Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2015

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

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

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