Virginia

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.

2020 census affects more than representation, billions at stake
The census influences more than $800 billion in federal government spending and business decisions

Protesters hold signs at rally in front of U.S. Supreme Court after ruling on census was handed down. In Alaska, census results drive tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Native American communities to help build up housing that is lacking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Less than 300 miles from the Arctic Circle, Toksook Bay, Alaska, has about 600 people, a dozen or so streets and averages a high of 12 degrees in January, the month the 2020 census will begin there.

The responses among Alaska Natives in Toksook Bay and throughout the state could have a huge impact on the future of their community, not just in terms of political representation but whether they have a roof over their heads.

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.

Senators roll out pilot program to speed asylum claims
Plan would streamline process for migrant families who have legitimate claims

Republican senators behind the asylum proposal include Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of nine senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — is proposing a new pilot program to better manage the influx of families seeking asylum at the southwest border.

“Operation Safe Return,” as the group calls it, would be the first bipartisan step to address the situation at the border, the senators said in a letter Thursday to Trump administration officials. Their plan would streamline the process by which migrant families who have legitimate claims for asylum are processed at the border, and swiftly weed out those who do not.

Clete Willems is trading in the White House for K Street
“My biggest joke now is I went to become a partner in a law firm, so I can work less”

Clete Willems has gone from chauffeuring Rep. Paul D. Ryan to working on trade policy at the White House to partnering at the Akin Gump law firm on K Street. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The timing of Clete Willems’ recent departure from the White House seemed a bit inopportune what with negotiations over trade disputes with China hitting a pivotal point. But the international economics adviser to the president says he had other commitments to keep.

Though the Trump White House has a reputation for unpredictability and plenty of staffing drama, Willems says the reason for his departure was more personal. When he took on the new gig at the beginning of the Trump administration, he made a pact with his wife: When they had a second child, he would head for the exit. His daughter was born in March.

Ghosts of Confederate Mississippi endure in the Capitol
Jefferson Davis, James Z. George were Confederates, white supremacists

A statue of James Z. George, a Confederate colonel and U.S. senator, is on display in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

While answering phones in the Mississippi congressional office where he worked, Ty James was called the n-word by someone on the other end of the line. It was 2017 and marked the second time he had been called that.

Those kinds of experiences have helped convince James, a native Mississippian and African American who is press secretary for Rep. Bennie Thompson, that the two statues representing the state in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection shouldn’t be devoted to men who were Confederates and white supremacists.

When congressional staffers are elected officials too
Staffers who wear two hats have to answer to their boss’ constituents — and their own

Connecticut state Rep. Sean Scanlon works for Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy. (Courtesy Connecticut General Assembly)

Sean Scanlon caught the political bug when he was a kid growing up in Guilford, Connecticut. 

Many young people infected with the same passion for politics often face a choice: Do you want to run for office yourself and be a politician? Or do you work in politics behind the scenes?

Spanberger’s chief of staff says House is like a startup
Roscoe Jones Jr. relishes chamber’s “fast pace” after move from the Senate

Roscoe Jones Jr. compares his move from Senate aide to House chief of staff to “going from General Motors to a startup.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After years of working for an incumbent senator holding a safe seat, Roscoe Jones Jr. was ready to build something from scratch.

“It was like going from General Motors to a startup,” he said. Trading in his role as Dianne Feinstein’s legislative director, he moved over to the House, accepting a job as chief of staff for newcomer Abigail Spanberger.

Former GOP staffer running for Virginia delegate knows not to knock the ‘swamp’
Hill experience isn’t a liability for D.J. Jordan on the campaign trail

Former Hill staffer D.J. Jordan, here at a July Fourth parade in Daly City, Va., is running for the Virginia House of Delegates. (Courtesy D.J. Jordan)

When D.J. Jordan was a Hill staffer, his drive into the city took an hour and 15 minutes, and that was on a good day. He turned to the fine art of slugging — picking up fellow commuters at designated parking lots to reach a quorum for the HOV-3 express lanes.

“It has literally been my personal nightmare,” Jordan said. “I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve missed family dinner and missed my son’s football practice and missed my daughter’s dance rehearsal or recital because I’m stuck in traffic.”