Heard on the Hill

Photos of the Week
The week of Dec. 6 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

The Capitol Christmas Tree was lit on the West Front of the Capitol on Wednesday evening. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Booker’s CROWN Act would ban discrimination against black hairstyles
Federal initiative is part of state-by-state push by group that includes Dove products

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is among those calling for more federal protections against discrimination of hairstyles commonly worn by African Americans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nappy. Kinky. Too curly. These are adjectives sometimes used to describe natural black hair. While they can be insulting, some lawmakers say these perceptions also lead to discrimination against African Americans.

Several recent high-profile incidents involving discrimination and racial insensitivity have convinced lawmakers that more federal protections need to be put in place to prevent prejudice against hairstyles associated with black culture.

Ted Cruz pays off World Series bet with Texas barbecue and beer
Senator wore a Washington Nationals jersey for the occasion

Sens. Ted Cruz, left, and Tim Kaine take a photo together Thursday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Cruz provided a Texas-themed buffet for his and Kaine’s staffers after losing a World Series bet with Kaine. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ted Cruz repaid his World Series bet in style Thursday with a feast of Texas barbecue and Shiner beer.

“I agreed to go full bore, so I am painfully going to deliver, although I continue to wave my 2017 rally flag,” the Texas Republican said at a luncheon with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, their staffs and other invited guests.

Pelosi lights the 2019 Capitol Christmas Tree
The 2019 tree is a blue spruce from New Mexico

Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands with band members during a ceremony to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which is displayed on the West Front of the Capitol. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Christmas Tree shines bright amid grim impeachment proceedings
‘The Voice’ winner Chevel Shepherd warmed hearts despite cold temps

A band plays during a ceremony Wednesday to light the Capitol Christmas Tree, which is displayed on the West Front of the Capitol. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

We interrupt your regularly scheduled, bleak impeachment programming to bring you a brighter alternative. 

As the House Judiciary Committee wrapped up its first contentious hearing in the impeachment inquiry Wednesday evening, the Capitol Christmas Tree shined a bright spot amid the darkness.

Bipartisan task force to ‘save minor league baseball’ unveiled in House
Group held first meeting about Major League Baseball plan to cut 42 teams

Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., seen here in the congressional baseball game, is among the members concerned about reducing the number of minor league teams. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. John Moolenaar has fond memories of the opening of Dow Diamond, the ballpark that is home to the Class A Great Lakes Loons.

“I can still remember when the field was built, and they had the opening day. I asked the general manager, you know, are any of these players that are on the team going to make it to the big leagues,” the Republican from Michigan said Tuesday. “I remember him saying, well, watch this pitcher. He’s only going to be with us for a little while.”

Icing, icing baby: Capitol gingerbread replica returns
A meager 110 pounds of icing and 175 pounds of gingerbread dough used this year

The U.S. Capitol gingerbread replica sits on display by the Memorial Door on the first floor of the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

You’ll likely get a pleasant whiff of cinnamon before you see the latest “work of art” that Fred Johnson, executive district chef of the House of Representatives, took off his plate Tuesday.

Follow your nose and you’ll find this year’s Capitol gingerbread “house” tucked away on the first floor of the south wing across from the Memorial Door.

It’s Devin Nunes v. World when it comes to lawsuits
California Republican has sued parody Twitter accounts, media, others

A protester holds up a puppet of California Rep. Devin Nunes on Nov. 20 as Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Nunes has threatened to sue media outlets that reported he met with Ukrainian officials to get help compiling a committee report when he was chairman of the Intelligence panel. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Devin Nunes has been a high-profile participant in the impeachment inquiry as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, but since March, the California Republican has also filed six lawsuits, the most recent one reportedly against CNN. He’s also threatened to sue The Daily Beast. Here’s where the six lawsuits stand.

In March, Nunes filed a $250 million defamation suit against Twitter and two parody accounts — Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom — and Liz Mair, a Republican consultant, alleging that Cow and Mom accused him of being a Russian spy who was friends with racists. Twitter sought to dismiss the suit, but in October, a judge in Virginia allowed the case to go forward. Also in October, Nunes’ lawyer sent a letter to Nunes’ 2018 Democratic opponent, Andrew Janz, demanding Janz make the person behind the cow account stop. Janz’s lawyer rejected that demand.

Will Democrats have a ‘Kanye’ problem in 2020?
The party isn't taking the black vote for granted as Trump goes on the offensive

DNC African American Political Director Cyrus Garrett gets a haircut while talking with committee spokesman Brandon Gassaway before the “Chop It Up” listening session. (Clyde McGrady/CQ Roll Call)

On a recent cold November Friday night at Wanda’s on Seventh, a black-owned barbershop in Washington’s rapidly gentrifying Shaw neighborhood, officials from the Democratic National Committee discussed the concerns of black men and shared organizing strategies.

It’s almost impossible to visit a black barbershop without witnessing or participating in some of the most raucous debates of our time. While waiting (too long) for a haircut you can hear someone wax poetic about LeBron vs. Jordan, who really killed Biggie and Tupac, or why the Redskins will never win anything as long as Dan Snyder is the owner.

DCCC uses ‘outside the box’ thinking in wake of NRCC prank
The Thanksgiving dinner table has turned

Jenna Rivera, of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, loads donations bound for So Others Might Eat outside the DNC on Tuesday. The boxes were donated by the National Republican Congressional Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What was intended to be a political stunt by the National Republican Congressional Committee has inspired some ‘outside the box’ thinking this Thanksgiving.

The NRCC at the end of October sent empty boxes to the Hill offices of House Democrats in battleground districts, most of which were flipped from Republican in 2018. They are expected to remain competitive next year.

Staffers gripe about lack of communication during Capitol lockdown
House sergeant-at-arms acknowledges missteps regarding suspicious aircraft incident

Staffers are criticizing the lack of response from the Capitol Police amid Tuesday’s lockdown (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After reports of a possible aircraft in restricted airspace over Washington on Tuesday, U.S. Capitol Police halted access to Capitol grounds. But a lack of communication left staffers confused and in the dark.

Although the lockdown lasted nearly 50 minutes and was “cleared without incident,” according to a Capitol Police statement, several staffers relied on social media and word of mouth for information.

It’s Thanksgiving recess and all we want to talk about is food
Invite Kathryn Lyons to Thanksgiving and she’ll stop asking you annoying questions

Members of Congress walk down the House steps for the start of Thanksgiving recess after the final vote of the week on Capitol Hill on Nov. 21. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Photos of the Week
The week of Nov. 22 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Workers hoist one of three holiday wreaths into place on the front facade of Union Station on Tuesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A marathon of impeachment hearings dominated the week, but we also saw former Speaker John Boehner return to the Capitol for the unveiling of his portrait before Congress left town for the Thanksgiving recess.

The scandal with no name continues to vex Washington
Ukraziness? Snakes on Ukraine? Badfellas? What should we call it?

Protestors holds signs on Nov. 13 outside the Longworth Building where top diplomats William Taylor and George Kent testified before the House Intelligence Committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two years ago, official Washington failed to come up with a name for … the thing that happened two years ago. Most everyone settled on Trump-Russia or the Russia investigation or the Mueller probe or any number of unimaginative appellations.

Well, here we are again, nearly two months into yet another Donald Trump scandal with no name. “Why is there not a catchy, gate-like name for this Ukraine scandal yet?” asked one Twitter user in October. “It’s like the writers aren’t even trying anymore.” Indeed, John Oliver, the host of “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, could only come up with “Stupid Watergate 2.” Jimmy Kimmel recently coined “Ukraziness.” Other attempts have been made online, some better than others: Snakes on Ukraine. Zelenscheme. Crackpot Dome. Red Hat.

Inside the impeachment hearing room

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump in Longworth Building on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)