Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

Posts by Bridget Bowman

22 Posts

September 22, 2014

WMATA Receives $21 Million in Sandy Relief Funds

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The Capitol South Metro station was closed for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority received $21 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation Monday as part of a multi-billion dollar effort to help transportation systems recover from Hurricane Sandy and prepare for future disasters.

“While Metro did sustain some minor damage — primarily localized flooding — from Sandy, these grants are focused on reducing the risk of damage from future natural disasters,” WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call.

New York and New Jersey received the vast majority of the nearly $3.6 billion in funding for “resilience projects.” The Washington Metro system’s funds will be used to raise vent covers and improve infrastructure that insulates subway tunnels from rain and sewage.

“A timetable for construction will be determined once design work is completed,” Stessel wrote. “Because much of this work is above ground or within the pumping stations themselves, these upgrades are not expected to cause delays to service.” Full story

September 19, 2014

Construction Underway at D.C. Ukrainian Memorial

 Construction Underway at D.C. Ukrainian Memorial

Construction on the memorial began two weeks ago. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Congress Thursday to ask for more U.S. military aid in its fight against Russian-backed separatists. Less than a mile away, construction workers were busy building a memorial to victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933.

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America attempted to bring Poroshenko to the memorial site on the triangle of grass where North Capitol, Massachusetts Avenue and F Street meet next to Union Station.

However, Michael Sawkiw, the director of UCCA’s Washington office, said the president’s schedule did not have room for a visit to the area, but he told CQ Roll Call in a Friday phone interview that Poroshenko is scheduled to attend the dedication ceremony when the memorial is complete.

“We’re moving full steam ahead and we’re looking forward for a dedication sometime next year,” Sawkiw said. Weather permitting, the memorial will open in the late spring or early summer of 2015. Full story

Treaties Exhibit Ushers in 10 Years of American Indian Museum

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Indigenous leaders from the Cowboy and Indian Alliance participate in a Capitol Hill protest in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Museum of the American Indian will open its first exhibit exploring the contentious issue of treaties between the U.S. government and Indian nations next week.

“This exhibit is a tangible reminder of the federal government’s relationship with sovereign tribal nations of this country,” Senate Indian Affairs Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Thursday. “It’s also a reminder of the moral and legal obligations that the United States has to honor and uphold our treaties with Indian country.”

Tester addressed a group gathered at a day-long symposium at the museum discussing the exhibit. “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” opened on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the museum. The exhibit will continue until the fall of 2018.

Museum Director Kevin Gover said during a preview Tuesday the display was years in the making and came at the request of a number of tribes and members of Congress. Full story

September 18, 2014

Hill Staffers Hear Advice for Hiring Veterans

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Sen. Lindsey Graham greets wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center as they arrive for a lunch in the Senate in April 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project addressed a group of Capitol Hill staffers in Dirksen Senate Office Building Thursday to offer suggestions for hiring wounded veterans and accommodating those veterans in the workplace.

Brett Sheets and Brian Nichols, veterans of the Army and Navy respectively, work for WWP’s Warriors to Work program, which provides career advice to wounded post-9/11 veterans transitioning to civilian life.

The two WWP representatives offered a number of recommendations for offices looking to hire veterans. Full story

September 17, 2014

Press Galleries Pushing McCarthy for ‘Pen and Pad’ Briefings

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McCarthy has expressed interest in reinstating the briefings. (By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Members of the Capitol Hill press corps are pushing for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to reinstate weekly “pen and pad” briefings to discuss the agenda, a tradition that ended with former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

The chairmen of the Periodical, Daily and Radio-TV press galleries submitted a letter to McCarthy Tuesday evening, urging him to bring back the weekly meetings and set a date for his first briefing in November, when Congress returns.

McCarthy spokesman Mike Long wrote in an email, “We’re reviewing the letter.” He did not know when the leader will respond to the request.

In their letter, Heather Rothman of Bloomberg BNA, Siobhan Hughes of The Wall Street Journal, and Frank Thorp V of NBC News pointed out that McCarthy has expressed interest in holding the briefings.

McCarthy told a group of reporters Monday that he is interested in holding pen-and-pad briefings but he has yet to formally respond to the media’s request for the meetings.

“These meetings are crucial to our ability to follow the agenda of the majority party of the House,” they wrote in the letter, which was shared with CQ Roll Call.

The leaders of the press corps also appealed to McCarthy’s own desire for transparency.

“You have listed ‘transparency in government’ as an ideal you strive to achieve,” they wrote, “and we believe interfacing regularly with the Capitol Hill Press Corps is an important step toward this goal.”

Cantor put an end to the weekly briefings in 2011. Since Cantor lost his primary and resigned, the press has been pushing to reinstate the briefings. In addition to the letter sent Tuesday, the chairmen issued a similar letter in July and also met with McCarthy’s staff to discuss the issue in August.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 16, 2014

5 Vacancies on Next Year’s 50 Richest List

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Rockefeller is the wealthiest lawmaker who is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There are at least five lawmakers topping Roll Call’s 50 Richest Members of Congress list for the final time. They are the wealthiest retirees who also happen to be on our Casualty List.

Of course, any number of lawmakers on the 50 Richest list facing tough re-election campaigns might not make it back for the 114th Congress.

This year’s top 50 had a minimum net worth of $7.47 million, and it’s unclear whether any of the congressional hopefuls on the ballot this fall have enough wealth to make it on the list.

For now, here are the five spots definitely opening up once the new Congress is sworn in.

The three Republicans and two Democrats are listed in the order they appear on the 50 Richest list. 50RichestLogo 240x240 5 Vacancies on Next Years 50 Richest List

4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

Rockefeller is the wealthiest retiring member, with a minimum net worth of more than $108 million.

Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia is vying for Rockefeller’s seat and she is the favorite in the race, which is rated Leans Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. But she won’t be taking Rockefeller’s spot on the 50 Richest list. Although Capito and her husband have a large number of investments, her minimum net worth is roughly $448,000, according to the full Roll Call tally that will be published later this year.

Full story

September 15, 2014

D.C. Statehood Hearing Explores Other Options

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Carper, left, chaired Monday’s hearing on D.C. statehood options. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Washington, D.C. residents crowded into a hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Monday to witness the first hearing on D.C. statehood in two decades, though enacting statehood in the 113th Congress is not likely anytime soon.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, facilitated the hearing, fulfilling a promise that the Senate would consider D.C. statehood in the fall.

But at the end of the hearing, Carper searched for viable solutions other than statehood, asking the second round of panelists, “What should we be able to agree to?” Full story

September 12, 2014

CBO Announces YouTube Channel

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Elemndorf announced the YouTube channel in a blog post. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Can’t get enough of budget hearings? The Congressional Budget Office has you covered.

The CBO announced Friday that it is launching its own YouTube channel, which will showcase videos of congressional testimonies, media briefings and more.

“We consider the transparency and accessibility of our work to be basic values of the agency,” CBO Director Doug Elmendorf wrote in a blog post announcing the channel.

As of 4:30 p.m., the YouTube channel had 30 subscribers and had posted 15 videos posted, which all are of Elmendorf testifying to Congress about the budget outlook.

The YouTube channel is not the only social media platform for the CBO. The budget organization also has a Twitter account that lists more than 5,000 followers. The CBO also has a SlideShare account, which showcases documents regarding forecasts and press briefings, with more than 13,600 followers.

 

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September 11, 2014

‘Muslims for Life’ Blood Drive Honors 9/11 Victims

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“Muslims for Life” blood drive in Rayburn House Office Building. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

After the Capitol Hill community observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, volunteers went to work in the Rayburn House Office building to facilitate the annual “Muslims for Life” blood drive in the Capitol.

The “Muslims for Life” campaign is coordinated by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a movement within Islam. The campaign began in 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, as an effort to honor those who lost their lives and serve as a reminder that Islam promotes peace.

“In a time where those of us who are of the Islamic faith have to apologize for many acts of murderers, you all are here offering the best of what our community has to offer — truly affecting what we’re all about, which is saving human life,” Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, said at the blood drive Thursday morning.

The Minnesota Democrat was one of a handful of members of Congress expected at the blood drive throughout the day. He addressed the volunteers along with Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., who said he hoped to signify that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has bipartisan support.

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Petri (left) and Ellison (center) talk with Naseem Mahdi, an Ahmadiyya Muslim Communtiy national vice president. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

“I’m trying to support the good works of the Ahmadiyya community,” Petri said. “They’ve been good citizens in my part of Wisconsin.”

This year, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., co-chair of the congressional Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus, helped organize the event. The Ahmadiyya community members stressed that lawmakers welcomed their effort to bring the campaign to Capitol Hill.

“Nobody has ever questioned, then, why I am going to a blood drive which is organized by the Muslims,” Naseem Mahdi, an Ahmadiyaa national vice president told CQ Roll Call. “There was not an issue, you know. Not only here in the Capitol, anywhere in the United States.”

Although the event involved reflection on the 9/11 tragedy, the news that the U.S. will engage in a military action against an Islamic terrorist group also weighed heavily on the minds of the attendees.

In his address at the event, Mahdi pivoted his remarks to ISIS, stressing once again that the Muslim community rejects the acts of violence.

“We condemn this kind of violence. I am telling you, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community rejects this kind of crime and massacres,” Mahdi said. He later referred to ISIS, adding, “This is not Islam. This is a barbaric plan which will never succeed by God’s help.”

Congress continues to debate the strategy to confront ISIS, but Thursday, as flags flew at half-staff, the Capitol Hill community also remembered the lives lost 13 years ago.

The “Muslims for Life” campaign began with that goal of honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks and works to save others, since one pint of blood can help save up to three lives.

Since its inception in 2011, the campaign has resulted in 906 drives that collected more than 33,000 pints of blood. The goal for this year’s campaign is to collect 13,000 pints, potentially saving an additional 39,000 lives.

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By Bridget Bowman Posted at 12:07 p.m.
Campus

September 10, 2014

Capitol Hill Club Clothing Drive Benefits Veterans

As the debate over military action against ISIS captivated Capitol Hill Wednesday, staffers and lawmakers gathered to help veterans from our most recent wars in their transition to civilian life.

The National Republican Club of Capitol Hill held its second annual clothing drive Wednesday morning and this year the professional attire will be donated to veterans.

“We have thousands of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan that are now looking to get into the workforce,” said Capitol Hill Club General Manager Stan Lawson. “And they’re in need of professional attire.” Full story

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