Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 24, 2014

Posts in "Around Washington"

November 24, 2014

Millennium Challenge Corporation Celebrates 10th Anniversary

While bipartisan efforts in Congress can seem few and far between, policymakers from across the ideological spectrum point to the tenth anniversary of the Millennium Challenge Corporation as evidence they can find common ground when addressing global development.

“It’s one of the few places, frankly, left in Washington where that spirited bipartisanship continues to exist and drive forward,” White House counselor John Podesta said at a Nov. 18 event celebrating the organization’s 10 years.

At the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, more than 400 people gathered to honor the MCC, which was created by an act of Congress in 2004. The crowd included lawmakers, diplomats, and members of President Barack Obama’s administration, the global development community and the private sector. Full story

November 12, 2014

Orientation: Some Are Old, Some Are New, Most Are Red, a Few Are Blue

gopsens 081 111214 440x292 Orientation: Some Are Old, Some Are New, Most Are Red, a Few Are Blue

Newly elected GOP senators pose for a photo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On a sunny Wednesday in the nation’s capital, new members of Congress got their first taste of life as lawmakers in Washington, complete with meetings and run-ins with the press.

Newly elected House members arrived at the Capitol Hill Hotel two blocks from the Capitol starting at 9 a.m. Rep.-elect Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., greeted the media at the hotel, noting that he arrived in D.C. Tuesday night and he “woke up this morning with cameras in my face.”

“Welcome to Washington,” replied the reporters. Full story

November 6, 2014

‘HillVets’ Pub Crawl to Benefit Homeless Children

shelter002 021414 440x295 HillVets Pub Crawl to Benefit Homeless Children

HillVets wants to collect coats for kids at the D.C. General Homeless Shelter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A group of congressional staffers who served in the military are hoping to use attention focused on them this Veterans Day weekend to bring fellow veterans together and give back to their Capitol Hill community.

On Friday “HillVets,” a group of Capitol Hill staffers who are also veterans, will host its second annual “Vets 4 Kids Coat Crawl” to collect coats and raise money to buy coats for children at the D.C. General Homeless Shelter.

The “Coat Crawl” is a pub crawl to three Capitol Hill watering holes that kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Attendees can bring a children’s coat or make a monetary donation, and will receive tickets for a beer at each restaurant. A participant who donates $40 will also receive a signed copy of “March,” the graphic novel by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Full story

November 5, 2014

D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan Resigns

The District of Columbia’s Attorney General, Irvin B. Nathan, tendered his resignation Wednesday, effective Nov. 17. Nathan’s resignation comes the day after D.C. voters elected attorney Karl A. Racine to succeed him.

“As this administration winds down in the six weeks after my departure, it is time for me to move on, to focus on some long neglected personal issues, and to formulate professional plans for the future,” Nathan wrote in his letter to Mayor Vincent Gray.

Gray said in a statement Wednesday that Chief Deputy Attorney General Eugene Adams will be named interim attorney general upon Nathan’s departure.

In his resignation letter, Nathan assured Gray he would help Racine transition to the office. Racine, the District’s first elected attorney general, will be sworn in in January.

“I pledge that we will make available to the full resources of our office to make a smooth transition to an elected Attorney General,” wrote Nathan, “so that the excellent team we have assembled can function for the benefit of our citizens for years to come.”

When Racine takes over the office, he will be thrust into an ongoing legal battle over the District’s attempt to achieve budget autonomy through an act passed by a voter referendum. The council, along with Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, support the Budget Autonomy Act, but Racine agreed with Nathan’s decision not to comply with the legislation. So, the District may have to turn to Congress to receive authority over its budget.

Related:

D.C. Faces Statehood, Marijuana Challenges With Republican Congress

Rand Paul: Let D.C. Legalize Marijuana, If Voters Want

Could Nov. 4 Render D.C. Budget Autonomy Fight Moot?

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

October 30, 2014

‘Smitty’ Vying to Become D.C. Attorney General

15196780961 4ede113958 b 440x293 Smitty Vying to Become D.C. Attorney General

Smith is one of five DC attorney general candidates. (Courtesy Smith Campaign Flickr account)

Through the drizzling rain on a gray October morning, blue signs emblazoned with “Smitty” are visible in the windows of a three-story red brick building in Shaw. In a small office upstairs, campaign staffers are working to make sure the signs’ namesake becomes D.C.’s first elected attorney general.

Edward “Smitty” Smith, a Democrat and D.C. native, is hoping his government experience and Washington roots will resonate with voters and set him apart from the four other Democrats vying for the position.

“I’m the only person in this race who’s managed government attorneys,” Smith told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview at his campaign headquarters. “This is a government office; it’s not a law firm.”

The posters bearing his nickname can be spotted all over the city. He’s been called “Smitty” his entire life — his Aunt Barbara came up with the nickname when he was born. Smith said he was called “Smitty” so often, he did not learn his real name until he was 3 years old.

Before entering the AG race, Smith held a number of positions in the Obama administration, including chief of staff and prosecutor at the Federal Communications Commission, program director at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and adviser at the Department of Commerce. Smith’s first job with the Obama administration was as deputy general counsel for the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Full story

October 28, 2014

D.C. Council Clears Road for Uber

taxiprotest 219 062514 440x288 D.C. Council Clears Road for Uber

Traditional taxis have railed against the measure for months, including a rolling protest around Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Taxi drivers lost a fight against for-hire ride services Tuesday, when the D.C. Council passed a bill that Uber says “provides a permanent home for UberX in the District.”

The company, which in August hired President Barack Obama’s former political strategist David Plouffe to run its political and public relations operations, praised D.C. for passing the legislation. It mandates county, federal and multi-state background checks on drivers going back seven years, $1 million primary insurance coverage from the moment a driver accepts a request and annual vehicle safety inspections by a certified mechanic. Uber said in a blog post that the bill makes D.C. a “trailblazer in the transportation industry.”

Hundreds of local taxi drivers, organized by Teamsters Local 922, planned a rolling protest around Freedom Plaza to show their opposition to the measure. They say it fails to create a level playing field with the private sedan services, who are costing the cab drivers business. A similar honking armada surrounded Capitol Hill in June.

The bill underwent some big changes as it worked its way through the council, including a name change. Lawmakers said calling the services “ridesharing” conflates them with carpooling, and other modes of transportation meant to defray costs associated with vehicle ownership or commuting. Instead of that term of art, the District opted for “private vehicle-for-hire” services.

Under the legislation, Uber, Lyft and other companies would have to comply with fare transparency provisions, like traditional taxis. The company must disclose its calculation method and applicable rates being charged, as well as offering to estimate fare. Additionally, the bill protects passengers’ pocketbooks in situations like Snowmageddon. When the mayor declares a state of emergency, the drivers are prohibited from setting exorbitant fares.

RELATED:

Uber Hires Former Obama Strategist Plouffe To Run Its PR Efforts (Video)

Airports Become Battleground for Taxi And Shuttle Operators’ Struggle Against Uber

D.C. Taxi Revolt Disrupts Capitol Hill Traffic

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

October 27, 2014

Alyce Dixon, Feisty World War II Vet, Gets Private Sit-Down in Oval Office

President Barack Obama welcomes one of the spunkiest centenarians in the District of Columbia to the Oval Office for a private Monday afternoon meeting.

World War II veteran Alyce Dixon, who turned 107 on Sept. 11, will sit down with Obama and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. According to the congresswoman’s office, veterans and D.C. statehood are on the agenda, but Dixon is sure to crack a few jokes. The quick-witted Washingtonian is widely known for her sense of humor, on display in a 2012 profile by the Army and .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4-DUpMGcHg

Dixon was born in Boston in 1907, the third-oldest of nine children. Her family moved to Washington in 1924, and Dixon briefly attended Howard University. In her 20s, she worked at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street Northwest, serving as a secretary then a cashier. From 1940 to 1943, she worked as one of the first civilian employees at the Pentagon.

Dixon joined the Army in 1943, among the first African-American women in the nation to enlist. She served in England, France and Scotland. Her unit was tasked with eliminating floor-to-ceiling stacks of undelivered mail and packages addressed to U.S. servicemembers but stored in foreign warehouses. They cleared the mail backlog in record time, and Dixon was awarded a medal for good conduct, according to the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs.

After her service, Dixon returned to the Pentagon. She retired after 35 years with the federal government, and continued to volunteer around the city. Her humor is a hit with staff at the V.A. medical center in Northwest Washington.

“She has the unique ability to bring joy to others, and is known especially for her bubbly personality and comedic storytelling,” Norton said in a 2011 House floor speech commemorating Dixon’s birthday.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

October 24, 2014

Ebola Roundtable Sparks Divisions Over District’s Preparedness

ebola 002 101714 440x299 Ebola Roundtable Sparks Divisions Over Districts Preparedness

A protester outside of the White House encourages a travel ban from Ebola-affected countries. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Though national attention turned to a congressional hearing on Ebola preparedness Friday, two members of D.C. Council Committee on Health also met to assess how the District is preparing for the virus, resulting in clashes between lawmakers, hospital officials and nurses.

“We are nowhere near prepared for an Ebola patient at our hospital,” said Jowita Lyn, an emergency room nurse at Providence Hospital in Northeast D.C.

Referring to breaches in protocol that led to two nurses contracting Ebola while treating an infected patient in Dallas, Texas, Lyn said, “What happened at Texas Health Presbyterian could easily happen at Providence Hospital.”

Lyn treated one of the suspected Ebola patients in D.C. at Providence. She said she knew to ask whether the patient had traveled to an affected country because of her own research on the subject.

The nurse said the only training she received was a printout of Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Lyn also said the protective gear at the hospital were “paper thin gowns that are barely thicker than a napkin.” Full story

October 23, 2014

WMATA: Current Procedures ‘Sufficient’ for Countering Ebola

Metro004 062606 440x293 WMATA: Current Procedures Sufficient for Countering Ebola

WMATA will not institute new protocols to address Ebola. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of concerns about the Ebola virus in the U.S., leaders in the D.C. transit system met last week to review protocols for preventing the spread of infectious diseases on the metro system and determined current procedures were sufficient to counter the virus.

Richard Sarles, general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, sent an email to WMATA employees Monday, explaining that he met with “senior leaders in our Rail, Bus, Safety, MetroAccess and Police departments” to review the protocols.

Sarles did not say that any new policies would be put in place to respond to Ebola, but instructed employees to continue to follow existing procedures to prevent infections.

“We reviewed both standard operating procedures for routine cleaning, as well as more extensive responses to address health hazards throughout the system,” Sarles wrote in the email, obtained by CQ Roll Call. “Given the fact that we are entering flu season, as well as rising concerns about the transmission of the Ebola virus, I want to remind all of us about the protocols we must follow.” Full story

October 20, 2014

Late-Night Terrorism Drills Test D.C. Officials

Navy Yard Shooting 11 091613 440x271 Late Night Terrorism Drills Test D.C. Officials

Homeland security officials staged a shooting similar to the 2013 Navy Yard tragedy. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Police in the District of Columbia responded to a staged suicide bombing shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center site in Northwest Washington.

“Where’s everybody going? Can you help us?” a woman shrieked from a curb near the scene of the explosion.

The actress whimpered, putting on a dramatic display for observers from the FBI and other government agencies watching one act in the District’s full-scale overnight emergency preparedness drill from a nearby hilltop.

The cop who rescued the actress rushed back up to the doorstep of the brick building, avoiding the body of another faux victim who did not survive the blast. Within minutes, a firetruck pulled up and firefighters unrolled a hose, preparing to decontaminate the area in case the improvised explosive device turned out to be a chemical bomb.

“Anybody who can walk comes this way,” instructed one of the first responders near the fire truck, after getting a rundown on casualties and injuries from an officer. So far, police had found at least seven victims in the staged terror activity, including some amputees.

The dramatic exercise was staged to test the District’s public safety capabilities. The emergency responders and actors from this scene would be followed in the next few hours by the hazardous materials team, bomb squad and other specialized teams who would be reacting to multiple terrorists attacks for the training event.

Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...