Ladies Who Lounge

Posted June 25, 2007 at 6:12pm

Some women do it in Starbucks. Others in cramped bathroom stalls. And soon, the women of the House will have their very own lounge for it. The chamber will soon boast a new “lactation lounge” where nursing moms can pump and breast-feed to their heart’s delight, and all in a private facility matching the one that’s been operating on the Senate side for years. [IMGCAP(1)]

The new family-friendly House locale is on the fifth floor of the Cannon House Office Building, and HOH hears the setup is pretty swanky (although the phrase “swanky lactation lounge” sure makes HOH think of a fancy new cocktail bar along Pennsylvania Avenue).

House staffers have jokingly dubbed the soon-to-be-open venue the “lactation lair.”

Until now, House-staffer moms have had to either schlep to the Senate side or pop into the physician’s office to do their business, but the new setup is aimed at being more convenient — and nicer. And it’s no coincidence that the project came about under the Speakership of a woman, staffers are saying. “The Speaker recognizes the real needs and sacrifices of working mothers in today’s world and is committed to making Capitol Hill a family-friendly place to work,” a staffer for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says.

The facility is overseen by the Office of the Attending Physician.

Well-appointed as it might be, HOH expects that the new lounge will not be offering half-price drink specials during happy hour.

Madam’s Hill Plea. The simmering “D.C. Madam” scandal finally spread to Capitol Hill on Monday — only not in the way many gossip-hungry observers had thought (hoped?) it would.

The alleged operator of a call-girl ring catering to Beltway bigwigs, Jeane Palfrey, revealed that she’s calling on one very prominent Member of Congress — Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — although not because the Vermont Democrat is personally involved in the debacle. Palfrey says she’s looking for help in her case, and who better to come to her rescue than the Senator with jurisdiction over the courts?

Although many Washington whisperers had expected to hear the names of some elected officials or even top staffers among those in Palfrey’s little black book, so far, the only Washington boldfacers outed as Palfrey’s former clients were a few off-the-Hill sorts: Randall Tobias, the director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Harlan Ullman, a former Navy commander. Yawn.

So the plea to Leahy is the first involvement by Hill folk that HOH knows of. But Leahy spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said her boss isn’t likely to jump into the fray. “As a general rule, the chairman avoids getting involved in ongoing court cases,” she tells HOH, noting that the alleged madam is clearly unfamiliar with the Green Mountain State’s senior Senator, who’s been happily married for 44 years to wife Marcelle, by the way.

That’s because Palfrey misspelled Leahy’s name in an e-mail update sent to people interested in her case.

LA Love. One unfortunate side effect of the new, tighter rules on outside-funded trips for Members and staffers is we might see fewer tales of love like the one that blossomed between newly engaged Hill couple Marc Korman, legislative assistant for Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) and Rebecca Carlton, LA for Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

The pair met on a trip to Israel for Congressional staffers sponsored by Birthright Israel back in 2004. Sparks, as the cliché goes, flew. Fast-forward to Friday night, at fancy Dupont Circle eatery Restaurant Nora. Korman pops the question, and Carlton says “yes.” The engagement was a double whammy, since Friday was also her birthday.

Memo to Jack Abramoff from Washington singles: thanks for nothing!

What, No Norm? Sometimes, you just want to go where everybody knows your name. But for celebrity lobbyist John Ratzenberger, who’s coming to the Hill today, it’s more likely that everyone will know the name of the fictional character he played: Cliff, the postman-slash-barfly from sitcom “Cheers.”

Ratzenberger, who also took a turn on the dance floor as a recent contestant on TV talent show “Dancing with the Stars,” will appear with Reps. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and members of the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus. Apparently, he’s a booster of American manufacturing (in fact, he hosts the show on the subject, “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America”). And the foxtrot.

HOH can only hope he’ll follow the appearance by finding a barstool at one of Capitol Hill’s fine drinking establishments.

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