Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 7, 2015

May 6, 2015

Capitol Dome Workers Pause for ‘Safety Stand-Down’

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Construction workers who scale the Capitol Dome each day gathered Wednesday morning to learn about safety procedures and fall prevention.

Dozens of workers in their neon vests and hard hats listened to a number of technical experts and government officials as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s second annual National Safety Stand-Down, encouraging construction companies across the country to take a break from work and discuss fall prevention strategies. Full story

Gyrocopter Pilot Back in Court; Questions Not Over for Capitol Police

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Doug Hughes returns to the District of Columbia Friday for a preliminary hearing on charges related to his April 15 landing on the West Front of the Capitol, an event that provoked tough questions from members of Congress about how safe Washington is from aerial attacks.

Lawmakers from both chambers requested Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine provide private briefings and public testimony about how much the department knew, and when. During an April 29 hearing, Dine was asked more than seven times whether officers had guns trained on Hughes’ gyrocopter. The answers didn’t seem to satisfy House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who said he wants to talk to those further down the command chain who were actually involved. Full story

May 5, 2015

GOP Leaders Not Briefed on Bodyguards’ Lost Guns

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., might never have known their bodyguards left guns in the bathroom without CQ Roll Call’s report, which has launched a Capitol Police investigation into the source of the leak.

Spokesmen for the two GOP leaders on Tuesday made their first comments on the security lapses that were revealed May 1, in a report featuring a photo of the Glock a member of McConnell’s detail allegedly left hanging out of a toilet seat cover dispenser in the Capitol Visitor Center’s Senate office space. A CVC worker found the gun on Jan. 29, resulting in a recommendation of six days of unpaid suspension for the officer. Full story

Area Lawmakers: Don’t Change Reagan Airport Rules

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the Virginia and District of Columbia delegations are urging Congress not to change the rules governing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, citing an increasing imbalance between the region’s two major airports.

Six members of Congress sent a letter to the House and Senate Transportation committees Tuesday, urging them not to alter the rules governing Reagan National in the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, arguing recent changes have led to undue congestion. Full story

May 4, 2015

Glock Photo Sparks Firestorm on Capitol Hill

On Jan. 29, this gun was left in a bathroom stall inside the Senate office portion of the Capitol VIsitor Center. (Photo courtesy of CQ Roll Call Tipster)

On Jan. 29, this gun was left in a bathroom stall inside the Senate office portion of the Capitol Visitor Center. (Courtesy of CQ Roll Call Tipster)

A firestorm sparked by CQ Roll Call’s May 1 report on three instances of Capitol Police leaving loaded guns in problematic places has put top law enforcement officials on edge, launched a hunt for the source behind the photo of one unattended Glock and drawn fresh scrutiny from Congress.

“It’s unacceptable that firearms were left unattended by Capitol Police officers,” Rep. Tom Graves, the Georgia Republican who wields the gavel on the House Appropriations panel with jurisdiction over the agency, said in a Monday email. “While each of these incidents is under investigation by the Capitol Police’s Inspector General, the Subcommittee will take an active role in oversight efforts to help ensure similar incidents don’t happen in the future.” Full story

Paul Weighs In on Cruz Effort to Block D.C. Law

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has weighed in on Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to strike down a District of Columbia law aimed at combating workplace discrimination, seemingly supporting Cruz’s effort.

Last week, the House voted to block the District’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act and the Texas Republican urged the Senate to take similar action. Paul appears to support the effort to block the law, which conservatives said could violate religious freedom. Full story

Report: Busy Season for Congressional Ethics Investigators

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Biggert will serve as temporary co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The first few months of 2015 brought a flurry of activity at the Office of Congressional Ethics, with the quasi-independent agency launching 15 preliminary reviews of allegations of misconduct involving members or staff of the House. The office also lost its chairman, former Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla.

According to the quarterly report from the OCE, 13 of those investigations were on track to be sent to the House Ethics Committee for further review, and will eventually be made public if they are not recommended for dismissal. For now it is unclear who or what is being probed, though former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., is not a target. The OCE only has jurisdiction over current members and employees of the House. Full story

Congress Is for Hackers

Thune checks out augmented reality glasses after speaking at a "hack-a-thon" hosted at Google's office in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thune tries out augmented reality glasses after speaking at a “hack-a-thon” hosted at Google’s office in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In fewer than two days last week, more than 100 hackers — coders, business analysts, former congressional staffers and grass-roots advocacy specialists — developed 11 projects aimed at helping Congress function more effectively and transparently.

It’s the kind of efficiency the legislators who spoke to those assembled at Google’s Washington, D.C., office can only dream of.

The winning project was something called “Coalition Builder,” which stemmed from Sen. Cory Booker’s challenge to develop a program to make it easier to find potential legislative partners.

Full story

May 1, 2015

Capitol Police Investigating Gun Report Leak

On Jan. 29, this gun was left in a bathroom stall inside the Senate office portion of the Capitol VIsitor Center. (Photo courtesy of CQ Roll Call Tipster)

On Jan. 29, this gun was left in a bathroom stall inside the Senate office portion of the Capitol Visitor Center. (Photo obtained by CQ Roll Call)

After two CQ Roll Call reports Friday called attention to safety lapses involving firearms in the Capitol and raised eyebrows among concerned members of Congress, police officials announced a new investigation — into how CQ Roll Call got the story.

U.S. Capitol Police said an independent body is investigating the source of a report of instances of guns left unattended in three occasions on the Capitol complex. Full story

Do Capitol Police Problems Go Beyond the Bathroom? (Updated)

On Jan. 29, this gun was left in a bathroom stall inside the Senate office portion of the Capitol VIsitor Center. (Photo courtesy of CQ Roll Call Tipster)

This gun was left in a bathroom stall inside the Senate office portion of the Capitol Visitor Center on Jan. 29, according to a source. (Photo obtained by CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 3:23 p.m. | CQ Roll Call’s publication Friday of a jarring photo of an unattended handgun reportedly found in a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom in January had members of Congress questioning the preparedness of the police who protect the Hill —  and whether authorities are concealing lapses in safety.

“I was unaware of these instances until this morning,” said House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “The Capitol Hill Police are awesome people who need to retrain everyone that carries a gun. It does not surprise me that mistakes can be made, what would surprise me is if we did not retrain every single person with better procedures.” Full story

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