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"I was born in a small town"

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Kansas. Small towns. Agriculture. For those of us living in the urban and suburban Kansas City-to-Topeka corridor, it's sometimes easy to forget that the vast majority of this state is covered by crops, prairie and livestock; punctuated every few miles or so by towns of just a couple thousand -- or couple hundred -- people.But our representatives in Washington remember.U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, for example, testified Wednesday before the Senate Finance Committee in favor of the [New Homestead Act,][1] which he co-sponsored in Congress. The hearing was held in Iowa, home of Sen. Charles Grassley, [and was reported in the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal.][2].The bill would encourage the repopulation of deteriorating rural areas -- which include most Kansas counties -- through a series of tax incentives aimed at residents and business owners in those areas. "All too often, small communities are overlooked for the hard work, strong values and great people they produce," Brownback said, according to the paper. "It is time to show our appreciation for rural America and refocus on their restoration and development."Kansas' junior senator, Pat Roberts, has been making most of his news lately as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But he's also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and one of his top aides sounded off about Brazilian challenges to U.S. cotton subsidies to the joint meeting of the [Cotton Foundation and the American Cotton Producers Association at Albuquerque, N.M.][3]"The senator feels this case has the potential for impact not only to cotton, but wheat, corn, sugar, peanuts, sorghum, soybeans " everything," said Mike Syfert, Roberts' agriculture and homeland security aide, according to the Delta Farm Press, a Nebraska publication."A lot of folks, I think, don't understand this. Once the translation of the decision comes out, I think a lot of farm organizations are going to be very surprised at the breadth of this case and what it can mean to everyone in agriculture. "Mr. Roberts has said very unequivocally, if press reports are accurate that the decision is against the United States, that he intends to stand and fight against it. The Bush administration and Secretary (of Agriculture) Ann Veneman have said that, too. We're all going to do everything we can to try and beat it."Intelligence watch Roberts' recent proposal to dismatle the CIA and revamp America's intelligence agencies isn't getting a lot of support.[Slate's Fred Kaplan][4] writes: "You'd think there must be something good about a CIA-reform proposal that's denounced by George Tenet and unnamed White House officials. But no, Sen. Pat Roberts' plan to overhaul the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy is a true stinker, every bit as bad as his establishment critics contend. "Roberts, a Kansas Republican, is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, so his pronouncements on such matters can't be casually dismissed. What, then, was he up to when he unveiled his scheme on last Sunday's Face the Nation?"Anyone with the slightest insight into the workings of Washington would know that his proposal has no chance of passage. Anyone who studies the 'intelligence community' as much as Roberts does would also know -- or should -- that the proposal, if it were put into effect, would do more harm than good. So again, what's going on here?"Kaplan concludes: "In short, Roberts gets a twofer: He draws attention away from Bush's refusal to enact serious reforms -- and he creates a situation in which the Democrats appear to be the foot-draggers. Crafty."Here's some other notable links on the topic:[Assess Roberts' intelligence plan on merits][5] [Left hand, right hand][6] [Senators' odd move][7] [Editorial: Pat Roberts' bold idea][8]A quick explanation We're still getting our feet under us at Congressional Briefing, but this is what we're trying to do: Give Kansans a one-stop shop for nationwide coverage of the Kansas congressional delegation " and of Kansas itself; occasionally, that coverage will include when opinion-makers write about our representatives in Washington, but linking to their opinions does not amount to endorsement of their views by Congressional Briefing. In any case, not many other links today:Dennis Moore links [Cheney's comments could aid Democrats, som say][9]How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][10] [1]: http://www.ljworld.com/section/citynews/story/164462 [2]: http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2004/08/26/news/local/6d96ef5cad2e543b86256efc0015d93c.txt [3]: http://deltafarmpress.com/news/082504-commodities-wto-decision [4]: http://slate.msn.com/id/2105633/ [5]: http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/news/editorial/9484867.htm [6]: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bal-ed.cia25aug25,1,3122752.story?coll=bal-opinion-headlines [7]: http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/news/editorial/9490908.htm [8]: http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/10513272p-11432395c.html [9]: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/9496547.htm [10]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

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