Roll Call: 60 Years as an Institution
By Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
For 60 years, Roll Call has brought all the news of Capitol Hill — from the monumental, national stories to the in-depth campus tidbits — right to our office doors, Republican and Democrat alike.
On any given day, the Roll Call that sits on my office coffee table offers me a wide spectrum of news, from the latest on my House Democratic colleagues’ efforts to protect working families to an action shot of my state’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, paying off his Stanley Cup wager to Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois by doing 46 pushups. Florida Strong! (See the photo at bit.ly/1LevY4w.)
Since its inception, Roll Call has thoroughly covered — and played hard in — the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, which benefits the Young Survival Coalition, an organization dedicated to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. I co-founded the CWSG in 2009 after revealing my own battle with breast cancer, and Roll Call’s reporters have been faithful participants in the game every year. It was even the first outlet to cover my journey as the “Clean Cooking Congresswoman,” as I sought a healthier lifestyle in my life after my battle with breast cancer.
Simply put, Roll Call is an institution here on Capitol Hill and as someone who helps maintain Congress as an institution in my role as ranking member of the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee, I do not say that lightly.
When Sid Yudain, a press secretary to Republican Congressman Albert P. Morano of Connecticut, founded Roll Call in 1951, he sought to create a hybrid newspaper. According to The New York Times’ obituary of Yudain, who died in 2013, he wanted to create what would be a rarity in today’s journalism landscape: “part local newspaper, part trade paper, part movie fan magazine, part New Yorker.”
Fortunately for all of us, Yudain succeeded. Roll Call has covered Capitol Hill’s inhabitants exceedingly well — elected and unelected, public and private. The recent coverage of Charles Gladden, the Senate food service worker who is homeless, is a strong example of its dedication to Yudain’s mission.
Roll Call closely covered the Capitol workers who sought a living wage, including their protest with hundreds of other federal workers. Their push for better working conditions and compensation moved many members, me included.
I filed an amendment to the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill to require the next food service contractor chosen by the Chief Administrative Officer pay a livable wage. While my amendment failed, I have been encouraged by discussions since our debate between the new contractor, Sodexo, and CAO Ed Cassidy on ensuring Congress is taking care of its employees. The House transitioned from Restaurant Associates to Sodexo on Aug. 10, and as that process unfolded I’ve had conversations with everyone involved in the transition to ensure the House is fulfilling its obligations to its employees.
As I said in my remarks about the amendment, “To do business with the House; you have to take care of your employees and pay them a wage that allows for a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Not a lot to ask from the symbol of the success of democracy across the globe.” I look forward to working with Sodexo to uphold that standard.
Throughout that change and others around this venerable institution, I know I can look forward to reading robust coverage of Congress and its denizens in the pages of Roll Call.
Roll Call, congratulations on your 60th anniversary — I cannot wait to see what the next 60 years brings for you!
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.