Says Laws, Not Lawmakers to Blame for Congressional Morass

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ex-Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., hates to break it to everyone, but our horribly paralyzed, results-challenged Congress is, sadly, performing just about right, given current law.

“The Congress is working exactly the way it was designed … and it shouldn’t be,” the now-Aspen Institute scholar said of the tragically flawed electoral system that has thrust lawmakers into a battle royal-like existence.

On Tuesday night, Edwards is expected to share his sobering analysis of how individual states have set up Capitol Hill to fail with attendees of Morven Park’s “Distinguished Voices in Civics” series. He told HOH the dysfunction plaguing modern politics flows from exclusionary primaries and widespread gerrymandering.

“People are trying to figure out, ‘How we do we get out of this mess?’ My argument is: It’s not the people. It’s systemic,” he said of election laws that, rather than rewarding candidates with mass appeal, benefit those “reflective of what the partisans in their states want.” Full story

Overheard: McConnell Blasted for Going to Work

Overheard: McConnell Blasted for Going to Work

(Win McNamee/Getty Images News)

The campaign of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell this fall, is criticizing the minority leader for heading to Washington, D.C., as the Senate returns.

“Today, scandal-ridden Mitch McConnell is running back to Washington, DC, in an attempt to dodge the tough questions he faces back home. In a new web ad released Monday, Alison for Kentucky holds McConnell accountable for his refusal to answer to the people of Kentucky,” the Lundergan Grimes campaign said in announcing the video.

Full story

Grace Napolitano, Josh Thomas Team Up on Mental Health

Call us crazy, but the “Please Like Me” screening and subsequent discussion on the current state of mental health affairs co-hosted by actor/show creator Josh Thomas and Rep. Grace F. Napolitano on Tuesday sounds like it could actually be interesting.

The edutainment outreach, which is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. in Rayburn 2103, is coming to Congress courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Participant Media.

For those unfamiliar with Thomas’ droll coming-of-age saga, the fledgling show (airing Friday nights on the youth-oriented Pivot network) centers on a 20-something child of divorce suddenly forced to wrestle with his sexual identity. Part of the growth process involves dealing with oddball friends and family members — including his off-kilter mum.

The “Rose” character has some issues she’s dealing with — cast bios describe Rose as a bipolar empty-nester struggling with adjusting to her new “normal” (“She seems to have found a nice equilibrium, but for how long?”) — many of which the show naturally plays up for laughs.

According to Team Napolitano, the California Democrat appreciates the way Josh and Rose get on. “The relationship between the lead character, Josh, and his mother is helping to eliminate stigma by approaching the subject of mental illness in a thoughtful manner,” a Napolitano aide told HOH about the heart-felt moments shared by the quirk-filled duo. Full story

September 7, 2014

The Bucks Don’t Stop Here | Capitol Quip

The Bucks Dont Stop Here | Capitol Quip

Capitol Quip is tanned, rested and back, resuming this week by asking the question, how about that revolving door? Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wasted no time in grieving his primary loss over the summer to Dave Brat, signing up with investment bank Moelis & Co. to the tune of some beaucoup bucks. This brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip captioning contest.

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.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 5, 2014

S’moresgate Engulfs Forest Service

Looking to light a fire under conservatives? Just try and tell ’em how to ingest flaming confections.

So learned a U.S. Forest Service aide after incensed Web readers — and later House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — got all fired up about an administration-penned blog post suggesting Americans keep fire safety in mind whilst observing National Toasted Marshmallow Day.

“For the things that government is supposed to do — like confront terrorist groups — we don’t have a strategy, but for things Americans are supposed to be able to do for themselves — like figuring out the best ingredients for s’mores — government bureaucrats have that figured out,” the California Republican fumed in his latest floor agenda update.

Online critics got even hotter under the collar, torching the regulatory guidelines involved, the tone of the public service announcement and the writer’s language skills.

 

S’moresgate Engulfs Forest Service

(Screenshot)

 

S’moresgate Engulfs Forest Service

(Screenshot)

 

S’moresgate Engulfs Forest Service

(Screenshot)

 

A couple of fans rallied to the Forest Service’s cause, chastising rhetorical bomb throwers for needlessly politicizing a friendly reminder. Full story

Congressional Hits and Misses: Drop the Mic (Video)

Heard on the Hill concludes its August recess flashback with a look at the relationship between lawmakers and their microphones — from the fumbling to the malfunctions, to members who just can’t resist the urge to say one more thing.

 

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Rep. Gwen Moore Arrested During Fast-Food Protest

Rep. Gwen Moore Arrested During Fast Food Protest

Moore was arrested Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., was arrested Thursday afternoon while protesting with fast-food workers during nationwide strikes to raise the minimum wage.

“I take great pride in supporting Milwaukee workers as they risk arrest in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for their families,” Moore said in a statement following her arrest.

The protest was part of the national “Fight for 15” campaign, in which fast-food workers in more than 150 cities across the country went on strike to fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Moore engaged in a sit-in with an estimated 75 to 100 protesters outside of a McDonald’s in West Milwaukee, Wis. According to the West Milwaukee police department, officers responded around noon to multiple 9-1-1 calls reporting protesters blocking traffic on a parkway.

After West Milwaukee police asked the protesters three times to leave the road they were occupying, police arrested Moore and 26 other protesters who refused to leave and issued them all citations.

 

“She did not tout that she was a member of Congress,” Moore’s spokesman Eric Harris told CQ Roll Call in a Thursday phone interview, though he noted that people around her pointed out her occupation to police.

According to Harris, Moore and the other protesters were placed in a police truck for about an hour. Moore was then taken to a squad car where she was held for roughly 35 minutes. She and the others arrested received a citation for disturbing the peace. Moore’s citation will cost the congresswoman $691.

In light of the unrest and the shocking police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., in August, Harris was quick to point out that the police were cordial to the protesters. “The West Milwaukee police were appropriate in how they handled everything,” Harris said. “They handled everything gracefully and appropriately.”

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By Bridget Bowman Posted at 11:33 a.m.
Reps

September 4, 2014

Nick Troiano’s Been Scoping Out Washington for Years

Aspiring lawmaker Nick Troiano is looking to broaden his fan base with a quirky new video and a crowd funded ad-buying campaign. Being on screen, however, remains a fairly new thing for the 20-something Pennsylvanian — unlike his extensive work behind the camera.

The independent candidate hoping to oust Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., this November recently unveiled a new spot pooh-poohing the contentious climate on Capitol Hill.

A Troiano aide said the plan is to plunk down whatever is necessary to get the “Washington’s a Zoo” message on TV between now and Election Day. The campaign expects to begin airing the ad during the week of Sept. 15, but is hoping to amplify the duration and scope of the media outreach by collecting supplementary capital via an online fundraising pitch.

Attracting prospective donors is always easier with personal touches.

Team Troiano will be rolling out a pair of companion endorsement videos — featuring kind words from ex-Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo., (Troiano became acquainted with him through his work with The Can Kicks Back, an advocacy group focused on budgetary issues) and grunge rocker turned electoral reformer Krist Novoselic (brought together by FairVote) — before the Tilt bid expires.

The campaign is also offering up curated images from an extensive collection of time-lapse photos of D.C. Troiano and his mentor, the late Doug Bailey, captured over five years. Full story

Postpone Your ‘Recess Can’t Be Over!’ Malaise at BLT Steak

Not quite ready for Congress to return to work (someone put 12 legislative days on the clock, please) next week? Local toque Jeremy Shelton sure is.

The executive chef at BLT Steak (1625 I St. NW) has been cranking out a number of recess treats for bargoers during the past month, a specialty carte — each item priced at $10 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. — that will (mostly) be retired come Monday.

“We have two menus every night plus happy hour as it is, now throw in 10 brand new dishes every time Congress goes into recess … It’s just a lot to keep track of,” Shelton said of the extra effort that’s been required to keep the seasonal snacks (he rolled out a similar slate when lawmakers decamped for spring break) a-coming.

Everything is, of course, prefaced by the incredibly fluffy, cheese-laced popovers BLT Steak drops off in front of every guest.

Postpone Your Recess Cant Be Over! Malaise at BLT Steak

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

On the off chance that isn’t enough incentive to darken their door, the expense account haven also butters up patrons with warm, crusty country bread flanked by salty-rich country pate. (Another longstanding tradition, a la the complimentary popovers, that predates Shelton’s tenure in the kitchen.)

The gourmet nibbles Shelton dreamed up this time around ran the gamut from somewhat perplexing (a smoked trout salad was overwhelmed by bitter greens and bracing citrus) to utterly delicious.

The chef said he remains partial to an heirloom tomato number featuring chimichurri as well as rotating pork-powered sammies.

Postpone Your Recess Cant Be Over! Malaise at BLT Steak

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The grilled sausage patties served to us featured savory swine sandwiched between tangy pickled ramp relish and spicy mustard. Though small, the well-dressed burger knock-offs were quite satisfying. Full story

September 3, 2014

Funny or Die Skewers YA Flicks for New Lets Move! Plug

First lady Michelle Obama pops up at the end of a new Funny or Die parody that swaps in nutritional hobgoblins for the living dead/pandemic event/fetishistic survival trials that seem to plague the protagonist of every young adult novel.

FLOTUS has been championing healthy eating since 44 took office in 2009; her hands-on approach to raising dietary awareness has ranged from overseeing the evolving White House kitchen garden to soliciting recipes from snack-conscious youths.

“Snackpocalypse” has its moments — “It’s like the more garbage everyone eats, the sicker they get. It’s a mystery,” muses school nurse (and “VEEP” vet) Sufe Bradshaw — but is unlikely to stir up the type of response President Barack Obama did last spring when he traded insults with Zach Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns.” Full story

Separated at Birth: Mike Bishop Edition

House hopeful Mike Bishop appears to have one of those faces.

Per a colleague, the man who our own political handicappers see as a solid contender in the race to replace retiring Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., apparently reminds some folks of a certain teenage heartthrob.

“He says he gets the Greg Brady thing all the time,” our fellow hack said of Bishop’s familiarity with comparisons drawn between him and 70’s icon Barry Williams.

Though not quite identical twins, the two could probably pass as brothers.

While his strikingly silver mane clashes with the others’ darkened locks, our pal proposed adding another potential “lost” sibling to the pack: ex-Sen. John Ensign.

Separated at Birth: Mike Bishop Edition

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

We see the similarities in the eyebrows and chins.

Still, the libidinous Nevada Republican would have to freebase “Just for Men,” while the others got to work on developing unimpeachable perma-tans, before we could fully buy into this family reunion.

September 2, 2014

Flashback: Moira Bagley Smith’s Guide to Hill Booze Scene

Flashback: Moira Bagley Smiths Guide to Hill Booze Scene

Bagley Smith chronicled the intricacies of flip cup at the Ugly Mug during her time at Roll Call. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By now, you’ve seen the announcement that Moira Bagley Smith is joining the staff of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., as communications director.

While on staff here at Roll Call in the aughts, Bagley Smith wrote regularly for our old Mug Shots feature. In that role, she brought readers to Sonoma just a year after the wine bar opened, to board games at Trusty’s and to a flip cup tournament at The Ugly Mug.

“The bar sport — a beer-chugging, cup-flipping relay race — is a test of concentration and nerves, rather than strength,” Bagley Smith said in describing flip cup in 2006.

Full story

Jesse Benton’s Grammar Error of Biblical Proportions

Before Jesse Benton added chapters to the Book of James, he committed a grievous grammatical sin.

Benton, the former campaign aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who recently cut ties with the re-election effort, at least in part, because of the distracting misinformation he said the media kept flinging about, at the end of his resignation letter transgressed against the communications gods by signing off with an erroneous quote.

As conservative pundit Erick Erickson pointed out after digesting Benton’s resignation letter, there is no chapter 16 in the book of James.

 

 

The inspirational passage Benton presumably meant to hang his hat on belongs to the disciple John, who theoretically shared said thought in the final Gospel of the New Testament.

But first there was Benton’s mangling of the word choice rules for “affect” and “effect”:

Working for Mitch McConnell is one of the great honors of my life. He is a friend, a mentor and a great man this commonwealth desperately needs. I cannot, and will not, allow any possibility that my circumstances will effect the voters’ ability to hear his message and assess his record. This election is far too important and the stakes way too high.

To recap, “affect” is a verb that means to influence. “Effect” is primarily used as a noun that means result. Effect, when used as a verb, means simply to cause. So Benton either meant to use the word “affect” or his use of the word “effect” as a verb would change the meaning of the sentence to the following, ahem, effect: “I cannot and, and will not, allow any a possibility that my circumstances will cause the voters’ ability to hear his message and assess his record.”

On a side note, the first chapter of James in the King James version of the Bible has a section about “The Tongue,” which states, in James 1:5. “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”

Vaya con Dios, Jesse Benton.

Overheard: Tammy Duckworth on Being Discreet About IVF Treatments

“Being in the job I have, it was really hard to keep it, you know, very quiet.”

— Rep. Tammy Duckworth discussing her in vitro fertilization treatments on NBC’s “Today” show. The Illinois Democrat announced on Monday’s telecast that she is pregnant with a girl and is due in December. Duckworth, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the military during the Iraq war, lost her legs when her chopper was shot down in 2004.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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By Jason Dick Posted at 12:46 p.m.
Kiddies, Reps

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