In a time of partisan gridlock, the recent example set by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan to hash out a budget deal marked a rare moment of across-the-aisle cooperation.
Murray, D-Wash., and Ryan, R-Wis., said they bonded over their shared admiration for Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, who spent his senior year at the University of Wisconsin.
Murray later presented Ryan with an autographed Wilson jersey as a token of her appreciation for his efforts during the budget talks. But in doing so, she also passed on a burden to Ryan to report the gift on his financial disclosure this year.
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) January 10, 2014
It remains to be seen whether the two lawmakers will hold hands during the State of the Union address or exchange lockets and chocolate for Valentine's Day. But after the budget gurus sealed the budget deal in mid-December, Ryan often joked how Wilson brought the two partisan rivals together.
Kathryn Robertson, a spokeswoman for Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, said that Wilson personally autographed the jersey for Murray, who purchased it without a signature. Even though Murray paid for the jersey before it was signed, the disclosure requirement is based on the retail value of a gift if it was placed on the public market.
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, presented Murray with Wisconsin's famous Kringle - a delicate Danish pastry - and an unspecified amount of cheese.
According to congressional financial disclosure requirements, Ryan is compelled to disclose the jersey on his annual Financial Disclosure Statement.
There is no limit on the value of a gift one member can pass to another member, but lawmakers must disclose certain gifts valued over $350 from a single source in a calendar year on Schedule VI of their annual Financial Disclosure Statements.
Several autographed Wilson jerseys posted on eBay are open to bidding starting around a range of $400 to $700. Murray won't have to disclose the items Ryan gave to her.
Wilson, who has blossomed into one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks, finished his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State. Though Ryan is a Green Bay Packers fan, Ryan, who attended Miami University of Ohio, admitted that he was drawn to Wilson's winning ways when the Packers were struggling without injured QB Aaron Rodgers.