Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

May 23, 2013

Ruffing It While Riding the Rails

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers want Amtrak to drop — Drop it. … OK, now roll over. Good boy! — its restrictions against packing pets onto trains, calling on the commuter line to allow four-legged friends equal passage across America.

An aide to California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham said the pet-loving pol and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials came up with his Pets on Trains Act plan following months of conversations with Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, passenger advocates and members of the Humane Society of the United States.

“It was just sort of, at the end of the day, just common sense,” Denham spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said of the proposal.

Ruffing It While Riding the Rails

(Courtesy Rep. Jeff Denham)

The plan would allow Denham to include his precious Lily, an 18-month-old French bulldog he gifted to his wife, Sonia, a little more than a year ago, in future train trips.

Full story

May 22, 2013

White House De-Tours Get Under Way | Capitol Quip

White House De Tours Get Under Way | Capitol Quip

The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are all set. 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:

  • “I heard about this tour on FOX News. It’s supposed to be GREAT!”
  • “Anything new on that phony birth certificate?”
  • “Our favorite guide is called Miss Information: will she be leading a tour today?”
  • “I see three ‘gates,’ but where’s the White House Entrance Gate?!”
  • “Bet they wish they kept the White House tours open!”

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog May 28 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 6:08 p.m.
Capitol Quip

#WallabyWednesday! for Team @RobPortman

Apparently the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium didn’t get the memo that Congress is already a zoo without its assistance.

The result? Staffers for Buckeye State lawmakers got to hang with wallabies, flamingos and lynx. (Lynxes? Lynxi? HOH is unclear how to pluralize such an animal.) And staffers for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, appear to have had a particularly good time. Portman’s communications team — new to Instagram — posted photos of their afternoon animal timeout in the Rayburn House Office Building basement. In the process, Jeff Sadosky and Caitlin Dunn are sure to have created the next viral Internet sensation: #WallabyWednesday. Like Seersucker Thursday, but less annoying.

Here is a photo of a lynx, brought by the Columbus Zoo to raise awareness about conservation efforts, on a conference table:

#WallabyWednesday! for Team @RobPortman

More pictures after the jump.

Full story

Mo’s Bows — Senator’s Staff Ties One On

Talk about team spirit! Sen. William “Mo” Cowan, D-Mass., and his staff all shared in the senator’s sartorial tastes for a team photo Wednesday, with everyone donning Cowan’s signature style, the bow tie.

Mos Bows — Senators Staff Ties One On

(Courtesy Sen. William “Mo” Cowan)

While the House has Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., flying the flag for bow ties, the Senate hasn’t had a regular bow-tie champion since the late Sens. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., retired.

May 21, 2013

Jeff Duncan: Scan and Deliver

Rep. Jeff Duncan prides himself on being as social-media accessible as possible. Just ask any of the tech-savvy constituents (or envious lawmakers) who’ve stumbled on the QR code affixed to his official nameplate.

Jeff Duncan: Scan and Deliver

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Spokesman Allen Klump said the South Carolina Republican was the driving force behind the smartphone-friendly tag, a digital welcome mat that’s been part of the office’s outreach for about a year now. When scanned, the QR code automatically imports to your device the congressman’s contact info, including office phone number, address, official website and a staff-monitored email address.

“He gets it. He’s a tech guy,” Klump said of Duncan’s desire to engage with people across every available platform. Full story

Toasting the U.N. Risk Takers

If you are planning to tie one one for Hump Day anyway, at least stumble over to the Thank a Peacekeeper reception happening in the Rayburn House Office Building and bend the elbow with a purpose Wednesday night.

“Please join us in raising a glass in honor of United Nations peacekeepers and leading troop contributing countries with drinks and special foods from around the world,” reads the invite to the third-annual reception, scheduled to take place 5:30-7 p.m. in Rayburn B-369.

An event organizer assured HOH that all are welcome, but requested that interested parties RSVP to all the same.

Democratic Reps. Karen Bass of California and Jim McDermott of Washington will join Edmond Mulet, U.N. assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, and Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, in saying a few words about ongoing humanitarian efforts. Full story

Softball: Susan Davis Gets Stitches, Likely Out for Season

Rep. Susan A. Davis, D-Calif., injured her hand so severely last week at softball practice that her ability to play in her team’s big game on June 26 is in question.

The injury, sources say, was a bit of a freak accident. It occurred when she was taking batting practice from one of the team’s coaches. She now sports six stitches in her right hand.

Davis is a part of the female members’ team that takes on a team of female Washington reporters each June. The fierce rivalry raises money for the Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer charity.

“My staff is proud that I have my first sports injury,” Davis said through a spokesman on Tuesday. “I look forward to seeing the new members of Congress take on the press this June.”

Tickets for the game can be purchased here. The team rosters can be viewed here.

Disclosure: The author of this post is a co-captain of the Bad News Babes, the press team.

Coons Is Sweet on Franken

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken can’t say nothing good ever comes of attending a Senate Judiciary Committee markup.

Coons Is Sweet on Franken

(Courtesy C-SPAN)

While the rest of the committee tended to trimming the immigration legislation tree, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., gifted his neighboring panelist with a birthday cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop to help commemorate his special day.

“He enjoys sitting next to him … and it was a quick little way to make his friend smile,” a Coons aide said of the lighthearted exchange.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., was apparently so moved he dubbed Coons a “sweetie pie.”

Inadvertent C-SPAN Humor: ‘House Fishing Downstream’

Sometimes, C-SPAN can just be inadvertently funny, and we don’t even know why.

Take, for example, something we spotted across our office Tuesday as the House was grinding out legislation under suspension of the rules: “U.S. House | Fishing Downstream From Certain Dams.”

Inadvertent C SPAN Humor: House Fishing Downstream

This was funny to us, for some reason.  (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Congress Learns to Love Hip-Hop

Maybe it’s hip to be square? Or maybe it’s hip to be hop? At any rate, lately Congress seems to have embraced popular culture generally and hip-hop specifically.

Or maybe it’s simply that 30-something members of Congress, cats who came of age in the 1990s, are just being true to their great musical past.

As in most things in the world of hip-hop, there are the true emcees and there are wannabes.

For example, there is Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., who used to be a battle emcee. His communications director, Blake Johnson, was once a music industry intern who embarrassed himself in front of Jay-Z. Full story

KISS or Dead Presidents — Decisions, Decisions

Would you rather decapitate the Founding Fathers …

KISS or Dead Presidents — Decisions, Decisions


Or suck on something fished out of Gene Simmons’ windpipe?

May 20, 2013

Aloha, Mr. Smith: Sean Penn Goes to the House

Aloha, Mr. Smith: Sean Penn Goes to the House

Penn, left, and Smith. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Human rights activist and actor Sean Pean greets Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., at the top of Monday’s House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations hearing on the plight of Jacob Ostreicher, a Brooklyn native being detained abroad in Bolivia.

GW Athletics: Only the House Side of the Capitol Matters

GW Athletics: Only the House Side of the Capitol Matters

(Courtesy George Washington University)


Sad day for George Washington University Law School alum/Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (or something): A rendering of the school’s new basketball court includes an image of the Capitol — but not the Senate side!

Of course, no one has cared about GW basketball since Pops Mensah-Bonsu and that time people accidentally won brackets in 2006 thinking that “George Mason” was the same as “George Washington.” But no matter. Senators feel snubbed over everything, and with all the Colonials crawling around the Capitol, HOH is sure there will be enough “the upper chamber got usurped by the White House!” snark to go around.

Truth be told, this reporter is a big basketball fan, has actually been to multiple GW basketball games (not suggested to attend a game on Greek Day) and thinks the court is pretty cool.

Per the school’s press release, GW was created in 1821 through an act of Congress and everyone is stoked about running and sweating all over the Washington Monument, White House and two-thirds of the Capitol.

“After our graduating students and student-athletes enjoyed their Commencement ceremony on the National Mall yesterday, unveiling this spectacular new floor design today further emphasizes our campus setting in the heart of D.C.,” Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero said in the statement. “When people around the world are watching our games, we want them to immediately recognize and understand the university’s unique setting in the middle of the action in this world-class city.”

Meanwhile, Georgetown students still will be left to struggle to figure out how to use public transportation from the Verizon Center downtown to their campus in far Northwest.

Take Five: Sen. Christopher S. Murphy

It’s time again for Take Five, HOH’s opportunity to get to know a member of Congress better through five fun questions. This week, Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., discusses Senate hazing rituals, pizza and memories of Tom Petty.

Take Five: Sen. Christopher S. Murphy

Murphy is the youngest current senator. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Q. How does it feel to be the youngest current senator? [Murphy turns 40 on Aug. 3.]

A. Once you get beyond all the hazing, the wedgies and the wet willies, it’s not a bad position to be in. It certainly perks up the ears of kids in the room [in my district] when I tell them I’m the youngest member of the Senate. Full story

Tea Partyers to IRS: Prepare to Be Flash-Mobbed

In the wake of revelations that IRS officials unduly targeted right-leaning groups, a number of tea party supporters plan to publicly shame the tax man by amassing outside the agency’s headquarters on Tuesday for a lightning-fast gripefest.

Tea Partyers to IRS: Prepare to Be Flash Mobbed


The proposed “IRS Flash Rally” — “We will NOT have a permit, so be prepared to keep moving on the sidewalk,” one of the organizers counseled online — is scheduled to go down at the corner of 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest from noon to 1 p.m.

Tea Party WDC founder Lisa Miller told HOH she’s been in contact with a slew of sympathetic organizations champing at the bit to vent about IRS abuses, ranging from established political players (Americans for Prosperity) to fellow grass-roots entities (Northern Virginia Tea Party, Alexandria Tea Party).

Full story

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