Heard on the Hill: Don’t Mess With Miller

Posted October 9, 2009 at 6:22pm

Forget health care — the biggest legislative battle in the House these days centers on the men’s volleyball team at the University of California at Irvine. Seems the Anteaters are the innocent victims of a bitter partisan battle.

[IMGCAP(1)]A noncontroversial measure introduced by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) to honor the volleyball team for winning the national championship was to be voted on by voice vote Tuesday. But moments before the vote, House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller asked that it be pulled from the floor.

The reason? Payback.

The California Democrat was peeved that Campbell had, a few days earlier, organized a vote against Miller’s measure to fund six water-recycling projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. So Miller used his influence to squash the volleyball resolution.

“I go up to George on the floor, and I said, ‘George, what was the problem?’— Campbell recalled to a Roll Call reporter. “And he says, ‘You voted against my water bill. … There has to be a penalty for that, and this is the penalty. And I said, ‘Well, OK, George, so is this dead?’ And he says, ‘We’ll see.’—

Burn!

A Miller spokeswoman told HOH that Campbell started the legislative brouhaha by organizing the mostly partisan vote against the water-recycling bill, which, not unlike the volleyball resolution, should have gotten through under suspension of the rules.

Instead, the water measure was voted down; the Rules Committee is set to take it up today.

“Water-recycling bills also come to the floor regularly and usually pass pretty easily,— the spokeswoman said. “In fact, five Republican Members have had their water recycling bills approved this year, almost all by voice vote. It’s too bad … Rep. Campbell chose to be partisan.—

Campbell said he voted against Miller’s bill because it would direct water to San Francisco instead of the Golden State’s Central Valley, which is in the midst of a serious drought. Twenty-five percent of the H20 from Campbell’s district would be redirected, he added. “So I’m supposed to give up water from the rest of the state for San Francisco? I mean, give me a break,— Campbell said.

Guess the ball is back in Miller’s court. …

More Reality, Please. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay didn’t win the crown on “Dancing With the Stars,— but his appearance on the hit show went a ways to rehab his image from tarnished pol to lovable underdog.

Might the Texas Republican have blazed trails for other former Members to jump on the reality show juggernaut? HOH thinks it’s high time for another former politician to take the plunge. Here are a few of the ex-politicians we’d love to see on the small screen:

• “Biggest Loser—: former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)

The formerly chunky ex-wrestling coach is already a weight-loss success story.

• “Real Housewives of New York—: Former President Bill Clinton

With his wife off globe-trotting for her job as secretary of State, the former prez has time on his hands. HOH’s money would be on him in a catfight with Jill.

• “What Not to Wear—: former Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio)

Now that he’s out of the pokey, Traficant needs to learn that there’s life beyond denim suits, bad toupees — and orange jumpsuits.

• “Wife Swap—: former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)

Maritally challenged Edwards is no stranger to juggling women.

• “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition—: former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

We’d love to see the gruff Stevens smack down the show’s perennially perky host, Ty Pennington. Plus, these renovations wouldn’t land him in court.

Light Reading. Ask most Senators what was the last book they read, and you’ll typically hear about some weighty Founding Fathers biography. Not so for Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska). He’d tell you about “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,— a riveting and fast-paced account of, er, a bug. Who is very hungry.

The tome might not be on the New York Times best-seller list (or even Oprah’s Book Club), but it went over big with the group of local preschoolers who stopped by the Capitol Visitor Center last week.

Begich perched on a beanbag chair to read the book to the kids as part of “Jumpstart Read for the Record,— a global effort to break the world record for the largest “shared reading experience.— Kids around the world were encouraged to read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar— on Thursday (although they won’t know until later this month whether they broke the record).

Begich spokesman Max Croes tells HOH his boss is used to beanbag chairs and the like, since he has a 7-year-old son who enjoys the occasional story read to him.

We’re guessing the Senator found it a slightly breezier read than those thousand-page health care bills we’ve heard so much about.

Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.

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