Heard on the Hill: A Congressional Tribute to the King of Calypso

Posted June 28, 2010 at 5:10pm

Newly introduced legislation salutes crooner Harry Belafonte — but not just for his decades-long musical career.

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) put forth a bill Thursday commending Belafonte for receiving the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Belafonte took home the award in May during a dinner at the Washington Hilton alongside Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who was also given the award.

Belafonte is “as well-known for his pursuit of social justice as he is for his artistic talent,” the bill reads. Not only is he famous for cranking out hits such as the “Banana Boat Song” (Day-O!) and serving as the driving force behind the 1985 “We Are the World” project, the measure notes he also was a confidant to Martin Luther King Jr., helped organized the 1963 March on Washington and was an opponent of apartheid.

“He remains a tireless advocate of human rights efforts in the United States and throughout the world,” the bill reads.

@Biz Supports #veggieschoollunches

Yet another celebrity is urging Congress to support legislation that aims to increase vegetarian lunch options in public schools.

Over the weekend, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone tweeted in support of the Healthy School Meals Act, which would provide funding to schools that offer veggie meals. Stone tweets that “Nutritious choices are good” (hey, he only had 140 characters) and asks House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) to include provisions from the bill when the panel takes up similar child nutrition legislation Thursday.

An eclectic mix of celebs have supported the act, introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and backed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (and its director of public affairs, Elizabeth Kucinich, the wife of Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich). Famous folk who have written to Members about the legislation include actresses Scarlett Johansson and Marilu Henner, actor Woody Harrelson, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi, comedian Sarah Silverman, Olympic gold medalists Amanda Beard and Nastia Liukin, and ex-NBA player John Salley.

No Dead Weight for Kagan

The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan are wreaking havoc with plenty of schedules this week. Now, they even seem to be disrupting some Senate aides’ workout routines.

A sign posted in the gym located in the Dirksen Senate Office Building announced a temporary change in equipment policy: “The use of Free Weights has been suspended through the duration of the U.S. Supreme Court Nomination Hearing.” The gym, although in Dirksen, is located above Room 216 in the Hart Senate Office Building, where the hearings are taking place, and Architect of the Capitol officials decided to spare Kagan and her inquisitors from the relentless thunking sounds of weights hitting the ground.

“This is intended to reduce possible noise/disruption while the hearing is ongoing,” AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki told HOH in an e-mail.

But one Republican aide had an alternative theory: “Guess Democrats thought Kagan’s nomination was a heavy enough lift for the week.”

In good news for the biceps of Senate staffers, the weights will return as soon as the hearings conclude, the sign promised.

For Kaufman, It’s in the Bag

Unlike other politicians who are woefully unfamiliar with the mechanics of regular-people shopping (including Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, who recently professed his ignorance of ATMs), Sen. Ted Kaufman is a pro.

A tipster spotted the Delaware Democrat on Sunday afternoon boldly traversing the cutting edge of self-sufficient grocery shopping, using the self-checkout at the Safeway at Fifth and K streets Northwest.

The casually dressed Senator was competently swiping and bagging his items, which included toilet paper and other necessities, our spy says.

Clearly, the staffer-turned-Senator is nothing like former President George H.W. Bush, who famously professed amazement at the electric scanners used in grocery stores.

Never One to Miss a Workout

Looks like Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been in the gym just workin’ on his fitness.

Or at least the yoga studio.

An HOH spy eyed the Illinois Democrat walking through Reagan National Airport on Monday carrying a yoga mat with his luggage. Jackson seems to be focused on fitness lately — the sighting comes about a week after another HOH spy spotted the Congressman browsing workout equipment at a local Sports Authority.

Jackson is among the most dedicated workout buffs in Congress. A yoga devotee, Jackson also has studied the trendy martial arts workout called Budokon.

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