Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 26, 2015

April 24, 2015

Cochran Staffer Confesses to Sex-for-Drugs Scheme, Feds Say

Cochran is Mississippi's senior senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cochran is Mississippi’s senior senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Agents from Homeland Security Investigations raided the Northwest Washington home of a Senate staffer at approximately 6 a.m. Thursday morning, in a drug bust prompted by Customs and Border Protection officers in Ohio, who intercepted a 1.1-kilogram package of gamma-Butyrolactone, or GBL, bound for D.C.

Fred W. Pagan, who has worked for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., since October 2000, allegedly confessed to ordering the GBL, a Schedule 1 controlled drug, from a business in China, and admitted he knew it was illegal. According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court, Pagan also admitted he had received three prior shipments of the drug. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:54 p.m.
DC Crime, Staffers

Under Microscope for Gyrocopter, Capitol Police Stretched Thin

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Did Capitol Police identify the gyrocopter as an imminent threat? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of Congress agreed Doug Hughes is lucky to be alive after his dangerous stunt, based on what they learned about the April 15 gyrocopter landing during closed-door briefings from Capitol law enforcement. But big questions remain unanswered.

Police had multiple weapons trained on the small aircraft, but decided not to shoot the 61-year-old mailman down from the sky. Spring break crowds roaming the Hill may have played a part in their judgment call, though lawmakers declined to go into specifics about where the guns were and who held their fire. Full story

April 23, 2015

Norton Rips Vitter for ‘Mean-Spirited’ Obamacare Probe

Vitter's attempt to subpoena documents from the D.C. government failed Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter’s attempt to subpoena documents from the D.C. government failed Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., applauded a Senate committee for declining to subpoena the District of Columbia government Thursday, but not before saving some choice words for its chairman, Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

“Perhaps after having his hat handed to him by his own colleagues, Vitter will cease this mean-spirited attempt to deprive Members and staff of employer contributions to their health insurance premiums,” Norton said at the end of her lengthy statement. Full story

Is God Angry With Capitol Police? (Video)

Compounding a series of dark days for Capitol Police, a bolt of lightning struck a post on the south side of the Hill this week while an officer was stationed inside.

Full story

Republicans Vote Against Vitter’s Obamacare Subpoena

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. David Vitter’s quest against the government contribution to congressional health care hit a road block Thursday, as a number of Republicans on the panel he chairs declined to support his effort to subpoena the District of Columbia government for health care documents.

In a 14-5 vote, members of the Senate Small Business Committee voted not to subpoena the D.C. Health Benefit and Exchange Authority, with five Republicans voting against their chairman’s effort to compel DCHBEA to reveal which House and Senate employees authorized Congress to be classified as a small business. Participating in the D.C. small business exchange allowed members of Congress and congressional staff to keep the government-employer contribution to their health care plans. Full story

April 22, 2015

Vitter’s Obamacare Probe Continues With Subpoena Vote

Vitter is continuing to demand answers about congressional health care enrollment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Vitter is continuing to demand answers about congressional health care enrollment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. David Vitter’s crusade against government contributions to congressional health care plans continues this week with a vote to subpoena documents from the D.C. government, but he may have some dissenters in the Republican ranks.

The Louisiana Republican is the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, and he has used his perch to investigate congressional enrollment in the District of Columbia’s small-business exchange, which allowed for a government contribution to congressional health care plans. But his investigation has some members questioning whether this is an issue for his committee. Full story

Suspicious Substance Leads to Partial Cannon Lockdown (Updated)

Doyle, left, chats with other lawmakers outside his office. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Doyle, left, chats with other lawmakers outside his office. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:01 p.m. | Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., returned from an afternoon series of votes to find a surprising scene outside his office on the second floor of the Cannon House Office Building.

A Capitol Police officer was blocking the corridor, telling about a dozen onlookers that the department’s hazardous materials team was suiting up to investigate a suspicious substance. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:14 p.m.
Campus

As Campaigns Heat Up, Candidates Mind Senate Rules

Paul's campaign video raised questions about a Senate rule governing floor footage. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul’s campaign video raised questions about a Senate rule governing floor footage. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Juggling a grueling campaign schedule and work as a U.S. senator can be a daunting task for the ones running for president, but as election season picks up, they’ll also have to be mindful of the Senate rules for campaigning.

For example, speaking on the prestigious Senate floor about policies affecting the nation would be prime fodder for a campaign video, but the candidates are not allowed to use floor footage in videos — or are they? Full story

Senate Contractors to Join Federal Workers Strike at Capitol

Reginald Lewis (center), a CVC food services worker, goes on strike for higher wages in November. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reginald Lewis (center), a CVC food services worker, goes on strike for higher wages in November. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Contract workers in the U.S. Senate will walk off their jobs Wednesday to join contractors from across the District of Columbia in a strike calling for preference to be given to contractors who offer better wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights.

The Senate janitors and food service workers will join workers from the Capitol Visitor Center, the Pentagon, Union Station, the National Zoo and Smithsonian Institution at the rally on the West Front of the Capitol Wednesday morning.   Full story

For Capitol Police, Change Keeps Coming

Malloy's retirement comes amid reports of frustrations between rank-and-file officers and department brass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Capitol Police are dealing with a number of hot-button issues, including costs and department leadership. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Capitol Police, it’s been an unsettling and rough few weeks characterized by speculation about their top leaders, a suicide on the West Front, a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol lawn and members of Congress looking to trim the force’s budget.

It started earlier this month, with news that Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine was headed for the exits when the resignation letter he submitted to the Hill’s top law enforcement officials surfaced. Full story

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