Congressional Briefing

Posts for July 2005

Room to run

Joel Mathis July 27, 2005 at 10:29 a.m.

Sen. Sam Brownback now has more room on the right to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008.[The Hill][1] reports today that Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., won't be seeking the nomination. Like Brownback, he's a Roman Catholic pro-life conservative popular with the social values wing of the Republican Party -- . Unlike Brownback, he faces a tough re-election fight for his Senate seat next year. The Hill reports: "In early polling, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has a considerable lead among top Republican presidential contenders, leaving limited breathing room for lesser-known contenders - including a few of Santorum's GOP colleagues."'Rick would've been a good candidate,' said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who noted Santorum's strength with social conservatives. 'He'd have been a very strong candidate in the Republican field.'"But with Santorum out, Brownback said, there are 'not as many people lining up the same bloc of votes in a primary. It does open up a bloc of votes that would naturally have tended toward him.'"As for his own plans for 2008, Brownback said he continues to make 'early travels' to key primary states, with recent visits to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He said he will 'continue to make calls and inquiries.'"But, he noted: 'The final decision has not been made yet.'"[USA Today][2] says the presidential ambitions of senators -- including Brownback -- is making it harder for President Bush to accomplish his own goals."Never before have so many members of Congress started so early in exploring potential presidential campaigns. Ten months after the last election, at least five Republican senators and five Democratic ones have taken such preliminary steps as hiring advisers with national experience, traveling to the early-contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire and talking up their prospects with interest groups. ..."Senators dispute the suggestion that presidential ambitions affect their stance on policy. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican hopeful, says 'I haven't seen that' in his actions or others'."Other links:Sam Brownback links [(Wichita Eagle) Brownback withholds judgment on nominee:][3] Sen. Sam Brownback called President Bush's Supreme Court nominee a "delightful individual" after meeting with him Monday, but reserved judgment over whether John Roberts should be the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Brownback met for about 15 minutes with Roberts, whom Bush nominated last week for a slot on the nation's highest court. Roberts' meeting with Brownback was one of a series of visits Roberts is having with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings this fall to recommend whether the nominee should be confirmed by the full Senate.[(AP) Roberts documents being released:][4] The documents being released Tuesday were from Roberts' tenure in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration. Some of Roberts' records already are publicly available at the Reagan library. Others still need clearance from representatives of the current president and former administrations, as required by law, and archivists. The Senate's majority Republicans are expected to support the White House's decision. "I don't think it is appropriate for a lawyer to release documents they've produced for their clients," Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said Monday.Dennis Moore links [(The Nation) Labor Gets Tough on CAFTA:][5] This week, however, leaders of some of the largest unions in the country have indicated that they will not be backing Frontline candidates who vote for CAFTA, and they are urging the DCCC to drop Frontline efforts for members who support the deal. Bean is identified by name in the letter, along with Representatives Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Dennis Moore, D-Kansas, both of whom have voted for free-trade pacts in the past and are seen as potential CAFTA backers.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][6] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]:

Undercover, up to the line

Joel Mathis July 25, 2005 at 10:51 a.m.

Sen. Pat Roberts is wading a little deeper into the Karl Rove saga, in a somewhat unexpected way.[The New York Times][1] reports this morning: "The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct hearings on American spy agencies' use of cover to protect the identities of intelligence officers, the committee chairman said on Sunday."The chairman, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, said on the CNN program 'Late Edition' that the committee was 'going to go into quite a series of hearings in regard to cover.' The practice of intelligence cover has come under scrutiny during the investigation of the disclosure of the C.I.A. employment of Valerie Wilson, who had worked under cover for the agency for 18 years before being publicly identified as a C.I.A. operative in 2003."'You cannot be in the business of outing somebody' working under cover, Mr. Roberts said. He said, however, there were questions about the depth of Ms. Wilson's cover, because she had been based at the Virginia headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency at least since 1997."'I must say from a common-sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the C.I.A. headquarters, I don't know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert,"'Mr. Roberts said. 'But generically speaking, it is a very serious matter.'"In other words, Roberts won't be looking into a CIA officer's identity was illegally leaked -- but whether it was too easily known.Elsewhere, [The Washington Times][2] reports today that Roberts wants intelligence agents to "step right up to" legal limits placed by Congress on intelligence agencies in the war on terror."'The challenge today is not so much keeping intelligence officers from stepping across the legal line -- no one wants that -- but [rather] getting them to even come close to those lines,' the senator said. "'I expect the lawyers of the intelligence community -- along with its analysts and operators -- to step right up to those lines,' Mr. Roberts concluded. 'Don't go over them, but step up to them.'"Other links today:Pat Roberts links [(Voice of America) Saudi Ambassador-Designate to US Says His Country is Fighting Terrorism:][3] Earlier on the same program, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman (Republican) Pat Roberts said he thinks the leaders of Saudi Arabia have their own interests to consider in cracking down harder on Islamic extremists. "Well, there better be improvement because it's their self-preservation that's at stake," Mr. Roberts says. "Bin Laden, and the basic networks within the networks would like to dislodge or replace or terminate that government." Senator Roberts said he feels Saudi Arabia is doing more to combat terrorism than it used to. But when asked whether he feels Riyadh's efforts are enough, he said that is still what he called an "open question."[(New York Times) North Korea Nuclear Goals: Case of Mixed Signals:][4] Early this year, American spy satellites detected a spike in suspicious tunneling activity at a highly secretive military site in the mountains of North Korea. ... Senator Roberts would not discuss the contents of the briefing, but he said he knew of nothing specific that would have led analysts to warn that North Korea was moving closer to testing.Todd Tiahrt links [(Wichita Eagle) Tiahrt keeps busy after son's death:][5] Talk to Todd Tiahrt these days and you'll get an earful about jobs. "What I'm trying to do is create an environment where we bring jobs to America and keep the ones we've got," said Tiahrt, sitting in a U.S. Capitol meeting room, lawmakers and lobbyists chattering past. ... It was last July 24 when Luke Tiahrt, the congressman's 16-year-old youngest son, died by suicide in the Tiahrts' northern Virginia home. Since then, Tiahrt has been re-elected, his family has adjusted, and he's taken on new responsibilities in the U.S. House of Representatives. While Tiahrt has yet to speak publicly about his son's death, he does discuss how his family has coped.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][6] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]:

Not so sure

Joel Mathis July 21, 2005 at 9:43 a.m.

Sen. Sam Brownback wants answers.Though the nomination of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court appears to have the support of most pro-life Republicans, Brownback - a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee - said Wednesday he's a little more hesitant.The fear, apparently, is that Roberts is a Souter in conservative's clothing.[The Kansas City Star reports:][1] "Sen. Sam Brownback isn't sold on John G. Roberts, Jr. just yet. Not by a long shot. ... 'In the past, we've seen that if someone is not well articulated on a position, the tendency is to move left on the bench,' Brownback said, citing Justice David Souter as an example. Even so, Brownback doesn't have much company among conservatives in publicly questioning Roberts' nomination."[Knight Ridder adds:][2] "When he appeared before the committee two years ago, Roberts declined to answer a series of questions from (Sen. Charles) Schumer about whether he agreed with past court decisions and where he would place current justices on an ideological spectrum. ... "Roberts' views on abortion also drew the attention of at least one anti-abortion member of the Judiciary Committee - Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan, who said he would once again want to know if Roberts believes Roe v. Wade is, indeed, settled law."'It was appropriate at the time (of his first confirmation hearing), but I'm sure that issue will be vetted more clearly now that this is for a Supreme Court position where interpretations of the law - where there is more latitude on that,' Brownback said. 'At this point in time I'm not comfortable' with his answer."LATE ADDITION: [Here is a transcript][3] of Brownback's interview with evangelist Pat Robertson on the issue.The Big First [][4] reports: "Kansas Republican Congressman Jerry Moran is considering a run for governor, and already potential candidates for the would-be vacated 1st congressional district seat are lining up. "Rob Wasinger, 33, could be considered the leading conservative candidate for the seat. Wasinger has made a solid reputation for himself both in Kansas and in Washington, DC amongst conservatives of all types. "As Chief of Staff to Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Wasinger has been instrumental in helping the Senator craft pro-life legislation that has more often than not been on the cutting edge of pro-life initiatives. He has been involved in legislation banning cloning and chimera research, promoting cord-blood research and others. As such, he has won the praise of many of the pro-life community's most influential people."Other links:Sam Brownback links [(News-Medical.Net) Sale of abortion-pill threatened by U.S. lawmakers:][5] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new warning this week regarding the abortion pill RU-486 following the deaths of five women taking it, from bacterial infections. But several conservative lawmakers are saying that this is inadequate, and want sales of the abortion pill halted until a further safety review has been conducted. Republican Senators Jim DeMint, Sam Brownback of Kansas and David Vitter have joined forces to back new legislation.Pat Roberts links [(Wisconsin Ag Connection) Senate Panel: U.S. Food Supply Still Vulnerable to Attack:][6] An attack on America's food supply using biological agents or disease is easy to do, would spread fast and have a devastating economic effect, a Senate committee heard on Wednesday, as it reviewed protection for U.S. agriculture. "In the case of foot-and-mouth disease it takes little scientific training," Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican and chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told the Agriculture Committee hearing. "You put a handkerchief under a diseased animal in Afghanistan, put it in a zip-lock bag, put it in your suitcase, come to the United States and drop it in any one of our feed lots. And we're in a lot of trouble."How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][7] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]:

Time to shine

Joel Mathis July 20, 2005 at 9:42 a.m.

John Roberts has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Is it Sam Brownback's time to shine?[The Associated Press][1] reports: "Sen. Sam Brownback could raise his stature - and his hopes for a 2008 presidential bid - by playing a prominent role in nationally televised Senate hearings on President Bush's Supreme Court nominee."As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Kansas Republican said he plans to be an active participant in what is expected to be a bitterly partisan confirmation process for federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. ..."Brownback has called the question of when life begins 'the central issue of our day' and he is sure to bring the abortion issue into the spotlight in the confirmation process. He has done so in courting social conservatives around the country this year as gathers support for a run at the GOP presidential nomination."'I think it's a chance for Brownback to show that he's a strong leader,' said Joe Aistrup, a political science professor at Kansas State University. 'It's a chance for him to distinguish himself and he can do that at a national hearing like this.'"But Aistrup said it still may be difficult for Brownback to compete for media attention with other conservatives like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, also a potential contender for the Republican nomination. While Frist is not on the Judiciary Committee, he will have plenty to say about the proceedings."First, Brownback - like most everybody else - will have to figure out who Roberts is.[The Washington Post][2] reports: "Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas acknowledged that he did not know who was nominated until reporters told him, even though he is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will conduct hearings on Roberts just before or just after Labor Day. What he knows of Roberts is positive, Brownback said, and the hearings will be a great opportunity 'to debate the role of the courts in America today.'"Other links today:Sam Brownback links [(Washington Times) Frist tries to juggle stem-cell interests:][3] Conservatives have demanded that if the embryonic-stem-cell bill comes to the floor, so should their long-awaited human cloning ban, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican. If that does not happen, Mr. Brownback has promised to filibuster the embryonic-stem-cell bill. "If they want an up-or-down vote ... then we would like a vote on the human cloning ban," said David Christensen, director of congressional affairs for the Family Research Council. Todd Tiahrt links [(CNS News Service) Controversial Lincoln Memorial Video Still in Limbo:][4]After two and a half years of discussion and almost $20,000 devoted to revising a video shown to tourists at the Lincoln Memorial, the National Park Service has yet to satisfy either conservative or liberal critics. ... In March 2003, one month after Cybercast News Service published an exclusive report about the tape and amid pressure from conservative groups, the National Park Service indicated that it would "review" the video. But when word spread of those plans, liberals objected. ... U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) soon demanded changes to the video, prompting the National Park Service to indicate that revisions would be placed on a fast track. How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][5] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]:

Return to sender

Joel Mathis July 19, 2005 at 9:01 a.m.

Sam Brownback links [(Kansas City Star) Brownback returns campaign gift:][1] Sen. Sam Brownback returned a check from a top contributor to his budding presidential campaign after learning that the donor is under investigation for illegal insider trading. Emanuel Friedman, a Washington-based investment manager, contributed $5,000 in June to Restore America, the Kansas Republican's political action committee.[(Fort Worth Star-Telegram) Wright bill to be filed in Senate:][2]A Nevada senator plans to file a bill to repeal the Wright Amendment in the U.S. Senate today, a move that will intensify the drive to lift restrictions at Dallas Love Field. John Ensign, a Republican and a member of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, said in April that he planned to challenge the amendment. In a news conference today, Ensign will be joined by two high-profile supporters: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-K [(Houston Chronicle) Bush's gala has intimate air:][3] Stodgy Washington loves a little glamour, and President Bush on Monday stayed up past his bedtime to deliver, hosting a glitzy formal dinner at the White House for the visiting prime minister of India. ... Among those on hand for the invitation-only event were House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, journalists Fred Barnes and David Brooks, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Mukesh Ambani, group chairman of Reliance Industries. [(Human Events commentary) Reform Tax Code with Parents Tax Relief Act:][4] Carlson believes the Parents Tax Relief Act (HR 3080, S 1305), recently introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R.-Neb.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.), would rectify discrimination against families with children in the federal tax code. "The Parents Tax Relief Act would return us to a 1940s-style system," says Carlson, who asserts PTRA is the most important pro-family bill to be introduced in decades.[(Intellectual Conservative commentary) An Opportunity for Conservative Senators:][5] There are, of course, some reasons Senate conservative activism might not be as viable today as in 1993-96. For one, right-wing firebrands would be revolting against their own president and party leadership instead of Bill Clinton. Second, Gramm was able to credibly threaten Dole's conservative credentials because he was widely considered a top-tier candidate in a way that the senators best-positioned to follow in his footsteps -- Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum -- are not.Pat Roberts links [(Time, via CNN) Life after the leak:][6] Her adversaries say Plame and Wilson are exaggerating the damage. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said last week that Plame could hardly have been under deep cover if she was openly driving to work every day at CIA headquarters. "She was done," says one senior Republican Senate aide, when asked if Plame's career had been hurt. "She'd had her two kids, she'd come back to headquarters. And how do you maintain your cover when your husband is saying I was sent on a mission by the CIA?"Dennis Moore links [(Kansas City Nursing News) Current nursing forecast calls for a 'Perfect Storm':][7] Faculty shortages, tough working conditions and money were among the topics on the table at a public meeting on local and national nursing shortages led by U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore July 7 at Shawnee Mission Medical Center. The congressman led a panel of area nursing school administrators, a hospital representative and a member of a metropolitan health care council in front of a full house, largely made up of nurses. His wife, Stephene, a registered nurse, introduced the panel.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][8] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]:

Was Wilson wrong?

Joel Mathis July 18, 2005 at 10:06 a.m.

As the controversy surrounding Karl Rove drags on, Sen. Pat Roberts is getting some notice in the blogosphere.Rove, of course, is accused in some quarters of leaking the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame as retribution against her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had accused the Bush Administration of ignoring evidence that didn't match its drive to invade Iraq -- specifically, that there was little information to believe, as President Bush had claimed, that Iraq had tried to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger.As the heat has turned up in recent days, conservative bloggers have pulled up a July 2004 [Roberts press release][1] suggesting that Wilson was mistaken in his accusations.Roberts' press release said: "During Mr. Wilson's media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had 'debunked' the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. As discussed in the Niger section of the report, not only did he NOT 'debunk' the claim, he actually gave some intelligence analysts even more reason to believe that it may be true. I believed very strongly that it was important for the Committee to conclude publicly that many of the statements made by Ambassador Wilson were not only incorrect, but had no basis in fact. "In an interview with Committee staff, Mr. Wilson was asked how he knew some of the things he was stating publicly with such confidence. On at least two occasions he admitted that he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all. For example, when asked how he 'knew' that the Intelligence Community had rejected the possibility of a Niger-Iraq uranium deal, as he wrote in his book, he told Committee staff that his assertion may have involved 'a little literary flair.' "The former Ambassador, either by design or through ignorance, gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and misleading. Surely, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has unique access to all of the facts, should have been able to agree on a conclusion that would correct the public record. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so."The press release has been linked, in recent days, by conservative sites [here][2] and [here][3]. Bloomberg News reports on the controversy [here][4]. A liberal Web site tries to debunk the attack [here.][5]Other links:Sam Brownback links [(Boston Globe op-ed) Faith, science meet in space:][6] The politics of faith and science is rife with contradiction and misguided intentions. For example, in 2000, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas lent his support to the reelection bids of those conservative state Board of Education members who voted to remove evolutionary theory from the required state curriculum. He also sits on the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space, which recently approved more than $16 billion for NASA. So why is Brownback voting to spend money on science that in effect supports fundamental implications of evolutionary theory, that things evolve slowly, over long pressures and geologic changes, and that to even get to an Earth capable of a seven day miracle you need billions of years?[(NY Times) Texas senator wades into Supreme Court fray:][7] Now the Supreme Court fight could get much more personal for (Sen. John) Cornyn. He is among those being mentioned as a possible nominee. ... Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., a strong social conservative, said Cornyn also won the respect of some of his colleagues with his work on behalf of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, an initiative that failed but paid some political dividends for Republicans. "It was something that a number of older members don't like to handle, social issues," Brownback said. "That really gave him stature with the broader caucus at a very early setting."[(Wichita Eagle) Coming soon to your TV: year-round political ads:][8] n Wichita earlier this year, ads ran on television stations attacking Sen. Sam Brownback over his vote to create a government-managed asbestos claim trust fund. Those ads were produced by the Senate Accountability Project, a liberal 527 based in Dallas. The group's founder, trial lawyer Mark Iola, said it exists to "promote progressive politics and hold Democrats and Republicans accountable for their votes."[(Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph) Vt. candidate turns to some familiar faces:][9] House Deputy Majority Leader Fran Wendelboe, R-New Hampton, can be forgiven for not jumping into the lap of Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback after getting a courtesy call last week. Brownback told Wendelboe he's serious about the exploratory effort for president but called to talk about issues that are playing in New Hampshire. "I've not had great luck with Kansas,'' she quipped. Wendelboe jumped hard and early onto the bandwagons of both Dole for president campaigns Bob's effort in 1996 and Elizabeth's aborted run four years later. Dennis Moore links [(Wichita Eagle) Identity theft is growing concern:][10] A 2003 bill helped consumers better watch for signs of identity theft by allowing them one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Now, well-publicized security breaches at companies that sell consumer data have prompted federal lawmakers to take another run at the problem. The challenge is to find a system that helps citizens protect themselves while maintaining the convenience demanded by Americans who want credit, fast. "We want to protect the consumer without putting an undue burden on business," said Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Lenexa.Jim Ryun links [(Agape Press) Commentary & News Briefs:][11] A Kansas lawmaker says his recent visit to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba allowed him to see first-hand that the prisoners being held there are being well fed and receiving excellent medical care. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Jim Ryun was part of a recent bi-partisan delegation that inspected the military prison. Ryun was impressed with what he saw. "We had the opportunity to not only tour the facilities but eat a detainee lunch," he says. "We observed some interrogation, and I came away with the strong feeling that we're doing very, very well in terms of the way we're taking care of the prisoners that are there, the enemy combatants.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][12] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]: [9]: [10]: [11]: [12]:

Rove, North Korea and the economy

Joel Mathis July 15, 2005 at 10:06 a.m.

Pat Roberts links [(Muslim American Society) Military Declines Disciplining Former Guantanamo Commander:][1] But Republican supporters of President George W. Bush have expressed surprise at criticism of the camp and the officers running it. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said "I am in no way condoning these incidents, but I don't think they are a matter of national press attention."[(Houston Chronicle) Senate Democrats' measure aimed at Bush adviser fails:][2] The controversy over White House adviser Karl Rove spilled onto the Senate floor Thursday when Democrats unsuccessfully sought to withhold classified information from federal officials who disclose the identity of covert CIA agents. ... Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., warned Democrats that "in your zeal to hang Karl Rove," lawmakers had proposed a poorly crafted amendment that could have unintentional effects. The Democratic amendment failed on a vote of 53-44.[(Kansas City Star) Fort Riley facing shortage of housing for troops:][3] Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee, has proposed a partial solution to change rules that govern a low-income housing tax credit to allow more military families to benefit from it. Currently, the military housing allowance makes many military families ineligible for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit because between the allowance and their salaries, families make too much. Roberts wants the housing allowance to no longer count toward eligibility. Section 8 housing voucher assistance for civilian families doesn't count as income, he says.Sam Brownback links [(Washington Post) Senator Drops Plan to Allow Use of D.C. Vouchers in Va., Md. Schools:][4] A key Republican senator withdrew his proposal yesterday to allow District voucher students to attend private high schools in Maryland and Virginia, saying there was not enough time to pass legislation to help about 50 students who lack spaces for this fall. "I will not be pursuing any changes to the District of Columbia school voucher program at this time," Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on the District, said in a statement. "With next fall's school season quickly approaching, it's become clear it would be difficult to implement any changes that would have a positive impact before students returned to class." [(National Review commentary) Murder's Row Rules:][5] Happily, President Bush unhesitatingly denounced Iran's mullahcracy for its barbaric treatment of Ganji, and his forthright support of freedom has been echoed by Senators Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, and Joe Biden. Even the European Union felt compelled to support Ganji in an usually blunt demand for his release. Others may well follow, as they should.[(Washington Post, via Knight Ridder) New CPB chairman tapped:][6] Cheryl Halpern, who was appointed to the CPB board by President Bush three years ago, is in line to replace Kenneth Tomlinson as the head of the agency that distributes federal funds to noncommercial radio and TV stations and serves as a buffer between public broadcasting and politicians seeking to influence its news reporting and programming. ... Mother Jones magazine ranked the Halperns among the nation's top 100 "hard" money donors (contributions made directly to candidates, not party organizations) and said they contributed a total of $81,800 to, among others, Bush and Republican Sens. Trent Lott, R-Miss., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and Christopher Bond, R-Mo.[(USA Today) Rights meeting spotlights N. Korea abuses at key diplomacy time:][7] One week before the United States resumes nuclear weapons talks with North Korea after a yearlong delay, the Bush administration is sponsoring a conference on North Korean human rights that threatens to undermine the negotiations. ... Others invited to speak include Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's ethics and religious liberty commission, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. Brownback, in an interview two years ago, said he hoped to encourage an exodus of North Korean refugees to China, adding that "if this destabilizes the regime, great!"Todd Tiahrt links [(Marketwatch) GOP group forms around business issues:][8] U.S. economic woes are "the culmination of a generation of increased regulation, unsound tax policies, languishing emphasis on math and science education, unchecked health care costs, rampant lawsuit abuse, unfocused research and development funds, lack of a comprehensive energy policy and weak trade policy enforcement," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., who is chairman of the new Economic Competitiveness Caucus.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][9] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]: [9]:

Minor incidents

Joel Mathis July 14, 2005 at 7:04 a.m.

Pat Roberts links [(Washington Post) Abu Ghraib Tactics Were First Used at Guantanamo:][1] Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forced a stubborn detainee to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. ... Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) called the Guantanamo abuse relatively "minor incidents" that should not be a matter of national interest.Sam Brownback links [(Kansas City Star) Brownback takes presidential hopes to Carolina:][2] Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback is scheduled to visit South Carolina this weekend, an early trip to a Republican primary state that strategists view as vital to his presidential prospects. In the last few months, Brownback, a favorite of socially conservative GOP activists, has made several trips to Iowa and one to New Hampshire, other states with early nominating contests. "Senator Brownback continues to travel to discuss the issues facing the country," said Brian Hart, Brownback's spokesman.[(AllAfrica.Com) Weekend Prayer Event Puts Renewed Focus on Darfur in Sudan:][3] eligious groups across the country are participating in a Weekend of Prayer and Reflection for Victims of Genocide in Darfur from July 15 through 17 to try to force action to stop the killing, which has claimed an estimated 400,000 lives over the past two years and left 2.5 million more in jeopardy. ... Some of the members of Congress in attendance spoke from personal experience about Darfur. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who traveled to Darfur with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) a year ago, said the weekend events would enable Americans across the country "to pray for peace for the people of Sudan."Dennis Moore links [(The Hill) $1M Club is formed by NRCC :][4] But the Democrats appear to be holding their own in competitive districts. Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Chet Edwards (Texas), Stephanie Herseth (S.D.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Charlie Melancon, Dennis Moore (Kans.) and John Salazar (Colo.) - the 10 "Frontline" Democrats considered vulnerable - have raised an average of $400,000. At this time in 2003 they had raised an average of just $282,000, a DCCC spokeswoman said. Todd Tiahrt links [(Wichita Business Journal) Tiahrt supports reduction in trade barriers:][5] A resolution that calls for a reduction of barriers that keep American businesses from competing in the global market has the support of U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Goddard), who represents Wichita in the U.S. Congress. The measure, H.Res. 352, is expected to pass the House Wednesday, say officials in Tiahrt's office. Tiahrt says the resolution calls for the review of rules and policies that "hinder American businesses from competing on a level playing field."How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][6] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]:

More on Gitmo

Joel Mathis July 13, 2005 at 9:48 a.m.

Today, [the Senate Armed Services Committee][1] receives a briefing about allegations that detainees at Guanatanamo Bay were treated harshly, amid reports that one investigation recommended a reprimand for the prison's former commander.In today's [Kansas City Star,][2] Sen. Pat Roberts makes the case that, if things were once bad at "Gitmo," they're fine now." I just returned from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (Gitmo) this past weekend and got a very thorough look at the outstanding job our hard-working men and women are doing - both military and civilian," Roberts writes on the Star's opinion page."Were there problems at Gitmo in the past? Yes. But, the small number of incidents have been investigated and corrected. Everything I saw is consistent with what we have learned from the Senate Intelligence Committee's ongoing oversight of operations at Gitmo: It is a tightly run ship with excellent internal, as well as external, oversight and supervision."Given who the detainees in Gitmo are, and make no mistake - they are terrorists - it's hard for me to imagine how much better they could have it. They are treated humanely and respectfully."Roberts adds: "The interrogation sessions themselves are something of which all Americans can be proud. I can't get into the classified details, but let's just say that they're using more carrots than sticks."And he concludes: "The brave men and women working at Gitmo, including several Kansans whom I met, have enough to worry about every day, handling very dangerous people, without being dragged through the mud by ill-informed accusations of abuse and calls for closing down Gitmo."Instead, let's give them our support and thanks for a job well done."Other links:Pat Roberts links [(Washington Post via MSNBC) GOP on offense in defense of Rove:][3] Wilson was a chief target of the new GOP offensive designed to take some pressure off Rove. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said the White House did not have to discredit Wilson. "Nobody had to do that," he said, adding that "he discredited his own report" by including unfounded allegations. The RNC talking point memo included a list of anti-Wilson lines.[(Knight Ridder) Despite allegations, Bush still backs Rove:][4] However, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that while it was too early to determine whether his panel would examine Rove's role in the leak of Plame's name, he conceded that the matter is potentially very serious. "Yeah, we're concerned," he said. "The key to it is whether it was knowingly or inadvertent. ... If it's on purpose, it is a very serious problem."How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][5] [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]:

An early start

Joel Mathis July 12, 2005 at 10:41 a.m.

Sen. Sam Brownback is already vetting President Bush's Supreme Court nominee - before that nominee is even named.[The Hill reports today][1]: "Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a conservative member of the Judiciary Committee, plans to meet this week with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has been mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee."Asked whether Gonzales would be a good nominee, Brownback replied, 'I need to talk with him about his view of the Constitution to tell. That's what I hope to do this week.'"Brownback rejected the notion that the meeting is premature: 'If people are throwing names around, I think it's timely to talk with individuals in the process.' President Bush has defended Gonzales, whom he called a great friend, after conservative groups spoke out against his possible nomination to the high court."No word on when an actual nominee will be named.Other links:Pat Roberts links [(Kansas City Star) Senator tells of Guantanamo trip:][2] A weekend trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, convinced Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas that some suspected terrorist detainees there are better off than some Kansans. For well-behaved detainees, there is outdoor volleyball, soccer and pingpong amid the soft tropical breezes. Prayers five times a day. "Very humane" interrogations, Roberts said, one of which he witnessed.[(AP) London Police Searching Surveillance Tapes:][3] Since last week's attack, authorities have been collecting such tapes from traffic and transportation agencies, local authorities and businesses. Thousands of cameras monitor London's streets, trains and buses. A key U.S. senator said he was sure al-Qaida was behind the attack. ``There is no question in my mind personally that this is an al-Qaida operation,'' said Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican. [(Wisconsin Ag Connection) Senators Appeal to Taiwan and Egypt to Keep Beef Trade:][4] The American Meat Institute said that Senator Pat Roberts led the effort to encourage Egypt to continue beef trade with the United States, while asking Taiwan to resume beef trade that has been temporarily suspended since 25 June following the discovery of a second case of BSE in the United States. "We greatly appreciate the positive bilateral trading relationship our countries enjoy," the senators said. Sam Brownback links [(AP) Mayor Argues Against Expanding Voucher Program:][5] Mayor Anthony Williams is opposing a plan from Congress to let D.C. students use school vouchers at private high schools in the suburbs. ... Kansas Senator Sam Brownback proposed to expand the program to schools outside the city because of a shortage of space for high school students at private schools in D.. His proposal could be attached to the D.C. budget bill.[(Family News in Focus) Senate Poised to Vote on Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research:][6] Federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research is scheduled for a Senate vote sometime this week. The legislation, which has already passed the House, would reverse the Bush administration policy. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., would like to make sure taxpayers are not forced to support the destruction of human life. "Some people say, 'Well, this is no more than medical waste,' " Brownback said, "But it's actually young human life. Biologically, these are young humans that we would be paying to do research on and destroying to research and that's just a barrier to which we should not go as a country."[(The Hill) Healthcare providers look to dodge new mandates:][7] After a series of behind-the-scenes talks with key senators, companies that supply medical devices, drugs and other products appear to have dodged an onerous regulatory bullet. The suppliers, known as hospital group-purchasing organizations (GPOs), received a boost when three senators and the hospital industry backed new voluntary ethical guidelines for the industry. The Judiciary Committee has scrutinized the potentially anti-competitive practices of these GPOs. But today Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), all members of the judiciary panel, plan to offer their support of the GPOs' guidelines. Jim Ryun links [(AP) Roberts says no evidence of mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay:][8] Kansas Rep. Jim Ryun, who traveled to Guantanamo on Monday with a delegation of about a dozen members of Congress, said it would be "a huge mistake" to close the camp. "It was an opportunity to confirm what our reports provided before, that the enemy combatants are well taken care of at the same time they are being interrogated," Ryun said of his trip.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][9] [1]: [2]: [3]:,1280,-5134025,00.html [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]: [9]:

Gitmo, embryos, immigration and judges

Joel Mathis July 11, 2005 at 10:52 a.m.

Congressional Briefing is back from vacation...Pat Roberts links [Transcript from Sen. Pat Roberts' appearance on "Fox News Sunday":][1] (Roberts said), "I just got back from Gitmo as of yesterday, right after the hurricane. And I was tremendously impressed by the terrorist interrogation that is continuing down there on the very positive basis by a very professional group of men and women in uniform. That kind of interrogation is providing 50, 60 percent of the intelligence that we need to stop an attack like this."[(Topeka Capital-Journal editorial) Recruiting -- A tough sell:][2] Pentagon officials have asked congressmen to stress the importance of military service. But these days, with the ongoing dangers in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the casualty count growing, it's a tough sell. "With the deluge of negative news that we get daily, it's just amazing to me that anybody would want to sign up," says Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts.[(Washington Times) Bitterness over CAFTA:][3] Sugar crops account for about 1 percent of the cash receipts received by U.S. farmers for their commodities, but sugar farmers and producers carry significantly more political weight in Washington. They are using every ounce of it to defeat CAFTA-DR. "It is difficult to understand how the interests of one commodity -- one commodity and I am talking about sugar -- has largely outweighed the potential for regional stability in CAFTA countries," Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican. Sam Brownback links [(Chicago Tribune via KRT) Battle over embryos opens new front: in vitro fertilization:][4] That's how IVF is done in Germany and Italy, where the law forbids freezing embryos, says a maximum of three embryos may be created at one time, and requires that every embryo be transferred simultaneously back into the woman who produced the eggs. Recently, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said those countries might have the right idea. In an interview with ABC's "This Week," he suggested restricting the number of eggs that can be fertilized and requiring doctors to implant all the embryos that result.[(LA Times) Enforce Immigration Law, or Change It? Answer May Be Both:][5] The principal immigration reform proposal so far introduced in Congress, a bipartisan collaboration between Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and some surprising cosponsors like conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), leans toward this analysis. It includes some measures to stiffen border security. But mostly it attempts to divert the illegal flow of Mexican labor into a legal and orderly process through a guest worker program for future migrants and a path toward "earned legalization" for the millions already in the U.S. without documentation.[(Washington Post via MSNBC) Polarized panel awaits high court nominee:][6] Some analysts view the committee's makeup and personalities as a potential recipe for discord, not only between the two parties but also perhaps within the GOP ranks. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) strenuously differ with Specter on abortion -- certain to be a prime issue during the hearings. And the president's allies make no secret they would prefer the gavel to be back in the hands of Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the panel's most senior Republican and a steadfast Bush loyalist. Party term-limit rules forced him to step aside just before the high court vacancy occurred.Todd Tiahrt links [(Ark City Traveler) Tiahrt takes on 'activist judges':][7] U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard criticized what he called "activist judges" in Kansas who are dictating how much money goes to state public schools. In the meeting held in City Hall, Tiahrt said, "We have to have good schools, but for the courts to do that, I think is improper," said Tiahrt, who spent an hour discussing various issues with 30 Arkansas City residents attending the meeting.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][8] [1]:,2933,162058,00.html [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]:,1,7340235.column?coll=la-utilities-politics [6]: [7]: [8]: