Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Heard on the Hill: Interchangeable Chairmen?

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) are hardly twins, but a reporter called Conyers “Chairman Rangel” while asking him a question at a Tuesday press conference.

Confusing two black legislators might have been bad enough, but the faux pas was especially awkward because Conyers was flanked by the NAACP’s Washington bureau director, Hilary O. Shelton, and Brent Wilkes, the national executive director for the League of United Latin American Citizens.

The two civil rights advocates were good-humored about the reporter’s gaffe, though, as they looked at each other and laughed — along with several members of the crowd.

Conyers, too, brushed it off. The embarrassed reporter apologized later, but Conyers reassured her by saying that Rangel frequently says people mistake him for Conyers.

But Conyers was quick to remind the reporter that Rangel, who is in the midst of an ethics investigation that has some critics calling for him to relinquish his gavel, is the one who is in trouble.

Conyers, by contrast, seemed to be enjoying himself, even boasting of a Kool Moe Dee concert that he caught over the weekend. Conyers said the legendary 1970s hip-hop artist played the MGM Grand in Detroit.

“Boy, did we get down,” Conyers told the crowd at the press conference, in which he joined singer Dionne Warwick and others to promote a bill to give royalties to musicians for radio play. “Everybody was dancing. Even those who probably couldn’t dance were dancing. I mean it was infectious.”

Rhyme and Reason. Advocacy groups that face a tough time getting their message to Congress often break it down for Members in very simple terms — and on Tuesday, one coalition went a step further, using a nursery rhyme to get its point across.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Members of the Interfaith Sudan Working Group, a coalition of Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations dedicated to ending the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, delivered copies of “Humpty Dumpty” to every Congressional office Tuesday. Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, told HOH that the nursery rhyme — in which the egg Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall, has a great fall and sadly can’t be put back together again — is an appropriate metaphor for the ongoing situation in northern and southern Sudan, which remains fragile after a 2005 peace agreement.

“We are united in saying this is make-it-or-break-it time,” Messinger said. “If things start to fall apart, it will be impossible to put it back together.”

Sketchy Senator. Would you drop a cool grand on a squiggly sketch depicting a map of the U.S.? What if it was for a good cause? OK, what if it was drawn by a Senator?

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