As a former member, New York Mayor Ed Koch is entitled to go on the floor of the House. But as an interested party in a bill pending before the House, he is not.
The other day, shortly before the House took up the bill to give federal aid to New York City, Koch was on the floor chatting with old friends, when Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.) got up and asked the presiding officer, without naming Koch, if the rules didn't bar someone in his situation from the floor. Koch got the hint and left.
The lead time required to put out magazines can cause embarrassing cases of poor timing. First Monday, a Republican publication sent to contributors, is out this week with a cover picture of Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.) captioned. "Ed Brooke of Massachusetts - integrity and independence in the U.S. Senate" just as Brooke was being questioned by a Massachusetts court and investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee for admittedly making misstatements under oath about his finances last year during divorce proceedings.
The energy bill which President Carter sent to Congress 14 months ago as his most urgent piece of domestic legislation continues to move into Congress like a slow glacier. No part of it is expected to finish the journey before late summer.
Two weeks ago House-Senate conferees approved the main outlines of a compromise to lift federal price controls from natural gas. After two more meetings this week, however, they had still failed to reach agreement on a number of lesser gas issues.
Part of the time was spent talking about dogs and cats. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), who hates deregulation in any form, expressed outrage at one proposal to include production of "animal feed" in an agricultural exemption from first-stage price increases. He said the exemption, which he believes should be limited to animals raised for meat, could include pet food for dogs and cats which he considers undeserving. He offered an amendment to exclude dogs and cats from the exemption.
Sen. Clifford Hansen (R-Wyo), from a sheep-raising state, asked that sheep dogs be exempted from Metzenbaum's amendment. The conferees agreed. They refused to approved exemptions, however, for Eskimo huskies or hunting dogs. Then the whole dog and cat thing was dropped, 6 to 2, with only Metzenbaum and Hansen voting for it.
House Republicans have fewer votes than Democrats but they may have smarter pages. Though Republicans have only 14 of the 71 teen-agers who run errands on the House floor, they include their senior class president and valedictorian and salutatorian of the graduating class. Eight of the 14 were named to the National Honor Society for high grades.
Rep. James Burke (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Social Security subcommittee, said he will ask the Rules Committee to provide for a floor vote on whether to roll back scheduled Social Security tax increases when the administration's tax reduction bill comes to the floor. Although a rollback was endorsed by the House Democratic caucus, it has been bottled up in the Ways and Means Committee. Burke said the California vote on Tuesday to lower property taxes should send Congress a message to cut back the Social Security increases it voted on last year.
On Monday, for the first time, broadcasting the voices, but not the pictures, of House proceedings will be permitted. Radio networks, and TV if it wishes to carry only sound, can plug into the closed circuit system that has carried House debates to congressional offices for months. Sending a TV picture of the House across the country awaits resolution of a dispute over whether the House or the industry will control the cameras.
When it comes to campaign fund-raising House Majority Leader James C. Wright Jr. (D-Tex.) is more than filling the shoes of his predecessor, now Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neil Jr. (D-Mass.). Wright has been gathering up money for his own political nest egg, which he'll distribute to colleagues as election day approaches.
It's not an unknown practice. O'Neill did it in 1976, as have other members.
The difference is in size. As of April 30, Wright had collected over $290,000. The best O'Neill did (in 1976) was about half that.
Wright began sending out $500 contributions in Febuary and March to both conservative and liberal incumbent Democrats, some of whom had primary opponents. Two got $1,000: House Commerce Chairman Harley Staggers (W. Va.) and Rep. John W. Jenrette Jr. (S.C.).
Next week in Congress:
The Senate will continue efforts to break a filibuster on the labor law revision bill.
The House will take up six appropriations bills which will include the annual brawl over use of federal funds to perform abortions.