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Craig returns to the Senate

Larry Craig (R-Idaho) just returned to the Senate floor for the first time since the disclosure of his airport restroom sex-sting plea agreement last month created a groundswell of calls for his resignation from fellow Republicans.

Craig cast a vote shortly past noon today - an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on college access for students from the District of Columbia - and then walked through a gauntlet of reporters into the weekly policy lunch of the entire Senate Republican Conference. Also on hand for the weekly lunch today is Vice President Dick Cheney.

While Capitol Briefing did not see Craig, several reporters said that the senator spoke briefly to them and said his presence was not any particular sign that he was not resigning on Sept. 30. Craig has said he intends to resign then unless he can get his guilty plea overturned. A hearing on his petition has been set for Sept. 26 in Hennepin County District Court, in the Minneapolis area.

Craig's return to Capitol Hill was expected, but many of his Republican colleagues clearly would have preferred that he stay away. GOP leaders had called for an Ethics Committee investigation into the allegations that Craig was soliciting sex from an undercover officer in the restroom stall of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the GOP whip and onetime close friend of Craig's, said Craig called him this morning to let him know he was back in town. Asked if he was happy to have Craig back, Lott said, "I'm not going to comment any further."

Before casting his vote today, Craig had missed 25 straight roll calls since Congress returned from its August recess. Craig's spokesman, Dan Whiting, told the Associated Press that the senator was back at the Capitol "representing Idaho, working on transition, and meeting with his legal team."

Stay tuned to Capitol Briefing for any updates on Craig's return to the chamber.

By Paul Kane  |  September 18, 2007; 1:44 PM ET
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Next: Craig's Return: From Legal Briefings to Ag Amendment Backgrounders

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