Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 23, 2014

May 28, 2013

Tweeps Don’t Get Lindsey Graham’s ‘Gallows’ Humor

Arizona Republican and Vietnam War veteran John McCain crept into Syria on Memorial Day for a surprise visit with insurgents — a bold maneuver that prompted pal Lindsey Graham to commemorate the trip thusly:

Tweeps Don’t Get Lindsey Graham’s Gallows Humor


The Twittersphere didn’t take too kindly to the glib remark, bashing the South Carolina Republican — a man who is supposedly so close to the McCain clan that his eldest daughter Meghan McCain considers Graham “an uncle” — for making fun of a potentially explosive situation. Full story

Star-Spangled Mumbling

The cultural observers over at Deadspin devoted part of the holiday weekend to isolating the sections of the National Anthem most likely to trip up would-be patriotic singers.

Now, we’re not saying this clip of Congress belting out the “Star Spangled Banner” is the new Zapruder film:

But we couldn’t help notice that the cameraman pulled way, way out as soon as lawmakers entered the trouble zone (“whose broad stripes … “) and stayed mercifully away from potentially embarrassing close-ups until the very end.

Fictional Franchise: Mean-Girls Edition

In HOH’s latest edition of Fictional Franchise — fictional characters and the real people who represent them in Congress — we take on the great villainesses of movies, television and literature.

The tools for misery runs the spectrum, from killing animals to bearing false witness to child abuse.

As for the series, the rules go like this: We decide where a fictional character lives and then look up who represents them in the House. (Learn more here.)

Whether it is physical or psychological torment, these girls got it going on.

Regina George (Rachel McAdams) 
“Mean Girls”
Evanston, Ill., Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky

We all had a Regina George in high school. She embodies the term “mean girl” and for good reason. Tina Fey based her screenplay on the book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman that profiles the behaviors of teenage female non-violent psychopaths.

“She lives in Evanston and though the movie doesn’t specify where exactly, given the size of her house and her lifestyle she’s likely up north, closer to the border of Wilmette, and east, closer to [Lake Michigan],” CQ Roll Call reporter and Wilmette-native Meredith Shiner said.

Update | Schakowsky offered this comment on Regina:

Full story

May 27, 2013

The Apple of Congress’ Eye | Capitol Quip

The Apple of Congress Eye | Capitol Quip

Illustrator R.J. Matson’s latest cartoon needs a caption.

Apple is back in the news, but it’s not because of a new iPad or iPhone. The company’s tax avoidance strategies are coming under fire from some and serving as a rallying cry for tax overhaul from others. What’s really important, though, is that it all provided us with another Capitol Quip opportunity.

Leave your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and then everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. The winner gets a signed print from Matson.

By Jason Dick Posted at 8:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Let the De-Tours Begin! | Capitol Quip

Let the De Tours Begin! | 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.

May 24, 2013

The Macks Are Getting Divorced

Former Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., and Connie Mack, R-Fla., are getting divorced.

The Macks Are Getting Divorced

Bono Mack and Mack served together in Congress as a married couple. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The couple said in a joint release Friday that they are ending their marriage but intend to remain friends.

Bono Mack lost her re-election bid in November to now-Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat. She is now a senior vice president at FaegreBD Consulting. Mack lost his bid for the Senate to Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and is now at Liberty Partners.

Back in January, the Macks seemed to be enjoying their time away from Congress. Mack told HOH: “We are excited about the future. We feel like a lot of weight has been lifted off of our shoulders and can live our lives. It’s a beautiful thing.”

But there were potential fault lines for the couple that was only the fourth to serve together in congressional history. As CQ Roll Call reported in February 2011, Bono Mack and Mack often saw each other more during congressional work weeks than at home, because they returned to their districts in California and Florida on weekends.

By Jason Dick Posted at 4:54 p.m.

PAP to Disaster Victims: Time to Go

Rocky Twyman, spiritual leader of the Pray at the Pump movement and the self-styled conscience of Capitol Hill, feels terrible about all the natural disasters that have plagued Americans as of late.

But enough is enough.

During a vigil tentatively set for May 28 (10 a.m.-noon), Twyman will prod our elected leaders to move those most susceptible to Mother Nature’s fury out of harm’s way.

“Our picket signs will proudly read:  ‘Obama and Congress — The Time Has Come to Ban People From Living in Tornado Alley and New Orleans’ … and ‘America Is Going Broke Paying for These Disasters,’” Twyman detailed in the announcement for his latest protest.

Full story

Top Three Versions of the National Anthem as Chosen by Sen. Cowan

In honor of Memorial Day, we present to you the following, courtesy of Massachusetts’ junior senator.

Following a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Friday’s commencement of the Boston College Law School, Sen. William “Mo” Cowan, D-Mass., went off script for a moment before addressing the graduating class of near-lawyers.

“Before I get into my prepared remarks — some of my staff is a little nervous — let me say something,” Cowan began. “Since that fateful morning, oh so many years ago, when the sun rose after the attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor and Francis Scott Key penned ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ it has been performed in many places and in many ways.

“But I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, there are three versions that are considered the classics. You may recall in 1969 Woodstock when Jimi Hendrix played left handed.”

Cowan continued: “You weren’t around back then? Maybe you were around, like I was, in [1983] when Marvin Gaye walked to the center court of the Great Western Forum at the NBA All-Star game and performed a very soulful rendition.”

“And certainly, I suspect most of you were alive, in 1991 when Whitney Houston took to the field before the Super Bowl to sing what is arguably the greatest performance of our national anthem ever,” Cowan said.

“Today, ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you a fourth version,” Cowan said about the version of the anthem that graduating BC law student Harold T. Hines belted out before the beginning of the ceremony. The crowd went wild.

We challenge you, dear readers, to watch the versions above and not get choked up from love of country.

CityDance Wants to ‘Move the City’

There are times in life when words aren’t enough. For more than 120 D.C. students, this is one of those times.

Participants in CityDance’s DREAM program have spent a school year completing community-based service projects, and on  June 1 they are heading to THEARC at 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE to dance all about it for their program “Move the City.”

The DREAM program seeks to combine dance, youth empowerment and community engagement. The program is open to students in grades three through eight and is held at schools in Wards 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8.

In this self-produced production, the students will perform pieces they choreographed that are inspired by their year of community service projects. It all starts at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Budget Brain Freeze, Please!

We realize it’s not particularly blazing hot outside right now. (C’mon sunshine!) But things could warm up over the course of the long weekend.

Assuming the mercury ever does manage to rise, 7-11 is offering sweet relief through Memorial Day via $0.49 medium Slurpees:

Budget Brain Freeze, Please!

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

HOH has confirmed that both of the Capitol Hill outposts — 407 Eighth St. NE, 429 Eighth St. SE — are participating in the slush-slinging promotion.

Currently on tap at Barracks Row: classic Coca-Cola, sugar-free Sprite, pina colada and assorted Fanta fruit flavors (blue raspberry, oddball orange, wild cherry) — many of which, we’re told, are easily enhanced by a long pour of vodka.


May 23, 2013

D.C. Log Cabin Republicans Fete Ex-Rep. Jim Kolbe

The Washington, D.C. chapter of organized gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Republicans hosted former Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., and his husband at a small mixer Wednesday night.

The D.C. Log Cabin Republicans convened the event at the Roosevelt Camden apartments on 16th Street Northwest to discuss the Senate immigration bill and Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s withdrawal of his amendment to include consideration for LGBT families in the bill’s provisions at this week’s markup.

D.C. Log Cabin Republicans Fete Ex Rep. Jim Kolbe

Kolbe and Kruse listen to a Log Cabin moderator’s question. (Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Kolbe expressed a personal and professional stake in the matter. Full story

Swalwell Fans the Flames of Bipartisanship

Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell rolled out the welcome mat in the Cannon House Office Building on Wednesday night, inviting fellow occupants of the fifth floor to what turned out to be a widely attended cookout.

Swalwell Fans the Flames of Bipartisanship

(Courtesy Rep. Eric Swalwell)

A Swalwell aide said the California Democrat wound up grilling more than 100 hot dogs, bratwursts, vegetarian burgers and smoked chicken wings, the latter being donated by neighbor Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.

“I’d estimate 12 offices were represented,” the Swalwell aide said of the BYOB gathering sprinkled with appearances by fellow penthouse dwellers Collins, Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., and Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.

Sounds like the gang had such a good time, they might give it a go again real soon.

“We’re hoping for a repeat!” the Swalwell aide said, adding, “A few other offices have offered to host a future BBQ.”

Count us in.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:38 p.m.
Food, HillSide

‘Arrested Development’ Takes Over D.C.

Everyone’s favorite dysfunctional family is coming to Netflix on May 26 (Squee!) and binge TV watchers everywhere are rejoicing at the return of “Arrested Development.”

Also barely able to contain themselves are the political types. Last week, for example, the House Republicans spoofed the show with the YouTube clip “Arrested Economic Development,” which compared the Democrats’ economic policy to the Bluths’.

And today the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has released a website comparing vulnerable California Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller with the hilarious but morally bankrupt George and Lucille Bluth. Full story

Reporters Caught Spying on Members’ Softball Practice

Two members of the press turned the tables Thursday morning and spied on the federal government. It took only about 20 minutes before our cover as morning power walkers was blown, but the intelligence gathered will be used in the upcoming Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

Heard on the Hill, with an assist from The New York Times’ Jill Agostino, walked around the Capitol Hill field where female members of Congress practiced at 7 a.m. in preparation for their annual meeting against the Bad News Babes on June 26.

After a couple of laps, eagle-eyed Democratic National Committee staffer and league co-chairwoman Kate Yglesias Houghton spotted us and alerted her boss, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. On the next lap, Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the team launched into various taunts and catcalls.

Since we were caught, we gave up the pretense and got an up-close look at the team’s progression.

The member team responded to the latest reporter intrusion by posting a Perez Hilton-style photo on Twitter and Facebook:

Reporters Caught Spying on Members Softball Practice

The gist of our intelligence report: While much has been made about new players’ impact (Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., are downright terrifying), the real story is the marked improvement of veteran players.

None of which is especially welcome news for the reporter side.

Most members seemed amused and ready to show off their new talent. But at least one took to Instagram to protest.

“I think we do need some type of press shield,” Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., commented on the photo.

Disclosure: The author of this post is a co-captain of the Bad News Babes, the press team. 

The Lightbulb Moment That Led to ‘Gridlock’

Solon-turned-author Byron Dorgan told HOH he got the idea for his forthcoming novel “Gridlock” — a geopolitical thriller focused on the sabotaging of the American electrical grid — while perusing a Wall Street Journal “What If?” piece regarding U.S. vulnerabilities.

“There’s a lot of discussion of cyber-terror. What it might mean. What form it may take,” the retired North Dakota Democratic senator said of the book, which hits stores July 9.

The second in a series of energy-disaster-related yarns, “Gridlock” pits returning protagonists Nate Osborne (lawman) and Ashley Borden (journalist) against foreign governments (Iran, Venezuela), cyber-threats (a Russian computer virus) and our own bravado.

Full story

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