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Heard on the Hill: Remembering Robert Byrd, the Dog Lover

The late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd will be remembered as a proud West Virginian, a staunch defender of the Constitution and even a great bluegrass musician. But when several Members honored Byrd’s legacy last week, they recalled his fondness for dogs.

Speaking on the House floor, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer remembered his own English springer spaniel, Charlotte, who accompanied the Maryland Democrat to work each day for 10 years. Hoyer was deeply saddened when Charlotte died, calling her “one of the loves of my life.”

“The first call I got the day after Charlotte passed was from Robert C. Byrd saying how sorry he was that I had lost Charlotte,” Hoyer recalled. “That was an indication of his humanity, of his caring for others.”

Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis followed Hoyer with a similar tribute.

“As you have just heard from our leader, in recent years, Sen. Byrd and I developed a different kind of friendship because of our love for our dogs,” the California Republican said. “Indeed, it was a reflection of this man, the wonderful human side of this man, that has been the experience for me. We will — Arlene, my dog Bruin and I — miss Sen. Byrd.”

West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) also remembered Byrd’s love of canines.

“I remember when his beloved Billy died. He was crushed, and he wasn’t afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to express the love and the compassion that he had and the companionship he felt with his dog,” she said. “And I think that’s a common bond that a lot of people here in the United States, but also in West Virginia, share.”

Byrd left behind his 8-year-old Shih Tzu named Trouble when he died. Trouble is now living with Byrd’s daughter in Virginia, according to the Washington Post.

Hey, There’s Always Next Year …

Nobody likes to lose — especially Members of Congress.

After last Tuesday’s Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke on the House floor to remind people that female Members also played in a charity softball game — and she tried to explain away why her team lost.

The second annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game pitted Members of Congress against members of the Capitol press corps (including several Roll Call reporters). The journos won 13-7 … and the Florida Democrat couldn’t help but bemoan the Members’ loss.

“This year we got smart and decided to play women that were maybe a little less athletic and a little older than the team we played last year, and we played the Capitol female press corps,” Wasserman Schultz said. “We were doing great until the sixth inning. Then a couple of us got a little tired, and we had a couple of ringers that we were concerned the press brought in.”

Oh, snap!

“But, in fairness, they did a fantastic job,” Wasserman Schultz added.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson then chimed in, also complaining about the youth of the press squad. “I think we have to make a rule that no interns get to play because they were quite a bit younger than us,” the Missouri Republican said, later adding, “The important thing is, No. 1, we worked together as a team.”

(For the record, no interns played on the press team.)

While Members are obviously bummed about their loss, the press corps better watch out in 2011. “I will say that next year our practices will begin even earlier,” Emerson said.

For Cornyn Staffer, Luck Was a Lady

Having a good poker face is an asset on Capitol Hill — and for Mark Busse, staffer to Sen. John Cornyn, it pays off in other ways, too.

The policy adviser to the Texas Republican won a cool $50,083 at a 2009 poker tournament at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. According to a financial disclosure report, the amount included a “watch valued at $1,400.”

Ka-ching! HOH hears that Busse doesn’t consider himself a master poker player and was surprised when he won the tourney, Borgata’s Winter Open, which attracts hundreds of participants. Still, his colleagues are wary of his prowess.

“We like Mark, but we’ll never play poker with him,” Cornyn Press Secretary Charles Chamberlayne says.

Overheard on the Hill

“The Decidedly Unhappy Mainstream Patriots Rejecting Evil-Mongering Incompetent Democrats PAC”

— The name of a political action committee with the tortured acronym DUMPREID, which was cited by the FEC this week for improperly using Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name in its title.

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