My District or Yours?

Posted September 7, 2007 at 6:24pm

She’s the wife of a deceased former Member and a six-termer in her own right. He’s the son of a former Member and has held his father’s old seat for the past two terms. Now GOP Reps. Mary Bono (Calif.) and Connie Mack IV (Fla.) are tying the knot, and unlike most newly engaged couples, the question of where this district-straddling couple will live is a little more complicated than the usual my-place-or-yours debate that most modern couples engage in. [IMGCAP(1)]

Bono’s chief of staff, Frank Cullen, tells HOH the two plan to set up house together in Washington, D.C., after the yet-to-be-scheduled wedding and maintain their respective residences in their respective districts. Both currently have homes in Virginia: Mack has a house in Alexandria, and Bono, widow of singer Sonny Bono, has a condo in Crystal City, Cullen says. Cullen said he didn’t know what the happy couple’s specific living arrangements would be post-wedding, just that they’d be “sharing a home” in Washington.

Of course, all the shuttling around among abodes is complicated by the fact their home districts are on opposite coasts. Bono’s other residence is in Palm Springs, while Mack’s is in Fort Myers. “They’ve been dating for several years and they’ve gotten accustomed to the travel,” Cullen says.

Houshton, What’s the Problem? Many taxpaying, clean-living folks were a bit perturbed by news reports about NASA astronauts blasting off in multimillion-dollar spacecrafts after downing a couple of drinks. But at a hearing last week about NASA’s health care program, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) had a rather counterintuitive question about the space man imbibing scandal.

The ranking member on the Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics wondered — we take it, for the sake of argument — what, after all, is the problem with drunken astronauts? During the Thursday hearing, Feeney posed an unexpected question. “This may be the silliest question of 2007,” he warned, which of course put HOH on high alert. “Why would it be a great risk if astronauts had a drink?” he asked. After all, he continued, most of the launching gear is computer-driven, and except for vomiting in one’s astronaut mask or being incapacitated during the teensy chance of a surprise emergency landing, what’s the big deal? Feeney, to be fair, seemed to be asking the question less because of his own Jell-O-shots-for-astronauts platform and more to elicit information from the NASA witnesses.

Panel witness Bryan O’Connor, chief of safety and mission assurance for NASA, seemed a bit taken aback at the suggestion that maybe a few drinks for the guys in space uniform wouldn’t be such a bad thing. All astronauts need to be “fit,” he told Feeney. So when the U.S. rocket men (or women) are high as kites, that’s supposed to be literal, not figurative.

Obey, the Book. If the House was having a competition to identify its prickliest Member, Wisconsin Reps. David Obey (a Democrat) and Jim Sensenbrenner (a Republican) surely would make it to the finals. It turns out, though, that the unlikely duo — who disagree on many a policy point — have little-known softer sides, including an abiding fondness for each other. Sensenbrenner braved entering the lion’s den (the Democratic National Committee headquarters on South Capitol Street) on Thursday night to pay tribute to his pal, Obey, who was celebrating the release of his new book, “Raising Hell for Justice: The Washington Battles of a Heartland Progressive.”

Other Members on hand to wish the tough-talking author-cum-Appropriations chairman well included Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.). Obey was getting a rock star’s reception, with book-toting fans by the dozen lined up to have him sign their tomes. And despite his acclaim — at least so far — as an author, Obey says he’s not quite ready to give up his pretty powerful day job as the keeper of the House purse strings. “I enjoyed the writing process, but I’m also enjoying the fact that it’s over,” Obey told HOH of the three-and-a-half years and “14 drafts” it took to write the book.

Sweet Relief and Pisco Sours. When Washington’s international trade community got wind of the devastation in Peru caused by the hurricanes that blew through the South American country last month, they decided to do what any good Washingtonians would do: throw a party.

A fundraiser tonight organized by the town’s trade set aims to raise bucks for rebuilding and relief efforts in the country. UPS, which does a brisk business in Peru, is hosting the event at its town house at 421 New Jersey Ave. SE. Proceeds will go to international anti-poverty charity group CARE.

And if humanitarianism isn’t your game, the organizers have thrown in a little liquid enticement: HOH hears that plenty of pisco sours, Peru’s famed (and delicious) libation, will be served.

Drop and Gimme 20, Congressman. Although freshman Democratic Rep. Christopher Carney (Pa.) may have gotten used two giving orders on Capitol Hill, for the next two weeks he’ll be taking some of his own. Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Carney reported to Langley Air Force Base to fulfill two weeks of active duty required as a U.S. Navy reservist.

While Carney’s office is sans its commander in chief, first mate (and Chief of Staff) April Metwalli will be at the helm, according to Carney spokeswoman Rebecca Gale.

More Engaging Pursuits. Colleagues thought Republican Study Committee Executive Director Russ Vought was married to his job, but Vought showed where his priorities lie when he proposed over the August recess to girlfriend Mary MacLean, the press secretary to Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.).

Those who know Vought were relieved at the nuptial developments, since pals had worried that the long hours Vought devotes to his work would leave room for little else. MacLean “will save him from a life of being married to the federal budget because that is definitely where we thought he was heading,” says one staffer for a conservative Member who has worked with Vought. HOH hears he popped the question after a romantic dinner in Annapolis. But old habits die hard, and we’re waiting to hear that the wedding has been scheduled for a date that doesn’t conflict with the vagaries of the Congressional budget process.

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