With neither chamber looking like it’ll blink ahead of a government-wide shutdown, animal lovers all over town are bracing for a cold and heartless world devoid of cute and fuzzy moments.
(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)
Lawmakers hoping to convince Amtrak to allow household pets to travel on its passenger trains were scheduled to plead their case Wednesday morning outside Union Station. But the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council shelved the animal-friendly photo op due to logistical uncertainty.
“The location of our press conference, Columbus Plaza, is administered by the National Park Service and we have been informed that in the event of a shutdown, all permits for special events are canceled. Given that possibility and the fact that we have participants coming in from out of town, we didn’t want to wait until the last minute to make our decision,” Mike Bober, PIJAC vice president of government affairs told HOH.
Meanwhile, the National Zoo alerted fans that a shutdown would force it to pull the plug on the dozen-plus animal cams that provide a real-time peek at the activities of assorted critters — including the newly arrived Sumatran tiger cubs feed, and D.C.’s most cherished bandwidth-suck, the Giant Panda Cam — until further notice.
Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken is dangling a major-league get in front of those who might be on the fence about giving to his re-election campaign: an intimate evening with award-winning musician Paul Simon.
(CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Franken bills the semi-secret show — his famously media averse press office declined to tell HOH anything about the upcoming performance, scheduled to take place somewhere in D.C. on Friday — as the “Best Concert Ever” on his campaign site.
Potential attendees are, of course, invited to contribute anywhere from $5 to $2,600 for the chance to huddle with the activist crooner (estimated value of prize: $3,000), but no money need change hands to actually enter. All entries must be received by 11:59 tonight.
“Sen. Franken has known Paul Simon for 38 years (he was one of the hosts the first season of “Saturday Night Live”) and they have kept in touch ever since,” was all a Franken aide would say of the boss’s relationship with the celebrated singer. The duo could certainly have a long and illustrious history together, given that Simon appeared on SNL, either as host or as the featured musical act, at least nine times during Franken’s roughly 15 years on the show.
Hahn hangs out with her grandchildren before the Congressional Women’s Softball Game in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.
This week, Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., talks about her dad, the grandkids and her favorite D.C. eats.
Q. I read that your father [former LA County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn] was the only public official from the city to show up at the Los Angeles airport to welcome Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962. What do you remember about that?
A. I was not with him, but I do remember when he came home that evening he talked about the time that he spent alone with Dr. King. My dad picked him up from the airport and drove him around Compton because he wanted Dr. King to see the African-American community in LA, and then he took him to this office and gave him a cup of coffee. When my dad came home that night, he spoke about Dr. King’s hope for America and what he hoped his children would be able to experience one day. When Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, my dad always thought he heard it first.
Q. You have five grandchildren. How often do you get to see them?
A. Well, two live in Bend, Ore., and three are in Colorado. I see them as much as I can. The three from Colorado were here when I was inaugurated, then they came again when I played in the Congressional Softball Game recently, saying, “Go Mimi!” My 7-year-old Brooklyn wanted to celebrate her birthday with cupcakes in the Rotunda of the Capitol.
Q. You raised three children as a single mother. What misconceptions do you believe the public has about single parents?
A. I think more and more people are single parents. I think there’s less misconception about it because it’s really kind of the new norm. Vice President Joe R. Biden Jr. was a single parent after the death of his wife. I know more and more single parents.
Q. You’ve been a congresswoman for two years now. How would you describe the city of Washington to someone who has never visited or lived here?
A. It’s on a swamp. [She laughs.] I tell everyone what a beautiful, historic, fascinating city this is. I am reminded of that every time I fly in from LA, when I catch my first glimpse of the Washington Monument or our nation’s Capitol. Every summer, when you see all the families who come here to tour this great city, the history really speaks for itself. I’m always inviting my friends from California to visit me. The weather is a little challenging, though.
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure eatery in D.C.?
A. Acqua al 2 at Eastern Market. It’s got wonderful Italian food and then across the street from that is a gelato place [Pitango]. Those are probably my two favorites.
The Yoder household dynamic will change very soon. Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder and his wife, Brooke, who have no pets or children, are expecting a baby girl in early November.
“I’m 37, Brooke is 38, and we’ve had the opportunity to do some great things, and this is one of the things we were missing from our lives, so we’re very, very excited about opening this new chapter,” Yoder told HOH. “It’s just such a joyous moment, and to be a father to a baby girl is just really, really cool.”
Yoder said he is excited to be a father and has consulted with members and friends about the challenges and blessings to expect.
“It’s something we always wanted to do, and something we’ve always wanted to be able to do, but the timing never worked out, and we were waiting for the Lord’s blessing to give us this chance,” Yoder said. “I talk to people every day who tell me that it is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life, but it is also the greatest thing you’ll ever do in your life, and it changes what it means to be happy and what you enjoy. Some members have three, four, five kids, or more, and so I’ve certainly spoken with my colleagues about the value of making sure you leave time, you make sure that you put family first and ensure that you carve out time in your schedule.”
In addition to painting and preparing the baby’s room, Yoder said Brooke’s mom will help out once the baby is born. Despite these preparations, the Yoders are still deciding on a name.
“We do not have a name picked out,” Yoder said. “We’ve been tossing around some family names and we have a book here that’s got 60,000 names in it. The name you pick has a big impact on the identity the child takes on, and so we’ve been really kind of debating it, and I guess ultimately Brooke’s vote carries the most weight around here.”
Yoder said nothing compares to the joy of a newborn.
“Politically I’ve had a chance to serve in one of the greatest deliberative bodies in the history of the world. I get a chance to represent a wonderful community, I’ve had great health, a wonderful life, but I don’t think anything compares to the joy of bringing your first baby into the world,” Yoder said. “I think it will make even more tangible the importance of some of the tough decision we’re having in Washington.”
If there is one thing Congress does somewhat well, it’s theatrics disguised as debate. In the midst of the usual end-of-year milieu, there has been even more showboating than normal, particularly on the Senate floor. Which brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.
Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section of our Heard on the Hill blog. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.
To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.
Sure, he may be lagging behind social-media darlings Sen. Marco “Watergate” Rubio, R-Fla., and GOP filibuster twins Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas — each boasting about 436,000 followers, 250,000 followers and 161,000 followers, respectively — in terms of online adulation.
But Colorado Democrat Mark Udall proved Friday that he knows how to cram a whole lotta attention-getters into 140 characters:
Whereas most pols appear satisfied with sneaking one, two or, every once in a blue moon, a trio of hashtag threads into their average Twitter missive, Udall managed to shoehorn in an unprecedented half-dozen potentially trending topics into his denunciation of a potential government shutdown.
Perhaps it is a good time for AMC’s “Breaking Bad” to wrap things up. Once politics gets a hold of you, it’s only a matter of time before you jump the shark, and the story of chemistry-teacher-turned-drug lord Walter White has assiduously amped up the pressure, avoiding the shark-infested pop Rubicon so far.
Case in point? The National Republican Congressional Committee has started selling its “Breaking Dems” poster, a riff on the Emmy-award winning show that spells out its targets for the 2014 cycle:
In his latest animation, “Republican Doomsday Cult” — during which the narrator explains, “We must cut everything. Lest the devil of compromise returns” — the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist posits that Republicans John A. Boehner of Ohio, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas are deliberately leading the entire country toward certain destruction.
“When you have the Republican Speaker of the House threatening a national default, food stamps being slashed while farm subsidies are increased and an attempt to defund a program that has been in existence for four years, things have gone to crazy-land,” Fiore argues on his personal blog. Full story
Dogged researcher Anthony Clark wants to peel back the curtain on what he believes might be the most blatantly revisionist outlets to ever operate on the taxpayers’ dime: presidential libraries.
His forthcoming exposé, “The Last Campaign,” delves into the secretive world of how former presidents and their privately funded foundations put the happiest face possible on all that they accomplished, while also striving to sweep any negativity under the rug.
According to Clark, most modern presidential foundations — and, by extension, the monolithic showplaces they spawn — have abandoned any semblance of being merely academic, assuming more of an activist role in rehabilitating their namesakes’ legacies.
Say what you will about what some may regard as the GOP’s historical disdain for the arts, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has inspired the left to read more, pen its own political poetry and even canvass constituents in verse.
Cruz threw open the creative floodgates by channeling Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, during his 21-hour, non-filibuster of President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul.
His reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” — a parable about fearing the unknown only to later grow to love the new experience — may have fallen on deaf ears in the Senate, but resonated with critics elsewhere.
Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley did a little storytelling of his own, warning House members against the dangers of obstructionism. Full story
House Republicans might be rethinking their Friday night movie plans after word got out that the members would be hitting up the Regal in Chinatown to see “Prisoners.”
In a series of emails obtained by CQ Roll Call, Republican staffers revealed that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wants to do a movie night for the Republican members in town. And the plan is to see “Prisoners.”
That’s when Erica Elliott, the spokeswoman for McCarthy, asks a prescient question:
“Any chance the media reads WAY too much into the title of the movie, Prisoners?”
To answer Ms. Elliott’s question: yes.
Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have made a concerted effort to cast Republicans as the bad guys for taking the nation’s credit “hostage” for a “wish list” of demands. Obama says he will not negotiate. Speaker John A. Boehner says, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
So when Republicans landed on “Prisoners” for their Friday night flick, it was probably going to raise some Democratic eyebrows — or at least prompt some Democratic press releases.
“Given Speaker Boehner’s crusade to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to Tea Party ransom demands, it’s not surprising that, in their free time, the Republican Conference would choose to spend their Friday night watching a film together about hostage taking.” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s communications director told CQ Roll Call.
“Perhaps, given the group, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ would be more appropriate for their movie night,” Hammill said.
But HOH will note that if you haven’t seen the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” then the sequel, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ (which is the movie actually playing at Regal), probably isn’t worth your time.
In fact, nothing at Regal looks all that good.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” — There was a Chapter 1?
“Don Jon” — Let’s not even go there.
“The Family” — 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so …
“Rush” — We think House Republicans, like us, have grown tired of Ron Howard.
“Baggage Claim” — 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — Seen it.
“Battle of the Year 3D” — Also ripe for ridicule, especially if you’re spotted in the 3D glasses.
“The World’s End” — Hard to see how that’s much better than “Prisoners.”
So “Prisoners,” with a 79 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and 90 percent audience approval, may not be the worst Friday night flick — even if Democrats are delighting in the choice.
Elliott, who took a stern tone over the matter using words like “confirm” and “logistics,” said Republicans were still figuring out which movie to see.
“I can confirm that our office has had internal discussions about potential member services activities this weekend. I can also confirm that a member of Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff was mistakenly copied on the email chain and chose to forward it to members of the media. At this time, no final decisions have been made about logistics for this weekend,” Elliott said.
With the government days away from shutting down, and Republicans still searching for votes on a measure to raise the debt ceiling, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took some time Thursday to focus on what’s really important: the children.
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Of course, the children in question just happened to be accompanied by NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin and supermodel Niki Taylor.
The Virginia Republican met with the group, representing the March of Dimes, in his office to hear about their legislative priorities. At the top of their list are a Senate-passed bill to expand research and education on preterm birth and one of Cantor’s bills to end taxpayer financing for presidential campaigns and conventions and shift funding to pediatric research.
Hamlin, driver of NASCAR’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota, showed political shrewdness by getting straight to the point.
“The key to research is funding,” he told Cantor.
The majority leader agreed but noted to knowing chuckles, “There are things going on right now having to do with funding the government period.” Full story
The Republican Communications Association and Democratic Communicators Network are burying the hatchet just long enough to co-host a “hacks and flacks” happy hour Thursday at Top of the Hill (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE).
The bipartisan mixer is scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. at the back bar.
Political scribes looking to bend the elbow with congressional mouthpieces should RSVP to RCA@mail.house.gov.
It’s a cash bar scenario. But a Top of the Hill aide assured HOH the standard happy hour specials — $3 Bud Lights, $5 house red or white wine and $5 Stolichnaya/flavored Stoli mixed drinks — will be in effect.