- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Cold shoulder

To set an example for the rest of the nation on conserving power, President Bush more than two months ago ordered thermostats set at 78 degrees in the nation's 500,000 federal buildings.

And how has the government responded?

"I'm not going to put my thermostat at 78," Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, scoffed on CNBC's "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. "People do not work good in 78-degrees temperature."

That apparently goes for the remainder of Congress, too.

To prove it, Sean Neary, the new Scoop columnist for CQ.com, this week conducted a random, midafternoon check of temperatures in the hallowed halls of Congress (unlike other political surveys, this one has no margin of error), discovering that Mr. Young's rebellious attitude prevails on Capitol Hill:

• Senate Chamber: 70 degrees.

• House Chamber: 72 degrees.

• House Press Gallery: 72 degrees.

• Capitol Rotunda: 73 degrees.

• Speaker's Lobby: 74 degrees.

• Senate minority leader's office: 77 degrees.

Mr. Neary's final temperature check: Room 364 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, home to no less than the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The temperature there, a surprisingly chilly 73 degrees.

Next example, Mr. Bush?


Ban Condits

No matter how good her intentions, the majority of readers who wrote to us yesterday were opposed to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to limit airline passengers to two alcoholic drinks each.

Most conveyed the opinion that it's not the government's place to tell airlines how many glasses of wine it can pour for its passengers, particularly those in first class who often pay triple for the bubbly privilege.

"Maybe she should introduce a bill prohibiting members of Congress from hitting on flight attendants," suggests Sam T. Harper of Tullahoma, Tenn., referring by name to embattled Rep. Gary A. Condit, the California Democrat linked romantically to, among others, a scorned flight attendant.

"That seems a bigger problem than having 2-plus drinks in the air," Mr. Harper notes.


Average Tom

"Well, I mean, you're fairly sophisticated. Do you have a personal opinion as to why things have been kind of snagged?"

Congressional correspondent questioning Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday about recent foot-dragging on Capitol Hill

Rooster protection

In the midst of congressional debate on human cloning, the Senate this week moved to curtail cockfighting, which flourishes in this country despite being legal in only three states — Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

By an overwhelming voice vote, the Senate passed sweeping legislation — supported by 70 separate law-enforcement agencies to bar the interstate shipment of birds for fighting.

Until now, law-enforcement hands were tied while investigating suspected cockfighting because the Animal Welfare Act contained a loophole allowing shipment of birds from a state where cockfighting is illegal to states where it's legal. Thus, anyone found in possession of roosters intended for fighting could claim they intended to sell or transport the birds.

"As a veterinarian, I view cockfighting as an inherently cruel and inhumane practice," says Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican and one of several veterinarians to serve in Congress. "There can be no defense for pitting animals against one another."


Women's touch

Don't just thank President Bush for tax-rebate checks now arriving in the mail. Thank women, too.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat and the newest member of the Senate Finance Committee, says "in all the debate and commentary about this package, one story that hasn't been told is the significant role women in Congress played in developing this final bill."

"Historically, one reason that women's voices haven't influenced fiscal-policy debates is that women simply weren't there to be heard," she writes on behalf of the Tax Foundation in Washington.

Mrs. Lincoln points out that in 1981, when the last big tax cut came out of Congress, there were only two female senators and 21 women in the House. Now, 20 years later, there are 88 women in Congress, 13 of them senators.

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