Heard on the Hill: One Unhappy Camper

Posted July 14, 2008 at 6:47pm

Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) move last week forcing the Senate into a rare late-Friday vote — a vote he then didn’t show up for himself — angered Senators whose weekend plans were thwarted.

[IMGCAP(1)]And to loosely paraphrase a great sage, hell hath no fury like a soccer mom whose schedule is messed with.

Normally mild-mannered Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) was one of the Senators most ticked off. Lincoln, mother of 12-year-old twin boys, approached Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in the basement of the Capitol following DeMint’s no-show. Lincoln vented her anger, according to a reporter who witnessed the exchange. “Dude, where the hell is DeMint?” she yelled at Thune, slapping him on the shoulder. “I’m trying to get my kids to camp.” Lincoln, who didn’t seem to care that several reporters were around her and witnessing the exchange, yelled to Thune that she had to purchase new airline tickets because of the rare Friday evening vote. “This cost me an arm and a leg,” the angry mom informed Thune.

DeMint forced the Friday vote to begin debate on a bill that would increase funding for global AIDS treatment and prevention efforts. But the fiery South Carolinian then skipped the vote.

“Sen. Lincoln noted that Senators are always willing to change their schedules for their colleagues who exercise their passion and Senatorial privilege for a full debate. Of course, if a Senator feels that passionately about an issue, you would think he would be present for the vote,” Lincoln spokeswoman Katie Laning said.

A DeMint spokesman said the Senator missed the event to attend a family wedding, and added, “Anyone frustrated with Friday’s vote needs to take their complaints up with [Majority Leader Harry] Reid. Only he controls the floor.”

Still, if Lincoln had her way, DeMint would totally be grounded or, at the very least, have his allowance docked.

Elbows Out. Sen. Arlen Specter’s new signature move, a jaunty elbow-tap of salutation, appears to be catching on. The Pennsylvania Republican on Monday greeted witnesses to a GOP forum on judicial nominees with a knock of the elbow, a greeting he’s adopted since undergoing immune- system-weakening chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease. Even oh-so-proper Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) appears to have mastered the technique, welcoming Specter with an extended elbow.

Although it’s not quite as cool as the fist-bump made famous (at least in political circles) by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the elbow tap looks like it’s here to stay — for a while. A Specter spokeswoman tells HOH that her sharp-elbowed boss completed his final chemotherapy session on Monday, the last of 12 treatments. Still, he’ll probably continue avoiding handshakes for a bit longer, she says.

Specter told the Associated Press that he plans to celebrate finishing the regimen with another HOH-approved therapy: a martini and dinner with friends.

Charlie Who? Rep. Mel Watt might be a longtime colleague of Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), but the North Carolina Democrat claims he doesn’t know much about them.

In his latest Federal Election Commission filing, Watt discloses donations from both colleagues — Clyburn gave him $1,700 and Rangel $1,000 in the last filing period — but under the section in which the campaign is supposed to disclose the donors’ employer, Watt has written “information requested” — indicating he doesn’t know exactly what they do.

For the 16 years Watt has served in Congress, he has served with Clyburn and Rangel. He tells HOH that the entries for his old friends Clyburn and Rangel remain blank simply because his campaign is following FEC rules — which require the campaign to request employer information when it is not clearly stated by the donor — to the letter.

“It does seem very funny, but we’re just following protocol,” he tells us.

Conserving Energy. “Enery” is the new “energy.” Republicans, who just can’t seem to catch a break these days, apparently can’t catch typos, either. A press release from the Senate Republican Conference hammering Democratic leaders on energy policy misspelled its subject, announcing that “SENATE REPUBLICANS CHALLENGE DEMOCRATS TO CONSIDER A BALANCED ENERY PLAN.”

HOH is well-aware of the perils of typos, having made more than her fair share, but the GOP’s error was made all the more public by the fact that it was sent to dozens of reporters, and in all caps to boot.

Our theory: Republicans were conserving energy by not running spell-check.

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