TIME Congress

This Brothel Offered to Host Harry Reid’s Retirement Party

Harry Reid
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. adjusts his glasses as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 24, 2015.

The brothel says a party there could be good for Democrat/Republican relations

A brothel in Nevada has offered to host Harry Reid’s retirement party, promising that it would be a “big hit” with the attendees.

In an open letter to the Senate Minority Leader, Sheri’s Ranch lists the policy initiatives Reid has supported that have benefitted the legal prostitutes in Nevada, Reid’s home state. The letter mentions Reid’s support for the Affordable Care Act, under which the prostitutes, who operate as independent contractors, can now have health coverage. It also talks about Reid’s support for LGBT rights and his opposition to a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, which is in a neighboring county to the brothel.

But along with championing Reid’s politics, the letter also pitches Sheri’s as an ideal party spot.

“Many of your colleagues are intimately aware of our offerings, but we may have added new options since they last visited,” it says. “In addition to our VIP sex bungalows, BDSM chamber, and numerous Jacuzzi rooms popular with our friends from the political arena, Sheri’s has recently added a new massage room where your guests can receive full-body nude massages from one (or more) of the two dozen legal prostitutes on the property at any given time.”

“Heck, a retirement party at Sheri’s may even help lessen the animosity between you and your Republican acquaintances,” the letter adds.

Reid recently announced he would retire at the end of 2016.

TIME Congress

New Jersey Senator Faces Corruption Charges

He's only the 12th senator to ever be indicted

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez was indicted Wednesday on corruption charges for improperly aiding a friend and major Democratic donor. He’s only the twelfth senator ever to be indicted.

A federal grand jury in New Jersey charged Menendez on 14 counts, including eight related to bribery and another on conspiracy. Federal authorities have been looking into whether Menendez, who rose from a tenement in Union City to become the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, exchanged political favors for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and campaign contributions from a Florida eye doctor, who was also indicted Wednesday.

Throughout the federal probe, Menendez has repeatedly said he has committed no wrongdoing. In a lively news conference in Newark, New Jersey, on Wednesday evening, a defiant Menendez knocked the Justice Department in both English and Spanish, periodically halting to wait for fierce cheers to die down.

“I’m outraged that prosecutors at the Justice Department were tricked into starting this investigation three years ago with false allegations by those who have a political motive to silence me,” he said. “But I will not be silenced. I’m confident at the end of the day I will be vindicated and they will be exposed.”

“I’m angry and ready to fight because today contradicts my public service career and my entire life,” he said. “I’m angry because prosecutors at the Justice Department don’t know the difference between friendship and corruption and have chosen to twist my duties as a senator—and my friendship—into something that is improper,” he added. “They are dead wrong and I am confident that they will be proven so.”

And in a letter addressed to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Menendez said he would “temporarily” step down as Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

“While there is no caucus rule that dictates that I do so, I believe it is in the best interests of the Committee, my colleagues, and the Senate which is why I have chosen to do so,” he explained, adding that he would “retain my membership and seniority” and “will once against ascend” to the position “upon the successful resolution of the allegations before me.”

There isn’t a party rule that forces Democratic senators in top positions to relinquish their leadership roles, as there is for Republicans. A few weeks ago, Reid said he would not “deal in hypotheticals” when asked if Menendez should step down from his Committee spot if charged. Menendez has been an influential voice in international affairs, as well as an occasional thorn in the Obama Administration’s side on issues regarding Iran and Cuba.

In a statement Wednesday, Reid, who voluntarily interviewed with DOJ and FBI officials last year as they investigated the corruption charges, said he appreciated Menendez’s “willingness” to temporarily step down. “He has been a consistent champion for the middle class,” Reid continued. “As I have said about both Democrats and Republicans, our justice system is premised on the principle of innocent until proven guilty and Senator Menendez should not be judged until he has his day in court.”

It’s the first time in Reid’s decade at the helm of the caucus that he has had to deal with a charged colleague. The last such Senate Democrat, Harrison A. Williams of New Jersey, was indicted 35 years ago.

Menendez allegedly intervened on behalf of the eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, in three major ways, the indictment details: to facilitate the visa applications of three of Melgen’s foreign girlfriends; to “pressure” the State Department and influence the Dominican Republic to ensure Melgen a 20-year, multi-million dollar port security contract; and to protest Medicare reimbursement audits alleging that Melgen—Medicare’s top-paid physician in 2012—overbilled the government by about $8.9 million.

In 2012, about six days after Melgen issued a $300,000 check to a political action committee benefiting Senate Democrats, the indictment states Menendez delved into his friend’s Medicare billing dispute, taking his position in a meeting with the chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and later with then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Menendez’s troubles came to light in January 2013, when FBI and HHS officers raided Melgen’s Florida offices after the conservative website Daily Caller ran an article that claimed Menendez paid two women in the Dominican Republic for sex at a gated oceanfront resort, where Melgen owned a home. While Menendez emphatically denied the report and the FBI found no evidence to support its claims, the Senator ended up personally reimbursing Melgen over $58,000 for two other private jet trips to the country in 2010, citing sloppy paperwork. Menendez did not disclose the free trips as required by Senate rules for three years and the chamber’s ethics committee reviewed the violation.

TIME Congress

These U.S. Senators Are the Only Ones to Ever Get Indicted

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey became the 12th Senator in the nation's history to be indicted on criminal charges. TIME looks back at the previously accused and their crimes

TIME White House

Obama Pays Tribute to Senate’s ‘Lion’ at Edward M. Kennedy Institute Opening

Barack Obama
Susan Walsh—AP President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, in Boston on March 30, 2015.

Vice President Biden, Sen. John McCain and others also among the speakers

President Barack Obama used the opening of an institute dedicated to the legacy of the late Teddy Kennedy on Monday to ask a crowd of U.S. Senators and other dignitaries why Washington officials couldn’t be more like the man known as the lion of the Senate.

Obama, who was joined by the First Lady, Vice President Biden, and Republican and Democratic Senators at the opening dedication ceremony for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, said he hoped the new facility would inspire and educate visitors. “We live in a time of such great cynicism about our institutions. We are cynical about Washington and about government most of all,” Obama said. “This place can help change that. It can help light the fire of imagination.”

The institute aims to teach visitors about the importance of the United States Senate and motivate younger generations to engage in the political process. The cornerstone of the sprawling white institute, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, is a full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate chambers where Kennedy served for 47 years.

Vice President Biden said he had a front row seat to the nearly five decades Kennedy spent in the Senate where he fought passionately for some of the most divisive and important legislation of our nation’s history. Biden said he hopes that the institute and the celebration of Kennedy’s legacy will help future generations learn to listen and find consensus among their adversaries and hopefully begin to fix the broken system of government. “All politics is personal,” Biden said. “No one in my life understood that better than Ted Kennedy.”

Kennedy’s reputation as a bipartisan deal-maker was reflected at Monday’s ceremony by the number of Republicans, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Sen. John McCain, joining Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey in singing Kennedy’s praises.

Sen. McCain of Arizona recalled a particularly fiery exchange he and the late Senator had on the floor of the Senate once, after which Kennedy gave him a hug and the two shared a laugh about it. The Senate, McCain said, has missed his late colleague. “No, the place hasn’t been the same without him, but if we learn the right lessons from the late Edward M. Kennedy’s example we can make it better,” McCain said. “We can make it a place where every member can serve with pride and love.”

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a champion of progressive policies to benefit the working and middle class, shared a story of how Ted Kennedy’s fight for bankruptcy reform inspired her to enter politics. “Senator Kennedy changed my life,” Warren said. “And he changed what I understood about public service.”

“This institute will give millions of people an opportunity to be inspired. That is the perfect way to honor the memory of Ted Kennedy,” she added.

TIME Military

The Budget Trick That Made the Pentagon a Fiscal Functioning Alcoholic

108094689
Erik Simonsen / Getty Images The Pentagon's $391 billion, 2,443-plane F-35 program is the costliest in history.

Bookkeeping gimmick creates a `co-dependency'

If the Pentagon needs more money—and that’s debatable—the Republicans have chosen the worst possible way to do it in the budgetary roadmaps both the House and Senate have recently approved.

That’s because they’ve kept in place the budget caps in place for defense and domestic discretionary spending for the proposed 2016 budget. While that keeps domestic spending in check, they’ve opted to fatten up the Pentagon’s war-fighting account by about $90 billion, which isn’t subject to the budget limits. Even President Obama, under heavy pressure from the Joint Chiefs, has blinked and said military spending should be boosted above the caps set in 2011. But he wants domestic spending increased as well.

The idea of special war-fighting budgetary add-ons makes sense, because while the Pentagon’s base budget trains and outfits the U.S. military, it doesn’t pay for it to wage war. But such Overseas Contingency Operations accounts are supposed to go away when the wars end, as they have in Afghanistan and Iraq (the current U.S.-led small-scale air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, like the 2011 air war over Libya, can be funded out of the base budget). But the Republicans have basically perverted a responsible approach to funding the nation’s wars into an annual, multi-billion-dollar slush fund subject to even less congressional scrutiny than regular military budgets get.

CSBAThe Pentagon budget increasingly is being inflated with war funding that has little to do with funding wars.

“There’re a lot of different opinions about whether there should be an overseas contingency account or not, and whether it’s a slush fund or not,” then-defense secretary Chuck Hagel said last September.

The account, whatever it’s called, has become a rhetorical device: pump it up, defense hawks say, or risk crippling national security. Of course, that’s flat-out wrong. If the nation believes it needs to spend more on the military, it should hold an honest debate on the topic and then vote accordingly, without budgetary chicanery.

Hagel’s successor, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, is warning that the military needs more money beyond the $499 billion permitted by the 2011 law. But he says that force-feeding the Pentagon like a foie gras goose doesn’t solve the problem. “Current proposals to shoe-horn DOD’s base-budget funds into our contingency accounts would fail to solve the problem,” he said Thursday, “while also undermining basic principles of accountability and responsible long-term planning.”

So as the defense-budget debate continues, here are some facts to keep in mind:

1. With the Pentagon’s base-budget caps in place, its funding would rise slightly in coming years. Accounting for inflation basically makes for flat spending through 2024. The U.S. military budget today, under those caps, is higher than the Cold War average. That’s because even as the U.S. military shrinks, the cost of each remaining weapon bought and troop recruited has soared.

2. The reason the Pentagon is having trouble living within those levels is that it has grown used to pilfering its war-fighting accounts to fund normal operations, including purchasing weapons. A recent congressional report said that the Pentagon spent $71 billion of its war accounts on non-war spending from 2001 to 2014.

3. The war-fighting accounts have accounted for 23% of Pentagon spending over the past decade. Like a functioning alcoholic, the U.S. military has gotten used to the constant buzz, and is petrified of being forced to put the bottle away.

But here’s why it should stop cold turkey and get back to basic budgets:

1. Without standard congressional scrutiny, the money will be spent with even less oversight than normal Pentagon spending.

2. Because it is an annual appropriation that has to be renewed each year, there is no way the Pentagon can wisely budget for it in advance, and spent it smartly when and if it gets it.

3. Finally, counting on such a loophole sends the wrong signal. Troops are being paid and weapons bought, in part, with the equivalent of payday loans.

It also leads allies to question U.S. commitments. “We’re putting things in the Overseas Contingency Operations fund like the European Reassurance Initiative,” says Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the nonprofit Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank. “If we’re really trying to reassure our European allies in the face of a more-assertive Russia that we’re going to be there for them, why are we putting that into an account that’s only one year at a time?”

TIME Congress

3 Surprising Facts About Senator Harry Reid

Harry Reid
Douglas Graham—Roll Call/Getty Images Harry Reid on July 10, 2000

There's more to the retiring Senate Democratic leader than meets the eye

When Harry Reid retires in 2017, he will have served as the Senate Democratic leader for 12 years—longer than all but two other senators in the country’s history.

But while he’s well-known inside Washington, the Senate Majority Leader is a distant figure to many Americans. His dry speaking style and low-key persona has kept him from becoming a household name, even as he’s led Democrats and at times the Senate itself.

But whether you approve of the job he’s done or not, Reid is actually fairly colorful. Here are three things you should know about the man from Searchlight as he heads out the door.

His mother used to do laundry for a brothel

Reid had a tough upbringing, growing up in “tiny wood shack with a tin roof’ as the “son of a hard-drinking gold miner, who eventually shot and killed himself,” according to a TIME 2004 profile. In 2011, Reid called for Nevada’s brothel industry to be outlawed, recalling stories of his mother taking laundry in from some of the 13 brothels that his hometown had at one point.

“Nevada needs to be known as the first place for innovation and investment–not as the last place where prostitution is still legal,” Reid told the state legislature then. “When the nation thinks about Nevada, it should think about the world’s newest ideas and newest careers—not about its oldest profession.”

He once tried to choke a man who tried to bribe him

Reid was an amateur boxer and later paid his way through George Washington University as a night-shift Capitol police officer, so he knows how to crack heads, literally. That came in handy when he was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1977 to 1981. While he worked there he received “repeated death threats from the mob,” according to his biography, and had at least one instance where a man attempted to bribe him. Bad move. Per a 2005 New Yorker piece:

In July of 1978, a man named Jack Gordon, who was later married to LaToya Jackson, offered Reid twelve thousand dollars to approve two new, carnival-like gaming devices for casino use. Reid reported the attempted bribe to the F.B.I. and arranged a meeting with Gordon in his office. By agreement, F.B.I. agents burst in to arrest Gordon at the point where Reid asked, ‘Is this the money?’ Although he was taking part in a sting, Reid was unable to control his temper; the videotape shows him getting up from his chair and saying, ‘You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!’ and attempting to choke Gordon, before startled agents pulled him off. ‘I was so angry with him for thinking he could bribe me,’ Reid said, explaining his theatrical outburst. Gordon was convicted in federal court in 1979 and sentenced to six months in prison.

He inspired a character in a Martin Scorsese film

Few bureaucrats can say that their work was fictionalized by Scorsese. In 1978, Reid held a hearing as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission that was later used in the 1995 film Casino. Dick Smothers’ character spouted some of Reid’s statements during the scene where Robert De Niro’s character freaks out after the commission rejects his application for a license to operate a casino, according to Slate.

 

TIME Congress

Harry Reid’s Early Retirement Announcement Shows How Much He Likes to Plan Ahead

Harry Reid
Douglas Graham—Roll Call/Getty Images Harry Reid on July 10, 2000

The Senate minority leader will not seek reelection in 2016

By announcing early that he will not run for reelection next fall, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has freed up party resources that might have been spent on what would have been a tough race for other elections — a major reason behind his early decision, as he told the New York Times. That kind of planning ahead is not unusual for the minority leader.

Reid’s personal background might not peg him as a super planner: as TIME explained in a 2004 profile, he was once an amateur boxer, the son of “a hard-drinking gold miner.” (His mother’s pay came from taking in laundry from brothels.) But he devoted himself to finding stability, including through a conversion to Mormonism, and ended up the kind of person who famously carries around notecards on which to record every promise he makes, with the idea that he’ll later be able to record when he fulfills them.

One of the best illustrations of that forward-looking nature was explained in that same 2004 article, in which TIME’s Douglas Waller laid out how the Senator prepared for a filibuster:

Harry Reid is the kind of adversary who might just wear you down. Last year, for example, the Nevada Senator staged a one-day filibuster, standing on the Senate floor and talking for eight hours and 35 minutes straight to put majority leader Bill Frist hopelessly behind schedule on other bills that he wanted to rush through before the Thanksgiving recess. Reid planned everything carefully, down to his diet. So he wouldn’t be forced to go to the bathroom and lose his right to the floor, he ate only a slice of wheat bread and a handful of unsalted peanuts for breakfast, kept Senate pages from refilling the water glass at his desk and made sure he sipped only half of it during the day.

One thing he can’t plan, of course, is the one thing that many Washington-watchers will wonder most: who will take his place as the leader of the Senate Democrats.

Read the full 2004 story, here in the TIME archives: Herding the Democrats

TIME justice

Will Congress Reform the Criminal Justice System?

Civil rights activist Van Jones speaks onstage at '#YesWeCode: From The 'Hood To Silicon Valley' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center in Austin on March 16, 2015.
Robert A Tobiansky–Getty Images Civil rights activist Van Jones speaks onstage at '#YesWeCode: From The 'Hood To Silicon Valley' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center in Austin on March 16, 2015.

There's bipartisan backing, but that doesn't mean a bill will pass

Correction appended, March 27

Van Jones likes to call his Republican buddies “brother.” As in Brother Mark (Holden, the general counsel at Koch Industries), or Brother Matt (Kibbe, the CEO of the conservative group FreedomWorks). Jones, a Democratic activist and former Obama adviser, beamed as he strolled the halls of a cavernous Washington hotel Thursday, clasping shoulders and squeezing hands with one unlikely conservative ally after the next. And Jones wasn’t the only one basking in the warm vibes of bipartisanship.

If you mistakenly wandered into the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, you might have thought you had fallen into an alternate universe. Scores of liberal and conservative activists, policy wonks and lawmakers gathered for an all-day conference that seemed to defy all the old saws about Washington gridlock. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich lauded Democratic Senator Cory Booker, who volleyed back praise for his Republican partners. Even Attorney General Eric Holder drew warm applause in a ballroom dotted with conservatives.

But as unusual as that may be in Washington, it’s becoming a routine sight when it comes to criminal justice reform. In recent months, a growing bipartisan alliance has formed around the need to change a prison system that critics say is broken and bloated. Thursday’s crowd was the clearest sign yet of the coalition’s breadth. “When you have an idea whose time has come,” said Jones, one of the hosts of the summit, “it winds up being an unstoppable force.”

Maybe. But it’s never easy in Washington to channel a cause into actual change. A show of force is not a strategy. Despite general agreement about the problems riddling the justice system, it remains unclear how a collection of interest groups with divergent ideologies can marshal their money and organizing muscle to move bills through a fractious Congress—all before the 2016 presidential election puts the legislative process on pause.

The good news is the array of powerful figures who have united behind the idea. Activists and policy groups on the left (such as the Center for American Progress and the American Civil Liberties Union) are working with traditional foes on the right (such as the Kochs, the American Conservative Union and Right on Crime) as well as nonpartisan groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums. In Congress, the cadre of lawmakers who have teamed up on criminal-justice reform legislation run the ideological gamut, from Democratic Senators Booker, Pat Leahy and Sheldon Whitehouse to Republicans counterparts Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Rob Portman and John Cornyn.

The unlikely alliances have formed in part because the problem is so obvious. The percentage of incarcerated Americans has ballooned 500% over the past three decades; the nation’s prison population, at 2.2 million people, surpasses that of any other developed nation. The one-in-three Americans with a criminal record struggle to reintegrate into society because of restrictions on housing, voting and employment—which in turn promotes recidivism. Liberals deplore a system that disproportionately punishes minorities and the poor for petty crimes, while many conservatives have long been appalled by the moral and fiscal issues associated with the soaring U.S. incarceration rate.

Whether the legislative branch has the ability to tackle these sprawling issues remains an open question. “The way Congress moves is at a glacial pace,” said Booker, a freshman Senator from New Jersey. “This is not going to change unless we push and fight and work together.”

A big part of the battle is figuring out the best place to start. In the Senate, one option is a bill sponsored by Whitehouse and Cornyn, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, which is designed to reduce recidivism and help nonviolent prisoners transition back into society after serving time. An earlier version of the bill sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2014 with the support of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who now serves as the committee’s chairman. As chairman, Grassley’s support for the legislation is crucial. His reticence to reforming mandatory minimum sentencing is one reason why the Cornyn-Whitehouse bill is thought to have a better chance of success than a popular mandatory-minimum bill sponsored by Booker, Paul and others.

Grassley’s counterpart in the House, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, is another Republican steeped in the tough-on-crime ethos that long reigned in the party. But the House GOP has a host of respected leaders who are on board with criminal justice reforms, from Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan to fellow Wisconsin conservative Jim Sensenbrenner, who advocates identify as a key player in any deal to get a bill through the House.

Gingrich, a co-host of Thursday’s summit, said the key would be to gather support in the Senate first. “If you build a big enough bipartisan majority in the Senate, it’s going to pass,” said Gingrich, who argued that as a cause, criminal justice had little in common with comprehensive immigration-reform, another recent bipartisan issue with plenty of hype and heavy hitters behind it, but which ultimately stalled in Congress.

Unlike immigration reform, “there’s no massive opposition to rethinking how we’ve been incarcerating people,” Gingrich argued, predicting that each 2016 Republican presidential contender would support some form of justice reform. “There’s a much, much bigger consensus.”

There’s also an urgency to capitalize before presidential politics grinds the legislative machinery of the capital to a halt. On a panel Thursday morning, Democratic commentator Donna Brazile predicted a comprehensive criminal justice bill could pass by the end of the year. “I think we’ve got to get it done in 2015,” said Kibbe of the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks, “before we get back in our corners and start fighting again.”

Correction: The original version of this story identified Families Against Mandatory Minimums as a left-leaning group. It is nonpartisan.

TIME Congress

Aaron Schock and Downton Abbey Said Farewell at the Same Time

Aaron Schock
Seth Perlman—AP Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. speaks to reporters in Peoria Ill. on Feb. 2, 2015.

Oh, the irony

Rep. Aaron Schock gave his farewell speech to Congress Thursday at the same time that Downton Abbey producers announced the show would end after its next season.

The irony? The Illinois Republican is resigning amid a series of scandals that began when he spent lavishly to model his Capitol Hill office after the show.

We couldn’t help but notice some similarities in how the congressman and the producers of the show said their respective goodbyes:

1. Describing the emotional journey

“I was never more excited than when I walked into this chamber six years ago. I leave here with sadness and humility.” (Schock)

“The Downton journey has been amazing for everyone aboard…I do know how grateful we are to have been allowed this unique experience” (Downton Abbey)

2. Referencing the millions of people they’ve touched

“I will miss joining my colleagues in saving and strengthening social security and Medicare that will directly improve the quality of life for millions of Americans for generations to come.” (Schock)

“Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years.” (Downton Abbey)

3. Talking about the ‘stories’

“I know this is not the ending of a story, but rather the beginning of a new chapter.” (Schock)

“It felt right and natural for the storylines to come together” (Downton Abbey)

Now that Schock’s leaving Capitol Hill, might a cameo on the show be on the cards? It’s not too late.

TIME Congress

Watch Ben Affleck Drop a Batman Reference in His Congressional Testimony

Ben Affleck, actor, filmmaker and founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, testifies before a Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing on "Diplomacy, Development, and National Security" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 26, 2015.
Yuri Gripas—Reuters Ben Affleck, actor, filmmaker and founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, testifies before a Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing on "Diplomacy, Development, and National Security" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 26, 2015.

Acknowledges a co-star on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee

Ben Affleck testified before the Senate Thursday as a philanthropist, not an actor. But he still found a way to mention Batman in his opening remarks.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs hearing was on diplomacy and national security; Affleck is the founder of Eastern Congo Initiative, an advocacy and grant initiative focused on helping communities in eastern Congo.

As he addresses the ranking members of the panel, Affleck turns to Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and says, “I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my costar in Batman. The role is marginally smaller than mine, but I understand that you are quite good.” Leahy laughs.

Affleck is starring as Batman in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but Leahy is a known Batman fanatic who has appeared in cameos in previous Batman films. So it seems he’ll be joining the caped crusader once again in 2016.

Watch the video here.

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