Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 20, 2014

February 27, 2013

Donnelly Inspires Like a Champ

Freshman senator and Notre Dame alumnus Joe Donnelly has taken a page poster from his alma mater’s playbook, motivating his Capitol Hill staff with this wonky take on the Fighting Irish’s work ethic:

Donnelly Inspires Like a Champ

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

Elizabeth Shappell, communications director for the Indiana Democrat, told HOH that a friend presented him with the positivity-promoting placard a few years back. She said Donnelly tries to honor that challenge by maintaining a “dedication to put politics aside and work with both parties to get things done for Hoosier families.”

Donnelly is hardly, however, the first person to co-opt the 2013 BCS National Championship runner-up’s iconic credo: Full story

South Carolina Senators Grab a Slice of History

Think things are tense on Capitol Hill today, what with the back and forth over the sequester and the sniping over Cabinet nominations?

It could be worse, as HOH was reminded by this Thursday’s anniversary of the Senate’s censure of South Carolina Sens. Benjamin Tillman and John McLaurin for getting into a fistfight on the floor of the Senate.

On Feb. 22, 1902, Tillman, who carried around the nickname “Pitchfork Ben,” accused McLaurin of changing his position on a pending treaty in return for “special favors,” according to the Senate Historical Office. McLaurin wasn’t on the floor to hear Tillman’s accusation, but when he did hear about it, he headed to the chamber and said Tillman was propogating a “willful, malicious and deliberate lie.” Tillman responded by punching McLaurin (Remember, these guys, both Democrats, were home-state colleagues), which led to a “melee” on the floor.

A few days later, on Feb. 28, the Senate censured both men and adopted a rule that stated no member of the body shall  ”by any form of words impute to another Senator … any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator,” according to the historical office’s “This Week in Senate History” feature.

So a member of Congress from South Carolina on the floor of his chamber accused another public official of lying. Good to know such things are in the distant past.

February 26, 2013

Former Surgeon General Once Gave Senate a Scare

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop died Monday, prompting tributes to the 96-year-old public servant for his part in warning the nation on the risks of smoking and AIDS.

One of his last moments in the spotlight on Capitol Hill came at the height of the health care overhaul debate in November 2009, when a letter he wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was hand-delivered to Reid’s office and set off a scare.
Full story

Watts Launches Organization Devoted to Hill Diversity

Watts Launches Organization Devoted to Hill Diversity

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When former Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. served in Congress from 1995 to 2003, he couldn’t help but notice the lack of diversity, both among his colleagues and the staffers who served them.

In fact, the Republican — who was the first African-American elected to statewide office in Oklahoma — noticed that Capitol Hill was one of the least diverse places to work in the country.

On Wednesday night, a decade after leaving Capitol Hill, Watts will formally launch Insight America, an organization that will seek to increase diversity among Hill staffers.
Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 7:02 p.m.

D.C. Journalists Crack Wise

Based on the comments we read on news articles and the angry emails we’ve received in our inboxes, HOH is well aware that criticizing/heckling/hating on the media is a favorite pastime of many here in Washington.

Which makes us pretty sure that the annual Commedia dell Media event — which features 13 reporters trying their hands at stand-up comedy to raise money for charity — will be right up our readers’ alleys.

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 6:59 p.m.

North Korea Gets Basketball Diplomacy

The fate of United States diplomatic relations, at least with North Korea, could rest in the hands of former NBA star Dennis Rodman, several Harlem Globetrotters and a VICE magazine reporter, the Associated Press reports.

Last week Rodman, also known as “The Worm,” tweeted out such gems as: “Take care of your teeth people!” This week, however, the flamboyant celebrity is exercising his diplomatic chops and walking in the footsteps of illustrious diplomats, such as Ambassador Bill Richardson, by visiting one of the world’s most cloistered countries.

North Korea Gets Basketball Diplomacy

He also said he looks forward to “sitting down” with Kim Jong Un, the chief of state and apparently a fan of Rodman’s old team, the Chicago Bulls.

North Korea Gets Basketball Diplomacy
“I love the people of North Korea.” He tweeted. “They love basketball here.”

North Korea Gets Basketball Diplomacy
He also said he is honored to represent the United States. He emphatically tweeted, however, that he is no politician.

North Korea Gets Basketball Diplomacy

HOH did reach out to Richardson, a former House member and ambassador to the United Nations who has helped negotiate some tricky U.S.-North Korea situations, to see if he has any advice for Rodman and his cohorts. Unfortunately, Richardson’s office told us he is out of the country this week.

North Korea Gets Basketball Diplomacy

We, on the other hand, do have some advice for Rodman:

If you do happen to run into Psy, the “Gangnam Style dude,” it would be something spectacular. Psy is from South Korea. The two countries aren’t all that friendly, and there was recently a flurry over North Korea appropriating parts of “Gangnam Style” for propaganda. If he turns up in North Korea, be sure to alert the media!

Still, we have every faith that you, the Harlem Globetrotters and the dude from VICE will do us proud.

Have fun looking at things, guys!

Dakota Dreamed of Sequestration Solution

As sequestration continues to home in on Washington, it’s worth pointing out that the 112th Congress’ “101st Senator” — that would be Dakota, the beloved bichon frisé of ex-Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. — had calmer things in mind for the legislative branch.

According to Conrad’s chief of staff, Sara Garland, Dakota, who passed away last week, was a “calming influence on the whole office, but especially on Sen.Conrad.”

“If it had been up to Dakota, we would not be facing sequestration and we would have a balanced budget,” she told HOH in an email. “But, alas, he left us too soon.”

Dakota Dreamed of Sequestration Solution

(CQ Roll Call Staff File Photos)

Full story

February 25, 2013

Take Five With Rep. Rodney Davis

If it’s Tuesday, it’s time for another Take Five, HOH’s chance to get to know a member of Congress by asking five fun questions.

This week, freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., tells us whom he’d choose to swap lives with for one week and why his mom is an inspiration.
Full story

D.C. Gets Punk’d

Back before the presidential motorcade dared cross the boundaries of Northwest or well-to-do suburbanites would even think of traversing the river to go house hunting, D.C. belonged to a different class of people.

Some wielded spray paint. Others pounded inverted plastic buckets or raked screeching guitars. But they all had something to say about life in the 202.

Their voices reverberate throughout “Pump Me Up,” the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s retrospective on 1980s D.C. life.

The project is the culmination of decades of research and ephemera hoarding by punk-funk enthusiast Roger Gastman. The seed for the current exhibition (Feb. 23 – April 7) was planted more than a decade ago; that’s when Gastman said the Corcoran folks caught wind of his homage to D.C. graffiti (then showing at MOCA DC in Georgetown) and reached out about honoring the legacy of local tagger Cool “Disco” Dan.
Full story

Dakota, 101st Senator, Dies at Age 10

Dakota, the loyal bichon frisé of former Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., whose presence on Capitol Hill led to his nickname the “101st senator,” died Wednesday from complications of lymphoma. He was 10 years old.

Adopted by Conrad and his wife, Lucy, from a shelter in 2009, Dakota became a fan favorite on Capitol Hill among members of Congress and staffers alike. Where Conrad went, Dakota followed, often eliciting excited shrieks from passers-by and friendly pats on the head from powerful senators.
Full story

Rest in Peace, Dakota

The Senate’s best known pup, Dakota, has passed away.

Rest in Peace, Dakota

(CQ Roll Call File Photos)



Dakota, ex-Sen. Kent Conrad’s, D-N.D., beloved bichon frise, had been suffering from lymphoma for more than a year. Often referred to as the “101st Senator” during Conrad’s time in the Senate, Dakota died from complications from the disease, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

During tense negotiations, of which there were quite a few in recent years, he seemed to act as a therapy pup for stressed-out lawmakers, staff and reporters.

“He was such a jaunty, confident and happy little dog, and he was cute — he just put a smile on people’s faces,” Conrad told the Grand Forks Herald. “And so that’s how I’ll remember him.”

February 24, 2013

Capitol Quip: Best in Show

Capitol Quip: Best in Show

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 the Heard on the Hill blog. The author will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson.

John Conyers III Sounds Off

Aspiring rapper John Conyers III, the eldest son of long-standing Michigan Democrat John Conyers Jr., wants the world to know he’s done with the trifling haters who clouded his youth. And he’s spreading the good word via song and the Web.

The younger Conyers lets his critics have it on his latest track, Glorious,” a laundry list of the 20-something’s career goals recited over some jazzy horns and mellow keyboard.
Full story

Senate GOP Goes Full Shutterbug

As part of their latest attempt at social media supremacy, Senate Republicans broke the seal on a new Instagram account — with a haunting snapshot of the eerily vacant Capitol.

“It was fitting to have our first shot be taken from the Senate side of the Capitol,” Senate Republican Conference spokeswoman AshLee Strong told HOH.

Within hours of posting the sepia-filtered image of the empty, yawning corridor, the GOP account already had scores of followers on the popular mobile photo-sharing site.
Full story

Capitol Quip: All Aboard for the Caption Contest

Capitol Quip: All Aboard for the Caption Contest

Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson has submitted another image for your consideration this week. Submit your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists Wednesday to go before readers for another vote. We’ll let you know the five finalists Wednesday afternoon, and readers will have until 5 p.m. EDT, Thursday, to pick their favorite.

By Emily Ortman Posted at 7:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

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