Heard on the Hill

From poverty to power: Staffer for Rep. Darren Soto reflects on childhood
23-year-old Clarissa Rojas is communications director for the Florida Democrat

A chance encounter at a Chick-fil-A drive-thru helped turn Clarissa Rojas toward a career in government. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

“My mom would be upset that I’m doing this interview,” Clarissa Rojas said softly inside the lively Longworth House Office Building cafeteria. “I’m doing it because I think it’s important that people know what Capitol Hill is made of.”

Rojas, the new communications director for Florida Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, didn’t find herself in one of the nation’s most expensive cities because her parents could afford it. After all, her father didn’t even pay the child support she and her older brother could’ve used growing up.

Photos of the Week: Everything but Infrastructure Week
The week of Oct. 18 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Capitol workers lower the flag to half staff after the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pay to play: Will California prompt congressional action on college athletics?
The norm for college athletics has been steadily rising revenue, and business shifts

Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler catches a 22-yard touchdown pass during a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. A new California law may prompt congressional action to allow student-athletes to be compensated. (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images file photo)

For college football fanatics, nothing compares to waking up on that first crisp autumn Saturday morning to prepare for a whole day of game watching. Tuning in to ESPN’s “College GameDay.” Sipping bourbon at the tailgate without facing societal judgment for drinking before noon.

College football’s shared rituals and traditions provide millions with a weekly source of escapism and entertainment every fall. The game offers excitement, frustration and camaraderie on any given Saturday thanks to the dizzying skills of its student-athletes.

Iowa battlefield extends from politics to gridiron
Healthy trash talk is all part of life in Iowa-Iowa State rivalry

Sen. Joni Ernst is a proud Iowa State alumna, and not shy about it. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Iowa is a perennial political battleground, but Iowans know the most intense contest happens on the gridiron every year, when the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones try to demolish one another in one of college football’s oldest rivalries.

The reward? A move up in conference ranking, bragging rights and the coveted Cy-Hawk trophy. This year, ESPN’s “College GameDay” broadcast from Iowa State territory in Ames for the first time in school history on Sept 14. Iowa won, 18-17. 

John Yarmuth, from pinup to budget wonk

Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth inspects a photo of himself as a staffer that was printed in Roll Call in 1971 as an April Fools’ joke. Yarmuth sat down with CQ Roll Call this week for an interview about his time as a staffer. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Marilyn Monroe, Ritchie Valens highlight post office namings
1950s star power on display, along with regular cast featuring war heroes, political titans

California Rep. Tony Cárdenas sponsored measures to rename post offices after Marilyn Monroe and Ritchie Valens. (Tom William/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wednesday was a good day for post office namings, with references to some 1950s pop glitz gracing the House floor alongside the more typical war heroes and political titans. 

Sure, it’s not unusual to see your occasional celebrity post office designation. But when both Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe and crooner Ritchie Valens are in a vote series along with the late lawmakers Jeannette Rankin of Montana — the first woman elected to the House — and Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, well, HOH likes to make note of it.

LeBron James comments intensify debate over freedom, trade
Hawley joins chorus criticizing basketball superstar during NBA-China controversy

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri had harsh words for LeBron James. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Basketball megastar LeBron James has finally leaped into the NBA’s ongoing controversy over Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Chinese protesters. Some critics, including Sen. Josh Hawley, find James’s stance sorely lacking. And the full House is also on record, passing a trio of bills Tuesday aimed at helping Hong Kong democracy activists in their fight to preserve political freedoms from encroachment by mainland China.

“I don’t want to get into a ...  feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke,” James told reporters Monday ahead of a preseason game with the Golden State Warriors. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”

Get to know these new congressional caucuses
Agritourism not your bag? Try the Air Cargo Caucus!

Let’s hear it for the Agritourism Caucus! Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton hopes it will spur more visits to places like wineries in her district. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There are dozens of caucuses in Congress. Here’s a roundup of a few new ones formed this year.

Money generated by vineyards, orchards, breweries, distilleries and farm markets totaled $949 million in 2017, according to Virginia Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who formed this caucus to “strengthen the agritourism industry” and “highlight the positive impacts they have.” Wexton recently touted on Twitter a visit to a winery and farm in her suburban D.C. district. North Carolina Republican David Rouzer serves as caucus co-chair. 

When you need something non-impeachment to do
What to do in DC this week

One cannot survive on impeachment alone. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Photos of the Week: Not really recess week
The week of Oct. 11 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Alison Malone, right, and Marco Ruiz dance while waiting in line to enter the Supreme Court on first day of the new session of the court on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)