Taking the stairs, two steps at a time

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) will turn 60 over the Memorial Day recess, but he’s not planning on slowing his pace any.

“Lord willing, I’m just glad to have it,” King said of his May 28 birthday. “I’m not one who focuses very much on those milestone birthdays, but I will say that I had no idea I would feel this youthful and vigorous at this age. I run up the stairs two at a time every day. I intend to burn up every drop of fuel I have in my tank.”

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King noted he’s following in his father’s footsteps: “I remember when my father was 55, he was scheduled for heart surgery the next week and we had a heavy snow and he went out scooping 12 inches of snow and I thought to myself, ‘He’s going to kill himself.’ And I went out and nearly had to fight him to get the shovel away and now I understand why. My kids could not get that shovel away from me.”

King said he’s not asking for any specific gifts, though he is planning several celebrations, one of which will coincide with his first grandson’s baptism.

“He will be baptized with Jordan River water that I brought back from the Jordan River, dipped out of the location where John the Baptist baptized Christ. My two granddaughters, age 4 and 2, [have] also been baptized with Jordan River water. I was there a few years ago and I waded out into the river and while everyone else was buying souvenirs, I was filling up water jugs.”


Emergency dental surgery for Polis

Freshman Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) missed his first votes on the House floor last week, but he had a good excuse.

Polis needed an emergency root canal on May 20, leading to three missed votes.

Polis spokeswoman Lara Cottingham pointed out that her boss is not fond of going to anyone who has the title “Dr.” in front of his or her name.

“So when he says he has to go, it’s a big deal,” she added.

Polis, who returned to the Capitol to register votes on Wednesday evening, went for a follow-up appointment in Colorado on Friday. And he’s got another appointment on Thursday. ITK — well-aware of the pleasures of root canal — feels your pain, congressman.


Dare to dream: House lawmakers sporting team jerseys

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A member of the House sergeant at arms’s office has a novel idea to make it easier to identify House lawmakers: blue and red jerseys.

The sergeant at arms official, who requested anonymity, noted to ITK that there are 441 members in the House (including delegates) and learning to distinguish each of them can be a challenge. And when members are not recognized, they can get a little upset (just ask former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga.).

Members are supposed to wear their congressional pins, but some forget to and it’s not like the pin has a nametag.

The idea is to have Republicans and Democrats wear their “team colors” — red and blue, respectively. On the front, the jerseys would feature the name of the representative’s state. On the back, they would have their names and district number.

Other members of the sergeant at arms’s office laughed when they heard the idea, agreeing that it would help.


Connolly seeks to change the tone

Former President George W. Bush failed at changing the tone of Washington and President Obama has yet to foster the more bipartisan spirit promised during the campaign. Now, Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse passes series of measures hitting Russia, Putin Exclusive: Biden to run for White House, says Dem lawmaker Dems struggle to turn page on Omar controversy MORE (D-Va.) is stepping up to the plate.

Connolly wants the House to put aside its partisan bickering and have members build collegial, constructive relationships.

As president-elect of the freshman class, Connolly plans to bring together freshman Republicans and Democrats so they can get to know each other on a more personal level.

“We are talking about having a joint class meeting, which would be a substantive meeting of the freshman class,” Connolly said. “We’re also talking about a social occasion, or more than one, where we just get together and have an opportunity to network and compare notes on a bipartisan basis.”
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Some members have trouble keeping track of all the new faces, much less working with them. Rep. Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusFormer congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles The key for EXIM's future lies in accountability Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank MORE (R-Ala.) told ITK in March, “I still don’t know who some of these people are — I mean I really don’t.”


Sotomayor deemed not Twitter-worthy

President Obama nominated federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, but some legislators decided to Twitter on other topics.

Republicans and Democrats alike — who are in recess from their congressional duties this week — preferred not to use their Twitter pages to provide snap reactions to Obama’s pick to join the nation’s top court.

Lawmakers focused largely on their speeches and work in the district Tuesday. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) Tweeted about meetings on the auto industry, while Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration GOP pushes back on net neutrality bill at testy hearing Hillicon Valley: Dems renew fight over net neutrality | Zuckerberg vows more 'privacy-focused' Facebook | House Dems focus on diversity in Silicon Valley | FBI chief warns of new disinformation campaigns MORE (R-Wash.) focused on a passport fair in Spokane. Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) Tweeted about an upcoming speech in Birmingham.

Of course, House members don’t get a vote on Sotomayor. Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Dem candidate has Hawley served subpoena at CPAC Annual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 MORE (Mo.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.) Tweeted praise of Obama’s selection.


Moran wades in on intersex fish debate

Combing through congressional transcripts in search of ITK items can be tedious, especially over the Memorial Day weekend. But the words “intersex fish” got ITK’s attention, especially because outspoken Rep. Jim MoranJames (Jim) Patrick MoranLawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Joe Lieberman says Northam shouldn't resign: Rush to judgment 'is unfair' Former Virginia congressman says Northam shouldn't resign: 'Redemption is a very powerful factor' MORE (D-Va.) was talking about it.

The unusual topic came up last week during an appropriations hearing when Moran suggested he has solved the mystery of why more than 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River are growing eggs.

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The emergence of these so-called intersex fish has baffled researchers.

Moran noted that there has been speculation that contaminants, including birth control pills, are being flushed down the toilet and may be contributing to the estrogen in male fish.

He then made a plug for his legislation that would give incentives for “pharmacies to take back unused pills, because they invariably get flushed.”

Federal officials with the U.S. Geological Survey didn’t fully embrace the theory, which Moran’s office said is based on a 2002 study from USGS. But they did acknowledge that these kind of fish are showing up more “around outflows of human sewage treatment.”  Yuck.

Forget the whales. Save the intersex fish!