Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2014

Posts by Hannah Hess

318 Posts

November 26, 2014

Marion Barry to Be Memorialized With Citywide Procession, Public Viewing

cq970313 11470b 440x292 Marion Barry to Be Memorialized With Citywide Procession, Public Viewing

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District of Columbia plans to bid farewell to its “mayor for life” over the course of three days, with a procession through all eight wards of the city and a massive celebration at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Tens of thousands are expected to attend the Dec. 6 viewing and memorial service for Marion Barry, the former four-term mayor and Ward 8 councilmember who died Sunday at age 78. President Barack Obama’s name may even appear on the guest list, organizers suggested Wednesday.

Mayor Vincent Gray declared Barry the most iconic figure in the history of the District of Columbia, then quipped, “and remember, that includes the federal government also.” He recalled Barry’s pride in 2008, when he saw Obama receive the Democratic nomination in Denver. ”He saw everything that he had stood for, and everything he had tried to do embodied in this African-American man being nominated to be the president of the United States,” Gray said.

Barry will lie in repose in the John A. Wilson Building for 24 hours, beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4. The last person bestowed with that honor was Barry’s ex-wife, Effi Barry, in 2007. A brief service will honor his contributions as an important civic leader in the decades after Home Rule, who served 16 years as mayor and 16 years on the D.C. Council.

“His passing is hard on the institution,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Wednesday.  District employees will be allowed up to two hours of administrative leave on Thursday to visit the closed casket.

Barry’s body will be transported through the city on Dec. 5, along a route yet to be determined, to one of the churches he regularly attended. The Temple of Praise on Southern Avenue Southeast will host a musical and video tribute from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by a community memorial service from 6 to 9 p.m.

The convention center viewing begins at 8 a.m. on Dec. 6, with a memorial service to follow at 11 a.m. A private burial will follow.

Related:

Marion Barry, 4-Term Mayor and D.C. Councilmember, Dies at 78

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:27 p.m.
DC Council, DC Mayor

Steve Stockman Takes Aim at D.C. Traffic Cams

egypt014 071614 440x314 Steve Stockman Takes Aim at D.C. Traffic Cams

Stockman, right, wants gun ranges and no traffic cams in D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Outgoing Rep. Steve Stockman is trying to leave his mark on Washington residents before he heads back to Texas by using his seat in Congress to intervene in local policy on guns and traffic.

With a handful of weeks left in his term, the Republican introduced bills to mandate a public firearm range in the District of Columbia and prohibit the city from using automated speed and traffic cameras.

Stockman’s gun legislation comes about a month after the city enacted a system to begin issuing concealed carry permits, in response to a federal judge’s ruling. The July 26 order briefly wiped D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns from the books, something Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to do over the summer with an appropriations rider. The D.C. Council is putting the finishing touches on a more permanent solution that would maintain strict gun control standards.

Stockman’s traffic camera proposal is similar to that by another short-timer in Congress: Michigan Republican Kerry Bentivolio, a freshman heading home at the end of this session. Bentivolio sought co-sponsors for a similar bill last year, but it was never introduced. Stockman’s proposal is more broad. In addition to targeting the District, it would cut certain federal highway funds from any state or local government that uses automated traffic enforcement systems.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., caught wind of Stockman’s attempt to curtail traffic cameras and accused both Republicans of bullying the District.

“These two Members, on their way out of Congress, have turned their focus away from their own constituents,” Norton said in a statement. “So, free from accountability to their own residents, they are making a last ditch attempt to secure a legacy on the backs of District of Columbia residents.”

Stockman did not respond to requests for comment about the legislation.

Stockman might still be seeing more of D.C. than he would like. He and three of his staffers were recently subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Stockman has been under scrutiny for campaign contributions from his staff.

Correction: This story has been updated to accurately state that District law banned the carrying of handguns in public, after the Heller vs. DC ruling in 2008.

Related:

Gray Signs D.C. Handgun Law to ‘Cure Alleged Constitutional Flaws’

Steve Stockman, Three Aides Subpoenaed in District Court

Steve Stockman Not Going Gently Into That Good Night

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Eisenhower Memorial Plan Still Faces Skepticism, Despite Approvals

hearing002 040714 440x296 Eisenhower Memorial Plan Still Faces Skepticism, Despite Approvals

Simpson, left, and Calvert both want consensus from the Eisenhower family. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite rosy projections from Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission staff of breaking ground on a monument to the 34th president in the next calendar year, Capitol Hill’s representatives on the commission remain skeptical.

“Ultimately, what I think you’ve got to have is a buy-in from the Eisenhower family,” said Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, one of six members of Congress on the bipartisan commission. Anne and Susan Eisenhower have requested a simpler design, although the current plan has gained traction with two of the federal entities that must sign off on final plans for the Southwest Washington memorial park.

“I don’t think you can do a memorial when you’ve got the family opposed to it,” Simpson said. He declined to give his own opinion of architect Frank Gehry’s plan for statues of Ike as a young boy in Kansas, World War II commander and president, set against a massive stainless steel tapestry depicting prairie scenery. Gehry’s plan originally called for two additional tapestries. But those were scrapped, leaving two freestanding 80-foot columns that have continued to draw criticism. Full story

November 25, 2014

Ferguson Protesters March on Capitol, SCOTUS, DOJ

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Protesters chant in front of the White House on Nov. 24, following the announcement of no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Facedown on the pavement — meant to emulate the body of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed on Aug. 9 — one protester sprawled on the sidewalk outside the Department of Justice in downtown Washington on Tuesday morning.

Only camouflage pants and sneakers were visible beneath a pile of blankets. Ribbons of tattered, yellow police tape snaked though the scene, some draped from the necks of about two dozen fellow demonstrators who surrounded the body, passing a bullhorn and shouting rallying cries in support of protesters in Ferguson, Mo., to pedestrians and police along Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

“If black people in St. Louis can do it, then anybody can do it,” cried Lydia, a Howard University student and native of Missouri, who declined to give her last name. She told CQ Roll Call that she joined 200 other students in a march from U Street Northwest to the White House on Monday night, venting anger over a grand jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Brown. Full story

D.C. Statehood Activists Looking Toward GOP Congress

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Activists say local controversies, such as the case against Gray, can’t thwart cause. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If anyone understands what a “grungy game” politics can be, it’s Capitol Hill staffers.

That’s what Johnny Barnes, an attorney who spent 25 years working for members of the House, theorized when the front page of the Washington Post recently announced that federal prosecutors might be moving closer to indicting Mayor Vincent Gray. Barnes huddled on Nov. 18 with about a dozen D.C. residents in the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building, preparing to pitch staffers on why the District deserves to be the 51st state.

“These folks,” Barnes said, “are less sensitive or less focused on that kind of thing, because they know what politics is about.” He chuckled during the interview, recalling his interactions with colorful Ohio Democrat James Traficant, who was booted from the House for corruption. “It’s a grungy game, and they know that.” Full story

November 21, 2014

Capitol Police Chasing Law Enforcement Accreditation

graduation 172 111414 440x292 Capitol Police Chasing Law Enforcement Accreditation

Under Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, right, the department is pursuing accredidation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a legislative branch agency, the Capitol Police force is subject to oversight by both chambers of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, the Office of Compliance and other external entities, including an independent Office of the Inspector General.

The department also holds itself to more than 350 meticulous standards set by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., better known as the CALEA. The nonprofit corporation was established in 1979, through joint efforts of major law enforcement groups such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs’ Association as part of a movement to bring more professionalism to policing.

For more than 13 years, Capitol Police have maintained CALEA accreditation, paying around $100,000 in fees. On Nov. 22, the department’s accreditation will be up for its latest review. Full story

November 20, 2014

Republican National Committee Headquarters Hit With Blue Spray Paint

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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise outside the RNC’s headquarters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A vandal struck the Republican National Committee headquarters on Veterans Day, according to Capitol Police.

Around 7 a.m. on Nov. 11, a security guard spotted a young man spray painting a large blue “V” on the front door of 310 First St. SE, according to the police report. The graffiti was thwarted by the guard, who handcuffed the perpetrator and called Capitol Police.

Wilbert Henry Norton, 24, of Floyd, Va., was arrested and charged with destruction of property under $1,000, a misdemeanor. As a condition of his release, he was ordered to stay away from Capitol grounds, including all congressional office buildings.

The RNC paint job appears to be an isolated incident, though other buildings in the area have been targeted in recent months, according to sources familiar with the location.

Asked if there’s been an increase in vandalism around the Capitol grounds, the department provided statistics. To date in 2014, six incidents of graffiti have been reported to Capitol Police. That’s an uptick from five in 2013, but a decrease from 2012, when 10 graffiti incidents were reported on Capitol grounds. Some members faced vandalism in their districts that year, a backlash to passage of the health care overhaul.

In an email, Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the department, said Capitol Police “strategically deploy our assets throughout the Capitol Campus as part of our primary law enforcement mission to protect the Congress, the Capitol Complex, and the legislative process.”

Capitol Police work with the Architect of the Capitol to remove markings whenever graffiti is reported.

Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report. 

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Mandatory House Ethics Training? Some Incoming Freshmen Don’t See the Point

america presser011 080113 440x303 Mandatory House Ethics Training? Some Incoming Freshmen Dont See the Point

Cicilline wants mandatory ethics training for House lawmakers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minnesota Republican Tom Emmer, the staunchly conservative congressman-elect preparing to replace retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann, drew three takeaways from his recent training on House ethics rules.

“Pay for everything yourself, don’t take any gifts, and — if you have a question about either of those two rules — here’s the people you call,” Emmer quipped Tuesday morning, resting up in the basement of the Capitol Hill Club after a chilly photo shoot on the East Front Capitol steps with his fellow freshmen. “It’s that basic.”

Emmer and three other incoming members preparing to replace House lawmakers leaving Washington with open ethics reviews, all seemed to feel confident they were well-equipped to navigate Congress within the bounds of the 675 pages of rules governing the House, after a three-hour ethics briefing on the first day of the second week of orientation. Full story

November 19, 2014

Charlie Dent: Nice Guy Tapped for Tough Job

dent 055 121113 440x292 Charlie Dent: Nice Guy Tapped for Tough Job

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent will serve as chairman of the House Ethics Committee in the next Congress, Speaker John A. Boehner announced in a statement praising the congressman’s practicality.

“Charlie Dent is the epitome of what an Ethics Committee chairman should be: he is thoughtful and well-respected on both sides of the aisle for his integrity and good judgment,” Boehner stated Tuesday, of his pick to take the gavel from K. Michael Conaway on the bipartisan panel. Conaway will move to the top spot on the House Agriculture Committee, as one of six Texas Republicans to chair full House committees in the 114th Congress.

“The American people expect the highest standards of conduct from their elected officials, and I’m confident that under Charlie’s leadership, the Ethics Committee will continue to ensure accountability and protect the public trust,” Boehner continued.

As one of a dwindling number of centrists in the chamber, the 54-year-old Dent is a leader of an informal caucus of moderate lawmakers known as the Tuesday Group. He briefly stepped into the spotlight during the October 2013 federal shutdown when he criticized conservatives for misguided tactics and said he would vote to end it. The move got him branded a “Republican In Name Only,” by Pennsylvania tea party members, but he faced no primary challenge and ran unopposed in November. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 6:15 p.m.
Ethics

Whitfield Denies Helping His Wife’s Financial Interests in Congress

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Edward Whitfield is facing new allegations he has been using his House seat for family gain and is pushing back against a report that he was using his position to boost his wife’s stock portfolio.

On Nov. 21, 2012, Constance Harriman-Whitfield, the Kentucky Republican’s wife, was elected to the board of LaserLock Technologies, Inc., a security technology company that delivers product and document authentication aimed at combating counterfeiting and fraud in health care and other industries.

Six months after she joined the board, the congressman submitted LaserLock’s testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee convened for a hearing titled, “Securing Our Nation’s Prescription Drug Supply Chain.” LaserLock recommended its technology could be part of the electronic system established under the bill to trace pharmaceuticals through the supply chain.

According to Whitfield’s personal financial disclosure forms for calendar year 2013, his wife had at least $50,000 invested in LaserLock. But the 10-term congressman — recently investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics for coordinating with his wife on as many as a dozen bills on which she is a registered lobbyist — rejected the notion of a conflict of interest and denied his wife’s ownership of the stock. Full story

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