Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 5, 2015

February 7, 2014

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?

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

 

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.

Satirist Mines ‘Mean Girls’-GOP Connection

TV scriptwriter and social media maven Nina Bargiel is completely mystified by what our elected leaders are up to these days.

(Courtesy Nina Bargiel)

(Courtesy Nina Bargiel)

Still, she’s hoping to crack the code by utilizing what appears to be a near universal translator for modern politics: “Mean Girls.”

Yep, the cult comedy about vindictive high schoolers that’s sparked thousands — nay, millions! — of BuzzFeed contributions continues to find new life in the battle to better comprehend the day-to-day lunacy that transpires on Capitol Hill.

(Courtesy Nina Bargiel)

(Courtesy Nina Bargiel)

Bargiel — who said said she originally envisioned applying her love of language to speech-writing, only to be lured by the bright lights of Hollywood (she’s helped pen several hit kids’ shows including the Disney Channel’ s “Lizzie McGuire,” Nickelodeon’s “Romeo!” and Cartoon Network’s “Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”), launched her Mean GOP platform shortly after the new year.

Her fascination with our fractured government, however, has been a long time coming.

“I’ve become incredibly interested in politics since the George W. Bush presidency on,” she said of the psychosocial shock and awe she experienced during the previous decade. Full story

February 4, 2014

Foreign Affairs Committee Crew Coalesces Around Winter Olympics

Members of the usually combative Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday buried the hatchet long enough to rally behind the U.S. Olympic team.

In our opinion, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., took the gold in terms of expressing his enthusiasm about the upcoming action in Sochi, Russia:

Full story

Today’s Congressional Special: Grasshopper Soup

No word on whether the unsuspecting House staffer who got served an apparently insect-laden cup of soup whilst dining Tuesday in a congressional cafeteria leaped right out of his/her chair. But we’ve got to imagine the meal-time surprise did not sit well.

(Courtesy Cloture Club)

(Courtesy Cloture Club)

HOH attempted to touch base with the undoubtedly shocked party, but has not yet successfully contacted the individual who fished what certainly looks to be a deceased grasshopper from the depths of a Restaurant Associates-supplied repast. It’s not even clear which eatery dished out the offensive sustenance, as some rumor mongers insist the blame belongs to cooks in the Rayburn, while others maintain that the horror show happened in Longworth’s cafeteria.

Regardless, the phenomenon quickly spilled over onto social media and congressional listserves, as fellow aides shared the gross-out pic across Twitter and the House intranet.

Restaurant Associates did not respond to email queries concerning the suspect lunch offering. The congressional caterer has run up against some interesting issues as of late, including engaging in less-than-appetizing shop talk and brazenly flouting food labeling rules.

Conspiracy Theories Swirl Concerning Fate of Capitol Hill Fox

The sullen-sounding updates began trickling in just as the morning rush hour shifted into high gear.

A few tipsters seemed unwilling to jump to any soul-crushing conclusions, but many feared the absolute worst: The Capitol Hill Fox might have been dispatched to that great, big grassy Capitol complex in the sky.


View Capitol Hill Fox sightings in a larger map

“Bad news. Driving in this morning I passed a recently killed fox on the House 295 exit ramp about 200 yards before the tunnel,” a source shared post-commute.

The death notices snowballed from there, with some spotters left reeling (“Today sucks,” one heartbroken gent declared) while others attempted to rationalize the hurt away.

“I think there is actually a whole family of foxes that live on the East Potomac golf course,” began one starry-eyed optimist, only to come to grips with the CHF’s likely demise midstream by calculating that any Hains Point dwellers were unlikely to “come into the city.”

HOH witnessed the matted mound of blood-stained fur strewn outside the Third Street tunnel while driving into work as well, but was unable to conduct a CSI-style deconstruction due to the briskly flowing traffic.

While never prone to panic, the only rational choices were to accept that the CHF might truly be gone — say it ain’t so, @CapitolHillFox! — or buy into the National Park Service’s preposterous position that there are MULTIPLE foxes living among us.

As the walls of reality continued crashing down around us, HOH began wondering whether foul play may have entered into the equation.

Sure enough, a potential enemies list soon came into sharper focus. Full story

Lorenzo Lamas Mulls Run for Waxman’s Seat

In Heard on the Hill’s ongoing quest to bait as many celebrities as possible into running for the newly opened west Lost Angeles seat in Congress, we got a joking “maybe” from “Falcon Crest”/”Grease” star Lorenzo Lamas:

 

 

For context, Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman announced last week he is retiring from his west Los Angeles-based district. California’s 33rd is unique in that it covers Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, parts of West Hollywood and a whole handful of other movie star enclaves.

This is the first time since 1974 that the region will see  an open-seat race, and so we spent part of Monday afternoon trolling various movies stars on Twitter to see if they are mulling a run.

This race has the potential to be the greatest House race in the history of the United States, and we don’t want to leave any stone unturned. (For serious coverage of the race, check out our At the Races blog.)

Full story

Mark Warner Ready to Kick Justin Bieber to the Curb

Canadian troublemaker Justin Bieber ought to be thankful Sen. Mark Warner doesn’t have the final word on foreign relations.

Bieber has attracted a lot of heat lately thanks to a string of rather unsavory encounters, including physical altercations, a scrap with a neighbor and, most recently, a high-profile arrest involving driving under the influence in Miami.

When asked Tuesday by the hosts of WNOR’s “Rumble in the Morning” about the status of a populist petition to have the pot-smoking pop star deported (nearly a quarter of a million signatures and counting), the Virginia Democrat hinted that he’d gladly endorse the immigration crackdown.

“As a dad with three daughters, is there someplace I can sign?” Warner quipped.

Warner then doubled down on the deportation stance on social media.

“It’s true: I’m not a #Belieber,” he confessed to the twitterverse.

This marks the second time a local radio show has exposed a rift between the once-vanilla singer and Senate Democrats. The first beef was entirely of the Biebs’ creation, given that the one-time YouTube star threw shade at Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota for her pushback against the illegal streaming of copyrighted material online.

Bieber’s continuing antics have helped cement the case against him that non-fans have made to the administration.

“We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing, Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth,” more than 245,000 signatories have asserted via the “We the People” portal.

Of course, he may choose to leave on his own. TMZ insists his substance abuse problems have earned Bieber a top spot on a Homeland Security watch list.

February 3, 2014

Milton Wolf’s Family Feud

Meet Senate hopeful Milton Wolf.

(Screenshot)

(JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The tea party candidate hoping to knock off longstanding Kansas Republican Pat Roberts this fall is not only not at odds with the parties currently controlling Congress, he’s also at war with his own bloodline.

As Wolf explained to At the Races, the trained physician just happens to be a distant cousin of President Barack Obama.

The two are, admittedly, not all that close:

That’s a tough spot to be in.

And it’s not one that many others appear to be able to relate to.

Progressive problem solver Walter White is clearly stumped by Wolf’s antagonistic attitude: Full story

Radel Gone, but Not Forgotten

Just because ex-Rep. Trey Radel tendered his resignation a week ago, doesn’t mean GOP leaders are ready to let him go just yet.

TRGOPwpi

(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

The embattled freshman lawmaker from Florida, who went from rising star to spectacular flame-out after being busted for possession of cocaine last fall, cast his final vote on Jan. 27.  Yet his name remains enshrined in the roster of active lawmakers on the House Republican Conference’s official website.

Sorry, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, but your rap lyric quoting, Skymall-reviewing, Vine-making homey is outta here. And he’s not coming back this time.

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