Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 20, 2014

Posts in "Around Washington"

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” opens Sept. 21, which is 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 that the display was years in the making and came at the request of a number of tribes and members of Congress. Full story

September 17, 2014

Critics of Washington Team Name Target NFL Nonprofit Status (Video)

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Cantwell, left, and McCollum, center, spoke at the Dirksen news conference with Native American leaders, calling on the Washington Redskins to change the name of the team. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The NFL, facing multiple public relations fiascos regarding domestic violence issues, can expect some more heat coming its way from Congress as Native American groups and members from both chambers are promising a multipronged attack to pressure Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change his team’s name.

Native American leaders visiting Capitol Hill for a two-day tribal unity and legislative impact event rallied behind Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and two House members during a Tuesday event in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Cantwell nodded solemnly as Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter vowed, “as the NFL [season] continues, our efforts will only intensify.” Activists applauded minutes later when Cantwell announced she would introduce legislation to eliminate the league’s tax-exempt status, effectively sacking some of the $10 billion it generates annually in profits. Full story

September 16, 2014

Navy Yard Memorial Event Marks Anniversary of Tragedy

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U.S. Navy Captain Michael Graham calls to let people know he is OK after he escaped building 197 following the Sept. 16, 2013, Navy Yard shooting. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On the one-year anniversary of the tragic Navy Yard shooting in Southeast Washington, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, is inviting the Capitol Hill community and others to an evening ceremony honoring victims and survivors.

Among the 12 people gunned down by Aaron Alexis were three constituents from the Maryland Democrat’s district. All will be honored, along with the first responders and law enforcement involved in the response, during the 6 p.m. public ceremony at Canal Park, 1100 New Jersey Ave. SE, a green space near the Navy Yard gates.

“With so many Fifth District residents who serve in military and civilian roles at the Navy Yard — or know someone who does — many of us continue to keep our thoughts and prayers with the victims, survivors, and families of all of those affected,” Hoyer said in a statement.

In the immediate wake of the shooting, the congressman said he expected the event to renew discussion of gun control in Congress but was skeptical any action would be taken.

Twelve months later, lawmakers with oversight responsibilities in the Senate and House have probed into the security clearance background screening process that failed to identify Alexis as a potential threat. An independent panel appointed by the Department of Defense and a White House report have also delved into security clearance procedures.

President Barack Obama memorialized the rampage in a Tuesday statement and said the nation has continued to “improve security at our country’s bases and installations to protect our military and civilian personnel who help keep us safe.”

“One year ago, 12 Americans went to work to protect and strengthen the country they loved,” Obama stated. “Today, we must do the same — rejecting atrocities like these as the new normal and renewing our call for common-sense reforms that respect our traditions while reducing the gun violence that shatters too many American families every day.”

Navy Yard employees, some of the Navy’s top brass and Mayor Vincent Gray will also be in attendance for the Tuesday evening ceremony, organized by the group Near Southeast Community Partners.

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September 9, 2014

Patrick Leahy’s Photos on Display at Georgetown Law

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Leahy’s photographs will be on display at Georgetown Law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Between his legislative duties as the senior senator from Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate president pro tem, Patrick J. Leahy can often be spotted behind the lens of a camera.

Over the years, the Vermont Democrat has captured numerous historical moments, and now 50 of those photographs are on display in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, the Georgetown University Law Center unveiled a six-week exhibition of Leahy’s photographs titled, “World Leaders & Global Citizens, Photographs by Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator.”

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Leahy attended the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in June and offered to let Roll Call publish some, including this one. (Photo By Sen. Patrick Leahy)

Leahy’s photographs will be on display on the second floor of the Hotung International Law Building until Oct. 19. Anyone interested in visiting the exhibit should email The current exhibit is on display in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Leahy’s graduation from Georgetown Law.

“The difference between [Leahy’s] photos and those of a photojournalist is a matter of perspective,” Mara Williams, chief curator of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Vermont, said in a release. “For instance, no commercial photographer will ever stand behind a president of the United States and preserve for all time the act of signing, the document being signed and the signature itself.”

Leahy’s unique vantage point has resulted in one-of-a-kind photographs that have also been published in the pages of Roll Call.

“I started taking pictures when I was a little kid, and I’ve kept a camera with me ever since,” Leahy told Roll Call in 2008.

After the exhibition closes at Georgetown Law, the photos will be displayed at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

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September 4, 2014

D.C. Throws Its Hat in 2024 Summer Olympics Ring

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Supporters of DC2024 point out that Washington is the nation’s fittest city. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Why should Washington, D.C., host the 2024 Summer Olympics?

Because “unity begins here,” according to a flashy website launched Thursday by the team behind the bid that features photos from local soccer fields, swimming pools and baseball parks, and an assortment of tourists making “U” shapes with their hands in front of national monuments.

“We are at the crossroads of the world—home to international institutions, established destinations, transportation hubs, and world-class accommodations,” the site announces, boasting the Capitol region’s 175 embassies, 618 museums and 850,000 daily Metro commuters.

There’s no mention of Congress or photo of Capitol Hill. Instead, they’ve captured Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street Northwest and Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe near Dupont Circle.

DC2024 also brags that the nation’s capital is the most fit, healthiest living and most walkable city in the United States.

The group is headed by Virginia-based investor Russ Ramsey and Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who serves as vice-chairman.

Other members of the team include former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, restauranteur José Andrés and Mark D. Lerner, principal owner and vice chairman of the Washington Nationals and others with vested interests in D.C.’s 10 pro sports teams. Former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein, and Mystics president and managing partner Sheila Johnson are also on board.

At least two members of DC2024 are well-connected political appointees. Jim Hudson was President Barack Obama’s nominee for director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the second highest-ranking official in London after the ambassador. Mark Weinberger served as an assistant secretary of the Treasury in the George W. Bush Administration, and was appointed by Bill Clinton to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board.

Washington is competing with Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco as potential hosts. Regional political allies are teaming up to back the bid. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley declared his support on Thursday, joining Mayor Vincent Gray and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has also come out in support of the Olympic bid.


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August 28, 2014

Gray Hails End of Federal Oversight at St. Elizabeths as Victory for Local Autonomy

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mayor Vincent Gray is hailing an agreement between the District and the Department of Justice ending federal oversight of Saint Elizabeths Hospital as a “milestone” in his administration’s effort to loosen the federal government’s grip on local affairs.

On Thursday, the DOJ asked to dismiss a court-enforced settlement agreement that put the feds in charge of overseeing patient care at the city’s public psychiatric hospital. Deadly patient-on-patient assaults in 2005 placed the long-troubled facility on the DOJ’s radar for civil rights violations.

Federal officials oversaw the hospital for seven years, as D.C. worked with the Department of Behavioral Health to stop patient abuse and neglect and improve care and treatment. Under the terms of the June 2007 court order, St. Elizabeths was required to meet 224 performance benchmarks related to clinical discipline assessments, discharge planning and other problems. The agreement also required the hospital to submit bi-annual reports to DOJ and undergo bi-annual site visits. Full story

In D.C., African-Americans Ask After Ferguson, What’s Next?

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Demonstrators march up Sixth Street as part of a Wednesday Ferguson rally in D.C. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

A young African-American girl sat on the winding stair case at Busboys and Poets on K Street Wednesday, peering through the railing at the crowd gathered below. She might have been wondering what all the fuss was about. She might not have realized it was about her.

A concern for the future, for the world children will live in, was implicit in the passionate discussions at the D.C. watering hole, where dozens of activists and citizens gathered to discuss the next steps for the African-American community after the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

“We’re not going to go back to business as usual. We can’t afford to do that anymore,” activist Erika Totten told the crowd. Totten recently returned from Ferguson, where protests erupted after Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Full story

August 25, 2014

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada Hopes to Change Perception of ‘Melting Pot’ With National Mall Exhibit

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“Out of Many, One,” a massive facescape, will transform the National Mall this fall. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Mall is getting a new face this fall, composed of approximately 2,000 tons of sand, 800 tons of soil, 10,000 wooden pegs and miles of twine.

Six acres of land midway between the World War II and Lincoln memorials will transform into a grand landscape etching by Cuban-American urban artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada. The work is a composite portrait, blending the features of 18 to 25-year-old males from a variety of different racial and ethnic backgrounds whom Rodríguez-Gerada photographed on the streets of Washington, D.C.

“It’s a good time to contemplate our young men,” the artist told CQ Roll Call in a phone call from Spain. “We’re born with an identity and a face. It’s something we didn’t choose, but it affects us for the rest of our life.” Full story

August 22, 2014

Ferguson Protests Stay Peaceful in D.C., More Planned

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Protesters wave signs during a peaceful “Day of Rage” rally outside the White House. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Contrary to concerns about violence or vandalism, protesters held peaceful events in Washington Thursday night in response to events in Ferguson, Mo.

What had been billed as a “Day of Rage” in front of the White House drew about two dozen people, including D.C. and St. Louis natives, and a cadre of local press. A handful of protesters sported Guy Fawkes masks often associated with Anonymous, the activist network that called for the nationwide rallies.

Close to 50 people gathered at a plaza across the street from the Columbia Heights Metro station to protest police brutality and the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. A Metropolitan Police Department vehicle was parked nearby, watching the crowd chant, “No racist police!”

Though the crowd was smaller at the White House, the police presence was heavier. Three officers stood casually behind the protesters, as Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin led the group in song.

Full story

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