Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 22, 2015

December 16, 2013

The 500 Nods of Elizabeth Warren | Madisonville

Most Americans of working age can’t remember when manufacturing wasn’t in decline.  It’s been a staple of news and politics since the Carter administration. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy tapped right into the mood of inevitable decay at a hearing last week on rebuilding American manufacturing.

The 500 Nods of Elizabeth Warren | Madisonville  The late afternoon timing of the hearing didn’t help anyone’s attention span.

Imagine the late shift at a factory out near the railroad tracks that’s been cutting back production for years.  The workers aren’t sure the foreign owners remember they have a factory there and the workers also aren’t sure whether it’s better to be remembered or forgotten.

Or alternatively, what with last week’s snow turning crusty and it already becoming dark outside, imagine the factory political commissars bringing next year’s production targets to workers at a ball-bearing plant in the Ural Mountains.

On a gloomy Washington day, even the lighting wasn’t interested in the hearing room.

Only three of eight senators showed up and there weren’t many more people in the audience.  The perkiest staff member turned out to be the one responsible for Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s crutches.  Both of them (Heller and the staffer, although both crutches also departed) left as soon as it was polite to do so. Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., kept the witnesses busy until Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., could get back from the Senate floor and take over the questioning.

Teaching at Harvard demands a few tricks to keep the students engaged. Warren has an entire repertory of nods and head shakes to do so. She’s Bartholomew Cubbins but with head gestures.  Warren’s moving head carries more nuance than many members of Congress can find in the dictionary.

She has a slow, methodical “aren’t you clever” nod to encourage a witness. She can do a rapid “hurry up and finish your point” nod and she can tweak that into a “good point, please continue” gesture or, just as subtly, turn it into its near opposite, the “I’ve heard this before and don’t believe it for a second” nod. Warren has an emphatic, chin-down-once-and-stop nod to say, “Well done for citing that obscure research,” and she varies that slightly in a, “The policy is obvious. How could anybody disagree?” nod. She’s got a middle-speed “as a witness before this committee you can have your say nod but nobody is taking you seriously” nod.

Warren has a combination nod and head shake to say, “The evidence is mixed.” She’s got a nod that turns into a head shake. She can shake her head to convey disbelief, and, like everybody else, she can shake her head in disagreement. What sets Warren apart is that she can even shake her head in agreement.  She pulled that one off at least once at Wednesday’s hearing.

American manufacturing should be so adept.

Restaurant Associates Orchestrates Sea Change in Food Labeling

Rather than continue sparring with congressional staffers who keep clamoring for vegetarian-friendly dining options, Restaurant Associates is following the lead of crafty food lobbyists and is simply rebranding its output accordingly.

It’s that type of bold, outside-the-box thinking that enabled Restaurant Associates to brazenly slap an “I’m a vegetarian item” tag on a serving tray stacked with lemon baked cod.

Either that or everyone in the company has simply lost their minds.

Attempting to pawn off seafood as a vegetable might be a great way to one-up the hucksters at the frozen food lobby — Have you eaten your pizzegetables today? — but it does not inspire great confidence among diet-conscious clients.

Particularly when it’s part of a mind-blowing pattern.

The same HOH tipster who spotted the miscategorized cod in the Longworth cafeteria on Dec. 13 said the same wildly false advertising has previously been used to peddle chicken-based dishes and a mashed potato offering bolstered by bacon.

Members of the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association have been battling it out with the lunch lines operator for quite some time now, originally locking horns with the corporate caterer about an incredibly short-lived “Meatless Monday” program. The group has since moved on to hosting its own semi-regular policy events and cooking demos around the Capitol.

Restaurant Associates did not respond to multiple email inquiries seeking guidance as to how a fish dish could possibly qualify as vegetarian fare. Perhaps the group is too busy contemplating whether to market roasted bone marrow-topped rib eyes as “vegan” or “macrobiotic.”

One Last Press Club Party for Sid Yudain

Sid Yudain got in one last party at his beloved National Press Club, as his family, friends and colleagues celebrated the late Roll Call founder’s life, achievements and love of a good party on Dec. 14.

“If Sid is looking down, he’s loving this,” said Patsy Grady Abrams, the mistress of ceremonies. “Sid loved nothing more than a celebration.”

Yudain, who died on Oct. 20, was a “platinum owl” at the Press Club, someone with 60-plus years as a member, according to his longtime friend John Cosgrove, a former club president. Yudain was also, appropriately for someone who loved a good time, the entertainment chairman. “Sid stalked the halls of this club like he stalked the halls of Congress,” said his wife, Lael Yudain.

His son, Ray Yudain, recalled that his father was so well-liked it bled into his own social life, saying that when he and his sister, Rachel, were teenagers, they pretty much did whatever they could to avoid their friends’ parents. Not so in the Yudain household. “A lot of them, I don’t think they even came over to see us,” Ray Yudain said of his and his sister’s friends.

Satirist and entertainer Mark Russell, who knew Yudain for more than 50 years and was a one-time columnist for Roll Call, got most of the best lines in his remarks. “He was a Republican who didn’t hate anyone,” Russell said, adding, “Perhaps the only journalist Richard Nixon liked. … We’re talking about a reporter who thought Capitol Hill was fun.”

Above all, each person referred to the person who loved to bring others together for a good time, an attribute well-suited for a newspaperman and a raconteur. “If paradise is a place where there’s nothing to complain about,” Russell said, timing his voice to trail off, to accentuate that Sid did indeed like to get in a good gripe here and there, before adding, “But life on Earth with Lael would be very hard to top.”

And after Russell had unfurled his last line and the 150 or so attendees rose to sing “Amazing Grace,” which Abrams said was one of the few hymns Yudain liked, it was on to the open bar. “That’s the only way he would have had it,” Lael Yudain said.

H Street Restaurants Feast on Foie

As part of a special end-of-year promotion (Dec. 16-30), seven restaurants along the H Street Northeast corridor will serve holiday dishes featuring that most indulgent of ingredients, foie gras.

“During this time of year we want to revel in our favorite ingredient, and we thought it would be more fun to have a bunch of our neighboring restaurants celebrate with us,” Brad Walker, the chef at Boundary Road and creator of the “Foie La La” cook-off, said in a release praising fatty liver. “It’s rich, unctuous, luxurious, and the most delicious substance on earth.”

The seven participating restaurants — Boundary Road (414 H St. NE), The Big Board (421 H St. NE), Le Grenier (502 H St. NE), The Atlas Room (1015 H St. NE), Liberty Tree (1016 H St. NE), Granville Moore’s (1238 H St. NE) and Red Rocks (1348 H St. NE) — are welcome to work up whatever interpretation of the dish they like.

Patrons can then vote for their favorite version at; the winner gets neighborhood “bragging rights.”

The gourmet treat has, in recent years, treaded into taboo territory as some cities and states have sought to curb consumption of the controversial comestible.

No such trouble in the Atlas District, where you’ll find the delicacy dressed to impress thusly:

  • Boundary Road: Seared foie gras with gingerbread blini, braised collards, crispy pork belly and a maple apple brandy gastrique ($19);
  • The Atlas Room: Seared and chilled foie gras torchon with spiced cherry walnut caramel nougatine and passion fruit gel ($15);
  • The Big Board: Seared foie gras with fig and onion compote ($10); available as a topping for the Port d’Amsterdam burger ($9 – 6 oz patty; $11 – 8 oz. patty);
  • Le Grenier: Foie gras crème brulee with Sauternes-quince gelee and toast ($8.95)

Bon appetit!

December 15, 2013

Let’s Make a Capitol Quip!

Lets Make a Capitol Quip!

Whoa, now! Contrary to the customary potshots over taxes, spending and everything in-between, House Republicans, led by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, and Senate Democrats, led by Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington, struck a deal on a long-overdue budget resolution. Despite some misgivings on both the left and right, it showed the art of compromise isn’t dead in Washington. Or is it?

This brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Dec. 18, and everyone can vote for the winner through Dec. 19.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

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

Some Cheese, Some Whine, Some Capitol Quip

Some Cheese, Some Whine, Some 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 Welcomes First Daughter

 Rep. Joaquin Castro and wife, Anna, welcomed their first child, Andrea Elena Castro, into the world early Sunday morning.
Joaquin Castro Welcomes First Daughter

Castro and wife, Anna, seen here in the Cannon House Office Building earlier this year, had their first child. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The little girl, who weighed just over 8 pounds and measured 20 inches long, was born at 9:17 a.m. CST in San Antonio.
“Both mother and daughter are healthy and happy,” the Texas Democrat announced via a statement. “We are grateful to the staff at the Methodist Hospital and to all who have kept our family in their prayers. ”

December 13, 2013

What Ted Cruz Talked About at 10,000 Feet

Before he could make the late Nelson Mandela’s media-mobbed memorial service all about him by very publicly storming out (take that, Cuban President Raul Castro!), Sen. Ted Cruz had to get to South Africa.

His ticket to ride included a lengthy trans-Atlantic jaunt during which several members of the Congressional Black Caucus bent the Texas Republican’s ear about everything from swirling policy initiatives to personal issues.

What Ted Cruz Talked About at 10,000 Feet

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

HOH has confirmed that Cruz, who did not respond to email requests seeking clarification about any interactions whilst traveling, spent at least part of the 40-hour (round trip) voyage getting better acquainted with Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., John Lewis, D-Ga., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:51 p.m.
Freshman, Reps, Sens, VIPs

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Dec. 9 (Video)

Nothing caps off a week like mom’s cooking, empty boxes and tofu. It’s Roll Call’s third installment of Congressional Hits and Misses.

December 12, 2013

C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb Pressed About His Missing Credentials

Veteran broadcaster Brian Lamb learned a valuable lesson about the all-seeing eye of social media Thursday. The founder and former CEO of C-SPAN casually strolled into the Senate without updated press credentials.

“It’s hilarious,” Lamb told HOH about the brief run-in with Capitol gatekeepers.

Lamb, who began working as a Senate aide over four decades ago, explained that he had not renewed his press pass this year. When he wandered over to the second floor — en route to the radio/TV gallery for a vote by the executive board — staff stopped him and asked to see his congressionally issued ID.

Lamb explained the situation (“Everybody’s just doing exactly what they should have done,” he noted), got redirected upstairs to secure a temporary badge and then went about his business. But not before his gaffe was broadcast on Twitter.

C SPAN Founder Brian Lamb Pressed About His Missing Credentials

(Courtesy C-SPAN)

“I should have known better,” Lamb shared, adding, “Next time, I’ll make sure to stop at the desk and get my pass.”

By Warren Rojas Posted at 2:20 p.m.
HillSide, media

Overheard: Rand Paul’s Hell-Freezing-Over Timeline

“I don’t think there’s going to be unanimous consent on anything until hell freezes over.”

— Sen. Rand Paul

By Roll Call Staff Posted at 12:58 p.m.
Overheards, Sens

December 11, 2013

Five Tasty Morsels | Capitol Quip

Five Tasty Morsels | 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. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • Let’s save some for the next time we’re on furlough.
  • You really have to give credit to the toothpick lobby for a job well done.
  • This might be some kind of entrapment.
  • I don’t care how good this cheese cube tastes! I’ll not be cajoled into pushing to pass a farm bill!
  • And the jug of orange juice provides the perfect accompaniment.

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Dec. 15 and in the following 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 7:17 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Time Looks Back on Cruz’s Freshman ’13 (Video)

It’s been a whirlwind year for Sen. Ted Cruz, and while he didn’t finish first as Time’s Person of the Year in 2013, the magazine’s editors thought enough of the tea party favorite to compile the “highlights” in a video.

Ted Cruz’s 2013 in Three Minutes” chronicles the Texas Republican’s most “upworthy” moments since he stepped onto the floor at the Capitol on Jan. 3.

From his accusations that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was “hiding something” and his scrutinizing of the country’s policy on drones, to the length and levity of his 21-hour anti-Obamacare filibuster and his relative fall from grace amid the government shutdown, it’s clear Cruz made his mark in the year 2013, even though he couldn’t beat out the pope.

HOH is itching to see what the junior senator comes up with next year.



National Press Club Hosts Sid Yudain Memorial Saturday

National Press Club Hosts Sid Yudain Memorial Saturday

(CQ Roll Call archives)

The late Sid Yudain, founding father of Roll Call, will be memorialized at 11 a.m. Saturday at a service in the Holeman Lounge of the National Press Club (529 14th St. NW).

Lael Yudain told HOH the hourlong service would be punctuated by tributes from those closest to her politically connected spouse, a roster that includes their son, Raymond Yudain, and political satirists/comedy pianists Dan Ruskin and Mark Russell, as well as other family members and friends.

The facility can accommodate as many as 150 guests, but Lael Yudain hinted that well-wishers would not be turned away.

“If it’s standing room only, that’s OK with us,” she said.

The event will be followed by an on-site reception.

No word yet on when the actual burial will take place. “We’re still waiting to hear back from Arlington Cemetery,” Lael Yudain said.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:59 p.m.
DC, media, VIPs

Overheard: The Schumer Rule, Debunked?

“You know that line about, ‘You do not want to get between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera?’ I am living proof that is not true.”

— Sen. Bill Nelson

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