Heard on the Hill: Dorisgate — Happy Endings

Posted July 25, 2008 at 6:14pm

Correction Appended

Forget Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). The most popular woman on Capitol Hill these days clearly is Longworth House Office Building cafeteria cashier Doris Cherry.

[IMGCAP(1)]Cherry was suspended on Wednesday after coming up short by less than $30 at her register, generating an outcry among Capitol Hill staffers. When she was reinstated on Friday — after hundreds threatened to boycott the Longworth cafeteria in protest — she was welcomed back with a massive show of support.

Dozens of House staffers offered Cherry hugs and smiles, with many thanking her for her 30-plus years of service. One operative from TMZ.com, the Web site that normally covers the goings-on of the celebrity set, even nabbed pictures of Cherry working the Quick Pay register (notably not her normal spot) and posted them online.

On Friday morning, HOH caught up with an emotional Cherry, who said she couldn’t talk about what specifically happened last week, but did ask that HOH thank her customers who showed support. And several of those customers e-mailed HOH to thank Cherry for her service.

“We really are family up on the Hill, and Doris is one of the kindest and most sincere individual[s] up here,” said one House staffer. “Hopefully, the [cafeteria management] realizes the treasure they have in Doris Cherry. I know the staffers and Members do.”

As Roll Call reported on its Web site last week, Cherry was suspended from her duties after she was found, on a few occasions, to be short money at her register. The amount missing totaled less than $30, a knowledgeable House source told HOH.

That led hundreds of Democratic and Republican staffers to put aside their ever-growing partisan differences to threaten a boycott of the Longworth cafeteria.

The show of bipartisan support worked. Restaurant Associates, the vendor that runs the House cafeterias, reinstated Cherry — although the company said in a statement she will be offered “sufficient training opportunities to meet our standards.”

Several House staffers told HOH they were relieved Cherry was back on the job. The incident even inspired one Republican House staffer to take a line out of the book of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), telling HOH: “This is change I can believe in.”

And others marveled at the success their bipartisanship wrought. “Just think if we applied this to legislation,” one House staffer wondered.

Lesson learned: Messing with Doris is the new third rail of politics.

Pelosi, Powered Up. Think Speaker Nancy Pelosi is everywhere these days? You haven’t seen anything yet. It will be all Pelosi, all the time, as the energetic California Democrat launches a full-out media blitz for her new book, “Know Your Power.”

Today, you can wake up and go to bed watching Pelosi hype the book: She’s slated to appear on NBC’s “Today Show,” do a sit-down with the ladies of ABC’s “The View,” chat on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and yuk it up (we assume) on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, her publicist tells HOH.

And that’s just Monday. For the rest of the week, there are more big-time interviews, including a Tuesday spot on MSNBC’s “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann.

After that, it’s a cross-country book tour with stops that include New York, Washington, Miami, San Francisco and Denver.

That’s a lot of fabulous suits to pack.

Batman Jokes Begin. While Sen. Patrick Leahy is tearing up the silver screen with his cameo appearance in the smashing-all-box-office-records Batman flick, “The Dark Knight,” he’s also taking some teasing from colleagues for his newfound star status.

During a Thursday news conference on an intellectual property bill, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) gave him a gentle poke. “I wonder if [Leahy] was all that concerned about protecting movies in the past, until his starring role in Batman,” ribbed Specter, a co-sponsor of the bill.

And others are just enjoying riffing on their colleague’s role. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) showed that he’d actually watched Leahy’s scene in the movie, in which the Vermont Democrat plays a character who stands up to the movie’s baddie, the Joker.

“In your breakout performance you said we will not be intimidated by thugs,” Bayh added. “We are gathered here today to say we will not be intimidated by intellectual property thieves.”

If the Shoe Fits. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is known for loving bicycles and bow ties. While he probably couldn’t give the gals of “Sex and the City” a run for their money, the Oregon Democrat apparently also harbors a love for shoes.

Or more specifically, a hatred of the tariffs placed on imported shoes.

Sporting a pair of comfy-looking brown loafers, Blumenauer spoke at the Cato Institute on Friday in support of the Affordable Footwear Act, which would eliminate tariffs placed on certain imported shoes.

Current tariff regulations make little sense, Blumenauer said. According to statistics, shoes and other articles of clothing make up only 5 percent of America’s imports, but account for half of the income from tariffs.

And the tariffs placed on shoes in particular vary widely, Blumenauer said.

For example, Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear imports its popular “Diamond Peak Boot.” The tariff placed on the men’s version of the boot is 15 percent higher than the women’s version, Blumenauer said, joking that this could even be called gender discrimination.

But William Hawkins, who works at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, said removing the tariffs wouldn’t actually benefit footwear-loving Americans. Hawkins sees a communist conspiracy at work, since the tariffs most hinder China — the nation that provides the United States with most of its shoes.

With China under a money crunch, facing high-energy costs and rising wages, the country is looking to save cash, Hawkins said.

“Bills like this don’t get written because a bunch of barefoot peasants wandered up to Capitol Hill,” he said. “This is the China lobby who’s pushing this.”

Apparently, red shoes are so in this season.

Briefly Quoted. “Personally I think Washington needs a drive-by in a major way. … With some common sense and ideas.”

—Arizona Congressional candidate Sandra Livingstone, unloading on the Beltway during a town hall last week, according to political-news site Politickeraz.com.

David Belian of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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Correction: July 29, 2008

An item in the article incorrectly stated that, while presiding over the floor, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) stepped away from the chair, leaving Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to call the chamber into recess. In fact, Casey left the chair only after unanimous consent for recess was properly asked and granted.