Friday, May 25, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2007 – 2:36 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush Likely to Lead Shift in Iraq Policy This Fall, McConnell Says
  • Intelligence Officials Warned of Rocky Post-War Path in Iraq, Senate Panel Says
  • Senate Panel Boosts Military Pay, Benefits in Authorization Measure
  • Senate Finance Drafts Plan to Require Cost-Basis Reporting to IRS
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate considers proposed amendments to a compromise immigration overhaul bill (S 1348).

The President visits wounded military personnel at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

In Washington, the Universal Muslim Association of America holds its convention, “The Future of Muslims in America,” to provide a setting for Shiite Muslims from the United States and Canada to meet and discuss topics important to their communities. May 25-27, Sheraton Premiere Hotel at Tysons Corner, 8661 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, Va.

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Top Stories

Bush Likely to Lead Shift in Iraq Policy This Fall, McConnell Says

As President Bush prepared to sign a $120 billion Iraq War funding bill later today, House Democratic leaders vowed to keep up the pressure for a change of course in the war. The Senate’s top Republican predicted Bush himself would lead such a shift this fall.  [Read More]

Intelligence Officials Warned of Rocky Post-War Path in Iraq, Senate Panel Says

U.S. intelligence officials warned before the Iraq War that creating a stable, democratic government “would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent process,” the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a report released Friday, said  [Read More]

Senate Panel Boosts Military Pay, Benefits in Authorization Measure

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s $648.8 billion defense authorization bill would boost pay and benefits for military personnel beyond the White House’s request and significantly change the administration’s priorities on new weapons.  [Read More]

Senate Finance Drafts Plan to Require Cost-Basis Reporting to IRS

The Senate Finance Committee plans to consider legislation this year that would require brokers to report the cost basis of securities sold by their clients.  [Read More]

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TheCapitol.Net: Capitol Hill Workshop

This TheCapitol.Net workshop features an intensive 3-day overview of Congress and gives you an overview of the legislative process while highlighting the forces that influence decision making in Congress.
WHERE: In Washington, D.C.
WHEN: June 13 - 15, 2007, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Registration Fee: $1295
Full program description and online registration, or call our registrar at 202-678-1600.
This training conference is sponsored by TheCapitol.Net, exclusive provider of Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences.

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Democrat Ellen Simon has dropped her bid for a rematch with Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., though there’s no shortage of other Democrats seeking to unseat him. Simon, a civil rights attorney who lost to Renzi by 52 percent to 43 percent last year after matters involving her personal life were aired by political opponents, said she was withdrawing for personal reasons. Renzi is seen as vulnerable by Democrats because of his connection to a pending federal investigation into a land deal.

The Ashland Daily Tidings in Oregon reports that Democratic state Sen. Alan Bates has been pondering a challenge to Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., and plans to announce his decision after the end of the legislative session this summer. “We are just waiting for him to say that he is in,” said Paulie Brading, chairwoman of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee. She said Bates needs to project himself as a just left-of-center Democrat so as not to be painted by his opponents as a radical senator “from latte-drinking, Volvo-driving Ashland.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is getting a lot of attention from his confrontation with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in last week’s GOP debate. The attention has given him an opening to push his controversial views, including his stance that America provoked the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by meddling in the Middle East. But it’s also drawn at least two challengers into the race for his seat in 2008. Paul said the Giuliani confrontation “was a tremendous opportunity, because the real debate is out in the open now.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Steep Transit Fare Hikes Approved
DALLAS/FORT WORTH: Ozone Plan May Not Satisfy Feds
ARIZONA/INDIANA: Inmate Transfers Halted in Wake of Riot
CALIFORNIA: Energy Panel Mulls Return to Deregulation

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Political Trivia

Now serving his 10th term in the House, Rep. Paul E. Gillmor, R-Ohio, won his first primary for the seat in 1988 by just 27 votes, the smallest margin in any House contest that year. But he garnered 61 percent of the vote in the general election. He has won handily ever since. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007 – 2:52 P.M.

In This Issue

  • House Republicans Jolt Democrats on Lobbying Overhaul
  • War Funding Bill Moving Toward House Passage
  • Senators Seek 60-Vote Test for Contentious Immigration Amendments
  • Commodity Crops Will Get No Extra Funds, House Chairman Says
  • Brady Named to Lead House Administration Panel
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Today in Washington

The House considers bills to impose more rigorous requirements on disclosure and enforcement of lobbying laws (HR 2316), to require registered lobbyists to file quarterly reports on bundled contributions (HR 2317) and to provide fiscal 2007 emergency war supplemental funding (HR 2206).

The Senate considers proposed amendments to a compromise immigration overhaul bill (S 1348).

The President holds a news conference on Iraq War funding and immigration overhaul; participates in a photo opportunity with recipients of the President’s “E” Award and “E Star” Award to recognize efforts to increase U.S. exports.

In Washington, the Cato Institute hosts a policy forum, “Health Savings Accounts: Not Entirely Consumer Directed (Yet).” Participants include Michael F. Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Katherine Baicker, member of the Council of Economic Advisers and Jason Furman, senior fellow and director of the Hamilton Project, 4 p.m., Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

House Republicans Jolt Democrats on Lobbying Overhaul

Democrats who campaigned successfully last year against a “culture of corruption” in the Republican-controlled Congress found themselves one-upped today when more than 30 of their own members voted for a GOP motion to strengthen the package.  [Read More]

War Funding Bill Moving Toward House Passage

A $120 billion fiscal 2007 Iraq War supplemental spending bill was expected to pass the House this afternoon after lawmakers made last-minute changes dictated by the White House.  [Read More]

Senators Seek 60-Vote Test for Contentious Immigration Amendments

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today that a bipartisan effort is under way behind the scenes to keep an immigration overhaul moving through the Senate expeditiously.  [Read More]

Commodity Crops Will Get No Extra Funds, House Chairman Says

Corn, soy, rice and wheat growers will get no help from a multibillion-dollar budget reserve fund under a five-year farm bill now taking shape, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said Thursday.  [Read More]

Brady Named to Lead House Administration Panel

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., as chairman of the House Administration Committee.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that now that Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., appears to be recovering from a brain hemorrhage that put him in a fight for his life five months ago, potential Republican candidates are starting to venture into the field for next year’s Senate contest. So far, two possible candidates have edged up to the plate. State Rep. Joel D. Dykstra and self-employed businessman Sam Kephart have been vocal in stating their interest in the race, though neither has filed paperwork with the FEC to launch a candidacy. Democratic Senate colleagues helped Johnson raise $665,000 in the first quarter of 2007 and he had $1.2 million on hand as of April 1 for a 2008 re-election bid.

According to the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, “the Republican Party primary is more than 14 months away, but Jim Ryun on Wednesday claimed a lead over State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins in the race for the GOP nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. Ryun released an internal campaign poll that showed him leading 61 percent to 27 percent among likely Republican voters.” Democrat Nancy Boyda defeated Ryun last November in one of the year’s major upsets. The five-term Republican is seeking a rematch next year but first must contend with Jenkins, a former state legislaor “who has won two statewide races handily.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEW YORK CITY: Ground Zero Insurers to Pay Billions
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Sheriff Goes Big-Time for Reality Shows
LAWRENCE, Kan.: City Recognizes Domestic Partners
CALIFORNIA: State Bans New Municipal Coal-Power Contracts

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Political Trivia

Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., is a big booster of the military. Both his parents served in the Army as captains. His father was in a tank destroyer battalion, his mother in military intelligence. “They were pacing each other,” he says. “They’d call each other and Daddy said, ‘Well, I just made captain.’ And Mama said, ‘Me too.’ ” (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2007 – 2:21 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Poised to Cut Back Guest Worker Program
  • House GOP Support Needed to Pass Iraq Funding Bill
  • House Panel Approves Energy-Water Appropriations Bill
  • Brushing Off Veto Threat, House Votes to Ban Gas Price Gouging
  • Goodling Says She ‘Crossed the Line’ in Hiring Attorneys
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Today in Washington

The House considers various measures under suspension of the rules, including a bill to protect consumers from price-gouging of gasoline (HR 1252) and a half-dozen veterans-related measures, including bills to extend eligibility for free medical care for returning combat veterans (HR 612), to expand research and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (HR 2199) and to boost outreach programs at the Veterans Affairs Department (HR 67).

The Senate considers proposed amendments to a compromise immigration overhaul bill (S 1348).

The President delivers commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

In Washington, the Library of Congress presents its first Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Paul Simon. 8 p.m.,Warner Theater, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Poised to Cut Back Guest Worker Program

The Senate appears poised to sharply reduce the number of temporary visas that could be granted to guest workers under an immigration overhaul.  [Read More]

House GOP Support Needed to Pass Iraq Funding Bill

House and Senate leaders remained optimistic today that Congress will send President Bush a final war spending measure by week’s end.  [Read More]

House Panel Approves Energy-Water Appropriations Bill

House appropriators delivered a sharp rebuke to the Energy Department today, scaling back or rejecting key nuclear weapons initiatives and shifting money toward clean energy and nonproliferation programs instead.  [Read More]

Brushing Off Veto Threat, House Votes to Ban Gas Price Gouging

The House ignored a White House veto threat and passed a bill today that seeks to ban price gouging for gasoline and other fuels.  [Read More]

Goodling Says She ‘Crossed the Line’ in Hiring Attorneys

Monica Goodling, a former top Justice Department aide, said she went too far in considering the political leanings of job candidates during testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, renominated in yesterday’s GOP primary election, faces a more difficult challenge in November, as he struggles to overcome ethics questions and divisions within his own party. Fletcher took 50 percent of the vote to defeat former GOP Rep. Anne M. Northup, who had 37 percent. A third candidate trailed with 13 percent. Fletcher will face Democrat Steve Beshear, a former lieutenant governor, who drew 41 percent in a six-candidate field, just enough to avoid a June 26 runoff. Fletcher continues to struggle in the polls. A SurveyUSA poll taken earlier this month put his approval rating at 38 percent and his disapproval rating at 58 percent.

Bloomberg.com reports that in the 2000 nominating season, independents in New Hampshire — “who are a plurality of the voters in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary — chose in overwhelming numbers to vote in the Republican contest, fueling Arizona Senator John McCain’s victory. Next year, according to the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, more than two-thirds of independents plan to vote in the Democratic primary, driven by a desire for change and dissatisfaction with the Iraq war and President George W. Bush. ... Andy Smith, the poll director at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, said the movement of independents to the Democrats might help Obama, the Illinois senator, more than his New York colleague Clinton, who polls show is stronger with the party’s base.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa.: Court Overturns County Smoking Ban
THE DALLAS REGION: North Texas Chosen for 2011 Super Bowl
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Empowering of County Exec Approved
PROVIDENCE, R.I.: Imprisoned Mayor Headed for Hotel Job
DELAWARE: State Pushes for Nation's First Offshore Wind Farm
ILLINOIS: Governor's Campaign-Fund Records Subpoenaed
CALIFORNIA: State Presses Feds on Emissions Waiver

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Political Trivia

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was born in July 1955, six months after his predecessor, the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, was first sworn in to the Senate. Graham is the son of a tavern owner who grew up racking billiards in his parents’ bar in the textile town of Central, S.C. The death of both parents when he was not yet out of college left him to care for his 13-year-old sister, Darlene, whom he legally adopted. “It changes your world and you have to grow up a lot quicker,” Graham said. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007 – 2:11 P.M.

In This Issue

  • House To Take Up Revised Iraq War Funding Bill Thursday
  • Guest Worker Amendment Offers Early Test for Immigration Bill
  • Chairman’s Money Shuffle Creates Friction Over House Farm Bill
  • Military Construction-VA Spending Approved by House Panel
  • House Passes Anti-’Spyware’ Bill
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Today in Washington

The House considers a bill to change regulation of mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (HR 1427) and legislation to limit interim appointments of U.S. attorneys to 120 days (S 214).

The Senate considers a bill to overhaul immigration policy (S 1348).

The President has no public events scheduled.

In Washington, National Geographic holds the two-day 2007 National Geographic Bee May 22-23, Doubletree Hotel Crystal City, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Va.

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Top Stories

House To Take Up Revised Iraq War Funding Bill Thursday

The latest war spending bill is expected to come to the House floor Thursday, though Congress may need to work through the weekend to clear a bill for President Bush to sign by Memorial Day, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said today.  [Read More]

Guest Worker Amendment Offers Early Test for Immigration Bill

A bipartisan immigration overhaul will face its first major substantive test today when some Democrats attempt to strip a key provision from the package — a temporary guest worker program.  [Read More]

Chairman’s Money Shuffle Creates Friction Over House Farm Bill

Aides say members of the House Agriculture Committee are unhappy with how Chairman Collin C. Peterson has handled this year’s farm bill so far.  [Read More]

Military Construction-VA Spending Approved by House Panel

The House Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee approved a $109.2 billion draft bill for veterans and military construction today amid a heated dispute over the absence of earmarks in the bill.  [Read More]

House Passes Anti-’Spyware’ Bill

The House today took a step toward cracking down on identity theft, passing a bill that would make it illegal to maliciously install spyware on someone’s computer.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, scarred by a series of ethics controversies, nonetheless appears likely to prevail in today’s three-way Republican primary. Fletcher, a House member from 1999 to 2003, is being challenged by formerGOP Rep. Anne M. Northup, defeated last year in the Louisville-based 3rd District. The Democratic primary is more crowded and less clear-cut, with six candidates vying for the party’s nomination. Kentucky law requires a 40 percent vote share to win the primary outright. Former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear and businessman Bruce Lunsford appear likely to be the top two vote-getters; they would compete in a June 26 runoff if it is necessary.

Stateline.org reports that the average pay for governors in the United States is $124,398. “A list of 2007 gubernatorial salaries compiled by the Council of State Governments shows the largest at $206,500 in California, though the governor doesn’t accept it, and the smallest at $70,000 in Maine, where the governor hasn’t gotten a raise in 20 years. At $179,000, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) draws the largest salary among governors who actually accept one. . . . Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D) took an $80,000 pay cut in 2003 when he traded a U.S. House seat for the governor’s mansion.” He is “one of 10 current governors who once served in the U.S. Congress, positions that come with a $165,200 salary, higher than 45 gubernatorial pay rates.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
LOS ANGELES: Mayor Ends School-Takeover Effort
MOSCOW, Idaho: Three Dead in Courthouse Shootings
THE DENVER REGION: Privatization Eyed for New Rail Lines
THE NATION: Study: Rust Belt States Failing Cities
SAN FRANCISCO: FBI Probes City Supervisor
CALIFORNIA: Governor Kills Offshore Gas Terminal
TEXAS: 226 Youth Inmates to Be Released
THE NATION: Evolution Foe in Line to Head National School Group

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Political Trivia

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was born and raised in the small town of Clare, Mich. Her father was an Oldsmobile dealer, her mother a nurse. The eldest of three children, she credits her parents with urging her to reach high. “I was very blessed,” she told the Detroit News in 2005. “In high school, I would hear ‘nurse’ or ‘teacher’ as career options. But dad would say, ‘No, doctor or engineer.’ He gave me confidence to take risks, to push limits.” (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Monday, May 21, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, MAY 21, 2007 – 2:08 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bruising Battle Looms for Senate’s Immigration Bill
  • Pressure Intensifies for Deal on Iraq War Funding Bill
  • Supreme Court Ducks Employee Lawsuit Against Former Senator
  • Florida Moves 2008 Primary to Jan. 29
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Today in Washington

The House considers various measures under suspension of the rules, including bills to block retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., from setting up their own banks (HR 698) and to bolster U.S. global competitiveness in math and science (HR 2272).

The Senate considers a motion to proceed to an immigration overhaul.

The President participates in a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at his ranch in Texas, then returns to the White House.

In Washington, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and HBO host the Washington, D.C., premiere of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” Executive producers Tom Thayer and Dick Wolf will join actor August Schellenberg at the event. 6:30 p.m., National Museum of the American Indian, 4th Street and Independence Ave., S.W.

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Top Stories

Bruising Battle Looms for Senate’s Immigration Bill

As the Senate prepared for a procedural vote at 5:30 p.m. that would launch its debate on a massive immigration overhaul, critics of the proposal continued to assail various elements of the bill.  [Read More]

Pressure Intensifies for Deal on Iraq War Funding Bill

With one week left until Memorial Day — the target date by which Congress wants to send an Iraq war spending bill to President Bush — negotiations are stepping up and conferees on the measure are set to meet officially tomorrow.  [Read More]

Supreme Court Ducks Employee Lawsuit Against Former Senator

The Supreme Court today refused to get involved in former Minnesota Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton’s bid to have the court dismiss an ex-aide’s lawsuit.  [Read More]

Florida Moves 2008 Primary to Jan. 29

GOP Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill this morning moving Florida’s 2008 presidential primary to Jan. 29, bypassing a dozen other states set for Feb. 5 and pushing near the front of the line, the Associated Press reported.  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
LOS ANGELES: Mayor Ends School-Takeover Effort
MOSCOW, Idaho: Three Dead in Courthouse Shootings
THE DENVER REGION: Privatization Eyed for New Rail Lines
THE NATION: Study: Rust Belt States Failing Cities
SAN FRANCISCO: FBI Probes City Supervisor
CALIFORNIA: Governor Kills Offshore Gas Terminal
TEXAS: 226 Youth Inmates to Be Released
THE NATION: Evolution Foe in Line to Head National School Group

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com, reports that Republicans are targeting freshman Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, D-Ariz., in 2008, hoping to revenge last year’s ouster of six-term Republican J.D. Hayworth. The 5th District, which includes Scottsdale and Tempe and has a slight Republican lean, and numerous potential challengers are considering the race. But Arizona is a “resign to run” state, so none has yet filed to oppose Mitchell. While the national GOP seeks to portray Mitchell as a loyal backer of liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat is busily raising money in preparation for his re-election contest. He raised $235,000 in the first three months of this year and had $223,000 in cash on hand as April began.

According to the Tacoma News Tribune, former Republican gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi “came close Saturday to challenging Gov. Chris Gregoire to a rematch. ‘I tell you what, if we did do this again, theoretically, we’re going to need you and everyone you know,’ Rossi told a conference of moderate Republican activists. ... Rossi said his family would make a decision before the end of the year whether he’ll run for governor again in 2008. He’s keeping himself in the public eye, going around the state giving speeches and signing copies of his book – generally acting like a candidate.”

The Omaha World-Herald reports that Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., “continued to hold his political cards close to the vest Saturday, while Jon Bruning laid his on the table at a gathering of state Republicans in Bellevue. Bruning, the Nebraska attorney general, made it clear he has decided to run for the U.S. Senate, even if that means going head-to-head against Hagel in a GOP primary.” Bruning “tried to paint Hagel as a less-than-loyal Republican” for his sharp criticism of the war in Iraq. But at a Friday night fundraiser where Hagel raised about $125,000, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, “‘Many of the predictions that Chuck made about how the war might go have come true.’”

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This Week in Health Policy on the Hill

Health on the Hill with kaisernetwork.org and CQ are weekly audio updates from CQ reporters highlighting the latest health policy developments on Capitol Hill. A podcast of the report is also available.
MEDICARE: Report finds abusive marketing practices with some Medicare private fee-for-service plans.
SCHIP: Fiscal 2008 budget resolution includes up to $50 billion in new spending for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
MEDICAL DEVICES: House panel weights reauthorization of medical device user fee act. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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Political Trivia

The second of seven children, Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and his family moved to California when he was 8 years old. He returned to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, where he met his wife. He took time out from school to serve on a Mormon mission to Guatemala and El Salvador, which he said has influenced his views on immigration. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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