Katherine Tully-McManus

DC’s plastic straw ban stirs up feelings on Capitol Hill
Deadline for compliance with straw ban is July

If your warm-weather routine calls for a switch from hot coffee to iced, prepare yourself. Spring is officially here, and the plastic exodus is underway, according to Roll Call’s audit of straws on Capitol Hill.

Many staffers first felt the shift at the Longworth Dunkin’ Donuts, if all the queries we got in recent weeks are any indication. “What’s the deal with the paper straws at Dunkin’?” was a popular refrain.

Capitol Hill workplace watchdog issues repeat recommendations to Congress
New OCWR report urges Hill to join the rest of the country

Last year’s overhaul of the workplace complaint reporting and resolution system on Capitol Hill addressed many recommendations from the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights.

But the watchdog group is not done yet. Its latest report sent to House and Senate leaders earlier this month suggests further changes to apply federal workplace standards to the legislative branch.

Suspect who mailed explosive devices to Trump critics pleads guilty, avoids trial
None of the devices exploded before being discovered

The Florida man charged with mailing explosive devices to critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Thursday before a federal judge in New York.

Cesar Sayoc Jr. was scheduled to go on trial this summer on charges including interstate transport of explosive devices, illegal mailing of explosives, threatening former presidents and assaulting federal officers. Sayoc was facing up to 58 years in prison.

Tips and calls to the Office of Congressional Ethics spiked last session
More than 13,300 private citizens reached out to group charged with reviewing misconduct allegations

Citizen outreach to the Office of Congressional Ethics more than doubled in the 115th Congress, but the agency’s pre-election blackout period means they didn’t take action on any cases in the last quarter of 2018.

More than 13,300 private citizens contacted the Office of Congressional Ethics during the 115th Congress, up from 6,285 in the 114th Congress, according to the OCE’s most recent quarterly report. The contacts fall into two categories: allegations of misconduct and requests for information about the OCE.

Capitol Police arrest Rayburn projection protester, confiscate equipment
Equality Act protest projection results in arrest by Capitol Police

Capitol Police arrested a man projecting the words “Discrimination is Wrong” onto the Rayburn House Office Building Wednesday night. Robert Diesu, a collaborator of projection artist Robin Bell, was arrested and USCP seized a laptop computer, battery, projector and stand as evidence.

Capitol Police told Roll Call in a statement that Diesu was arrested at about 8 p.m. for “unlawful demonstration on Capitol Grounds by projecting an image on the Rayburn House Office Building.”

Vacant office of North Carolina’s 9th District falls under Clerk’s control
District has been without representation after last fall’s result was thrown out

The House clerk is officially taking over the vacant office of North Carolina’s 9th District.

A “vacant office notice” from House Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson released Thursday says her office will provide constituent services and operate the congressional office until an upcoming special election decides a new member.

House staff evacuated from Cannon Thursday afternoon, amid ongoing construction
The exact cause of the alarm and evacuation was not announced

Staff and visitors were evacuated from the Cannon House Office Thursday afternoon for about 45 minutes after alarms began blaring throughout the building.

The evacuation notice went out to staff via email just before 1 p.m.

Jim Jordan seeks to block increased funds for Oversight panel he helps lead
Chairman Elijah Cummings wants to rebuild staffing, but his GOP counterpart does not

As House Democrats ramp up their oversight investigations into President Donald Trump’s administration, businesses, and 2016 campaign, at least one Republican has found a new battleground to push back: funding for the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

That panel’s chairman, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, asked the House Administration Committee on Tuesday for a funding increase of 4 percent this year and 10 percent next year over funding levels from the previous, GOP-controlled 115th Congress.

Capitol Hill is buzzing: Architect of the Capitol rehomes bee colony
Massive bee hive and 10 pounds of honey removed from historic ash tree

Capitol Hill was buzzing Wednesday morning and it had nothing to do with Congress or news. An Architect of the Capitol ground crew removed a massive bee hive from an ash tree on the Capitol campus.

Images from the AOC show a large limb of the ash tree being removed, with the hive tucked inside. The team that removed the bee colony from the historic tree was made up of AOC arborists and a beekeeper, according to spokesperson Erin Courtney.

These lawmakers want to know when the Senate gets hacked
The bipartisan duo of Sens. Wyden and Cotton called for more disclosure of Senate cyber attacks

A bipartisan Senate duo wants to know about any successful hacks of Senate devices and networks.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton wrote to Senate Sargent of Arms Michael Stenger calling for an annual report on when Senate computers and smartphones have been compromised, and when hackers have otherwise gained access to sensitive Senate data.

Guidance for paying House interns adopted, as application deadlines fly by

House offices now have guidance, however brief, on how to implement paid internships in their offices with the inaugural funding provided specifically for that purpose.

The House Administration Committee approved a resolution Tuesday afternoon by voice vote that outlines “interim regulations governing House paid internships.” 

Cyber and physical threats featured in 2020 budget requests
‘It’s the cybersecurity threats that keep me awake at night,’ Chief Administrative Officer Philip G. Kiko told lawmakers

The number of threats aimed at lawmakers has increased threefold over the past few years, the top security official in the House said Tuesday. Security concerns, both physical and cyber, are top priorities for Capitol Hill spending heading toward fiscal 2020.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa and Chief Administrative Officer Philip G. Kiko outlined threats and vulnerabilities their departments face and the funding needed to secure lawmakers, the Capitol complex and House online networks.

Move over &pizza, Steak ’n Shake is coming to Rayburn
Restaurant chain Steak ’n Shake is set to join the expanding branded food options later this year

Capitol Hill burger and milkshake lovers, rejoice.

Restaurant chain Steak ’n Shake is set to join the expanding branded food options on the House side of the Capitol, with a location coming to Rayburn later this year.

Protesters and traffic violations dominate Capitol Police arrests

Protests, demonstrations and traffic violations dominate recent arrests made by Capitol Police, according to a report on publicly available arrest summaries by advocacy group Demand Progress and an independent analysis of arrest data by Roll Call.

In December, the Capitol Police began publishing its weekly arrest summaries online each Wednesday, data that was previously distributed via email to the media. The summaries include the Capitol File Number, or CFN; crime classification with any additional charges; offense date and time; and crime summary.

House eyes Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and expansion
VAWA extension was not included in last month’s spending package

The Violence Against Women Act is back on the House agenda, with Democrats and at least one Republican leading a fresh effort to reauthorize and expand the domestic violence law.

A bill introduced Thursday would include updates to the landmark legislation, which was first enacted in 1994. The proposal is sponsored by California Democrat Karen Bass and Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent.

Senate subway system partially conked out
Dirksen-Hart trains went offline for part of busy Wednesday

The subway between the Dirksen and Hart Senate office buildings and the Capitol went out of service Wednesday afternoon during votes, forcing lawmakers and lobbyists alike to hoof it down the long tunnel.

Architect of the Capitol employees worked to get the train back on schedule, but had to interrupt their work to alert dozens of people heading into the train that it wasn’t operational. Some made it on board before being shooed out of the cars.

Martha McSally says officer raped her when she was in Air Force
Arizona Republican opens up during hearing on sexual assault in the military

Sen. Martha McSally revealed Wednesday that while in the Air Force, she was raped by a superior officer. McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, spoke out at a Senate Armed Services hearing on the military’s efforts to respond to and prevent sexual assaults.

The Arizona Republican served 26 years in the military. McSally said she did not report being sexually assaulted by the officer because she did not trust the system in place to handle such a case.

Former Rep. Aaron Schock strikes deal to avoid felony conviction
Chicago prosecutors agreed to drop all charges, if he pays back the IRS and his campaign fund

Former Congressman Aaron Schock could find himself with a clean record in few months, after federal prosecutors in Chicago agreed to drop all charges against the Illinois Republican if he pays back the IRS and his campaign fund.

Schock was indicted in 2016 on 24 criminal counts, including charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, theft of government funds, making false statements, filing false reports with federal election officials and filing false tax returns. The investigation drove him to resign from his seat representing Illinois’ 18th District in May 2015.

Don Young makes history as the longest-serving House Republican
Man from Alaska moves past Uncle Joe Cannon in the record books

Alaska’s Don Young is officially the longest-serving Republican House member in history.

On Tuesday, Young eclipsed the tenure of legendary former Speaker Joe Cannon (yes, of Cannon House Office Building fame), who served 16,800 days in the House and retired in 1923.

Will the correct Rep. Levin please report to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee?
The tradition of mixing up Levins continued this week when Andy, not Mike, was added to the VA Committee

After an exceptionally brief tenure, Rep. Andy Levin resigned this week from a role on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee following a "clerical error." 

Levin was named, along with 14 of his Democratic colleagues, to the panel on Jan. 17. But the resolution that named “Mr. Levin of Michigan” to the committee, was a case of mistaken identity.