Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

March 6, 2013

Overheard on the Hill

“This is the wimpiest town I have ever seen.”

— Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, on Washington’s reaction to the “snowquester.” Her Cleveland-based district is known to get snow from time to time.

Documentary’s Title Lets It All Hang Out

The release of the global-warming documentary “Greedy Lying Bastards” on Friday marks a turning point for environmental advocates, as the filmmakers decided to go for a more in-your-face title.

“While the title is provocative and a bit outrageous, after consultation with our PR team we concluded that in order for the project to obtain as wide a distribution as possible we needed to stand out from other films,” said director Craig Rosebraugh. His film, an exposé of the fossil fuel industry’s international attempts to defeat laws and regulations targeting global warming, opens in Washington and nationally on Friday.
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Capitol Quip: Choose Among Five Rock-Solid Contenders

Capitol Quip: Choose Among Five Rock Solid Contenders

Here are the five finalists for this week’s caption contest. Now it’s your turn to vote.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

• “Don’t point fingers! It’s definitely your fault.”

• “Maybe we can pick up the pieces …”

• “… but he dared me to push it.”

• “Stop! We need to build our campaigns around you.”

• “It’s a little late to get ahead of this issue …”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on March 11 and in that 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 4:48 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Mike Lee, From Drones to Jell-O

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, offered his colleague Sen. Rand Paul a brief respite on the Senate floor after the Kentucky Republican spoke for more than three hours in a talking filibuster of President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA.

When Lee finished his relief appearance, he returned to his office in the Hart Senate Office Building to meet and greet an assortment of constituents, Senate pages, students and other visitors who had stopped by for the office’s weekly Wednesday afternoon constituent Jell-O. The event is an open house of sorts, similar to the constituent coffees popular in Senate other offices.

A few pages made the trip from the floor, where they’ve been carefully watching Paul lead Lee and other colleagues in the unusual in-person talk-a-thon style of filibuster, which came about to highlight Paul’s objection to the topic of the Obama administration’s policy regarding targeted drone strike killings.

Visitors to Lee’s third floor office in Hart were treated to traditionally green Jell-O with just a touch of whipped topping, as well as photos and introductions with Lee.

Not coincidentally, Jell-O brand gelatin is the official state snack of Utah, and yes, HOH means the brand name. In Utah it seems, the state legislature will accept no substitutes.

Snowquester Shutters Durbin’s Front Office in D.C.

Being from Illinois, Sen. Richard J. Durbin is used to heavy snowfall.

The long-serving Democrat has been known to take jabs at Washington, D.C., and its inability to handle a few flakes.

So when HOH was reporting from the CQ Roll Call weather desk this week, we naturally reached out to the Senate majority whip’s office to ask what it thought of the frenzy the city was whipping itself into surrounding the snowstorm that was heading our way.

Durbin Communications Director Max Gleischman had this to say on Tuesday (emphasis our own):

“It is currently 51 degrees and sunny in Washington. We’ll address our D.C. office status if/when it actually starts to snow. Until then, everyone should get a grip. Chicago is currently being hit with the biggest show storm of the season and our [district] office is open.

Well, it seems Durbin’s D.C. office was not as tough as its Chicago counterpart.

An eagle-eyed tipster spotted signs taped to Durbin’s Hart Senate Office Building doors announcing that the office was closed “due to inclement weather.”

Snowquester Shutters Durbins Front Office in D.C.

An eagle-eyed HOH tipster spotted this sign on Durbin's D.C. office door Wednesday morning.

Snowquester Shutters Durbins Front Office in D.C.

The closure signs are visible on Durbin's Hart Building doors.

Gleischman said the senator and many staffers are in the office and working but that the front office in Hart is closed for the day because of the snow.

“If only Chicago Streets and San were in charge of keeping roads clear in D.C. … While our front office in Hart is closed, the office is open,” Gleischman told HOH via email. “We’re staffed and working out of the Capitol. Meetings will be taken in both offices all day. In fact, I’m sitting at my desk right now looking at the green grass on the National Mall.”

Team McConnell Does the Harlem Shake

In a shocking turn, the chairmanship for the Senate Harlem Shake Caucus is still up for grabs.

Last week, Republican wunderkind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted a simple question: “If I put a [Harlem Shake] video 2gether in the Senate who should be in it?

On Wednesday, however, Rubio’s shake was scooped by Team Mitch. The campaign office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., posted its own version of the ubiquitous Harlem Shake videos. It is important to note that it is the first official congressional Harlem Shake video to date.

Whether McConnell can wrest the Harlem Shake Caucus from Rubio’s grasp is up for speculation, but his office has cleared the way for other Senate offices to make similar videos.

It is only a matter of time before the dream of a bipartisan Senate-wide Harlem Shake video comes to pass.

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated which of McConnell’s office posted the video. It was his campaign team.

Swirling Storm Taunts D.C. From Cyberspace

The nation’s capital has fallen victim to a lobbying campaign that has, at least so far, produced plenty of paranoia but little of actual substance — save for a smart alec Twitter feed.


Swirling Storm Taunts D.C. From Cyberspace


For days now, winter lovers have hung on the every cautionary word spewed by radar-tracking meteorologists, who all warned the area to expect to slog through inches — nay, a foot! — of powdery precipitation.

Pre-emptive school and office closings went into effect even though the streets are black as pitch and the current accumulation wouldn’t overflow your average snow cone.

Not that that’s stopped @Snowquester from talking mad smack.

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March 5, 2013

Twitter Unrepresents Popular Opinion

And now, some news that will come as a surprise to all of us Beltway-bubble, Twitter-addicted political types: Reaction on Twitter to major political events is often very different from measured public opinion.

According to a new yearlong study by the Pew Research Center, Twitter reaction to political events and policy changes is often much more partisan — and much more negative — than the scientifically gathered data on public opinion.

In layman’s terms, the general public does not agree with the snarkiness all of us Capitol Hill denizens and flacks spill on Twitter about the news of the hour.
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Inouye Gets Played by Imagination Stage

Former Sen. Daniel K. Inouye will be honored Wednesday at Bethesda’s Imagination Stage via a spirited performance of the Japanese folk tale “Anime Momotaro,” a posthumous shoutout that’s already ballooned past capacity.

The guest list for the tribute show, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Theatre, has swelled to 475, with more than four dozen others on standby to attend.

An Imagination Stage aide told HOH that Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, won’t be physically present but sent a memoriam missive to be printed in the program, while fellow Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz will have his say via video greeting. Inouye’s wife, Irene, and son, Ken, are expected to attend.

The pop culture phenomenon, which marries an age-old Japanese story with the frenetic styling of fanboy-wooing ’toons, originated at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, a program Inouye supported. He’d also agreed to be the honorary patron of the show before his death earlier this winter.

The play closes on March 10.

King Punches Up Fight Card

Looks like grappling with crippling budget cuts and mixing it up with administration officials is no longer enough for New York Republican Peter T. King. The headstrong House member is poised to go toe-to-toe with a professional bruiser during “Battle of the Champions 8” at Mulcahy’s Pub in Wantagh, N.Y.

King, a boxing enthusiast, told HOH he elected to step into the ring Saturday for an exhibition against “Irish” Josh Foley, the current World Kickboxing Association New York State Super Middleweight Champion, as a favor to his personal trainer — and fight promoter — Chris Cardona.

The last time King traded blows in a non-legislative capacity was 1991, when he squared off against former heavyweight contender Seamus McDonagh in an exhibition bout commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali tussle.
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D.C. Budget Pint Fight!

Local activists trying to win budget autonomy for the District plan to raise funds — along with plenty of pints of DC Brau — Tuesday night during their inaugural DC Budget Freedom Happy Hour at Meridian Pint (3400 11th St. NW).

Bartenders at the Columbia Heights craft-beer mecca will pour $4 DC Brau Public Ale drafts from 5 to 8 p.m., with 100 percent of proceeds from the first three kegs going directly to the campaign for a referendum to untangle the city’s budget from the congressional appropriations process.

With seven weeks remaining before the April 23 special election, DC Vote is working to spread support for Home Rule Charter Amendment Referendum 8. If passed, it would allow the city to spend its approximately $6 billion a year in locally raised tax dollars and avoid the anxiety that shrouds city government officials each time Capitol Hill nears a spending standoff.

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Lanny Davis’ Reading Is Scandalous

Professional scandal mopper-upper Lanny J. Davis is throwing a big party at The Hamilton on Tuesday night in anticipation of his new book, “Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping With Crises in Business, Politics, and Life.”

We were told to get there early because it is going to be packed with Davis’ friends, associates and former clients. Expected guests include the crème de la crème of political Washington, including former Clinton White House Communications Director Mike McCurry, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, former Pennsylvania Govs. Edward G. Rendell and Tom Ridge, former head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, Supreme Court litigator Ted Olson and ABC “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos and many others, including a powerful woman or two. Full story

March 4, 2013

The U.S.S. Ted Stevens

Proving once again that Congress is still about relationships, appropriators have at least found something on which they can agree: naming a warship after a late colleague.

The spending bill unveiled Monday by the House contains a provision expressing the sense of the Senate that the next large naval warship be named for former Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

Stevens, who died in an August 2010 plane crash in his beloved home state, served at various points over the decades as the chairman and ranking member on the subcommittee in charge of the Pentagon’s budget. Stevens had been in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Senate appropriators tucked the provision into their defense spending bill last year, adopting an amendment during an August markup championed by Stevens’ longtime friend and “brother,” Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, along with the panel’s top Republican at the time, Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Inouye himself died in December. Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski also spoke in support of the U.S.S. Ted Stevens designation at the meeting.

“Ted Stevens didn’t play favorites with the — the various services. He loved them all. He embraced them all,” Murkowski said. “Whether you were an airman, a solider, a Coast Guard man, a sailor, Ted Stevens was there for our military.”

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 6:53 p.m.

Take Five

Take Five

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s Tuesday again, which means it’s time for Take Five, when HOH gets to hang out with a member of Congress and get to know him or her better through five fun questions. This week, we sit down with Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, who at times loses himself in fly fishing.
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Public to POTUS: Cut. It. Out.

Public to POTUS: Cut. It. Out.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s the Monday after the sequester began to take effect. And the lights are still on! (Woohoo!)

More importantly, the Internet is still on — and that’s all any armchair lawmaker needs these days to broadcast policy prescriptions for a shinier, happier America. At least, that’s what we gathered from the latest slate of anti-sequester pleas posted on the White House’s “We the People” petition forum.

To be fair, President Barack Obama does sound like he could use all the help he can get with unraveling the across-the-board budget cuts that Congress agreed to last fall.

“I think everybody knows where I stand on this issue. … It’s not the right way for us to go about deficit reduction,” he told the press after convening the first Cabinet meeting of his second term. “I will continue to seek out partners on the other side of the aisle so that we can create the kind of balanced approach of spending cuts, revenues, entitlement reform that everyone knows is the right way to do that.”

That’s nice, sir. But the vox populi wants its pound of flesh.

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