- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2001

Exit stage right

"Talk about all the hype surrounding the new bipartisanship in the House it lasted all of one hour and 26 minutes."

So observes Pete Jeffries, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, in an interview with Inside the Beltway yesterday.

"It was 12 noon when the 107th Congress was sworn in," Mr. Jeffries notes by his watch, "and 1:26 p.m. when [Ohio Democratic] Congressman James Traficant cast his ballot for the speaker of his choice, Dennis Hastert.

"And what happens? He gets kicked out of the Democratic caucus," says Mr. Jeffries.

The speaker's spokesman says it is disappointing when House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri "is talking to the media about bipartisanship and working together, and one of his first actions in the 107th Congress after one of his own party members exercises his right to vote for the candidate of his choice is to show him the door."

Bipartisan, all right

Whose name did House Republicans evoke more than any other in their closed-door organizational meeting in the U.S. Capitol Tuesday night?

Try the liberal dean of the House, Michigan Democrat John D. Dingell, for size.

The Republicans were debating the controversial subject of creating a new super financial services committee, which would mean encroaching on the jurisdiction of the powerful Commerce Committee and perhaps even dissolving the Banking Committee.

"Needless to say, it became the Commerce Committee against the world," one House leadership official tells this column, "people trying to protect their turf."

One Republican congressman argued that a new financial committee would be a "logical" move in the spirit of congressional reform, and pointed out that the Commerce Committee has more than its share of jurisdiction already.

He recalled the words of Mr. Dingell, the ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee, who observed that if it begins with "H.R.", or House Resolution, it's automatically referred to the Commerce Committee anyway.

Republicans who sit on the committee all applauded.

Centrist camp

Democratic Senate staff will huddle in the Virginia hills surrounding Warrenton starting Sunday, discussing policy, politics and strategy for the 107th Congress.

"With the even division of the Senate placing the balance of power firmly in the hands of centrists, the new Democrat coalition is poised to be a driving force in the legislative agenda," explains Al From, president of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Senate staffers will participate in a series of round-table discussions and debates over policy, designed to give them the opportunity to exchange ideas about the future of the so-called "New Democrat Movement," which has the support of 20 Democrat senators and 70 Democrat congressmen.

Vanity plates

Here's a suggestion for President-elect George W. Bush, whose presidential limo thanks to a recent directive by President Clinton will be adorned with the new "Taxation Without Representation" logo on its D.C. license plates.

Mr. Clinton, days before he is to leave office, reportedly asked the Secret Service to change the plates, reflecting his and the Democrats' view that the 70-square-mile nation's capital should enjoy full voting rights in Congress, contrary to the Constitution.

"I would recommend," says Mark Levin, president of the Landmark Legal Foundation in Washington, "that in return George W. Bush put tags on Bill Clinton's post-presidency limo, with the logo 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors.'

"Just so Bill doesn't forget, you understand."

Hillary

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Emergency and Remedial Response's (OERR's) Environmental Response Team Center (ERTC) recently helped rescue a mother-and-calf pair of Western Atlantic bottlenose dolphins stranded in New Jersey's Shrewsbury River.

"The high-risk operation was carried out by a specially trained and equipped team of experts with the goal of transporting the pair to the ocean for immediate release," says an EPA dispatch we intercepted in Washington.

"Unfortunately, the adult dolphin, aged approximately 39 years, passed away 50 minutes into the transport operation," the dispatch says. "Based on the results of a medical work-up, the calf was transferred to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The calf is getting healthier in quarantine and has gained some weight. She has been named Hillary… ."


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