White House Budget Director Josh Bolten was expecting to get raked over the coals when he went behind closed doors Wednesday with a group of conservative GOP Members irate about the growth of federal spending.
But Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) lightened the mood a bit when he kicked off the Republican Study Committee meeting with a little
crack about the recent disclosure that the prescription drug bill President Bush signed into law will be about $150 billion more expensive than expected.
“The new Medicare number could not have been more shocking if Justin Timberlake had unveiled it,” Pence cracked.
Just Kidding. With people on Capitol Hill still walking on eggshells over the ricin scare, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) raised a few eyebrows with a little joke about the matter.
Hefley joined Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) at an Air Force Academy Board of Visitors meeting in their home state on Tuesday, according to the Rocky Mountain News.
Hefley cracked that there was a simple explanation for why Allard was able to attend the all-day affair a couple thousand miles away from Washington.
“Late last night, I spread some flour in some of the Senate buildings,” Hefley joked.
Hefley quickly apologized Wednesday.
“It was a bad attempt at humor at the end of a long day, and he regrets the comment,” spokeswoman Sarah Shelden told HOH.
Wild Pitch? Since fundraising on federal property is a no-no, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) appeared to be in hot water after Democrats spotted a provocative sign plastered Wednesday on a door in the basement of the Capitol.
“The Citizens for Bunning breakfast has been moved to S-155,” said the sign referencing the name of the Senator’s re-election committee.
Since the baseball Hall of Famer goes before the voters this year, one Democratic aide who saw the sign cracked, “It seems Senator Bunning is pitching a perfect game with his curve ball around the [Federal Election Commission] and the Senate Rules Committee.”
But Republicans insist that Bunning wasn’t flouting the law because his campaign committee was merely picking up the tab for a monthly Kentucky delegation breakfast. No campaign donors attended the breakfast, HOH was assured, which connected to official business.
Good Seats Still Available. Hill officials apparently had a little trouble filling the House chamber Wednesday to hear an address from Spanish President José Maria Aznar.
At precisely 10:59 a.m. — one minute before the speech began — the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office rushed out this e-mail to staffers:
“The SAA would like to inform any staff members who wish to attend the Joint Meeting with Spanish President Aznar that they should go to the House chamber immediately with their Senate staff IDs.”
When C-SPAN’s cameras panned the chamber, it appeared that the attendance blitz must have worked. But the most interesting moments came when the network featured closeups of various pols who don’t speak Spanish trying to follow along with translation piped into their headphones. Seeing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) with headphones awkwardly wrapped around his head was worth the price of admission.
Cocktail Primary. While Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) has established himself as the clear frontrunner in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, he will have to prove himself in two “straw polls” kicking off this week.
Balloting will begin Friday at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown on a series of new cocktail recipes created by Michael Brown, bartender at the swank Degrees bar. Each drink is meant to capture the essence of one of the remaining Democratic candidates.
Meanwhile, over at the Four Seasons Hotel, the Garden Terrace Lounge has created a menu of political cocktails of their own — and the concoction receiving the most votes through the real primary season will face off against the “GEORGE W. MD,” which is white tequila, vodka, gin, rum and spiced iced tea.
The Ritz is featuring the Kerry Kamikaze (Hangar Mandarin Vodka with a dash of Grand Marnier) as well as the Edwards Southern Coolout (vodka, gin, rum and Southern Comfort mixed with sour mix, orange juice and grenadine) for Sen. John Edwards (N.C.).
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has the Deantini (lime vodka with Apple Pucker, lime juice and a dash of simple syrup), while the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Ritz regular, has the River Jordan (Jordan Chardonnay Spritzer with a lemon twist).
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark has the Clark Bar (Kahlua on the rocks with a dash of crème de cacao). Contrary to the Four Seasons version, President Bush is represented with the Hussein Chaser, which is simple: Budweiser with a shot of Jack Daniels on the side.
Over at the Four Seasons, the Democratic drinks include the Kerry Catch Up (tequila, Cointreau, fresh raspberries and lime), Dean’s Scream (vanilla vodka, rum and coconut puree), Johnny E. Good (vodka and Hpnotiq), the Irreverent Reverend (vodka, Godiva Liqueur and chocolate shavings), and the Wild Wild Wes (Chivas Royal Salute and clove orange).
Waldholtz Saga Continues. Yes, it’s true, Joe Waldholtz, ex-hubby of former Rep. Enid Greene (R-Utah), is back in the news.
Waldholtz, who was convicted nearly a decade ago of embezzling about $4 million from the father of his ex-wife, was convicted Monday in Pennsylvania for stealing thousands of bucks from several family members.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Waldholtz was convicted on 21 counts of forgery, four counts of theft and three counts of receiving stolen property. He was acquitted, however, on 26 other counts.
Waldholtz stole dough from his stepmother and the estate of his late father and also pocketed proceeds of a life insurance policy that was supposed to benefit his brother, according to the paper.
Roman Numerals. The Council on Foreign Relations has tapped Nancy Roman, who first made her mark as the highly regarded Congressional bureau chief for The Washington Times at the start of the GOP revolution, to become vice president and director of their Washington Program.
She has most recently been serving as president of the G7 Group, a political consulting firm that advises Wall Street on the economic impact of political developments in town.
Roman told HOH that she is eager to improve synergy between the council and senior aides on Capitol Hill in a bipartisan way.
She wants to get “the fruit of the deep, thoughtful” analysis of the council “quick enough to staff and early enough in the legislative process” to have an impact.
“I want to find out from them: What do they need? How can the council help them?” said Roman, who stressed that she is “doggedly committed” to bipartisanship.
She succeeds Acting Director Lee Feinstein, who will stay on as a deputy director. He had been holding down the fort in the wake of the departure of Robert Orr, who’s now directing the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.
Ranit’s Little Girl. Ranit Schmelzer, longtime spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), delivered a baby girl Wednesday morning.
Jenna Caroline Krinsky weighed in at an even 6 pounds and measured 19 inches. Mother and daughter were doing just fine.
Big brother Colin Krinsky was not getting jealous just yet. And Schmelzer’s colleagues report that proud father Adam (already beaming about the Super Bowl victory by his beloved New England Patriots) has shifted gears and started saving for the young girl’s future wedding.
You can never start too soon.