Heard on the Hill: Foul Play?

Posted November 16, 2009 at 6:34pm

It’s not that the Senate doesn’t love sports. The chamber hasn’t passed a sports-related resolution in several months, but don’t think Senators have suddenly sworn off their favorite athletes and taken up museum-hopping instead — the measures are simply caught up in playground politics that might make a Little League team blush.

[IMGCAP(1)]The sports impasse teed off in July when Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced a resolution congratulating a South Carolina golfer for winning the U.S. Open. Apparently, some Democrats objected, arguing that the Senate usually honors team efforts, not individual athletes. And GOP leadership took such umbrage to the slight against DeMint’s bill that they decided to object to unanimous-consent requests for any sports measures until his bill is cleared.

That behind-the-scenes impasse means a few such pieces of legislation have been on a permanent timeout, including a resolution by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) congratulating the New York Yankees on their recent World Series win. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Bronx Bombers have had to suffer the indignities of a lack of Senate recognition, the stalemate has also stalled a bill by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) congratulating her home state’s Park View All-Stars for winning the 2009 Little League World Series.

It isn’t clear how or when the standoff will end. A GOP leadership aide (who didn’t want to be named for fear of being the target of rabid Yanks fans) says Democratic leaders are trying to pick and choose. “Democrats wanted to decide which Members could have resolutions and which couldn’t,— the aide said. “That’s not how it works.—

And while Republicans are digging in their heels, Democrats are crying foul.

Unsurprisingly, the senior Senator from New York is taking it a little personally. “This is Yankee-hating taken to the extreme,— Schumer said in a statement to HOH.

Other Democrats decry the Senate version of small ball.

“Seriously, we’re talking about Little Leaguers here,— one Democratic aide said. “Frankly, doesn’t the Senate have bigger things to fight over?—

Loose Screw. One Senate staffer got more than she ordered when she purchased a serving of breakfast potatoes at the Cups & Co. cafe in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building on Monday morning. Seems that after a few bites, she spotted something strange sitting amid the potatoes and ketchup: a small metal screw.

Um … yuck!

But the gross-out story doesn’t end there.

Once the staffer got over the ick-factor of her discovery, she brought the potatoes (and screw) back to Cups & Co.’s Charlie Chung, demanding a refund. But Chung initially refused, denying that the cafeteria could be the screw’s source, according to the staffer.

After arguing, the pair launched a thorough investigation to find the screw’s origin.

“We walked back to the kitchen to look for where it may have come from. All the while he was complaining that this simply was unreal and not a possibility,— the staffer said. “When the women in the kitchen saw it, they immediately knew where it came from and showed us that it came from one of their grill tools.—

Chung offered to get the staffer a new serving of potatoes, but she instead asked for the $4.95 she had paid for the meal. Chung obliged.

Chung told HOH that he “was in shock— when he saw the screw, adding that it was a random accident that shouldn’t reflect on the cafe’s overall service. “It could happen any place, anywhere,— he said.

Chung added that he was glad the staffer saw the screw, since it could have been dangerous had she accidentally swallowed it. And he was happy to give her a refund, he said.

Wag the Dog. What do Mitt Romney and Rep. Mike Capuano have in common? Other than hailing from Massachusetts, both men have a dog problem.

Romney, the former governor and GOP presidential candidate, drew plenty of criticism for an anecdote in a 2007 Boston Globe profile in which he strapped the family dog’s carrier to the top of the Romney station wagon and drove 12 hours. Though it was intended to illustrate Romney’s efficiency, the story proved his opponents with a steaming pile of ammunition.

A “Dogs Against Romney— blog sprung up, the Democratic National Committee ran a contest in which it donated to the winner’s local pet shelter in honor of Seamus, Romney’s mistreated pup. Wonkette declared that “Mitt Romney will be a great Commander-In-Chief of Abu Ghraib.—

Capuano, the Massachusetts Democrat seeking the Senate seat of the late Edward Kennedy, on Monday was the subject of his own Globe profile that also began with a canine-themed anecdote. The piece recounts how in 1993, Capuano was playing catch in a park with his son. When he thought that a few dogs were threatening the boy, he grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and threatened to kill them — only to be stopped by the owner of one of the dogs.

As with Romney’s dog tale (tail?), the story is offered as evidence of Capuano’s intensity and admirably pugnacious tendencies — and the story notes that many people supported him for protecting his kid. But will it be the wanna-be Senator’s Seamus-gate?

Maybe. Animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tells HOH that unless the dog presented a serious threat, the Congressman was out of line. “Anyone who seriously believes that it’s OK to threaten dogs at play must have problems controlling his own aggression,— PETA said in a statement. “Dogs who are out playing are likely members of someone’s family, so at PETA, we’re betting that a lot of people will want to know more about what is now only rumored to have happened.—

The Globe story notes that Capuano doesn’t deny threatening to kill the dog, and in fact “remains unapologetic— about the incident. “I would like you to find the father who would let a rottweiler rip his kid apart,’’ he told the Globe. “Was I angry? Damn right I was.’’

And we thought dogs (hiya, Buddy and Bo!) were nothing but a political plus.

Pedal to the Medal. Sen. John McCain might be the senior Senator from Arizona, but the Republican defers to his home-state colleague, Sen. Jon Kyl (R), on at least one issue: auto racing.

McCain served as grand marshal of NASCAR’s Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. And while McCain told the Arizona Republic he’s certainly a fan of auto racing, he admitted he’s just Cal Naughton Jr. to Kyl’s Ricky Bobby.

“He knows everything,— McCain said of Kyl, who headed to the track at the crack of dawn on Sunday.

“He was even arguing the rules. … He took me personally around, knows all the drivers, all the teams. He’s a remarkable fan.—

Kyl’s knowledge of the track comes from experience: Before coming to Congress, he served as a spotter in Phoenix, helping to steer drivers on the track. More recently, he served as a NASCAR reporter for an Arizona radio show.

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