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September 2, 2014

Posts in "Members of Congress"

August 12, 2014

Democrats Target Health Care Used by Congress

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Barrow wants to eliminate federal health benefits for members. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The latest challenge to Office of Personnel Management rules on congressional health benefits comes from President Barack Obama’s own party.

Democratic Reps. Dan Maffei of New York, John Barrow of Georgia and Ron Barber of Arizona, are targeting the employer contributions members of Congress receive for coverage in the D.C. health care exchange. Unlike the contentious amendment offered by Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter, their bill would not eliminate contributions for staffers.

Barrow, who voted in 2010 against the creation of the health care law, said staff aren’t responsible for the “perverse incentives in Obamacare” that prompted some employers to kick people off their coverage. “I don’t feel a similar compulsion to set an example at their expense,” he told CQ Roll Call. His full staff was designated as having to enter the exchange.

Full story

Portraits of Committee Chairmen: They’re Up the Wall

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Mica in front of his portrait in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee room. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A House chairman usually ends up hanging around the committee room years after he or she retires.

No, the former chairman is not roaming the room per se, clinging to the halcyon days of wielding the gavel. Rather, it is the lawmaker’s image that will watch over the committee in the time-honored tradition of committee chairman portraits.

“You’re going to provide a legacy for them, a part of their legacy which will hang for hundreds of years,” said Ann Fader, president and CEO of Portrait Consultants, which has been commissioning chairmen portraits for the past 20 years. “It takes a lot of discussion and a lot of preparation” Full story

August 8, 2014

‘House of Cards’ Film Crew Hits National Mall on Saturday

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Could more filming be coming to the Capitol grounds? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“House of Cards” is filming around the National Mall on Saturday, according to the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development.

It’s unlikely fans of the wildly popular Netflix series will spot stars Kevin Spacey or Robin Wright during the 10-hour set. Crews will be “shooting ‘drive-bys’, b-roll, and a mock-motorcade scene,” says a notice posted on the agency’s site.

Local officials would love to have the show, which shoots most of its scenes in Baltimore and other areas, do more production in the District, but filming in D.C. has its challenges — especially on the Capitol grounds. Full story

August 5, 2014

Capitol Hill Langar Highlights Sikh American Community

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A woman dons a patka head cover during a Sikh langar, a group dinner of vegetarian fare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:19 a.m. | While the week before August recess included some late nights for members of Congress, a few lawmakers and scores of staffers were able to take a break from the final votes to attend the first langar on Capitol Hill.

Langar is a 500-year-old tradition in the Sikh religion that emphasizes equality. Attendees sit on the floor and share the same meal, regardless of socioeconomic and racial divides.

“You hear about a faith, you hear about a set of values, but we want people to actually experience that and experience sitting next to whoever it is next to them, regardless of their background, and sharing a meal,” said Amrita Bamrah, one of the event’s organizers. Full story

July 29, 2014

Maryland Delegation Muscling for FBI Headquarters

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Maryland delegation wants FBI headquarters, “but we’re not going to be bullies here,” Mikulski said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A District of Columbia site didn’t make the shortlist for the FBI’s new headquarters released Tuesday by the General Services Administration. But to the thrill of Maryland’s congressional delegation, possible locations included the Greenbelt Metro Station and Landover Mall, both located in Prince George’s County.

The GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex in Fairfax County, Va., is the third finalist.

Flexing a bicep in her pink jacket, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski declared a victory equivalent to “winning the primary,” during an afternoon press conference and said the state could host the “muscular” headquarters the agency needs. Full story

Protest Raises Questions About Contract Workers of Legislative Branch

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Norton and Ellison rally with federal contractors who work at Union Station, the National Zoo and other D.C. sites. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Labor issues came to Capitol Hill Tuesday, as federal contractors protested wages at Union Station and members of Congress used the opportunity to discuss workers’ rights among contractors and employees in the legislative branch.

About 100 federal contractors who work minimum wage jobs at Union Station, Ronald Reagan National Airport, the National Zoo and the Pentagon marched through Columbus Circle on Tuesday morning waving picket signs and flags.

Halting the flow of taxis and tour buses at Union Station, they protested the White House’s executive order to increase hourly pay on new government contracts to $10.10 as “not enough” and demanded the right to unionize.

“These courageous workers have gone on strike nine times,” said Rev. Michael Livingston, national policy director and head of the Washington, D.C., office for Interfaith Worker Justice. The people waving white and blue flags behind his lectern were predominantly women, many dressed like Rosie the Riveter in red bandanas and starched blue shirts and holding the hands of toddlers who marched alongside their working moms. Full story

July 22, 2014

Tennessee Man Arrested for Threatening to Kill Obama, Romney, Paul Ryan

Police have arrested a Tennessee man who allegedly threatened to kill President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and shoot other national and local officials.

In three profanity-laced voice mails left July 11 at the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security, Jimmie Randall Johnson Jr. named a long list of leaders and said he would “blow them all up” and “come with an AK and kill all you [expletive],” according to an arrest warrant charging Johnson with harassment. Tennessee Homeland Security Director David Purkey and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Tommy Farmer were also specifically threatened.

Johnson, 45, left his name in the second call.

In an additional message on July 12, Johnson allegedly threatened to “light Nashville up,” and again threatened Romney and Ryan.

Records from the service provider traced the calls back to Johnson’s address in Ardmore, Tenn., near the Alabama border. Secret Service agents traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to interview him on July 18. Authorities say Johnson also admitted to leaving the messages during the interview.

Johnson is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

July 21, 2014

Queen Bee Hawking Jewelry for the ‘Powers That Bee’ on Capitol Hill

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Brooks brings her creations to the Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Allison Priebe Brooks)

A jewelry designer with a knack for brightening up Washington’s prim business attire brings her signature necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings to Capitol Hill this week for an exclusive trunk show and sale.

Senate staffer-turned-accessory entrepreneur Allison Priebe Brooks, founder of Queen Bee Designs, will set up shop at Cornerstone Government Affairs, 300 Independence Ave. SE, on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. With a client list that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La.; Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., and plenty of congressional spouses, she expects to see plenty of traffic from the powers that be — “or bee” — as Brooks likes to joke.

“Working on the Hill, people seem to dress really conservatively,” Brooks said in an interview with CQ Roll Call. “Our jewelry creates a buzz,” she said, pairing well with everything from neutral power suits to cocktail attire. Full story

July 18, 2014

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

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Shucard was arrested Friday. (Via Facebook)

Capitol Police arrested a staffer for Rep. Tom Marino Friday morning on charges of carrying a 9mm handgun and magazine into the Cannon House Office building.

Ryan Shucard, the Pennsylvania Republican’s press secretary, was arrested around 9:15 a.m., according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

Shucard entered the southeast door of Cannon with the weapon. The Smith & Wesson 9mm and magazine were found during the search required for entry into the building, according to Schneider. People entering Cannon, including those with staff identification badges, like Shucard, are required to step through metal detectors and place bags on the belt of an X-Ray machine.

Shucard is charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony. He is currently being processed at Capitol Police headquarters.

Schucard was immediately placed on unpaid leave from Marino’s office, chief of staff Bill Tighe told CQ Roll Call in a phone call. “That will last until we know more about the situation,” Tighe said.

Full story

July 16, 2014

Maloney Calls for Investigation Into Threats From Pro-Gun Leader Larry Pratt

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Maloney (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., wants Capitol Hill law enforcement officials to investigate a prominent gun rights advocate’s praise for threats on her life, calling them evidence of “just how outrageous the extreme pro-gun movement has become.”

In a Rolling Stone article published Monday, Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt is quoted saying that the Second Amendment is for “for restraining tyrannical tendencies in government … especially those in the liberal, tyrannical end of the spectrum.”

The article also references an incident in April 2013, when Ronald Buchanan of Elmira, N.Y., contacted Maloney’s district office and made several death threats. Buchanan later plead guilty to making the threats and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation and extensive anger management training.

“As someone who has been on the receiving end of violent threats, I can tell you that it is no small matter,” Maloney told CQ Roll Call in an interview Wednesday, expressing her concerns about Pratt’s comments. ”To hear Mr. Pratt say he was ‘glad’ about the threats made against me shows just how unhinged he is.” Full story

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