No Hard Feelings, Right?

Posted May 5, 2004 at 6:45pm

The House voted Tuesday night to honor both the men’s and women’s basketball teams from the University of Connecticut for beating all comers during the recent National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Huskie men stomped the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech, winning 82-73. Coach Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut women continued their roundball domination, cruising to a third straight national

championship by defeating archrival Pat Summitt and the University of Tennessee Lady Vols 70-61.

Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), whose district is home to UConn, drafted Tuesday’s resolution, which is pretty standard fare for lawmakers seeking to glorify home-state winners.

But shockingly, the vote on the Simmons resolution wasn’t unanimous. Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) voted present. What gives?

Gingrey got his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech before attending medical school, and his heart “bleeds ‘old gold’ and white,” Georgia Tech’s team colors, according to Brian Robinson, his press secretary.

Gingrey actually went to San Antonio to watch the men’s Final Four, and was thrilled by the Yellow Jackets’ triumph over the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the semifinal game. But the loss to the Huskies in the championship (which HOH notes wasn’t even close) was evidently a tough one for the freshman Republican.

Voting against the resolution was just a little “too harsh” for Gingrey, so he voted “present” for the first time since being elected to Congress, said Robinson. “He finally figured out what that yellow button was for,” joked Robinson. (For those of you who don’t know, the “Present” button is yellow on the voting machine Members use.)

“Perhaps if there had been a line in the resolution praising the Yellow Jackets’ surprising rise to the national championship, [Gingrey] could have voted for it,” added Robinson. “But that oversight made it impossible to vote for the resolution.”

Jonathan Felts of Hayes’ office pointed out that his boss “is a Duke fan and a Duke graduate.” Hayes, however, was relieved that it was the Huskies and not the “wine and cheese types” from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that won the championship.

Simmons took it all in stride, as winners can. “We don’t call them UConn anymore,” said Simmons. “We call ’em Two-Conn because they won both championships!”

And Simmons was quite aware of how his GOP colleagues voted. “It’s just sour grapes over the Duke and Georgia Tech defeats,” he said. “I thought for a while that I would get back at ’em by voting against their resolutions at some future date, but then I realized of course their teams are never gonna win. So maybe I won’t have that opportunity.” Ouch.

Trading Everything. Democratic Reps. Loretta Sanchez (Calif.) and Linda Sanchez (Calif.) have already made history as the first sisters ever to serve in Congress at the same time. Now they’re going to try to take it a step further.

The siblings are considering swapping apartments this fall as part of the show “Trading Spaces,” which airs on the Learning Channel.

The two sisters would briefly move into each other’s apartment on Capitol Hill and redo them. Loretta Sanchez lives over on the House side, Linda Sanchez on the Senate (HOH doesn’t want to give out any home addresses).

The premise of “Trading Spaces” is simple — change what you want in the other person’s apartment within 48 hours, but you can’t get too crazy on money. Creativity is the key. From the show’s Web site: “They have two days, a set budget, and they’re not allowed back into their own homes until the moment of truth.”

In this case, the sisters are covered by House ethics rules and cannot accept the $1,000 usually budgeted for such makeovers by “Trading Spaces.” Instead, they would have to pay out of their own pockets.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the ethics committee, is studying their request to take part in the show, and is expected to provide a ruling any day now.

“Ethics is finishing its review, and we’re hoping for an answer soon,” said Betsy Arnold, an aide to Linda Sanchez.

Don Halcombe of the Discovery Channel, which owns the Learning Channel, said “Trading Spaces” was “still in discussions” with the sisters and had no announcement yet.

Note to WaPo Reporter: Try Reading Your Own Paper. HOH doesn’t have to make this stuff up. It’s out there, just waiting to be picked up.

This item is straight from the Politics1.com Web site. Ron Gunzburger of Politics1.com was speaking to a Washington Post reporter on Tuesday about an article the reporter was writing on the 2000 presidential recount and the current political atmosphere in Florida.

The reporter, who Gunzburger did not name but insists is not Terry Neal, then stunned Gunzburger. HOH will let Gunzburger tell the rest: “This guy — who actually wrote much on the recount in 2000 —showed an amazing lack of knowledge about … well … nearly everything related to his new story. When I suggested he call Congressman Kendrick Meek [D-Fla.] — who is state chair of the Kerry campaign — the guy said he’d never heard of him. At one point, he even asked, ‘Whatever happened to Katherine, you know, the ‘Dragon Lady’ Secretary of State?’ Umm … Well, that would be Katherine Harris, and she was elected to Congress in 2002. ‘Really,’ he responded with surprise, ‘You mean ‘Congress’ … here in Washington?’ Yup, that would be the place. Pretty sad.”

His words, not HOH’s.

Smart Guy. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) might have broken some kind of record Wednesday. During a speech before the House Resources Committee, of which he is the ranking member, Rahall probably used more horse jokes in less time than any lawmaker in history.

Rahall was ranting against H.R. 2966, the Right-to-Ride Livestock on Federal Lands Act of 2003, which would “preserve the use and access of pack and saddle stock animals [mainly horses] on public lands.” The bill was introduced by Rep. George Radanovich (R-Calif.) and is supported by a bunch of Western Republicans.

Rahall opposed the bill, and he used his speech to make that clear in a completely equine way. Some highlights: “Mr. Chairman, before we go galloping off and approve this bill, I think we need to pull in the reins and take stock of the significant problems with H.R. 2966.”And “While some people are chomping on that bit, I say, ‘whoa, just one minute there.’” Or, “To the supporters of H.R. 2966, I would say don’t allow yourselves to become mule-headed over this bill. It’s time to pack it in and let H.R. 2966 ride off into the sunset.”

Once Rahall was finished, Radanovich broke in with own horse retort: “Wow, I think that the only thing I have to add to Mr. Rahall’s comments is to say that he’s beginning to sound like Mr. Ed. [Rep.] Ed Markey (D-Mass.), that is.”

It didn’t matter in the end. The committee passed the bill by voice vote. Or HOH should say, “There was hardly a neigh.”