Friday, December 08, 2006

CQ Today Midday Update

CQ Today Midday Update
Highlights from today's news on www.cq.com
Published by Congressional QuarterlyE-mail the editor
FRIDAY, DEC. 8, 2006 – 2:39 P.M.
Edited by Charles Hoskinson

Trade/Tax Package Held Up By Concerns Over Haiti, Vietnam Language

    By Rachel Van Dongen, CQ Staff Writer
    Opposition from some conservative Republicans to a provision permanently normalizing trade relations with Vietnam delayed consideration of a trade bill today and could cause problems on the House floor for the legislation.
    A measure (HR 6406) introduced by House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., Thursday contains the Vietnam trade language along with trade benefits to developing countries.
    The House Rules Committee late Thursday approved a same-day rule to consider the trade measure and a tax and health care bill.
    The two measures will then be moved as a single package (HR 6111) to the Senate as a “privileged message,” allowing leaders to vote immediately on a motion to cut off debate. The comprehensive trade and tax package includes extensions of popular expiring tax breaks, a freeze in the scheduled 5 percent cut in Medicare physicians payments in 2007 and extensions of expiring trade benefits to developing countries.
    A cloture vote on the wide-ranging measure would not ripen until Dec. 10 in the Senate, but leaders hope senators may waive procedural rights and take a vote before then in order to leave town earlier.

Continuing Resolution Holds Formula, But Allows VA Fund Transfer for Health Care

    The stopgap spending measure to ensure that the government can continue to function past midnight tonight does not include major deviations from the funding formula used in the current continuing resolution.
    It calls for agencies that have not yet had their fiscal 2007 appropriations measures enacted to get the the lowest of the House-passed, Senate-passed or previous year funding level. But in a nod to concerns that veterans health care would be harmed by that lowest-of formula, the resolution (H J Res 102) would allow the Veterans Affairs Department to transfer up to $684 million to the Veterans Health Administration for medical services.
    Though some senators have pushed for more money for veterans’ health care, the House is likely to take up the resolution late Friday, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the Senate to make changes and still get the measure to President Bush for signing before midnight.
    The stopgap spending measure also incorporates a proposal that Democrats had been planning to offer as an amendment — a delay in the congressional pay raise until Feb. 16. The resolution will last through Feb. 15.

Negotiators Seek Deal on AIDS, NIH, Bioterrorism Legislation

    Seeking to wrap up the priorities of several powerful lawmakers in a single package before Congress adjourns, congressional negotiators today are assembling a bill that would combine renewals of federal AIDS programs and a bioterrorism law with a restructuring of the National Institutes of Health.
    Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said he and Sens. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., together with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, and House leaders, are negotiating the package. House and Senate GOP leadership aides confirmed an outline of the deal.
    The package appears to face at least one major hurdle, however. Several Senate Democrats are insisting that money for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program also be included, according to a Senate GOP aide.

Bush Meets With Congressional Leaders on Iraq

    President Bush and the incoming leaders of Congress pledged today to work together to develop a new strategy for resolving the crisis in Iraq.
    The meeting comes two days after the Senate confirmed Robert M. Gates as Defense secretary and a blue-ribbon panel, the Iraq Study Group, recommended numerous changes in military, diplomatic and other policies regarding Iraq. Next week, the president is expected to meet with senior officials to discuss an ongoing administration review of Iraq operations in advance of a possible presidential speech on the way forward by Christmas.
    “I assured the leaders the White House door will be open when the new Congress shows up,” Bush said after meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. “The reason you meet on a regular basis is so that the American people can know that we’re working hard to find common ground.”
    Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said afterwards the president was supportive of a proposal by incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to work with a bipartisan and bicameral working group on Iraq.

House Democrats Pick Filner to Lead Veterans’ Affairs

    Rep. Bob Filner, of California won an unusual runoff today for the chairmanship of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, beating Michael H. Michaud of Maine by a vote of 112-69 by the full Democratic caucus.
    The decision came a day after the Democratic Steering Committee, headed by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted 24-20 to award the chairmanship to Filner. Michaud, however, invoked a caucus rule that entitles a candidate to a second ballot before the full caucus if they receive at least 14 votes.
    While Filner won by a wide margin, his apparent lock on the chairmanship was imperiled by members who worried he is too hot-tempered for the job.
    "This whole fuss was made about style, that Filner is too emotional, too passionate," said a member leaving the caucus room.
    Outgoing ranking member Lane Evans and Rep. Tom Allen late Thursday sent a letter to House Democrats, asking them to support Michaud. Evans sited Michaud's "political contributions to our party," in addition to other positive attributes.

Political Clippings

    The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that veteran New Hampshire GOP strategist Michael Dennehy has been named national political director of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Dennehy, 37, said he will be responsible for structuring McCain’s campaigns in all 50 states and “building a strong overall organization to help John McCain become the next president.” Dennehy was McCain’s New Hampshire campaign manager in 2000.
    The Chattanoogan reports that GOP Sen.-elect Bob Corker of Tennessee credits Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., with helping him win his race over Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. Corker said Kerry’s botched joke about U.S. troops helped him recover from the negative backlash from a GOP ad with racial overtones. “Critics immediately pounced, claiming Sen. Kerry had insulted the American soldiers serving in Iraq — and Corker’s poll numbers, like those of other Republican candidates, once again began climbing.”
    The Columbus Dispatch reports that Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, maintained her 1,055-vote margin over Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy after the result of a manual recount was announced Thursday. Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder said that since no discrepancies were found during the hand recount of 10 percent of the votes cast the remainder can be recounted by the county’s electronic machines. Final numbers should be ready early next week. Kilroy has not conceded and her attorney, Donald J. McTigue, said she would await the results of the machine recount.

Political Trivia

    Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., who was born on July 4th, is proud of his work on the 1996 immigration law to encourage mass naturalization ceremonies around the country on that date. He has made a habit of participating in one of the ceremonies on his birthday each year. (Source: CQ Politics in America 2006) More info
Today in Washington
House
Takes up several bills under rules, including a stopgap spending measure (H J Res 102), a package of tax cut extensions (HR 6111), trade preference extensions (HR 6406) and the conference report on the U.S.-India nuclear energy bill (HR 5682).
Senate
Considers a package of tax cut and trade preference extensions (HR 6111) and a draft stopgap spending measure. Also votes on the nomination of Kent A. Jordan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Correction: Thursday’s Midday Update said Jordan was nominated to be a U.S. District Court judge.
The President
Meets with congressional leaders and later meets with South African President Thabo Mbeki.
In Washington
The AFL-CIO holds a dinner honoring former Sen. John Edwards and Rep. George Miller, others. 7 p.m., Mellon Auditorium, 1301 Constitution Ave. N.W.
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Today on Governing.com
State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEW ORLEANS — City to Raze 7,500 Public Housing Units
DETROIT — Police Pension Takes $38 Million Investment Hit
ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Developer Offers $150 Million for Stadium Site
THE HOUSTON AREA— Planned Community May Seek Self-Government
MICHIGAN— Prison Health Care Brings Contempt Judgment
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CQ's weekly news magazine has been redesigned to cover all the forces that shape public policy. From Capitol Hill to K Street to the White House, CQ Weekly provides fresh perspectives on how policy is shaped and who is shaping it.
Forward-looking articles on each day's important Hill activity plus comprehensive coverage of the previous day's congressional news and the Hill's most accurate daily schedule. Print edition or e-mail PDF delivered by 7 a.m.
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Same-day coverage of federal health care policy.
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Analysis of every bill and amendment scheduled for consideration on the House floor, briefings on the final versions of bills reported by conference committees, plus much more.
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Editor and Senior Vice President: David Rapp

Executive Editors: Anne Q. Hoy, Mike Mills and Susan Benkelman
Managing Editors: Randy Wynn and Mark Stencel
Assistant Managing Editor: Daniel J. Parks
Deputy Editor: Chris Wright
Associate Editor: Martha Angle
Midday Update Product Editors: Arwen Bicknell, Jessica Scheuer, Jesse Stanchak and Paul Volpe

Reporters: The staff of Congressional Quarterly
Political Clippings compiled from BNN Frontrunner and CQ Politics.com

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

CQ Today Midday Update

CQ Today Midday Update
Highlights from today's news on www.cq.com
Published by Congressional QuarterlyE-mail the editor
THURSDAY, DEC. 7, 2006 – 2:15 P.M.
Edited by Charles Hoskinson

Tentative Deal Reached on Tax, Trade, Health Care Package

    House and Senate negotiators, after working throughout the night, said today they have reached a tentative agreement on a wide-ranging package of tax, trade and health care measures they hope to clear before the 109th Congress adjourns this week.
    “There’s mostly an agreement,” Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said.
    Grassley estimated the cost of the package at about $40 billion.
    But neither the House nor the Senate had released specific language by midday, sparking speculation that lawmakers would have to work through Friday to win passage of the legislation in both chambers before the GOP-led Congress recesses.
    At the core of the measure is expected to be extensions of popular tax breaks that are expiring or have already expired. The package will likely combine the tax breaks with trade provisions, language that would allow expanded offshore drilling in certain areas and a freeze in the scheduled 5 percent cut in Medicare physician payments in 2007.
    If there is a deal, the House could vote later Thursday and the Senate could follow before adjournment.

Senators Skeptical of Iraq Study Group Recommendations

    Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed deep worries today that the Iraq Study Group’s proposal to embed more U.S. advisers in Iraqi military units would leave the Americans vulnerable to attack.
    At a hearing, committee members also expressed skepticism about the group’s recommendation to engage the help of Iran and Syria in improving conditions in Iraq. And some senior Republicans strongly advocated increasing U.S. combat troops in Iraq, not withdrawing most of them by early 2008, as the commission recommended.
    “I believe this is a recipe for our defeat in Iraq,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., of the report’s military proposals.
    The report issued Wednesday contains 79 recommendations for political, diplomatic, economic and military changes in U.S. policy on Iraq. It called for new diplomatic initiatives in the region, including inviting Iran and Syria into talks and renewing negotiations to settle the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. It called for consideration of withdrawing all 15 U.S. combat brigades by early 2008 except those needed to protect an augmented force of up to 20,000 U.S. trainers embedded in Iraqi army units down to the level of platoons.

Negotiations Continue on Next Stopgap Spending Measure

    Congressional Republicans continued talks today over how to structure the next stopgap spending measure, as hopes of completing the Military Construction-VA appropriations bill before adjourning Friday were virtually extinguished.
    With the current continuing resolution (PL 109-369) set to expire at midnight Friday, the House now expects to vote that day on a new stopgap measure. That means the Senate will have to act quickly to clear the measure, which is expected to fund a wide array of discretionary programs through Feb. 15, and send it to the White House.
    Democratic House leaders, meanwhile, blasted Republicans at a morning press conference for having enacted only two of the 11 appropriations bills thus far.
    “They are going to leave a mess as they go out. It’s been a do-nothing Congress and as they go out the door they are going to validate the decision of the American people that change was necessary,” said incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The Republicans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
    A last-minute bid to finish the Military Construction-VA bill (HR 5385) by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing it, appeared unlikely to succeed.

Hopes Rise for India Nuclear Deal

    Hopes rose today for landmark legislation allowing the United States to export nuclear technology to India for the first time in three decades amid signs a potential roadblock has been lifted.
    House and Senate conferees were expected to file a report on the measure (HR 5682). The House was expected to vote on the measure Friday under a rule, and the Senate could consider it that day or earlier.
    “The House will complete action on this bill before we adjourn this week so we can send the bill to the president for his signature,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Majority Leader John A. Boehner.
    The bill’s chief supporters in the House and Senate — the chairmen and ranking members of the respective foreign policy panels — had been ready to file a conference report Wednesday.
    But a committee source and a source close to the negotiations said plans for a House Rules Committee meeting late Wednesday were suddenly held up. They said Boehner wanted to add unrelated legislation to the bill but it was unclear which legislation he had in mind.
    The Rules Committee is now expected to consider later today a rule for floor consideration of the bill.

Political Clippings

    The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., has announced that he is leaning toward running for re-election. The 79-year-old Warner noted that Virginia’s other senator, Democrat Jim Webb, is a freshman and “I’m not sure we’re ready to have two freshmen senators here right away.” Warner “also voiced concern about the amount of time it takes to raise the money for a Senate bid. ... and three Democratic victories in recent statewide elections in Virginia.”
    Rasmussen Reports released a new poll showing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leading Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., 53 percent to 36 percent in a hypothetical 2008 presidential race. The poll showed McCain is the preferred candidate of both men and women and across all age groups. Some 24 percent of Democrats also preferred McCain over Kerry. McCain also leads other Democratic contenders including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Vice President Al Gore, though all of those candidates are more competitive than Kerry. The telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and has a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points.
    The St. Petersburg Times reports that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress should use its power to deny Republican Vern Buchanan his congressional seat without a new election in Florida’s 13th District. Buchanan has been officially declared the winner, though Democratic challenger Christine Jennings is challenging the result in court. “You cannot seat someone if you don’t have an election that’s valid,” Dean said. Jennings’ call for possible action by the House “could set the stage for a volatile political showdown at the start of the new Democrat-led Congress. ... Though Democratic leaders, including incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, say all options are on the table, others privately say they hope to avoid the partisan warfare.”

Political Trivia

    Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., was born in Iowa and attended Briar Cliff College in Sioux City but didn’t receive a degree. He married an elementary school teacher and settled in Henderson, Nev., where he worked as a farm insurance agent, eventually managing 40 agents. He first held elective office as a Boulder City councilman in 1983. He served on the council for a decade, and was mayor for about four years, before moving to the state Senate in 1995. (Source: CQ Politics in America 2006) More info
Today in Washington
House
Takes up several measures under suspension of the rules, including a measure to restrict U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until its Hamas-dominated government renounces violence, recognizes Israel and moves against terrorist groups (S 2370).
Senate
Votes on the nominations of Andrew C. von Eschenbach as FDA commissioner and Kent A. Jordan as a U.S. District Court judge.
The President
Meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair; participates in lighting the National Christmas Tree.
In Washington
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, D-Calif., an Iraqi trade unionist and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney discuss the lack of worker rights and the increase in assassinations of trade unionists in Iraq. 5:30 p.m., 815 16th St. N.W.
Today on Governing.com
State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
PENNSYLVANIA — Governor Invites Bids for Turnpike
THE NORTHEAST — E. Coli Outbreak Traced to Onions
CALIFORNIA — Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal Uncertain
HOUSTON — City to Spend $35 Million on Apartment Fix-Ups
COOK COUNTY, ILL.— County's Old Gallows Sold for $68,300
CQ Products
CQ Legislative Impact: How New Bills Affect Current Law
Using an enhanced version of our Bill Text product and integrating it with our new Public Law Text and U.S. Code services, CQ Legislative Impact shows you the connections between pending bills and current law more accurately — and faster — than ever before.
Comprehensive news and legislative tracking, including floor and committee coverage, schedules, member profiles, news and hearing transcripts and government documents.
CQ's weekly news magazine has been redesigned to cover all the forces that shape public policy. From Capitol Hill to K Street to the White House, CQ Weekly provides fresh perspectives on how policy is shaped and who is shaping it.
Forward-looking articles on each day's important Hill activity plus comprehensive coverage of the previous day's congressional news and the Hill's most accurate daily schedule. Print edition or e-mail PDF delivered by 7 a.m.
Stay ahead of the curve with customized notifications of breaking news based on your CQ Today alerts profile.
Enhanced CQ BillTrack brings you same-day notification of critical bill action.
A one-stop Web site and daily e-mail newsletter for tracking the federal budget and appropriations.
CQ offers the text of committee amendments — often before they've even been acted upon.
The new CQ Green Sheets is a revolutionary resource that gets inside the energy and environmental policy landscape.
Same-day coverage of federal health care policy.
CQ provides ongoing coverage of the largest reorganization of the federal government in more than 50 years.
Analysis of every bill and amendment scheduled for consideration on the House floor, briefings on the final versions of bills reported by conference committees, plus much more.
A free Web site with original news and analysis from Congressional Quarterly's reporters and editors. Election forecast map, balance of power scorecards, Craig Crawford and more. Every District. Every State. Every Day.
Your first source for information on politics, policy and people.
Get the appropriations draft bills and reports you need all in one easy-to-use resource, plus access to CRS, GAO, CBO, OMB documents, press releases, and much more.

President and Editor-in-Chief: Robert W. Merry
Editor and Senior Vice President: David Rapp

Executive Editors: Anne Q. Hoy, Mike Mills and Susan Benkelman
Managing Editors: Randy Wynn and Mark Stencel
Assistant Managing Editor: Daniel J. Parks
Deputy Editor: Chris Wright
Associate Editor: Martha Angle
Midday Update Product Editors: Arwen Bicknell, Jessica Scheuer, Jesse Stanchak and Paul Volpe

Reporters: The staff of Congressional Quarterly
Political Clippings compiled from BNN Frontrunner and CQ Politics.com

Publisher and Senior Vice President: Keith A. White
V.P. Advertising, Beth Bronder
Chief Marketing Officer: Greg Hamilton
V.P., Sales: Jim Gale
Chief Information Officer: Larry B. Tunks
Chief Financial Officer: Diane Atwell
Director, Strategy and Development: Neil Maslansky

Copyright 2006 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.

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FW: CQ Almanac: Plan for the future by understanding the past

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CQ Today Midday Update

CQ Today Midday Update
Highlights from today's news on www.cq.com
Published by Congressional QuarterlyE-mail the editor
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6, 2006 – 2:55 P.M.
Edited by Charles Hoskinson

Mixed Reaction on Capitol Hill to Iraq Report

    Democrats today hailed the Iraq Study Group report as a repudiation of administration policy in Iraq, while Republicans said it proved their point there should be no arbitrary deadline for withdrawal.
    President Bush and lawmakers from both parties seized on the release of the report as an opportunity to call for a bipartisan approach to resolving the crisis.
    The report called for a major reduction in U.S. combat troops, saying that if its recommendations were followed, the withdrawal could be completed by early 2008.
    It also recommended a significant increase in U.S. military advisers and engagement with other nations in the region, notably Iran and Syria.
    In another diplomatic recommendation that may not go down well with the administration, it also called for concerted action on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
    In Congress, both parties blasted the media with reactions, which were generally positive, focusing on the panel’s efforts to create new bipartisan ground to resolve the difficulties facing U.S. troops.
    Bush said after meeting panel members that the administration would take the report “very seriously” and urged Congress to do the same.

Ryan White Reauthorization Halfway Home as Senate Passes Compromise

    The Senate today amended and passed a bill renewing federal AIDS programs for low-income victims of the disease, but House leaders were non-committal about clearing the legislation by week’s end.
    The bill (HR 6143) was passed by voice vote, after senators from New York and New Jersey agreed to a compromise version of the legislation and dropped procedural roadblocks they had used to stall the bill.
    The New York and New Jersey lawmakers were concerned because the House-passed version of the bill would have re-directed money from AIDS programs in their states to other states with growing populations of HIV patients.
    The bill reauthorizes for three years the Ryan White CARE Act (PL 101-381), a 1990 law that governs about $2 billion in federal assistance for AIDS drugs and services, most of it distributed through state and city AIDS programs. The law is named after a young hemophiliac who became an AIDS activist after contracting the disease and died the year the law was enacted.

Bush Seeks Support From Moderate Democrats

    President Bush plans to step up efforts to woo moderate Democrats when he hosts a meeting Friday at the White House with leaders of the New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition.
    Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, D-Calif., chairman of the 63-member New Democratic Coalition, said the White House last week invited leaders of her group and the 44-member Blue Dog Coalition to meet with Bush.
    Tauscher, however, said she doubted there would be much time to focus on any substantive issues because the meeting is scheduled for less than 30 minutes.
    “It’s a gesture by the president. We are public servants that believe in the constitution and have respect for the office of the president,” she said. “It’s better than a photo op. But it’s a lot less than a policy discussion.”
    With Democrats in control of both parties, Bush has been looking for ways to win Democratic votes on his priorities when the 110th Congress convenes next year. New Democrats have traditionally supported his agenda on trade and tax breaks for businesses. Blue Dogs also have sided with Bush on issues such as tax incentives for ethanol and other types of alternative fuels.

House Passes Bill to Reauthorize the Export-Import Bank

    The House today passed legislation by voice vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank through fiscal 2011 and expand bank efforts to promote small-business interests.
    The Senate passed the bill (S 3938) early Sept. 30, the day the current authorization expired. Lawmakers included language temporarily extending the authorization in the continuing resolution included in the conference report for the Defense appropriations bill (PL 109-289).
    Since House lawmakers amended the bill, it will go back to the Senate, where the changes are not expected to cause a problem. The chamber could clear the legislation later Wednesday by voice vote, said Susan Wheeler, spokeswoman for Sen. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, sponsor of the Senate bill.
    Created by Congress in 1934, the Export-Import Bank offers financing for U.S. businesses that want to export their products abroad. It also offers export credit insurance and loan guarantees, as well as direct loans to buyers to help promote the sale of U.S. goods overseas.

Democrats Ratify Chairmen of Exclusive House Committees

    House Democrats today ratified their leaders’ decision to let the top ranking members on several powerful committees assume the chairmanships in January.
    In a private caucus, Democrats gave voice-vote approval to the selection of Charles B. Rangel of New York as the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; David R. Obey of Wisconsin to head the Appropriations Committee; John D. Dingell of Michigan to run the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Barney Frank of Massachusetts to take the top position on the Financial Services Committee.
    Because of the scope and power of those four “exclusive committees,” Democrats assigned to them are not allowed to serve on another standing committee.
    The party’s Steering Committee, controlled largely by Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had recommended those chairmanships Tuesday, and will meet again Wednesday to consider the chairmanships of other committees.

Political Clippings

    The Concord Monitor reports that if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., chooses to run for president in 2008, she can count on the New Hampshire campaign team that helped her husband to a second-place finish in 1992. “I would love it if she did run, and I’m just waiting to hear,” said Deb Crapo, who helped organize Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign in Rockingham County. The daily quoted state Democrats as saying the skeleton of Bill Clinton’s campaign is ready to re-emerge as soon as she declares her candidacy. Clinton supporters “are in hibernation. They’re waiting for their marching orders,” said Arnie Arnesen, a political analyst and former radio talk show host.
    The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., is benefiting from voter suspicion of the federal government in the runoff against Democratic state Sen. Karen Carter for his 2nd District seat. Jefferson remains under federal investigation though he denies taking bribes. The daily said interviews with Jefferson’s supporters revealed “deep skepticism about the Justice Department’s motives and questions about whether it will be able to make a corruption case against him.” Katheryn Russell-Brown, director of the Center for Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida Law School, said for many black voters past racism “raises the antenna whenever a prominent African-American is accused of wrongdoing.”

Political Trivia

    Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, was originally a businessman who made a fortune with the Franklin Day Planner, a popular schedule organizer. His successful 1992 bid for the Senate at 59 was his first campaign, but he was no stranger to Washington even then. He had worked for his father as an aide, and in the 1970s was an adviser to President Nixon. Bennett also owned a public relations firm that employed E. Howard Hunt, who was indicted in the Watergate burglary that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation. (Source: CQ Politics in America 2006) More info
Today in Washington
House
Takes up several measures under suspension of the rules including a reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board (HR 5076) and a measure on pipeline safety (HR 5782).
Senate
Takes up the nomination of Robert M. Gates as secretary of Defense.
The President
Meets separately with the Iraq Study Group, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and members of Congress.
In Washington
The School of Advanced International Studies holds a program with John Dunlop of the Hoover Institution and Svante Cornell of SAIS on the program for the North Caucasus of Dmitri Kozak, Russian President Putin’s special representative in that region. 5 p.m., Auditorium, 1619 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Today on Governing.com
State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEW YORK CITY — Birth-Certificate Gender-Changing Scrapped
CHEROKEE COUNTY, GA. — County OKs Immigrant Crackdown
CHICAGO — Overseer: City Resisting Hiring Reform
DEARBORN, MICH. — Longtime Mayor Dies
CALIFORNIA — Uninsured-Motorist Crackdown Nets 180,000
CQ Products
CQ Legislative Impact: How New Bills Affect Current Law
Using an enhanced version of our Bill Text product and integrating it with our new Public Law Text and U.S. Code services, CQ Legislative Impact shows you the connections between pending bills and current law more accurately — and faster — than ever before.
Comprehensive news and legislative tracking, including floor and committee coverage, schedules, member profiles, news and hearing transcripts and government documents.
CQ's weekly news magazine has been redesigned to cover all the forces that shape public policy. From Capitol Hill to K Street to the White House, CQ Weekly provides fresh perspectives on how policy is shaped and who is shaping it.
Forward-looking articles on each day's important Hill activity plus comprehensive coverage of the previous day's congressional news and the Hill's most accurate daily schedule. Print edition or e-mail PDF delivered by 7 a.m.
Stay ahead of the curve with customized notifications of breaking news based on your CQ Today alerts profile.
Enhanced CQ BillTrack brings you same-day notification of critical bill action.
A one-stop Web site and daily e-mail newsletter for tracking the federal budget and appropriations.
CQ offers the text of committee amendments — often before they've even been acted upon.
The new CQ Green Sheets is a revolutionary resource that gets inside the energy and environmental policy landscape.
Same-day coverage of federal health care policy.
CQ provides ongoing coverage of the largest reorganization of the federal government in more than 50 years.
Analysis of every bill and amendment scheduled for consideration on the House floor, briefings on the final versions of bills reported by conference committees, plus much more.
A free Web site with original news and analysis from Congressional Quarterly's reporters and editors. Election forecast map, balance of power scorecards, Craig Crawford and more. Every District. Every State. Every Day.
Your first source for information on politics, policy and people.
Get the appropriations draft bills and reports you need all in one easy-to-use resource, plus access to CRS, GAO, CBO, OMB documents, press releases, and much more.

President and Editor-in-Chief: Robert W. Merry
Editor and Senior Vice President: David Rapp

Executive Editors: Anne Q. Hoy, Mike Mills and Susan Benkelman
Managing Editors: Randy Wynn and Mark Stencel
Assistant Managing Editor: Daniel J. Parks
Deputy Editor: Chris Wright
Associate Editor: Martha Angle
Midday Update Product Editors: Arwen Bicknell, Jessica Scheuer, Jesse Stanchak and Paul Volpe

Reporters: The staff of Congressional Quarterly
Political Clippings compiled from BNN Frontrunner and CQ Politics.com

Publisher and Senior Vice President: Keith A. White
V.P. Advertising, Beth Bronder
Chief Marketing Officer: Greg Hamilton
V.P., Sales: Jim Gale
Chief Information Officer: Larry B. Tunks
Chief Financial Officer: Diane Atwell
Director, Strategy and Development: Neil Maslansky

Copyright 2006 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

CQ Today Midday Update

CQ Today Midday Update
Highlights from today's news on www.cq.com
Published by Congressional QuarterlyE-mail the editor
TUESDAY, DEC. 5, 2006 – 2:29 P.M.
Edited by Charles Hoskinson

Gates Pledges Cooperation on Iraq

    Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s pick to become Defense secretary, told a Senate panel today he believes the United States is losing the war in Iraq and would make it his “highest priority” if confirmed.
    He warned members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that if Iraq were not stabilized it could lead to a “regional conflagration” in one or two years.
    Responding to concerns from lawmakers, Gates said he was open to new ideas for winning the war and pledged to “seek your counsel and take it seriously.
    “In my view, all options are on the table, in terms of how we address this problem in Iraq, in terms of how we can be more successful and how we can, at some point, begin to draw down our forces,” Gates said.
    With few concerns raised about Gates’ qualifications, the committee could vote later Tuesday to back him for the Pentagon post and send his nomination to the full Senate for final approval by the end of this week.

GOP Leadership Pulls Offshore Drilling Bill

    Republicans abruptly abandoned plans to seek a House vote on an offshore drilling bill today, an acknowledgement that they could not muster a two-thirds majority to clear it without amendments.
    Some GOP aides said leaders plan to attach the bill (S 3711) to a package of tax breaks Republicans hope to pass before adjournment, although one leadership aide said no final decision has been made.
    Retiring House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., said things are “up in the air” when asked if he would put the offshore drilling measure in a tax extenders bill.
    The bill’s backers say they have more than enough votes to clear the legislation under regular procedures requiring a simple majority vote, but they are looking for ways to clear the bill without amendments. Time is critical, and Senate leaders have said the bill could fall prey to a Democratic filibuster if it is amended.
    “We’ve got a majority of votes to pass this legislation,” said Bobby Jindal, R-La., who worked on another offshore drilling bill (HR 4761) in the House. “The challenge is to pass it without amendments.”

Democrats Want Conditions on War Supplemental

    A war supplemental that could run as high as $160 billion will likely come with conditions attached, Democratic leaders said today following a closed-door caucus meeting on Iraq.
    The spending request, which President Bush is expected to send to Congress in February, will be closely scrutinized by House and Senate committees, said incoming House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.
    “There may well be attached to the $160 billion, various parameters that the Congress expects to be met.”
    Hoyer would not provide more details on what specific conditions could be imposed.
    Incoming House Democratic Conference Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., said the president’s supplemental request, “is going to be a turning point.”
    “There will be vigorous involvement by our committees,” Hoyer said.
    Hoyer pledged “very substantial oversight and involvement by the Congress,” in particular the House Armed Services Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
    “We believe there has not been accountability, there has not been oversight, there has not been a question of policy in the last six years,” Hoyer said. “To that extent, the Congress has been complicit and complacent. We’re going to change that.”

House to Name Conferees on India Deal

    The House of Representatives was expected today to name conferees to complete legislative action on a landmark nuclear commerce deal with India.
    While the initiative (HR 5682) enjoys widespread bipartisan support, a last-minute request from the administration to amend sections of the Senate and House versions has infuriated opponents of the deal.
    Led by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., the critics urged conferees to resist attempts to remove provisions they said would hurt efforts to restrict nuclear proliferation globally, particularly in Iran.
    They were referring to a letter Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote last week to the chairmen and ranking members of the House International Relations and Senate Foreign Relations committees.
    Asking for changes to eight sections of the legislation, she wrote that the consultation and reporting requirements included in both House and Senate versions, taken cumulatively, were “unduly burdensome.”
    Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association and a leading critic of the legislation, said time was running out if the administration continued to insist on so many deletions and substitutions.
    “If they don’t get everything nailed down in the next 24 to 36 hours, they’re going to run out of time,” he said.

House Republicans Renew Conference Rules, Including Term Limits

    Now that they are in the minority, House Republicans are figuring out where to place their once-powerful chairmen on Democratic-run committees.
    At a closed-door meeting today, Republicans approved conference rules, including a renewal of caucus term limits, that will force a handful of outgoing chairmen to give up the top slots their committees. The GOP decided to continue a rule requiring chairmanship term limits to be applied to those who would be ranking Republicans in the minority. The GOP rules limit the top person on each committee to six-year maximums.
    The most high-profile casualties of this rule will be outgoing Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., who will no longer be the top Republican on that committee, and Don Young, R-Alaska, the outgoing chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Small Business Committee Chairman Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., also cannot become the ranking Republican on his committee.
    Lamar Smith, R-Texas, appears to be in line for Judiciary. Actively campaigning for the top GOP slot on Transportation are John L. Mica of Florida, Tom Petri of Wisconsin and John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., of Tennessee.

Political Clippings

    Long Island Newsday reports that Republican New York Gov. George E. Pataki said on Monday he would decide in the next few weeks whether to run for president. Pataki, speaking to CNN, said he believes he can overcome low poll numbers and draw backing from conservatives despite his support for abortion rights and gay marriage. “I don’t think there’s any question that someone who has a vision and a proven record of leadership . . . consistent with Republican philosophies of limited government . . . can win the nomination and the election,” Pataki told host Wolf Blitzer.
    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson has been silent on his presidential ambitions in the two and a half weeks since he suggested he might seek the Republican nomination. Thompson “was out of the country last week, reportedly in Spain and definitely unavailable to be interviewed and unresponsive to interview requests. The same, curious quiet is all that’s come lately from ‘Team Thompson,’ his coterie of advisers.” Ex-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who met recently with Thompson, said, “I think he’s still on the fence. I think he’d like to run, but I also think he’s a realist in looking at how big the task is.”
    The Des Moines Register reports that aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she has began calling Iowa Democrats on Monday about the state’s political landscape with an eye toward its 2008 presidential nominating caucuses. “She’s begun the process of making some calls into Iowa,” Clinton communication director Lorraine Voles said, calling it a “continuation” of the process of reaching out to supporters across the country. The Manchester Union-Leader reports that Clinton has also sounded out Democrats in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primaries.

Political Trivia

    Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., is a former reading, music and physical education teacher. She decided to run for a seat on the West Linn City Council in 1977 because she was unhappy with the response she got when she complained that her son had been injured in a fall on a public playground. Told by council members that safety improvements to the playground would be too expensive, she decided to run for the city council herself and won. (Source: CQ Politics in America 2006) More info
Today in Washington
House
Takes up a number of measures under suspension of the rules including a bill on emergency patent waivers (HR 4742).
Senate
Takes up several measures including the Agriculture appropriations bill (HR 5384).
The President
Appears with Secretary of Defense nominee Robert M. Gates and later hosts a dinner for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and his wife at the White House.
In Washington
American University hosts the Abensohn Lecture, “Ethnic Diversity in Israel: Immigration, Assimilation and Israel’s Future,” delivered by Calvin Goldscheider, Polinger Scholar in Residence. 8 p.m. - 10 p.m., American University’s Katzen Arts Center Abramson Family Recital Hall 4400 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Today on Governing.com
State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PA. — Merger Pushed for Police Departments
NEW YORK CITY— NASCAR Racetrack Plan Scrapped
NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY— Dozens Sickened in E. Coli Outbreak
TEXAS — State Bans Smoking in Foster Homes
CQ Products
CQ Legislative Impact: How New Bills Affect Current Law
Using an enhanced version of our Bill Text product and integrating it with our new Public Law Text and U.S. Code services, CQ Legislative Impact shows you the connections between pending bills and current law more accurately — and faster — than ever before.
Comprehensive news and legislative tracking, including floor and committee coverage, schedules, member profiles, news and hearing transcripts and government documents.
CQ's weekly news magazine has been redesigned to cover all the forces that shape public policy. From Capitol Hill to K Street to the White House, CQ Weekly provides fresh perspectives on how policy is shaped and who is shaping it.
Forward-looking articles on each day's important Hill activity plus comprehensive coverage of the previous day's congressional news and the Hill's most accurate daily schedule. Print edition or e-mail PDF delivered by 7 a.m.
Stay ahead of the curve with customized notifications of breaking news based on your CQ Today alerts profile.
Enhanced CQ BillTrack brings you same-day notification of critical bill action.
A one-stop Web site and daily e-mail newsletter for tracking the federal budget and appropriations.
CQ offers the text of committee amendments — often before they've even been acted upon.
The new CQ Green Sheets is a revolutionary resource that gets inside the energy and environmental policy landscape.
Same-day coverage of federal health care policy.
CQ provides ongoing coverage of the largest reorganization of the federal government in more than 50 years.
Analysis of every bill and amendment scheduled for consideration on the House floor, briefings on the final versions of bills reported by conference committees, plus much more.
A free Web site with original news and analysis from Congressional Quarterly's reporters and editors. Election forecast map, balance of power scorecards, Craig Crawford and more. Every District. Every State. Every Day.
Your first source for information on politics, policy and people.
Get the appropriations draft bills and reports you need all in one easy-to-use resource, plus access to CRS, GAO, CBO, OMB documents, press releases, and much more.

President and Editor-in-Chief: Robert W. Merry
Editor and Senior Vice President: David Rapp

Executive Editors: Anne Q. Hoy, Mike Mills and Susan Benkelman
Managing Editors: Randy Wynn and Mark Stencel
Assistant Managing Editor: Daniel J. Parks
Deputy Editor: Chris Wright
Associate Editor: Martha Angle
Midday Update Product Editors: Arwen Bicknell, Jessica Scheuer, Jesse Stanchak and Paul Volpe

Reporters: The staff of Congressional Quarterly
Political Clippings compiled from BNN Frontrunner and CQ Politics.com

Publisher and Senior Vice President: Keith A. White
V.P. Advertising, Beth Bronder
Chief Marketing Officer: Greg Hamilton
V.P., Sales: Jim Gale
Chief Information Officer: Larry B. Tunks
Chief Financial Officer: Diane Atwell
Director, Strategy and Development: Neil Maslansky

Copyright 2006 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.

To sign up for this newsletter, visit:
To be removed from this mailing list: