around-washington

Honoring Veterans, One Story at a Time

The Veterans History Project has more than 99,000 collections. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Americans will pause Wednesday to remember the nation's veterans. But one Library of Congress project is working to ensure veterans' stories are preserved for years to come.  

The Veterans History Project is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. It was established on Oct. 27, 2000, by an act of Congress, and over the past 15 years the project has collected more than 99,000 stories of service members. Former Librarian of Congress James H. Billington touted the program at congressional hearings on the Library's budget, noting in his March testimony to the Senate subcommittee of jurisdiction it "is now the largest oral history project in America."  

Gyrocopter Pilot Douglas Hughes: 'I'm Proud of What I Did'

Hughes plans to plead guilty to one felony charge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Douglas Hughes said Friday he plans to plead guilty to one felony charge related to his gyrocopter flight to the Capitol in April — but he is not ashamed.  

The Florida man flew from Pennsylvania to the Capitol on April 15, to deliver letters to Congress pushing for a campaign finance overhaul. He was immediately arrested for breaching restricted airspace and later indicted on two felony and four misdemeanor charges. After several months of negotiations, Hughes is poised to accept a plea deal this month. "I’m proud of what I did and I’m not going to be ashamed of accepting a felony conviction," Hughes said in a phone interview with CQ Roll Call. "Somebody sent me a link to a song on YouTube, the title of which says it all. It says, 'Have You Been to Jail for Freedom?' It says it all.”  

Residents Want Answers on Capitol Hill Crime

Lanier addressed residents about the spike in Capitol Hill crime. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More than 300 residents packed into a charter school gymnasium in Southeast D.C. Tuesday night to hear from legislators and police about the recent spike in Capitol Hill crime.  

They voiced their concerns about an uptick in city-wide crime, and particularly in the neighborhood, peppering Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Klein, and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen with questions about what is being done to address it. Lanier said the spike in armed robberies is part of a changing trend in the District of Columbia, and catching the perpetrators is more complicated than putting more police in specific neighborhoods.  

Capitol Hill Crime Spike Prompts Community Meeting

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A recent string of robberies in the Capitol Hill neighborhood have left residents wondering what is happening and what is being done to combat the crime.  

The uptick in crime, most dramatically indicated by five armed robberies that occurred within a span of roughly 30 minutes on Oct. 21, has shaken the neighborhood. The Washington Post reported that police arrested several suspects connected to the robberies, but the crime has prompted the local D.C. councilman to call for a public meeting to discuss what's going on. On Tuesday, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen will host a public community meeting along with Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier and First District Commander Jeff Brown, whose jurisdiction includes Capitol Hill. They plan "to outline their plans and response, as well as answer questions from residents directly," according to a notice on Allen's website. The meeting will be held at Friendship Chamberlain Public Charter School in southeast D.C.  

National Museum of the American People Gets Senator's Support

Schatz introduced legislation to explore creating the museum. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A museum dedicated to immigrants that helped shape the nation received some congressional support Monday, but the museum's main advocate is pushing the White House to take action in the face of congressional gridlock.  

Sam Eskenazi, director of The Coalition for the National Museum of the American People, said he was encouraged by a recent Senate resolution to establish a commission to study the museum's creation, but hoped President Barack Obama would establish a presidential commission. “It’s so difficult to get anything through Congress now,” Eskenazi told CQ Roll Call Monday. He later added, "This is the most expeditious way to move forward.”  

Connolly: Metro Issues Caused 'Crisis of Confidence' in Riders, Congress

Connolly also pushed for more federal funding for WMATA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One Virginia lawmaker said Friday that safety and management issues surrounding Washington's transit system has caused a "crisis of confidence" among riders and lawmakers.  

“I think that one of the consequences of this drip, drip, drip of safety concerns is a crisis of confidence in the riders and in stakeholders, including stakeholders in Congress,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly said on WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show , when asked about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's ability to request assistance from Congress. Connolly called for a permanent general manager and said the federal government should make a larger financial investment in the system, which services the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland.  

Campaign Finance Reformers Skeptical of Doug Hughes' Strategy

Hughes soaks in the support at the courthouse. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Douglas Hughes' warning on the corrupting influence of money in politics resonated, but his delivery strategy did not necessarily help the cause.  

The Florida mailman headed to federal court on Thursday for a status hearing on the six charges he faces after landing his gyrocopter on the Capitol's West Lawn, even as key players in the campaign finance debate criticized his flight. "I think you need to separate the stunt from the issue," said Trevor Potter, founding president and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. "It's like the protesters who stand up and scream in the Supreme Court," Potter said during a forum in the Russell Senate Office Building. He's not sure landing a gyrocopter decked out in U.S. Postal Service paraphernalia on the West Front, helped the cause, "but the underlying passion and views I think our shared by many Americans."  

Safety Board Urges Federal Oversight Over D.C. Metro

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued two urgent recommendations that the Washington, D.C., Metro system be placed under federal oversight in the wake of safety issues.  

“There is now a lack of independent safety oversight of Metrorail,’’ NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said in a statement Wednesday. “This is an unacceptable gap in system safety.” In its recommendations, NTSB is urging the Department of Transportation to alter the definition of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority so the Federal Railroad Administration can "exercise direct safety oversight." NTSB also asked the DOT to develop a transition plan to shift oversight from the current body known as the Tri-State Oversight Committee to the FRA within six months.  

Gridlock to Governing: Staffer Joins D.C. Council Office

Austin is excited about her move to D.C. government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Keenan Austin's work day now begins by climbing the steps of the John A. Wilson building, instead of the Cannon House Office Building.  

Austin recently became the latest congressional staffer to depart the gridlocked institution for the District of Columbia government, joining At-Large Councilmember David Grosso's office as his new chief of staff in September.  

'Papa!' Thousands Greet Pope Francis at the Capitol

Francis addressed the crowd on the Capitol's West Front after his speech to Congress. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

"Buenos días," Pope Francis said to the thousands gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol. The crowd responded with an eruption of cheers and applause.  

The greeting was the peak of the energy in the crowd that stood on the grass for several hours Thursday morning, waiting to be in the pontiff's presence and hear his historic address to Congress.