July 25, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Heard on the Hill: Hearing ... or House Party?

A hearing on arts funding went to the dogs Tuesday, with lawmakers cracking jokes with celebrities about their four-legged friends. And in keeping with the “Animal House” atmosphere, Rep. Louise Slaughter flashed the attendees of the hearing.

The New York Democrat, who testified before an Appropriations subcommittee, proudly opened up her very dignified blazer to reveal ... a T-shirt from the New York Shakespeare Theater emblazoned with a picture of William Shakespeare and the phrase “Will Power.”

The G-rated striptease was greeted with applause from the audience. But it was hardly the only comedic moment during the session before the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment. Subpanel Chairman Jim Moran (D-Va.) and ranking member Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) joked with witnesses, actors Kyle MacLachlan and Jeff Daniels, about their dogs.

Simpson asked MacLachlan about the “Desperate Housewives” actor’s two dogs, Mookie and Sam, who have their own blog. Simpson described himself and his wife as among the fellow “dog-obsessed” and talked about their own pups, Snickers and Nibby.

Then Moran jumped into the fray, complaining that his Portuguese water dog, whom he claimed “Ted Kennedy unloaded on me,” was nothing but trouble. “She insists on sleeping with her head on the pillow,” he said.

But wait, wasn’t the hearing supposed to be about, er, arts funding? Oh right. Back to the business at hand ...

But the topic of canines eventually crept back into the conversation when Daniels prefaced his testimony by confessing that he has two dogs and that, “Yes, they sleep on the pillow too.”

Free as a Bird. While HOH is hardly an expert on legislative matters (we usually stick to poking fun at Members’ funny outfits and embarrassing antics), we’re confidently predicting most Americans will happily support a measure put forth on Monday by Sens. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

The duo introduced a bill banning airlines from charging passengers a fee for carry-on bags on the heels of Spirit Airlines’ announcement that it will begin charging customers up to $45 to bring luggage into an airplane’s cabin. Cardin and Landrieu were fighting such fees even before Spirit’s announcement — they proposed similar language last month to be included in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, but their effort was blocked.

“Last month, on the floor of the Senate, I said that while ‘it may seem improbable now that airlines would charge passengers for carry-on luggage, we cannot rule out that these fees could never come about in the future,’” Cardin says. “That day in the future came sooner than most of us expected.”

Cardin argues that airline passengers shouldn’t have to pay to bring carry-on bags aboard, as they contain “items essential to their health, work and safety.”

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