John Shimkus

The Dizzying Life of Midcycle Newbies
For arrivals in the middle of a Congress, it can be tough to hit the ground running

Conor Lamb waits for Speaker Paul D. Ryan to arrive for a mock swearing-in ceremony in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In April, just a few days after being sworn in following his stunning special election win in Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb strode into the Capitol, hand clutching a coffee cup, as he made his way to the House floor for a vote. But before he could make it inside, a guard abruptly stopped him. Beverages in the chamber, she explained, are strictly forbidden. “You can go through the cloakroom,” she helpfully suggested. Lamb gave a blank stare. “It’s around the corner,” she said, pointing down the hall.

The first few days and weeks for new lawmakers can prove a disorienting adjustment, especially for winners of special elections.

Softball, the Hill’s Social Lubricant
House and Senate softball league players share what they get out of the games

A member of the House softball league runs to second base during the Tax Dodgers versus Immaculate Innings game next to the Washington Monument on Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

June in D.C. for congressional staffers means creeping humidity and long working hours. For some it also means reliving their Little League days.

The Senate and House softball leagues are staples of summer on Capitol Hill. Members and staffers say they play for the fun of it, to meet new people, and to foster relationships both within and outside their offices.

Democrats Score Big in 21–5 Baseball Blowout Over GOP
Steve Scalise makes the game’s first out in feel-good moment of the night

Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., is tagged out by Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., to end the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday. The Democrats prevailed 21-5. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats continued to show their dominance on the diamond Thursday night with a massive 21–5 win over the Republicans at the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game. 

“More of a football game than a baseball game, but I think both sides gave it their all,” New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley said of the score after the game. 

Cedric Richmond Isn’t Sure How Much Is Left in the Tank
Democrats’ star hoping another pitcher gets elected in midterms

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., is cooled by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., after running out a triple, then scoring on an error Thursday night at the Congressional Baseball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Much of the Democrat’s 16-run win Thursday night at the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game can be attributed to pitcher Cedric L. Richmond. But the game’s most dominant player for the last several years isn’t sure how much longer he can dominate.

When asked if he can keep up his streak year after year, the Louisiana Democrat said, “Absolutely not.”

Yucca Mountain’s Lone Ranger Finally Corrals House Attention
Nuclear waste bill passes easily in House, faces roadblocks in Senate

Rep. John Shimkus says his aggressive questioning of Obama-era energy officials reflected his “righteous anger.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Visiting Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011 was like walking through a ghost town, Rep. John Shimkus recalled in an interview this week.

It was the year after the Obama administration surrendered to fervent local opposition and halted work by the Department of Energy to prepare the site to store the nation’s commercial nuclear waste, even though Congress designated it for that purpose in the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Bipartisan Support for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Bill — Except in Nevada
State’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments, but hardly any reached the floor

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., says “people are ready to do something” on a bill that would pave the way for storing nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will take up legislation this week that would help restart the stalled process for making Nevada’s Yucca Mountain a central repository for commercial nuclear waste. After years of false starts and misses, the bill is moving with bipartisan support.

In Nevada, however, there is bipartisan opposition to the Yucca project, and the state’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments meant to ensure that the House would consider key safety provisions for the project, which is located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas and adjacent to the land where the government tested nuclear weapons.

Illinois Primaries: Ratings Changes in Two Races
Land of Lincoln may help Democrats gain seats

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., narrowly survived a primary challenge Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Illinois primaries are in the books, setting the stage for an important batch of congressional elections in November. 

Assuming Democrat Conor Lamb is certified as the winner of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Democrats still need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority. That’s a wide enough gap that Democrats, instead of cherry-picking victories around the country, will look to score big in a handful of states. Illinois might be one of them.

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

(C-SPAN screenshot)

Tributes to the late Billy Graham, talking points about the Russia investigation, touts for the Republican’s tax bill — watching the House and Senate floors can be a thankless task. But the floor charts make it all worthwhile.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help get the point across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call now provides a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

Rep. Rodney Davis Recalls Lessons From His Staffer Days
Illinois Republican was longtime projects director for Rep. John Shimkus

Rep. Rodney Davis talks about a picture of himself, fellow Illinois Rep. John Shimkus and former Vice President Dan Quayle, taken when Davis worked in Shimkus’ office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Rodney Davis was a staffer in fellow Republican Rep. John Shimkus’ Illinois office before running for Congress.

Davis, now 48, worked for Shimkus for 16 years.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing Around the Capitol
Bernie in bronze, Moore opponent says he can't hold a job, and job prospects for federal workers

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., leaves Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's holiday-bedecked office in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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

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.