Sen. Schumer Proves Worthy of 'The Amazing Race'

By Al Kamen
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Passengers on Sunday's 1 p.m. US Airways shuttle from New York to Washington may have been lucky participants in an event that has rarely -- if ever -- occurred in aviation history: The shuttle not only took off on time, it did so 16 minutes early.

For a Sunday, it was crowded in the La Guardia terminal. The security line was clogged when word came over the PA system at 12:30 announcing "last call" for the shuttle. People hustled to get on their shoes, rushing with their bags to the gate. Airline folks let some people trickle in to be seated on the fairly full plane, but it seemed to our source that a few stragglers were left behind.

What was the rush? Seems the senior senator from New York, Charles E. Schumer (D), needed to get to Washington in time for an important -- and unusual -- 2 p.m. vote on public lands legislation and asked that the plane take off early.

But there really wasn't any harm, his office explained yesterday. (Except maybe for some elderly passengers trampled in the stampede?) The problem began when the noon shuttle, which Schumer was scheduled to take, ran behind schedule and its departure had to be delayed until 1 p.m. Schumer worried that, with the tight turnaround, he would not make it back to Washington in time for the vote.

But the regularly scheduled 1 p.m. departure was sitting at the gate, so Schumer seized the moment. He asked US Airways to let the 1 p.m. flight leave early, which the airline agreed to do. Several other delayed noon passengers shifted planes along with him.

The stragglers left behind by the early departure still got out on time, joining passengers on the delayed noon shuttle. And democracy was served: Schumer made it in time for the vote.

Cigars All Around?

Thomas A. Daschle has tapped yet another former aide to join him at the Department of Health and Human Services. William V. Corr, former chief counsel to Daschle, will be nominated to become deputy secretary at the department.

Since 2000, Coor has been executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a privately funded anti-smoking group. In that role, he lobbied to give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco. Transition officials say that doesn't violate the president-elect's no-lobbying mandate because he hasn't lobbied since September.

The move would represent a return to HHS for Corr, who served as chief of staff to then-Secretary Donna E. Shalala during the Clinton administration.

In his two decades on the Hill, Corr served as Daschle's top legal adviser and worked for Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) who, as the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will play a major role in shaping health-care reform legislation.

Other Daschle alums in the Obama administration include Pete Rouse and Phil Schiliro at the White House and Jeanne Lambrew and Mark Childress at the new White House Office of Health Reform.

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