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

September 22, 2014

WMATA Receives $21 Million in Sandy Relief Funds

Sandy 006 102912 440x292 WMATA Receives $21 Million in Sandy Relief Funds

The Capitol South Metro station was closed for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority received $21 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation Monday as part of a multi-billion dollar effort to help transportation systems recover from Hurricane Sandy and prepare for future disasters.

“While Metro did sustain some minor damage — primarily localized flooding — from Sandy, these grants are focused on reducing the risk of damage from future natural disasters,” WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call.

New York and New Jersey received the vast majority of the nearly $3.6 billion in funding for “resilience projects.” The Washington Metro system’s funds will be used to raise vent covers and improve infrastructure that insulates subway tunnels from rain and sewage.

“A timetable for construction will be determined once design work is completed,” Stessel wrote. “Because much of this work is above ground or within the pumping stations themselves, these upgrades are not expected to cause delays to service.” Full story

D.C. Council Considering Handgun Permit Bill

gun presser021 071714 440x295 D.C. Council Considering Handgun Permit Bill

Gray worked with law enforcement and D.C. councilmembers to craft a new gun law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

District of Columbia officials have grudgingly taken up the task of putting in place a handgun permit system in response to a July 26 federal court ruling that struck down the local ban on carrying pistols outside the home.

Last week, during a southeast Washington memorial ceremony marking the one year anniversary of the deadly Navy Yard shooting, Mayor Vincent Gray lamented the violence that ”happened right within the view of the Capitol Dome,” and called on Congress to come up with a solution.

“We have tough gun laws in the District of Columbia, which probably will have to be relaxed to some extent because of the Palmer case,” Gray said, referring to the decision by Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. in the case against the city. Gun control laws, he said, ”are now under attack by Second Amendment advocates who believe in putting the right of gun owners before community safety.” Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 6:26 p.m.
DC Council, DC Mayor

Congress Weighs In on White House Breach

dw02041105 440x286 Congress Weighs In on White House Breach

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After an intruder managed to get inside the White House on Sept. 19, members of Congress are seeking answers from Secret Service Director Julia Pierson.

The agency has indicated it is conducting a review following the arrest of Iraq war veteran Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, who officials say climbed the north fence of the complex and bolted into the North Portico with a 3 1/2-inch serrated blade folding knife in his pocket. Technical and physical security, including staffing and threat assessment, will be assessed.

Disturbing new details emerged when Gonzalez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola in District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday. According to federal prosecutors, Gonzalez was keeping 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, parked blocks from the White House. Also revealed Monday was a July 19 incident in Virginia, when Gonzalez was arrested while carrying a sawed-off shotgun and map of Washington marking the location of the White House. Full story

September 19, 2014

Members of Congress Skip Confusing Eisenhower Memorial Meeting

Memorial 20 032510 440x252 Members of Congress Skip Confusing Eisenhower Memorial Meeting

Gehry, left, may not be party to the final design. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Only one of the eight members of Congress who sit on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission attended a Wednesday afternoon meeting on the design, the latest attempt to move forward the project now 15 years in the making.

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Ga., didn’t get to see the entire hour-long presentation, he told CQ Roll Call, because he had to leave for a House vote. Bishop didn’t miss much action: The fate of architect Frank Gehry’s design is undetermined, and a familiar chorus of critics are still calling for a restart.

Executive Architect Daniel J. Feil briefed the body on Gehry’s modified design — a plan that the Eisenhower family opposes — and a second alternative that would not include Gehry’s name. The first option was unveiled during a Sept. 4 National Capital Planning Commission, but there is only a vague idea about what the second might look like.

Without a quorum present, the commission could not take any public votes on how to proceed.

“This looks like a federal commission sowing confusion and controversy,” said Sam Roche, who represents the group Right by Ike, an organization pushing to replace the Gehry design with a public competition. Full story

Construction Underway at D.C. Ukrainian Memorial

 Construction Underway at D.C. Ukrainian Memorial

Construction on the memorial began two weeks ago. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Congress Thursday to ask for more U.S. military aid in its fight against Russian-backed separatists. Less than a mile away, construction workers were busy building a memorial to victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933.

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America attempted to bring Poroshenko to the memorial site on the triangle of grass where North Capitol, Massachusetts Avenue and F Street meet next to Union Station.

However, Michael Sawkiw, the director of UCCA’s Washington office, said the president’s schedule did not have room for a visit to the area, but he told CQ Roll Call in a Friday phone interview that Poroshenko is scheduled to attend the dedication ceremony when the memorial is complete.

“We’re moving full steam ahead and we’re looking forward for a dedication sometime next year,” Sawkiw said. Weather permitting, the memorial will open in the late spring or early summer of 2015. Full story

Congress Playing Tough With the NFL (Video)

redskins001 092704 440x290 Congress Playing Tough With the NFL (Video)

A Redskins cheerleader entertained Capitol Police during a 2009 roll call. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In 2009, Capitol Hill welcomed the Washington Redskins Marching Band and two cheerleaders for a pep rally on the West Front. It was a festive preparation for a Monday night NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Five years later, with growing opposition to the Washington team’s name, plus controversy surrounding the $10 billion league, Congress is attacking the NFL on all fronts. Members of both chambers have written Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, to complain about his handling of a domestic violence incident involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, calling for more transparency from the league.

Now, Senate Democrats are following through on a threat to use the NFL’s nonprofit status to pressure team owner Dan Snyder into changing the franchise’s name, putting the company’s tax exemption in peril.

Full story

Treaties Exhibit Ushers in 10 Years of American Indian Museum

keystone 244 042214 440x285 Treaties Exhibit Ushers in 10 Years of American Indian Museum

Indigenous leaders from the Cowboy and Indian Alliance participate in a Capitol Hill protest in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Museum of the American Indian will open its first exhibit exploring the contentious issue of treaties between the U.S. government and Indian nations next week.

“This exhibit is a tangible reminder of the federal government’s relationship with sovereign tribal nations of this country,” Senate Indian Affairs Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Thursday. “It’s also a reminder of the moral and legal obligations that the United States has to honor and uphold our treaties with Indian country.”

Tester addressed a group gathered at a day-long symposium at the museum discussing the exhibit. “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” opened on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the museum. The exhibit will continue until the fall of 2018.

Museum Director Kevin Gover said during a preview Tuesday the display was years in the making and came at the request of a number of tribes and members of Congress. Full story

September 18, 2014

Hill Staffers Hear Advice for Hiring Veterans

graham 11 042710 440x292 Hill Staffers Hear Advice for Hiring Veterans

Sen. Lindsey Graham greets wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center as they arrive for a lunch in the Senate in April 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project addressed a group of Capitol Hill staffers in Dirksen Senate Office Building Thursday to offer suggestions for hiring wounded veterans and accommodating those veterans in the workplace.

Brett Sheets and Brian Nichols, veterans of the Army and Navy respectively, work for WWP’s Warriors to Work program, which provides career advice to wounded post-9/11 veterans transitioning to civilian life.

The two WWP representatives offered a number of recommendations for offices looking to hire veterans. Full story

Judicial Nomination Logjam Causes Dilemma for D.C.

With the flow of judicial nominations slowing to a trickle this summer, District of Columbia officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect on the local bench.

Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield last week wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid describing the “adverse impact” of the backlog. Facing three judicial vacancies on the D.C. Superior Court, and a fourth coming in November, Satterfield requested votes on pending nominations before Congress adjourns.

The Nevada Democrat’s office has not responded formally to the Sept. 10 letter, according to Leah H. Gurowitz, director of governmental affairs and public relations for the court. Despite the correspondence, first reported by Legal Times, the chamber appears poised to adjourn without considering the nominations. Reid’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the situation. Full story

McAllister ‘Disappointed’ in Chief of Staff Arrested for DUI

mcallister 060 090914 440x292 McAllister Disappointed in Chief of Staff Arrested for DUI

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

Gregory A. Terry, chief of staff for Republican Rep. Vance McAllister was arrested in Louisiana on Sept. 12, after a police officer observed the BMW he was driving swerving across highway lines. He has been charged with driving under the influence and improper lane use.

When an officer from the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Department conducted the traffic stop, he “could smell a very strong odor commonly associated with an alcoholic beverage emitting” from Terry, according to an affidavit from the department that was published by local news station KTEV NBC 10.

Terry stated he had not been drinking, and did not drink at all, according to the document, but performed poorly on a field sobriety test. He was subsequently placed under arrest.

McAllister released a statement on the arrest to CQ Roll Call, indicating that Terry is on leave from the office.

“I’m disappointed in Adam,” stated the Louisiana Republican, who has worked to distance himself from his own extra-marital scandal that saddled him with the nickname the “Kissing Congressman.”

“I do not condone his behavior, but I know he’s a good person and he’s worked hard for the people of Louisiana,” the statement continued. “Right now, he is at home with his family in the district and we want to make sure he gets the help he needs.”

A call to Terry’s cellphone went straight to a recording that said the voicemail box was full.

Police said there was a Styrofoam cup that had “some sort of alcoholic beverage in it” in the back seat. Terry appeared to have taken off the lid and poured it on the back carpet. The liquid was cold to the touch. Two pints of Jack Daniels — one empty and one full — were also found in the vehicle.

Related:

McAllister Moving Past ‘Kissing Congressman’

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...