End of the Session Weirdness With AM-Congress-Economy, Bjt
Nov. 24, 1991
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The end of a Congressional session, especially when combined with a weekend schedule, always produces some weirdness.
On Saturday, no doubt trying to be helpful, 82 House Republicans wrote President Bush suggesting that ''we need one leader with the energy, enthusiasm and national clout to tackle our domestic agenda.''
George Bush? No, Jack Kemp.
The group, led by Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., suggested that the secretary of Housing and Urban Development should be named a domestic policy czar who ''could work with the Democrats to implement your agenda.'' Many of the 82 who signed a letter to Bush were the same lawmakers who waged open warfare against Democrats throughout Saturday's rowdy House session.
You've heard of negative political advertising. Meet negative lobbying.
When a hot issue comes before Congress, it's more and more likely that key lawmakers' offices will be intentionally jammed with telephone calls, says a frequent victim, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley.
''They're usually very polite,'' said the Washington Democrat. ''They make their message short. But part of the object of the organizers is to massively shut down your phone system.''
The latest issue tying up Foley's phone lines is the push by boat owners for a repeal of luxury and excise taxes. But the approach backfires with him, the speaker said.
''It makes it very difficult if someone is demanding this or demanding that for you to do it,'' because it seems you are responding to their pressure, he said.
Members of Congress, especially these days, are excruciatingly aware of the need to keep their balance on the issue of sexism. Sometimes it can get a little awkward.
Rep. Mary Rose Oakar, D-Ohio, was praising a labor-human services spending bill for its inclusion of $50 million for breast cancer research.
But she added that she would not rest until winning equity for other women's health issues like osteoporosis and ovarian cancer - ''and yes, prostate cancer, which occurs more often in men.''
There's a lot of downtime on the floor of the House during the waning days of a legislative session, while lawmakers wait for legislation to be readied for their consideration. Those hours are filled with - what else? - talk.
Rep. Ben Jones, D-Ga., got up to observe that Vice President Dan Quayle had been talking on television recently about New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, and seemed to pronounce the governor's first name with an overemphasis on the ''o.''
''That seemed to this listener to be a not-so-subtle attempt to appeal to ethnic prejudice'' against Italian Americans, said the Southern lawmaker.
''Yes, ... Mario does end in a vowel,'' Jones said. ''But remember - so does Bubba.''
When word went out that Congress was going to be forced into meeting over the weekend, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., was a bit wary.
He'd been burned in the past, he noted, by canceling commitments back home only to have constituents ''pick up the paper the next morning and find out the Senate is not in session, and we look like we were not telling the truth.''
Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, said he thought it probable that the Senate would indeed be in session.
That wasn't enough for Biden, who responded: ''I just ask if the leaders would be willing to write me a note.''