Friday, October 05, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 2007 – 1:59 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Both Sides Intensify Efforts on Children’s Health Bill
  • Bush Defends Handling of Suspected Terrorists
  • State Department Issues New Rules for Security Contractors
  • Shakeout Starts in New Mexico Senate Race
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session, resumes legislative business at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9.

The Senate convened in a pro forma session at 9:30 a.m. before breaking for the Columbus Day recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 15.

The President has no public events scheduled.

In Washington,  the Americans for Prosperity Foundation holds its first “Defending the American Dream Summit,” focusing on fiscal restraint and featuring GOP presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. All day, Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Both Sides Intensify Efforts on Children’s Health Bill

Unions and liberal activist groups are trying to paint a target on the backs of House Republicans currently expected to vote against overriding President Bush’s veto of the children’s health insurance bill.  [Read More]

Bush Defends Handling of Suspected Terrorists

President Bush said Friday that the United States does not torture suspected terrorists and insisted Congress has been notified of the techniques used to interrogate them.  [Read More]

State Department Issues New Rules for Security Contractors

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday announced new procedures for security contractors in Iraq, a day after the House passed a bill to bring civilian contractors working in war zones under the jurisdiction of U.S. law.  [Read More]

Shakeout Starts in New Mexico Senate Race

The field for next year’s contest to succeed retiring Sen. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., was already shifting Friday, with a Republican House member jumping in and two prominent Democrats bowing out.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Democrat Eric Massa is drawing support from the national party in his second bid to topple two-term GOP Rep. John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr. in New York’s 29th District. The district, which links the largely rural “Southern Tier” region with suburbs of Rochester, is arguably the state’s most Republican-leaning one. But Massa came within 3 percentage points of Kuhl last year, when he was a political newcomer. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is giving Massa additional help this time around.

The Pioneer Press reports that Democratic Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken “released his latest high-dollar fundraising numbers today with an unusual YouTube video that decries the necessity to collect such high dollars in fundraising.” While he has “garnered $1.89 million in the last quarter,” and his “total cash raised is $5.18 million,” he “only has $2.45 million cash on hand, continuing his habit of spending big and raising big.” Democrat Mike Ciresi and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman have not yet released their latest fundraising numbers.

The Fort Bend Herald reports that Republican Pete Olson, a former aide to Sens. John Cornyn and Phil Gramm, has joined the crowded field of candidates in Texas’ 22nd House District seeking to reclaim the seat once held by Tom DeLay for the GOP. Olson, a former Navy pilot, faces former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs, former Pasadena Mayor John Manlove, former Sugar Land Mayor Dean Hrbacek and State Rep. Robert Talton in the Republican primary, with the winner to face Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore.: To Reopen Libraries, County Outsources
LOS ANGELES: 22,000 City Workers to Get 14%-25% Raises
NEW YORK CITY: City to Pay in Wrongful Inmate Strip-Searches
NEW YORK STATE: County Clerks Revolt over Immigrant License Plan
GEORGIA: Audit Finds Widespread Abuse of State Credit Cards
FLORIDA: Third Coal Power Plant Canceled

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Political Trivia

By age 23, Rep. Richard H. Baker, R-La., had graduated from Louisiana State University and started his own real estate business. He credits his father, a World War II pilot and minister for 47 years, for guiding him philosophically and his mother-in-law, who worked in local campaigns and organized political fundraisers over sandwiches and fruit punch at parlor parties, for getting him into politics. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, OCT. 4, 2007 – 2:53 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Judge Refuses to Let Senator Withdraw Guilty Plea
  • Democrats Say Appropriations Conferences Are Starting
  • House Passes Bill Subjecting All Contractors in Iraq to U.S. Criminal Code
  • House Moves to End Taxation of Forgiven Mortgage Debt
  • Reporter Shield Law Approved by Senate Judiciary
  • Domenici Discloses Illness as Candidates Weigh Succession Scramble
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Today in Washington

The House passed a bill to subject all contractors in combat zones to the U.S. criminal code (HR 2740); and considers bills to provide economic and infrastructure development in the most economically distressed regions (HR 3246) and to eliminate income taxation on debts forgiven by mortgage lenders (HR 3648).

The Senate begins consideration of the Commerce-Justice-Science fiscal 2008 appropriations bill (HR 3093).

The President met with Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri; hosts a Ramadan Iftaar (fast-breaking) dinner at the White House with ambassadors and Muslim leaders.

In Washington,  the Society of Professional Journalists holds its three-day 2007 convention and journalism conference. Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Judge Refuses to Let Senator Withdraw Guilty Plea

A Minnesota judge Thursday denied the request of Sen. Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho, to withdraw his guilty plea for misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  [Read More]

Democrats Say Appropriations Conferences Are Starting

House and Senate Democratic leaders have a tentative agreement on how much each of the fiscal 2008 spending bills should provide, which will allow negotiations on final bills to proceed this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.  [Read More]

House Passes Bill Subjecting All Contractors in Iraq to U.S. Criminal Code

Legislation that would bring all government contractors working in war zones within the reach of the federal criminal code was passed by the House Thursday by a wide margin.  [Read More]

House Moves to End Taxation of Forgiven Mortgage Debt

The House was heading toward easy passage Thursday of a bill designed to soften the tax burden on struggling homeowners.  [Read More]

Reporter Shield Law Approved by Senate Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation Thursday to establish a federal shield law for journalists, but it faces obstacles to Senate passage.  [Read More]

Domenici Discloses Illness as Candidates Weigh Succession Scramble

Candidates in both parties were assessing bids to succeed GOP Sen. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico Thursday as the veteran senator prepared to announce his retirement.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leaderreports that Republican Vince Sweeney, a former television weatherman and current executive director for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Luzerne County, Pa., is considering a challenge to Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. Sweeney gained local fame for his friendly demeanor during nearly two decades of weather forecasts on Wilkes-Barre television station WBRE. Sweeney said Wednesday he believes he is being courted in large part because he is recognizable throughout the 10th District.

The Deseret Morning News reports that Sen. John McCain’s struggling presidential campaign is having trouble raising money but can still count on the support of Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. “I’ve always seen the real John McCain and known the real John McCain,” the governor said in a recent interview about the Arizona Republican and former Vietnam prisoner of war. “He’s been freed from the shackles of the traditional, establishment campaign organization.” Huntsman has spent considerable time on the campaign trail for McCain this year, even standing in for the candidate at an event in New Hampshire.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLA.: County OKs Federal Takeover of Housing Agency
LOS ANGELES: Police Chief Says Skid Row Crackdown Displacing Homeless
PENNSYLVANIA: Turnpike Chief: No Toll Revenue for Transit

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Political Trivia

The youngest of six children, Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, was born and raised in Barberton in northeastern Ohio. Her mother was clerk-treasurer for the city library, while her father worked in a boilermaker factory. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, OCT. 3, 2007 – 2:06 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush Veto of Children’s Health Bill Sets Stage for Political Confrontation
  • Senate Passes Intelligence Policy Bill
  • Senate Adds Border Security Funds to Defense Spending Bill
  • White House Raps Contractor Bill But Stops Short of Veto Threat
  • Democrats Seek White House ‘Mortgage Czar’
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Today in Washington

The House considers bills to enhance autonomy for inspectors general (HR 928) and accountability for federal contractors in combat zones (HR 2740).

The Senate considers amendments to the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations bill (HR 3222) with a final vote possible.

The President vetoes bill (HR 976) to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; speaks on the budget and spending at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pennsylvania.

In Washington,  the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation convenes a three-day meeting of community health leaders, with a presentation by foundation CEO Risa Lavizao-Mourey at 6 p.m., Fairmont Hotel, 2401 M St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Bush Veto of Children’s Health Bill Sets Stage for Political Confrontation

As expected, President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would expand a children’s health insurance program, drawing immediate fire from congressional Democrats and setting up an override showdown that could be politically perilous for some Republicans.  [Read More]

Senate Passes Intelligence Policy Bill

The Senate on Wednesday passed its first intelligence authorization bill in three years, after dropping contentious provisions that had held up action earlier.  [Read More]

Senate Adds Border Security Funds to Defense Spending Bill

As the $459.6 billion fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations measure headed for final passage Wednesday, the Senate added $3 billion in emergency spending for border security .  [Read More]

White House Raps Contractor Bill But Stops Short of Veto Threat

The White House “strongly opposes” a bill the House will vote on Wednesday to cover all contractors in Iraq and other war zones under U.S. law.  [Read More]

Democrats Seek White House ‘Mortgage Czar’

Democratic congressional leaders took aim Wednesday at the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis, suggesting the White House appoint a “mortgage czar” and renewing calls for legislative steps as well.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Democratic strategists planning a takeover bid for Illinois’ open 11th Congressional District welcomed the news Tuesday that Debbie Halvorson — the majority leader of the Illinois Senate and one of the best-known Democrats in the mildly Republican-leaning constituency — is running for the seat held by retiring seven-term Republican Rep. Jerry Weller. Halvorson will face Jerry Weber, president of Kankakee Community College, in the Democratic primary Feb. 5. Although Republican officials say they plan to strongly defend their hold on the seat, their candidate field is unclear.

The Boston Globe reports that Republican House candidate Jim Ogonowski is running an unexpectedly strong campaign in Massachusetts’ 5th District, leading Democratic nominee Niki Tsongas to target him. Her campaign is describing Ogonowski as part of the “extreme right wing” and “accused him of trying to conceal support from Republicans in Washington, including former White House adviser Karl Rove.” Ogonowski’s campaign calls that “typical Washington BS.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., heads the slate of 57 candidates seeking to be chosen Republican convention delegates for Mitt Romney in the Illinois GOP primary Feb. 5. The daily said the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign released the names to showcase its organizational skills in a key state. “To be able to get 114 men and women who are geographically spread across the state does take a good deal of organizational effort,’ said state Sen. Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, Romney’s Illinois campaign chairman.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y.: Chief: Immigrant Raiders Endangered Local Police
THE NATION: Cocaine Supply Down Sharply in Cities
NEW YORK CITY: Prosecutors Say Thief Targeted Mayor's Bank Account
WASHINGTON, D.C.: City to Spend $79 Million to Aid Hospital Purchase
NEW JERSEY: Tab to Fix Bridges: $13 Billion-Plus
THE NATION: Report: States Lag on Pay for Foster Care

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Political Trivia

An eight-time All-Star pitcher and member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., strongly supports penalties for professional athletes who use steroids. “I remember players didn’t get better as they got older. We all got worse. When I played with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Ted Williams, they didn’t put on 40 pounds to bulk up . . . and they didn’t hit more homers in their late 30s than they did in their late 20s,” he said. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

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

In This Issue

  • Democrats May Delay Bid to Override Veto of Children’s Health Bill
  • House Appropriators To Delay War Supplemental
  • Senate Launches Defense Spending Debate, Avoiding Iraq for Now
  • Schumer Backs Wind-Damage Coverage in Flood Insurance Overhaul
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Today in Washington

The House considers several measures under suspension of the rules, including bills on an Iraq exit strategy (HR 3087), Taiwan defense (H Res 676) and compensation for relatives of people killed in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa (HR 2828).

The Senate begins consideration of the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations bill (HR 3222).

The President meets with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at the White House.

In Washington,  The National Foreign Trade Council hosts its annual World Trade Dinner and Award Ceremony, with keynote address by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. Introductory remark by U.S. Trade Rep. Susan Schwab and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. 6:30 p.m., Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Democrats May Delay Bid to Override Veto of Children’s Health Bill

House Democrats say they plan to send legislation expanding a children’s health insurance program to President Bush later Tuesday, expecting him to veto it within hours. But an override vote might not come for days or weeks.  [Read More]

House Appropriators To Delay War Supplemental

Top House Democratic appropriators said Tuesday they will not move a new war funding bill until early next year and will condition it on a goal of January 2009 for an end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq.  [Read More]

Senate Launches Defense Spending Debate, Avoiding Iraq for Now

As the Senate began debate Tuesday on its $459.6 billion Defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2008, the White House warned that President Bush will veto the measure if Congress attaches any restrictions on his Iraq policy.  [Read More]

Schumer Backs Wind-Damage Coverage in Flood Insurance Overhaul

At least one influential Senate Democrat wants to expand the federal flood insurance program to allow property owners to purchase coverage for wind damage as well, setting up a potential clash with Republicans.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that there are more competitive 2008 U.S. House races in the Midwest than in any other region. Initial ratings of the nation’s 435 House races by Congressional Quarterly placed 25 races in the Midwest — 15 for seats held by Republicans, 10 for Democratic-held seats — in competitive categories. Of the 100 districts in the Midwest — defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin — 38 gave the favored candidate for president 55 percent of the vote or less in 2004; in 12 of those districts, the leading candidate took 51 percent of the vote or less.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that former state Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg yesterday launched his second bid for the seat of 6th District GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. “He said his decision was wholly prompted by the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge on Aug. 1: ‘I knew at that moment I couldn’t sit by and allow this inattentiveness to continue.’ But Tinklenberg’s decision to run comes five months after he said he wouldn’t be a candidate in 2008, a reversal immediately seized on by Republicans.” Bachmann “handily won her freshman term over child safety advocate Patty Wetterling in 2006,” but Tinklenberg said he believes she is vulnerable. “Banker and tax attorney Bob Olson and Bob Hill, a property tax attorney, already have entered the race.”

The Houston Chronicle reports that Pasadena (Texas) Mayor John Manlove “resigned his post of six years Monday to join a crowded field seeking the Republican nomination for the congressional seat once held by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Manlove, 54, who owns his own marketing and advertising firm, said he had been encouraged for months by supporters to seek the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson.” He joins five other candidates for the Republican nomination for the 22nd Congressional District; the primary is March 4.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DALLAS: 16 Indicted in Bribery Probe
LOS ANGELES: Strike Threat Fades with Contract Deal J
JEFFERSON PARISH, La.: Long-Time Sheriff Dies
MISSOURI: Plan to Fix 800 Bridges Seen as Model

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Political Trivia

The parents of Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., immigrated to the United States in the 1920s — his mother from Russia, his father from Poland. They opened a small food store in Milwaukee, where Kohl worked after school and on weekends. One of his childhood friends (and later his college roommate) was Bud Selig, who went on to become a wealthy car dealer, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team and commissioner of Major League Baseball. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Monday, October 01, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, OCT. 1, 2007 – 2:24 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Biden Defends Senate Resolution on Iraq
  • Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Washington Primary Case
  • Five House Democrats Face Serious Primary Challenges
  • Political Clippings
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Today in Washington

The House considers several bills under suspension of the rules, including a District of Columbia college tuition assistance measure (HR 1124).

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. to finish its work on the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585), with final passage vote set for 5:30 p.m.

The President participates in armed forces farewell tribute to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and welcomes his successor, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, at Fort Myer, Va.

In Washington,  Georgetown University holds a discussion with Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., on prospects for peace in the Mideast. 8 p.m. Copley Formal Lounge, on the university campus.

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Top Stories

Biden Defends Senate Resolution on Iraq

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday defended his proposal for a three-way division of Iraq against criticism by Iraqi politicians and a rare rebuke from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.  [Read More]

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Washington Primary Case

The Supreme Court kicked off its 2007-2008 session Monday with arguments in a case challenging Washington state’s unique “top-two” primary system.  [Read More]

Five House Democrats Face Serious Primary Challenges

Despite public criticism of Congress as a whole, few incumbents are defeated in general elections, and even fewer lose primary races against members of their own party.  [Read More]

Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that the upcoming special election in Ohio’s 5th District to replace the late Republican Rep. Paul E. Gillmor has officially drawn nine candidates — six Republicans and three Democrats — who met a Friday afternoon filing deadline. Leading GOP contenders in the Nov. 6 primary are state Rep. Robert Latta, whose father, Republican Delbert Latta, represented the district for 30 years; and state Sen. Steve Buehrer, a former state House member. Democratic side is Robin Weirauch, a former assistant director of the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University who ran against Gillmor in 2004 and 2006, taking 33 percent and 43 percent respectively. The winner of the Republican primary will be heavily favored to win the Dec. 11 special general election, given the typical Republican leanings of 5th District.  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
LOS ANGELES: Mayor Fires Transportation Chief
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Audit Slams Anti-Poverty Agency
THE CLEVELAND REGION: Transit Agency Wins Top Award
ANNAPOLIS, Md.: City to Host Mideast Peace Talks
TEXAS: Executions Unlikely Until Supreme Court Rules
CALIFORNIA: Aging Drivers May Face Tougher License Test

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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: Veto showdown ahead for State Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation.
DRUG SAFETY: President Bush signs bill to toughen drug safety laws.
MENTAL HEALTH PARITY: Senate passes measure to provide parity in insurance coverage of physical and mental ailments. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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Political Trivia

The oldest member of the House, Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, lost the chance to cap his long career in Congress with a committee chairmanship when the Republicans lost power in 2007. He had been in line to take the helm at the Science Committee, but instead became its ranking Republican. The irony for Hall, 84, is that he might well have become a committee chairman had he remained a Democrat rather than switching parties in 2004. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Quote of the Day

“The closest I’ve been to live combat is going to the Hill to testify, which is why I’ve always wanted Pete there by my side.” — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, at farewell ceremony for Marine Gen. Peter Pace, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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