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December 22, 2014

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November 17, 2014

Chris Christie to Address New Republican House Members

ARPOL14 063 103114 440x299 Chris Christie to Address New Republican House Members

Christie on the campaign trail in Arkansas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, will be on Capitol Hill Monday afternoon to address the newly elected Republican House members.

According to Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., — the chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, which facilitates new member orientation — Christie was chosen to speak to the Republican members-elect because of his leadership in the party.

“I couldn’t think of a better individual to come and address the new members, new Republican members,” Miller told CQ Roll Call Monday morning. “This is a man that is certainly not afraid to take on criticism, not afraid to lead. And I think that his message of smaller government, less government regulations, that sort of Republican message and the way that he delivers it, I think, will be very well received by the new Republican members.”

Christie will be addressing the new lawmakers at a lunch in the Capitol, while the Democratic members-elect will dine with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking member on the Budget Committee.

When asked why Republicans chose the New Jersey governor, rather than a member of Congress, to address the new members, Miller pointed to Christie’s work during the midterm elections.

“I saw the governor a couple of times on the campaign trail actually, he was in Michigan twice during the election, and he was sort of like a tsunami going across the nation and helping all these Republican governors,” said Miller. “And he just is a remarkable leader, as I say, and I think that his message is one that will be very well received by the new members.”

Miller said there was no set topic for the luncheon with Christie. ”I’m not quite sure what he’s going to say,” Miller said, “so we’re looking forward to his message.”

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November 14, 2014

New Member Orientation? There’s an App for That

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Miller speaks to new members at an orientation meeting. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For the first time ever, incoming lawmakers are encouraged to use an app to guide them through new member orientation.

At the first orientation meeting Thursday morning, House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., encouraged the new members to take out their smartphones and tablets and download the “Box” application, which is an app for sharing documents.

“All the information about the sessions, the presenters, various things, their ability to take notes and all that can all be done on that iPad,” Miller told CQ Roll Call later in the day.

Miller explained that sharing orientation information and documents via the app was an effort to modernize the biannual welcome week.

“I also remember carrying around 25 pounds of binders and paperwork,” said Miller said of her own orientation, describing the decision to incorporate the app.

“So we’re trying to use some technology, make it better, improve it,” Miller said. “We’ve just been trying to think of everything that we can. You don’t want to waste their time here, obviously they’re very busy. We just try to make them as impactful as we can when they are sworn in.”

RELATED STORIES:

Lawmakers Give Advice to New Members of Congress

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

Learning by Doing: New House Members Juggle Orientation and Governing

Why Freshman Week Is a Lot Like College Orientation

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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 12, 2014

Steve Stockman, Three Aides Subpoenaed in District Court

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Stockman, right, has been subpoenaed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Outgoing Rep. Steve Stockman and three staffers in his Capitol Hill office have been served with grand jury subpoenas for testimony and documents in a criminal investigation in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Texas Republican — who has been under scrutiny for campaign contributions from his staff — hasn’t decided whether to cooperate.

“I am consulting with counsel to determine whether and to what extent compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the privileges and rights of the House,” Stockman formally informed Speaker John A. Boehner in a notice that was read by the House clerk when the chamber reconvened Wednesday after six weeks of recess.

Stockman’s office did not respond to phone or email inquiries on Monday.

In a scathing report made public in June, the Office of Congressional Ethics said Stockman may have violated federal law and House rules when he accepted campaign donations from two of his congressional staffers, lied to investigators and attempted to impede their work. Stockman’s campaign falsely identified the donors as family members of the employees in subsequent campaign finance reports, the OCE found. The congressman later told OCE that the staffers resigned before making the contributions and were then re-hired, according to the report.

The board recommended the bipartisan panel of House lawmakers on the Ethics Committee should issue subpoenas to the congressman and eight others for not cooperating with OCE’s review and declining to provide documentary or testimonial evidence to the OCE. So far, the committee has not announced any formal investigation into the matter.

House Chief Administrative Officer Ed Cassidy has also been served with a grand jury subpoena for documents in the D.C. court, he notified the speaker on Wednesday. A spokesman for the office did not respond to inquiries. It is unclear if the subpoena is related to the Stockman probe. The CAO manages accounting and payroll for House members and staff.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said he was unable to provide information when asked about the Stockman and Cassidy subpoenas.

The staffers cooperating with the probe are: Donny Ferguson, a senior advisor and communications director; Kristine Brakstad Nichols, executive assistant and scheduler; and Printus LeBlanc, a legislative assistant. All three said in their notice to the speaker that they have “determined that compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the precedents and of the privileges of the House.”

It is unclear when the subpoenas were issued. House rules require members and employees to notify the notify the speaker of any judicial orders. If a subpoena is issued during recess, the speaker must be ”promptly” informed when the chamber is back in session.

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

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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 30, 2014

No Changes at Capitol Following Jeh Johnson’s Security Upgrade

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The recent order to beef up security at federal buildings does not appear to have resulted in any changes for the men and women guarding Congress. On Wednesday, a day after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ordered enhanced protection against the threat of terrorism for government buildings in Washington and across the country, it was business as usual on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police stood guard around campus, patrol cars circled the perimeter and typical screening procedures stayed in place.

When asked about Capitol Police response, spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider told CQ Roll Call that the department “remains at a post-9/11 heightened level of awareness [and] continues to monitor and track global events.”

One cop on a mountain bike playfully kicked the seat of another officer’s bike as they wheeled around the Peace Circle at noon. Around 1 p.m. inside the Dirksen Senate Office Building, police patted down a man outfitted wearing a white turban and robe who declined to remove garments for the metal detectors.

Down the hall from the first floor entrance, staffers were learning how to respond to an active shooter incident. The Senate sergeant-at-arms developed the hour-long training in coordination with the Capitol Police in 2011. It is one of the highest-attended courses the SAA offers.

The attacks on Canadian Parliament last week prompted no significant changes to security around the grounds, Capitol Police said at the time. Johnson cited that violence and other world events in his announcement of new directions for the Federal Protective Service.

Members of Congress with jurisdiction over day-to-day operations, including Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Charles E. Schumer, did not indicate they were aware of any changes in protocol.

House Administration Chairman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., is kept up-to-date on the status of security of our Capitol facilities, a spokesperson for the committee responded, when asked if there had been any briefings related to the DHS announcement.

Related:

Terrorism Threat Prompts Jeh Johnson to Order Security Upgrade at Federal Buildings

Capitol Police Monitoring Canadian Parliament Shooting (Updated)

Former Top Cop Suggest Capitol Complex Is Too Open

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October 9, 2014

Congress’ Doctor: Ebola Precautions Are in Place

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On Sept. 11, Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed for relief from Ebola during an event in the Senate Swamp. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

With fear of an Ebola outbreak on the rise, the attending physician of Congress is assuring the congressional community that a carefully developed protocol is in place at the Capitol to handle a potential infectious disease outbreak.

In an eight minute video posted on an internal website, Dr. Brian Monahan gave an overview of Ebola’s spread and said the medical personnel at the Office of the Attending Physician ”always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis.”

That includes basic hand hygiene and using protective equipment to block splashes or other contact with bodily fluids when treating everyone from sick senators to injured tourists. The attending physician operates 10 clinics, located in the Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings, the Supreme Court and the Capitol Visitor Center. Full story

October 3, 2014

House Says Goodbye to Styrofoam

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Staffers have already noticed new food containers in Longworth. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Food containers in the House became more environmentally friendly last week, as paper containers have started to take the place of their plastic foam counterparts.

Dan Weiser, spokesman for the chief administrative officer, could not say whether the new containers are more expensive because the CAO does not comment on contracts. But, Weiser said, “Food prices are not going to go up.”

House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., and ranking member Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., announced the change on Tuesday. They noted the new containers will be phased in “once existing inventories have depleted.” Full story

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