By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
A lot of the perks for House members have been snuffed out, but smoking isn't one of them. While greatly limited as far as where they can puff, members are allowed to smoke on an outdoor balcony off the Speaker's Lobby near the House floor. But members tell Whispers that it has become a danger zone because little bits of stone or mortar frequently fall down. "It's the only place you can enjoy a cigar," says Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who worries about the safety of fellow smoker John Boehner, the House minority leader. Cole's complaint drew sympathy but no quick solution from Stephen Ayers, acting architect of the Capitol. "One would be surprised," he says of the old Capitol, "how much is missing or broken."