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

June 26, 2013

Pelosi: ‘Who Cares?’ About Bachmann’s DOMA Reaction

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act sent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle bounding off in search of open microphones, a race to rapidly respond that led to some very knee-jerk reactions.

Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., bemoaned the DOMA verdict, castigating the high court for wading into spiritual territory.

“Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy god has instituted,” Bachmann warned in a tersely worded statement.

Pelosi: Who Cares? About Bachmanns DOMA Reaction

Bachmann wasn’t too pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When pressed about Bachmann’s pious posturing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defiantly shrugged it off.

“Who cares?” Pelosi asked a packed news conference.

Pelosi: Who Cares? About Bachmanns DOMA Reaction

Pelosi didn’t really care about Bachmann’s reaction to the DOMA verdict. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., attempted to be more diplomatic about all the conservative hand-wringing.

“In the fullness of time, I firmly believe, with every conviction in my heart, that every American will come to celebrate this decision,” the openly gay freshman lawmaker asserted. “This decision was not imposed on the American people. It merely ratified what was already in the hearts and minds of the … great majority of the American people.”

The Capitol’s Gentleman Callers | Overheard

“Who’s calling my name? It could be any of these fine gentlemen.”

— Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, walking off the floor after Tuesday votes

McCain Ignores Gay Marriage Ruling on Twitter

One of these things is not like the other:

McCain Ignores Gay Marriage Ruling on Twitter


While congressional Democrats raced to social media to revel in the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions gutting the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing California’s polarizing Proposition 8, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sounds the alarm about bloodshed in Syria.



The Squeaky Wheel Gets the … Insult? | Overheard

Man 1: “God, this thing sounds like crap.”
Man 2: “Yeah, I know. Taxpayers’ money.”

A pair of pseudo-engineers (photographing track features, debating Capitol Police procedures) chuckling about the state of the Senate subway system.

June 25, 2013

Kasie Hunt Advances in Fantasy Softball, Smack Talk Goes Into Overdrive

In a little more than 24 hours, female members of Congress and the press corps will suit up for The Game.

The teams face off Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in a charity fundraiser to support young women facing breast cancer. Two and a half months of practice in, the fundraising expectations for the Young Survival Coalition are nearing $125,000 and the trash talk is utterly out of control.

Think we’re taking this game too seriously? Our readers are just as into it — and they can channel that energy in Roll Call’s Fantasy Softball game.

“How can I rig fantasy softball? Can I slip a hard ball to the pitcher when one of my players is up? Move the foul poles? Are you testing for HGH?” Democratic operative Andy Barr jokingly emailed to Heard on the Hill. “We can split the gift card.”

Here were the standings as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Full story

An Earful: HOH’s NSA Mix Tape

We Act Radio wants to flood D.C.’s streets with spinning spokes and booming speeches this Independence Day via a multi-ward, anti-domestic spying protest dubbed the “NSA Mixtape Bike Ride.”

The event, which is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. July 4 at WAR HQ (1918 Martin Luther King Ave. SE), is being billed as “part flash mob, part street theatre, and part march … in opposition to ‘Big Brother’” by organizers on social media.

Planners have also promised to feed the demonstrators a steady diet of “relevant songs and speeches against surveillance” during the evolving ride; per online bantering, the length of the ride remains in flux (2-3 hours appears on the table), as does the ultimate destination (“possibly ending on the Mall to provide context to the fireworks and/or U street for beer”).

Ride wrangler Kymone Freeman did not respond to queries about what might pop up on the promised mix tape, so we here at HOH compiled what we believe to be an apropos playlist:

“Somebody’s Watching Me” — Rockwell

The new normal. Full story

Nebraska Zoo Likens Frisky Red Panda Pop to Strom Thurmond

Looks like Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., has let the cat red panda out of the bag:

Nebraska Zoo Likens Frisky Red Panda Pop to Strom Thurmond

(Courtesy Jeff Fortenberry)

While weighing in on the origins of Rusty, the 1-year-old red panda who took to the streets of D.C. Monday for an impromptu look-see, Fortenberry inadvertently leaked a Nebraska habitat’s nickname — “Strom Thurmond” — for the randy elder mammal from which he sprung.

John Chapo, Lincoln Children’s Zoo president and CEO, told HOH he bestowed the moniker on the furry pawed-paterfamilias, whose real name is “Disney,” for obvious reasons.

“According to the national Red Panda Species Survival Plan chair, Disney was and still is the oldest red panda male in captivity to successful sire healthy offspring at the age of 15. Before that, the oldest was 12,” Chapo explained. Full story

‘Senatorial’ Actor No Virgin to Political Roles

The lead actor in a political video caught our attention with his saucy moves as a salacious senator who strips down to his red, white and blue underwear and pole dances for a pack of lascivious lobbyists.

As it turns out, Peak Kwinarian, who plays the senator, is no virgin to political roles. Kwinarian played a deputy committee chairman in an episode of “House of Cards,” the Netflix success that stars Kevin Spacey and romanticizes the dark underbelly of Washington politics. In a recent interview, Kwinarian told HOH that was a “high pressure” gig, but said he enjoyed working with Spacey.

An advocacy group for changing the role of money in politics, Represent.Us, posted the stripping ad on YouTube recently and is currently pushing to get it on national television.

“He’s very senatorial,” video producer Randy Hackett said of Kwinarian. “He looks like that kind of classic, patrician white-haired, New England type.”

“I think we could probably get him elected if he had the right campaign managing and team,” Hackett continued.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely — and not just because of the campaign finance laws with which Represent.Us takes issue. When asked about his view on politics as a career, Kwinarian said, “Why anyone would want to be a politician in the first place is beyond me.”

A Stamford, Conn., native, Kwinarian said his conservative sensibilities on health care, gay marriage and especially unions render him uncommon in his adopted home of Manhattan. Despite his views on unions, however, he is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. “You have to be,” he clarified.

Kwinarian considered the psyche of the senator he played in the Represent.Us video and wouldn’t condemn the fictional lawmaker’s actions. “I think he’s just probably more of a victim of the environment in which he was working and living, in which maybe a lot of politicians find themselves,” he said.

Kwinarian also works for the Onion News Network, where he plays an anchor named Brandon Armstrong. In a 2008 video, Armstrong argues with the fake CEOs of major motor companies for not making flying cars. We’re not kidding.

Senatorial Actor No Virgin to Political Roles


Red (Panda) Dawn?

Brad Dayspring was momentarily baffled Tuesday morning when he peeked outside his Second Street Northeast office window and saw what appeared to be a white canopy lazily descending into D.C.:

Red (Panda) Dawn?

(Courtesy Brad Dayspring)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman, who must have secretly welcomed the temporary reprieve from having to stay glued to cable news reports about today’s special election in Massachusetts, immediately tweeted out his suspicions about a rogue parachutist — to which his followers almost unanimously responded with, “Red Dawn!”

We choose to believe it’s merely red panda Rusty‘s latest attempt to see more of his newly adopted home.

June 24, 2013

Boldin Warns Congress, POTUS About Abuses in Africa

Super Bowl XLVII winning Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, now with the San Francisco 49ers, is spending part of the off-season pressing politicians about human rights abuses in Africa, a message he shared with both sides of the Capitol during a lobbying blitz Monday.

Boldin Warns Congress, POTUS About Abuses in Africa

(Audra Melton/Oxfam America)

Boldin, who toured remote parts of Senegal earlier this spring and visited Ethiopia in 2012, came to Capitol Hill with Oxfam America in anticipation of President Barack Obama’s good-will mission to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania this week.

“You have these people who literally live on top of gold mines … and they see no benefits from it,” Boldin said about the destitute African farmers he came in contact with who’ve been displaced by natural-resource-reaping multinationals.

Boldin spent the day sharing what he had experienced with the administration, a senior aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee Chairman Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., House Appropriations Committee staff, and Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Full story

Gillibrand and Wasserman Schultz Lead Fantasy Softball

In case you live on another planet, the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game is only two short days away and the tech geniuses at CQ Roll Call have devised a Fantasy Softball version of the game so that any league aficionado can get in on the action.

The trash talk between the press and the Congress has hit a fevered clip in the past few days, as each side prepares to face off in the annual breast cancer charity fundraiser.

Disclosure: The author of this post is one of the players featured in Fantasy Softball and a co-captain of the press team.

Here are the player standings as of Monday afternoon:

1. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

2. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

3. Abby Livingston, Roll Call

4. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

5. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

6. Kasie Hunt, NBC News

7. Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

8. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

9. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

10. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii

In other softball news, Heitkamp hit up the batting cages (again) over the weekend. And Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., took part in the latest fad in Congress, working out with local softball and baseball teams. Her kitchen cabinet? The Los Angeles Dodgers’ AAA affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes.

Several weeks ago Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, practiced with Ohio State’s softball team, and the weekend before last, Wasserman Schultz picked up some tips from Florida International University’s Panthers.

As for the press team, the Bad News Babes held its annual scrimmage on Sunday evening, with players looking fierce in new uniforms.

Gillibrand and Wasserman Schultz Lead Fantasy Softball

(Courtesy Shawna Thomas/NBC News)

And CNN’s Dana Bash will join Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in the most passive-aggressive play-by-play you will ever hear.

Still need to buy tickets? Word on the street is that they are flying. Get them here.

Eye on Iowans

We’re not much for conspiracy theories here at HOH.

Eye on Iowans

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But a chance encounter on the red line with this gentleman, who bears a striking resemblance to a usually sweater-vested Hawkeye state senator (check out the T-shirt!), has persuaded us to perhaps pay a little closer attention to the anti-pod-people lobby …

New Show Mines Congress for Comedy Gold

Paging House Majority Whip Francis Underwood: There’s a new unruly player in town.

Ex-congressional aides Rob Raffety and Andrew Heaton are skewering their former employer in a new Web show dubbed “Cap South,” a comedy project chronicling the misadventures of a fictional female congresswoman and her bumbling staff.

Creator/director Raffety plans to unveil the homegrown series — set to debut on YouTube this July — a few episodes at a time (two or three per week, he said). He’ll also be fleshing out the faux workplace, which seems to echo the irreverent tone struck by HBO’s breakout hit “Veep” by mixing in “bonus features” including bogus “attack ads,” constituent phone call segments and wacky non sequiturs.

For Raffety, who spent a year in the trenches with Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., back in 2001, the show is all about playing up the organized chaos that is Congress.

“I try to explore some of the common challenges and obstacles facing the average staffer day-in and day-out and offer a comedic perspective on that very unique work environment,” he said of the “highly exaggerated version of reality” presented.

Full story

June 23, 2013

Syria-Infested Waters | Capitol Quip

Syria Infested Waters | Capitol Quip

The civil war in Syria continues to draw the international community into the fray, and it’s hard to predict what happens next. What readers do have control over, though, is what caption will go along with this week’s Capitol Quip.

Leave us 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 illustrator R.J. Matson.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Border Security Starts at Home | Capitol Quip

Border Security Starts at Home | 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.

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