In The Know

Robert Redford weighs in on GOPs plans for EPA

Actor Robert Redford said he would be "devastated" if Republicans passed rules that would limit the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory abilities.

Speaking at the Sunday premiere in Washington of his new film, "The Conspirator," the actor said any moves to prohibit the EPA from implementing climate and other regulations would be devastating for himself and the country.

Redford, a longtime environmentalist, vowed to try to stop it.

"All I can do is try," he told ITK. "I'm going to be devastated if something happens and I think the country will be devastated too. Particularly future generations will be devastated. It's a very narrow way to be."

Redford also said he was going to try to meet with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar while he was in Washington promoting his new film.

The movie premiered at Ford's Theatre, although it would have had to move locations if Congress and the White House had been unable to come up with a deal to fund the rest of fiscal year 2011.

Ford's Theatre is part of the National Park Service, which would have shuttered along with the rest of the government if Democrats and Republicans had not reached a midnight deal on Friday.

Several lawmakers joined actors James McAvoy, Kevin Kline, Alexis Bledel, Evan Rachel Woods, and Robin Wright on the red carpet.

Spotted posing for pics were: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), outgoing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Attorney General Eric Holder, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.).

Kline, best know for playing the president in “Dave,” plays Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in “The Conspirator.”

Despite being in several politically-themed movies, he said he has no desire to run for public office.

“I haven't thrown my hat into the ring but I follow politics,” he told The Hill, “from a great distance.”

The film is about Mary Surratt, the lone woman charged in the assignation of President Abraham Lincoln. Surratt was tried by a military panel instead of a civilian court -- a controversy that has parallels to the modern world given the decision to try the 9/11 conspirators in a military court.

“We were abundantly aware of the parallels and we didn't feel the need to point them out because the story we were telling actually happened so it's important that we tell that story,” McAvoy told ITK.

After the screening, the cast and guests headed to the Newseum for an after party sponsored by Capitol File magazine, which features Redford on its cover. It was a fitting location -- a museum about journalism hosting Redford, who is famous for his portrayal of journalist Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men.”

At the party, Baucus showed his fan side, asking Wright for a picture. And Bledel, whose character on “The Gilmore Girls” became a journalist, slipped away from the guests to get a tour of the museum.


7,000 sign up to deliver trash to Boehner's house

More than 7,200 people have signed up to attend an event on Saturday via Facebook called "If Boehner shuts down the government I am taking my trash to his house."

The group plans to protest outside the rented Washington brownstone of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the case of a government shutdown.

After weeks of budget wrangling, Democrats and Republicans had yet to strike a budget deal by Friday afternoon, increasing the likelihood of a temporary shutdown of the government midnight on Friday.

According to rally organizers Jonah Goodman and Nolan Treadway, the rally will begin Saturday at 9:30 a.m. near the Capitol South Metro stop.

The Facebook event claims, "You may know that Washington, DC residents pay taxes but have no voting representation in our Congress. What you may not realize though is that that body also has oversight and control over our city's budget and how we spend our local tax dollars. Many people are mistaking this for a protest over Congress not passing a budget. This isn't about that, but is a result of that. If the Federal Government shuts down Washington DC will not be able to spend money on non-essential services."

Certain non-essential city services, including residential trash collection in Washington D.C. would be temporarily halted during a shutdown.

The protest planners note that it is not legal to trespass on Boehner's rental property, and that those who bring trash to the rally will be asked to take it home with them or dispose of it in a trash can. Organizers also urge attendees to "be respectful" of neighborhood residents.

If a budget is worked out, the protest will be canceled.


Purdue to name school for C-SPAN founder

Purdue University's School of Communication will be named in honor of alumnus and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, the university announced Friday.

"The Brian Lamb School of Communication is to honor one of Purdue's most outstanding alumni and a Lafayette native," Purdue President France A. Córdova said in a statement.

"Brian Lamb's conception of C-SPAN was groundbreaking three decades ago, and he continues to be a leader in public affairs programming. The university has an incredible partnership with Brian, thanks to his interactions with our students today and his selection of Purdue Research Park as the home of the C-SPAN Archives. This naming is an opportunity for Purdue to celebrate Lamb's career as well as encourage today's students to dream big."

The naming will go into effect July 1.

Lamb, the chairman and CEO of C-SPAN, credits Purdue with nurturing his early interest in broadcasting.

"This new school deepens C-SPAN's involvement with Purdue students and creates opportunities to encourage new generations of communication majors to take risks and try new things."

In 2007 Lamb received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was named Washingtonian of the Year. Purdue's College of Liberal Arts honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987.

Boehner named a 'Good Scout'

Along with his fellow congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has taken his share of heat this week in Washington.

But one group wants the world to know that they're still big Boehner fans: The Boy Scouts.

The National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC) of the Boy Scouts of America honored Boehner this week with their Patriot "Good Scout" award, and celebrated with a reception Monday night.

"The Boy Scouts of America continue to make positive contributions to our region’s youth, forming men today – and leaders tomorrow,” Boehner said.

“I’m honored to receive the 2011 Patriot ‘Good Scout’ award and offer my sincere gratitude and best wishes to the NCAC for a successful centennial year."

According to the organization, the award "recognizes an outstanding American for his or her noteworthy accomplishments, stalwart example of leadership, and for his or her long service to youth and America." Boehner is the 22nd honoree.

Past recipients of the Patriot “Good Scout” Award on Capitol Hill include former Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) in 2008, the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in 2004, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in 2003, Sen. Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii) in 2000, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1996.

Pictured here from left to right are Jacob Drozdowski (1st Class), William Haislmeier (Tenderfoot), Richard Merkle (Life), John Tanner (Life), Jim McCrery (Life), [Speaker John Boehner,] Aidan McNary-Hickey (Tenderfoot), Ethan Johnson (Tenderfoot), Patrick Merkle (Life), Matt Tanner (First Class), Drew Rivera (Life).


Shutdown could take .gov sites offline

Government websites could vanish in the event of shutdown.

They would be replaced by a standard notice that the funding lapse is to blame for the disappearance of the .gov sites. 

The possibility arises as government agencies are instructed to rein in their operations to the most essential activities should a shutdown occur. 

In a memo from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jacob Lew to the heads of executive departments and agencies, officials were instructed to make judgment calls about whether their websites are crucial or not. 

"Given that websites represent the front-end of numerous back-end processing systems, agencies must determine whether the entire website can be shut down or components of the website will be shut down," the memo said. 

Public access to government information is not enough to justify continued funding for a website, according to the memo.

"The mere benefit of continued access by the public to information about the agency's activities would not warrant the retention of personnel or the obligation of funds to maintain (or update) the agency's website during…a lapse," the memo said. 

However, keeping some websites online could be critical. 

"If maintenance of the website is necessary to avoid significant damage to the execution of authorized or excepted activities … then the website should remain operational even if its costs are funded through appropriations that have lapsed," the memo said. 

For instance,the IRS website may need to stay online to allow for tax filings and tax collection, which are activities that continue during an appropriations lapse, according to the memo.

In that case, the IRS website would stay up, but the Treasury Department website would go down.

Agencies are instructed to shut down their websites even if the cost of taking it offline exceeds the cost of keeping it up.

"The determination of which services continue during an appropriations lapse is not affected by whether the costs of shutdown exceed the costs of maintaining services," the memo said.


Capitol Hill bars to offer 'shutdown' deals

In the event of a government shutdown, two of Capitol Hill's most popular watering holes want to make sure that congressional staffers can still afford a cocktail.

If the federal government shuts down, the Union Pub will offer patrons with government IDs house draft beers for one cent each on weekdays from 5-6 p.m., starting Monday.

Over at Lounge 201, the deal is half-priced martinis on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, all night long.

Lounge 201 opens at 4 p.m.

Of course, if you can't come to work because the government is shut, that may sound like the perfect hour for your first martini.



Prince Charles to visit Obama next month

Charles, Prince of Wales, will visit President Obama at the White House in early May, less than a week after Charles's son Prince William weds Kate Middleton on April 29.

News of the visit was released Thursday via Prince Charles's official Twitter account, @clarencehouse:

The Prince of Wales will visit Washington DC in the US from 3-5 May. He will call on President Obama at the @whitehouse

The visit will mark the first time Obama and Prince Charles have seen each other since a D-Day memorial event in France in 2009 (pictured here).

President and Mrs. Obama do not plan to attend the royal wedding, which is already being billed as the wedding of the century.

Obama is scheduled to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland later in the month, ahead of a G8 meeting in France. No word on whether Prince Charles will see Obama again in England.


New Hamilton biopic to feature Larry Flynt, Rupert Murdoch, Justice Scalia

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton has jumped out of the history books and into the present, courtesy of a new documentary by director-producer Michael Pack and writer-host Richard Brookhiser.

Set to air next Monday on PBS, “Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton” will feature interviews with characters ranging from Hustler founder Larry Flynt to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In addition to rescuing the fledgling new republic from a debt crisis as Treasury secretary, Hamilton confessed to the nation’s first sex scandal, involving the married Maria Reynolds, who blackmailed him.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch will also weigh in on Hamilton, who founded the original New York Post.

Tune in at 10 p.m. Monday. 


Thursday memorial planned for late staffer Chris Crowe

Friends, family and colleagues of congressional staffer Chris Crowe will gather Thursday on Capitol Hill to mourn his death.

Crowe, a longtime aide to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), died last Wednesday of complications from meningitis. Crowe was 29 years old.

At the time of his death, Crowe was also president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Congressional Staff Association (LGBT CSA), and his sudden death was a huge shock to members of the LGBT community on Capitol Hill.

The memorial service is planned for noon in the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, Room LJ-119. All are welcome.

The Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, will participate in the memorial, as will members of Crowe’s family.

ITK sends condolences to all those affected by the tragedy.


Alec Baldwin, former congressional intern, lobbies for finance reform

During a visit to Washington on Wednesday, actor Alec Baldwin looked and sounded a lot more like a rank-and-file House member than the A-list Hollywood star he is.

But that’s not too surprising, given that Baldwin has firsthand experience as a congressional intern.

Leaning against a wall in the Capitol and sporting sensible rubber-soled black loafers, a blue blazer, gray slacks and a gray tie, Baldwin waited his turn to address reporters at a press conference on the Fair Elections Now Act, a campaign finance reform bill championed by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. John Larson (R-Conn.) (pictured here).

The bill would create an opt-in public financing pool for political candidates, cap certain types of contributions and be paid for largely by the corporations that reap the highest profits from government contracts.

This particular political issue represents a humorous turn for the actor, best known for playing a high-flying network exec on NBC’s “30 Rock” who frequently tangles with Congress in an attempt to curry favor for his fictional network.

Baldwin garnered laughs recalling his experience as an intern for former Rep. Jerome Ambro (D-N.Y.).

“We would go to the fax machine every day,” he reminisced, “and we would get Congressman Ambro’s itinerary for the evening, and the guys who were more senior would say, ‘Oh, yes, the Association of Textile Manufacturers of North America, they have very good hors d’oeuvres there.’

“All we would need is the best bar and the best hors d’oeuvres.”

But Baldwin’s days of dining on free finger food are well behind him, and he told reporters that he broke bread Tuesday night with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), whom he called “an old friend of mine.”

Baldwin said he asked Miller what had changed the most in the veteran lawmaker’s 37 years on Capitol Hill.

“[Miller] told me, ‘[Lawmakers] used to come here to serve in government … they came here because they believed in something. Now [they] just come to raise money and fight.’ ”

(Raising money and fighting might not sound that bad to the actor, who has repeatedly mentioned his desire to run for Congress someday.) 

Despite all the talk of politics and elections, Baldwin managed to avoid questions about his own political future. 

Following the press conference, he and his minders slipped away to record a public service announcement about campaign finance reform.