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Capitol Briefing: May 18, 2008 - May 24, 2008

Player of the Week: The Anonymous Army on Capitol Hill

Flip on C-SPAN late at night, and you may well see a lawmaker giving a lengthy and impassioned speech to a largely empty House chamber. But while the room may look deserted, off-camera and behind the scenes there are dozens of aides keeping the place running. Congress works largely because...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 23, 2008; 4:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Player of the Week  
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McCain Leads! (In Missed Votes)

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) didn't find time in his busy campaign schedule Thursday to make it back to the Capitol for votes on money for Iraq and Afghanistan as well as new educational benefits for veterans that he opposes. After all, even though he has been quite outspoken on the...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 23, 2008; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Senate  
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Ethics Panel Suspends Renzi Probe

As expected, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has decided to hold off on its investigation of indicted Rep. Rick Renzi (R) out of deference to the Justice Department's own probe of the Arizonan. Renzi was indicted in February on 35 counts of money laundering, extortion and other...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 22, 2008; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
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Van Hollen: Don't Pop the Champagne Yet

Republicans are scrambling to regroup in the wake of three special election losses and continued atrocious poll data, while Democrats appear buoyant and optimistic at the prospect of gaining significantly more House seats in November. And that makes Chris Van Hollen nervous. Part of the Marylander's job as Democratic Congressional...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 22, 2008; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Dem. Leaders  
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Pelosi Deflects VP Question; Dishes on Superdelegates

If Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) defeats the most viable female candidate in American history and wins the Democratic presidential nomination, might he want to balance the ticket by selecting another woman for Vice President? Perhaps someone who's already the highest-ranking woman ever in the line of presidential succession? Well, too...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 22, 2008; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Dem. Leaders  
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Ethics Committee Will Investigate Fossella

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct just announced that it has formed an investigative subcommittee to probe Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.), who announced yesterday he would not run for reelection after being charged with drunk driving and revelations of an extramarital affair and a daughter born out of...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 21, 2008; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
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Friendly Skies for Clinton

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) may be trailing Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in pledged delegates, states won and overall momentum, but she does appear to be winning in two categories -- legislating and courting the flight attendant vote. As Clinton the candidate spent today wooing seniors at a Florida retirement...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 21, 2008; 5:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Agenda  
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Changes Afoot at the NRCC

Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) is and will remain the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, but House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) demonstrated this morning at a Conference meeting who's really in charge by announcing a series of changes designed to shake up the campaign arm in the wake...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 21, 2008; 11:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , GOP Leaders , House  
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Death by a Thousand Meetings

One of the primary reasons Capitol Briefing chose to become a journalist (aside from writing the first rough draft of history, informing the public, and all of that) was his desire to avoid having to attend lots of boring meetings. Capitol Briefing is very happy not to be a Republican...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 21, 2008; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  GOP Leaders  
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Oregon Senate: Something 'a Little Different'

Why is today's Oregon Senate Democratic primary so close? State House Speaker Jeff Merkley has the money and the support of the national party, so why is attorney Steve Novick apparently running even or better with him? It could be because Novick has an unusual profile, catchy slogans and funny...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 20, 2008; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Colleagues React to Kennedy's Diagnosis

UPDATE 2:55 PM: Reaction to the news of Kennedy's diagnosis began to pour in as Senators emerged a few minutes ago from their weekly policy lunches. They were grim-faced at the plight of their colleague. "It's times like this that you realize the Senate really is a family," said Senate...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 20, 2008; 2:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (113)
Categories:  Senate  
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Fossella Will Retire, Not Resign

UPDATE 8:45 AM: Fossella's full statement is now available online, as it has essentially replaced the home page on his official House Web site. In it, a letter to the people of the 13th district, he recalls his various career accomplishments in helping his constituents, including coping with the aftermath...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 20, 2008; 7:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Ethics and Rules  
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Boehner, Cole Both 'Staying'

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) gamely tried to stay on message during a rough interview Sunday on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," repeatedly emphasizing his party's efforts to bring "change" and denying suggestions that turnover in the leadership ranks is imminent (watch the interview here). Boehner has been under...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 19, 2008; 4:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , GOP Leaders  
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For Obama, Byrd in Hand

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) for the Democratic presidential nomination today, calling Obama "a shining young statesman, who possesses the personal temperament and courage necessary to extricate our country from this costly misadventure in Iraq." In addition to fueling Obama's momentum, this is primarily interesting for...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 19, 2008; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (138)
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Senate  
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The Week Ahead: Scramble Before the Break

With plane tickets at the ready to jet home for the Memorial Day recess, members of Congress will spend this week speeding through a number of high-profile issues, with funding for the military leading the agenda and the partisan debate. The Senate will begin floor debate tomorrow on a multi-part...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 19, 2008; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Agenda  
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