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

February 28, 2013

Life on Mars With Congress

If Sen. Patrick J. Toomey ever gets to Mars, he is willing to take his epicurean chances.

During a floor speech Thursday, the Pennsylvania Republican lamented the impending effect of the sequester on the Federal Aviation Administration’s coffers. He then outlined what he said are several examples of wasteful programs that should be cut, instead of allowing the sequester’s blunt approach.

“We spend money for a cowboy poetry festival,” Toomey said. “And a million dollars for taste-testing foods to be served on Mars.”

Full story

Kinzinger’s Kegerator Mystery

It’s been a long day. Votes have been cast. Emails have been sent. Finally, it’s beer o’clock.

Most House and Senate members and staffers have to reach into the office mini-fridge to pass around a long-neck bottle, or else they have to throw on their coats and make the multiblock trek to the nearest bar for a draft.

Unless, of course, you’re Rep. Adam Kinzinger and his Longworth Office staff.
Full story

Friday Is End of the Line for Union Station Barnes & Noble

A day before its Union Station outpost permanently shuts the doors, Barnes & Noble Inc. reported earnings dragged down by promotional allowances and touted its e-reader’s ability to pull traffic into brick-and-mortar stores.

Too late, it appears, for the Union Station store.

According to the report, the book retailer’s consolidated revenues for the quarter ending Jan. 23 were $2.2 billion, which shows an 8.8 percent decrease as compared with last year’s figures.

Employees at the doomed Capitol Hill bookstore told HOH that they were not allowed to comment on their store’s imminent closure.

“We’re not allowed to say anything about it,” the manager said.

“Same thing happened at Georgetown,” another employer chimed in from behind the counter, where a magazine holder was chock-full of last month’s copy of The Atlantic.

Full story

The Stars Fall in ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

The main problem with playing a pol in Hollywood is the whole topsy-turvy power structure.

Take the looming perps-invade-1600-Penn thriller “Olympus Has Fallen”:

One-time fake POTUS Morgan Freeman — he shouldered the load of a doomed Earth as President Beck in “Deep Impact” — drops down the political food chain to be House Speaker Martin Trumbull in this outing. Both roles, of course, are a step down from ruling all creation in “Bruce Almighty.” Full story

February 27, 2013

Landrieu Gets ‘Stuck’

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., heads to Decatur House on Thursday to help host an event launching a publicity tour for “Stuck,” a new documentary film about international adoption. Landrieu is a founder of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Care Caucus. She adopted her two children domestically. Her husband, Frank Snellings, was adopted from Ireland by his family when he was 5.

Full story

Reid ‘Unchained’

Leave it to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a movie buff, to bring up Hollywood during a ceremony honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

At the Wednesday morning unveiling of a likeness of Parks in Statuary Hall — the first statue of an African-American woman in the Capitol — the Nevada Democrat mentioned the Academy Award-winning films “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained” during his dedication remarks.

“Two of the best motion pictures this year were nominated for Academy Awards, ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Django Unchained,’ … cinematic treatments of the legacy of our nation’s darkest institution: slavery. One film presents an unvarnished view of the evils of slavery. The other depicts our difficult journey to end slavery,” Reid said.
Full story

Sequester Yourself at Tunnicliff’s

While everyone else is sweating the anticipated horrors of swollen airport security lines, paycheck-depleting furloughs and every other conceivable service disruption known to man, Tunnicliff’s Tavern is offering a silver lining in the sequester saga: extended happy hour.
Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 6:50 p.m.

Troubles Visit the Folger’s Exhibit

A current exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library that aims to highlight Irish-English relations in the 16th and 17th centuries as “more than a binary story of oppressor and oppressed,” has received strong criticism from a top Irish scholar in Washington.

Cóilín Owens, professor emeritus at George Mason University, had some harsh words for the curators of the new exhibit in a letter sent to the Irish Embassy in Washington, the two exhibit curators and the Folger Shakespeare Library itself. Owens’ letter, however, was leaked to, a website aimed at the global Irish diaspora, igniting some unintended media controversy.
Full story

Mike Lee’s Sequester Swap-O-Rama

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee has taken to social media to build his case for what he considers are more sensible spending cuts, prodding taxpayers to weigh in on the potentially devastating sequestration rollbacks by advocating to #CutThisNotThat.

Lee and his staff have spent the better part of the day pitching various “A or B” policy prescriptions via Twitter and Facebook. Those efforts have included deriding “free government cell phones” in favor of border security, demanding a halt to food testing by the space program to salvage teachers’ salaries and this patriotic nonequivalence:

Mike Lee’s Sequester Swap O Rama

(Courtesy Sen. Mike Lee)

To be fair, we’ve never heard of roving bands of destitute individuals invigorating local economies with wanton spending sprees.

Now, drunken sailors …

Capitol Quip: Riding That Train …

Capitol Quip: Riding That Train ...

Here are the five finalists for this week’s caption contest. Now it’s your turn to vote.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

• “Hold still. It’s a tie.”

• “Watch out! My brakes are bad from the last time!”

• “My poll numbers say one of you has to move.”

• “It’s the Great Train Wreck.”

• “This ain’t no photo-op!”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog March 4 and in that 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 5:58 p.m.
Capitol Quip

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.

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