Wrapping up Congress’ odd year

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • December 23, 2005

by Karen Feld

As D.C. winds down for the holidays, there’s talk of the “I” word in the new year. The State of the Union address is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 31, about 10 days later than usual – and the latest in recent history. Congress is not going back in session until that day as well. Could it be that the president is hoping his damage control efforts will show more results if he delays the speech? Or does he have more secret plans scheduled before that date? Unimpeachable sources tell me that the White House is hoping that the later date will give Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, more time to get his legal issues resolved. But that’s unlikely to happen. Or perhaps it gives members of Congress more time to forget what many refer to as the ugliest adjournment in recent years. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was calling the shots even though the Democrats are in the minority. Reconciliation was put off so that the lobbyists had a chance to eat away at the Republicans. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who is opposed to the short-term extension of the Patriot Act, was met at his plane upon arrival back in D.C, by high-ranking officials urging him not to make his objection. GOP House leadership games

Although Tom DeLay was an effective House majority leader, a quick resolution for his legal problems is not expected. Republicans are feeling a lot of pressure to go with more permanent leadership. Current House Majority leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., may solidify forces but has lost votes as he stumbled through adjournment. “Just sloppy,” said one of his GOP colleagues. And the inside word is that DeLay and Blunt really don’t like each other. While they appear to be on the same page publicly, privately there is not mutual admiration. It’s unlikely that DeLay will help Blunt win the House leadership post, which DeLay held. He’s more likely, we hear, to let Blunt fall on his face. GOP insiders say that Education and Labor Committee Chairman John Boehner, R-Ohio, has the inside track for majority leader. And House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., is trying his best to stay out of the fray.

Burton’s air busses for Bo

Then, there’s other GOPers who think they have the real power: Rep. Dan Burton, Ind., told Bo Derek when she visited the Capitol press gallery earlier this year, “If you want to see some real power, come see me.” When called to the House floor to vote, he looked up, threw the Republican actor kisses and flexed his muscles.

Stoney’s rolling away

Long-time Washingtonians lament the announced closing in mid-January of Stoney’s Bar and Grill, the eatery at 13th and L, which has given new meaning to the word “dive.” That’s where power brokers can take meetings away from the official hoopla. Owner Tony Harris is looking at a location at 19th and I. No doubt the air will be cigarette-free but will have the same smell of burgers. In the meantime, check out the historic Tunnicliff’s Tavern, Harris’s other joint across from the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. You might even run into a Clinton at this unpretentious place.

Some locals hail the Giants

Football fans will be closely watching tomorrow’s Redskins game to see if we can stay in the playoff hunt. True Washingtonians will be rooting for their Redskins – everyone except the Kuehl family of Potomac. Phil and Carol Kuehl’s son, Ryan, who was a BCC High School and UVa. football star, is now a long-snapper for the Giants. There’s a little “I’ll be home for Christmas” theme, here, too.

Back to Articles