Adventures in Tweeting: Capitol Hill Edition

Some not-so-cerebral ex-Capitol Hill staffers now find themselves unemployed after Tweeting about their exploits on the job — including drinking Jack Daniels at work and referring to the Congressman they work for as an "idiot." To Rep. Rick Larsen’s credit, they were fired immediately upon discovery. The Washington Times reports:

Staffers of Rep. Rick Larsen boasted over Twitter that they were drinking and otherwise goofing off on the job, according to a story in the NW Daily Marker.

The website said the tweets gave off the impression of "a staffers-gone-wild bash" in the Washington Democrat’s office, including insults lobbed at the congressman himself.

"My coworker just took a shot of Jack crouching behind my desk," one staffer tweeted, apparently referring to Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Later, the staffer tweeted that he "couldn’t pass a field sobriety test right now."

Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the congressman, said that the office became aware of the tweets at noon Thursday and that all three staffers involved were fired a little more than an hour later.

"Neither Congressman Larsen nor his other staff were aware of the actions by these three staff members before today," Mr. Thomas said. "Congressman Larsen is disappointed by their actions and takes this very seriously. He has made it clear that he will not tolerate this kind of behavior."

The three staffers were a legislative correspondent and two legislative assistants, according to NW Daily Marker.

In other messages, staffers called the congressman everything from "my idiot boss" to unprintable derogatory terms such as the one George W. Bush used to refer to a New York Times reporter in 2000.

So let this serve as a reminder to folks in all sectors to watch out for rogue Tweeting by your employees — and it never hurts to draft a sensible social media policy. If you need a reference, our soon-to-be released Model Employee Policies Handbook – 6th Edition contains valuable information and sample policies on the topic.

Government Snow Day!

Growing up it was the school superintendent with the power to decide if you were going to spend the day learning the multiplication tables and eating mystery meat or racing down snow covered hills and drinking hot chocolate.

For federal government workers in the nation’s capital, that decision currently rests with John Berry. As director of the Office of Personnel Management, Berry made the call each day last week to grant most of the 270,000 federal workers in the Washington, D.C., area a snow day, The New York Times reported.

The D.C. area already broke snowfall records last week with more than 55 inches this winter. And a few more inches arrived yesterday.

The extended break for D.C. government workers started Friday, February 5 when Berry allowed employees to go home four hours early. Offices were closed nearly all of last week with workers having the option Friday (February 12) to either come in two hours late or take unscheduled leave. Add that to today’s President’s Day holiday, and it’s been one long vacation.

Still, not everyone stayed home to make snowmen. Many employees had to report to work because they perform essential functions. And some had to go because their boss said they were expected to show up, such as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. Others worked from home.

While the final decision to close down is made by Berry, he first consults more than 100 area officials. If the weather is questionable, Berry participates in a nightly call set up by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments with representatives from highway patrols, police departments, utilities, schools and others.

Those in the D.C. area who weren’t sick of the snow this weekend took to Capitol Hill. For the first time since 9/11, the Hill’s lawn was open to sledding for the weekend.

Will It Be Politics Over Policy in Congress?

In the final years of the Bush administration, Washington was noted for its lack of substantive action on Capitol Hill. In 2009, many were wishing for a switch back to the previous inaction. In 2010, it’s "are we going to get anything done because we have to get re-elected and we don’t want to make anyone mad?"

Excerpts from a CongressDaily analysis of what’s to come:

House and Senate Democrats plan a 2010 agenda aimed at leaving the second half of the 111th Congress as firmly identified in the public’s mind with economic measures as 2009 was with healthcare reform. In 2010, virtually every bill will be sold as a jobs bill.

That agenda suggests 2010’s legislative output will be far leaner than last year’s, and could once again bode badly for key measures that were shoved aside in the push to pass healthcare legislation.

And if Massachusetts state GOP Sen. Scott Brown defeats Martha Coakley, the state’s Democratic attorney general, in a special election today to give Senate Republicans a 41st vote, virtually every key 2010 initiative, including health care, will be endangered in the Senate. Democrats last year regularly needed 60 votes to move legislation, and Republicans might be even less cooperative in an election year.

Despite a continued push by backers, climate change legislation, which the House has passed, and an overhaul of immigration law appear to face long odds of passage, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

"It is going to be a very hard year to do what we have to do to meet the needs of the American people and to maintain the fiscal soundness. And that requires some very tough decisions," House Speaker Pelosi has warned.

Pelosi, echoed by other top House Democrats, said she is determined this year to reduce the deficit, which the CBO says hit $1.4 trillion at the end of FY09 and is projected to hit $1.5 trillion for FY10.

But how to pair these seemingly conflicting goals — passing multi-billion-dollar, job-creating packages with cutting spending and reducing the deficit — must await, in part, the president’s budget, set for release in early February.

Many observers speculate Senate Majority Leader Reid will push an energy bill aimed a creating green jobs and improving energy infrastructure without a cap-and-trade provision that Republicans argue amounts to a major energy tax. In a statement last week, a Reid spokeswoman mentioned "clean energy legislation," financial regulatory reform and immigration among priorities for the first half of the year.