Elevator Déjà Vu

Posted November 21, 2007 at 3:02pm

Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s (D-Hawaii) recent complaints to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) that Members couldn’t possibly make it to the floor for votes within the allotted 15 minutes because of those pesky, crowded elevators in the Capitol might have had the ring of the old “dog ate my homework” excuse. But Abercrombie, at least, is consistent. His grievances with overstuffed elevators date back years. One uber-alert HOH tipster pointed out that Abercrombie’s rant earlier this month was pure vintage 2003. Let’s compare the complaints with a trip down memory lane, shall we? [IMGCAP(1)]

Circa Nov. 14, 2007, Hoyer pledged to get Members to the floor faster and keep vote periods closer to their alleged 15-minute time limit, prompting Abercrombie to protest. “If you’re going to make the 15 minutes work, we’ve got to have people in the elevators —the police or the doorkeepers or somebody — keeping everybody out of the elevators.”

Circa June 12, 2003, his sentiments — and the evergreen struggle of leadership to wrangle Members into votes — were precisely the same. “I and other Members are as anxious as everyone else in here and leadership on both sides to vote in an expeditious manner; but if that is going to take place, then the leadership has to see to it that we are able to get into these elevators and get downstairs and get over here,” he opined. Former Reps. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and Bob Ney (R-Ohio) chimed in with floor statements agreeing with Abercrombie.

Here’s the difference between now and then: While in 2003, leadership acknowledged the elevator dilemma and vowed to find a solution, this time around, Hoyer didn’t have as much sympathy for Abercrombie’s plight. Sounding like a teacher who’d heard one too many stories involving dogs and homework, Hoyer had little use for the old elevator excuse. “Ladies and gentlemen, if the elevators are slow, you leave with 10 minutes remaining on the vote,” he said. “You be here.”

Thanks for Nothing. Too bad Hallmark doesn’t make a card for Members to give to their political donors. Instead, the Blue Dog Coalition is holding a year-end “donor appreciation” reception at Senate-side watering hole Lounge 201, where one might assume the generous donors might get a few fancy cocktails and canapés for their largess. The Blue Dogs have an odd way of showing their gratitude, however, since the invite for the Dec. 5 event notes that attendance runs $5,000 for PACs and $2,500 for individuals.

Weary givers — including the victim of donor fatigue who passed the invite along to HOH — are, for once, wishing for a thank-you fruitcake instead.

Recipe Exchange. Some families guard their traditional recipes like they were state secrets. Not so the families of presidential wannabe John Edwards and his campaign buddies, who are all too willing to give up treasured recipes for holiday eats — for a price, natch. According to a fundraising e-mail from Edwards’ mom, Bobbie, a donation of $20.08 earns Edwards supporters copies of the recipe from Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, for bread pudding, along with mushroom soup and “Sweet Potatoes with Apples” from former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.) and his wife, Judy, and the recipe from campaign strategist Joe Trippi and his wife, Kathy, for “Old Fashioned Down on the Farm Country Stuffing.” A bonus: Edwards’ mother promises to throw in “my own special recipe for one of John’s favorites, Mac n’ Cheese!”

Mm, tastes like money!

A Little Help From His Friends. Sen. Jim Webb might want to think about getting reeeaally nice holiday gifts for a few colleagues who saved the Virginia Democrat from pain-in-the neck duties over the Thanksgiving recess. In a move aimed at thwarting President Bush from making any recess appointments, Senate Democratic leaders decided to keep the chamber in session over the holiday — meaning that some sucker, er, brave soldier, has to actually show up, bang the gavel, and technically hold the Senate in session, albeit oh-so-briefly.

Webb, who has the misfortune of being both a local AND junior Senator, would be the logical go-to guy for the job, and he did take a turn last Tuesday. But HOH hears that Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) actually volunteered for service, with no arm-twisting required. A Reed spokesman tells HOH that the Senator was planning to be in town for meetings with national-security and diplomatic types, and “was more than happy to help out” when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked him to.

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