Friday, June 29, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2007 – 2:21 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Votes to Overhaul Security Reviews of Foreign Investments
  • Grassley Again Urges Curbs on Trade Preferences for Some Developing Nations
  • Hearings Set for Controversial Surgeon General Nominee
  • On Eve of July Recess, Reid Threatens to Cancel August Break
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session; reconvenes July 10.

The Senate convenes at 9:45 a.m. for speeches only; reconvenes July 9.

The President is at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In Washington,  the Smithsonian Institution holds the 41st annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

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Top Stories

Senate Votes to Overhaul Security Reviews of Foreign Investments

Legislation that would overhaul the way the federal government assesses national security threats posed by foreign investments was passed by the Senate Friday by voice vote.  [Read More]

Grassley Again Urges Curbs on Trade Preferences for Some Developing Nations

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is continuing his push to scale back U.S. trade preferences for some developing countries that he sees as unfair competitors.  [Read More]

Hearings Set for Controversial Surgeon General Nominee

A Senate confirmation hearing has been scheduled for July 12 for President Bush’s nominee for surgeon general, who could face some pointed questioning about his views on gay rights issues.  [Read More]

On Eve of July Recess, Reid Threatens to Cancel August Break

Stymied by Republicans on the Sept. 11 commission bill and a lobbying overhaul, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today threatened to take away senators’ August vacation time.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott, who has pledged to seed his nascent high-stakes Senate campaign with $400,000 of his own money, could use his personal wealth to gain an edge over two other Democrats in the contest to take on six-term Sen. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., next year. Domenici, embroiled in controversy over the firing last year of his state’s U.S. attorney, has seen his approval rating in New Mexico dropping steadily since allegations about his role in the firing emerged in March, according to polls by SurveyUSA; as of mid-June, it rested at 51 percent, a low point for the year. Republicans, however, say Domenici is a strong favorite for re-election.

According to the Savannah Morning News, former Rep. Max Burns, R-Ga., “apparently doesn’t think the third time is the charm.” Burns, who was ousted by Democrat John Barrow in 2004 and “lost a rematch last year by less than 900 votes,” has not said whether he might try again next year in the 12th District. “But actions speak louder than words. Burns is the new chairman of the business administration department at North Georgia College & State University, the institution has confirmed. He’s due to move soon to the Dahlonega area, where the college is located. By the way, that’s in the 10th Congressional District, represented by Republican Nathan Deal.”

The Salisbury Daily Times reports, A second Democrat announced Thursday a campaign to dethrone nine-term U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md., demonstrating that the 1st District seat is being eyed by both sides of the aisle. Christopher Robinson, a Cambridge-based attorney, has started his second campaign for the seat, after finishing second in the 2006 Democratic primary behind Jim Corwin,” who is not running again. “His announcement, however, is still a month behind Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democratic State’s Attorney from Queen Anne’s County and favorite of Maryland’s leadership including Gov. Martin O’Malley, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Comptroller Peter Franchot. GOP state Sen. Andrew Harris “also started raising money for his primary challenge against Gilchrest.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Land of Freeways Looks to Toll Roads
THE NATION: For Parched Cities, a Fireworks-Free Fourth
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Congress Lifting Needle-Exchange Ban
ALABAMA: Former Governor Sentenced to Seven Years
CALLIFORNIA: Governor Fires Chief of Air-Pollution Board
KANSAS: A.G. Charges Abortion Doctor

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Political Trivia

Rep. H. James Saxton, R-N.J., “adopted” a striped bass several years ago to promote research and conservation of the ocean’s waters. The fish, tagged with an electronic device, can be tracked on his Web site. In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored him as “Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Legislator of the Year” for his success the year before in winning enactment of legislation promoting volunteerism at the nation’s fish hatcheries. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2007 – 2:05 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Immigration Bill Appears Doomed As Cloture Vote Fails in Senate
  • Bush Rejects Hill Subpoenas, Citing Executive Privilege
  • House Amends Spending Bill to Ease Cuba Trade Restrictions
  • Democrats Vague on Plan to Move Energy Bills as Proposals Multiply
  • House Committee Will Weigh Two Versions of Farm Bill Next Month
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Today in Washington

The House considers fiscal 2008 financial services-general government appropriations bill (HR 2829).

The Senate refuses to limit debate on the immigration overhaul measure (S 1639).

The President announces the official nomination of Adm. Michael Mullen and Gen. James Cartwright as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; addresses the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

In Washington,  Democratic presidential candidates Joseph R. Biden Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christopher J. Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis J. Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson participate in the live All-American Presidential Forum 9-10:30 p.m., 2455 Sixth Street, N.W., Crampton Auditorium, Howard University.

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Top Stories

Immigration Bill Appears Doomed As Cloture Vote Fails in Senate

Comprehensive immigration legislation, President Bush’s top domestic priority this year, suffered a devastating blow in the Senate today that may prove to be the death knell for the bill in the 110th Congress.  [Read More]

Bush Rejects Hill Subpoenas, Citing Executive Privilege

President Bush has formally refused to comply with congressional subpoenas seeking information related to the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.  [Read More]

House Amends Spending Bill to Ease Cuba Trade Restrictions

Defying a White House veto threat, the House today agreed to relax restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba as it moved toward passage of a spending bill funding federal fiscal entities.  [Read More]

Democrats Vague on Plan to Move Energy Bills as Proposals Multiply

House Democratic leaders proclaimed a goal of “energy independence” today, but offered few details on how or when they will move all the bills produced by multiple committees in pursuit of that objective.  [Read More]

House Committee Will Weigh Two Versions of Farm Bill Next Month

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., is expected to announce tomorrow that he will bring two versions of the farm bill to the full committee after the Fourth of July recess.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is one of the most direct beneficiaries of Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s declaration of partisan independence after his stormy re-election campaign last year. Lieberman has a strong working relationship with GOP centrist Collins, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Lieberman chairs. He has endorsed her and raised money for her in her 2008 re-election bid against Democratic Rep. Tom Allen. Anti-war groups contend that Lieberman’s close identification with President George W. Bush’s Iraq policies could make his endorsement more a burden than a boon for Collins.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Republicans contend that Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young will easily win re-election next year. “But the political terrain in the Last Frontier appears to be shifting, and two highly regarded young Democrats are seriously weighing bids against the state’s two most powerful GOP politicians. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich is getting the full-court press from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz has been in serious talks with the DCCC and has expressed interest in the Senate race, too. . . . A poll commissioned by the Alaska Democratic Party and conducted by Anchorage’s Hays Research Group in mid-June showed fewer than half of the 401 Alaskans surveyed approved of the job either Young or Stevens was doing.”

The Lincoln Journal Star reports, “Scott Kleeb emerged Tuesday as a potential Democratic Senate candidate after reactivating his 2006 congressional campaign fund-raising base. Kleeb, whose competitive challenge in the 3rd District House race last year attracted national attention, sent letters to his contributors seeking donations to resume his political activities.” Former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey also are eyeing a bid for the seat of GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has not formally announced his plans for 2008. “Attorney General Jon Bruning already is in the Republican race whether Hagel is a candidate or not.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: Sun Belt Cities Just Keep Growing
CHICAGO: Transit Labor Deal Ups Workers' Contributions
ALASKA: Study: Climate Change to Raise Infrastructure Costs
MASSACHUSETTS: Budget Cuts Ending Lauded Troubled-Youth Program

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Political Trivia

Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-Am. Samoa) is a “matai” — a Samoan chief — a title he has held since 1988. Faleomavaega (pronounced FOL-ee-oh-mav-ah-ENG-uh) is actually his title; his family name is Hunkin. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2007 – 2:09 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Immigration Overhaul Survives Early Challenges
  • Baucus Seeking ‘Realistic’ Fixes for Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Panel OKs Bill to Spur Generic Versions of Biotech Drugs
  • Senate Panel Votes to Expand Access to VA Medical Care, Improve Other Benefits
  • Senate Panel Endorses Increased U.S. Peacekeeping Dues
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Today in Washington

The House considers the fiscal 2008 Interior-Environment appropriations bill (HR 2643); considers a bill (HR 1830) under suspension of the rules to extend trade preferences for four Andean nations; considers fiscal 2008 financial services-general government appropriations (HR 2829).

The Senate resumes consideration of the immigration overhaul measure (S 1639).

The President makes remarks at a rededication ceremony of the Islamic Center of Washington; makes a statement on health care; attends a White House tee ball game.

In Washington,  scientist Edward O. Wilson speaks about the important role that birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinating animals play in agriculture, ecosystems, and biodiversity. 6-8 p.m., Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. S.W.

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Top Stories

Immigration Overhaul Survives Early Challenges

Backers of a complex and contentious immigration overhaul resorted to a rare parliamentary procedure today to speed disposition of amendments that threaten to derail the bill.  [Read More]

Baucus Seeking ‘Realistic’ Fixes for Alternative Minimum Tax

Another temporary patch to blunt the effect of the alternative minimum tax is a “given” this year, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus said today, signalling trouble for a House attempt to repeal the parallel tax system.  [Read More]

Panel OKs Bill to Spur Generic Versions of Biotech Drugs

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration power to approve generic versions of complex biotech drugs.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Votes to Expand Access to VA Medical Care, Improve Other Benefits

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved a slate of health and benefits bills today, including one that would allow more veterans to use the Veterans Affairs medical system.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Endorses Increased U.S. Peacekeeping Dues

A Senate panel today approved a bill to increase the amount the United States pays to support United Nations peacekeeping missions.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Democratic state Rep. Laura Richardson appears on her way to Congress from California’s overwhelmingly Democratic 37th District. Richardson, an African-American who finished first in yesterday’s special primary election, almost certainly will succeed African-American Democrat Juanita Millender-McDonald, whose death of cancer on April 22 necessitated the special election. Richardson defeated Democratic state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who is Hispanic, by 37.8 percent to 31.3 percent, according to results posted online by the Los Angeles County registrar. The two ran well ahead of the rest of a 17-candidate field. Richardson faces an Aug. 21 runoff election against the top-scoring Republican, police sergeant and Iraq war veteran John M. Kanaley, who garnered just 7.6 percent of the all-candidate vote.

According to BayouBuzz.com, Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-La., “the strong favorite” to win this year’s gubernatorial election, could yet face a well-known opponent. “Former Louisiana Governor Dave Treen is giving the race serious consideration and may jump into the fray.” Treen, a Republican like Jindal, would be the “only candidate from St. Tammany Parish, one of the fastest growing areas in the state.” He says “he may run because key issues are not being addressed,” including wetlands restoration and reductions in business taxes. Treen, 78, “was the first Louisiana Republican since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S. Congress and as Governor. However, he has not served in elected office since 1984.”

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports, “No one still knows for sure what Sen. Tim Johnson will decide about a re-election bid next year, but one thing is certain. Fundraising on his behalf continues to be going well. . . .Two of South Dakota's most prominent politicians, former Sens. George McGovern and Tom Daschle, will attend fundraisers for Johnson in the state in the next few weeks.” Johnson is recovering from a brain hemorrhage suffered last December. He has not yet announced whether he will seek a third term next year.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
LOS ANGELES: City Targets Skid Row Patient Dumping
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.: Contractors Must Verify Immigrant Status
NEW YORK CITY: Report Slams City's Park Management
THE NATION: Biofuels Race Seeks to Dethrone Corn
INDIANA: State Fair Bans Trans Fats from the Fryers
WASHINGTON STATE: Study: Health Work Enriching State Economy

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Political Trivia

The grandson of immigrants reared on Cleveland’s east side, where he still lives, Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, is the oldest of six children. His father was an architect, his mother a schoolteacher. Until Voinovich was 16, he wanted to be a doctor. But, he said, “sciences and I didn’t get along, and I liked other stuff better — like Boy Scouts.” He became president of his high school class and was voted most likely to succeed. Friends from that era tell him he predicted even then that he would someday be mayor and governor. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2007 – 2:13 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Revives Immigration Bill But Outlook Still Clouded
  • Other GOP Senators Embrace Lugar’s Call for Change of Course in Iraq
  • Union Organizing Bill Fails Senate Procedural Test
  • House Panel Approves New Iran Sanctions
  • Panel Approves International Food Aid Initiatives for Farm Bill
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Today in Washington

The House considers the fiscal 2008 Interior-Environment appropriations bill (HR 2643).

The Senate rejects motion to proceed to a union organizing bill (HR 800) but agrees to debate an immigration overhaul measure (S 1639).

The President participates in a briefing on immigration reform.

In Washington,  Lisette de Pillis of Harvey Mudd College in California presents a report, “Curing Cancer with Mathematics,” at the 113th annual meeting of the coalition for National Science Funding. 5:30 p.m., Room B-338, Rayburn

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Top Stories

Senate Revives Immigration Bill But Outlook Still Clouded

The Senate took a significant step today toward advancing a fragile immigration overhaul, agreeing to resume debate on legislation that had fizzled earlier this month.  [Read More]

Other GOP Senators Embrace Lugar’s Call for Change of Course in Iraq

Republican senators expressed support today for Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar’s call for an immediate change of course in Iraq.  [Read More]

Union Organizing Bill Fails Senate Procedural Test

Senate Republicans today derailed Democratic efforts to call up House-passed legislation that would make union organizing as simple as circulating a petition.  [Read More]

House Panel Approves New Iran Sanctions

A House panel today approved new sanctions targeting Iran and those who do business with its Islamic regime, along with a warning to President Bush that Congress strongly prefers economic pressure to military action.  [Read More]

Panel Approves International Food Aid Initiatives for Farm Bill

The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 38-9 today to approve a reauthorization of the Agriculture Department’s international food aid programs.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that today’s special election primary for the vacant seat in California’s 37th District almost certainly will not be decisive. With 17 candidates all running on the same ballot, regardless of party, it is unlikely that any will achieve the majority vote needed to avoid an Aug. 21 runoff in the contest to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald. Two seasoned Democratic legislators — state Sen. Jenny Oropeza and state Rep. Laura Richardson — emerged at the top of the field shortly after Millender-McDonald died of cancer April 22. Democrats are virtually certain to keep control of the seat no matter who wins the primary.

According to the Laconia Citizen, Portsmouth (N.H.) Mayor Steve Marchand “is convinced” that Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor, will not seek a rematch next year against GOP Sen. John Sununu. “Marchand had said earlier if Shaheen were to run he would step out of the fray.” Shaheen “can remain silent until after New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary and still own her party’s nomination if she chooses to seek it.” In addition to Marchand and astronaut Jay Buckey, the third announced Democrat in the Senate race is “Katrina Swett, daughter of 12-term U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat.”

The New York Post reports that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg “is said to be eyeing a run for president — but if that doesn’t work out, he may want to take a serious look at challenging” Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2010. A Siena College Research Institute survey “found Bloomberg leading the freshman Democratic governor in New York City and in the suburbs, but trailing upstate, where the mayor is least known. Overall, Spitzer led Bloomberg — who revealed last week that he had quit the Republican Party to become an independent — by a mere 43-41 percent, within the new poll’s margin of error.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
INDIANAPOLIS: Tax Revenue to Cover Stadium Cost Hike
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.: Firefighters Save High School
TEXAS: A.G.: 82 Pension Funds in Trouble
FLORIDA: Private Prison Firms Cleared of Criminal Charges

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Political Trivia

The son of a librarian, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., approaches issues as a student, mastering some of the most complex issues to come before Congress. During his 15 years in the House, he was a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he developed significant expertise on health care. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Monday, June 25, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2007 – 2:06 P.M.

In This Issue

  • High Court Eases Limits on Issue Ads Close to Elections
  • Supreme Court Sides With EPA in Environmental Law Conflict
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Today in Washington

The House considers measures under suspension of the rules, including a bill (HR 1281) to prohibit certain deceptive practices in federal elections.

The Senate resumes consideration of the motion to proceed to a union organizing bill (HR 800); cloture votes set for 11:30 a.m. tomorrow on that motion and one to call up the immigration overhaul bill (S 1639).

The President meets with Estonian President Toomas Ilves; makes remarks on No Child Left Behind reauthorization.

In Washington,  the 46th Annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity will feature nearly 50 members of Congress. 7.30 p.m., RFK Stadium, 2400 East Capitol St., S.E.

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Top Stories

High Court Eases Limits on Issue Ads Close to Elections

The Supreme Court today dealt a blow to a landmark 2002 campaign finance law, circumscribing a key provision aimed at barring targeted “issue ads” close to an election.  [Read More]

Supreme Court Sides With EPA in Environmental Law Conflict

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled today that the Environmental Protection Agency can hand over to states the authority to issue water pollution permits, even if doing so appears to violate the Endangered Species Act.  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.: Wildfire Destroys 165 Structures
NEW ORLEANS: Ex-City Official Sentenced to 9 Years
THE NATION: Skyscraper Building Codes Get Safety Boost
ATLANTA: Report: Public Hospital System Near Collapse
SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor: No More Bottled Water for City Workers
MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN: Governors End Bistate Tuition Spat
MICHIGAN: Judge Blocks Transfer of 700 Sick Inmates
VIRGINIA: Hefty New Fines Await Bad Drivers

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Wyoming will achieve a unique status today when Republican John Barrasso is sworn in as the state’s junior senator, succeeding the late GOP Sen. Craig Thomas. It will become the first state ever to be represented by two Italian-Americans in the Senate. (Republican Michael B. Enzi, first elected in1996, is the Cowboy State’s other senator.)

According to the Denver Post, “nearly three years after losing both chambers of the legislature to the Democrats, Colorado Republicans are plotting a comeback — but not until 2010. Divisive primaries, campaign-finance reform and the inability to financially keep pace with Democrats have seriously weakened the party’s muscle, GOP leaders say.” State GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams nonetheless predicted that former GOP Rep. Bob Schaffer would defeat Democratic Rep. Mark Udall next year for the Senate seat of retiring Republican Wayne Allard, a prospect Democrats dismissed.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that state Senate President Tim Bee, “by all measures, the most conservative elected Republican in Southern Arizona,” is being urged to run against freshman Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the 8th District, “which could emerge, again, as one of the most competitive races in the country. Bee, who seems to enjoy entertaining rumors he is running, is still cautious about committing. ‘Clearly there’s been quite a bit of to-do about whether or not I might consider running,’ he says. ‘Now that the (legislative) session is over, I will spend a little more time looking at what my future options are.’”

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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.
BIOGENERICS: Bipartisan group of senators reaches deal.
DRUG SAFETY: House panel approves legislation to renew Food and Drug Administration user fee programs, strengthen drug safety.
STEM CELLS: After presidential veto, senators put embryonic stem cell research provision in appropriations bill. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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Political Trivia

Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., was reared on a farm. Her parents grew peaches but later switched to nursery stock used in landscaping. As a child, she got 50 cents an hour for staffing the family’s take-out snack stand, which sold sandwiches and drinks. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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