Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 27, 2015

February 27, 2015

Judge Dismisses Obamacare Lawsuit Targeting Congressional Health Care

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed on Wednesday a lawsuit challenging congressional health care enrollment in the D.C. small business exchange, ruling that federal regulations allow members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in the exchange.

In October, the group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on behalf of D.C. resident Kirby Vining, alleging that allowing Congress to enroll in the small business exchange violated D.C. law, which stipulates that a small business has 50 or fewer employees. The D.C. government acknowledged Congress is not a small business under D.C. law as part of a motion to the dismiss the case in January. But the D.C. government also argued that a 2013 Office of Personnel Management ruling instructing congressional employees to enroll in the exchange trumped D.C. law, and enrollment could continue. Full story

Code Pink Feeling Stifled by Capitol Police Crackdown

CodePink protesters more likely to end up in handcuffs on the Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lately, Code Pink protests have ended with handcuffs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Forced into handcuffs before and after congressional hearings over the past two days, protesters organizing with Code Pink are fuming about the beefed-up presence of Capitol Police when contentious, high-profile officials testify on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, officers arrested Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, when he rose from his seat to challenge Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. after the conclusion of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats. Full story

February 26, 2015

Kerry Bentivolio Files for Bankruptcy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fewer than two months after the Santa Claus impersonator and reindeer farmer who represented southeast Michigan for one term left Congress, the tea party-inspired Republican has filed for bankruptcy.

Former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio listed more than $294,000 in liabilities in documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Monday. Bentivolio, 63, owes nearly $55,000 to two Michigan-based law firms, and has been ordered to pay $120,000 in a case stemming from an illegal campaign claim from his former consultant. Full story

Private Plane Rides Have Bumpy Congressional History

Schock"to stay connected with my constituents," and also travels for campaign fundraising purposes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Schock’s office explained his frequent flights as a way “to stay connected with my constituents.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Among the serious accusations of improper spending leveled at Rep. Aaron Schock since The Washington Post shined a spotlight on his “Downton Abbey”-themed office are at least a dozen flights aboard his political donors’ private planes.

But Rep. Don Young and a handful of other lawmakers have pushed to change the very ethics rule Schock is alleged to have violated by accepting flights aboard privately owned aircraft. Full story

February 25, 2015

Officer Morale a Hot Topic for Capitol Police at Appropriations Hearing

The U.S. Capitol Police Recruit Officer Class 177 is sworn in during a ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Wasserman Schultz worries low morale among Capitol Police could distract from protecting the complex. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Low morale among Capitol Police was a hot topic for law enforcement officials on Wednesday during a series of panels convened by the House lawmakers who set the department’s budget.

Both House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine fielded questions about low officer morale from longtime Legislative Branch appropriator Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the subcommittee’s top Democrat. She professed a “notable uptick” in the number of officers pulling her aside on the Hill to chat about internal department issues. Full story

D.C. Stands Up to Congress on Marijuana Legalization (Updated)

Updated 5:41 p.m. | As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the District of Columbia will legalize marijuana, despite warnings from two congressional Republicans that doing so would break the law and could lead to possible prison time for D.C. officials.

“Our government is prepared to implement and enforce Initiative 71 in the District of Columbia,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a briefing Wednesday, where D.C. officials presented a united front against congressional opposition. Bowser was joined by District Attorney General Karl Racine, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier and eight members of the D.C. Council, including Chairman Phil Mendelson. Full story

Congress Investigating D.C. Marijuana Legalization

Chaffetz is the chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform, which has jurisdiction over D.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Chaffetz is the chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform, which has jurisdiction over D.C. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One day before the District of Columbia is set to legalize marijuana, members of Congress are launching an investigation into D.C.’s decision to do so, and warning that implementing legalization would break the law.

“If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., wrote in a letter sent to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser early Wednesday morning.

Full story

February 23, 2015

Court Reinstates FMLA Complaint Against Capitol Police

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Capitol Police officer who sued the department in April 2012 with allegations of Family and Medical Leave Act interference and retaliation won a small victory in District of Columbia appeals court on Feb. 20 when the court reinstated her claim.

Judy Anne Gordon, a private first class assigned to the Capitol Division, applied for 240 hours of FMLA leave in May 2011, about six months after her husband’s suicide. The Indian Hill, Md., resident filed medical papers explaining she was experiencing intermittent periods of severe and incapacitating depression as a result of the suicide.

Full story

Capitol Police Chief’s Leadership Questioned

Under Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, right, the department is pursuing accredidation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State of the Union car chase has put Dine’s leadership of the Capitol Police under scrutiny. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State of the Union night car chase that ended without arrest added new strains to already tense relationships inside the law enforcement community on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police officers who were disturbed and embarrassed by the Jan. 20 incident allege it’s part of a frustrating pattern. They say commanders have instructed the rank and file to refrain from “low-value” stops — including traffic violations involving drunk driving and drug impairment on streets around the Capitol campus, multiple sources confirmed — because those arrests do not contribute to thwarting terrorism and protecting Congress.

Within the Capitol, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin were frustrated when they were unable to get an accurate portrayal of the facts about the high-speed chase that ended on Washington Avenue Southwest, adjacent to the Rayburn House Office Building.

Full story

February 21, 2015

Court Gives Bowser Budget Autonomy Deadline

Bowser filed a motion to pause the case, so she could review her position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser has until March 16 to make a decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has paused an ongoing case over budget autonomy, giving Mayor Muriel Bowser until March 16 to solidify her position in the case, public court documents filed Friday show.

The decision comes after Bowser filed a motion for abeyance on Feb. 13, asking the court to suspend the case she inherited from her predecessor, Vincent C. Gray, which pitted the mayor’s office against the D.C. Council. In the order filed Friday, the circuit judges granted Bowser’s motion, giving her 30 days to review her position.

Full story

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