Heard on the Hill: Break the Ice

Posted March 8, 2010 at 6:42pm

Think the rivalry between Team Canada and Team USA was intense? That’s nothing compared to the drama expected in tonight’s historic hockey matchup between Members of Congress and lobbyists.

[IMGCAP(1)]Members and Congressional staffers will face off against K Street denizens in the second annual Congressional Hockey Challenge at the Fort DuPont Ice Arena. Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) are expected to suit up, promising a thrilling game that will raise money for the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club, a local program serving inner-city youth.

“I’m looking forward to the ultimate hat trick — playing the sport I love, supporting a great charity and putting Washington’s influence-peddlers on ice,” Quigley says. “Besides, it’s about time these lobbyists were on the receiving end of a check.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who starred in last year’s game, won’t play because of an injury, but he still plans to attend, HOH hears. Also expected at the rink: National Hockey League legend Willie O’Ree, current and former members of the Washington Capitals, and the team’s broadcast team, who will provide play-by-play coverage of the matchup.

And along with taking down lobbyists (on the ice, at least), Higgins, Quigley and Terry will officially launch the Congressional Hockey Caucus, a new group that aims to expand youth hockey programs.

Terry tells HOH that hockey promotes values such as discipline, teamwork and fitness while also helping keep kids off the street. The Congressman has fond memories of the game, recalling when he was young, city officials often flooded the local basketball court during the winter to create a public rink.

“It wasn’t organized. It was always just the neighborhood kids that would get on the ice, and we would play all day,” Terry says. “And that’s what we’re trying to support.”

Higgins also began playing hockey as a youngster in Buffalo, when he and his pals from the neighborhood would play pickup games at the local ice rink. “Decades later, my heart still starts pounding with the first step onto the ice. I look forward to another fun game … and hope to chalk up another win,” he says.

Terry declines to pick a winner. “I predict no one will go to the hospital,” he jokes.

Grunge Groupies. Spotted among the headbangers at the Alice in Chains concert at DAR Constitution Hall last week were grunge groupies John Murray and Brad Dayspring, who by day are the press guys for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

A tipster tells us that the duo had second-row seats and sat squarely in front of legendary guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who was apparently sufficiently impressed with their headbanging proficiency to give them guitar picks. The tipster even swears that Cantrell gave Murray a “knowing nod” after spotting his T-shirt memorializing the band’s former singer, Layne Staley, who died of a drug overdose in 2002.

It’s Curtains. Rep. Eric Massa made major news Sunday with a scandalous admission that riveted Washington. No, it wasn’t the New York Democrat’s revelation of the “salty” language that prompted an ethics investigation, but rather this shocking news: The men’s locker room in the Members’ gym has no shower curtains. Awkward!

Massa said during a radio show that he hosts in his district that the gym used by Members of the House lacks shower curtains, a factor that once led to his having a clothes-free discussion with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Of course, HOH wanted to get to the … er, bottom of this story. Are lawmakers so consumed with trimming the federal budget that they nixed the earmark to pay for shower curtains? Or are they just really that committed to transparency in governance?

Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, which oversees the fitness facilities, was mum on the issue. “In the interest of all things relevant, no comment,” he said.

And plenty of gym-rat Members’ offices weren’t too eager to talk about their fleshy displays.

But Massa isn’t the only one who finds nude encounters with one’s colleagues to be a little off-putting. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) once explained why he doesn’t visit the House gym anymore. “The one time I was there, my first trip, someone sort of was talc-ing themselves,” he said during an interview last year on FOX News’ “Red Eye.” The guy “offered their hand and I just said, ‘Hey, we’re cool, dude.'”

Snowed In, but Never Snowed Under. Public Printer Bob Tapella isn’t the flashiest guy in Washington, but that isn’t stopping him from talking a little smack that appears squarely aimed at other federal agencies.

While most D.C.-based agencies used last month’s back-to-back snowstorms as an excuse to take a mini-holiday, Tapella’s Government Printing Office remained open. About 200 agency workers — from places as far away as Baltimore, Richmond, Va., and even West Virginia, no less — boldly braved the storms to see that the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and the Economic Report of the President were printed, and on time.

And Tapella isn’t too proud to brag, sending out an e-mail Monday touting the fact that his agency never closed during the big blizzard — and, by the way, hasn’t closed since March 4, 1861 (the day it opened).

“Our employees are among the most dedicated workforce anywhere,” Tapella boasts. “I am extremely proud of their performance and will tell that to anyone who will listen.”

What’s that, Government Accountability Office? You got something to say?

Tapella points out to HOH that while his employees got business done, another federal agency that promises neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop its work couldn’t completely fulfill its duties.

“We saw a lot of post offices closed,” Tapella jokes. “And I don’t remember getting mail a lot of those days.”

Overheard on the Hill. “Please try to avoid drudgereport.com and whitepage.com websites for now. SAA believes these two websites are responsible for the many viruses popping up throughout the Senate.”

— The text of an e-mail sent out by the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms on Monday.

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