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Washington Gets Game Face On for USA-Germany Match

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June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Washington had its game face on for the World Cup match between teams USA and Germany.

The U.S. House of Representatives tried, yet failed, to wrap up its work by noon today, the start of a week-long recess -- more strategically, in time for the start of the soccer match. Members started streaming out of the chamber at 12:18 p.m. Washington time, 18 minutes into the game in Brazil.

President Barack Obama, airborne for a town-hall appearance in Minneapolis, carved out game-viewing time aboard Air Force One to watch the U.S. hold Germany to one goal and advance to the next round of the 2014 World Cup.

The commander-in-chief ditched the policy manuals and briefing books to watch on the flat-screen in the conference room of the presidential aircraft as he made a two-hour and 10-minute flight from Washington.

Photographers caught pictures of Obama with senior advisers Valerie Jarrett, Dan Pfeiffer and others watching amid bowls of snacks and soft drinks.

Presidents are at risk of missing significant televised events when they’re in the air, spokesman Josh Earnest said, yet Air Force One has ESPN. “If you’re the president of the United States, it gives you a better opportunity to spend some time in front of the television,” Earnest said.

Vice President Joe Biden was watching in Washington.

Time Out

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann effectively wrote those in the nation’s capital a get-out-of-work excuse note today, and Congress took him up on it. Capitol press conferences started no later than 11:30 a.m. Washington time. The Senate moved up a vote on a judicial confirmation to 11:45 a.m. from noon.

As the House tried to get out by noon, concerns about missing the game’s start set off grumbles in many offices where staff already had written press releases hailing or criticizing a vote on an energy bill to which almost no one was paying attention. The voting finished, the House recessed.

A tie or win against Germany would have advanced the unlikely U.S. contenders to the next round of the 2014 World Cup. Even the 1-0 loss to Germany was survivable, with a concurrent match in which Portugal, which the U.S. team has tied, today defeated Ghana, which the U.S. also had defeated.

TV Ratings

Soccer -- make that futbol -- is growing in popularity in the U.S. and no place more than in Washington, home to more than 100 embassies, the most successful professional team in Major League Soccer and the highest TV ratings of any U.S. city for the 2014 World Cup so far.

In the spirit of bipartisanship, the biggest viewing party for USA-Germany was hosted by the German Embassy in Dupont Circle, in a park a couple miles north of the White House.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, which perhaps presciently has advanced its own position to ESPN, had put the U.S. chances of advancing at 75.8 percent.

Obama was en route to Minneapolis for a fundraiser and a “town hall” styled event with invited guests.

The presidential town hall was set to start at 2 p.m., Minneapolis time. That’s 3 p.m. Eastern, plenty of time to finish the game.

As in 2010, the best place to watch the World Cup in the Capito was one floor above the U.S. Senate floor, in the Senate’s Press Gallery. There, flat-screen televisions that usually show senators on the floor were trained on a patch of grass in Recife and the media’s eyes were glued.

Biden Watching

The State Department was showing the USA-Germany match in the Press Briefing Room following today’s daily press briefing.

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, the regulators set up a television in a large conference room for staff to watch. There had also been some concern that the commissioners’ regular closed enforcement meeting would be delayed if the game went long. The conference was set to start at 2 p.m.

Biden was watching from Washington. He was in Brazil for the U.S. debut game -- a 2-1 defeat of Ghana -- and joined the U.S. team in the locker room after the game.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net; Derek Wallbank in Washington at dwallbank@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net Steven Komarow, Michael Shepard

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