Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 22, 2014

Posts in "Potpourri"

September 16, 2014

Constitution Day: A Byrd Legacy (Video)

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In an undated photo, Byrd holds up a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution during a MoveOn rally against the ‘nuclear option.’ (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A decade ago, during an earlier debate about military intervention in the Middle East, Sen. Robert C. Byrd led the establishment of Constitution Day, celebrated annually on Sept. 17.

There’s never a shortage of complaints about including policy provisions and funding limitations in spending bills, but back in 2004, one such provision was cause for celebration. Actually, it mandated celebration — about the Constitution.

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September 11, 2014

Female Senators Write Letter to Goodell, Want NFL to Adopt ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy

455039888 445x296 Female Senators Write Letter to Goodell, Want NFL to Adopt Zero Tolerance Policy

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

A group of 16 female senators, including Maryland Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski, have written a scathing letter to Roger Goodell about the National Football League’s handling of violence against women.

The letter comes after reporting by The Associated Press that the NFL was sent graphic elevator video of now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Rice.

“It is long past time for the NFL to institute a real zero-tolerance policy and send a strong message that the league will not tolerate violence against women by its players, who are role models for children across America,” the 16 senators wrote. “We hope the NFL will seize this opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to the safety of women and families.”

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:31 p.m.
Policy, Potpourri

September 10, 2014

15 Senators Among 50 Richest Members of Congress

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Rockefeller is the wealthiest senator, with a minimum net worth of at least $108 million. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators comprised 30 percent of Roll Call’s 50 Richest Members of Congress list this year.

Although House members outnumbered senators by a 2-to-1 margin, the 15 senators who made the list have considerable wealth. They are evenly divided between the two parties, with seven Democrats and eight Republicans in the top 50. The combined net worth of the 15 lawmakers totaled $458.86 million.

The wealthiest senator was retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, whose minimum net worth amounted to more than $108 million and ranked him at No. 4.

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September 8, 2014

Blumenthal Pushes Goodell to Revisit Ray Rice Punishment

453709934 445x281 Blumenthal Pushes Goodell to Revisit Ray Rice Punishment

Rice received a two-game ban from the NFL. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is joining the calls for the National Football League to impose stiffer punishment on Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

“The video released today emphasizes how egregiously weak and wrong the initial penalty against Ray Rice was — as the Commissioner has acknowledged — and it constitutes new, powerful evidence that requires the Commissioner to reconsider and reach a stronger punishment,” Blumenthal said.

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August 22, 2014

Schumer Praises New FitBit Privacy Policy

schumer 093 1119131 445x274 Schumer Praises New FitBit Privacy Policy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Less than two weeks after criticizing the company at a Central Park press conference, Sen. Charles E. Schumer is lauding FitBit’s privacy policy.

“We are very glad that Fitbit is doing exactly the right thing. They will not sell personal information to third parties and will share it only when legally necessary or when the customer has opted-in – this is the best possible solution,” the New York Democrat said in statement Friday. “Fitbit customers can breathe a sigh of relief and should be aware that this company cares very much about their privacy and their security. We are urging all other fitness tracking companies to follow Fitbit’s lead and adopt similar privacy policies.”

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August 11, 2014

Chuck Schumer’s FitBit Privacy Warning (Video)

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Schumer is concerned about privacy and FitBit step trackers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s newest privacy concern is about the popular FitBit.

The devices, which track steps and help users monitor other health-related information, are a potential privacy nightmare to the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate.

The New Yorker took his Sunday news conference routine to Central Park, calling on the Federal Trade Commission to enhance privacy rules by requiring a mandatory “opt-out” option for the sale of the data. Newsday said Schumer’s appearance came with joggers passing through the background.

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August 7, 2014

Cuts to National Guard Motorsports Sponsorships Draw Mixed Reviews

earnhardt 445x296 Cuts to National Guard Motorsports Sponsorships Draw Mixed Reviews

Earnhardt Jr., in victory lane following Sunday’s 400 at Pocono Raceway (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Lawmakers are predictably split on the National Guard’s announcement it will be slashing motor sports sponsorships — just days after a car sporting the Guard’s livery won a major NASCAR race.

Sen. Claire McCaskill was among those who lauded the news.

“I’m a NASCAR fan, and I love the National Guard — but spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a recruitment program that signed up zero recruits, and that has been abandoned by other service branches as ineffective, just makes no sense,” the Missouri Democrat said in a statement.

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June 18, 2014

Reid, Cantwell Cheer Cancellation of Redskins Trademark (Video)

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Cantwell praised the cancellation of trademarks for the Washington Redskins. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two of the Senate’s leading critics of Washington Redskins name and team owner Dan Snyder were quick to take the Senate floor to praise the Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to strip the team of its trademarks.

First came Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a former chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, who has spearheaded efforts to get the name changed. On the floor, she criticized the Redskins monicker as a slur.

“We’re so excited to know that finally people are recognizing that this issue can no longer be a business case for the NFL to use this patent,” Cantwell said. “They will not be able to forcefully exclude other people from having derivatives of this logo or the name.

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June 10, 2014

Ban E-Cig Electronic Cigarettes on Airplanes, Senators Say

boxer001 092513 445x282 Ban E Cig Electronic Cigarettes on Airplanes, Senators Say

Boxer is one of seven Democrats urging an immediate ban on electronic cigarettes on airplanes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time to ban electronic cigarettes on airplanes, seven Democratic senators said in a new letter to the Transportation Department chastising the Obama administration for failing to act.

The signatories on a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx point to a proposed rule banning electronic cigarettes that’s been pending since 2011.

“This rule when finalized will ban the smoking of electronic cigarettes on both domestic and foreign air carriers to and from the United States. It is unacceptable that it has been more than two years and this rule has yet to be finalized,” the senators wrote. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:57 p.m.

June 4, 2014

Senators Again Push FCC to End NFL Blackouts

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Blumenthal wants the FCC to end NFL blackouts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two senators are pressing the Federal Communications Commission to quickly bring an end to blackouts of National Football League games and other sporting events on local TV stations.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are keeping up their push on the matter, since the comment period for a proposed rule ran out in March.

“Now that the comment deadline has long passed, we urge the Commission to move forward expeditiously on eliminating the sports blackout rule (SBR). We believe that the rule unfairly harms consumers by insulating the NFL from market realities and punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations,” the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

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June 3, 2014

Remembering Frank Lautenberg, One Year Later

It has now been one year since the Senate lost its last sitting member to serve in World War II.

As our David Hawkings notes in today’s Roll Call, there will be no more World War II veterans serving on either side of the Rotunda come the next Congress.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey died one year ago today. His final resting place is on a hill at Arlington National Cemetery not far from the Kennedy grave sites.

While at Arlington on a beautiful day over the Memorial Day weekend, this reporter stopped at the Lautenberg plot and discovered this wreath and portrait of a young Lautenberg:

arlington1 251x335 Remembering Frank Lautenberg, One Year Later

(Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

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June 2, 2014

A Spectacular Math Fail on EPA Rule Costs

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Roy Blunt’s office sent out a press release with a spectacular math fail that made the new EPA regulations on power plants look far more expensive than even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s own study suggests.

“The study reveals that U.S. consumers would pay almost $290 billion more for electricity between 2014-2030, an average of $17 billion more per year,” the release reads, before going off the rails.

“Missouri consumers would pay on average $65.4 billion more between 2014-2030, on average $11 billion more per year.”

Both of those figures for Missouri are spectacularly wrong — and even internally inconsistent. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 6:17 p.m.
Policy, Potpourri

Ethics Complaint Over Attacks on Koch Brothers Won’t Silence Harry Reid

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not long after the head of the Tea Party Patriots filed an ethics complaint against Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader’s office accused that group of doing the bidding of the Koch brothers.

The complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee accuses Reid of engaging in improper political activity related to his persistent attacks on Charles and David Koch and their associated spending on conservative interests.

“It’s been generations since a member of the Senate has abused the power of his office to attack private citizens the way Harry Reid has sought to vilify Charles and David Koch,” Martin said in a statement.

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May 27, 2014

Schumer’s Newest Foe: ‘Phrostee’ Alcoholic Slushy Drink (Video)

Schumer 5 050713 445x287 Schumers Newest Foe: Phrostee Alcoholic Slushy Drink (Video)

Schumer worries Phrostee alcoholic slushies are being marketed to children. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is once again going after the marketing of an alcoholic beverage to children.

The No. 3 Senate Democrat told reporters in New York Monday that he’s concerned about the sale of a new slushy beverage featuring sugar and alcohol, called the “Phrostee,” being sold to children via Instagram. The product has turned up in New York City.

“They seem to be sold online without limitations for age,” Schumer said at a news conference, WCBS-TV reported. “A 12-year-old could probably buy one and get it and enjoy it because it’s filled with fruit punch and fruit juice.”

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:30 a.m.

May 12, 2014

Democrats Not Cheering Walsh Proposal for Budget Balance Before Recess

walsh 108 021114 252x335 Democrats Not Cheering Walsh Proposal for Budget Balance Before Recess

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John Walsh’s proposal to cancel recesses until adopting a budget resolution that balances the books by 2024 isn’t exactly getting endorsements.

Asked about the recently appointed Montana Democrat’s proposal, a Senate Budget Committee spokeswoman reiterated the view of Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., about the state of the budget process.

“Chairman Murray believes we should build on the budget currently in place as a result of the two-year bipartisan agreement she reached with Chairman Ryan with additional bipartisan work to create jobs, encourage growth, and responsibly tackle our long-term budget challenges,” the spokesperson said.

Congress is currently operating under the spending levels agreed upon in that bipartisan deal, which has allowed appropriators to get to work on fiscal 2015 bills.

And the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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