Heard on the Hill: Inter-Branch Friction?

Posted March 3, 2009 at 6:42pm

This might not bode well for smooth relations between the White House and Congress: Sen. Claire McCaskill has a beef with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), the nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Missouri Democrat praised President Barack Obama for picking Sebelius for the gig, but now it seems that the friendship between the Senator and the governor only goes so far.

On Saturday, McCaskill’s Missouri Tigers took a 90-65 drubbing by Sebelius’ Kansas Jayhawks in college basketball. And if the loss in the Sunflower State wasn’t enough for McCaskill, Sebelius engaged in a little bragging.

As the Twitter-loving McCaskill posted on Saturday: “I’m depressed about my Tigers. And new HHS Sec nominee called to rub it in!—

To be fair, McCaskill did see the loss coming. “They may have [just] selected Sec of HHS but I still want Kansas to lose today to Mo. Bad,— she Twittered earlier on Saturday. “A little nervous because we play at their house.—

Don’t worry, Senator. There’s always next year — or the governor’s confirmation vote.

By the Book. The House was in session on Tuesday, but it felt a little more like story hour in kindergarten class when Rep. Betsy Markey recited Dr. Seuss for her kids … er, colleagues. Giving fellow Members more credit than some Congressional observers do, the Colorado Democrat called on them to vote on legislation marking Read Across America Day by reciting this selection from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!—: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.—

Dr. Seuss, we’re pretty sure, had not met a whip operation when he penned those lines.

From the A-List to … Who? Grammy Award-winning artists Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Emmylou Harris and will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas were among the big-name celebs who came to Capitol Hill to lobby last week.

On Tuesday, about 100 musicians visited about 100 Congressional offices singing the same song — Members should support legislation requiring that radio stations pay artists when their music is played.

But this time around, the guest list wasn’t as jazzy.

Perhaps the most well-known of the visiting musicians were artists Suzanne Vega (famed for the ’80s hit “Tom’s Diner—), Abdul “Duke— Fakir of the Four Tops and members of the all-girl rock group the Donnas.

Sure, they’re sort of cool. But we’re not exactly talking the A-list here.

And that’s the point, officials for the musicFIRST Coalition, the group leading the lobbying campaign, told HOH.

Many of the musicians who lobbied on Tuesday are longtime successes in the industry but don’t command the attention that higher-profile performers do. For example, you might not know who drummer Craig Krampf is, but he’s performed on more than 70 gold or platinum records, spokesman Marty Machowsky noted.

And the folks at musicFIRST argue that artists such as Krampf suffer when radio stations play his music without offering compensation, Machowsky said.

“You’ve taken my creation, from an artist’s perspective, my passion, and you’ve made a buck off of it,— Machowsky said. “And that’s great. … But we think artists and musicians should be compensated, too.—

Force of Habit. Senators do hang on to their traditions — although it’s been weeks since Senate Democrats and Republicans switched the rooms they use to hold their party lunches, at least one Senator still isn’t hip to the new world order.

Democrats in January began holding their weekly Tuesday lunch meetings in the Senate Mansfield Room while Republicans moved to the nearby Lyndon B. Johnson Room, after many years of it being the other way around.

Sen. Kit Bond was spotted making his way to his party’s weekly lunch on Tuesday … only he was headed to the wrong confab. The Missouri Republican apparently realized his error before crashing the Democrats’ party, and turned on his heel, heading to the right room. But Bond said there was a method to his madness. “I wanted to see if they had another trillion laying around in there.—

Baca’s Mulligan. The sixth time might be the charm for Rep. Joe Baca. The dogged California Democrat hasn’t yet been successful in his efforts to pass legislation giving Tiger Woods the Congressional Gold Medal, but that didn’t stop him from dropping a bill to that effect — again.

Baca introduced legislation on Monday granting the honor — the highest Congress can bestow on a civilian — to Woods and to golf great Arnold Palmer.

“Arnold Palmer served with distinction in the U.S. Coast Guard, and has spent countless hours dedicated to charity and philanthropy,— Baca told HOH. “And Tiger Woods has almost single-handedly opened the doors of opportunity in golf. People see Tiger … and they know that they too, regardless of their background, can be successful in sports and in life if they work hard.—

No Reese’s Speeches. Actress Reese Witherspoon stood out among the mostly scruffy denizens of the National Press Club early Tuesday morning. The “Legally Blonde— star, looking adorably put-together (navy cap-sleeve dress, flawlessly un-made-up makeup), was hanging amid the ink-stained wretches for her role as Avon’s global ambassador.

The cosmetics company announced initiatives aimed at curbing violence against women around the globe. We were eager to talk politics with Witherspoon, who has played a perky House staffer in “Legally Blonde II— and a bare-knuckles candidate for student-body president in “Election— (a character sometimes likened to Hillary Rodham Clinton during the presidential campaign). But, alas, her handlers wouldn’t let her take questions on topics other than the Avon projects.

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