Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep on Tuesday took aim at Congress, and specifically at the Senate, for failing to pass a bill that would grant the National Women's History Museum (NWHM) permission to purchase land on the National Mall.

Speaking at a dinner for the NWHM at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Streep said the legislative breakdown "Really does rankle me. I don't mean to be bitter, but I am bitter."

A source familiar with the status of the bill told ITK that the legislation in question, S. 2129, has two anonymous holds placed on it. The House passed its own version of the legislation, H.R. 1700, last fall.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.)
spoke before Streep, and explained to the mostly female dinner guests how legislation that would allow the museum to purchase a plot of land behind the Smithsonian Castle has stalled in Congress for  the past seven years.

Streep took up Collins's cause more forcefully, stressing that the land purchase legislation isn't a request for funds. "We want to cut them a check!" she exclaimed. "All it will cost [Congress] is the caloric energy it will take to get their hands up!"

Streep then pledged a challenge grant of one million dollars for the museum's construction, the second such grant of the night.

The actress and star of the current release, "It's Complicated," also defended the need for a brick and mortar monument to women's contributions to American history, and in doing so, made her views known about the debate over an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan.

"Anyone who doubts the importance of a building should come to my house, because I live seven blocks from Ground Zero," she told a rapt audience.

"I also live not very far from a mosque that has been offering up prayers five times a day for thirty years. And I live a few blocks from a strip club that has been offering up pole dances a lot more than five times a day. Symbols matter."

Before bowing out, Streep took one more comedic shot at Washington, this time at a few of the city's choice institutions.

It began slowly. "There is no women's museum," she sighed.

"But there is a postal museum." Laughter.

"And a spy museum." More laughter.

"There's a textile museum, and a museum of crime and punishment. A wax museum and a Bonsai museum. There's even a building that is a museum to buildings!" The crowd was in stitches.

The dinner was the first time the NWHM has hosted a Washington fundraiser. Also honored were Duane Burnham, former chairman of Abbott laboratories, and Virginia Hayes Wiliams, mother of former Washington, D.C. mayor Anthony Williams.