Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 25, 2015

December 6, 2013

John McCain Saves the Day at Harris Teeter

John McCain Saves the Day at Harris Teeter

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Veteran Democrat aide Ty Matsdorf, who is typically bogged down amassing blistering opposition research, finally found something Republican to be thankful for on Friday: Sen. John McCain.


The former contributor to President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign told HOH that the Arizona Republican came to his overburdened wife’s rescue while she was out gathering groceries at the Potomac Yard Harris Teeter at 3600 S. Glebe Road in Arlington, Va.

Per Matsdorf, his mother accompanied his wife and newborn daughter to the store. But as they made their way back to the car, grandma had to rush back into the Teeter, leaving mama Matsdorf to wrestle with the bulky baby carrier, a full cart and the rain.

“As she was exiting, McCain was entering with an empty cart. Upon seeing my wife, he immediately stopped and unprompted said, ‘Let me help you,’” Matsdorf said of the kindly gesture. “My wife said ‘no, no’ but he insisted saying, ‘I know how hard it is with kids.’ He then left his empty cart, and pushed my wife’s all the way to our car, which apparently was really far away because my wife couldn’t find parking.”

Once at the car, Matsdorf said McCain even offered to help unload the groceries. But by then his mother had returned, and Team Matsdorf was able to resume control of the parenting fray.

Here’s to knights in shining armor, whatever their political stripe might be.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:11 p.m.
AwesomeSauce, Sens

Second Richest Member Bemoans Health Care Costs (Video)

Turns out Americans without employer-based health insurance might not be the only ones hit with higher insurance premiums.

Rep. Michael McCaul, Congress’ second richest member, took to the House floor this week to criticize the Affordable Care Act. The Texas Republican, with an estimated net worth of at least $114 million, said he lost his health care plan and his premiums on the D.C. Health Exchange went up significantly, impacting his family.

As the health care law rolls out for members and staffers, McCaul — who has significant investments in health insurance companies such as United Health Group and Aetna, according to his financial disclosures — wanted all to know he felt the pinch, too.

By JM Rieger Posted at 4:04 p.m.

This Year’s Most Beautiful Christmas Card

The parade of self-styled holiday greetings has officially begun. And we dare suggest that the first vanity project to cross our desk may very well win the entire season.

This Year’s Most Beautiful Christmas Card

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

For those of you not lucky enough to bask in the glory of House staffer Scott Cunningham’s Christmas correspondence, the legislative aide to Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, re-purposed his debut on this year’s “50 Most Beautiful” list by The Hill as the backdrop for his personal greeting.

“Making The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list? Easy. Sending my Christmas cards out on time? Harder than keeping the government open,” the House GOP aide quipped, referring back to the unscheduled legislative break that was Drunktober.

Cunningham’s bold maneuver (bonus points for making light of the government shutdown, what with Congress unlikely to beat reindeer poop in a public opinion poll right now) made at least one veteran Hill staffer cringe.

“That’s horrible! I’m embarrassed for them,” our source said upon learning of the recycled imagery.

Cunningham did not respond to repeated emails requesting clarification about how many cards were mailed out, or how far the insider-y missive might travel. (Outside the Beltway? All the way back to the Lone Star State?)

Others remain hard at work on the blizzard of creative messaging that blankets congressional offices around this time of year. Full story

Deutch Doesn’t Play When It Comes to Piano

As far as Rep. Ted Deutch is concerned, there’s always time to tickle the ivories.

Deutch Doesn’t Play When It Comes to Piano

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

The Florida Democrat spontaneously began playing a few bars Wednesday, following a Recording Academy briefing for lawmakers interested in intellectual property rights. As part of the advocacy effort, hit-maker Harvey Mason Jr. — who has worked with performers ranging from Aretha Franklin to Justin Bieber — treated Deutch and Reps. Judy Chu, D-Calif., John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Tom Marino, R-Pa., to a sneak preview of “Who Do You Love,” an unreleased track from Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson’s forthcoming album.

According to an HOH tipster, Deutch “stole some limelight when he gave an impromptu (and very short) riff on the keyboard.”

Not that anyone should be terribly surprised. Full story

Blackburn’s Top Aide Strikes a Pose — From the Past

It may be House staffer Mike Platt’s birthday.

Blackburns Top Aide Strikes a Pose — From the Past

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But thanks to some sneaky office mates and a mischievous spouse, anyone wandering over to the Cannon House Office Building can share in the present of a peek into his Blue Steel-y past.

The photographic tribute was posted outside Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s office door bright and early Thursday morning as a special tribute for the chief of staff’s 40th birthday.

“I was totally surprised. I had no idea they had anything like this planned,” Platt told HOH about encountering his younger, stone-faced self when he waltzed into work.

According to Platt, his family revels in recirculating the novelty shot at strategically selected times. “This lovely photo is most definitely a glamour shot,” Platt admitted via email. “I did some modeling in high school and college.” Full story

December 5, 2013

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of Dec. 2 (Video)

Amazon, Geico and high-school sports grace the House floor in HOH’s second installment of Congressional Hits and Misses.

By JM Rieger Posted at 1:39 p.m.

Lech Walesa Gets Another Day at the Capitol

A full house gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium Wednesday evening to see a new film about the life of Poland’s transformative pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa — and to hear from the man himself.

Lech Walesa Gets Another Day at the Capitol

Walesa, far left, and Dodd, far right, discuss the Cold War under gigantic images of their previous selves. (Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Poland)

The night, as does the Andrzej Wajda film that mixes archival footage with recreated scenes and some dramatic license, focused on Walesa’s rise from an electrician in the shipyard at Gdansk to the leader of the Solidarity Movement, through the fall of communism.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., told the audience about her own experience watching the events of early 1980s Poland unfold from her home in Baltimore, not long after the elation of the ascension of Poland’s native son Karol Wojtyla to be Pope John Paul II.

“As the summer went on in 1980, all of a sudden we heard something dramatic had happened in Poland. There was a strike in Gdansk shipyard. Some guy named Walesa jumped over a wall. What was going on in Poland? My sisters and I talked to each other. My mother called me,” the Maryland Democrat said. “Everybody was excited and everybody was frightened — what did this mean? Was this the beginning of a beginning, or was this an effort of gallantry, bravery and courage that could end in suppression and repression?”

Full story

Chaka Fattah Preps New Public Affairs Show

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah will add TV personality to his résumé next year, spearheading a forthcoming public access show dubbed “A Capitol Idea with Chaka Fattah.”

The half-hour, public-affairs-style program is expected to air on the Pennsylvania Cable Network beginning Jan. 19, 2014.

Chaka Fattah Preps New Public Affairs Show

(Courtesy Chaka Fattah)

Fattah taped his pilot episode on Dec. 4 on Capitol Hill, sitting down with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., for a heart-to-heart about manufacturing issues. A Fattah aide said the shows are expected to be split between a discussion with a policy/program expert and an interview with those affected by the corresponding issue.

Fattah expects to wrap the manufacturing segment next week, when he’ll bring a Philadelphia-area entrepreneur over to the House TV studio to talk business.

Debra Anderson, Fattah’s deputy chief of staff, told HOH the plan is to devote at least one episode to each of the congressman’s core priorities, a list that includes neuroscience, college preparatory programs, expanding cooperatives and youth mentoring.

“It’s just a different way to get the message out,” Anderson said of Fattah’s ongoing multimedia outreach. Full story

December 4, 2013

Def-Con 5 Captions | Capitol Quip

Def Con 5 Captions | 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:

  • The hard part is trying to cover your behind!
  • How long, do ya’ think, until the voters signal the all clear?
  • Is this Mutually Assured Democracy?
  • The silence is deafening!
  • All safe to come out and resume fundraising now!

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 6:25 p.m.
Capitol Quip

House Oversight Web Pages Snub Dems

Far be it from us to tell de facto GOP bloodhound Rep. Darrell Issa of California how to conduct his professional affairs, but it would seem he needs to haul at least one more individual before his truth-seeking panel: whoever dropped the ball on maintaining an accurate committee website.

It would appear that Issa, who has used his power as head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to mercilessly grill administration officials about virtually everything, does not demand that same level of full transparency or accountability from his own staff — at least when it applies to dealing with the Democrats on the panel.

Although she was sworn in to office eight months ago and currently serves on various oversight panels, Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who won a special election to replace recently imprisoned former lawmaker Jesse L. Jackson Jr., remains conspicuously absent from various rosters, including:

House Oversight Web Pages Snub Dems


the full committee, Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:33 p.m.
Freshman, HillSide, Reps

Reps, Wizards Christen Horton’s Kids Hoops

“Do y’all know how to shoot any hoops out here in Ward 8?” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., asked the crowd gathered to cut the ribbon on the newly refurbished outdoor basketball court at the Horton Kid’s Community Resource Center.

Norton, along with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., both congressional hoopsters, were on hand Tuesday evening to celebrate the court’s reopening, a project funded by Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation — a charitable wing of the Washington Wizards organization — and the Hoops for Youth Foundation.

Wizards Otto Porter Jr. and Jan Vesely attended as well as Wizards/Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.

Reps, Wizards Christen Hortons Kids Hoops

Back row from left, Norton, Vesely and Porter helped christen the refurbished court. (Courtesy Horton’s Kids)

Brenda Chamberlain, the executive director of Horton’s Kids, said the court will be put to good use. “This court gets used by hundreds of kids every day,” she said. Full story

The Post-Thanksgiving Judiciary Committee Gobbledy-Glock | Madisonville

The Post Thanksgiving Judiciary Committee Gobbledy Glock | MadisonvilleThe House Judiciary Committee this week sounded like the living room after Thanksgiving dinner. After loading up on turkey and stuffing, family members moved to the comfortable chairs and fell into familiar roles.  Americans travel far for the once-a-year chance to hear deranged in-laws and peculiar cousins vent. Judiciary decided the country wanted more of it in the week after Thanksgiving.

Republicans and Democrats tried beforehand to rein things in by promising to discuss the president’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. But Uncle Robert W. Goodlatte, the GOP host from Virginia, dropped any pretense of even-handedness by immediately telling everybody the president not only wasn’t executing the laws, he was personally leading the gang breaking them.

The Post Thanksgiving Judiciary Committee Gobbledy Glock | Madisonville

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Uncle Bob cited Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and Federalist Paper 47. He brought some neighbors in to back him up, and, in an upping of the Thanksgiving ante, put them under oath. The four neighbors’ collective publications and appearances on TV must have added up to thousands. So Uncle Bob thought he had conquered the living room right there. Full story

Greek Chefs Invade Congress

As part of a push to promote the Hellenic diet, the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building will be transformed into a “Mediterranean festival of feasting” Wednesday evening, featuring exotic foodstuffs prepared by headline-grabbing Greek chefs.

The “Greek Diet Goes to Congress” demo is scheduled to take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Embassy of Greece arranged for the invite-only festivities in conjunction with Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairmen Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., and New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley.

“The Omega Diet” author Dr. Artemis Simopoulos is the headliner for the cultural exchange and he will be accompanied by a number of telegenic toques from all over. Some of those who’ll come bearing edible gifts include: Food Network personality Cat Cora, Zaytinya chef Michael Costa, local restaurateur Mike Isabella, Kapnos chef de cuisine George Pagonis and healthy eating advocate Katerina Stai.

A Think Food Group aide said Team Zaytinya would be serving olive oil-poached salmon with smoked walnut skordalia and pomegranate, as well as kale dolmades filled with butternut squash, pine nuts, short grain rice and parsley.

A spokeswoman for Isabella said the “Top Chef” alumnus was planning to woo tasters with marinated shrimp with fennel and grapefruit, melitzanosalata (featuring smokey eggplant, roasted peppers, walnuts, feta) and fava (yellow lentils, squash, spinach, pearl onions).

An embassy aide said Stai, who mostly works on kid-friendly eats, plans to dish out a modified pumpkin pie mixed with feta and wrapped in phyllo dough, and melomarakona — traditional holiday cookies fashioned from sugar, olive oil, honey, chopped walnuts, orange juice and cinnamon.

“This event will show that eating healthier doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor,” Simopoulous said in a release announcing the inaugural culinary extravaganza.

‘Tis the Season for Heckling at Capitol Tree Lighting?

From the minute Speaker John A. Boehner began his address at the Capitol Christmas tree lighting on Tuesday evening, his words were washed out by the chants of dozens of immigration advocates.

Tis the Season for Heckling at Capitol Tree Lighting?

Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, Giovanni Philip Gaynor, 6, of Colville, Wash., and Boehner are pictured shortly after they lit the Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Front. The 88-foot Engelmann spruce was harvested from the Colville National Forest in Washington state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“All I want for Christmas is reform,” the demonstrators yelled. Ironically, news broke earlier in the day of Boehner’s hiring of Becky Tallent to be his new immigration policy director, a move widely regarded as showing the speaker’s willingness to pursue immigration legislation.

Despite the distraction, Boehner plowed through to talk about the Christmas season, and the 88-foot Engelmann spruce did, indeed, light up.

Capitol Police estimated the crowd to be about 1,000 guests on an unseasonably warm December day.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., was scheduled to lend comments before Boehner’s official address but canceled on Sunday after giving birth to her third child.

Fellow Washingtonians Reps. Jim McDermott and Doc. Hastings helped introduce the speaker.

By Anna Giaritelli Posted at 10:59 a.m.

December 3, 2013

Whose District Is It Anyway?

The first years after the decennial redistricting can be confusing for everyone. Case in point? Consider the situation of our CQ Roll Call colleague Frank Oliveri, a Bronx, N.Y., native who was talking Tuesday with Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., about the weekend’s deadly Metro North train crash.

Whose District Is It Anyway?

Rangel, who knows his new district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rangel told Oliveri he was surprised that the train lacked automatic breaks. The two proceeded to the House subway and were joined by another New York Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler. Rangel informed Nadler, as he had told Oliveri moments before, that the crash happened in Rangel’s district.

“Serrano told me it was in his district,” Nadler said, referring to another New York Democrat, Rep. José E. Serrano.

“Well, he’s wrong,” Rangel said.

“Redistricting,” Nadler said.

“Redistricting,” Rangel said.

And the train went down the line.


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