Kathryn Lyons

They wear tiaras and sashes. But don’t call it a beauty pageant
Senate staffer hopes for luck at Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival

Molly Eastman is not competing in a beauty pageant. “That would very much be the American take on something like this,” she laughed over the phone from the Hart Senate Office Building. 

Eastman is representing Washington, D.C., this weekend in Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Don’t get too caught up in the polished tiaras and evening gowns — “It’s basically a big celebration of Irish heritage,” the staffer for Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told me.  

It’s moving day at Liberty University for two Budds and a Brat
Rep. Ted Budd could’ve used Dave Brat’s help with the “heavy boxes”

It’s that long-awaited time of year when parents get to kick their kids out of the house again. August is back-to-school month, and for some lucky parents, “school” means “college.”

That’s the case for North Carolina Republican Rep. Ted Budd, who’s sending his son Joshua off to Liberty University’s School of Business. The father-son duo tag-teamed the move into Joshua’s dorm room with help (or lack thereof) from an old colleague, former congressman and tea party favorite Dave Brat.

Twitter seeks to identify ‘hat’ involved in Elijah Cummings burglary
One sleuth suggests bringing in Chrissy Teigen to crack the case

People often say “don’t read the comments,” but in Maya Rockeymoore Cummings’ case, that’s precisely what she wants to do.

The wife of Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings took to Twitter over the weekend in hopes of identifying the man who broke into their West Baltimore home in July.

Former Rep. John Sweeney is ‘optimistic’ amid cancer diagnosis
‘I’m a resilient guy and I’m not dying,’ New York Republican says of current battle

Former New York Rep. John E. Sweeney has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I’m optimistic,” he told the (Albany) Times Union. “I have faced challenges in the past.”

Ugly Gerry wants you to know the ‘ugly’ truth about gerrymandering
Two guys in Chicago are drawing their weapons in D.C. politics

Ben Doessel is “not a huge picture guy,” he told me when I asked if he had any photos with his creative partner — and the other guy behind Ugly Gerry — James Lee.

But pictures of oddly-shaped congressional districts? He has twenty-six of those.

Why D.C. isn’t too uptight for improv
From the Capitol to K Street, staffers are saying ‘yes, and…’

Inside a bare room with concrete walls, they walk toward each other and lock eyes. “Johnny!” one shouts. “Stacy — did it happen?” the other responds.

Neither has any idea what they’re talking about, but that’s OK. This is improv, where uncertainty is a feature, not a bug.

Clean up Congress? Maybe not. But they’re still breaking out the soap
Bipartisan veteran members trade in political differences for soft bristle brushes at war memorials

Soft bristle brushes, a sudsy solution and Democratic Rep. Jimmy Panetta manning the water hose — that was the scene Friday morning at the Vietnam War Memorial when a bipartisan group of veteran members came together to wash it clean.

The process is “really strict,” said Republican Rep. Mike Bost. A brush that even grazes the ground gets its own “high-pressure” wash before it can touch the wall again.

Rep. Kathleen Rice assists former Knicks player Enes Kanter
Kanter says he canceled youth summer camp in Long Island because of threats from Turkish consulate

Updated, 4:45 p.m. | Former Knicks player Enes Kanter has moved his youth basketball camp to Island Garden Basketball, an indoor arena in New York, according to his manager

The new Boston Celtics center had canceled a free camp at the Islamic Center of Long Island ahead of this weekend after threats from the Turkish consulate in New York, Kanter said.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and ‘squad’ school House Democrats in social competition
The Minnesota Democrat is the first freshman to win ‘Overall MVP’ in the three-week internal contest

Rep. Ilhan Omar stole the social spotlight in House Democrats’ 10th annual Member Online All-Star Competition. The Minnesota Democrat is the first freshman to win the overall popularity contest, cleaning up with nearly 150,000 new followers.

Following oh so closely behind? The rest of Omar’s “squad,” of course: freshman Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who rounded out the top five, along with Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.

Mueller it over: Here are your options for Wednesday morning libations
From bottomless mimosas to business as usual, bars near the Capitol are bracing for the hearing(s) of the year

Wednesday is a big day for anyone celebrating the Mueller hearings — or National Tequila Day. Either way, you can start it with a drink, thanks to these Capitol Hill bars.

Both you and former special counsel Robert Mueller could potentially be looking at the worst Wednesday of your life, but lucky for you, overindulgence can serve as your excuse. Hawk ‘n’ Dove is opening its doors at 8:30 a.m. No funny drink names here — just bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for $20. 

The Eastern is one more reason to ‘wine’ about August recess
Does the world need another wine bar? No, but the Hill does

The Eastern — a new wine bar not-so-creatively named after its digs in the Eastern Market neighborhood — is set to open July 30, just in time for Hill staffers to sneak out of August workdays a little early to snag a deal at happy hour. 

“Midcentury modern” is the vibe, with a large front window that lights gold accents and deep green walls. The Eastern might offer a different atmosphere than its whiskey-soaked sister bar, Barrel, just across the street, but owners Matthew Weiss and Mike Schuster insist they want the mood to be “unpretentious and fun.”

D.C. is over the moon about 50th anniversary of Apollo 11
The week’s events are out of this world

Fifty years ago, two Americans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, made history as the first people to ever step onto the surface of the moon (or onto a movie set, depending on which side of the conspiracy spectrum you fall on). This week our nation’s capital is siding with space and celebrating the lunar mission that took place in July 1969.

In honor of the milestone anniversary, the National Air and Space Museum is projecting a 363-foot image of Saturn V, the rocket that launched the Apollo 11 crew, onto the east side of the Washington Monument. On Friday and Saturday, the museum will host even more theatrics, recreating the Kennedy Space Center countdown clock on the National Mall. 

Rep. Will Hurd ‘honored’ to shave constituent’s head
Lisa Sanders, who lost her daughter in 2007 to a brain tumor, ‘braved the shave’ for cancer research fundraiser

Rep. Will Hurd helped a hometown hero “brave the shave” Tuesday at a fundraiser for childhood cancer research.

The Texas Republican shaved the head of Lisa Sanders from Helotes, Texas, at a “46 Mommas” event hosted by St. Baldrick's Foundation — a volunteer- and donor-powered charity focused on curing childhood cancer, according to its website.

Why Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has hope for the GOP
Party becoming ‘more tolerant and more accepting,’ says former congresswoman and mom of transgender son

“Oh, a leaf blower? I’m gonna be right there!” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen shouted cheerfully. She wasn’t hollering at her husband or a sales rep at Home Depot, but at her 3-year-old grandson Dustin, who sounded like he had something very important to show her.

I caught up with the former congresswoman Friday by phone while she was vacationing in the North Carolina mountains with her stepson, daughter-in-law, a handful of grandkids and, of course, the family dog. (By the sound of a bustling full house on the other end of the line, I doubt there would’ve been room for me in person anyway.)

Rep. Thomas Massie TBTs to his summer fling
Kentucky congressman won the internet on Thursday

There are two kinds of TBTs: the kind that we pause to view ever so quickly, perhaps give it a double tap, and then continue the scroll through the rest of our feed. And then there’s the kind that stops us cold, takes hold of our vision and raise questions faster than we can raise our eyebrows.

This morning, Rep. Thomas Massie blessed us with the latter.

‘I learned to inject oranges with insulin syringes’: Victor Garber on Type 1 diabetes
Familiar face from ‘Titanic’ urges Congress to renew research funding

If you ever went to the movies in the ’90s or the early aughts, you may recognize Victor Garber as the “bad guy” from “Legally Blonde” or “the ship designer” from “Titanic,” but on Wednesday the award-winning actor came to Capitol Hill with a script that was a little more personal.

Garber says he’s lived with Type 1 diabetes for nearly 60 years. Joined by kid-advocates with the disease, he urged Chairwoman Susan Collins and ranking member Bob Casey of the Senate Special Committee on Aging to renew the Special Diabetes Program at the National Institutes of Health.

How long is 4 miles in the shadow of the Capitol?
Horton’s Kids brings Congress east of the river, but gap still remains

Nathan Woods can still hear the gunshots outside his D.C. home in the early ’90s. He grew up in Wellington Park, a neighborhood less than four miles from the lobbying and lawmaking of Capitol Hill.

When he was a sophomore at Woodberry Forest High School, an all-boys boarding school down in Virginia, he got the call: His oldest brother, Errick, had been shot in the head. By the time he got to the hospital, his brother was dead.

Rep. Josh Harder’s Fourth of July plans are anything but humdrum
California Democrat is celebrating with a bang (on the drums) with MoBand

While many of you brush off your grill grates ahead of Thursday’s Fourth of July celebrations, Rep. Josh Harder will be dusting off the ol’ snare drum. It’s been fifteen years since the freshman Democrat from California played percussion in high school, and he has no problem admitting his skills might need a little fine-tuning.

“I’m a little rusty,” Harder laughed, when reached by phone Wednesday.

Urine trouble: Rep. Matt Gaetz receives apology from Buttigieg campaign staffer
Everyone needs to just relax and have a drink

Rep. Matt Gaetz says he received a phone call from Samantha Lillian Elaine Pollara, a campaign staffer for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, after she posted a Facebook comment aimed at the Florida Republican that read, “Please, please let it be urine next time” followed by three “fingers crossed” emojis.

The plea for pee was in reference to an incident that took place last month in Pensacola, Florida, when Gaetz was struck by a drink cup, allegedly thrown by Amanda Kondrat’yev as he left a town hall. Gaetz has since said that he plans to press charges against Kondrat’yev, who briefly ran against him in 2016 before withdrawing from the race.

You may now Kinzinger the bride
Illinois congressman liked it so he put a ring on it

Rep. Adam Kinzinger kicked off the weekend ahead of the Fourth of July with his own set of fireworks. Per his latest Instagram post, the Illinois Republican is engaged.

“She said: yes!” reads the caption.