Virginia

For Murkowski, Tax Overhaul Isn’t Just Business. It’s Personal
Inclusion of ANWR drilling could put her in new Alaska league

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a conundrum with a clash between two of her key policy goals — drilling in ANWR and protecting access to health care back home. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sat at the breakfast table with her youngest son, who was in junior high school at the time. It was a big day. The chamber was set to vote on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, a priority of Alaska lawmakers for the previous three decades.

“My son looks up at me and he says, ‘Mom, I thought grandpa passed ANWR years ago,”’ the Republican senator recalled recently in her Hart Building office, referencing her father, former Sen. Frank H. Murkowski. “You have to kind of say, ‘Well, yeah, they kinda passed it, but it didn’t really pass. And so it’s back before us again and we’re going at it.’”

Communications Aide Trolls Brat Critics on Facebook
In-your-face style draws criticism from some constituents

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., employs a communications consultant who trolls and talks down to his constituents on Facebook from her personal account. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sara James has performed communications consulting for Rep. Dave Brat’s campaign team since the summer of 2014. She now makes $4,000 per month after steady raises over the last three years, according to  FEC documents.

But James has been much more than a campaign manager and social media director: She has also served as Brat’s chief troll-slayer on Facebook, firing back at the Virginia Republican’s haters with the kind of snark and sneer you might expect from anonymous “eggs” on Twitter.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing Around the Capitol
Sessions tries out his standup act; late night comics roast Franken; dumb D.C. news

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., sits on the House steps to do a selfie video about his vote on tax reform on Thursday. (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.

Proposal Restricting National Mall Access a ‘Game Changer’ for Hill Athletes
Senate and House softball league commissioners say they’re already squeezed for space

Congressional staffers practice their softball game on the National Mall in April 2009. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Park Service has pitched a curveball to congressional aides who use the National Mall for recreational sports.

The park service held meetings last week with leagues from across the city — including the House softball league — informing them that it planned to permanently close access on the Mall, from Third Street to 17th Street, to “organized sports.”

The GOP’s ‘Vote and Hope’ Caucus
Several House Republicans to vote ‘yes’ in hope of later changes

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, holding up a theoretical postcard tax form, and his leadership team appear to have the votes to pass their tax legislation. But several members say they hope substantial changes to the bill come later. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Many House Republicans planning to vote “yes” on their tax bill Thursday are doing so with the understanding the measure is far from perfect and hoping their concerns will be addressed later during House and Senate conference negotiations.

Sound familiar? It was the same strategy several members employed in voting for a bill in May to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

Speier and Gillibrand Introduce Harassment Transparency Legislation
Bill would disclose involved offices and make members pay for settlements

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, right, and California Rep. Jackie Speier hold a news conference Wednesday to introduce legislation aimed at addressing and preventing sexual harassment for Capitol Hill staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined Rep. Jackie Speier to introduce new legislation that takes aim at sexual harassment in Congress.

“For all intents and purposes, a staffer in the Capitol is powerless and gagged,” Speier, a California Democrat, said Wednesday at the beginning of a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center. Harassers are often allowed to walk away to prey on others, she said.

Another GOP Senator Unhappy With Tax Bill Individual Mandate Repeal
‘It’s just one more dimension,’ Kansas’ Jerry Moran says

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Ky. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11/15/17 3:24 p.m. | Sen. Jerry Moran said Wednesday he was disappointed the Senate Finance Committee chose to try to repeal the individual mandate in the pending tax overhaul but said he would analyze it in the broader context of the bill.

“Because of the desire for a bipartisan tax bill, I wish we weren’t doing the individual mandate. But we’ll analyze it in a health care perspective as well,” the Kansas Republican said. “It’s just one more dimension.”

Sessions Defends His Reputation in First House Testimony
“I will not accept, and reject accusations I have ever lied”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives to testify before a House Judiciary hearing Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions vigorously defended himself Tuesday against “false charges” that he was untruthful in previous testimony about his role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and any connections to Russian operatives.

“I will not accept, and reject accusations I have ever lied,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing stretching for five-and-a-half hours. “That is a lie.”

Super PAC Staffs Up for Morrisey in West Virginia GOP Primary
Morrisey led Jenkins in mid-October poll commissioned by 35th PAC

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is running for the GOP Senate nomination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A super PAC supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the GOP Senate primary is staffing up for the 2018 contest. 

The hires, shared first with Roll Call, will be announced Wednesday. 

Take Five: Matt Gaetz
Florida Republican says members of Congress ‘are hamsters on a hamster wheel’

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., says he first ran for Congress because he didn't want to vote for anyone else. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz, 35, a Florida Republican, talks about what he would say to President Donald Trump in a one-on-one meeting, how baby boomers can hurt progress and what he teaches his staffers.

Q: What has surprised you so far about Congress?