John Hall’s dark shades

Last Friday’s vote on the Iraq supplemental spending bill was the biggest vote in the House this year, so you can’t blame rock star-turned-congressman John Hall (D-N.Y.) for thinking it was an event on par with the Grammys.

Hall was spotted in the dimly lit chamber before the vote wearing stylish dark sunglasses, à la Jack Nicholson on Oscar night. The look raised a couple of eyebrows in the press balcony, which was filled with reporters covering the final minutes of the war debate.

Tom Staudter, Hall’s spokesman, said his boss, who founded the hit band Orleans, was not trying to relive his rock ‘n’ roll glory days; the explanation was much more typical, and middle-aged.

Staudter said that Hall sometimes misplaces his eyeglasses and is forced to resort to his shades to see clearly.

“They’re prescription glasses,” said Staudter. “It probably means that he couldn’t find his other glasses. He grabs whatever he can find.”

 


Spring break plans: partying Congress-style

 

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) held a Surf Turf Golf & Beach Weekend with “special guest” Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.) at the Naples Grande Resort & Club in Florida last weekend, according to an e-mail Gula & Associates, a fundraising and consulting firm, sent to lobbyists and donors earlier this month.

“It is just a way to do an event outside of Washington,” said Mike Gula. “These events are more successful when you can have five members. A lot of it is taking families or kids down there. It’s just a different way to do fundraising in the minority.”
The last weekend in April, Republican Reps. John Shimkus (Ill.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Mike Rogers (Mich.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Tim Murphy (Pa.) will host a fundraising weekend in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Lobbyists and donors willing to fork over the price of airfare and more than $500 per night for a room at the Ritz-Carlton, as well as a campaign contribution, can fish, golf, hit the spa, play on the beach and have two dinners with the five lawmakers, according the e-mail.

There’s more, too: “The good news is we will have STAFF from all the offices down there. So you will not only get the member but someone from their staff to talk with, and hang out with,” Gula wrote in the e-mail.
“This is bound to be a great event,” Gula wrote.

Davis’s fundraiser attracted  20 guests, said the lawmaker’s spokeswoman.

 


Chairmen come out to toast Rep. Marty Sabo

 

Former Rep. Marty Sabo (D-Minn.) insists he has no regrets about leaving Congress even though he would have chaired the Budget Committee had he been elected to a 15th term last November.

But Sabo must have had a few qualms when no fewer than five Democrats who now chair House committees showed up Sunday to honor him and his wife Sylvia, who will return to Minnesota as soon as they sell their home in Northern Virginia.
Sabo, who is the last member of the Class of 1978, was fêted at a brunch Sunday hosted by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and his wife Debbie, and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) at Matsui’s home in Chevy Chase, Md.

Dingell, the senior member of Congress who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, was joined by fellow chairmen David Obey of Wisconsin (Appropriations), Jim Oberstar of Minnesota (Transportation and Infrastructure), Ike Skelton of Missouri (Armed Services) and Henry Waxman of California (Oversight and Government Reform). Democratic Reps. Dale Kildee of Michigan and John Tanner of Tennessee were also on hand to bid the Sabos farewell.

Sabo had to share the spotlight with Obey, who was praised by his colleagues for passing the Iraq funding bill that set a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“Thank you very much, David,” said Matsui, who succeeded her late husband Bob after his death in January 2005. “We knew the vote was going to be successful with you leading the way.”

Obey confided that he had a secret weapon, which was a quotation from George Bernard Shaw praising a colleague who gave up his seat in Parliament rather than compromise on an important issue. Obey said he gave copies to several wavering Democrats whose votes were critical in gaining the minimum 218 needed for passage.

 


Hoya hurler

 

Georgetown University’s basketball team may be all the rage right now, but Jim Saris, media-relations coordinator for the Senate Daily Press Gallery, is more interested in how the school’s baseball team is doing. Or rather, how one of its star pitchers is doing.

That’s because his son, sophomore right-hander Jimmy Saris, set a Georgetown single-game record by striking out 13 batters as the Hoyas beat Eastern Kentucky during a nine-game trip to Florida over the spring break.

The younger Saris, a transfer from Duke, was one of the few bright spots in the Hoyas’ road trip as they compiled a 4-5 record. Although the pitcher’s record stands now at 2-2, manager Pete Wilk sang his praises.

“He’s 2-2 and should be 3-1, if not 4-0,” Wilk said of the Langley, Va., resident. “He is a beast of a competitor, and he throws strikes, and he has control over three pitches — that will do it for you at this level.”

Maybe Saris’s father can get that Hall of Fame pitcher, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), to give his son a few tips.


Scoop Coburn

Reporters piling into the Senate Radio-TV Gallery for an appearance by the upper chamber’s stalwart Iraq hawks, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were amused to see a GOP-friendly face in the front row: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), awaiting his colleagues’ arrival with what looked more like a novel than a policy paper open in his lap.

“Are you representing the Oklahoma Daily?” Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) quipped as he saw Coburn. Doubtless aware that the Daily is the student newspaper of the University of Oklahoma, Coburn had a comeback ready: “No, the Tulsa World.”


Alexander Bolton, Albert Eisele, Jonathan E. Kaplan and Elana Schor contributed to this page.