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Capitol Hill cooperation allows congressman to breathe easier

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

PHOENIX — A Texas congressman who was choking on a piece of popcorn is thanking a fellow Republican from Arizona and a House staffer who is a doctor for stepping in to help.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Ted Poe said the five-term congressman from the state's 2nd District was eating dinner at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington last week when he began choking. Poe spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon was eating nearby, and he and another bystander jumped into action and began doing the Heimlich maneuver to clear Poe's airway.

“They did that for a few minutes, and it didn't appear to be dislodging,” Salmon spokeswoman Kristine Michalson said on Tuesday. Salmon began calling for someone to call 911 and for a doctor.

Hynes said that's when Dr. Nick Muzin, a GOP House staffer, jumped in. As Salmon kept trying to dislodge the popcorn with strong slaps to the back, Muzin did the Heimlich maneuver again and was successful. The events were first reported by the National Review.

“He finished up his meal afterward,” Hynes said. “He was in good spirits, joking around. He told me that he choked up when he heard the score of the congressional baseball game, in which the Republicans were being slaughtered by the Democrats.”

Hynes said she didn't know the score but said “it was a blowout.”

Muzin is director of coalitions at House Republican Conference and a licensed physician.

Poe, 64, has served in the House since 2005 and is a former prosecutor and judge. Salmon, 55, was elected to represent Arizona's 5th District in November. He represented an earlier version of the district for three terms in the 1990s but ended his tenure in Congress to follow a pledge that he would serve only three terms.

Poe returned to Texas for the weekend and was back in Washington as usual on Monday.

“He's thankful of course there were some good Samaritans around,” Hynes said. “The right people in the right place at the right time.”

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