Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton: Ben’s Chili Bowl can ‘soften the heart’ of Tea Party Congress

Bill Cosby at Ben's Chili Bowl

Bill Cosby participates in Ben’s Chili Bowl’s 55th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Nikki Schwab)

It seems that Washington has come up with a solution for the sharp partisanship on Capitol Hill–Ben’s Chili Bowl. On Thursday, the historic half smoke joint turned 55 and lawmakers, locals and Bill Cosby gathered outside to cheer the institution.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., noted that, in its 55 years, the U Street eatery has racked up the accolades.

“You’ve gotten everything else that the city can give,” she said and then made a promise. “So when Congress returns from recess–they’re out there until Sept. 9, so they can do no harm at the moment,” she said to giggles. “I’m going to take it to the floor of the House and give Congress an opportunity to commemorate a historic institution that it needs to take note of–one that could soften the heart, certainly the taste, even of the Tea Party House of Representatives,” she said.

Representing the other side of the aisle was political consultant Brian Summers, who’s been hanging out at the Ben’s jukebox for the past eight years. “See Ben’s is such a community spot, you have every blend of people, Democrats and Republicans coming in here, everybody coming in here equal,” Summers said. “I know you’re all probably wondering what a Republican has to say here today–the food is good and I love the chili–but I have a special note for Ms. Ali,” he said. Summers than presented owner Virginia Ali with a proclamation from President Obama.

“And you’re a Republican?” questioned Cosby, the restaurant’s celebrity guest. “I told you Ben’s was bipartisan right?” answered Summers.

The POTUS promised to come back to the restaurant with First Lady Michelle Obama. “Ben’s Chili Bowl celebrates more than good food, it celebrates family, equality and it fosters a strong sense of community for all who visit,” the president said in the statement.

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