In a yet-to-be-gentrified area of Northeast D.C., a nondescript warehouse was unusually lively. Inside? A bottling party. The Ivy City warehouse is home to New Columbia Distillers. Started in 2012 by Michael Lowe, New Columbia is unique in that it’s the first distillery in Washington since before Prohibition. But that isn’t the company’s only link to the country’s (officially) teetotaling days. New Columbia’s signature product, Green Hat gin, pays homage to Congress’s personal bootlegger.
While members of Congress may have championed temperance on the floor, many of them broke those laws in any of the 3,000 speakeasies scattered throughout downtown Washington. And when members needed to restock their personal hooch supply, they turned to one man: George Cassiday. Cassiday estimated that four of every five members of Congress drank — and many of them availed themselves of Cassiday’s services. Congress even gave Cassiday his own storeroom in the basement of the Cannon Office Building, but he was eventually arrested in 1930. Cassiday became infamously known as “the man in the green hat,” and thus the District’s new brand of gin was christened.
It’s not that much fun being a member of Congress. Americans say they like Nickelback more than Congress — Nickelback, people! On top of that, the pay ain’t all that grand — and maintaining a D.C. residence in addition to the one in your home district can be a bit rough on an annual salary of $174,000.
Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia has a solution to get his colleagues more money to make ends meet: Don’t give members a cost-of-living increase; just give them a housing stipend. Moran’s proposal failed to advance Wednesday in the House Appropriations Committee, which took it up via voice vote. But a few audible “ayes” could be heard from the Democratic side. Members of Congress are on track to get a cost-of-living adjustment each year, but Congress can tinker with the increase or block it altogether. It has blocked it 11 times and allowed it 13 times since 1992. Moran’s proposal would have essentially restructured that cost-of-living increase so that members automatically get a housing stipend. Moran believes the idea would attract more candidates who aren’t independently wealthy. “The House is supposed to reflect the people of this country. Don’t we want it to make financial sense for a thirtysomething physician, district attorney, city-council member, or small-business owner, who maybe has a new home mortgage, young children, or unpaid student-loan debt, to serve in Congress?” he said.
Pay Day Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rosa DeLauro celebrated Equal Pay Day at Hank’s Oyster Bar on Capitol Hill on Tuesday night, where women received 23 percent off — a nod to the income disparity between men and women. “Women make 23 percent less than men, and, therefore, rightfully should pay 23 percent less,” Wasserman Schultz said. The Democratic National Committee chair-woman went on to praise her colleague DeLauro as the “foremother” of the equal-pay movement. Both lawmakers sipped glasses of the restau-rant’s daily punch — a mixture of bourbon, citrus, and mint tea. “They told me I had to speak for my drink,” DeLauro said, to laughter, during a brief speech.
Picture This President Obama got an advance peek at the watercolor portraits unveiled this week at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, where the 43rd president showed off 30 portraits he has done of world leaders from Vladimir Putin to his own father, the 41st president. Obama got to see them last December during the long flight to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa. This week, press secretary Jay Carney, who covered Bush as a reporter, said Obama was “both surprised and impressed by the pursuit that he’s taken up and the clear dedication he has given it.” Carney sidestepped when asked whether Obama wants Bush to do his portrait. “I think that would be up to President Bush. I don’t think they had that discussion.”
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The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.