Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2015

Posts by Bridget Bowman

304 Posts

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 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

July 23, 2015

Senate Panel OKs 10-Year Credit-Monitoring for Hacked Workers

Mikulski offered two OPM amendments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mikulski offered two OPM amendments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Senate panel approved enhanced protections for the more than 22 million federal workers and retirees affected by data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management Thursday, but opted not to provide additional funds for the embattled agency.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, by voice vote, agreed to adopt more protections for federal workers and retirees whose information was stolen in two breaches at OPM, by attaching a provision to the appropriations bill with jurisdiction over the agency. But lawmakers also opted, by voice vote, not to provide additional money to OPM. Full story

July 22, 2015

Capitol Food Workers Bring Income Inequality to Congress’ Front Step

A protester at Wednesday's rally. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Workers called for higher wages and a union. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

For the third time in the past eight months, food-service workers at the Capitol have gone on strike to push for higher wages and union representation, a rare example of a national issue — income inequality — hitting close to home for Congress.

Forty Capitol workers, the highest number so far, joined roughly 650 federal contract workers from across the District of Columbia Wednesday who went on strike and rallied in Upper Senate Park. Full story

July 21, 2015

Lawmaker Threatens to Strip WMATA of Management

Mica conducted a hearing on WMATA safety and management. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

Amid concerns about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s management of the second busiest transit system in the country, one member of Congress is threatening to strip WMATA of its current management and structure.

“If this nonsense continues in the lack of management and the ability to get extensive management in place, I will work, and I think I can get support, to require that the operations and management be put up for bid and be given to an operating company,” Rep. John L. Mica said at a hearing on Metro safety and management Tuesday evening. Full story

WWI Group Asks Congress to Help Commemorate War

Rep. Ted Poe discusses commemorating WWI. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Poe discusses commemorating WWI. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Braving the stifling humidity, a handful of members from the Marine Corps re-enactors unit donned their “doughboy” uniforms at the Capitol to bring attention to the commemoration of World War I.

The “doughboys,” the term used for American soldiers in WWI, stood at attention Tuesday morning on the East Front as part of the WWI Centennial Commission’s event to raise awareness about the its plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American involvement in the Great War. Full story

House Phone System Malfunctions During Maintenance

Phones in the House went down Tuesday morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Phones in the House went down Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The phone system in the House went down for roughly one hour Tuesday morning, causing some lawmakers to direct phone calls to their district offices.

Engineers for the chief administrative officer sent a message at 10:43 a.m. to House offices stating, “CAO Engineers are working to resolve a problem preventing external phones from calling House phone numbers.” One hour later, CAO engineers sent another notice that they had “resolved the problem with incoming phone calls.”

The notice did not indicate the cause of the malfunction. When asked about the cause, CAO spokeswoman Emily Goodin wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call, “Routine maintenance was being performed on the phone system when a temporary outage occurred.  The problem has been resolved.”

Though the problem was eventually resolved, the malfunction caused some chaos on Capitol Hill.

A handful of lawmakers’ Twitter accounts attempted to alert constituents about the issue, instructing those looking to contact them to call their district offices.

In Rep. Brad Wenstrup’s Longworth office, Communications Director Greg Brooks first noticed the phone problem around 10:30 a.m. Brooks told CQ Roll Call he was expecting a call from someone, but received an email instead, saying they couldn’t get through. Staffers in the Ohio Republican’s office began investigating the problem, and discovered word was spreading on an internal listserv.

“Our phones in DC are experiencing technical difficulties,” Wenstrup’s official account tweeted at 10:54 a.m., along with contact info for the congressman’s Cinncinatti office.

Fellow Ohio Republican Pat Tiberi tweeted about the problems with the phones in his Longworth office one minute later, instructing those in need of assistance to contact his office in Worthington, Ohio.

Rep. David Joyce, D-Ohio, cited “technical difficulties” in Washington on social media. The phones were down for about 45 minutes, according to Kevin Benacci, Joyce’s deputy chief of staff.

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., alerted his constituents to the “out-of-order” phones.

District staff for Rep. Lynn Jenkins helped the Kansas Republican’s Capitol Hill office realize the phone lines were down, according to spokesman Tom Brandt. The office sent out a tweet, instructing callers to dial Jenkins’ Topeka office. About 10 to 15 minutes after the problem was discovered, the phones began working, Brandt said.

As of noon, Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., was the only congressman to tweet that his phones were back up. A GOP staffer in Las Vegas said staff on the Hill notified Hardy’s district team of the issue. It was resolved 25 minutes later.

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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