Clark Mindock

Take Five: Rep. Tom MacArthur

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH  talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, freshman Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., tells us about his favorite beaches outside of Jersey, and his preferred music not including Springsteen (Spoiler: He couldn't keep himself from mentioning his love of the Jersey Shore and Bruce Springsteen). And since we wanted to clarify something, we threw in an extra (bonus!) question.  

Take Five: Rep. Mike Bost

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH  talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., speaks about giving a dog mouth-to-mouth, his love of cruises and how he came to be the owner of a beauty salon.  

Take Five: Rep. Mimi Walters

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH  talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., talks about boogie boarding, heading to Mammoth and a few of her favorite things. Q. What's your favorite activity to fill your free time in your district? A. I’m a mom of four kids. My last one just went off to college. My days have been pretty filled with my duties as a California state senator, so I don’t have the luxury of a lot of free time.  

Boehner Leaves Door Open on Gas Tax Proposal (Video)

A renewed push by some Democrats for an increase in the federal gas tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund drew a frosty reception Thursday from Speaker John A. Boehner — though the Ohio Republican stopped short of ruling the idea out.  

Both Boehner and the top-ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were asked Thursday about an increase in the 18.4 cent-per-gallon federal gas tax after the National Republican Campaign Committee sought to make a gas tax increase a political liability for Democrats.  

Boehner Not Ruling Out Gas Tax Increase

A renewed push by some Democrats for an increase in the federal gas tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund drew a frosty reception Thursday from Speaker John A. Boehner — though the Ohio Republican stopped short of ruling the idea out.

House Snaps First Day Selfies, Because #YOLOcongress

House members and their relatives had a selfie heyday on the floor during the opening hour of the 114th Congress, cheesing it up with family members and colleagues for photos that would normally violate the chamber’s rules.  

Tuesday’s session was the wild, Wild West in terms of decorum, with the House operating without formal rules in place for the first four hours, because the necessary rules resolution was not adopted until late Tuesday afternoon, 234-172. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., took full advantage of the lax environment, grabbing Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Calif., and other congressional pals for a round of selfies. Lujan Grisham tweeted a collage of photos from the floor.  

Take Five: Ted Lieu

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, Rep.-elect Ted Lieu, D-Calif., House Democrats' freshman class president, talks about his turbo technology, hotel points and celebrities in prison. Q. What was your first car? Any great memories of it? A. It was a Ford Thunderbird Turbo. It was a black and ... the inside was red, and it looked really cool.  

Jim Gerlach Exits Congress, Enters Venable | Downtown Moves

Retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach is heading to Venable LLP, where the Pennsylvania Republican will join other former lawmakers such as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., in the legislative and government affairs firm.  

Gerlach joined the Ways and Means Committee in 2011, and served on the Select Revenue and Health Subcommittees during that time. With tax reform possibly high on the agenda in the 114th Congress, and Republicans in charge of both chambers, Gerlach's experience could come in handy at Venable.  “Venable is one of the most respected names in Washington with an especially strong record of leadership in government affairs," the six-term Philadelpia-area member said in a release. “I have had the opportunity over the years to work with several Venable attorneys and advisors, especially Legislative Practice Group Co-Chairs, Will Nordwind and Rob Smith, and I look forward to working with them in the challenging legislative environment ahead.”  

Obama Issues Rare Pardons, With More to Come

President Barack Obama granted clemency to 20 people Wednesday in a relatively rare show of leniency from him — with the administration promising more to come.  

Obama cut short prison times for eight people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and vacated the convictions of 12 others, the White House announced.  

Legislative Counsel Staffer Remembered as Funny, Positive

Edward Leong, 61, a staffer in the Office of Legislative Counsel for 36 years, died on Dec. 7 at his home in McLean, Virginia, after a nine-year battle with lung cancer.  

“He was funny, caring, and brilliant,” said Sandra Strokoff, the legislative counsel of the House. “We work totally behind-the-scenes and he was completely OK with that. He was all about making sure that the legislation drafted was as good as it could possibly be.”

Bipartisan Bedfellows Push Overhaul of Prison, Sentencing Systems

With Republicans set to have control of both chambers of Congress, there has been no shortage of talk of leaving the dysfunction of the 113th Congress behind and focusing on areas of compromise in the coming year.  

One possible area (which is off most political radars) is overhauling the prison and sentencing systems, an issue on which Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, agree. They'll all still be around in the 114th Congress.

Benishek Staffer Wins Roll Call 2014 Election Contest

"I am incredibly surprised to get this email, since I never win contests," the legislative assistant for Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., wrote to us, adding that he has lost "badly" in other picking contests such as March Madness brackets and fantasy football. To beat out the nearly 1,000 other completed entries, Stewart accurately predicted 12 out of 12 close Senate contests, and nine of the 10 House seats CQ Roll Call figured would be the most difficult to call. The 10th House seat, a final holdout in Arizona's 2nd District, might be Stewart’s one miss, but we will have to wait for a recount there to finish this month to be sure (Note: Stewart wins either way).  

What’s his secret?  

Oh Ya! Capitol Christmas Tree Gets Lit

Golden yellow hoodies dotted the West Lawn of the Capitol Tuesday, and a dark tree stood behind the children and adults wearing them. In the distance one could make out the white blur of the Washington monument through the cold mist that hung in the air.  

After speeches from Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., among others, a switch was flipped and the 88-foot tall Minnesota white spruce glittered for the first time as the Capitol Christmas Tree. "Do you know how many years it takes to grow an 88-foot tree?" Franken asked the crowd of several hundred, using the opportunity to return briefly to his comedic roots. "Neither do I." The tree had traveled more than 2,000 miles from its home in Minnesota.  

Too Cool? Boehner's Thanksgiving Technique Falls Short of USDA Recommendation

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rnrlikPjeQ

Speaker John A. Boehner has helpfully shared his favorite recipe for Thanksgiving turkey brine. Interestingly, the Ohio Republican says in his YouTube video that he cooks his "bird to about 160, max."  

John Dingell, Ed Roybal Honored at White House

Two congressional trailblazers were among the 19 people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Monday, the highest honor awarded to a civilian.  

While Stevie Wonder smiled broadly as President Barack Obama related that one of Wonder’s records was the first he ever purchased with his own money, Obama also paid his respects to the late Rep. Edward Roybal, D-Calif., founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and retiring Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of Congress ever.

Bill Cassidy Utilizes Weekly GOP Address, Again

Heading into a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana against Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Rep. Bill Cassidy took a second crack at the Republican weekly address to make his case for election to the Senate.

Just as in his first address in June, the doctor by trade recalled interactions with patients as a prominent forum to hear constituent concerns on the direction of the country.

'Food Chains' Explores Farm Worker Rights, Wages

www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqZLrXVAde4 In Immokalee, Fla., after driving around the country visiting farms, Sanjay Rawal found the solution — at least one of them.

He’d been looking, after reading the book "Tomatoland" by Barry Estabrook, for a way to show on film the struggles facing farm laborers. The result, his first feature-length film, "Food Chains," debuted in Washington at the West End Cinema (2301 M St. NW) on Friday.

Capitol Christmas Tree Arrives on the Hill

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.  

Negotiations Over CIA Torture Report Nearing End

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein expects her panel's long-delayed report on the CIA's use of torture to be released before Republicans take over the chamber, signaling to reporters there's one sticking point left.  

"Well, no one wants to move that more quickly than I do," said the California Democrat. "We are down to essentially one item in the redaction. It happens to be a very sensitive and important item." She didn't elaborate.