Heard on the Hill

Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones ring in happy birthday for Richard Shelby

A bipartisan group of senators, and one prominent ex-senator, wished Richard Shelby a happy birthday on Monday. (Jennifer Shutt/CQ Roll Call)

The hallways outside the Senate Appropriations Committee filled with the Happy Birthday song Monday afternoon as dozens of senators and staff gathered to wish Chairman Richard C. Shelby a happy 85th birthday.

The closed-door event included coconut cake, champagne and red napkins that read “Happy Birthday Senator Richard Shelby!”

There was also a classic D.C. moment: Former Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is rumored to be considering a run for his old seat, at the party at the same time as Sen. Doug Jones, the Democratic incumbent he could be challenging. (Sessions’ opportunity to run again presented itself when he was unceremoniously relieved of his position as attorney general by President Donald Trump last year.)

Sessions didn’t give any hints Monday about whether he may run to get his old seat back in 2020.

“I haven’t discussed that,” he told reporters after leaving the birthday bash. 

When asked about the job performance of his successor at the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, Sessions said, “He’s doing well.”

On his way into the party, Shelby joked with reporters that it wasn’t his 85th but his 21st birthday.

“I’m 21 today,” Shelby said before answering questions about disaster aid negotiations.

The closed-door soirée included a through and through bipartisan guest list, including Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Chris Coons, D-Del., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Tester graciously offered to sneak a handful of reporters in through a side door to help them abscond with some cake, but they declined.

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