Heard on the Hill

Rep. Ilhan Omar and ‘squad’ school House Democrats in social competition
The Minnesota Democrat is the first freshman to win ‘Overall MVP’ in the three-week internal contest

Rep. Ilhan Omar won House Democrats’ 2019 Member Online All-Star Competition. The results couldn’t have come as a surprise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Ilhan Omar stole the social spotlight in House Democrats’ tenth annual Member Online All-Star Competition. The Minnesota Democrat is the first freshman to win the overall popularity contest, cleaning up with nearly 150,000 new followers.

Following oh so closely behind? The rest of Omar's “squad,” of course: freshman Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who rounded out the top five, along with Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.

Photo of the day: Stewart smiles at McConnell
Jon Stewart was in the Capitol for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act vote

Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks by the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Tuesday before the Senate vote to pass permanent authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: Roll Call photo editor Bill Clark gives his first-person report on how he got the above photo that made headlines Tuesday. 

I was standing in the Capitol with a few other photographers outside of the Senate Republicans’ policy lunch for the expected arrival of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. That’s when Jon Stewart — a stalwart advocate for 9/11 first responders — happened to walk by.

Mueller it over: Here are your options for Wednesday morning libations
From bottomless mimosas to business as usual, bars near the Capitol are bracing for the hearing(s) of the year

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will be on the Hill Wednesday. Where will you be? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wednesday is a big day for anyone celebrating the Mueller hearings — or National Tequila Day. Either way, you can start it with a drink, thanks to these Capitol Hill bars.

Both you and former special counsel Robert Mueller could potentially be looking at the worst Wednesday of your life, but lucky for you, overindulgence can serve as your excuse. Hawk ‘n’ Dove is opening its doors at 8:30 a.m. No funny drink names here — just bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for $20. 

Blood donations drop as memory of 2017 baseball shooting fades

A donor holds a foam Capitol dome during a blood drive in the foyer of the Rayburn Building in 2017, held to honor those injured when a gunman opened fire on a Republican team baseball practice. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The third annual congressional blood drive, hosted Monday by Virginia Reps. Gerald E. Connolly, Donald S. Beyer Jr. and Jennifer Wexton, raised 62 units this year. The total is down almost 72 percent from 2017, when the drive was started in the wake of a shooting at a GOP baseball practice. The following year, the blood drive collected 127 units.

“Donors are easier to engage in the wake of a tragedy,” according to Terri Craddock, the head of Inova Blood Donor Services, which collected Monday’s donations. Craddock added that the 62 units were “not bad” for a Monday in the middle of the summer.

Manchin pulls out high-speed zip line race over Capito
Senators kick off scouting jamboree in West Virginia

Sen. Joe Manchin prepares for the “Big Zip” on Monday. (Courtesy Joe Manchin’s office)

Sometimes the race goes neither to the swiftest nor the strongest ... but the heftiest.

West Virginia’s two senators kicked off the 24th World Scout Jamboree with a friendly bipartisan zip line race.

Remember John Ensign? He just got divorced from wife of three decades
Former Nevada senator resigned in 2011, facing threat of expulsion over cover-up of affair

Former Sen. John Ensign finalized a divorce last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. John Ensign, who resigned from the Senate in 2011 while facing the possibility of expulsion, has divorced his wife after more than three decades, bringing up memories of a sordid affair that reached as far as the FBI and FEC. 

Ensign, a Republican from Nevada who returned to his veterinary practice after leaving the Senate, had been involved in an extra-marital affair with a staffer of his who was married to his chief of staff, and went to such great lengths to try to hide it that the Ethics panel came to believe he had violated federal civil and criminal law. The FBI and FEC began probes of Ensign, but then either dropped their investigations or dismissed complaints. 

The Eastern is one more reason to ‘wine’ about August recess
Does the world need another wine bar? No, but the Hill does

Bar manager and sommelier Daphne McDermott preps for the opening of the Eastern, a new wine bar in Eastern Market. (Kathryn Lyons/CQ Roll Call)

The Eastern — a new wine bar not-so-creatively named after its digs in the Eastern Market neighborhood — is set to open July 30, just in time for Hill staffers to sneak out of August workdays a little early to snag a deal at happy hour. 

“Midcentury modern” is the vibe, with a large front window that lights gold accents and deep green walls. The Eastern might offer a different atmosphere than its whiskey-soaked sister bar, Barrel, just across the street, but owners Matthew Weiss and Mike Schuster insist they want the mood to be “unpretentious and fun.”

When Mueller time comes at 8:30 in the morning
What’s happening in D.C. the week of July 22-28

Special counsel Robert Mueller is headed to the Hill this week, and D.C. bars are opening their doors early. Really early. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Virginia Reps. Gerald E. Connolly, Donald S. Beyer and Jennifer Wexton are hosting the third annual congressional blood drive on Monday. Stop by the Rayburn foyer from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to donate whole blood, red cells, platelets and plasma. The drive got its start after 2017’s shooting at a GOP baseball practice, and more than 300 donors have rolled up their sleeves since then, according to the hosts. 

A theatrical tribute to the late Texas governor Ann Richards is running at Arena Stage through Aug. 11. The one-woman show is billed as a “no-holds-barred comedy chronicling Richards’ legacy and how she was determined to make her mark on the world.” A feminist known for her quick wit, Richards’ most famous quip was a dig at then-Vice President George H.W. Bush during the 1988 Democratic National Convention: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” The Bush family would get its revenge when Dubya thwarted Richards’ bid for reelection as Texas governor in 1994.

Photos of the Week: We’re howling at the moon
The week of July 19 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar responds to the media scrum as she leaves the Capitol after the last votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday. Rep. Omar was the target of derogatory comments made by President Trump about her and other freshmen members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Are you cut out for the campaign trail?
How to tell if you’re a campaigner or meant for the Hill life

Jennifer Wexton campaign manager Ray Rieling points to CNN’s coverage of the Virginia 10th District race as Wexton’s staff and family watch election returns in the campaign’s war room on election night 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Half-eaten doughnuts. Late-night conference calls over multiple cups of coffee. The life of a campaigner can be hectic and unpredictable. It’s also more physical, whether it’s spending hours in a car driving from the Tallapoosa County Democratic Women’s luncheon or logging miles on Saturday morning door knocking in the summer heat.

It’s best suited for those with a high tolerance for chaos.