Heard on the Hill

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Bike to Work Day, another Capitals loss and it's almost the Royal Wedding

The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen through rain drops on the skylight of the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Congress Doesn’t Report Diversity Because It Doesn’t Have to
While federal agencies must report the diversity of their employees, there is no such requirement of Congress

Kemba Hendrix, director of the House Democrats’ Diversity Initiative, took on her role in November. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:30 a.m. with figures for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s staff | If you ask a House or Senate office to break down the diversity of its staff, chances are it won’t. Because it doesn’t have to.

While the executive branch has to provide data on the racial and ethnic makeup of its staff for the public record, there is no rule mandating that congressional offices do the same.

Gomez on What He Learned From Being a Staffer for a Latina Member
California Democrat started his political career working for Rep. Hilda Solis

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., chats with staffers in his office. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Jimmy Gomez learned firsthand how to network in bars, focus on the job and navigate the Hill’s degree-clogged pool of talent.

After graduating from Harvard in 2003, he was a staffer for Rep. Hilda L. Solis, a fellow California Democrat who served from 2001 to 2009.

Success Stories: Creating a More Diverse Capitol Hill
Jennifer DeCasper and Hope Goins on how they have done it

Hope Goins says half of her staff are women of color. (Bian Elkhatib/ CQ Roll Call)

Some offices on Capitol Hill make an extra effort to reflect the diversity of America. And while the lawmakers they serve might get the credit, the office directors in charge of hiring are the ones who make it happen.

“It’s been a huge priority of our office, just because our boss is obviously a diverse candidate, we come from a diverse state, and so our office needs to represent our state,” said Jennifer DeCasper, chief of staff for Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. “Diversity means that it includes everything of value to your constituency. Our constituency is not homogeneous, and so my office should not be homogeneous.”

Trailblazers: African-Americans Who Challenged Segregation in the Senate
In 1947 and 1953, three pioneers knocked down color barriers on Capitol Hill

Christine McCreary worked for Missouri Sen. W. Stuart Symington Jr. in the 1950s. (Courtesy the Senate Historical Office)

Before the Civil Rights Act legally ended segregation, three African-Americans helped break down a few barriers to make the Senate more inclusive.

The first was Thomas Thornton, a World War II Army veteran. In February 1947, Illinois Republican Sen. C. Wayland “Curly” Brooks appointed him a mail carrier in the Senate Post Office. Early the next month, the new staffer went to lunch one day in the Senate cafeteria and sat down to eat.

Staffer Survey: Getting Substantive Things Done in an Election Year
How the midterms affect congressional offices

Senate staffers and visitors pass by models of the Capitol in the Hart Senate Office Building. Roll Call surveyed congressional staff about how busy they are in an election year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite visual aids from a month of congressional floor-watching

Rep. Mark Takano declared April 26 as International Chart Day. (@FloorCharts screenshot of C-SPAN)

Bunny ears, definitions and big red signs made up the best of floor charts this month. But, more importantly, charts got their own day, which was announced through a ... you guessed it, floor chart. 

The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call provides a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

Flashback Friday: A Page Right Out of History
The Senate page program was started as a way to keep local kids out of trouble

A Senate page with Sen. Charles Sumner from Edmund Alton’s 1886 book “Among the Law-Makers.”

Here’s a congressional throwback — a phrase or part of Capitol Hill culture that a younger generation of Hill staffers may not know or appreciate.

Senate pages are high school juniors, at least 16 years old, who help deliver correspondence, transport bills and prepare the chamber, all while attending the U.S. Senate Page School.

John McCain Hits the Big Screen
HBO documentary screened at the Capitol Visitors Center Auditorium

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks before a HBO documentary about Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (Alex Gangitano/CQ RollCall)

Sen. John McCain made it to the big screen in D.C. on Thursday.

HBO hosted a screening of “John McCain: for Whom the Bell Tolls” in the Capitol Visitors Center Auditorium for senators, journalists, staffers and members of the defense community, among others.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
We found your badge, Shaun; Virginia commuting woes; and royal wedding prep

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., arrives for a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FBI’s 2019 budget featuring testimony by director Christopher Wray on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Jason Mraz and a Beach Boy at the LOC, first lady-less first lady breakfast, and behind the scenes at baseball practice

UNITED STATES - MAY 15: Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., arrives in the Capitol on the subway for the Senate Republicans' meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Sinema Breaks Record at ACLI Capital Challenge Race
Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher is fastest member of Congress for second year in a row

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, number 120, watches as Reps. Mike Gallagher and Kyrsten Sinema celebrate their victories at Wednesday’s ACLI Capital Challenge. (Bian Elkhatib/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:30 p.m. | Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona was the fastest female lawmaker and set a new course record for her division at the 37th annual ACLI Capital Challenge three-mile race Wednesday.

Sinema finished in 22 minutes and 3 seconds to break the course record of 22:41 held by former Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio.

Take Five: Jamie Raskin
Law professor-turned-congressman likes to take an academic approach to problems Congress confronts

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., was Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett’s law professor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, 55,  talks about the heart of the legislative process, what his colleagues call him, and how he angered a world chess champion.

Q: What about Congress didn’t you expect?

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Crawford logs off Facebook, First Amendment Awards, and biker gang on the Hill

From left, Drum Major Ken Misch, Drum Sgt. Charlie Ezelle, and Roberto "Boom Boom" Lopez, of the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, smoke cigars near the Capitol Reflecting Pool after participating in a competition that was part of National Police Week on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Taylor and Aguilar Are Tasked With ‘Flower Power’
Junior Appropriations members are responsible for collecting for flowers sent to members after big life events

As the most junior members of House Appropriations, Reps. Pete Aguilar, left, and Scott Taylor are tasked with chasing down donations for the Flower Fund. (Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos)

It’s a tradition on the House Appropriations Committee to show your colleagues that you care about them.

Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen kicked off a markup of the Legislative Branch and Military Construction-VA appropriations bills last week by calling for each member to give a $20 donation to the Flower Fund.