food

All you need is ribs: Isakson barbecue brings hungry senators together
Leadership may have hated it at first, but the lunch is now a big hit

South 40 Smokehouse from Marietta, Ga., serves up brisket, pulled pork and ribs Thursday in the office of Sen. Johnny Isakson for his annual barbecue lunch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The smell of pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, Saint Louis pork ribs, baked beans, and creamy mac and cheese wafting through the halls of the Russell Senate Office Building can mean only one thing: Johnny Isakson’s annual barbecue lunch.

Every year, for more than a decade, the senior senator from Georgia feeds his colleagues from both sides of the aisle a BBQ lunch prepared by a pitmaster from his home state. Despite being met with initial pushback from party leaders, the get-together has grown into a highly anticipated event.

Trump signs bill restoring retirement benefits for Senate dining workers
Law would remedy worker retirement benefits that have been flat since 2008

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, sponsored the legislation to grant Senate dining employees full benefits, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Veteran Senate dining employees are getting their full retirement benefits restored after President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that lifts a freeze that had kept them stagnant since 2008.

Trump signed the bill on Wednesday, which makes technical corrections to the computation of average pay regarding the benefits for the dining workers in the Senate, a move that allows cafeteria workers to fully collect their due retirement.

Democrats join Trump in whining about tariffs on wine
Feinstein, others call on administration to push for removing duties on U.S. wine

Democratic lawmakers want the Trump administration to ensure any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on U.S. wine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Concerns about tariffs on wine are leaving a sour taste both on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

But this wine isn’t skunked, it’s tainted by retaliatory Chinese tariffs, lawmakers say.

Adios, La Loma: Requiem for a Senate-side institution
Mitch McConnell calls it ‘the shutdown we all oppose!!’

La Loma, a popular Mexican restaurant at 316 Massachusetts Avenue NE, has closed. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whether it was the convenient location a short walk from the Capitol, the bustling street-side patio or the tanker-sized margaritas, La Loma carved out a place in the life of Capitol Hill. And just like that, its 21-year Senate-side run on Massachusetts Avenue Northeast was over. 

If any place proved the real estate maxim of location, location, location, it was La Loma. Southwestern natives grumbled about the quality and execution of the fare, but it didn’t matter. Even the rain or cold wasn’t enough sometimes to keep people away from the patio, festooned with its green awning and multihued umbrellas, particularly during happy hour. And when the sun was out, it made for a mad dash to lunch, particularly on the Senate’s semi-workdays, Monday and Friday — and especially during recess. 

White House wants to update poverty thresholds. It could affect food stamps and Medicaid benefits
Critics say move could weaken public assistance programs and increase hardship for low-wage earners

Supporters hold up “Save Medicaid” signs during the Senate Democrats’ news conference with disability advocates in September 2017 to oppose a Republican health care overhaul proposal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House Budget Office is considering its first update to inflation adjustment guidelines for poverty thresholds since 1978, with potential consequences for benefit programs serving low-income households.

The initiative is part of a re-evaluation of six inflation indexes used to track the impact on consumers of rising or falling prices. One of the indexes is used to adjust poverty thresholds, which underlie the calculation of eligibility for a number of benefit programs including Medicaid, food stamps and school lunches and breakfasts for poor children.

Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones ring in happy birthday for Richard Shelby

A bipartisan group of senators, and one prominent ex-senator, wished Richard Shelby a happy birthday on Monday. (Jennifer Shutt/CQ Roll Call)

The hallways outside the Senate Appropriations Committee filled with the Happy Birthday song Monday afternoon as dozens of senators and staff gathered to wish Chairman Richard C. Shelby a happy 85th birthday.

The closed-door event included coconut cake, champagne and red napkins that read “Happy Birthday Senator Richard Shelby!”

Au Bon Pain grand opening in Cannon set for April 3

Au Bon Pain is set to open in the Cannon House Office building April 3. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The effort to expand brand name food options in the House continues, with Au Bon Pain opening in the Cannon House Office Building next week.

The cafe, which will serve sandwiches, breads, pastries, salads, soups and coffee, will be on the first floor of Cannon in room 194. The location will be open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will employ about 16 people. The location will be under the management umbrella of Sodexo, the food service contractor for the House.

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

The Longworth Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the eateries on Capitol Hill transitioning to non-plastic straws. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Will FDA keep cracking down on teen vaping, other initiatives, after Gottlieb leaves?
Scott Gottlieb, fought teen vaping and approved record numbers of generic drugs will resign next month

The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters is seen in White Oak, Md.(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who launched a campaign against teen vaping and approved a record number of generic drugs, is resigning next month.

The departure raises questions about whether the agency would continue to vigorously seek to curb the exploding use of e-cigarettes among young people, among other Gottlieb initiatives. But the commissioner, in a resignation letter listing accomplishments on this and other issues, said he was “confident that the FDA will continue to advance all these efforts.”

FDA commissioner outlines new opioid enforcement action
The agency used, for the first time, a new type of enforcement designed to control the illegal flow of opioids

The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters is seen in White Oak, Md. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Food and Drug Administration released a warning letter to a top drug distributor on Tuesday, using for the first time a new type of enforcement authority that the agency’s head called an important step in controlling the illegal flow of opioids.

FDA's letter alleged that distributor McKesson Corp. sent drugs that were supposed to be opioids — but were missing pills or were not even opioids — to multiple pharmacy locations, raising questions about whether potent opioid painkillers were missing and where they may have gone.