Congress

Campus notebook: China Daily stresses a senator and a drug arrest at the Capitol

Library of Congress’ Veterans History Projects gets senatorial endorsement

Florida Sen. Rick Scott is no fan of China Daily. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This week’s campus notebook reminds us that the U.S. Botanic Garden is technically a legislative branch entity and that methamphetamine is still not welcome in the Capitol Visitor Center. 

Visitors welcome, no meth allowed

A visitor to the Capitol Visitor Center was stopped Tuesday after being found with a glass pipe and a bag containing a “white, rock-like substance.” A field test confirmed the substance was methamphetamine. The suspect was arrested and charged with misdemeanors of possessing meth and drug paraphernalia.

Scott says no to China Daily

Sen. Rick Scott wants newspapers, including those delivered to Capitol Hill, to stop partnering with China Daily, a publication owned and paid for by the Chinese Communist Party. In a letter to the News Media Alliance and American Press Institute, the Florida Republican urged newspapers to end their relationships with the state-run media outlet.

China Daily is routinely delivered to House and Senate offices alongside independent papers such as Roll Call, Politico and The Washington Post. The paper also sometimes runs advertising inserts in traditional newspapers.

“Growing up I cannot imagine American newspapers including an insert paid for by Communist Soviet Union. When did American newspapers stop caring about American values and simply sell access to their readers to the highest bidder?,” Scott wrote.

The senator’s concern comes a few months after Rep. Jim Banks questioned the distribution of China Daily on Capitol Hill. The Indiana Republican wrote a letter  to House Chief Administrative Officer Philip Kiko, requesting information on the process for how publications are distributed on Capitol Hill and calling for the CAO to take action.

[Why is a Chinese propaganda newspaper delivered to Congress? Rep. Jim Banks wants to know]

China Daily is a state-run media outlet and registered foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Because of this, the congressional press galleries do not credential China Daily employees to work in the Capitol. The paper is a known as an international messaging tool for the Communist Party, funded by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China and its spreading of disinformation.

A pledge for veterans’ history

A Senate Rules Committee hearing turned into a great promotion for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, with lawmakers pledging to get involved.

The hearing, focused on the library’s modernization efforts, turned to the Veterans History Project when New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall touted his office hitting its goal of gathering stories from the states’ veterans.

The Democratic senator said his staff realized there was an especially low number of New Mexican stories in the archives, especially considering the high percentage of veterans and active-duty servicemembers in the state. Udall’s office set a goal of collecting at least 50 stories from veterans and at least one from each of the 33 counties in the state.

“Since July 1, 2019, I’m proud to say that my office has collected over 80 interviews. I conducted a number of interviews myself,” Udall said. “I can tell you, it was a really eye-opening experience.”

He said he’s trying to get more community partners involved in collecting stories and focusing on Hispanic veterans and those from Puebloans, Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation.

“Count me in,” said Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. “If my staff are listening, we will be participating with you in the great state of Nevada.”

Udall touted the preparation he and his staff received from the library on doing the interviews and collecting stories from veterans. 

“Let all members know, you do a really good job training us to do this,” he said.

Bicentennial branches

The U.S. Botanic Garden, just down the hill from the House office buildings, is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the original 1820 charter with the exhibition of a custom “Stickwork” sculpture by artist Patrick Dougherty.

“We are excited to work with Patrick and his team to create a unique piece of art here at the Garden,” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “We hope visitors will explore the installation, think about the many ways we interact with plants throughout each day, and be inspired by both the beauty and function plants give to us.”

Dougherty is known for his installations made of woven plant materials. The anniversary sculpture, titled “O Say Can You See,” stands 15 feet tall and 25 feet wide and includes saplings of invasive plants from the Washington region. It will stand at the Botanic Garden, a legislative branch agency, through 2020.

Hearings in history, now for your reading pleasure

Can’t get enough congressional hearing transcripts? The Government Publishing Office announced this week that it has digitized more than 1,300 historical congressional hearings dating back to 1958 and made them available to the public online.

“This project is another example of how GPO is embracing digital technology to provide the public easy access to Congressional documents,” GPO acting Deputy Director John Crawford said. “GPO is proud to have brought these important moments in our nation’s history to people on their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers.”

Those events include portions of the Watergate hearings and debate over 1961 legislation to implement the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. The move is part of a larger plan for the GPO to digitize nearly 6 million pages, of which approximately 230,000 have been completed, according to a GPO statement.

Capitol Christmas tree is en route

The 2019 Capitol Christmas tree was cut this week and will arrive on Nov. 25, reports Heard on the Hill.

This year’s tree, a 60-foot tall, 21-foot wide blue spruce, comes from northern New Mexico’s Carson National Forest and will soon sit on the Capitol’s West Lawn. This is the third time the state has provided a tree. The tree was honored with a cutting ceremony Wednesday morning that included blessings by Picuris Pueblo Gov. Craig Quanchello and other Pueblo Indians.

The tree will remain lit each day from dusk to 11 p.m. until Jan. 1. You can track the tree’s journey at capitoltreetracker.com, beginning Nov. 11.

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