Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014

McConnell Announces New Senate Sergeant-at-Arms

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Willison will join the ranks of former SAAs (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is sweeping the decks at the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office, replacing SAA Drew Willison with former Navy SEAL and Defense Department alumnus Frank J. Larkin for the 114th Congress.

James W. Morhard, a former chief of staff on the Senate Appropriations Committee with more than 20 years of experience in the chamber, returns to Capitol Hill after a decade in the private sector to replace Michael Stenger in the No. 2 spot in the office, the Kentucky Republican announced on Wednesday. Full story

From ‘Printing’ to ‘Publishing’: The GPO Has a New Name

Budget 2014 20 040813 1 440x251 From Printing to Publishing: The GPO Has a New Name

The GPO is not just for printing anymore. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The U.S. Government Printing Office has officially become the Government Publishing Office, after President Barack Obama signed the year-end “cromnibus” spending package late Tuesday night.

The name change was a provision in the legislative branch portion of the bill, which allocated $120 million to the publishing office, an increase of $1 million from 2014. In the bill, the GPO provision notes that the title change was instituted “to acknowledge that the information needs of Congress, Federal agencies, and the public have evolved beyond print.” Full story

December 16, 2014

Fired Staffer Sues Farenthold, Alleging Sexually Charged Workplace

farenthold 146 042413 440x301 Fired Staffer Sues Farenthold, Alleging Sexually Charged Workplace

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Blake Farenthold is being accused of discussing “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about a former staffer with one of his employees in a lawsuit that alleges the Texas Republican created a hostile work environment on Capitol Hill.

The complaint filed on Dec. 12 in District of Columbia court by Lauren Greene, who was fired from her position as Farenthold’s communications director in July, was first reported Tuesday by the National Law Journal. Greene claims the two-term congressman regularly drank to excess, and “because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red-head patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.” Full story

Norton Asks GOP Leaders for House Voting Privileges

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., sent a letter to House Republican leadership Tuesday asking that she be granted a vote on the House floor in the 114th Congress.

Currently, Norton can vote in committee, but she does not have a vote on the House floor or Committee of the Whole. The District of Columbia delegate, other delegates and Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner were granted floor votes in the 103rd, 110th and 111th Congresses, when Democrats had the majority. They could vote in the Committee of the Whole, as long as their votes were not decisive.  Full story

Legislative Counsel Staffer Remembered as Funny, Positive

 Legislative Counsel Staffer Remembered as Funny, Positive

(Courtesy of the family of Ed Leong)

Edward Leong, 61, a staffer in the Office of Legislative Counsel for 36 years, died on Dec. 7 at his home in McLean, Virginia, after a nine-year battle with lung cancer.

“He was funny, caring, and brilliant,” said Sandra Strokoff, the legislative counsel of the House. “We work totally behind-the-scenes and he was completely OK with that. He was all about making sure that the legislation drafted was as good as it could possibly be.” Full story

By Clark Mindock Posted at 2:57 p.m.
Campus, Staffers

D.C. Council Chairman: Marijuana Rider Doesn’t Block Transmittal to Congress

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Mendelson, left, seen here with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, says he is obligated to transmit the initiative to Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Council Chairman Phil Mendelson plans to send the D.C. initiative legalizing possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana to Congress in January, and he does not anticipate any confrontation with lawmakers over transmitting the bill.

“I’m not trying to defy anybody. I’m responsible for transmitting the initiative,” Mendelson said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I have a very clear requirement in the Home Rule Act to transmit the legislation. Congress has the ability to step in when that legislation is transmitted, so I don’t see anything that’s provocative here and I certainly don’t intend any provocation.” Full story

Rep. Jeb Hensarling Mourns Loss of His Father

hensarling121614 440x292 Rep. Jeb Hensarling Mourns Loss of His Father

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling is mourning his father, Charles “Chase” Hensarling, who died Sunday at the age of 86.

Hensarling’s spokesperson sent an email with the news Tuesday morning, explaining that the Texas Republican had to unexpectedly return home last week due to the family emergency. The Financial Services chairman was absent during the vote on the year-end spending package on Dec. 11. Full story

Marijuana Legalization in D.C.: What Happened and What Happens Next

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Harris, who sponsored the rider, is developing a response if D.C. moves forward with Initiative 71. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia officials and activists are grappling with a new thorn in their sides: an amendment attached to a year-end spending package targeting marijuana legalization in the District.

The “cromnibus” was passed by Congress with last-minute and late-night Senate votes over the weekend, and is en route to the president, where it will be signed into law. Though the bill contains riders in the bill aimed at a variety of D.C. social policies now considered routine, an amendment aimed at the District’s marijuana policy has fired up D.C. activists. Full story

Bipartisan Bedfellows Push Overhaul of Prison, Sentencing Systems

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Booker, left, wants to continue working on prison overhaul. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Republicans set to have control of both chambers of Congress, there has been no shortage of talk of leaving the dysfunction of the 113th Congress behind and focusing on areas of compromise in the coming year.

One possible area (which is off most political radars) is overhauling the prison and sentencing systems, an issue on which Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, agree. They’ll all still be around in the 114th Congress. Full story

December 15, 2014

CRS Report Details Perks for Outgoing Members of Congress

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Sen. Mark Begich can still return to the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Even though lawmakers who will not be returning to Congress in January might feel downtrodden, they can find solace in the fact that they retain some congressional perks.

Those perks, ranging from floor access to permanent identification cards, were outlined in the Congressional Research Service’s Dec. 5 report titled “Selected Privileges and Courtesies Extended to Former Members of Congress.” CRS American National Government specialist R. Eric Peterson wrote in the report, “Some [privileges] are derived from law and chamber rules, but others are courtesies that have been extended as a matter of custom.” Full story

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