capitol-hill

Capitol Christmas Tree shines bright amid grim impeachment proceedings
‘The Voice’ winner Chevel Shepherd warmed hearts despite cold temps

A band plays during a ceremony Wednesday to light the Capitol Christmas Tree, which is displayed on the West Front of the Capitol. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

We interrupt your regularly scheduled, bleak impeachment programming to bring you a brighter alternative. 

As the House Judiciary Committee wrapped up its first contentious hearing in the impeachment inquiry Wednesday evening, the Capitol Christmas Tree shined a bright spot amid the darkness.

Icing, icing baby: Capitol gingerbread replica returns
A meager 110 pounds of icing and 175 pounds of gingerbread dough used this year

The U.S. Capitol gingerbread replica sits on display by the Memorial Door on the first floor of the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

You’ll likely get a pleasant whiff of cinnamon before you see the latest “work of art” that Fred Johnson, executive district chef of the House of Representatives, took off his plate Tuesday.

Follow your nose and you’ll find this year’s Capitol gingerbread “house” tucked away on the first floor of the south wing across from the Memorial Door.

DCCC uses ‘outside the box’ thinking in wake of NRCC prank
The Thanksgiving dinner table has turned

Jenna Rivera, of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, loads donations bound for So Others Might Eat outside the DNC on Tuesday. The boxes were donated by the National Republican Congressional Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What was intended to be a political stunt by the National Republican Congressional Committee has inspired some ‘outside the box’ thinking this Thanksgiving.

The NRCC at the end of October sent empty boxes to the Hill offices of House Democrats in battleground districts, most of which were flipped from Republican in 2018. They are expected to remain competitive next year.

American competitiveness requires a smarter Congress
Increasing science and technology advice would be an important first step

As technological innovations rapidly reshape the American economy, it’s time Congress took notice and brought itself up to speed, Grumet and Johnson write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Technological advancements are rapidly changing the American economy and workforce. At the same time, lawmakers increasingly appear to lack the capability to understand and respond effectively to this transformation. Flip phone-wielding lawmakers may have been cutting edge in the 1990s, but not in today’s Congress, which routinely grapples with complex scientific and technological issues such as gene editing, cryptocurrency, facial recognition and digital privacy. Not to mention, they must oversee $150 billion in federal R&D funding that helps fuel future innovations.

Out of 541 members, the current Congress has only two scientists and eleven engineers. Most have backgrounds in law or business, which is obvious when hearings start to get technical. This gap has to be filled by congressional staff and support agencies. Yet only 15 percent of senior congressional aides themselves think staff have the knowledge, skills and abilities to support members’ official duties. And just 24 percent think staff have enough access to high-quality, nonpartisan expertise within the legislative branch, according to a 2017 survey.

Schiff: Impeachment inquiry report to be delivered ‘soon’ after Thanksgiving recess
Schiff left open the possibility of more closed-door depositions or open hearings

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks during the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Nov. 15. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff says his committee, along with the Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels, will transmit a report on the evidence gathered so far in the impeachment inquiry “soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess,” but he didn’t discount the possibility of more depositions or hearings.

In a Dear Colleague letter Monday, Schiff left open the possibility of more closed-door depositions or open hearings if new evidence comes to light or if White House and other executive branch witnesses decide to comply with subpoenas previously issued and ignored.

Campus Notebook: No Daily Show for you! Thursday Night Football OK, though
What trip to Florida is complete without a stop at Slim’s Fish Camp

People form a long line as they wait to enter The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’s The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library attraction in Washington on Friday June 14, 2019. The Daily Show was initially on the schedule for a Senate staffer's trip to New York, but the Ethics Committee advised against it. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campus Notebook this week highlights Senate staffers who took trips to New York City in search of more knowledge about music and television production. Also, a Capitol Police drug arrest.

Kyle Hill, a legislative correspondent for Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, traveled to New York City, from Oct. 3-4, on a $793 trip paid for by The Internet & Television Association.

Photos of the Week
The week of Nov. 22 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Workers hoist one of three holiday wreaths into place on the front facade of Union Station on Tuesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A marathon of impeachment hearings dominated the week, but we also saw former Speaker John Boehner return to the Capitol for the unveiling of his portrait before Congress left town for the Thanksgiving recess.

The scandal with no name continues to vex Washington
Ukraziness? Snakes on Ukraine? Badfellas? What should we call it?

Protestors holds signs on Nov. 13 outside the Longworth Building where top diplomats William Taylor and George Kent testified before the House Intelligence Committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two years ago, official Washington failed to come up with a name for … the thing that happened two years ago. Most everyone settled on Trump-Russia or the Russia investigation or the Mueller probe or any number of unimaginative appellations.

Well, here we are again, nearly two months into yet another Donald Trump scandal with no name. “Why is there not a catchy, gate-like name for this Ukraine scandal yet?” asked one Twitter user in October. “It’s like the writers aren’t even trying anymore.” Indeed, John Oliver, the host of “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, could only come up with “Stupid Watergate 2.” Jimmy Kimmel recently coined “Ukraziness.” Other attempts have been made online, some better than others: Snakes on Ukraine. Zelenscheme. Crackpot Dome. Red Hat.

Hill leaders get high marks from Hill staffers
But aides aren’t happy about lack of legislative accomplishments, survey finds

Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Charles E. Schumer and Kevin McCarthy received high ratings from Hill staffers in the most recent Capitol Insiders Survey. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times file photo)

As Democrats prepared to take control of the House in 2019, some plotted against Nancy Pelosi, the presumed speaker. Lawmakers like Tim Ryan of Ohio and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts argued that it was time for new blood at the top and a generational shift in the Democratic Party.

Pelosi deftly squelched the revolt and a year’s worth of polling of congressional staffers by CQ Roll Call shows that she has consolidated her power. CQ Roll Call surveyed aides five times in 2019, in January, March, April, September and October, and Pelosi received glowing reviews from Democratic staffers for her job performance.

Georgia lawmakers share bipartisan embrace on House floor

Rep. Tom Graves, left, Sen. Johnny Isakson, middle, Rep. John Lewis, right, sit on the House floor during a tribute to the Georgia senator Tuesday. (Screenshot via House Recording Studio)

While impeachment hearings consumed the Capitol on Tuesday, about 1,000 feet away there was a rare sight: A senator listening to speeches on the House floor.

But Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., wasn't on the wrong side of the Capitol —the speeches were about him. Thirteen members of the House delegation from Georgia shared stories of how they first met the senator, moments that exemplified bipartisanship and more in an hour-long tribute organized by Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga.