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Monday Mourning

The House will not schedule any votes for Monday, April 30, to accommodate Members attending the funeral services of the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), who died on April 22 after battling cancer. [IMGCAP(1)]

Services will take place Monday at noon, Pacific Standard Time, at the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles located at 2412 Griffith Ave.

Do Unto Others. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has a message for his fellow Members of Congress: Get to work on providing health insurance for everybody in the United States, or kiss yours goodbye.

Kerry on Wednesday introduced the Countdown for Coverage Act of 2007, a measure requiring Congress to pass “accessible, affordable, and meaningful health insurance for all Americans” by the end of the 111th Congress. If Congress fails to enact such a measure, Members will have to pay 100 percent of their health benefits, according to the bill.

“Senators and Congressmen give ourselves the very best health care coverage, and it’s American taxpayers who foot the bill,” Kerry said. “Now, Congress needs to step up and pass universal health care coverage by 2011 — or pay the price and pick up the cost of our own health care.”

Butterfly Effect. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) announced Wednesday she will hold a hearing on the need for renovations of Smithsonian museums after it was announced the National Museum of Natural History would charge an admission fee to its upcoming live butterfly exhibit.

Museum officials say an admission fee, likely to be $5, is needed to help maintain the costly butterfly pavilion, where hundreds of butterflies will fly freely in a specially designed space.

But Norton, who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management, said that charging permanent fees at the Smithsonian would break an important tradition.

The temporary exhibits and the Smithsonian-run Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York have charged admission, but permanent exhibits in Washington, D.C., have always been free.

“Once there is an admission charge for any of these institutions, there must be an admission charge for all,” Norton said. “That would be the beginning of the end for free and open access.”

— John McArdle and Elizabeth Brotherton

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