Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2014

Posts in "Campus"

November 21, 2014

Capitol Christmas Tree Arrives on the Hill

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The Capitol Christmas Tree is hoisted from the truck for transportation to the West Lawn of the Capitol on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

All the way from Minnesota, the Capitol Christmas Tree arrived on Friday. Now, the Minnesota White Spruce just needs to be anchored upright, decorated head to toe and lit, finally, by Speaker John A. Boehner on Dec. 2.

This year’s tree traveled from the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota with some companions from back home — thousands of handmade ornaments from North Star State children tagged along for the journey.

According to an Architect of the Capitol blog post about the tree, the tree was selected on a two-day trip in July by AOC Superintendent of Capitol Grounds Ted Bechtol.

The lighting ceremony will take place on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol. It will be lit every night when the sun goes down until Jan. 1.


Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Announced

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November 20, 2014

Republican National Committee Headquarters Hit With Blue Spray Paint

scalise 074 090914 440x303 Republican National Committee Headquarters Hit With Blue Spray Paint

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. 

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

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November 19, 2014

Capitol Dome Braces for Next Phase of Restoration

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Sen. John Hoeven discusses the dome restoration project. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With frigid winds whipping around the 288 foot-tall Capitol Dome, Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers said the next phase of the nearly $60 million restoration project has begun.

Ayers told reporters gathered on the roof of the Capitol Tuesday that the scaffolding surrounding the Dome was complete, which he said was “a significant milestone.”

“The purpose of the scaffold is a very practical one,” said Ayers. “With its completion, workers are now able to access the Dome freely and can use the equipment necessary to begin the restoration work in earnest.” And those workers will be spotted on the 25 levels of scaffolding throughout the winter months, according to restoration construction manager Joseph Abriatis. Full story

November 17, 2014

Tree Honoring Emmett Till Planted at the Capitol

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The tree honoring Till was planted on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As rain poured onto the Capitol grounds Monday morning, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., joined Republican senators and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., to plant a tree on the north side of the Capitol in honor of Emmett Till.

Lewis and GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran of Mississippi joined Holder to honor Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who was brutally killed in Mississippi in 1955 after whistling at a white woman. Till’s death sparked outrage at the advent of the Civil Rights Movement and his murder still resonates today.

“Even today the pain from this unspeakable crime, this unspeakable tragedy, still feels raw,” Holder said.

Till’s name has been painted on signs carried by protesters marching after the recent deaths of two black teenagers. Protesters drew comparisons between Till’s murder and the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 and in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9.

Protests erupted in Ferguson and across the country after Officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed Brown, prompting calls to review police militarization and reigniting a debate about race relations. With the grand jury verdict in Brown’s case expected in the coming days, the tree planting honoring Till took on a unique significance.

“The struggle goes on, and it’s not only Ferguson but a lot of communities around our country where we are dealing with relationships that are not what they should be,” Holder said after the event. “There is an enduring legacy Emmett Till has left.”

Collins and Lewis sponsored the effort to plant the American sycamore tree in honor of Till at the request of Janet Langhart Cohen, author of the play “Anne and Emmett,” which details an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Till. Cohen is married to ex-Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine., whom Collins worked for after graduating from college.

In May, lawmakers dedicated a tree on the Capitol grounds to Frank, and Collins believed there should be a similar dedication to remember Till.

“There is on these Capitol grounds another tree dedicated to another martyr to bigotry: Anne Frank,” said Collins. “The white chestnut is the same variety that she could see from the secret annex in which she hid in Amsterdam. In the same way, the American sycamore that we dedicate to Emmett Till would have been familiar to him in the parks and tree-lined streets of Chicago.”


Lawmakers Honor Life and Legacy of Anne Frank

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

Bayonets, Camo, Armored Vehicles: Senate Panel Criticizes Ferguson Response (Video)

In Wake of Ferguson, New Focus on Civil Rights, Militarized Cops

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November 14, 2014

Lawmakers Give Advice to New Members of Congress

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Rep.-elect Mike Bost listens during a Thursday orientation session. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The final day of the first week of orientation started bright and early Friday morning with an opportunity to learn from current lawmakers at a briefing titled, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now.”

In an event that was not included on the public orientation schedule, four current members of Congress shared their advice with incoming lawmakers in the House Administration Committee hearing room, giving tips on managing office logistics, working as the least-senior members and striking that often elusive work-life balance.

“I just tried to relate to them about how important it is to integrate family schedule with professional schedule,” retiring House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told CQ Roll Call after the briefing, which his successor, Republican Mike Bishop, attended. Full story

November 13, 2014

Capitol Workers Strike for Higher Wages

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Lewis, center, a CVC food services worker, goes on strike for higher wages. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Although executive actions don’t necessarily affect legislative branch contracts, a handful of contract workers walked off their food-services jobs in the Capitol Visitor Center Thursday to join a protest urging President Barack Obama to act to raise wages.

“This building symbolizes the American dream for so many, but not for me and my kids,” said Reginald Lewis, 50, who joined seven of his co-workers wearing royal blue hoodies with “STRIKE!” across the chest for the hour-long East Front rally organized by progressive members of Congress and advocacy organizations.

Lewis said he earns $12 per hour washing dishes, mopping floors and taking out trash for millions of Congress’ visitors, but that’s not enough to save for retirement, help his 20-year-old daughter with college tuition or survive without food stamps. In an interview with CQ Roll Call, the father of three said he joined the strike “not for just me, but other workers that are in the same situation, got kids or just want a better lifestyle.” 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

Pack Up Your Troubles: Members Begin Moving Out

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Eskandani, left, Weiss, right, Aimee Wall and David Uhlich from the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley, check out posters while packing up Miller’s office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What does one do with 24 golden bulldogs?

“I’m trying to find homes for these things,” said Ed McDonald, chief of staff for retiring Rep. Howard Coble, describing the fiscal conservative awards the North Carolina Republican has acquired over the years. McDonald is packing up 30 years worth of memorabilia and documents before a different lawmaker moves into the Rayburn office.

While members of Congress who lost on Election Day are faced with the unpleasant task of packing up their belongings and moving out, other staffers who work for retiring members, and members who lost their primaries, have been packing up their offices for months. Full story

November 10, 2014

New Member Orientation Welcomes New Class of Lawmakers

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Rep. Cheri Bustos checks in at 2012 orientation. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Getting to know fellow freshmen, attending panels about the institution, and posing for a class photo are staples of orientation during the first year of college. The same goes for the first year in Congress.

Orientation, set for the second week of November, will welcome newly elected House members and senators. Over the course of several panels and meetings, these new members will learn the ins and outs of lawmaking.

The members-elect will arrive on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Nov. 12. House orientation is spread out over two weeks, while the 11 (and potentially 13) new senators will have three days to learn from current senators. Full story

October 21, 2014

Hastert Recalls Sept. 11, 2001 Evacuation of the Capitol

pl02090610 440x288 Hastert Recalls Sept. 11, 2001 Evacuation of the Capitol

Hastert, right, said he acted unilaterally to cancel the joint session of Congress on 9/11. (Ken Lambert/Associated Press)

The smoke he saw drifting across the National Mall on Sept. 11, 2001, while sitting behind his desk at the Capitol left a lasting impression on former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

“I couldn’t look at that window the next five years without thinking about those people who really made a difference — the real heroes,” the Illinois Republican told an audience of students Monday during a panel discussion at The Washington Center. He credited the passengers who thwarted a terrorist hijacking of Flight 93 with saving Congress from a plane he suspects was headed right for his office window.

Hastert recalled what it was like to be one of the only members in the building that Tuesday morning, and making a the call to cancel the joint session of Congress scheduled to take place later in the day with Australia’s prime minister.

Full story

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