19 members earn place in House history

It’s often been said that whenever an important work of political nonfiction is released, Washington VIPs turn first to the index to see if they’re mentioned.

It’s often been said that whenever an important work of political nonfiction is released, Washington VIPs turn first to the index to see if they’re mentioned.

Now that a definitive, authorized history of the House has been released — Robert Remini’s The House — 19 members will be pleased to see their names listed.

The leader in the number of pages appeared on is Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) with 11, about half of which concern his role in the impeachment of President Clinton.

He’s followed, somewhat surprisingly, by Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), who sat down with Remini for an interview.

Others who make the cut as a key part of the body’s history are Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Tom DeLay (R-Texas), John Dingell (D-Mich.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), David Obey (D-Wis.), Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Among recently departed members, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) dominates. He is discussed on 29 pages of the 600-page tome.

Among current members of the Senate, Vice President Cheney leads the pack with 12 pages, followed by Trent Lott (R-Miss.) with five, Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) with two and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) with one.

But the first member whose name is mentioned doesn’t show up in the index, because it occurs in the foreword. It’s that of Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the former high school history teacher whom Remini thanks for coming up with the idea of the book.

Larson, who said Remini is “very shy but has a Columbo-esque demeanor about him,” called his book “very readable and usable” and a great thematic discussion of the “great changes and shifts” the House has endured.


Top black architects lobby for Smithsonian project

Two of the country’s most renowned African-American architects spent Tuesday on the Hill, as they began an effort to ensure that black architects take the lead in designing the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Philip Freelon of the Freelon Group, of Raleigh, N.C., and Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond, of Manhattan, toured the site — opposite the Washington Monument at Constitution Avenue and 14th Street — and met museum director Dr. Lonnie Bunch and museum commission member Robert Wilkins.

“We’re attempting to meet with folks on the Hill,” said Bond, whose company is working on the World Trade Center memorial. “It’s worth the effort to get to know people and understand the political issues now.”

Of course, they’d like to land the project themselves (their firms have partnered toward that end). “It’s the commission of a lifetime,” said Freelon, who has recently designed the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and the Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore. “I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life for this.”

More importantly, they say, the building should be conceived within and through the African-American community.

“It’s not just a beautiful box,” Bond said. “It’s about finding things that relate to the history and the culture of the people.”

For instance, Bond explained how, in designing the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, he used brick in the construction as a nod to the tradition of masonry among Southern African-Americans.

Plus, added Peter Cook, an associate partner with Davis Brody Bond’s D.C. office, “there’s got to be a certain buy-in from that community.”

All three architects lamented the paucity of black architects and the unwillingness of the profession to reach out to broader communities. “This building could change that,” Bond said.

Ultimately, the quality of the building will speak for itself, they agreed. Quoting Duke Ellington, Freelon said, “There’s only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. And there’s only two kinds of architecture: good and bad.”


Pre-primary, Schmidt gets flak for voting

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) is damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

Because Schmidt returned to Washington for votes on Election Day this past Tuesday, former Rep. Bob McEwen (R-Ohio), who was running to unseat her, couldn’t employ that old tactic of attacking her for missing votes.

So he attacked her for not missing votes.

In back-to-back releases Tuesday afternoon, the McEwen campaign went after Schmidt for returning to D.C. rather than stick around to see the campaign through with voters in the 2nd District.

The release listed some of the suspension bills Schmidt left to vote on: “naming an Arkansas post office after a former congressman, passing the Salt Cedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act, congratulating the Government of Italy on hosting a successful Winter Olympics, and supporting World Water Day.”

By contrast, the campaign noted that McEwen “is out shaking hands with voters in Miami Township, the backyard of” Schmidt.

“I will never abandon the voters on this important day,” said McEwen.

But the unusual effort didn’t affect the outcome, as Schmidt took the primary. She will face Victoria Wells Wulsin in the November general election.

Schmidt followed the returns from her Cannon office. “I can’t even go hug and kiss my hubby,” she told The Cincinnati Enquirer. She added that it looked “like a frat party happened” in her office.


Graves straps on his goggles and wields cold steel

Ah, springtime weather. The crisp mountain air. The flowers in bloom. And welts all over your body.

That’s what’s in store for supporters of Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) this weekend at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., as the third-term congressman hosts a paintball tournament.

His political adviser, Jeff Roe, said he expects about four other members, as well as staff, among the 30-odd attendees.

Tom Brown, Graves’s chief of staff, said combatants will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings as well, but “those who are going are really looking forward to” the paintball.

The Homestead’s website promises a wooded course as well as a wide-open “speedball” course with fewer obstacles, all the better to be hit with a projectile.

“Someone like Congressman Graves who is young and in great shape [he’s 42, by the way] will have a great time,” Brown said.

“It’ll be just like the halls of the Capitol, but on a paintball field,” Roe said.

Let us be the first to suggest a Republicans-versus-Democrats paintball match in the near future.


Carson’s member ID nearly not good enough

Turns out a congressional ID badge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Five-term Rep. Julia Carson (D-Ind.) found that out Tuesday as poll workers almost didn’t accept her congressional ID as proper identification, the Associated Press reported.

Under a new state law, all voters must show a photo ID with an expiration date before voting. Her ID doesn’t display an expiration date, but expires at the end of the session.

“It says for the 109th Congress, so that takes care of that,” she said. “The inspector just went ahead and made the decision that it was OK because he couldn’t reach anybody to get authorization.”

Perhaps if she were wearing her congressional ID pin. …