Heard on the Hill: Father of the Groom

Posted November 9, 2009 at 6:44pm

Just about anyone in the Capitol during the weekend health care marathon could gripe about something they missed, whether it was chores left undone or sleep forgone.

[IMGCAP(1)]Rep. Steve King, though, wins the unofficial what-I-gave-up-for-the-health-care-vote contest: He skipped his son’s Saturday afternoon wedding in Iowa in favor of the contentious debate over the public insurance option and abortion funding.

Instead of wedding toasts, he got floor speeches; instead of cake, greasy takeout in the Cloakroom.

The Iowa Republican seems to have made peace with not getting to see his son, Mick, say “I do.—

“Not being here to cast a vote against this health care bill was never an option,— King told TheIowaRepublican.com after the vote. “I couldn’t live with myself if the bill passed by just one vote, and I wasn’t present.—

According to the site’s account, King’s family, too, was understanding. Although they were disappointed that the father of the groom was absent, they knew that duty had called. And forget a toaster oven — King said voting against the bill was “the best gift I could give my son.—

Even though he missed out on a major family event, the long Congressional session wasn’t all work and no play. King found time for a Saturday night stroll through the dimmed Capitol with Rep. Michele Bachmann. King and the Minnesota Republican took a break from the floor debate to walk together around the Rotunda and Statuary Hall.

Doctor, Senator … Now Scribe? Sen. Tom Coburn seems to think it’s a demotion to go from being “Dr. Coburn— to “Sen. Coburn,— but now it appears he has sunk even lower. Coburn sat among (horrors!) the crowd of reporters in the Senate Radio-TV Gallery on Monday to hear several of his colleagues bash his hold on a bill.

The Oklahoma Republican didn’t exactly blend in with the ink-stained wretches as he listened to Democratic Sens. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Jon Tester (Mont.) decry Coburn’s blocking of a veterans health care bill.

The Senators never mentioned Coburn by name, HOH hears, but at least once when Akaka referred to “one Senator— gumming up the works, Coburn good-naturedly waved to the crowd in acknowledgment.

It’s certainly not unusual for Senators to attend press conferences — but usually, they’re the ones standing behind the podium, not sitting in the audience.

Coburn, who has earned the nickname “Dr. No— for opposing bills that he says add to the federal deficit, even told a few reporters near him that he “wanted to hear how bad a guy he is,— his spokesman, John Hart, told HOH.

What You Are About to Read Is Real. He settled lawsuits over everything from rent disputes to dog-bite injuries to bad hair weaves — and now he has been honored on the House floor.

Rep. Howard Berman on Friday took to the floor to congratulate Judge Joseph Wapner — famous for presiding over “The People’s Court— television show for more than a decade — on the occasion of his 90th birthday, which is Nov. 15.

Calling Wapner a “bona fide celebrity,— the California Democrat praised “my good friend— for his legal accomplishments and “tireless dedication to public service,— noting that he serves as a board member for several charities and is “the recipient of numerous honors and awards.—

“I ask my colleagues to join me in extending birthday greetings to my dear friend,— Berman said.

And just remember: Don’t take the law into your own hands. You take ’em to court.

Put the Flag Out. Could it be that Old Glory is getting the boot? A new, bright yellow flag was spotted flying at the Capitol on Friday afternoon, this one depicting a ready-to-strike rattlesnake and the phrase “DON’T TREAD ON ME.—

An HOH tipster spotted a Gadsden flag — the historic pennant flown by many tea party protesters during their Thursday rally against the health care bill — affixed to an Architect of the Capitol pickup truck parked on the House side of the Capitol on Friday afternoon.

Did the tea partiers manage to switch out the flags at the Capitol during their trip? Or is it that Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers and his staff decided to join up with the tea partiers?

“If so, does [Rep.] Michele Bachmann know?— our tipster joked, referring to the Minnesota Republican. “Do they chant, ‘Hands off my health care, and keep off the grass’?—

While it remains unclear where exactly the flag came from — our guess is that a protester or two put it there — it has since been taken down, along with all other tea party paraphernalia, AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki told HOH.

“AOC policy prohibits any display of signs, bumper stickers, etc., on official vehicles,— Malecki added.

Dinner and a Vote. And unlike for Rep. Steve King (see earlier item), weekend votes don’t prevent husband-and-wife Reps. Connie Mack IV and Mary Bono Mack from dining together.

An HOH tipster spotted the GOP couple (he’s from Florida; she’s from California) enjoying a pre-health care vote dinner Saturday night at La Lomita at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast.

Let’s hope their next date night is a little more romantic.

Jessica Brady and David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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