Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

February 10, 2014

Chewing on Beto O’Rourke’s Snacking Habits

Rep. Beto O’Rourke is a brave man. And not just because he’s open to rolling around town on public transportation, which he did late last week.


The Texas Democrat wowed us by broadcasting his love for a certain guilty pleasure: Thin Mints.



Around midday on Feb. 7, O’Rourke interrupted his #BusingwithBeto adventure to stock up on the controversial confection.

Within minutes of the casual disclosure, the social-media-sphere passed judgment on O’Rourke’s shopping selection:


Full story

Overheard: Phil Roe’s Hands-On Politicking

“I am an OB-GYN doctor. And I delivered most of my own voters.”

– Physician-turned-Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., shares the secret to breeding loyal constituents with Heritage Action’s Conservative Policy Summit

Libertarian Conference Lands Pols, Conspiracy Theorists and Comics

The 2014 International Students for Liberty Conference is rolling into town for a weekend (Feb. 14-16) celebration of freedom, information-sharing and spirited discussion.

The annual gathering attracts students from around the globe but typically features homegrown speakers and performers who share the same passion for living sans restrictions. House Republicans Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky are scheduled to address the youth-oriented gathering, as are Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone, veteran newsman John Stossel and former Hill-staffer-turned-comedian Andrew Heaton.

Heaton, who made light of the congressional grind as bumbling Chief of Staff Elliot Clarice in the satirical Web series “Cap South,” has been tapped to do standup on Saturday night.

“The federal government is a large, slow-moving target, much like a solitary buffalo on opioids. I’ll be whacking at that some,” he told HOH of his plans for the gathering. But Heaton noted that his material is much broader than what’s typically wrong with Capitol Hill.

“First, I’m not particularly mean-spirited by nature, so I’d rather make fun of concepts than people,” Heaton said of his big-picture approach to joke writing. Sure, he might lay into Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for getting all, well, Biden-y (“He strikes me as a genuinely likable person whom I’d happily get drunk with,” Heaton said), but Heaton would rather keep things more “conceptual.”

Plus, he can’t count on every audience being as inside baseball as those of us who live and die by C-SPAN.

“Since Saturday will be a group of international students, there’s no guarantee they would pick up on Chuck Schumer references or gems about Sheila Jackson Lee,” Heaton said, referring to New York’s senior Democratic senator and the Texas Democratic House member.

Not that he’s letting that stop him from putting the finishing touches on a new book of political humor — “Laughter Is Better Than Communism” — that he plans to unveil at the conference.

“Hopefully a few of the scholars will read it and further irritate their professors!”  he quipped.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:27 a.m.
DC, Hollyweird, Reps

February 9, 2014

The Immigration Bobsled | Capitol Quip


Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was all set to make a run at an immigration overhaul, releasing principles for going forward. Then his Republican colleagues started to weigh in. That 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 Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

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

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

It’s a Long Way Down | 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.

February 7, 2014

Paul Gosar’s Love for Legislation He Voted Against

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama signed the long-awaited farm bill into law Friday, prompting the traditional outpouring of congressional press releases. But among the digital back-pattings was one carefully worded missive that lauded Obama for signing provisions of Rep. Paul Gosar’s wildfire prevention legislation into law — even though Gosar voted against the final bill.

“When it comes to wildfires, 2013 wasn’t a good year, which is why I’m especially proud that the majority of my wildfire prevention legislation was signed into law today,” Gosar stated. Full story

McCain Says Costas ‘Didn’t Know What the Hell He Was Talking About’ With Putin

Sen. John McCain is no fan of a report about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in bringing the Winter Olympics to Sochi, Russia, that aired on NBC Thursday.

“Bob Costas ought to stick to sports because he obviously didn’t know what the hell he was talking about,” the Arizona Republican told Fox News of the host of NBC’s Olympics coverage.

“This is being recorded, senator,” quipped Fox News host Neil Cavuto.

Full story

Hardcore History, Hardcore Price

A city of iconic monuments and architecture, Washington, D.C., is known for historic sites — and now you can own one, though it is lesser known.

On Dec. 13, 1980, Minor Threat, a seminal D.C. hardcore band, played its first show at 1929 Calvert St. NW. The eight bedroom, seven bathroom Victorian townhouse is on the market for $2.09 million.

Located in the Kalorama neighborhood, the house has been divided up into four luxury two bedroom apartments, according to the Long and Foster listing.

But the place should probably be turned into a museum. Also on the bill that night was The Bad Brains, S.O.A. and a few other D.C. bands that had taken the baton from ’70s punk rock and launched a thriving music scene in the District.

(Screenshot courtesy Pinterest)

(Screenshot Pinterest)

After breaking up in 1983, Ian MacKaye, Minor Threat’s lead singer, went on to found Fugazi. He also founded Dischord Records with drummer Jeff Nelson.

Minor Threat guitarist Brian Baker went on to play with Junkyard, The Meatmen, Dag Nasty, Government Issue and now plays with Bad Religion.

The Bad Brains is a legendary D.C. hardcore band formed in 1977 and famous for playing fast songs, but also for its reggae numbers.

S.O.A, short for State of Alert, was Henry Rollins’ first band. Back then he was known as Henry Garfield. A District native, Rollins later went on to be the lead singer of L.A. hardcore band Black Flag before embarking on a solo career and eventually branching into acting.

Hollywood Producer/Charlie Sheen Foe ‘Mulling’ Run for Waxman Seat

Add television executive producer Chuck Lorre to the group of entertainment people jokingly giving a look at running for Congress in west Los Angeles.

The seat’s incumbent, Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman, announced his retirement in late January. The district represents Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu. As a result, California’s 33rd is home to many movie stars and Hollywood players.

Lorre announced on Thursday that he is “mulling the congressional seat.” The comments came in the form of a “vanity card” he writes at the end of each of his television program episodes. This one flashed up on Thursday after an episode of “The Big Bang Theory”:

I’m also mulling the congressional seat recently opened by the retirement of Henry Waxman. Again, I think my complete lack of experience is a selling point. I’m also a big fan of incompetent government, as the overly organized ones tend to put people like me on trains to Poland. For this elective office I’m thinking I need a campaign slogan that alienates no one. Something along the lines of, “Send me to Congress and watch what happens!”

Full story

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Feb. 3 (Video)

Members will stop at nothing to explain drunken fishing trips, Nordstrom’s return policy, why kids do drugs and how water is made. HOH condenses hours of content into five and a half minutes of the past week’s best and worst.

Meditation Museum Wants to Help the Politically Connected Unwind

Keeping the trains running on Capitol Hill is, by all accounts, a high-stress gig.

Which is why the Meditation Museum thinks it’s so important congressional operatives learn to cope with the pressure rather than allowing work to derail their mental well-being.

The spiritual center (8236 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, Md.) is hosting a free workshop on Feb. 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., geared specifically to those who work in government.  The “Don’t Get Mad, Get Wise” program delves into anger management techniques, involves group problem-solving exercises and comes to a close with some light meditation.

“We do it almost every other month because people like it,” a Meditation Museum aide said of the semi-regular self-improvement lessons. The group routinely cycles through a series of core issues, including bolstering self-esteem, learning tolerance, fostering cooperation and heightening decision-making skills.

The workshops are, by design, strictly nonpartisan and do not require prior training in meditation. “We focus on mindful breathing … and have some guided meditation commentary,” the aide said of the low-key program.

Does the thought of commuting to the Maryland ‘burbs make your blood boil?




The Meditation Museum has developed a free smartphone app (“Pause for Peace”) designed to help users carve out a little me-time from hectic schedules.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:27 a.m.
Drama, Interns, Reps, Sens, Staffers

February 6, 2014

Rogue Cartographer Attempts to Cheer Up Everyone

Lest anyone on Capitol Hill worry that abysmal congressional approval ratings (13 percent as of last month ) mean that most of the country loathes #ThisTown and those who make their living here, just know that someone out there is still rooting for you.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

A mystery editor tacked this pumpkin-colored pick-me-up to the street map posted just outside the Russell Senate Office Building.

So, you’ve got that going for you.

February 5, 2014

Pick From These 5 to Score Obama’s Olympic Jump | 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:

  • It’s all downhill from here.
  • Different hill, same bindings.
  • After I do this, watch me ace the Poll Vault!
  • Where’s Eddie the Eagle when you need him?
  • I don’t think I can medal with only a phone and a pen!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sunday 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 4:52 p.m.
Capitol Quip

(The Legend of) Capitol Hill Fox Lives On!

Dead. Alive. Zombified.

Who knows what to believe when it comes to the state of the Capitol Hill Fox?

View Capitol Hill Fox sightings in a larger map

Following a roller-coaster ride of a day when dozens of CHF fans flooded the HOH inbox with bulletins about the alarming mass of fur and bones clumped together alongside Interstate 395 North just near the Capitol, one true believer has come forth to squelch all the eulogizing.

“I saw the Fox this morning during a run on Hains Point under the 14th St. Bridge,” a tipster announced via Twitter.

It’s not the first time someone has reported spying the fox by Ohio Drive Southwest, but it’s certainly the most inspirational.

“We can all rejoice!” our ecstatic exerciser proclaimed.

The latest sighting appears to fly in the face of the CHF’s online persona. Full story

House Judiciary’s Easy Come, Easy Go Eavesdropping Hearing | Madisonville

The House Judiciary Committee has become even more captivating since it last made the Madisonville news, in the days after Thanksgiving.  Members got together Tuesday to consider changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which the Obama administration is gathering data on every American’s phone calls and emails with the help of a FISA court that doesn’t like to give “no” for an answer.

At least some members got together for that purpose. Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen wasn’t one of them. He wanted to welcome a special group and the enthusiasm in his voice made the listener momentarily think the Rockettes might be in the room, or at least an a cappella group from Memphis, somebody to lighten the mood of the hearing. Cohen offered instead members of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner was there to remind everybody that Congress still has members who think the place has something to do with legislation. Sensenbrenner can also growl, telling the administration official that the government is misusing the authority Congress gave it and its actions are about to result in the loss of that authority altogether.

Intelligence officials are gathering the phone and email data because they see everybody as a security risk and want to have evidence available in case a crime is committed. The administration says it listens to the actual calls and reads the emails only when it really, really, really needs to. And when, as Virginia Democrat Robert C. Scott slyly pointed out, an intelligence worker wants to spy on a love interest.

California Republican Darrell Issa thinks his calls should qualify for scrutiny, although apparently not because of anybody he is dating. Let’s say I talked to somebody in Lebanon, who talked to somebody in Lebanon, who talked to somebody in Lebanon, who talked to somebody in Lebanon, who talked to somebody in Lebanon, Issa started. (The deputy attorney general who testified must have hoped this would keep going for Issa’s full five minutes.)

Issa eventually got to the point that he’s worthy of surveillance if the person at the end of his phone tree was a terrorist. This is Issa’s idea of being caught with a smoking gun. Worth noting is Issa’s chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson brought up Osama bin Laden, calling him one of the top five leaders of al-Qaida. Johnson notes this in a tone usually associated with a listing of the meanest guys in professional wrestling or the best greasy-spoon restaurants in Washington.  The listener had to poke himself to remember who bin Laden was, given that he’s been dead almost three years running now.

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