Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 22, 2014

July 21, 2014

Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Staff in Rep. Tom Marino’s office are convinced that Ryan Shucard, the press secretary that arrived at the Cannon House Office building toting a 9 mm handgun on Friday morning, was not planning to harm anyone with the gun.

“No, not at all,” said Bill Tighe, chief of staff for the two-term Pennsylvania Republican, said when asked if staff thought Shucard had ill intentions. Capitol Police also indicated it was an accident, according to Tighe.

Tighe said he was not formally aware that Shucard, a resident of Alexandria, Va., owned a gun. Shucard was hired by Marino’s office in late May. Tighe said he did not know whether Shucard, 26, was registered, trained or permitted to hold a gun in Virginia, where gun laws are less strict than in the District. Full story

Queen Bee Hawking Jewelry for the ‘Powers That Bee’ on Capitol Hill

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Brooks brings her creations to the Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Allison Priebe Brooks)

A jewelry designer with a knack for brightening up Washington’s prim business attire brings her signature necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings to Capitol Hill this week for an exclusive trunk show and sale.

Senate staffer-turned-accessory entrepreneur Allison Priebe Brooks, founder of Queen Bee Designs, will set up shop at Cornerstone Government Affairs, 300 Independence Ave. SE, on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. With a client list that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La.; Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., and plenty of congressional spouses, she expects to see plenty of traffic from the powers that be — “or bee” — as Brooks likes to joke.

“Working on the Hill, people seem to dress really conservatively,” Brooks said in an interview with CQ Roll Call. “Our jewelry creates a buzz,” she said, pairing well with everything from neutral power suits to cocktail attire. Full story

Muslim on Capitol Hill: Staffers Look to Rebuild

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Staffers participate in a Friday prayer session in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As rain pelted the capital, more than 200 Muslim Americans gathered in the Cannon House Office Building to break their daily fast.

They are in the midst of Ramadan, the annual monthlong period of fasting from sunup to sundown.

For the Muslim staffers and government employees gathered for a traditional dinner known as an iftar, the night was also a chance to connect with members of Congress and network with other D.C. professionals. “To have this iftar dinner and to do it here in the Capitol, where you belong, where we all belong, was a very smart thing to start,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told the crowd.

Although 200 participants was no small number for the July 10 celebration, the iftar in 2009 drew an estimated 1,000 people to the Hill, thanks in part to an active Congressional Muslim Staff Association. The group was formed in 2006 and regularly held networking events and briefings on the Muslim community.

A few years later, in the 113th Congress, the CMSA did not even list itself as an official association — due to a turnover in leadership, lack of participation and what some regarded as a backlash against Muslim staffers. While the organization is taking steps to re-register as an official association, it is definitely in rebuilding mode.

Former CMSA members are optimistic the staff association will make a comeback as younger staffers step into leadership roles, but there’s a broader problem: attracting young Muslims to Capitol Hill in the first place.

Full story

July 19, 2014

Ryan Shucard Pleads Not Guilty to Carrying Pistol to Capitol Hill

Ryan Shucard, the Capitol Hill aide who allegedly tried to bring a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work Friday, was released from police custody on Saturday afternoon after pleading not guilty to a felony charge for carrying a pistol.

Shucard exercised his Fifth Amendment right during his minute-long arraignment, standing silently beside his lawyer in khaki pants and a long-sleeved, collared shirt with shackles around his ankles and wrists. With no objection from the government lawyers working on the case, D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher released Shucard with instructions to return to court on Aug. 7.

When the Colorado native entered the courtroom around 1:30 p.m., a blond woman began dabbing her eyes with a tissue. She was sitting next to a girl and man who later identified themselves as members of Shucard’s family. The trio followed Shucard out of the courtroom. Shucard, his family and his lawyer, Jason Kalafat, declined to comment to CQ Roll Call.

Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave from the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., where he had been serving as press secretary since May 2014. The University of Northern Colorado and George Washington University alumnus got his start on the Hill in October 2011 as a staff assistant for then-Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn.

What might have provoked the incident, which resulted in Capitol Police arrested Shucard around 9:15 a.m. on Friday morning, remains unclear, but the confiscated handgun has been raising new questions about campus security.

Related:

Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

Correction:

An earlier version of this post misstated the date Schucard was instructed to return to court.

July 18, 2014

Ryan Shucard Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light (Updated)

Updated 6:11 p.m. | Metal detectors and X-ray machines at the southeast door of the Cannon House Office Building  stopped Capitol Hill press secretary Ryan Shucard from allegedly carrying a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work on Friday.

Shucard, a staffer in the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Shucard could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the felony, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which will review the case.

Opponents of congressional efforts to wipe out the District’s gun laws seized on the arrest as an example of hypocrisy, while members of the Capitol Hill community pondered what could have happened if Shucard entered Cannon via the building’s garage. Full story

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

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Shucard was arrested Friday. (Via Facebook)

Capitol Police arrested a staffer for Rep. Tom Marino Friday morning on charges of carrying a 9mm handgun and magazine into the Cannon House Office building.

Ryan Shucard, the Pennsylvania Republican’s press secretary, was arrested around 9:15 a.m., according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

Shucard entered the southeast door of Cannon with the weapon. The Smith & Wesson 9mm and magazine were found during the search required for entry into the building, according to Schneider. People entering Cannon, including those with staff identification badges, like Shucard, are required to step through metal detectors and place bags on the belt of an X-Ray machine.

Shucard is charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony. He is currently being processed at Capitol Police headquarters.

Schucard was immediately placed on unpaid leave from Marino’s office, chief of staff Bill Tighe told CQ Roll Call in a phone call. “That will last until we know more about the situation,” Tighe said.

Full story

July 17, 2014

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Alfred Durham, prepare for a news conference in Rayburn on a House passed amendment by Rep. Thomas Massie’s, R-Ky., that would “block D.C. from enforcing its local gun laws, as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services and General Services Appropriations bill,” July 17, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is optimistic about Senate support for an appropriations rider that would dismantle local gun laws in the District of Columbia, but he doubts the chamber will consider the measure.

“Twenty rank-and-file Democrats in the House voted for the amendment, and I know Democrats in the Senate would vote for the amendment,” Massie said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that Harry Reid will do everything he can to prevent that vote from happening.”

The Senate majority leader’s office did not respond to questions about Massie’s pro-gun proposal, which would make D.C. perhaps the most permissive jurisdiction in the nation. Neither did some of the vulnerable red-state Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee who are up for re-election in November — Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu — who have also advocated greater autonomy for the District. Full story

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

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Massie is wading into the District’s gun laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of Congress’ most outspoken libertarians is the latest member to try to overturn the District of Columbia’s local gun laws. If successful, his proposal would make the District, home to cabinet officials, dignitaries from around the world and the president perhaps the most permissive gun jurisdiction in the country.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who in June rallied a bipartisan majority around an amendment to end warrantless collection of Americans’ online activities, attached language prohibiting D.C. from enforcing local firearm restrictions to the House bill funding the District.

“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down the D.C. handgun ban, as well as the unconstitutional gunlock provision, it is still difficult for D.C. residents to exercise their God-given right to bear arms,” Massie said Wednesday on the floor. “Congress has the authority to legislate in this area pursuant to article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to ‘exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever’ over the District of Columbia.”

In a move decried as an assault on Home Rule, Massie tried to wield that authority Tuesday night with a similar amendment, but the measure was ruled out of order due to a procedural flaw. To the outrage of Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council, he tried again on Wednesday and the House adopted the gun rider 241-181, with the support of 20 Democrats. Full story

July 16, 2014

D.C. Pot Decriminalization Takes Effect, but Don’t Bring Bud to Capitol Hill

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If it’s Thursday, this is now a civil offense. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite House Republican attempts to derail decriminalization, marijuana possession becomes a civil offense in the District of Columbia on Thursday, punishable by a $25 fine.

“The government is prepared,” said Pedro Ribeiro, chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said in an interview. “We’re ready for this to go into effect.”

On language blocking the District from lessening its drug penalties that was included in an appropriations bill that cleared the House Wednesday on a 228-195 vote, Ribeiro said, “We don’t believe that it will be a problem.”

Bringing bud to the Capitol, and on other federal property, however, can still land you behind bars. Full story

Maloney Calls for Investigation Into Threats From Pro-Gun Leader Larry Pratt

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Maloney (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., wants Capitol Hill law enforcement officials to investigate a prominent gun rights advocate’s praise for threats on her life, calling them evidence of “just how outrageous the extreme pro-gun movement has become.”

In a Rolling Stone article published Monday, Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt is quoted saying that the Second Amendment is for “for restraining tyrannical tendencies in government … especially those in the liberal, tyrannical end of the spectrum.”

The article also references an incident in April 2013, when Ronald Buchanan of Elmira, N.Y., contacted Maloney’s district office and made several death threats. Buchanan later plead guilty to making the threats and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation and extensive anger management training.

“As someone who has been on the receiving end of violent threats, I can tell you that it is no small matter,” Maloney told CQ Roll Call in an interview Wednesday, expressing her concerns about Pratt’s comments. ”To hear Mr. Pratt say he was ‘glad’ about the threats made against me shows just how unhinged he is.” Full story

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