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Making waves in Washington

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Back in the mid-1990s, when Pat Roberts jumped from the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate, there were some political observers who wondered if the Kansan hadn't traded down.After all, Roberts was an enormously influential Congressman who had helped alter United States farm policy with his "Freedom to Farm" act. Going from that position to a back bench in the Senate seemed like a loss of power.No more.Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been at the center of investigations into U.S. intelligence failures leading up to 9-11 and the invasion of Iraq. The Republican has been seen by some observers as loyal to the White House, but he stepped off the reservation this week with his suggestion that the CIA be dismantled. That suggestion " not cleared with the Bush Administration " earned him a front-page profile [ in Tuesday's New York Times][1].Douglas Jehl wrote: "Among the factors that Mr. Roberts, a droll former marine, cited in a conversation with reporters in his office on Monday afternoon as those that prompted his call for urgent action were a succession of 'Oh my God hearings'' in which senators asked in response to one intelligence failure after another: 'Oh my God, why did that happen?''"Now, Mr. Roberts said Monday, 'we cannot afford to fail this time around.' He added, 'If you believe that the intelligence community is doing just fine, thank you, then obviously this is not your bill.'Roberts shares some of former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole's acerbic wit, and that trait came through in the article."This bill is not written in stone," he said. "It didn't come down from Mount Intelligence."U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback is also making news from his position as chairman of the Senate Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee. He's been pushing recently to get the National Aeronautics and Space Administration beyond the Space Shuttle era.But his efforts have run into obstacles, according to a recent [ USA Today article][2]."Six months after Bush urged the nation 'to build new ships to carry man forward into the universe,' Congress has done little to answer the call," Larry Wheeler wrote for the newspaper."'Congress is a hard place to get focused,' said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee. "Brownback is one of the few lawmakers who has taken steps this year to get the U.S. space program beyond the shuttle era. "In June, he introduced legislation to authorize NASA to pursue the goals Bush set. But he is encountering resistance as he sells his colleagues on the need to get going this year. "'In a very political year it is tough to get something like this through,' Brownback said. 'It's kind of a benign neglect.'"U.S. Rep Jim Ryun, who represents the west half of Lawrence as part of the broader 2nd District, has been prominent in Kansas newspapers recently, visiting a [veterans memorial][3] at Pittsburg State University, and touring the Southeast Kansas Nature Center [ in Galena][4] with kindergarteners. "It's a very important moment when we pause and say thank you to our brave men and women who have given their lives," Ryun said in Pittsburg. "They have stood in harms way for us, were and some still are. It's fitting that we pay this tribute."U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, meanwhile, has been earning most of his attention for what is expected to be a tight race in the 3rd District, which includes the eastern half of Lawrence. But Moore also [weighed in][5] on the recent declaration by outgoing Nebraska Congressman Doug Bereuter, who refuted his earlier vote to allow President Bush to invade Iraq."Doug Bereuter to me is an example of what we all should be, looking out not for partisan politics in the legislative body we call Congress, but looking out for the American agenda that the people in this country hunger for," Moore was quoted as saying in the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star. [1]: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/24/politics/24roberts.html [2]: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techpolicy/2004-08-18-space-junkies_x.htm [3]: http://www.morningsun.net/stories/082104/loc_20040821048.shtml [4]: http://www.joplinglobe.com/story.php?story_id=126771&c=87 [5]: http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2004/08/21/local/10054033.txt

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