Bob Brady, the U.S. Congressman and boss of Philadelphia’s Democratic Party, is six-foot-one and has a massive barrel chest. His head and neck are also strikingly thick; his voice is almost as gravelly as Tom Waits’s. In another life, he would have been a bodyguard. So when his black SUV whizzes past a couple police officers in Washington, D.C., they spot him easily. “Good morning, Congressman!” they shout, looking sincerely pleased to see him.
Brady grins. “The cops work for me,” he says. “The cops, the zoo, the garden, Smithsonian Institution, every employee, sergeant-at-arms, the courts, every one of them.” He is the ranking Democrat on the Committee on House Administration, which funds every office and panel in the chamber, manages many Capitol employees, and, apparently, oversees the National Zoo. The officers are smiling on this sunny morning in March, he says, because he got them a raise. “They’d all vote for me for Speaker!” Brady boasts. He’s used his committee to make many friends. In 2010, he says, back when the Democrats controlled Congress, a Republican named Kevin McCarthy asked Brady to pass legislation out of his committee. “I gave him a bill. I gave him two bills. I gave him three bills. And he never forgot that.” Today, McCarthy is the House Majority Leader. Read more »