Lawmakers honor Billy Joel
© Jesse Byrnes

Prominent lawmakers and political figures donned fur coats and checkered scarfs to brave the cold weather Wednesday night to honor music icon Billy Joel at the Gershwin Prize concert in Washington, D.C.

Tony Bennett, John Mellencamp, Josh Groban, Natalie Maines and LeAnn Rimes, among others, performed at the star-studded event, which was filmed to air for a PBS special in January.


"Tonight we honor Long Island's favorite son — even if he is a Mets fan," said Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, wearing black pants and a gold top that sparkled under the lights at the DAR Constitution Hall as she presented Joel with the Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Others who presented the award included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who wore a sleeveless silver sheen skirt and top, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), who wore a red blazer, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who wore a charcoal suit and green tie, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington, both in black suits.

The group spent the rest of the evening basking in the lights and sounds from front-row balcony seats. Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBiden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (D-Vt.), who was slated to also present the award, was not spotted.

"I will always treasure this. Thank you," said an emotional Joel, clad in all black. "I've had a hell of a year."

Pelosi opted to help present the award as scheduled instead of trek to the White House to join President Obama, who dined with 18 Democratic members of Congress to discuss his executive actions on immigration, to be announced Thursday in a primetime-address. Pelosi was briefed on his plan by Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House's Domestic Policy Council, according to an aide.

The Democratic leader, seated next to McCarthy, was seen swaying her shoulders to Boyz II Men's rendition of "The Longest Time" and clapping to Joel's "You May Be Right."

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio) was seen laughing and chatting with Joel, wearing a yellow-lined green scarf, at the Capitol in a photo posted on the leader's Instagram account earlier in the day.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) was spotted sitting a few rows from the front, seated next to recently reelected Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Sununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire MORE (D-N.H.) and her husband.

Actor Kevin Spacey, who helped kick off the evening by drifting into his "House of Cards" character Francis Underwood, joined Joel later in the show. Spacey sported a vest and harmonica and the pair sang Joel's famous "Piano Man" to thunderous applause. McCarthy waved his arm along with the audience while singing the melody.

Joel is the sixth artist to get the award, with past recipients including Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.