The SNL senator
By Al Kamen,
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has worked hard to erase any memories that he once made a fine living as a comedy writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live.”
As a first-term senator, he’s kept his nose to the grindstone. The SNL fame, however, has made him a huge draw at colleagues’ fundraisers — really one of a few members of the Senate who can draw a crowd outside their home states.
Even at those events — and he does many — Franken eschews comedy and focuses on policy and politics.
But every once in a while . . .
The stage Tuesday night was one of those big thank-you receptions that winners are holding everywhere on the Hill these days for their contributors and supporters.
Franken was there for Sen.-elect Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) at the home of lobbyist and former Democratic National Committee member Patrick Murphy, who conveniently lives steps from the Senate office buildings.
Franken stood at the center of the living room to address the capacity crowd — many ended up standing outside.
“I came over tonight,” he explained, to talk to the new senator about Senate procedure and “the finer points of filibuster reform,” which the Democrats are pushing to undercut the GOP’s ability to block Democratic initiatives and nominees.
Franken told the crowd he had an idea about “a new procedural maneuver” that might do the trick. He even had a name for it, he added. “We could call it the ‘Heinrich maneuver.’ ”
Yes, Franken can still bring down the house.
The ins and outs
Displeased with the outcome of the presidential election? Go ahead and sign a petition to have your state secede from the union.
At least it won’t affect your security clearance — for now.
The Defense Department’s Defense Security Service, the folks in charge of background checks and industrial security and the like, has posted a notice informing its contractors that despite rumors to the contrary, it’s perfectly okay for their employees to sign such petitions.
“It appears erroneous statements have been made to the effect that DSS is directing contractors to treat the signing of such petitions as reportable adverse information,” the statement reads. That’s not so, the statement concludes.
But before you commit your John Hancock, read the fine print: The DSS says the matter is “under review and DSS will provide information to contractors when that review is complete.” Which seems to hint that the agency hasn’t quite closed the books on this.
Translation: Secede at your own peril.
Favorites for the FCC
Speculation has been in the air for many months over Julius Genachowski’s successor at the Federal Communications Commission. He hasn’t officially announced a departure, but industry experts are floating several contenders for the post:
Blair Levin , who had worked on President Obama’s transition team, was a senior adviser to Genachowski and helped craft the agency’s national broadband plan. During the Bill Clinton administration he served two tours at the FCC as chief of staff to Reed Hundt .
But Levin may face steep opposition from the broadcast industry, which fought him over using its airwaves for a proposed auction to wireless companies.
Jessica Rosenworcel , a Democratic FCC member, is a freshman commissioner but has telecom chops. She served for years on the Senate Commerce Committee as senior staffer on telecom issues for Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), whose support should smooth any confirmation concerns.
But Rosenworcel would find it hard to land the top seat at the FCC before Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn , the daughter of House Minority leader James Clyburn.
Lawrence Strickling , the highly regarded assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is another possibility.
He also served on the president’s 2008 transition team and helped on the 2008 campaign. A native of Chicago, he is seen as close to a number of White House officials.
Looking across the aisle
Washington is feeling even more frenetic than usual these days, what with all the vetting going on. The Cable reports that the latest to undergo the Obama White House team’s treatment is former senator Chuck Hagel, who reportedly is being looked at for either secretary of state or secretary of defense.
The Nebraska Republican, a professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and the co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, has strong foreign policy cred. A moderate Republican and outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, Hagel has shared a good relationship — and plenty of ideological ground — with the president.
In 2008, according to the Cable, Hagel turned down the incoming Obama team’s offers for several high-level spots, including secretary of homeland security, director of national intelligence and ambassador to China.
Maybe this time the potential White House offer will be a bit more to his liking.
With Emily Heil