Heard on the Hill

And the Oscar goes to ... Barack and Michelle Obama?
Ex-president’s movie is up for an Academy Award, and that’s just the beginning

A documentary from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company is among the nominees at this Sunday’s Academy Awards. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Auction off Pelosi’s ripped speech? Only he would think of it
Billy Long isn’t the only former professional auctioneer in Congress, but lately he’s been the most creative

Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., shakes hands with President Donald Trump after 2019 the State of the Union address. (Doug Mills/The New York Times file photo)

Rep. Billy Long, the proud owner of verified Twitter handle “auctnr1,” reminded us again this week why his colleagues call him Congress’ “auctioneer in residence.”

As President Donald Trump finished his third State of the Union speech Tuesday night and Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore her copy in half, Long was stationed in the center-right aisle of the chamber to get the president to sign his tie.

Photos of the day: State of the Union 2020
February 4 as captured by CQ Roll Call's photojournalists

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., reads the U.S. Constitution before President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in the House chamber on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The State of the Union came and went on Tuesday, and will soon be overtaken with news of the expected acquittal of President Donald Trump in the Senate on Wednesday. 

Amid some remarkable, and some small moments, CQ Roll Call's photojournalists were there. 

Strong, hateful and inspiring? — Lawmakers react to State of the Union in 3 words
#SOTUin3Words

President Donald Trump arrives in the House chamber to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

TV looks to fill the void where ‘Veep’ and ‘Scandal’ used to be
Political Washington is in the market for another reflection of itself

Actor Spencer Trinwith on set in Los Angeles for the filming of “King of K Street.” (Mike Adan / Courtesy of Mattie Moore)

It’s been a rough couple of years for fans of overstated political TV. First we said goodbye to “Scandal” and all its backroom sleaze. Then it was “House of Cards” and “Designated Survivor.”

We still can’t talk about the final season of “Veep,” which took the absurdities of Washington and reduced them to a single, never-ending cringe.

‘Patrick Dempsey and Ways and Means’ is the Google search we never knew we needed
If anyone can heat up a hearing on Social Security, it's McDreamy

Is this the future face of the storied Ways and Means Committee? (Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images file photo)

The words “Ways and Means” and “glamorous” have likely never been uttered together in the history of either, but CBS is hoping to change that with a new political drama.

The oldest standing committee in Congress, which oversees things like taxes and Social Security, is getting a facelift — at least on TV. Former “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey — aka McDreamy — is going to help.

The tech company behind the Iowa debacle has a ‘client success’ job opening
Good luck!

People wait for the start of a Democratic satellite caucus at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Monday. As the Iowa caucuses unfolded, precincts struggled to use a new app. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Shadow Inc., the company behind the app currently destroying Iowa’s plans of remaining “First in the Nation” among presidential primary contests, is looking for a new customer service client success representative. Monday night, excited election watchers gathered in front of their televisions with their snacks to await the returns in the Iowa Democratic presidential primary caucuses. And they waited. And tweeted. And waited. And eventually (I assume) went to bed. Then woke and waited some more.

That’s because an app commissioned by the Iowa Democratic Party and designed to tally and transmit the results experienced a glitch. Precinct captains and volunteers who’d never used the app were stuck in limbo. The Nevada Democratic Party had planned to use the app in their upcoming caucuses, but announced they would abandon that plan.

State of the Union: Draft after draft

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., speaks with reporters following the final votes of the week on Dec. 12, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Josh Gottheimer was one of the youngest staffers on the Clinton administration’s speech writing team.

“The good news is I was only 23 so I don’t think I realized just how overwhelmed I should have been by being in the West Wing,” said Gottheimer while showing CQ Roll Call the Clinton speech memorabilia adorning his walls.

The SOTU guest list: Who are lawmakers bringing?
Did John Bolton’s invite get lost?

Former Washington National Jayson Werth was a guest of Rep. Rodney Davis at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is on deck to deliver his third State of the Union, and what he’ll say about impeachment is the big question of the night.

Whether he lets fly with the “i”-word or avoids it, congressional Democrats are trying to move on — or at least that’s what they’re signaling with the guests they’ve invited.

Dogs and gavels is a thing now
To say Congress loves dogs is an understatement

Deco, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s French bulldog, poses in the Rules Committee room. (Courtesy Lori Ismail)

Deco tried to take over the chairman’s seat, but he kept sliding off.

That didn’t stop him from owning the room — lounging on the dais, pawing the wooden gavel and basking in the “ooos” and “ahhs” of everyone there.

Photos of the Week: Groundhog Day edition
The week ending Jan. 31 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander enters the Capitol on Saturday for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Anonymous staffer meme accounts are taking over Capitol Hill
Anxious, bored, disgruntled? There’s a meme for that

@americas_staff_assistant and a group of meme accounts are finding a hilarious way to cope with Capitol Hill life. (Screenshot)

Updated, 11:05 a.m. | What happens when a creative young staffer with a monotonous job and hours to kill takes to Instagram? A hilarious meditation on Hill life told through the language of our time: memes.

Hungover mornings, angry constituents, awkward interactions and career anxiety are all being meticulously documented by a group of meme accounts taking over Capitol Hill. There’s one for almost every position in a congressional office — staff assistant, legislative correspondent, press secretary, communications director and scheduler. Even campaign fundraisers and committee staffers get a nod.

He was ‘Mr. Foreign Aid’
Gerry Connolly first learned Capitol Hill’s global reach as a committee staffer in the ’80s

Virginia Rep. Gerald E. Connolly worked through three leadership changes in the Senate as a staffer for the Foreign Relations panel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“Tectonic” is the word that comes to mind when Gerald E. Connolly thinks back on his early days in Washington.

The year was 1979, and the future congressman was fresh out of graduate school. He landed a job as a staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rhonda Foxx on her ‘superwoman cape’
She was one of the youngest women of color to land a top job on the Hill — and now she’s trying for a repeat

Rhonda Foxx, former chief of staff for Rep. Alma Adams, is running for Congress in North Carolina’s 6th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you know where to look, you can spot Rhonda Foxx’s “superwoman cape.” Hint: It’s not draped behind her.

It’s worn on her wrist — a large metallic bracelet that she twists whenever she’s feeling self-doubt. “If you ever see me speak, you’re going to see me touch a cuff,” she told me on a recent Sunday night.

Print or online? New GPO director Hugh Halpern is a publishing ‘agnostic’
After decades as a Hill staffer, he’s presiding over information in the digital age — but he can still geek out over print

Government Publishing Office Director Hugh Halpern looks over copies of the Congressional Record as he gives a tour of the GPO on Jan. 22. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After three decades of trying to blend into the woodwork, Hugh Halpern comes to the office and sees his own face on the wall. His picture is hanging in the lobby.

The new director of the Government Publishing Office spent 30 years as a congressional aide, and pushing down his “staffer instincts” has so far been one of the hardest parts of the job.