The Congressional Gala for the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health last night had less of Congress than in years past.
On the day of the government shutdown, Senators Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, and Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, attended. Representative Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and a handful of others skipped.
“He has taken the position that he’s not attending public events at this time,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, on Ryan’s behalf. “His absence is heartfelt.”
Other members who turned out at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium included Representative John Dingell, Michigan Democrat, and Representative Doris Matsui, California Democrat.
“I can’t imagine a place I’d rather be tonight,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
She reminded guests that 70 percent of the NIH staff is on furlough due to the shutdown and new patients are not being admitted for clinical trials.
The Children’s Inn offers housing and support for families with children being treated at NIH. The gala raised $500,000.
“This too shall pass,” said Blunt of the shutdown.
Tonight’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala has already lost its most prominent guests: the institute in a statement said President Obama and the first lady will not be at the event they have attended in the past. Actress and cosmetics entrepreneur Salma Hayek, wife of Francois-Henri Pinault, will be honored.
Actress Aimee Garcia, who’s starring in the “RoboCop” remake, accepted an award from the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts on Monday night.
The film, set in financially-strapped Detroit, is due out in February 2014. Garcia plays a scientist who helps turn a buff family man (Joel Kinnaman) into a law-enforcement machine.
“I will be intimately involved in his creation,” Garcia said. Any love scenes? “Not that I know of.”
Garcia is familiar to fans of “Dexter” as Jamie Batista, nanny to Dexter’s son on the Showtime series. She recalled the top-secret nature of the scripts.
“I was always paranoid about someone breaking into my car to steal them,” Garcia said. “It felt like working for the CIA.”
Also attending the “Noche de Gala” at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel were Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, “West Side Story” star Rita Moreno, who was honored, and Jimmy Smits, a founder of the organization.
Clyborn praised the foundation’s president, Felix Sanchez, for advocating for the inclusion of Hispanic artists in the Kennedy Center Honors. This year there are two: Carlos Santana and Martina Arroyo.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Mark Beech on music, Scott Reyburn on art and Ryan Sutton on food.