Zzzz … Company readies hundreds of beds for Capitol

Cots are usually reserved for filibusters. But a company in Jessup, Md., wanted Congress ready if the need for sleep arises during late-night negotiations.

Late last week, Classic Sleep Products CEO Mike Zippelli fired off a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offering to donate 535 mattresses immediately to the U.S. Capitol.

“I was watching John McCain announce the suspension of his campaign and said to my leadership team that it doesn’t matter what side of the political aisle you are on, solving this crisis is paramount,” he said in a statement. “Congress should be in session 24/7 until this issue is resolved, and I’ll make sure we give them tools to take some naps on the Hill, but stay in session until this problem is resolved.”

Zippelli has not received a message from Pelosi on the mattresses. Stan Steinreich, the company’s spokesman, said the offer grew out of a sense of frustration about the ramifications that small and medium-sized businesses could face from the bailout.

Zippelli said he had chosen the “Classic by Dormia” line for the politicians. The mattress apparently has elastic memory foam and orthopedic support with a high-performance base.

Pelosi might also be happy to know that the mattresses are environmentally friendly. They each have a biodegradable cover, which offers “improved breathe-ability, comfort and durability.”

The company does not sell bedding, but Steinreich assured they would help with sheets and blankets if Pelosi responds.

“If there was a serious interest, we would help find the bedding,” he said, adding that the offer was a larger message to lawmakers that they should stay in Congress until they finalize a deal.


Chambliss praises Akaka on singing skills, but says he and others can’t carry a tune

Envisioning senators sitting around a weekly Bible study singing songs is nothing short of a dream.

Who’s an alto? Who’s a soprano? Whose voice can break glass?

As part of the lead-up to National Bible Week, which happens in late November, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) took to the Senate floor last week to hail the Bible as “one of the most significant books in human history.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who attends weekly Bible study with Akaka, praised National Bible Week and Akaka on his fine singing voice.

One thing Chambliss isn’t so inspired by is bad singing. “He’s our song leader,” Chambliss said of Akaka, who along with the House chaplain is apparently the only decent singer in the group.

“And while we do … some of the worst singing that can be done, he [Akaka] is a great inspiration to all of us.”

Akaka spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke called his boss “a strong baritone.”

He said the senator “used to be a music teacher and choir director and when I have heard him sing songs he knows he’s a show-stopper. His favorite song is a Hawaiian classic, ‘Where I Live, There Are Rainbows.’ He can also come up with harmony on the fly.

“But I can imagine that when the senators are singing hymns, some of which they have never heard, with no musical accompaniment, it could get ugly.”


Rangel’s skin-conscious wife wants to sell condo

In a sit-down interview last week in his Capitol office, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said that his wife, Alma, wants to sell the beachfront villa they own in the popular vacation spot of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republican because she’s conscious of how the sun can damage the skin.

“The wife just wanted to get rid of it because she’s skin-conscious,” Rangel said. “I just wanted to get rid of it.”

In a separate matter, Rangel cited his wife as one of the main reasons that he wanted a separate room from his apartment; hence their need for a second apartment. He said he didn’t want to disturb her when he had politicians over for raucous discussions, which were often smoke-filled.

“She didn’t like it when [we met] in the living room,” he said. “She didn’t like the smoking.”

This month, Rangel paid $10,800 in back taxes on the villa. He said he failed to declare $75,000 in rental income on his tax returns and owed three years of back taxes.


Baucus ‘clears the cobwebs’ with running; Senator completes marathon

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently completed his ninth marathon, running the Montana Marathon on Sept. 21 in less than five hours. The race takes runners like Baucus, 66, on a 26.2-mile jaunt from the town of Molt to Daylis Stadium in downtown Billings.

Baucus hopes to run the JFK Marathon in Maryland in November.

The senator makes running a habit, even with his busy schedule in Washington. He often runs at 5 a.m. before work.

“He is lean and mean,” said Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser, explaining that his boss is an endurance runner who does short runs at 5 a.m. on weekdays before work and longer runs on Sundays.

He’s also a daredevil. During a 2003 marathon in Maryland, Baucus fell at mile eight and hit his head. But he didn’t stop — he ran 42 miles before seeking medical attention. A month later he had a subdural hematoma and required a medical procedure.

“He’s an animal,” remarked Kaiser.

What’s more, he sees running as more than just a physical activity. “I can tell you that running is a really important part of his overall health and mental health,” Kaiser said. “It clears out the cobwebs and makes him sharper and more focused. Max Baucus is strong as an ox, both physically and mentally.”


Announcements

Hundreds answer Rep. Jackson’s call for blood marrow donors; More donors are needed

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) spearheaded an initiative late last week to help save Justin Nicholas Thornton, a 17-year-old constituent of Rep. Donna Edwards’s (D-Md.) in need of a blood marrow donor.

The donor count came in at 210 people, including the congressman. All got their cheeks swabbed at a bone marrow drive at the Convention Center during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference.

Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), a family physician and chairwoman of the CBC health brain trust, swabbed both Jackson and Edwards.

“Everybody in the office will end up getting swabbed to see if they’re a match,” said Jackson spokesman Ken Edmonds.

The initiative began with a visit last week to Jackson by Beverly Young, wife of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.). Young started the C.W. Bill Young DOD Marrow Donor Program in 1986 with a $1.5 million dollar earmark to the defense appropriations bill. Jackson and Young both sit on the Appropriations Committee.

The test takes four to six weeks for results. If there is a match, the potential donor will be called in to see about continuing the process.

Prospective donors may call the National Bone Marrow Registry at 301-998-8900.


Baucus wants to keep marital matters private

In an item Monday, Rush and Malloy of the New York Daily News announced that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and his wife, Wanda, are splitting up.

As a result, the senator and his wife released a statement urging people to respect the couple’s privacy: “In the 25 years of spirited marriage, it is natural for differences of opinion to arise. We choose to discuss and resolve our differences privately and respectfully thank people for understanding.”

The item also said  Baucus was sleeping on an office couch.

Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser says it’s not so.