Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 4, 2015

August 3, 2015

Capitol Police Chief to Retire in January

Dine said there's "no excuse" for lost service weapons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dine will retire in January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine plans to retire in January 2016, capping three years as head of the agency, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

Dine’s stated intent to leave, announced to department employees late Monday afternoon, follows a 90-day period of intense scrutiny from the Capitol Police Board. In April, the chief submitted a resignation letter to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers. Full story

Norton Looks to Extend Workplace Protection to Congress’ Staff

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., announced Friday she plans to introduce legislation to extend workplace protections and civil rights laws to congressional employees.

“If Congress, our nationally elected legislature, is not yet a workplace where workplace laws are fully applied, how can Congress sit in judgment of public and private employers who must comply with the full complement of laws?” Norton asked in her statement announcing the bill. Full story

Azerbaijan Travel Probe Shows Strained Ties Between Congress’ Ethics Cops

UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., talks on his cell phone on the House steps after a vote on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of nine lawmakers under review for a trip to Azerbaijan, Davis said the probe has caused him to do more vetting of privately sponsored travel.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By the looks of the most recent report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, the first six months of 2015 were some of the busiest since the agency launched six years ago, at the beginning of the 111th Congress. But lawmakers remain lax about policing themselves.

On July 31, the House Ethics Committee announced it was closing a review of nine lawmakers who took an all-expenses-paid trip to Azerbaijan that might have been secretly funded by the country’s state-owned oil company. The panel cleared lawmakers of wrongdoing and, in an unprecedented step, stopped short of releasing the findings of the OCE’s probes. Full story

July 31, 2015

Driver in Barricade Crash Identified as Pennsylvania Man

(Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

(Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

The man who crashed his red sedan Friday morning into a barricade about 150 yards south of the Capitol appears to have a history of criminal activity related to automobiles.

Police in Pennsylvania arrested Antonio Pierorazio, 50, in April 2014 following a spate of vandalism at car dealership lots near Reading. In three separate incidents, Pierorazio is alleged to have scratched 21 vehicles, causing more than $29,000 worth of damage. Full story

Car Crashes at South Barricade, Police Arrest Driver (Updated)

This car crashed into the South Barricade of the Capitol Friday morning. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

This car crashed into the South Barricade of the Capitol Friday morning. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:31 a.m. | A red Nissan Altima with Florida license plates crashed into the South Barricade of the Capitol around 8:40 a.m. Friday.

Police, D.C. Fire and EMS responded to the scene, forming a perimeter around the area and briefly closing the House side of the East Front to pedestrian traffic. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 9:46 a.m.
Capitol Police

Whistleblower Day, but Not for Hill Staff

Wyden, Grassley and McCaskill are all founding members of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Wyden, Grassley and McCaskill are all founding members of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate approved a resolution Thursday declaring July 30, 2015, “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day,” though senators’ own staffers are not afforded the same protections as other federal workers.

On the same day, the Office of Compliance, which oversees workplace complaints and safety issues around the Capitol, released its annual report for fiscal 2014. Among the recommendations was extending whistleblower protections to congressional employees. Full story

July 30, 2015

Lawmakers Look to Enhance Unpaid Intern Protections

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats introduced three bills to protect interns from sexual harassment and discrimination Tuesday, notably extending protections to the scores of interns in congressional offices.

“It is unacceptable that employees and interns working right next to each other have different levels of protection against abuse,” said Oversight and Government Reform ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland. “There should be no legal gray area when we are talking about preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.” Full story

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

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