It turns out that being the hottest item in the 2008 Democratic presidential sweepstakes isn’t all kudos, fawning press clippings and high fives after all. [IMGCAP(1)]
On Friday afternoon, Capitol Police put out an all-points bulletin indicating that “multiple individuals were harassing or being too forward with Sen. [Barack] Obama (D-Ill.)” inside the Hart Senate Office Building, according to a Capitol Police spokeswoman.
By the time officers responded to a call for help from the Senator’s office ready to bounce some perps, the alleged harassers had given them the slip.
“We couldn’t find the people,” admitted the spokeswoman, adding that “it really turned out to be a non-event.”
Since police declined to conduct the kind of room-to-room lockdown search that accompanied last May’s infamous “pneumatic hammer incident,” HOH has to assume that the alleged forwardness wasn’t too over the top, but we can’t be sure since Obama’s office declined to return our calls Friday.
Clock Update. The “100 hours” are over! Long live the 100 hours!
In case your attention has been elsewhere in recent weeks, you should probably be aware that House Democrats pledged to complete a half-dozen high-profile pieces of legislation in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress.
Well, they passed those bills, and now the 100 hours are over. They ended — as the Democratic leadership sees it — sometime before 7 p.m. Thursday evening with the passage of an energy bill. So, to recap:
• The first 100 hours actually started at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9, the sixth day after Congress began and the third day the House was in session;
• the first 100 hours ended the evening of Jan. 18, the 15th day since Congress began and the ninth legislative day of the session;
• the first 100 hours ended nine days — and seven legislative days — after they began;
• oh, and by the way, the first 100 hours didn’t take 100 hours. According to the clock on the House Majority Leader Web site, they came in at a tidy 42 hours and 25 minutes.
So in a way, the first 100 hours are still going. HOH is already looking forward to the second 100 hours.
And on the Fifth Day, They Rested. Following a jam-packed day of legislative activity Thursday — you know, loads of quorum calls punctuated by Morning Business speeches — and a clearly taxing push to a final vote on the ethics reform bill, Senators packed up and headed home for the weekend.
“Boy, these five-day workweeks must really be hard on them,” one GOP leadership aide quipped.
While some cynics may be disappointed Democrats aren’t keeping to their promise to run the Senate like a Jack Abramoff-client sweatshop, HOH feels Members’ pain.
Thankfully, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is giving his fellow Joe Six-Pack citizen legislators a little extra time to catch their breath. The Senate won’t reconvene until today at noon and will spare them the rigors of an actual vote until Tuesday.
Didn’t take Senate Democrats long to forget about that whole five-day workweek thing, did it?
Gator Hater. In addition to the obligatory bets between Members that HOH so often decries, the other tradition that usually accompanies a big sporting event is the nice resolution honoring the victorious team for its courage, fortitude, yadda yadda.
Good sports that they are, lawmakers from all over the country are nearly always willing to band together to congratulate winning teams, even if they might not personally be so happy with the results. That’s “nearly” always.
No one gave the sportsmanship memo to Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston (R), who last Wednesday was the only Member of the House to vote “no” on a resolution congratulating the University of Florida Gators for their victory in the BCS championship football game over Ohio State.
The measure prevailed, 414-1, with Kingston the sole opposition vote and fellow Georgia Reps. John Linder (R) and John Barrow (D) voting “present.”
Now, some conspiracy theorists might suspect that Kingston’s anti-Florida stance had something to do with his narrow loss to Sunshine State Rep. Adam Putnam (who is a big Gators fan) in December’s race for the in the Republican Conference chairmanship.
Not so, assures Kingston spokeswoman Krista Cole, who said her boss’s vote was about the University of Georgia Bulldogs’ rivalry with the Gators, not any sort of rivalry with Putnam.
“Deep down it was just Bulldog pride,” Cole said.
It turns out that Kingston actually rooted for Florida during the BCS game, both because he wanted the Southeastern Conference to win and because he wanted to see Ohio State lose. See, Kingston developed an abiding dislike for the Buckeyes when he attended Michigan State (though he actually finished his studies and got his degree from UGA).
Still with us? Okay, so after rooting for Florida during the game, Kingston reverted afterward to his old Bulldog-loving, Gator-hating self and voted against the resolution. His office has already gotten plenty of calls on the subject.
“The responses were split,” Cole said. “We’re a hero in the Bulldog nation. Not so much with the Gators.”
The best part for Kingston? Maybe now he’ll get a cover photo in Bulldawg Illustrated, the Georgia fan magazine. HOH would like a signed copy.
Plame Game. While Washington’s media elites gather down Constitution Avenue for the Scooter Libby trial, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) is attempting to help the woman whose “outing” as a CIA operative set the trial in motion.
Inslee introduced legislation on Jan. 16 that would allow Valerie Plame, the ex-CIA officer whose name was revealed in press reports after an apparent leak from the administration, to collect early on her pension benefits.
Because Plame was not of retirement age when she left the CIA on Jan. 9, 2006, she is prohibited from immediately collecting pension benefits equal to 20 years and seven days worth of government service.
But Inslee argues that the minimum retirement age of 56 should be waived for Plame, who “has been left without a career.” According to documents inserted in the Congressional Record by Inslee, Plame would be eligible at 56 to receive an annuity of $21,541, or $1,795 a month.
According to his spokeswoman, Inslee, who initially voted against the Iraq War, became friends with Plame’s husband, ex-U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, when Wilson came to Washington to participate in a Iraq forum with the Congressman.
“Today I intend to call my colleagues’ attention to the human toll that this ‘outing’ has had on one, often overlooked, individual,” Inslee said in comments inserted into the Congressional Record.
Plame’s name was revealed in a published report days after Wilson published a column critical of the run-up to the Iraq War. Though Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, is not accused of “outing” Plame, prosecutors argue Libby lied to investigators about his conversations regarding Plame with reporters.
John McArdle, John Stanton and Rachel Van Dongen contributed to this report.
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