Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2015

July 30, 2015

Congressional Couches Test Positive for Toxic Retardant

Pallone said he was not surprised some couches tested positive. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pallone said he was not surprised some congressional couches tested positive for toxic flame-retardant chemicals. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As Congress considers an overhaul of toxic chemical regulations, a new analysis has brought the issue close to home — perhaps a little too close for comfort.

The Environmental Defense Fund recently analyzed six couches from each of the congressional office buildings and found three contained a toxic flame-retardant chemical known as TDCPP. The chemical can be found on the California Environmental Protection Agency’s list of carcinogens. Full story

Democrats Look to Pivot From Milestones to Today’s Priorities

Dingell with the gavel he used when he presided over the vote to pass Medicare. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dingell with the gavel he used when he presided over the vote to pass Medicare. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Wielding the gavel he held nearly 50 years ago to the day, former Rep. John D. Dingell told a group gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center Wednesday, “We did it! Now let’s see some real enthusiasm,” adding, “They fought us all the way.”

The Michigan Democrat was back in the Capitol  to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid becoming law. At the House Democratic event, Dingell waved the same gavel he held when he presided over that historic vote a half century ago — and that House Minority Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., used for the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Full story

July 29, 2015

Rep. Chaka Fattah Charged in 29-Count Indictment (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Chaka Fattah was indicted Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:19 p.m. | Prosecutors charged Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., Wednesday in a 29-count indictment with racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud as part of a probe into the 11-term congressman launched by the FBI and IRS in March 2013.

Fattah’s office confirmed he has agreed to give up his leadership post on the Appropriations Committee, where he is the top Democrat overseeing criminal justice and science spending. He will be replaced by Mike Honda, D-Calif., who is currently the subject of an ethics probe.

Fattah has declared his innocence and his plans to run for reelection.

(Read: Despite Fattah indictment, don’t expect a scramble for his seat)

Fattah’s congressional district director, 59-year-old Bonnie Bowser of Philadelphia, and former congressional staffer Karen Nicholas, 57, plus two other individuals were also charged for their alleged involvement in several schemes federal investigators say were intended to further their political and financial interests by misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds. The indictment alleges illegal activity dating back to Fattah’s failed 2007 campaign to serve as mayor of Philadelphia, as well as false congressional campaign filings. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:43 a.m.
Ethics, Investigations

On Unattended Guns, Questions Linger for Capitol Police

UNITED STATES - MAY 20: U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine testifies during the House Administration Committee hearing on the U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dine is nearing the end of a 90-day probationary period with the Capitol Police Board. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Called before Congress for an oversight hearing after a tumultuous few weeks of reports of loaded service weapons left in problematic places around the Capitol and an ongoing hunt for employees who may have leaked internal information, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine promised the acts would be dealt with “firmly and effectively.”

But 10 weeks after that hearing, and six months after the first incident, only one of the officers who left a weapon unattended has been disciplined. Full story

July 28, 2015

House Limits Chamber Access for Pope Address

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House lawmakers opted Tuesday to limit who can be present in the chamber during Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress in September.

In a vote on a procedural measure Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers opted to exclude former members of Congress from being present for the address. Former members are typically allowed in the chamber, and make appearances at other dignitaries’ addresses to Congress, but will not be granted access when the pontiff addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Sept. 24. Full story

July 27, 2015

D.C. Drawn Into Sanctuary Cities Debate

Gohmert introduced "The Safer DC Act" Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gohmert introduced “The Safer DC Act” Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House has voted to limit funding for so-called sanctuary cities, but one lawmaker is pushing to take further action in the District of Columbia, dictating specific policies for law enforcement.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, has introduced “The Safer D.C. Act” declaring the District is a “sanctuary city,” or a jurisdiction with policies that shelter undocumented immigrants. “The Constitution explicitly vests Congress with exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia — and we should take action,” Gohmert said. “Therefore, at the very least, Congress must use our explicit Constitutional power to ensure that at least the District of Columbia is not a sanctuary city.” Full story

July 24, 2015

Capitol Police Stop Ex-Cop From Taking Loaded Revolver Into Library

lag flies at half staff over the Library of Congress Jefferson Building to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Police at the Library of Congress Jefferson Building found a loaded gun in the Virginia man’s briefcase. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:33 p.m. | Capitol Police stopped a 55-year-old Virginia man who claimed to be a local cop from carrying a loaded revolver into the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building Tuesday.

Jeff Jefferson Ahn, listed as Yong Ahn in documents filed in D.C. Superior Court, entered the Jefferson Building’s carriage entrance on First Street Southeast, Tuesday morning. He placed a black briefcase into the X-ray machine around 9:45 a.m. During screening, an officer noticed what appeared to be a handgun. Full story

Capitol Marks 17 Years Since Fatal Shooting

Capitol Police Officer Gene Petty stands on ceremonial duty before an annual wreath-laying ceremony for U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, killed by a gunman while on duty in 1998. The ceremony took place at an entrance to the Capitol dedicated to the slain officers. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police honor two of their own, who were killed by a gunman while on duty in 1998. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On a day when Louisiana lawmakers and other members of Congress mourned a fatal shooting in a Lafayette movie theater, Capitol Hill also honored two Capitol Police officers killed by a gunman who charged into the Capitol exactly 17 years ago.

“Shots fired at the Document Door. This was some 50 feet from where I was sitting. Two U.S. Capitol Police officers were down,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, recalled on Friday. “Their names were Jacob J. Chestnut and John M. Gibson. Between them, they had eight children and 36 years on the job.” Full story

Ike Memorial Panel Adds Ex-NRA Leader

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission is bringing out the big guns.

Former National Rifle Association President David Keene has joined the commission’s advisory committee, expanding the ranks of a panel that now includes more than 25 prominent individuals, including broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw. Full story

Convicted Republicans Plead for Mandatory Minimums Changes

Kevin Ring, who is serving the remainder of a sentence for bribing public officials under home confinement, is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in the DC office of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, May 11, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ring says courts need more leeway in sentencing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An ex-colleague of Jack Abramoff shared an anecdote from his stint in prison with a room full of conservatives Thursday. After the one-time Hill climber explained to a fellow inmate that a dog was going to get neutered, the inmate asked the longtime Republican aide, “How long does it take for them to grow back?”

Kevin Ring, the lobbyist who was sentenced in 2011 to 20 months in federal prison for his role in a corruption scheme, was pitching to GOP aides gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building on an effort to overhaul mandatory minimum requirements. Ring, who has been working in downtown Washington, D.C., since his April prison release, wanted the staffers to understand that current guidelines more often send low-level dealers and addicts to prison, not drug kingpins. Full story

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