McHenry: Falling for Fallin?

McHenry: Falling for Fallin?  

Members of Congress waiting to be released for holiday recess can be such a rough crowd.

Late last week, lawmakers in the Cloak Room off the House floor were giving Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) a hard time, spreading the rumor that the unattached young lawmaker was engaged to Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.). While their conservative roots match up, the pair is not engaged and not dating (at least not yet).

“Shhh … keep it a secret,” McHenry joked.

After explaining that the rumor started because both lawmakers are single, he added, “I would be honored. It would improve my reputation and probably do the opposite for hers.”

“Well, that’s pretty funny,” Fallin said, laughing. “There’s a slight problem. He’s much, much younger than me. He’s 32, no? And I’m in my 50s. He’s a sweet man. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think it was boredom in the Cloak Room.”

Brownback downgraded to ‘junior Senator’

First he was a presidential hopeful. In October, he dropped out of the race. Now, according to freshman Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe American economy is stronger than ever six months after tax cuts Dem senators introduce bill to ban controversial voter purges The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE (D-Ohio), who presided for part of last Thursday’s session, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is the state’s junior senator. It wasn’t a title he took kindly to, especially since it’s not true.

Here’s how the exchange went:

Sen. Brown: “The junior senator from Kansas is recognized.”

Mr. Brownback: “Mr. President, I am the senior senator from Kansas to Sen. [Pat] Roberts [R]. I wanted to acknowledge that on the floor. … I was called the junior senator from Kansas.”

Sen. Brown: “The chair’s mistake. I apologize.”

Mr. Brownback: “I thank the presiding officer. I appreciate that greatly. I always need to watch my junior senator and make sure he is in his place. Mr. President, I note, properly, my junior senator is the dean of the Kansas delegation, even if he is the junior senator.”

Brown’s press office had no comment on the flub.

Ho, ho, ho: Rep. Ryan grows a holiday beard

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has joined the unofficial Congressional Beard Caucus. He was recently spotted with the significant beginnings of a beard still thin, but well on its way.

“It’s a yearly thing,” Ryan explained. “It’s my holiday beard. It would make sense if it was snowing outside, right?”

A source close to Ryan said he has gone unshaven at different points in his congressional career, and added that it’s more about an increased workload than anything else. “The end of session is kind of like the hockey playoffs, and the beard is part of his game face,” the source said.

Last May, Ryan grew a full beard when he traveled to India and Pakistan. Once he returned to Congress, he quickly shaved it off. No word on how long this beard will last.

Reps. Mack and Bono wore fancy cowboy boots to their wedding

Reps. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and Mary Bono (R-Calif.), who wed over the weekend in Asheville, N.C., both wore cowboy boots to the nuptials. Bono’s light-brown boots were Luchesse, while Mack’s black pair were Tony Lama. Mack’s tux was custom-made, while Bono’s cream-colored lace gown was Claire Pettibone.

Bono’s daughter, Chianna, was her maid of honor, and Mack’s father, former Sen. Connie Mack Sr. (R-Fla.), was his best man.

The color scheme for the reception was ivory and gold.

As for the honeymoon, it depends on votes. “They haven’t made any plans yet,” said Mack spokeswoman Stephanie DuBois. “The congressional voting schedule put a wrench in their plans.”

The couple chose Asheville because Bono’s father, Clay Whitaker, lives there.

Getting elected to Gallery Committee requires smarts, guts and rum balls  

It’s a good thing that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is running for president of the United States and not president of the Radio/TV Gallery Committee. If she were, she might have to whip out an apron and a cookie sheet.  

The Executive Committee of Correspondence of the House and Senate Radio-Television Galleries elected its officers last Thursday. The new president, who takes office in 2009, is Linda Scott, longtime Hill producer for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” Scott will join the committee now and assumes the chair in 2009.

The organization has approximately 3,000 members, but only about 150 vote over a two-day period.

A time-honored tradition of the election is that contenders prepare sweets to sway the vote. It’s not quite “Iron Chef,” but it can get contentious.

There are seven positions on the executive committee. Elections are held annually. This year, four people ran for three slots. Executive committee officers serve two-year terms on a rotating basis.

 Among the four candidates, the top vote-getter becomes chairman in 2009. This year there were three openings, which went to Scott, Linda Kenyon of SRN News and Dave McConnell of WTOP News. Kenyon currently serves on the panel and was running for reelection.

There was lots of baking this year. Kenyon baked rum balls, which were a big hit; Scott provided an assortment of brownies and cookies; and McConnell provided cookies made by his wife.

“Traditionally, candidates encourage people to vote for them and offer baked goods in order to encourage the vote,” said Mike Mastrian, director of the Gallery.

The current chairwoman, Heather Dahl of Fox News, will serve through 2008.

Rep. Hinojosa recovering nicely after knees replaced

If you see Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) limping around the Capitol with a cane, crutches or, for longer distances, using a wheelchair, the reason is he had both knees replaced two weeks ago.

“I’m healing very well,” he said, using a cane on a short stroll with ITK from the second floor of the Capitol to the first floor and around the bend to the House Dining Room.

Hinojosa, who attends physical therapy every day, boasted of a speedy recovery. “My surgeon saw me last week and said he was amazed by my recovery,” he said.

The congressman explained that in the last two years his doctors had wanted him to replace his knees, but, he said, “I didn’t want to miss votes.”


Animal rescue group trying to trap stray kitty

There’s a stray cat that has been dashing between the bushes in the park between the Russell Senate Office Building and Union Station. It’s “a cute little thing, all black, and about 4 or 5 months old,” an ITK informant reports.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a small Arlington-based nonprofit, is trying to trap the kitty. It has put out signs on all the benches asking people not to feed the feline because they have placed food in a trap that was set up to catch it.

However, many of the signs have disappeared from the benches since the Capitol Police removed them. The kitty remains at large.

For more information about Homeward Trails, visit

Abercrombie inspiration for elevator messages

Listen closely, folks, and you can hear the sound of Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) in the elevators.

It’s not really the sound of the weightlifting former college professor, but he was the inspiration for the recorded messages that now play during votes.

It all goes back to an intra-party floor showdown last month when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) scolded members for their tardiness on votes. Abercrombie went to the mike and said, “You’ve got to do something about the elevators.”

He complained that the lights and signs that broadcast “Members Only” during votes fail to prevent herds of Capitol Hill tourists from trespassing on the turf of vote-bound lawmakers. He recommended that police or doorkeepers keep the path clear.

The powers-that-be, it seems, decided against such force and turned instead to recorded persuasion. In addition to the blinking signs, a man’s voice now gently prods non-members off the reserved elevators.

Abercrombie took the development in stride.

 “I’m really sorry we have to do that to get to the House floor on time to vote,” Abercrombie said, “because you meet a lot of very nice people on the elevators.”