By The Hill Staff - 03/12/07 07:30 PM EDT
The Alliance for Climate Protection and its chairman Al Gore — plus many Hollywood celebrities — have launched what they call “a historic effort to engage billions of people” on global warming.
They plan to hold concerts on all seven continents to highlight the cause, attracting 100 of the world’s top musical acts for the 24-hour event scheduled for July 7.
The alliance would like to hold its U.S. mega-party on the Washington Mall, but cannot because it’s already booked.
So the alliance has had to go to Plan B and settle for the Capitol Grounds.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), on behalf of himself and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), moved to authorize use of the Capitol Grounds for the “Live Earth” concert.
But let’s back up and explain why the Mall is not available. National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said two applications came in well before the paperwork for Gore’s group. And the separate events, planned by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and a religious group under the name “Anna Godfrey-TOU,” will fill the Mall with at least 200,000 people, if not 600,000.
Getting access to the Mall comes on a strict first-come, first-serve basis.
“There is a finite amount of space,” Line said. He added that the Alliance for Climate Protection applied for a permit on Feb. 22. The other groups submitted theirs last year.
The Reid/Snowe measure stipulates that the concert will be free of charge, open to the public and “arranged not to interfere with the needs of Congress.”
The measure is not a done deal, having been referred to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. But with the majority leader’s backing, it’s got a bright future — unless, perhaps, global warming critic Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) gets in the way.
Supporters of climate-change legislation are hoping to celebrate a legislative victory on July 7, three days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) goal of passing a climate bill.
Spokesmen for Reid and Snowe did not comment for this article. Nor did the Alliance for Climate Protection.
Rep. Oberstar wins, but still gripes about his colleagues
Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) was heard grumbling about his colleagues Friday after Republicans scored a victory on the House floor with an amendment to the Water Quality Financing Act, which he sponsored.
Oberstar was managing debate when Republicans unexpectedly amended his bill to prohibit transportation-security cards to convicted felons. Though an arcane issue to some people, it is important to Democrats’ biggest allies, labor unions, who oppose it as a limitation of workers’ rights.
The GOP amendment, which passed with 359 votes, marked the third procedural vote Republicans won last week, something the minority did rarely in the 109th Congress. Oberstar voiced dissatisfaction with two of his colleagues when he met with allies in the basement of the Rayburn building after the contentious debate.
“Don’t hang your hat on Steny Hoyer’s answers,” he said of the lesson he had just learned, referring to the majority leader from Maryland who last year oversaw floor activity as minority whip. Apparently Oberstar was less than satisfied with the floor counsel he had received.
Absolutely not so, Oberstar said, claiming that GOP lawmakers could not explain their amendment on the floor and that he said you can’t hang your hat on what they were saying.
He also griped about Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who gave an incendiary floor speech that Oberstar felt goaded the Republicans into playing procedural hardball. DeFazio called the White House policy statement for the bill “claptrap” and asked Republicans, in a flight of rhetoric, “Why do you hate the middle class so much?”
“And he didn’t even have a double espresso,” said Oberstar of DeFazio, who he said was raising the partisan temperature on floor.
A laughing Oberstar did acknowledge the comment about DeFazio, explaining that the lawmaker is known for his double espressos.
Calls to DeFazio’s office were not returned. Hoyer’s office declined to comment, referring to Oberstar’s response to Under the Dome.
Rep. Kirk to pay off bet
It’s not every day you see a congressman in Best Buy. And it’s even rarer to see a lawmaker buying 50 DVDs there.
But that’s what Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) did this past weekend in Illinois after losing a Super Bowl bet to Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.).
After having watched as Burton’s Colts handled his Bears last month in the big game, Kirk is planning to pay up tomorrow in Burton’s office with the DVDs, to be sent to the Indiana-based 38th support unit of the National Guard, which is serving at Camp Victory near the Baghdad Airport.
Even though he won, Burton will send 25 DVDs to the Illinois-based 1744th unit of the National Guard, which is tasked with running truck convoys in Iraq.
The hardest part for Kirk was not the visit to Best Buy — it’s the ribbing from Burton, who gleefully sat in the Miami rain and watched the Colts’ come-from-behind victory.
“Dan did some trash [talking],” Kirk said. “It was painful. But as a loyal Cubs fan, I can say, ‘Wait ’til next year.’”
Now, about those DVDs – are they all in good taste?
Yes, Kirk responded, adding that some “chick flicks” like “Steel Magnolias” and “Ordinary People” were selected because the congressmen are well aware that there are many females who serve in the units. For the most part, however, the DVDs will be new releases that the soldiers have not yet had a chance to see, Kirk added.
— Alexander Bolton contributed to this page.