Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 1, 2015

April 1, 2015

Senate GOP Presidential Hopefuls Take On D.C.

Cruz, left, and Rubio, right, both introduced measures targeting D.C. laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz, left, and Rubio, right, both introduced measures targeting D.C. laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the course of eight days, two Senate Republicans eyeing the presidency introduced measures to strike down District of Columbia laws, causing local officials and activists to accuse them of using the District for their own political gain.

“I think it’s no accident that both of these senators just before announcing [their interest in running for president], try to use the District as the fallback for their base,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in a March 27 phone interview. “It’s not as if we have the right to keep people interfering with our local laws. So why not pick on us?” Full story

March 31, 2015

‘Team 26′ Demands Congress Address Gun Violence

Team 26 arrives at the Capitol. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Team 26 arrives at the Capitol. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, 26 bikers in green jerseys turned off of First Street and headed straight toward the Capitol Dome.

“Team 26″ arrived in the District of Columbia after a four-day, 400-mile journey from Newtown, Conn., as part of the third annual Sandy Hook Ride On Washington to honor victims of gun violence and call on Congress to act. Full story

Bowser Bans Travel to Indiana Over Religious Freedom Law

Mayor Muriel Bowser

Bowser banned official travel to Indiana Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an executive order Tuesday prohibiting D.C. officials and employees from approving official travel to Indiana in response to the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The RFRA bars laws that would inhibit a person, religious institution or business from following one’s religious beliefs. But critics say the law opens the door for discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Full story

March 30, 2015

Wisconsin Field Hearing Could Fuel Critics of Ron Johnson, Tammy Baldwin

A whistleblower who contacted both Baldwin and Johnson will testify Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A whistleblower who contacted both Baldwin and Johnson will testify Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Monday’s rare recess field hearing will focus attention on the controversy within a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Medical Center that’s become a thorny subject for both the state’s senators.

Among the witnesses slated to testify at the joint congressional event in Tomah, Wis., is Ryan Honl, a former facility employee who corresponded with the offices of Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson. In both cases, Honl’s whistleblower tips about over-prescription of opiates were allegedly mishandled. Full story

March 27, 2015

After Schock: House to Review Spending Rules

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Committee on House Administration announced Friday it is reviewing regulations governing lawmaker spending. The announcement comes in the wake of Illinois Republican Aaron Schock’s resignation due to improper spending of his congressional funds.

House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said in a statement that the committee “will review current House regulations and explore ways to strengthen the regulations governing official expenses, as well as ways to enhance the training and educational opportunities available to assist each office with compliance.” Full story

Ed Whitfield’s Ties to Lobbyist Wife Subject of House Ethics Probe (Updated)

Whitfield, left, has denied using his seat to boost his family's financial interests. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Whitfield, left, has denied using his seat to boost his family’s financial interests. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:30 p.m. | The congressional ethics police have launched a formal investigation into allegations that Rep. Edward Whitfield has been using his House seat for family gain.

The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced that its 10 members have voted unanimously to form an Investigative Subcommittee to determine whether the Kentucky Republican violated any law, rule or regulation with respect to ties to his lobbyist wife, Constance Harriman Whitfield. The probe centers on reports that the couple may have coordinated to advance her work on behalf of the Humane Society Legislative Fund or the Humane Society of the United States. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:29 p.m.
Ethics, Investigations

March 26, 2015

Rubio, Jordan Target D.C.’s Local Control Over Gun Regulations

Rubio wants to loosen D.C. gun laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rubio wants to loosen D.C. gun laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio introduced a bill Thursday aimed at loosening the District of Columbia’s gun laws.

The Republican lawmakers’ bill, titled the Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015, states that D.C. “remains one of the most dangerous large cities in the United States.” The text states that D.C.’s regulations prevent citizens from protecting themselves against violent crime. Full story

Mendelson to Lankford: D.C. Bills Don’t Violate Religious Freedom

Mendelson, left, sent a letter to Lankford arguing the bills do not violate religious freedom. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mendelson, left, sent a letter to Lankford arguing the bills do not violate religious freedom. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced resolutions of disapproval to block two District of Columbia bills from becoming law, the D.C. Council chairman took his argument in support of the bills directly to Lankford.

“There is no intent on our part to violate the rights of others, such as freedom of religion,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson wrote in a two-page letter sent to Lankford on March 20. Full story

Capitol Fun Police? Farr Opposes July Fourth Security Plan

Farr

Farr fed up with Capitol Police curtailing fun around the Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the House’s most liberal Democrats vowed to be the “squeaky wheel” if congressional leaders agree to recommendations from Hill law enforcement to limit access to the Capitol on July Fourth.

“This building belongs to the people, not to the Capitol Police, and they ought to accommodate the people who own this building, the American people, so they can come and visit their Capitol,” Rep. Sam Farr of California said Thursday, telling CQ Roll Call that the March 12 proposal ticked him off. Full story

Congress Not Pushing Back on July Fourth Security Crackdown

Oh, say will you still be able to see from the Capitol? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oh, say will you still be able to see from the Capitol? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hill staffers would be the people most affected if Capitol law enforcement cracks down on Memorial Day and Fourth of July parties. That might be why members of Congress do not seem to be pushing back on a March 12 letter from the Capitol Police Board.

While lawmakers dismissed past proposals to limit access to the so-called “people’s house,” such as building a fence around the 276-acre complex, as former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer recently suggested, this most recent recommendation might prove more popular. Full story

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