Capitol Hill Buzz: Smoothies, doughnuts, sushi head to House

AP News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2015 5:42 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jamba Juice, Dunkin' Donuts and fresh sushi are coming to the House of Representatives.

The House is changing contractors for its several cafeterias and other food vendors. The new provider, Sodexo, promises to retain qualified workers amid widespread debate about their pay and work conditions.

Maryland-based Sodexo will replace New York-based Restaurant Associates, which has held the House food service contract since 2007. Restaurant Associates still runs the cafeterias in the Capitol Visitors Center and Senate buildings.

Changes under Sodexo's four-year contract will include converting the Rayburn Deli to a Subway sandwich shop and turning the Longworth Creamery into a Dunkin' Donuts, the House Chief Administrative Officer announced Tuesday. The popular Longworth Cafeteria will feature "sushi made fresh daily," and "Jamba Juice smoothies will be available in Rayburn."

Any increase in food prices would be limited to 3 percent annually, after six years without increases, the announcement said.

Sodexo issued a statement saying it will honor the District of Columbia's "Displaced Workers Protection Act, which entitles current qualified employees to retain their employment with the new contractor through a 90-day transition process." Sodexo, the food contractor for several federal agencies, said it will offer permanent jobs "to all current employees who successfully meet the background and security qualifications" and go through some other steps.

Some food workers in the Capitol make as little as $11 an hour, and have no work during congressional recesses. In April, dozens of Capitol food workers briefly walked off the job to protest their pay and working conditions.

At a House Appropriations hearing this year, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida called on the House to choose contractors who pay workers a "living wage" based on local economic standards. Her amendment failed.

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Rep. Don Young will never forget his wedding anniversary. His wife, Anne Garland Walton, will never forget his birthday.

The 22-term Republican congressman from Alaska celebrated his 82nd birthday Tuesday afternoon by marrying Walton, a flight nurse, at a private ceremony in the Capitol's chapel. The Rev. Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain, performed the civil ceremony.

Young was a widower whose wife of 46 years died in 2009. Walton, 76, lost her husband in 2001.

"As I celebrate my 82nd birthday, Anne has given me the best gift anyone could ask for - her hand in marriage. She jokingly says I will never forget our anniversary," Young said in a statement.

Young and Walton were engaged in August 2014.

"We have both known great love and experienced deep heartbreak," Young said. "In many ways neither of us ever thought we would find love again, but sometimes life surprises you."

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GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is running for president, says he might have a "rotating first lady."

Graham, 59, who is unmarried, made the comment in an interview with Daily Mail Online.

"I've got a sister, she could play that role if necessary," Graham said. Graham's parents died when he was in college, leaving him as guardian to his then-13-year-old sister, Darline.

He went on to add: "I've got a lot of friends. We'll have a rotating first lady."

Grover Cleveland and James Buchanan were the only presidents to enter the White House as bachelors, according to the book "Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex and Scandal." Cleveland married while in office.

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is facing an ethics complaint from the American Democracy Legal Fund, which says his presidential campaign improperly used footage of his lengthy Senate floor speech against surveillance.

It's against Senate rules to use footage of Senate proceedings for campaign purposes. It raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill when Paul's campaign used portions of his speech, which Paul billed as a filibuster against the Patriot Act, in an online video.

In a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, the American Democracy Legal Fund writes that "we have reason to believe that Senator Paul has violated federal law, which provides that official resources may be used only for the purposes for which appropriated, as well as a Senate Committee on Rules and Administration standing order" in his use of the footage.

The organization is run by Democratic operatives Brad Woodhouse and David Brock.

There was no immediate response from Paul's office or from the ethics committee's chairman, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

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Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.