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Politics

Senators Return to D.C. for Brief Sessions

By Bridget Bowman
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Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will shed his cowboy boots for dancing shoes for the next season of ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars."

The full cast for Season 23, which premieres on Sept. 12, was announced on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. Perry will be paired with dancer Emma Slater, a five-time contestant.

Earlier Tuesday morning, Perry made an appearance on Fox & Friends — ostensibly to talk presidential politics — but was asked about his news first.

Because the official announcement was to come later in the morning, Perry would not confirm that he would be a contestant: "I think it would be rude for me to say go to a different channel at 9 a.m. ET," he said.

Asked if he feared that something could go "terribly wrong" if he were to go on the show, the former presidential candidate said, "I would keep my work pretty serious if I were to do that."

Thousands tweeted a similar sentiment… If the first song Rick Perry dances to on #DWTS isn't "Oops...I Did It Again" it will be a sad day for America. — Aaron Sankin (@ASankin) August 30, 2016

Perry said he was in New York for his daughter to get her wedding gown "finalized." "If this rumor is true, it would be a great thing to know how to dance at your daughter's wedding," he said.The former presidential hopeful will compete against singer Vanilla Ice, former football player Calvin Johnson, race car driver James Hinchcliffe, Olympians Laurie Hernandez and Ryan Lochte, "Brady Bunch" actress Maureen McCormick, among others.Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay competed on the show in 2009.

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The FBI discovered evidence that foreign hackers might have penetrated two state election databases, according to a report from Yahoo News.

While the FBI bulletin that reported the breach did not identify the states, sources familiar with the document told Yahoo News that voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois were targeted.

[DCCC Hacked in Series of Cyberattacks Against Democratic Groups]

Illinois was forced to shut down the state's voter registration system for 10 days in late July after hackers downloaded the personal data of up to 200,000 voters.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson convened a conference call earlier this month with state election officials and offered his department's assistance in making voting systems more secure, including providing cybersecurity expertise in looking for vulnerabilities, according to the report.

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Sunday night, in case you missed it, Los Angeles International Airport was closed because of a panic attack. The threat came not from terrorism or a crazed gunman, but rather from wild, incoherent passenger hysteria.

The incident may have been triggered by random loud noises or possibly a man in a Zorro costume with a plastic sword. But it quickly morphed into rumors of an active shooter as frightened passengers in three terminals raced out through TSA checkpoints and burst through restricted doors onto the tarmac.

Douglas Lee, a passenger from Albuquerque, New Mexico, told The Associated Press of his fear of being trampled. "You can imagine hundreds of adults trying to get through an exit door," he said. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti likened the uproar to "a game of telephone" in which each rumor became wilder than the last.

It might be tempting to dismiss the chaos at LAX as a minor summer squall brought on by the stress of air travel and memories of a 2013 shooting at the airport. But just two weeks ago, Kennedy International Airport in New York was the scene of an even more harrowing outbreak of irrational passenger panic with dangerous stampedes for the exits and security guards sobbing that they didn't want to die.

In a memorable account in New York magazine, David Wallace-Wells, who had been a passenger at JFK, wrote, "Panic turned us all into animals. And the airport, designed to contain and channel people, had never felt more like a slaughterhouse corral."

When the histories of this ugly campaign year are written, I hope that some attention is devoted to analyzing the Great Fear that was reflected in these August nervous breakdowns at two of the nation's busiest airports.

[Trump's Rendezvous With Destiny and Fear-Mongering]

Yes, of course, there has been skittishness at airports since 9/11 and the terrorist tragedies in Orlando and San Bernardino have reminded us of the continuing danger from ISIS acolytes. Mass murder, unrelated to terrorism, has also brought with it a sad-eyed sequence of the funerals of the innocent.

But in his New York magazine piece, Wallace-Wells captured the weirdness of what went on at JFK airport. He shuddered "that an institution whose size and location and budget should make it a fortress, in a country that has spent 15 year focused compulsively on securing its airports … could be transformed into a scene of utter bedlam … by the whisper of a threat."

For reasons beyond politics, America seems more panicky than at any time since the frightened months after the twin towers were toppled.

Angry speeches by Donald Trump and anti-immigrant screeds on alt-right websites didn't set off the stampeding frenzy at JFK and LAX. Nor did Barack Obama's foreign policy, the death of the American Dream or the lack of gun control cause this outbreak of the “Fear Factor.”

Maybe as al-Qaida has given way to ISIS, as terrorist attacks and maniacal shootings blur into each other, Americans have finally begun to confront the reality that they will never be 100 percent secure no matter who is in the White House or what policies are adopted.

[The Politics of Fear]

Of course, there is a longing to go back to the days when terrorist incidents only happened in far-off lands and one could stroll through airports without worrying about security lines and being yelled at for violating TSA protocol. But, alas, those days have gone the way of milkmen delivering door-to-door and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

Maybe social media (that all-purpose explanation for everything from real estate prices to teenage acne) plays a role in making everything personal. A terrorist bombing at the Brussels airport feels much closer than a similar tragedy might have, say, twenty years ago. If we are all connected through Facebook and Twitter, then we are always just a few connections away from the victims of horrific events.

But perhaps the simplest explanation is that we have all grown weary of appearing stoic. There was a sense of personal bravery that flowed through the culture in the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It was a time when Americans embraced the rituals of everyday life — going to the movies, shopping malls and football games. It was a time when, as the cliche went, we had to carry on as if everything were normal or "else the terrorists will win."

Maybe 15 years after 9/11, we have come to feel as depleted as the British did in 1945 after they won the war. Maybe we have reached the point where it is no longer possible to "Keep Calm and Carry On."

[Trump and the Re-Emergence of Unreasoning Fear]

I wish there were a simple glib explanation for why unreasoning fear created panicked mobs at two major airports in the same month. But I refuse to believe that this is just an odd coincidence unconnected to the most depressing presidential election in modern memory.

To quote the legendary comic strip Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro is a veteran of Politics Daily, USA Today, Time, Newsweek and the Washington Post. His book on his con-man great-uncle was just published: "Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer." Follow him on Twitter @MrWalterShapiro.

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Slap the handcuffs on. Lock Hillary Clinton up without trial! Maybe, as one Donald Trump ally suggested, just summarily execute her for treason.

What’s the charge? She had … (cover the children’s ears) … meetings! And some of them — fewer than two a month — were with Clinton Foundation donors.

There are private meetings between donors and officeholders? Right here in #ThisTown city? Someone tell members of Congress! They’ll want to act immediately to ban — er, take advantage of — this egregious system of pay for play.

Oh wait, they already do. They all meet with donors. That’s how they get their money. But rather than having meetings with people who also make philanthropic contributions to major international charities, they tend to insist that donors show up at fundraising events so that a campaign check can be handed over person-to-person. Some have even been known to pass each other checks on the House floor or in a little computer closet called the “red room” adjacent to the House floor.

[Trump the Degenerate Gambler]

Trump gave the Clinton Foundation money and then later said that he got Bill and Hillary Clinton’s attendance at his wedding — his third wedding for those keeping track at home — in return. So, his money for a meeting with the Clintons. Does that make him guilty of bribery or them guilty of charging too little to endure that?

If you’re still reading, you probably know all of this is in reference to this week's AP story about a study of Hillary Clinton’s private meetings with nongovernment entities during the four years she was America’s top diplomat. According to the AP, which didn’t release a list with its story, 85 of those meetings were with people who also donated to the Clinton Foundation or are employed by an entity that did so.

It’s inappropriate to fault the AP for reporting something none of us knew and that is worth understanding: People who have donated to the Clinton Foundation aren’t barred from meeting with Hillary Clinton, and it’s likely that it’s easier for a big donor to the foundation, her campaigns or her personal bank account (think Wall Street speeches) to get face time with her.

That’s a far cry from what Donald Trump, liberated from fear of slander statutes because he’s running against a public figure, said about Clinton on the stump Wednesday: “She sold favors and access in exchange for cash.”

[We're Underestimating the Donald Trump Debacle]

If Trump could prove that, he would. And maybe he thought he was buying favors and access for his cash, but no one has shown any evidence to this point that any action was taken in exchange for money or that Clinton’s policy was influenced by any of the people who also donated to the foundation.

Moreover, there are plenty of Clinton Foundation donors with whom any secretary of State would meet, and plenty of Foundation-backing companies whose help Clinton enlisted in diplomatic missions abroad. The question, aside from whether any special favors were done, is whether access was granted, based on a donation, to anyone who shouldn’t have had it. The AP didn’t release a full list, but there are counterexamples in its story — for example, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

What’s most mystifying about all of the attention to this story, though, is it’s not close to the most revealing connection between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton Foundation. In 2009, Hillary Clinton set up an office within the State Department that mirrored the Clinton Global Initiative and raised money for the American pavilion at the world’s fair in Shanghai, as my co-author, Amie Parnes, and I wrote in our book “HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton.”

That office, boasting a letter of support from Clinton, called Clinton Foundation donors and asked for money. There’s a pretty healthy intersection of companies that donated to both the Clinton Foundation and the Shanghai Expo pavilion, including Pepsi and Yum! Brands. Clinton cared about the pavilion because Chinese officials told her they would frown upon American abstention from the Expo. Her husband inscribed a copy of the Shanghai Expo program for one of her aides with the words “We did it, buddy.”

[Clinton Should Come Clean on Her Relationships With Donors]

But no one accused Hillary Clinton of doing anything in exchange for the contributions, nor is there any evidence of that. She was, however, able to get the U.S. pavilion built at the World’s fair with private money. Her allies would say her network came to life in support of a U.S. foreign policy imperative. Her detractors would say it was just another route through which she could be influenced by donors.

Here’s another ugly stat: Nearly 200 entities that lobbied the State Department during her tenure are also donors to the Clinton Foundation. She’s simply not above the appearance of potential conflicts of interests, and I’ve written before for Roll Call that I think she should tell the American public exactly what she intends to do to prevent donors past and present from influencing her if she’s president. And those steps need to be longer and stronger than the ones she’s taken so far.

But declining to ever shake hands, break bread or even talk policy with anyone who has ever given money to the Clinton Foundation isn’t the answer. Meetings are how things get done — not just bad things, but good things, too.

Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen is co-author of the New York Times-bestselling Clinton biography “HRC” and has covered Congress, the White House and elections over the past 15 years.

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Hillary Clinton top aide Huma Abedin announced Monday she is separating from former Rep. Anthony Weiner after his latest sexting scandal emerged, NBC News reported.

Earlier Monday Weiner deleted his Twitter account after the New York Post reported on Sunday that Weiner had sent explicit photos of himself during a months-long relationship with a woman.

One of the photographs showed Weiner's crotch as he laid in bed with the couple's 4-year-old son beside him. The Post reported the text was sent on July 31 around 3 a.m., but the two had been exchanging photographs for a year.

And, the woman is a Donald Trump supporter.

On August 13, the Post reported that Weiner was baited by a Republican operative he thought was a yound female college student to engage in an online chat.

He resigned from Congress after posting a racy photographs of himself on his Twitter handle in 2011.

In 2013, Weiner ran for mayor of New York City but was caught sexting under the name 'Carlos Danger" with another woman. A documentary came out in May about this failed attempt at a political comeback.

The couple has been married since 2010.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s so refreshing to know that Donald Trump cares about me. I was in that Charlotte crowd when he made one of his first outreach efforts to African-Americans. Because the supportive Trump fans gathered in the portioned-off section of the convention center included few actual African-Americans, he could very well have been talking just to me when he said Democrats and Hillary Clinton have totally taken African-American votes for granted. “What do you have to lose by trying something new?” he asked.

That appearance set the tone and backdrop for the Republican presidential nominee’s practice of talking about African-Americans to predominantly white audiences. Though I was joined by members of a local black church that has endorsed Trump, and we were all carefully watched by a diverse group of unsmiling security personnel whose glances I tried to avoid so I would not meet the same fate as an Indian-American Trump supporter tossed out of a rally when he was profiled as a potential troublemaker.

While Bryant Phillips, evangelist at that church, the Antioch Road to Glory International Ministries, said Trump “gave me my first job as an 18-year-old high school dropout in his casino,” African-Americans without so personal a connection might hear more of a mixed message from the man who has said he has a “great relationship with the blacks.”

In Michigan, Trump said of African-Americans: “You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. …” He has described urban areas as hell holes, worse than war zones. And when senseless violence touched the sometimes troubled streets, such as Friday's shooting death in Chicago of Nykea Aldridge, a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, Trump’s pride in his own predictive powers preceded his condolences to the family.

[White House Sees Opportunity in Trump's Pitch to African-Americans]

Yet to come from Trump are any discussions of underlying policies that have helped create challenges as well as detailed solutions that would advance communities. That the clumsiness of this latest pivot lacked nuance, accuracy and a sense of history — the Republican Party’s and his own — was not so surprising. So much of what he is saying still basically means that African-Americans don't know what's good for them.

Does Trump want to scare black citizens into voting for him or merely convince white voters he isn’t racist while confirming all the worst stereotypes about black people some of his supporters may have? Good sense says the latter.

It has already been pointed out that most African-Americans, and Hispanics, whites and every other ethnic group, do not live in poverty. (In fact, the poverty number for African-Americans is just over a quarter — too high but hardly a majority.)

It only gets more complicated when Trump’s racial past is taken into account. Racially segregated neighborhoods, far from being accidental, became set in stone because of the U.S. government’s actions, and by discriminatory policies, such as those the Trump family organization was found guilty of, as detailed in The New York Times. Trump, who worked for his father’s Trump Management, has dismissed as baseless the lawsuits brought by the Justice Department in the 1970s after fair housing laws were passed. But the records and agreed-to settlements say otherwise.

While not as blatant as the now-unenforceable restrictive covenants that stained the deeds of the homes in my Charlotte neighborhood, the coded “C” for “colored” on applications for apartments at Trump properties in New York sent a definite message that the African-Americans Trump is courting get loud and clear. Those policies laid the groundwork for the residential segregation that still haunts America.

[Minority Democrats Dismiss Trump's Appeal to Blacks, Hispanics]

Trump also seldom mixes his outreach to minorities with his call for supporters to volunteer to search for “cheating” in urban polling places. At his Charlotte stop, he failed to mention North Carolina’s strict voting law, passed by a Republican-dominated legislature and struck down by a federal court for specifically targeting African-American voters. But he has aligned himself with the state’s GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders who have supported the laws and are fighting to keep them even after court action.

Donald Trump could always show up in front of majority-minority audiences to turn his monologue into the dialogue with all Americans that any would-be president needs to have. But his campaign was a no-show at meetings of the NAACP, National Urban League and the diverse group of journalists gathered at the recent National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention in Washington, D.C., where Hillary Clinton gave a short speech and faced questioning. I was waiting for him since, in the past, Republicans such as George W. Bush have made the effort.

Surrogates such as reality show veteran Omarosa Manigault and vanquished opponent Ben Carson are not enough. The opening act of sisters "Diamond and Silk" don’t help. And folks such as Rudolph Giuliani and Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon, with their own racial baggage, actively hurt.

[The Deal Donald Trump Couldn't Close]

Saying “Hillary is a bigot” is not an answer or even a convincing argument. Sure, it’s great when anyone pays attention. But it might be nice if Trump gave any indication that he understands the work, hopes and dreams of African-Americans, the resilience and agency of black Americans such as my illiterate longshoreman grandfather or my father, a virtual orphan, or mother, who returned to college after raising five educated children, and became a teacher. That all happened in Baltimore, one of those cities often included in the litany of hellscapes, in circumstances limited by crushing racism.

African-Americans are listening to Mr. Trump, but what they are not hearing is understanding or solutions. It’s no wonder his poll numbers with black voters are low to nonexistent. The last thing most are looking for is a flawed savior, carrying little but promises.

Roll Call columnist Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

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An adult-size moon bounce depicting the White House rolled onto George Washington University’s campus on Monday.

ONE Vote ’16 set up the bounce house at GW’s University Yard to engage D.C. voters on issues of extreme poverty ahead of the November election. The group’s election caravan will visit key congressional districts and battleground states.

It’s sponsored by ONE, a nonpartisan organization that says its mission is to ensure the next president has a strategy for fighting extreme poverty, especially in Africa.

The campaign is also providing a virtual reality experience on the tour that depicts a day in the life of Doris, a woman living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

ONE was co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono, who testified on Capitol Hill in April about the role foreign aid plays in fighting violent extremism.

In March, ONE brought celebrities to Capitol Hill for International Women’s Day, including actress Danai Gurira from AMC’s "Walking Dead," for its "Poverty is Sexist" initiative.

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When Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced his decision to support marriage equality in March of 2013, he explained that his change of heart on the issue came after learning that his college-age son, Will, is gay. “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have," Portman told local reporters.

The immediate question at the time was how the Ohio freshman senator’s reversal on gay marriage would affect his re-election chances in 2016. Running in the battleground state of Ohio would guarantee a close race no matter what. Going it alone as the first Republican senator ever to support marriage equality meant Portman could be risking his seat, if not his career.

The National Organization for Marriage immediately said it would work to defeat Portman in either his Senate re-election or a potential run for the White House. A handful of local conservative groups in Ohio came out against him, too. The Citizens for Community Values said Portman should resign, while a county Republican committee said it would endorse his primary challenger over the issue.

But three years and a landmark Supreme Court decision later, Portman won his primary in March with 82 percent of the vote and is emerging as one of the few GOP senators in a battleground state to begin pulling away from a Democratic challenger. While Donald Trump has been a major issue in Ohio’s 2016 political scene, marriage equality has not.

[Will Pro-LGBT Stances Hurt GOP Senators?]

The latest Monmouth University poll shows Portman leading his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Ted Strickland, by 8 points, even as Trump trails Hillary Clinton by 4 in the state. Portman’s favorability rating is 28 to 20 percent. Not great, but better than Strickland’s 23 to 37 percent unfavorable result.

Analysts following the race closely say Portman has run an almost-textbook campaign so far to position himself to weather the Trump storm, even though Portman himself endorsed his party's nominee in May.

“If there’s anything Rob Portman’s campaign should be doing differently, I can’t think of what it is,” The Cook Political Report’s senior editor Jennifer Duffy said. “They’ve done everything they need to do.” Expecting a tough campaign, Portman assembled his campaign team very early — putting his manager, finance director and political director in place in January 2015. They have built tech-heavy infrastructure, along with a massive ground operation that included 500 summer interns.

Portman began the race with $5.8 million and has raised and spent millions to defeat Strickland since. And while outside groups are spending heavily in the state, including for Portman, Duffy said he has successfully kept his focus local, particularly on working to address misuse of prescription opioids in the state. Portman’s position on gay marriage has turned out to be a nonissue. “I have not heard it brought up in over a year,” Duffy said.

The issue has also not been a defining factor for the other three Republican senators who have come out in support of marriage equality since Portman made his announcement in 2013. Maine's Susan Collins easily won another term in 2014. Incumbent Lisa Murkowski’s GOP primary in Alaska just came and went without any surprises. And while Sen. Mark S. Kirk is trailing badly in Illinois to Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Kirk’s position on gay marriage has mostly been a nonissue in the race.

[Portman, Kasich Head in Separate Directions on Trump]

With Portman ahead or tied with Strickland in every poll since February, the senator is beginning to look as good as anyone in a battleground state could have hoped at this point in a presidential election cycle that has been nothing less than volcanic. But it’s important to add here that anything can still happen. Hillary Clinton’s emails could reveal something nobody expected. WikiLeaks could dump an unimaginable trove of damaging secrets. Donald Trump could burst into a ball of flames.

But if anything emerges to keep Rob Portman from winning, it’s safe to say gay marriage won’t be the reason.

Roll Call columnist Patricia Murphy covers national politics for The Daily Beast. Previously, she was the Capitol Hill bureau chief for Politics Daily and founder and editor of Citizen Jane Politics. Follow her on Twitter @1PatriciaMurphy.

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The beauty of sports and politics is that you never really know how things are going to shake out. Sometimes Truman beats Dewey; sometimes Douglas beats Tyson.

That's why Donald Trump still has a chance to turn things around — in the debates. And that's why, despite competing for ratings against the NFL and playoff baseball, there will be plenty of drama when Trump and Hillary Clinton square off this fall.

But even here, I’m sounding like I’m the announcer of a “Monday Night Football” blowout game who is rationalizing, “It’s a long shot, but if the Redskins score a touchdown, go for a two-point conversion, and then execute an onside kick, they have a chance. …"

To be sure, we in the media have a rooting interest in keeping things close (why else would you read our columns, watch our shows, or click on our ads?), but it is a fatal conceit to assume we know how things will end.

For one thing, there is still more than a month left before the first presidential debate even happens.

Believing in Trump has always required a certain amount of magical thinking (a “year of delusional thinking”?), but Trump has almost always failed to reach his potential.

[Will July 19 Live On in GOP Infamy?]

And yes, despite reports that he is now engaged in debate prep sessions, it seems highly unlikely that Donald Trump is spending long hours, holed up in some room with Roger Ailes, watching game footage and rehearsing his lines.

But who knows?

If one were writing a novel or a screenplay, one might imagine a scene where Roger Ailes whispers to his flailing candidate, “What if we surprise everyone and win the whole damn thing?” Melania (or campaign manager Kellyanne Conway) would then deliver the pep talk launching an epic training montage. Seeing this as his own swan song, Ailes — you know, the guy who prepped Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush for presidential debates! — hatches an idea to lower expectations by concealing Trump’s improving debate prowess until game day.

The narrative I have just laid out for you will probably not happen. Just as you can’t “cram” for an SAT, it’s hard to master economics, foreign policy, etc. in a month, a year, or even a decade. No amount of pushups will help (no matter how many times you play a Survivor song in the background). Hillary Clinton, for all her faults, has been immersed in the world of policy wonkery for her whole life; Trump has not.

[Trump Steps on the Narrative]

What is more, the presidential debates will very likely be formatted in ways that are inherently skewed toward Clinton’s strengths (and away from Trump’s). The danger for Trump is that, lacking applause lines and crowd participation (which benefited him in the primary debates), his insults will fall flat. Then, forced to actually discuss byzantine policy ideas for minutes (which may seem like hours), he will fall apart.

"The danger for Trump is that, lacking applause lines and crowd participation ... his insults will fall flat."

Even the fact that there are three debates diminishes the chance that Trump could land a lucky knockout.

Reagan had a bad first debate in 1984, but (with the help of Ailes) rebounded. President Obama delivered an anemic performance in his first debate in 2012, but (with the help of Candy Crowley) bounced back in the second one. Clinton can probably afford to have a bad debate, too.

This is a trilogy. Does anyone remember that Frazier once beat Ali?

Team Trump must either have a strategy to win multiple debates, or limit their number. The former would involve the kind of discipline and strategy that (so far) Trump has never been able to execute. And the latter only works if he vanquishes his opponent early.

Whether it's Iron Mike Tyson or the aspiring Iron Lady of American politics, the favorite usually wins. Donald Trump's back is now against the wall. But nothing is preordained. That’s why we play the game.

Roll Call columnist Matt K. Lewis is a Senior Contributor to the Daily Caller and author of the book “Too Dumb to Fail.” Follow him on Twitter @MattKLewis.

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Is there anything members of Congress love more than the chance to haul a wayward CEO to Capitol Hill to lecture them about their companies’ un-American transgressions? The CEOs of the Wall Street banks got the indignant Hill treatment in 2008 after the mortgage meltdown. The CEOs of the Big Three car companies did too, only to be scolded at a later hearing for flying private jets to Washington for the first one.

Man-child and bad boy pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli sat in front of House members for hours during a House Oversight hearing in February while angry committee members unloaded on him for price gouging, spurred on by the fact that Shkreli had taken the Fifth at the start of the hearing and called them “imbeciles” on Twitter before and after he appeared in Washington.

So it’s easy to imagine the public shaming that would be waiting Heather Bresch on Capitol Hill in September under normal circumstances.

[Blumenthal: Manchin Connection Shouldn't Affect EpiPen Investigation]

Bresch is the CEO of Mylan, the company that has been hiking the price of the EpiPen, the only available single-dose epinephrine system for people severely allergic to anything from peanuts to bee stings. Since Mylan bought the EpiPen from Merck in 2007, the wholesale price for a two-dose pack has jumped from about $100 to more than $600 this year, a price the American Medical Association called “exorbitant” on Wednesday, especially with the actual cost of the drug still at about $1 per dose.

Even with that disparity, you could make the case that $600 is still a bargain to save anyone’s life. But people buy EpiPens to stash around their homes, schools and offices in case of a severe allergic reaction, not to treat an individual episode. So they’re typically buying six to 12 doses of a drug they hope they’ll never use and restocking it every 12 months when it expires.

Since many families are buying them for young children, Mylan’s own literature recommends stocking separate double-doses of EpiPens for “home, babysitter, work, relatives, school, and travel,” including backpacks and additional family cars.

To quickly see how widespread the use of EpiPens is, I asked six friends with young children if anyone in their family uses an EpiPen and if they are running into problems with the cost. Of the six women, four stock EpiPens in their homes, cars and children’s schools for their children with allergies.

[Trade Deal May Undercut Efforts to Control Drug Prices]

But all four women have delayed buying this year’s supply because of Mylan’s price hike. Although none of the children’s allergies has ever been life-threatening before, one mom explained, “The doctors say, ‘You never know when it could turn life-threatening with allergies,’ so it’s super scary.” Another said her prescriptions had expired but she hasn't replaced them because the price is just too high. "What do I do?"

Bresch and Mylan have said that they have programs to make EpiPens more affordable. One program, which Mylan calls the “Co-Pay Card” promises that consumers can get six doses of the drug for “$0.” But the fine print on the program specifies that the offer only covers $100 of the $600 price of a two-dose pack and is not valid for anyone on Tricare or any other federal or state health care program or in an “ineligible” insurance program.

Even people with insurance are routinely paying up to $300 out of pocket for each two-pack, which quickly adds up to $900 or $1,200 that a family may or may not have in the bank.

Add to these details the fact that the Mylan CEO’s compensation has spiked more than 671% in the same time frame, to $18.9 million last year, and the Outraged Congressional Hearing script practically writes itself. Or it would, if Bresch were anyone other than the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat.

[Joe Manchin Is Open for Legislative Business]

It’s hard to imagine the U.S. Senate dragging the daughter of one of their own up to Capitol Hill to face the same kind of grilling Shkreli or other tainted corporate leaders have endured in years past, but they should. If there is a case to make for the price increases, Bresch, as the CEO, can make it. If there is outrage to be heard over the effect the skyrocketing prices are having on parents, who literally fear for their children’s lives, Bresch should hear it.

No matter how painful it might be for Sen. Manchin to see his colleagues interrogate his daughter, I promise it won't compare to the pit in the stomach of a mother or father this week staring at a $900 bill for EpiPens and thinking to themselves, "What do I do?"

Roll Call columnist Patricia Murphy covers national politics for The Daily Beast. Previously, she was the Capitol Hill bureau chief for Politics Daily and founder and editor of Citizen Jane Politics. Follow her on Twitter @1PatriciaMurphy.

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