From Martin Short chatting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to a congressman belting out a tune for Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenManchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Bipartisan lawmakers call for action on anti-hate crime measures MORE, lawmakers mixed and mingled with A-listers Sunday in Washington in a star-studded and politically infused night at the Kennedy Center Honors.


This year’s crop of recipients of the performing arts recognition included: soul singer Al Green, comedienne Lily Tomlin, actor Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride and singer and songwriter Sting.

The 37th annual gala, attended by President Obama and first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Obama to adapt memoir 'Dreams From My Father' for young readers MORE, was a mixture of laughs, political barbs and musical performances.

“Let’s Stay Together” singer Al Green was smiling ear-to-ear as he chatted up a group of reporters on the red carpet before Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) caught the entertainer’s attention. The two embraced as Cohen declared, “I’m so proud of you – and everybody in Memphis is proud of you.” Then the congressman started singing the chorus from Green’s 1972 hit, “Love and Happiness.”

“There you go! You got to have that soul down on the inside,” Green, a 68-year-old reverend, exclaimed.

The night’s emcee, Stephen Colbert, was quick to throw out some biting quips at the top of the show, which airs Dec. 30th on CBS.

“No matter what party you belong to, everyone wants a selfie with Tom Hanks,” Colbert said. “And I’m sure that includes the most powerful and influential person in the world…Michelle Obama.”

Then, apparently referring to Democrats who had attempted to distance themselves from her husband, Colbert added the first lady was appearing “on-camera, next to the president – which I assume means she has no future plans to run for office.”

As audience members reacted with a mix of laughter and surprise, Colbert said with a grin, “There are a lot of Democrats who don’t have that courage.”

Colbert was one of several of the night’s performers to make references to the commander in chief. “Late Show” host David Letterman, in a tribute to Hanks, said, “Mr. president, if I could – please don’t be discouraged. Have you seen my show? I pardon a turkey every night.”

Philanthropist and Kennedy Center board chairman David Rubenstein noted Obama’s weekend visit to Walter Reed military hospital for medical tests after complaining of a sore throat. Telling the crowd that Obama was in and out of the facility in 30 minutes, Rubenstein said to applause, “That is ObamaCare at work.”

The evening was packed with an array of high-profile entertainers kept top-secret until their performances in an effort to surprise the honorees. Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, Martin Short, Garrison Keillor, country singer Reba McEntire and director Steven Spielberg all made appearances. Bruce Springsteen, Usher, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Bruno Mars, Earth, Wind & Fire and Esperanza Spalding lent their voices in musical tributes to the various honorees.

A dinner reception following the Honors ceremony proved to provide a series of Hollywood-meets-Washington moments: Pelosi – seated at the same table as Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats criticize FBI's handling of tip line in Kavanaugh investigation Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Senate unanimously passes bill to strengthen crime victims fund MORE (D-Vt.) and CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer -- was eyed telling Short, “You were amazing.”

Singer Kris Kristofferson picked at a salad plate as he dined at Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power No. 2 State Department official to travel to China amid tensions US and Germany launch climate partnership MORE’s table.

Spielberg told wife Kate Capshaw, “Kate, there’s Tom [Hanks]. We can kiss him and leave.” Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowHere's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken Schumer: Democrats considering option to pay for all of infrastructure agenda Democrats closing in on deal to unlock massive infrastructure bill MORE’s companion was seen attempting to snap a photo of Hanks, Spielberg and Short all chatting together as the Michigan Democrat looked on.

Also eyed among the VIP crowd: Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Trump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status MORE (D-Calif.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (D-N.J.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Senate falling behind on infrastructure MORE (R-Maine), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (D-N.H.), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley, CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, actress Lynda Carter, lobbyist Heather Podesta, Capitol File’s Elizabeth Thorp, “Washingtonian’s” Kate Bennett, WTTG-TV’s Kevin McCarthy and Chris Smith, actor Sam Waterston, CBS President Les Moonves and wife, Julie Chen, and actor Frank Langella.