Friday, September 21, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, SEPT. 21, 2007 – 2:07 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Again Rebuffs Democratic Bid to Force Iraq War Withdrawal
  • Children’s Health Bill Ready for Floor Action
  • Higher Aviation Fuel Taxes, Fees Approved for FAA Package
  • Finance Panel Approves New Endangered Species Tax Credit
  • Democrats Back Peru Trade Pact in ‘Mock’ Senate Markup
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate continues consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585).

The President attends a Republican National Committee luncheon; meets with the 2006 and 2007 NCAA sports champions at the White House.

In Washington,  The National Rifle Association holds a two-day “Celebration of American Values” conference. Speakers include Republican presidential candidates Sen. John McCain, Ariz., former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tenn., former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate. Capital Hilton, 16th and K Sts., N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Again Rebuffs Democratic Bid to Force Iraq War Withdrawal

The Senate on Friday shot down the latest Democratic attempt to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, leaving the administration’s strategy unscathed.  [Read More]

Children’s Health Bill Ready for Floor Action

House and Senate leaders have concluded negotiations on a children’s health insurance bill, clearing the way for its passage next week — and a threatened veto by President Bush.  [Read More]

Higher Aviation Fuel Taxes, Fees Approved for FAA Package

A measure that would raise some jet fuel taxes and fees for international flights to help pay for modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system was approved Friday by the Senate Finance Committee.  [Read More]

Finance Panel Approves New Endangered Species Tax Credit

The Senate Finance Committee on Friday easily approved a new tax credit for property owners who help protect endangered species, marking a rare agreement between property-rights advocates and environmentalists.  [Read More]

Democrats Back Peru Trade Pact in ‘Mock’ Senate Markup

By 14-2, the Senate Finance Committee on Friday approved draft implementation language for a trade agreement with Peru in a “mock” markup of the legislation.  [Read More]

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TheCapitol.Net: Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations

In this TheCapitol.Net course, learn the ABCs of writing speeches and preparing oral presentations. Our faculty show you how to prepare for and draft a speech, focusing on organization, sequence, support, and style. Includes tips for the speechwriter.
WHERE: In Washington, D.C.
WHEN: October 16, 2007, 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Registration Fee: $495
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 Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill., was expected to announce Friday he will not seek re-election to an eighth term. Weller, 50, has been dogged by questions about land dealings in Central America and was one of more than a dozen lawmakers recently subpoenaed in a bribery trial involving an associate of jailed former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif. His retirement from the 11th District seat south and west of Chicago would bring to 10 the number of House members who have announced plans to retire or seek other office after the 110th Congress. All but two are Republicans.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that the national Republican Party is having a hard time getting candidates to commit to challenging Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, D-S.D. A number of potential candidates are exploring a race, but are leery of challenging Herseth-Sandlin, who is seen as unbeatable. But the daily said “that hasn’t stopped the (National Republican Congressional Committee) from firing off e-mails pointing out what they think are her vulnerabilities.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that former television journalist Dale Cardwell, the Democratic challenger to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, D-Ga., has followed the lead of his rivals, Vernon Jones and Rand Knight, by releasing his first YouTube video. The daily said the spot appeared to be a fundraising plea. “I’m not taking money from Washington lobbyists or the big-money PACs that special interests use to buy influence in Congress. That means I need to count on help from everyday people like you and me. Whatever you can give will help,” Cardwell says in the video.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: Report: Cut Sprawl to Blunt Warming
CHICAGO: Fugitive City Contractor Jailed in Mexico
JENA, La.: Thousands Rally for Accused Teenagers
CALIFORNIA: State: Free Lunch Boxes Tainted with Lead
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Doubling Seen for State's Pension Contributions

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Political Trivia

Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, has a penchant for gadgets: In 2000, he was the first senator to drive a high-mileage, low-emissions gasoline-electric hybrid car. (He’s now on his second model, a Ford Escape SUV.) Along with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, he proposed a plan in September 2006 to reward drivers for buying fuel-efficient cars. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, SEPT. 20, 2007 – 2:18 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush, Democrats Swap Blame for Expected Veto of Children’s Health Bill
  • Senate Likely to Vote Soon to Raise Debt Limit
  • GOP Hold Dropped, Clearing Way for Final Passage of FDA Bill
  • Debate Over Spying Becomes Heated
  • Gates Seeks to Shore Up Backing for Iraq Policy as Senate Debate Bogs Down
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Today in Washington

The House considers a bill (HR 2881) to authorize appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2008 through 2011.

The Senate resumes consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585).

The President announces resignation of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns; holds televised news conference.

In Washington,  The American University holds a panel discussion on Iraq and Iran, with Akbar Ahmed, American University; Daniel Ellsberg, former Defense and State Department official; Max Friedman, American University; Larry Johnson, former CIA analyst; Peter Kuznick, American University; and others. 8 p.m., Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Bush, Democrats Swap Blame for Expected Veto of Children’s Health Bill

President Bush on Thursday said congressional Democrats would bear the blame if a health insurance program for poor children is not renewed by Sept. 30, halting the flow of federal funds.  [Read More]

Senate Likely to Vote Soon to Raise Debt Limit

The Senate is expected to vote before its Columbus Day recess on legislation to raise the ceiling on the national debt to almost $10 trillion.  [Read More]

GOP Hold Dropped, Clearing Way for Final Passage of FDA Bill

The Senate on Thursday was expected to clear the largest expansion of Food and Drug Administration regulatory power in a decade, after a Republican senator said he would drop his hold on the bill.  [Read More]

Debate Over Spying Becomes Heated

House Democrats on Thursday sharply questioned the credibility of the nation’s spy chief, while Republicans said inaction on a longterm reauthorization of executive branch surveillance authority could endanger lives.  [Read More]

Gates Seeks to Shore Up Backing for Iraq Policy as Senate Debate Bogs Down

As the Senate’s debate of a $648.3 billion Defense authorization bill bogged down in a partisan squabble over newspaper ads, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with about 23 House Republicans Thursday to solidify support for the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Democrat Katrina Swett is expected to drop out of the New Hampshire Senate race tomorrow and endorse former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, clearing the way for Shaheen to mount a strong challenge to GOP Sen. John E. Sununu. Her campaign said Swett, a business consultant and daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., would make an announcement Friday at 10 a.m. in Concord, N.H. Swett’s expected withdrawal would follow that of Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, who dropped out Sept. 15, a day after Shaheen announced she would run.

The Boston Globe reports that former President Bill Clinton will campaign later this month for Democrat Niki Tsongas, who is running in a special House election in Massachusetts’ 5th District. Meanwhile, her Republican opponent, Jim Ogonowski, said he would decline if President Bush offered to campaign for him. The daily said Ogonowski’s “fallback strategy” is to “downplay the value of celebrity visits.”

The Kane County Chronicle reports that, as expected, GOP Illinois state Sen. Chris Lauzen announced his plans to seek the House seat being vacated by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Lauzen portrayed himself as “the only traditional conservative in the Republican primary” and criticized his main primary opponent, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis. “I know there are candidates out there who will spend millions on robotic telephone calls and TV commercials filled with false promises . . . . No one should be able to buy public office,” Lauzen said.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
MINNEAPOLIS: Colorado Firm to Replace Collapsed Bridge
DETROIT: Mayor: State Shutdown Won't Close Casinos
HOUSTON: Comptroller: Tax Appraisals Cost Schools Millions
TENNESSEE: Judge: Lethal Injections Unconstitutional
THE NATION: AGs Say Schools Underreport Crime, Violence
MONTANA: Survey Finds Plummeting Meth Use

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Political Trivia

When Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., was elected to the House in 1986, his wife gave up her tenured position as a University of South Dakota social work professor to move the family to Washington, where she became a public school social worker. All three Johnson children went to school in Virginia but returned to South Dakota for college. Johnson introduced legislation in the 108th Congress (2003-04) to bar telemarketers from calling between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. as a way of keeping family dinner hours “sacred.” (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19, 2007 – 2:30 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Amendment to Limit Troop Deployments Faces Long Odds
  • Senate Blocks Effort to Give Detainees Access to Federal Courts
  • House Lawmakers Criticize Toy Companies
  • Senate Panel Approves FHA Overhaul Measure
  • White House Threatens Veto of FAA Reauthorization Bill
  • Agriculture Secretary Johanns Poised to Enter Nebraska Senate Race
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Today in Washington

The House considers a bill (HR 3761) to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act for 15 years; considers a rule for debate of legislation reauthorizing user fees to fund prescription drug reviews by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Senate continues consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585).

The President visits the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., and makes a statement supporting warrantless surveillance powers for the agency; holds White House photo opportunity with the 2007 Boys and Girls Clubs of America Regional Finalists and Youth of the Year.

In Washington,  Connie Schultz, wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and author of “... and His Lovely Wife,” discusses mentoring and advancing the cause of women journalists, sponsored by the American News Women’s Club. 6:30 p.m., 1607 22nd St., N.W.

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Top Stories

Amendment to Limit Troop Deployments Faces Long Odds

An amendment to mandate minimum rest times for U.S. troops between deployments faced long odds Wednesday after an influential Republican senator switched his position and said he would vote against it.  [Read More]

Senate Blocks Effort to Give Detainees Access to Federal Courts

Supporters of legislation to grant habeas corpus rights to foreigners held by the U.S. military failed Wednesday to muster enough votes to limit debate on the measure, offered as an amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill.  [Read More]

House Lawmakers Criticize Toy Companies

Mattel Inc., maker of the iconic Barbie doll, ran into a much tougher crowd in the House Wednesday than it had faced at an earlier Senate hearing on tainted products and toy safety.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Approves FHA Overhaul Measure

Legislation to enlist the Federal Housing Administration in efforts to stem the surge in home foreclosures and prevent future buyers from resorting to risky mortgages was approved Wednesday by a key Senate panel.  [Read More]

White House Threatens Veto of FAA Reauthorization Bill

The White House, upset that Congress is refusing to drastically alter the current system of aviation fees and taxes to pay for modernization of the air traffic control system, threatened Wednesday to veto a House reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.  [Read More]

Agriculture Secretary Johanns Poised to Enter Nebraska Senate Race

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, a popular former governor of Nebraska, intends to resign his post and run for the Senate next year, according to reports in the Nebraska news media Wednesday.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

Omaha television station KMTV reports that Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will resign and seek the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. Former Johanns assistant Mike Kennedy told the station that the family is looking for a place to live in Omaha. He added that Johanns, a Republican former governor, “is beginning to let supporters know that he will be making a major announcement next week.” Two other Republicans have already entered the race: Attorney General Jon Bruning and former Rep. Hal Daub. On the Democratic side, former Sen. Bob Kerrey is a possible candidate.

CQMoneyLine reports that Republican Alan Keyes, hoping that the third time’s the charm, has filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2008. He joins a field that includes Democrat Barack Obama, who defeated him in 2004 to claim Illinois’ open Senate seat. Keyes also ran for president in 1996 and 2000 and has made two unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate in Maryland.

The Chicago Daily Herald reports that Republican Illinois state Sen. Chris Lauzen planned to announced Wednesday that he will seek the House seat being vacated by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Lauzen had been widely expected to join the GOP field vying for the seat, which also includes Geneva, Ill., Mayor Kevin Burns and dairy magnate and former Senate candidate Jim Oberweis.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SAN FRANCISCO: City Studying Congestion Pricing
RIVERSIDE TOWNSHIP, N.J.: Town Rescinds Illegal-Immigrant Crackdown
MARYLAND: Court Upholds Gay-Marriage Ban
FLORIDA: Highway Patrol Chief Resigns Amid Probe

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Political Trivia

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., was born on his grandfather’s farm in Kentucky. His father, who worked as a tenant farmer in western Pennsylvania during the Depression, refused to take any assistance from the government during those hard times — promoting Bartlett’s own devotion to self-reliance. He intended to become a minister but instead pursued an education in physiology at the University of Maryland, earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in physiology. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, SEPT. 18, 2007 – 2:08 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Budget Leaders Would Force Next Congress to Tackle Entitlement Costs
  • Democrats Resist Unchecked Surveillance Powers in FISA Overhaul
  • Boucher Says Leadership Won’t Delay Energy Bill for Climate Measure
  • House Panel Approves Aviation Fuel Tax Increase
  • Senate Passes Five-Year Extension of D.C. Tuition Assistance Program
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Today in Washington

The House considers a bill (HR 1852) to allow the Federal Housing Administration to use risk-based premiums to expand its mortgage insurance program and to increase loan limits; also considers measures under suspension of the rules.

The Senate resumes consideration of a bill (HR 1124) reauthorizing tuition assistance for District of Columbia college students.

The President meets with military support organizations at the White House.

In Washington,  Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao hosts the Labor Department’s fifth Opportunity Conference, aimed at helping underserved communities to network, and providing them skills enhancement and training to access such opportunities as public- and private-sector contracts. The conference goal is to promote economic development in the nation’s ethnic communities. All Day. Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Budget Leaders Would Force Next Congress to Tackle Entitlement Costs

The leaders of the Senate Budget Committee unveiled legislation Tuesday that would require the next Congress to address the long-term budget strain associated with Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs.  [Read More]

Democrats Resist Unchecked Surveillance Powers in FISA Overhaul

Congress and the Bush administration on Tuesday kicked off the opening round of discussions about permanently overhauling the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with the two sides divided over how much unchecked spying authority to give the executive branch.  [Read More]

Boucher Says Leadership Won’t Delay Energy Bill for Climate Measure

Progress in the House on a global warming bill could be delayed as lawmakers struggle to complete separate energy policy legislation, according to the chairman of a House subcommittee drafting a climate-change measure.  [Read More]

House Panel Approves Aviation Fuel Tax Increase

The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation Tuesday that rejects the administration’s call for a sweeping overhaul of the way the nation’s aviation system is financed.  [Read More]

Senate Passes Five-Year Extension of D.C. Tuition Assistance Program

The Senate voted 96-0 on Tuesday to extend for five years a program giving District of Columbia high school graduates tuition assistance to attend colleges nationwide.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Oregonian reports that Oregon state House Speaker Jeff Merkley “showed off his Democratic establishment credibility at a kick-off rally for his U.S. Senate campaign Monday evening. Everything about the event — staged in a parking lot next to several union offices in Southeast Portland — seemed designed to showcase his support among prominent Democrats, as well as his capability to run a professional, well-funded campaign.” Merkley is challenging GOP Sen. Gordon H. Smith.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that Dan Meuser, a Republican House candidate in Pennsylvania’s 10th district doesn’t live in the district but in the neighboring 11th District. Meuser said he plans to move into the district before filing his official nominating petitions next spring to challenge Rep. Chris Carney, D-Pa. The Constitution does not require House members to live in the districts they represent, “but political opponents could make an issue of it.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEW YORK CITY: City Revenue Slowdown Seen
CALIFORNIA: Judge Dismisses Global-Warming Suit Against Automakers
NEW JERSEY: Pension Funds to Be Invested in State Companies
LOUISIANA: 19,000 Home Buyouts Pose Barrier to Rebuilding
NEW JERSEY: Governor Recovering after Bone Surgery

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Political Trivia

Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Va., is the son of a surgeon and a teacher. When local white officials resisted court-ordered integration of the public schools, the Scotts, along with other well-to-do black families, sent their son to Groton, the prestigious Massachusetts prep school. Scott graduated from Harvard University and earned his law degree from Boston College. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, SEPT. 17, 2007 – 2:25 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush’s Choice for Attorney General Wins Positive Early Reviews
  • Murtha Sees Final Defense Bill Next Month, But No Early Iraq Deal
  • D.C. Mayor Urges Senate to Grant City Voting Rights in House
  • ACLU Backs Craig’s Challenge to Guilty Plea
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Today in Washington

The House considers measures under suspension of the rules, including a bill (HR 3246) to stimulate economic and infrastructure development in the most economically distressed regions of the nation.

The Senate resumes consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585), which it last considered in July.

The President meets with Portugese Prime Minister Jose Socrates; meets with 2007 National Spelling Bee Champion Evan O’Dorney.

In Washington,  the American University Washington College of Law holds a discussion on upholding the Constitution in the 21st century, to mark the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. 5:30 p.m., Room 603, 4801 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Bush’s Choice for Attorney General Wins Positive Early Reviews

Key Senate Democrats reacted positively Monday to President Bush’s choice of a retired federal judge to succeed Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, but they were making no promises about the speedy confirmation that Bush requested.  [Read More]

Murtha Sees Final Defense Bill Next Month, But No Early Iraq Deal

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John P. Murtha shed some light Monday on the House’s fall fiscal strategy even as he predicted that real progress on Iraq would not come until next year.  [Read More]

D.C. Mayor Urges Senate to Grant City Voting Rights in House

With a critical test vote looming, the mayor of the District of Columbia joined allies from both parties Monday in urging the Senate to approve legislation granting full voting rights in the U.S. House to residents of the nation’s capital.  [Read More]

ACLU Backs Craig’s Challenge to Guilty Plea

Sen. Larry E. Craig got an ally Monday in his fight to withdraw his guilty plea in a restroom sex sting. The American Civil Liberties Union submitted a brief to a Minnesota court arguing the Idaho Republican’s arrest was likely unconstitutional.  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
WASHINGTON, D.C.: City to Invest $79 Million in Hospital Sale
MIAMI: Patrol Officers to Get Assault Weapons
DETROIT: Mayor Firm on Local-Hiring Mandate
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.: Extra $30 Million OKd for Troubled Jail Project
CALIFORNIA: Australian to Lead Stem Cell Program
NEW YORK STATE: A.G. Probes Five Energy Companies
TEXAS: Lack of Providers Foils Foster-Shelter Plan

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Political Clippings

The Omaha World-Herald reports that Hal Daub, a former House member and Omaha mayor, is entering the race for the Republican Senate nomination. Daub, who served four House terms in the 1980s, joins Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and financial adviser Pat Flynn as GOP candidates for the seat being vacated by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. The top Democratic candidate would be Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator who is considering a return to political life. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, a former governor, also is considering a run.

The Sierra Vista Herald reports that Arizona Senate President Tim Bee said he has set up an exploratory committee to gauge support for a challenge to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., next year. Bee said former GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., would support him if he chooses to run, adding that “there is a chance that the current occupant of the congressional seat can be defeated,” though he did not mention Giffords by name.

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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.
: : :
SCHIP: House and Senate negotiations ongoing.
CMS: Acting administrator outlines priorities.
INDIAN HEALTH CARE: Senate passes measure to revise law dealing with Indian health programs. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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Political Trivia

The father of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., was a school principal, his mother a math teacher. Cochran was a standout in high school, valedictorian of his class, a Boy Scout leader, a member of the 4-H Club and an athlete, lettering in football, basketball, baseball and tennis. “There never was any question in my mind of whether I was going to college, it was just a matter of where,” he says. “So I benefited greatly from [my parents’] example and their encouragement.” (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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