Heard on the Hill

There’s no crying in baseball … or congressional softball
Congressional women’s game pays homage to ‘A League of Their Own’

Sen. Kirsten Gilligrand, D-N.Y., warms up for the congressional softball game at the Watkins Recreation Center in Washington on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

It was a blast from the past at Wednesday’s congressional women’s softball game as the teams paid all kinds of tribute to one of America’s classic sports comedies, “A League of Their Own.”

Players sported red hats with the letter “R” in a nod to the Rockford Peaches, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team started during World War II. A fictionalized version of the Peaches featured in the 1992 movie starring Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Geena Davis and Tom Hanks. Director Penny Marshall, also famous for her role in the sitcom “Laverne and Shirley,” died late last year.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wants you to stop laughing about reparations
Writer takes aim at reparation critics like Mitch McConnell

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Dave Chappelle has a sketch imagining a future in which African Americans are awarded reparative damages due from centuries of American slavery and discrimination. The routine features newly rich black people “blowing” their payments on rims, menthol cigarettes and rap record labels. The sketch is a smorgasbord of stereotypes conveying the message that the concept of reparations is so preposterous that it’s OK to make fun of it.

But fewer people are laughing now. And that’s largely because of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and his 2014 landmark essay “The Case for Reparations.” The 15,000-word article, published in the Atlantic, didn’t just deal with chattel slavery; it focused on housing discrimination and predatory lending practices that robbed many black Americans of their wealth. According to reparations proponents, that legacy is largely responsible for the ongoing racial wealth gap, wherein the typical white family owns 10 times the assets of the typical black family.

Have the flood Gaetz been opened?
Hannity offers Florida congressman an opportunity to host his show

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday night he would gladly fill in for the conservative talk show host. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If being a member of Congress wasn’t enough of a platform to voice ardent opinions and loyalties, Rep. Matt Gaetz might get an hourlong window of opportunity on America’s most-watched cable network — that is, when Sean Hannity takes a night off.

The conservative talk show host offered the congressman an invitation to “fill in” after the Florida Republican joked that he was “the only one on the show not getting paid” during an appearance on Hannity’s Tuesday show where he discussed President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign relaunch in Orlando. Hannity jabbed at the representative’s decision to appear on “fake news CNN,” where, the television host claimed, nobody watches Gaetz and is a waste of time and energy. Gaetz agreed.

One congressman’s lonely quest to defund hobo festivities
Rep. Ralph Norman’s efforts have thus far met with little success

South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman wants to prohibit federal funding for Hobo Day. Above, South Dakota State University broke out the banjos and makeup in 2014. (YouTube screenshot)

Rep. Ralph Norman is determined to put a stop, once and for all, to government funding for celebrations of hobos and hobo-related activity.

Earlier this month, the South Carolina Republican filed an amendment to an appropriations package that would prohibit a certain type of federal funding “to any school to celebrate Hobo Day,” which raises an obvious question: Is there a scourge of government-funded hobo bacchanalias?

With ‘Kamala’s Corner,’ Harris wants to speak directly to black women
The Democratic candidate gets her own column in Essence Magazine

Sen. Kamala Harris is polling fourth in South Carolina, an early primary state where black voters make up about 60 percent of the Democratic electorate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kamala Harris hopes to reach a key Democratic voting bloc with her new column in Essence Magazine, a periodical geared toward African American women and a staple in black households for almost 50 years.

For Harris, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, “Kamala’s Corner” gives her an opportunity to speak directly to a black female party base that might not yet be familiar with the political newcomer. Black women make up a significant portion of Democratic primary voters and also play an important role as party organizers.

Susan Collins casts her 7,000th consecutive Senate vote
Republican senator from Maine hit another milestone with the first floor vote Tuesday

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for a committee hearing on Tuesday. She has never missed a vote — even after breaking her ankle over Christmas in 2016.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:39 p.m. | Neither snow nor rain nor broken ankles can stop Susan Collins from making it to work.

Tuesday brings a new milestone: The first roll call vote of the day was the 7,000th in a row for the Republican from Maine, who takes pride in having never missed a vote since arriving in the Senate back in 1997.

This senator lost one son, but gained another
Death and murder shook his family, but Father’s Day is still a time of joy for Kevin Cramer

Kevin and Kris Cramer, center, pose for a family photo. Son Isaac, far right, died last year. (Courtesy Kevin Cramer)

Father’s Day at Kevin Cramer’s house is “wonderfully chaotic,” as the senator puts it, even with grief still fresh. It’s not much different from any other weekend: Four kids and five rambunctious grandchildren running around, plus a big piece of meat on the grill — maybe a burger, maybe moose.

“You can eat moose?” I ask skeptically.

Maloney has sharp Father’s Day message for gay adoption critics
The New York Democrat and his husband have three kids

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney takes a selfie with his daughters Daley, right, and Essie in New York in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sean Patrick Maloney doesn’t have any elaborate plans for Father’s Day.

“I’m gonna sit my butt in a lawn chair and hang out with my kids, something I don’t do very often,” he says. “Playing catch with my daughter, who’s a softball player, or going for a swim.”

Photos of the Week
The week of June 14 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Former White House counsel John Dean prepares to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes," on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Her antidote to Trump: A greeting card company
Veteran operative Jill Rulli left politics to get into the card business. Hallmark it is not

(Courtesy The Thought)