Heard on the Hill: Out of the Question

Posted May 4, 2009 at 6:39pm

It’s the end of Boehner, the unplugged version. If you’re a member of the Fourth Estate, don’t bother asking House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to answer questions in the Congressional hallways.

He won’t be much help.

[IMGCAP(1)]“We’re not doing this anymore,— Boehner recently told a Roll Call reporter seeking to question him in the Speaker’s Lobby, where Members often give impromptu interviews.

The normally affable Boehner, who used to be good for at least a question or two in such environs, made it clear that he’s got a new policy against impromptu hallway interviews.

That puts him in the category of established press curmudgeons such as Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who has a no-interview policy in the Speaker’s Lobby. And it makes Boehner even less accessible than Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who will often answer a question or two in the hallway on the way to and from her office.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told HOH that the leader isn’t going to be completely off-limits to press. Still, reporters’ access to the GOP leader will be more controlled.

“This will — hopefully — be a more organized and effective way to communicate: Reporters can either ask questions at Boehner’s frequent press conferences or contact the press office, which is always happy to help,— Steel said. “It should be better both for Boehner and for the press.—

And much less likely that Boehner’s message will wander off script.

A Congress-Sanctioned Bender. You can blame Congress for tomorrow’s hangover. Today is Cinco de Mayo, the annual tequila-infused holiday that celebrates Mexico’s underdog victory against France in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

And while Cinco de Mayo is traditionally considered a Mexican holiday, we’re thrilled to tell you it’s your patriotic duty as an American to celebrate.

The House took up a resolution Monday night “recognizing the historical significance— of Cinco de Mayo, a holiday “celebrated annually by nearly all Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, north and south of the United States-Mexico border.—

Introduced by Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and supported by a bipartisan group of 29 co-sponsors, the bill notes that “many people celebrate during the entire week in which Cinco de Mayo falls— and calls upon the American people “to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.—

Translation: It’s your civic duty to order a margarita (after work, of course).

No Tear in His Beer. Post-Congress life is looking pretty good for former Sen. Ted Stevens. An HOH spy saw the Alaska Republican greeting well-wishers and quaffing a drink Saturday night at the Off the Record bar located in the Hay-Adams hotel.

Stevens, wearing a suit and accompanied by an older gentleman, was drinking what appeared to be a dark beer from a tall pilsner glass, our tipster says.

Stevens has reason to be cheerier than he was just a few months ago, when he was on trial for corruption charges (which were ultimately dropped).

Help From High Places. Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) received some A-list celebrity help on Monday in their fight to save the site of a key Civil War battle from suburban sprawl.

Academy Award winner Robert Duvall joined the Congressmen at a ceremony near Fredericksburg, Va., to mark the 145th anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness. The trio called upon retailer Wal-Mart to cease plans to build a 143,000-square-foot supercenter near the park commemorating the battle, which they say would encroach upon the site’s “hallowed grounds.— (Wal-Mart argues it has been sensitive to the site’s needs and is building in a spot legally zoned for commercial use.)

Duvall, who portrayed Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee in the film “Gods and Generals,— argued that “the Wal-Mart corporation has it within its power to be a savior of the Wilderness battlefield.—

“Simply by moving to an alternate location slightly further from the battlefield, they have the ability to protect this critical piece of American history,— he said.

Split Ends. It’s over for Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and his wife of 15 years. Clay filed for divorce last week from Ivie Lewellen Clay, a communications aide in the St. Louis Development Corp., according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A spokesman for Clay declined HOH’s request for comment, calling the split “a private matter for the family.—

Babies Rule. Better check the water in that office — there’s a baby boomlet going on among House Rules Committee Republican staffers. First, staffer Shane Chambers and his wife, Brooke Manning Chambers, (who works for TIAA-CREF) welcomed little Colin Manning Chambers to the world last Thursday.

And on Monday morning, GOP committee spokeswoman Jo Maney (with an assist from her husband, Tim Maney from the Chamber of Commerce) gave birth to Mary Connor Maney. “Mae,— as the happy parents are calling her, joins older brother Mack, the couple’s first child.

“She’s beautiful and calm and chubby and delicious and we’re so glad she’s here,— Ma Maney boasted in an e-mail to pals.

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