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

July 26, 2013

Happy 24th Birthday to the Greatest Floor Speech of All Time

On this day 24 years ago, a spirited congressman from Illinois named Richard J. Durbin, now the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, delivered what is unquestionably the greatest diatribe to ever grace the House floor — in defense of the wooden bat.

A young Durbin, still speaking with his strong Illinois accent, (as a Land of Lincoln lady myself, trust me on this; listen for how he says “pajamas” and “Americana”) was so riled up by the cheers of his colleagues as he hit the dramatic crescendo of his speech that he effectively dropped the mic when it was over.

Eat your heart out, Harry Reid, with your tired Davey Johnson metaphors.

“I don’t want to hear about saving trees, any tree in America would gladly give its life for a day of glory at home plate,” Durbin proclaimed. “I don’t know if it will take a constitutional amendment to keep the baseball traditions alive, but if we forsake the great Americana of broken-bat singles and pine tar, we certainly will have lost our way as a nation.”

May we mark this day every year to remember what America is really all about, and that even though it’s unclear who Durbin was addressing with this little ditty, aluminum bats have remained out of professional baseball for decades.

If we don’t take a moment to appreciate the glory that is the Durbin Wooden Bats™ speech now, in the heart of baseball season, then HOH has to ask, “Is nothing sacred?”

July 25, 2013

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Locker Room Jokes

There was one senator conspicuously absent at the beginning of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup on Thursday morning: Charles E. Schumer. The committee was slated to mark up a media shield bill, sponsored by the New York Democrat and about 10 minutes into the meeting, the senator was nowhere to be found.

Since the committee was short of a quorum, members waited several minutes for a few more of their colleagues to show up.

A few minutes later, Schumer arrived, a quorum was reached and the committee promptly agreed to hold over work on the bill until next week. After announcing that the bill would be held over, Schumer said he had a “good dog ate my homework excuse” as to why he was late.

“The showers stopped working in the gym,” he said.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy responded, “When Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein was chair of the Rules Committee, that never happened.”

That garnered laughs from the rest of the committee, as Schumer is the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and has jurisdiction of a lot of Senate operations.

The last thing that could be heard before Schumer’s voice was drowned out by the chatter of others in attendance was, “I had to have someone stand guard …”

Mark Sanford Can’t Escape the Appalachian Trail

Rep. Mark Sanford can’t seem to escape the Appalachian Trail, even in the Speaker’s Lobby.

As HOH reported previously, Sanford wasn’t aware the House moved up Wednesday evening’s vote series, and he was caught en flagrant delit excerciso, racing to the floor in sweaty attire and borrowing a dark blazer to attend to the people’s business on the floor.

Mark Sanford Cant Escape the Appalachian Trail

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

As if that wasn’t enough, someone from his own team jabbed the South Carolina Republican about one of his most famous mishaps:  His trip to Argentina for an extra-marital affair with now-fiancee Maria Belen Chapur.

No one seemed to know where the then-South Carolina governor was for days, and aides were stuck telling the press he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, the birth of one of the political world’s greatest euphemisms ever.

At any rate, as Sanford showed up sweaty in athletic casual gear for Wednesday’s votes, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., yelled out, for all to hear far and wide, “Where have you been? Hiking?”

And the beat goes on.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:53 p.m.
Foolishness, HillSide, Reps

Did Christopher Walken Inspire Steve King’s Cantaloupe Moment?

When is a cantaloupe no longer a cantaloupe? When Rep. Steve King uses it to describe the calves of underweight, drug-running border crossers.

We at HOH racked our brains to figure out where the Iowa Republican might have come up with such a fruity simile.

And, as frequently happens, the road led us to Quentin Tarantino, specifically the Tarantino-scripted “True Romance” and its epic stare-down between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken.

Mystery solved.

July 24, 2013

Mark Sanford’s New Business Casual: Shorts on the House Floor

Somebody obviously didn’t tell Rep. Mark Sanford the House moved up the Wednesday evening vote series an hour earlier than anticipated. Otherwise, he might have changed clothing first — or taken a shower, at least.

The South Carolina Republican came into the Speaker’s Lobby sporting a sweat-soaked T-shirt, gym shorts and sneakers.

Asked by HOH if he had thought he had adequate time for an exercise run before having to report to the chamber to vote on amendments to the Defense Department appropriations bill, Sanford deadpanned, “I think that’s a fair assessment.”

Mark Sanfords New Business Casual: Shorts on the House Floor

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

For the most part, he stayed sheepishly in one corner of the long hallway, hovering near one of the chamber doorways to monitor when he needed to run out onto the floor and cast his votes and trying to ignore giggling reporters.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is a stickler for proper attire, and has been known to admonish male lawmakers from the dais for not wearing required jackets and ties. Sanford donned a blazer supplied by an aide when he had to go into the chamber, but took it off when he was in the Speaker’s Lobby, perhaps wanting to avoid taking it into the dry cleaner’s.

Mark Sanfords New Business Casual: Shorts on the House Floor

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., asked Sanford if he needed to borrow a tie. “I might,” Sanford replied.
Other colleagues were less helpful.
“Nooooo wayyyyyyy,” freshman Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., drawled.  ”Noooo wayyyyy. This is the best thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve only been here six months.”
He then suggested Sanford pull down his shorts a little bit so they looked like pants. Sanford declined.

Educators Gleefully Picture ‘March’ in Their Curriculums

Yes, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., made a big splash at Comic-Con last weekend, barreling directly into the belly of the entertainment-starved beast to promote his debut graphic novel, “March.”

And, yes, Top Shelf Productions, the publisher of said title, would undoubtedly love it if every major book vendor/discerning magazine stand/corner comic book shop stacked “March” right in the sightline of serious buyers.

But everyone involved seems to know exactly where their bread and butter is in this particular scenario: educators.

And it seems that those tasked with bringing the past to life for tomorrow’s leaders can’t wait to add Lewis’ groundbreaking project to their toolboxes.

Making It Count

Long before anyone was even thinking about putting pen to paper, “March” point man Leigh Walton said Top Shelf thought long and hard about whom they might tap to translate Lewis’ vivid memories into striking 2-D.

Educators Gleefully Picture ‘March’ in Their Curriculums

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

They ultimately settled on award-winning graphic novelist Nate Powell because of his eye for detail, as well as his passion for capturing every shade of the American experience.

Full story

Hitch Up Your Breeches, Here’s Five Sneetches | Capitol Quip

Hitch Up Your Breeches, Heres Five Sneetches | 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. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • I shall not be a D. Or an R I could not be. I should not work on the Hill. I would not, could not pass a bill.
  • Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. — Dr. Seuss
  • The non-squabbling Sneetches are leaving the beaches!
  • No more blues and reds, your colors are dead. We work for the people, get it through your head.
  • Compromise is now in style. Drop your label and cross the aisle!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog July 28 and in the next 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 3:53 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Steve King’s Greatest (Recent) Hits

HOH favorite Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, ignited a prairie fire with his recent comments to Newsmax about the physical attributes of immigrants who traipse through the desert with illicit substances: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

This got us to thinking about some of King’s other noteworthy statements and actions that have shown up recently on the HOH radar. Without further ado, here’s a list of some moments fit for a “King”:

Standoff at the Rayburn Corral

“20 brazen self professed illegal aliens have just invaded my DC office,” King raged on social media last month, when advocates for immigration legislation came to his office and asked for a meeting. The advocates were provided contact information for a future visit. King demanded that Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz., co-sponsors of Senate immigration legislation, prevent future invasions.

(No) Sympathy for the Devil

“It’s hard to find sympathy for people who would do that to people’s faith,” King said during a recent congressional delegation trip to Russia about the harsh prison terms that members of the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot are serving for a musical protest against President Vladimir Putin they performed at the Moscow Church of Christ.

It’s What’s for Dinner

“I eat concentrated, recycled, enhanced vegetables in the form of meat,” King bragged to a town hall in Iowa in April, showing he can haze vegetarians in committee hearings with the best of them, regardless of context.

Surfin’ USA

“I’m not the only one she drove to the Internet. There must have been six or eight iPads there. If you were out in the Judiciary Committee sitting there, you were either surfing on the Internet or you were back in the back having lunch,” King told us when asked about how he was bragging about surfing the Internet when Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was talking during a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:45 p.m.

Mo, Mo, Mo — Cowan’s Post-Congress Tweets Heat Up

William “Mo” Cowan left the Senate on July 16 and, on returning to civilian life, switched his Twitter handle from @SenMoCowan to @MoCowan. The former Massachusetts Democratic senator sent out this last sweet message under his senatorial names.

William Mo Cowan@SenMoCowan 16 Jul:

Before they shut off this acct allow me to say: thank you all for the kind words. I have lived the American dream. Best wishes to all. -MC

And then, Mo moved along to the real stuff: his wife, bowties and the royal baby. Here are some highlights from the unhinged Mo Cowan Twitter account.

Mo Cowan@mocowan 19 Jul:

My beloved spells her name sans “e” MT @KellyO: “I was able 2 serve because she was willing 2 B mom & dad… @mocowan thx wife Stacey

Mo Cowan@mocowan 19 Jul:

Alert! Alert! MY BOWTIES NEVER MADE IT BACK FROM DC! They were packed up but have yet to arrive. If you see my ties on @cspan, call me ASAP!

Mo Cowan@mocowan 21 Jul:

Just sat down on plane & realized I’m still in makeup from @upwithsteve. Explains why some in airport asked if I was Denzel. #justsayin

Mo Cowan@mocowan 22 Jul:

Should they name the lad “Mo” I won’t be upset. #justsayin#royalbaby

Anthony Weiner’s Wide World of Aliases

Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., is back in the news again after yet another online paramour came forth with tales of social-media-enabled sexy talk and for-your-eyes-only crotch shots.

And while no one should be shocked to learn that Weiner, who is attempting a comeback by running for mayor of New York, was unable to keep it in his pants after resigning from Congress/begging his terribly put-upon wife, Huma Abedin, to stick with him, the latest fun from his adventures in infidelity is that Weiner conducted this round of skeevy activities under the pseudonym “Carlos Danger.” (Subconsciously want to get caught, much …)

Don’t get us wrong: Carlos Danger is a pretty rad alias.

Cartoony as hell. But definitely fun.

Still, we couldn’t help wonder what other identities Weiner could have adopted for his digital dalliances.

Anthony Weiner’s Wide World of Aliases

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

The New Band Name Generator (pictured above) — which we set to “hardcore” (‘natch) — coughed up some amazingly apropos options, including: “Weiner Dagger” (too easy), “Breaking the Scarred Weiner” (give it time) and “Weiner Event” (come one, come all). Full story

Caption This: Cain-Bachmann Smile High Club

We don’t pretend to know what, exactly, former GOP presidential hopefuls Herman Cain and Rep. Michele Bachmann were actually discussing in this candid shot of the two during presumably better days.

Caption This: Cain Bachmann Smile High Club


We’d like to believe that the “Herminator” — seen here sporting a sly grin, so it’s likely this was before he bailed out of the race amid a growing chorus of sexual-harassment allegations — just finished asking the stewardess something saucy like, “Wanna bone?”

Bachmann also seems to be in high spirits. Guess the crushing weight of bowing out of politics/having to dismiss a sticky-fingered senior aide were still too far off in the distance to spoil this mid-flight feast of fried chicken.

Perhaps we’re overthinking things.

What do you imagine was being said/going on?

Fire away in the comments section below.

July 23, 2013

‘March’ Got John Lewis All Choked Up

SAN DIEGO — Any autobiography should be expected to make the author a little misty-eyed about days gone by.

‘March’ Got John Lewis All Choked Up

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But as Rep. John Lewis learned after working on “March,” the graphic novel chronicling his civil rights era activities, comic books can also pack a seriously emotional punch.

Per Lewis, staring at the artfully arranged way his collaborator, Nate Powell, depicted a silly anecdote about a wayward hen the Georgia Democrat once tended to really struck a chord.

While at Comic-Con 2013, Lewis also shared the fascinating trajectory that took from seminary student to civil rights leader to comics scribe — a totally new experience the seasoned pol thanked Powell and Andrew Aydin, his staffer and “March” co-author, for weaving into his incredibly multilayered life.

Congressional Newbies Storm the Links

Monday’s Roll Call Cup not only featured late drama, with Republicans retaining the trophy in a tie match, but also four freshman House members who can now tout their experience on the greens.

Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy of Florida and Scott Peters of California and Republican Reps. Roger Williams of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida navigated through Columbia Country Club’s narrow trees and 6,500-yard plus terrain at Monday’s competition. All strong golfers, veteran golfer Dan Tate Sr. noted the skills of Murphy and DeSantis, in particular, on the course.

Murphy, who faced off against fellow freshman Williams in the 4-ball and alternate shot morning rounds, was unable to find his groove for much of the day. He was didn’t get to finish his practice round Sunday thanks to lightning, and he could not overcome the course that once hosted the 1921 U.S. Open.

Williams played well, garnering 1.5 points in the morning rounds for the Republicans. He lost his final 9-hole match play to Peters.

DeSantis, who played baseball while studying at Yale University, lost 2 points in the opening two nine hole rounds before bouncing back in the afternoon to steal a point from Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J. in the final nine holes.

House to Assess State of the Black Union

Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, the African-American teen slain in Sanford, Fla., by acquitted gunman George Zimmerman, will address members of Congress on Wednesday, sharing his thoughts on the black experience in the United States at the inaugural meeting of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys.

The group discussion on “The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men” is scheduled to take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 2737 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Ex-Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., Georgetown University sociology professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Obama administration aide David J. Johns are also expected to weigh in on the challenges facing today’s young black males.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., couldn’t get away from the topic even at Comic-Con, alerting those assembled to hear him speak about “March,” the graphic novel detailing his own rites of passage in the segregationist South, that post-racial America is still a ways off.

Full story

Chuck Grassley Would Have Hated Comic-Con

Chuck Grassley Would Have Hated Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

We grabbed the teaser comic for “Vikings” — The History Channel’s none-too-veiled ploy to tap into the burgeoning “Game of Thrones” viewership — while out at Comic-Con, thinking it might be right up Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s alley.

The Iowa Republican is, after all, a rabid history junkie.

Chuck Grassley Would Have Hated Comic Con


But nothing brings out the curmudgeonly programming critic in Grassley — his beef with the network runs so deep, the solon is now giving interviews exclusively about the dearth of backward-looking shows — faster than flipping on The History Channel and finding nothing but “reality”-based ratings bait.

Except maybe cosplay.

Full story

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