Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2015

August 31, 2015

Slain Former Intern Remembered at American University

Kevin Sutherland in front of the White House. (Photo courtesy of the Sutherland family)

Sutherland stands in front of the White House. (Courtesy of the Sutherland family)

On a small altar at the American University chapel sat red, white and blue flowers, a New York Yankees cap, and a picture of a beaming young man standing in front of the White House.

More than 100 students, faculty and members of the community gathered at the Kay Spiritual Life Center on the northwest D.C. campus to remember the young man in the picture: Kevin Sutherland.

Full story

GPO Touts ‘Historic Low’ of Discrimination Complaints

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Government Publishing Office is on track to report the lowest number of workplace discrimination complaints in nearly 20 years, the agency announced Monday.

The GPO, which is responsible for printing, publishing and preserving the federal government’s documents, said in a statement it is set to report a “historic low” eight formal equal employment opportunity complaints in 2015. That is a more than 50 percent decrease from 2014 and more than an 80 percent decrease from 2013.

“We think the decline is attributed to the fact that we’ve put a lot of emphasis on educating our employees, the whole workforce really,” Juanita Flores, who manages the GPO’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, said in a phone interview. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 11:41 a.m.

August 28, 2015

Will The Supreme Court Become ‘First Amendment-Free Zone?’

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that protesters at the Supreme Court of the United States are confined to the sidewalk, which was disappointing news to those who argued that restricting demonstrations on the court’s plaza violated the First Amendment.

“The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceably assemble … [It] doesn’t say just to petition Congress or the president, but the government. And the Supreme Court is one of the three branches of government,” attorney Jeffrey Light, who argued that a ban on demonstrations was unconstitutional, said in a phone interview. “The court has essentially created a First Amendment-free zone on the plaza of the Supreme Court.” Full story

Ike Memorial Gets Another Critic

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sensenbrenner slammed the panel planning a memorial to Ike. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As appropriators get down to business on fiscal 2016 spending, one House Republican is asking key players in the deal-making process not to compromise on their proposal to strip funding for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., criticized the commission’s approach to planning a memorial park on a four-acre site in Southwest Washington, D.C., as “deeply flawed and highly contentious,” in a letter to House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and ranking member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y. Full story

August 27, 2015

Doug Hughes Legal Team Takes Aim at D.C. Airspace Security

UNITED STATES - MAY 21: Doug Hughes leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, May 21, 2015, after pleading not guilty to six counts regarding his landing of a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol in April. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hughes leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, May 21 after pleading not guilty to six counts regarding his landing of a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol in April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The legal team representing Douglas Hughes plans to poke holes in congressional testimony from federal officials who were called before Congress in the wake of Hughes’ April 15 landing of his gyrocopter on the Capitol’s West Front Lawn.

If the gyrocopter case goes to trial, defense attorney Mark Goldstone intends to “expose the lack of security” in the heavily restricted airspace over Washington, he told reporters Thursday after a brief status hearing at the federal courthouse. Full story

Ethics Battle Still Brewing Over Azerbaijan Travel

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The ethics watchdogs want Dent to release full findings from the Azerbaijan travel probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After it provoked a dispute between key players in Capitol Hill’s ethics enforcement process, Congress handed a probe of Azerbaijan travel to the executive branch and headed out for recess. But the battle is still brewing in Washington.

On Wednesday, watchdogs who have long lobbied Congress to get more serious about self-policing blasted the House Ethics Committee’s decision to close the case involving nine lawmakers without releasing a 70-page report from Office of Congressional Ethics investigators as “unprecedented.” Full story

August 26, 2015

Civil Rights Icon Amelia Boynton Robinson Dies at 104

Amelia Boynton Robinson, left, and Bernice King attend a reception honoring the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 6, 2015. (Jason Davis/Getty Images File Photo for 51 Miles Forward presented by Hyundai Motor America)

Amelia Boynton Robinson, left, and Bernice King attend a reception honoring the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 6, 2015. (Jason Davis/Getty Images File Photo for 51 Miles Forward presented by Hyundai Motor America)

Amelia Boynton Robinson, the 104-year-old civil rights activist whose role in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery was celebrated in this year’s 50th anniversary of the event, in the movie “Selma” and by her appearance at this year’s State of the Union, died Wednesday. She was 104.

“Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson will not only be remembered for her invaluable contributions as a matriarch of the voting rights movement but she was also the first black woman from the State of Alabama to run for Congress. Without her courageous campaign for the 7th Congressional District, I know that my election to this seat in 2010 would not have been possible. Her sacrifices paved the way for me to walk the halls of Congress and I will carry my love and admiration for her in my heart each and every day,” Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., who represents Selma, said in a statement. Robinson was Sewell’s guest for the 2015 State of the Union address, where the elderly activist met with President Barack Obama before his speech in a holding room in the Capitol.

Her home in Selma was used for planning the March 1965 march. On the fateful Bloody Sunday, she was among those, including now-Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., savagely beaten by Alabama troopers and vigilantes on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Her traumatic experience in 1965 came full circle when she crossed the bridge in March in a wheelchair beside Obama, the first black president.

“Amelia Boynton never got weary. She never gave up. She never gave in. She kept the faith. She kept on defending the need to respect human dignity in America. Her work and her accomplishments were a source of inspiration for so many people in the South and around our country,” Lewis said in a statement.

Robinson’s age had been a matter of debate among her, friends and the media. She previously gave her age this year to be 105, but media outlets and her family seemed to have settled on her age now, at 104.


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Court Orders in Chaka Fattah Case Could Complicate Life in Congress

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The congressman is barred from communicating with two congressional colleagues without an attorney. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pre-trial orders from the federal judge overseeing Rep. Chaka Fattah’s corruption case have made it hard and expensive for the Pennsylvania Democrat to do his job in Congress.

Fattah is barred from communicating or have contact with fellow Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, of Florida, or Sen. Bob Casey, the senior Democratic senator from his state’s congressional delegation, without an attorney present under the Aug. 18 order. Both Capitol Hill colleagues could be called by prosecutors to testify in the case, according to court documents. Full story

Virginia Shooting Sparks Discussions About Journalism, Gun Control (Updated)

Updated 2:40 p.m. | After two journalists were shot and killed in southwest Virginia Wednesday morning, one nearby congressman said their tragic deaths highlighted the risks of their profession.

Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, of the CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Va., were shot and killed during a live broadcast at Smith Mountain Lake. The suspected shooter is former WDBJ employee Vester Flanagan, according to multiple reports. Condolences came pouring in from members of Virginia’s congressional delegation and other officials, expressing shock and sadness at the brutal murders. For one lawmaker, their murder also pointed to the risks journalists take as they go on assignment. Full story

August 25, 2015

Prosecutors: Menendez Argument ‘Blueprint’ for Criminal Immunity on Capitol Hill


(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Measuring the scope of Congress’ ability to shield its work from prosecutors, Department of Justice lawyers and attorneys representing Sen. Robert Menendez seem to agree on only one point: The New Jersey Democrat’s assistance securing tourist and student visas for Dr. Salomon Melgen’s young, foreign girlfriends falls into the unprotected category.

But the two sides are feuding over protections granted under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause as they relate to nearly every other allegation of bribery in the 14-count indictment. Full story

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