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Roberts more supportive of CIA nominee

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Sen. Pat Roberts is moving quickly.The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday said he's ready to start confirmation hearings for CIA director nominee Gen. Michael Hayden.[AP][1] reports that while some Republicans have expressed concerns about a military man taking over a civilian agency, "Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he hopes to hold Hayden's confirmation hearings as soon as Tuesday and he believes 'the dust is settling' on Hayden's selection."Hayden ran the National Security Agency when it began so-called "warrantless wiretapping" under the Bush Administration. Questions about that controversial program are sure to be part of any confirmation hearing.AP: "Roberts welcomed a debate on the surveillance program. 'I am not sure that is a bad thing, for people to understand that better,' he said. 'There has been a cascade of misinformation about it.'"Roberts said any parliamentary maneuver to block Hayden's nomination would amount to 'putting a hold on our national security interests.'"Roberts had withheld his endorsement of Hayden's nomination, but on Tuesday sounded supportive. [The Washington Post][2] reports "Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said Hayden 'probably has as much or more expertise in regards to intelligence as anyone.'"'He is highly professional,' Roberts said. 'I think that trumps any concerns that others may have.'"[Bloomberg][3] adds: "Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said he plans to open hearings next week on Hayden's nomination and they will last 'as long as it takes for senators to express their concerns.'"Roberts met with Hayden for breakfast yesterday and today he praised the general to reporters on Capitol Hill."Roberts said that while he and others senators would prefer to have a civilian head the CIA, that should not automatically disqualify Hayden, who has stood up the Pentagon several times. 'He has the skills,' Roberts said."Other links:Sam Brownback links[(KC Star) Talent's insurance prescription nears vote:][4] For his entire Washington career - as congressman, lobbyist, and now as Missouri's junior senator - Jim Talent has promoted an idea to provide health insurance to small-business employees. The proposal would allow small businesses to pool together through associations to purchase health insurance for their employees. That would enable small businesses to get the same economies of scale - and lower premiums - as large corporations and labor unions. ... Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, was a co-sponsor of Talent's original bill but is undecided on the current bill, a spokesman said.[(The Hill) McCain bill splits right:][5] McCain is expected to unveil a bill this week that would give cable companies regulatory incentives to offer their customers content on a channel-by-channel basis, which is known as "a la carte" programming because of its resemblance to restaurant menus that price entrees and side orders separately. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who is expected to base a 2008 presidential run on appealing to social conservatives, said that he was not aware of the brewing controversy over cable programming. "Historically, I have not supported the a la carte approach," he said.Jerry Moran links[(USA Today) Which plans have best performance? Data's not out yet:][6] Consumer groups and some congressional lawmakers say Medicare should release data showing how well each Medicare drug insurer is performing on quality and service. Such data would be valuable to consumers before the Monday sign-up deadline, they say. But Medicare officials say the information is not ready and will not be released before the deadline, despite earlier suggestions that they would do so. Some congressional Republicans and Democrats have also asked for additional data, particularly about wait times on insurers' call center telephone lines. "Is the reason (more people ) have not enrolled because they called for information and could not get through?" asks Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.Todd Tiahrt links[(AP) House bill restricts demonstrations at military funerals:][7] The House voted Tuesday to restrict demonstrations at military funerals, a measure aimed at a Kansas church group that has carried its anti-gay message to the last rites for those killed in Iraq. ... "No family should have to endure such a double tragedy of losing a loved one and then dealing with protesters," Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas, said in a statement. "This bill will keep protesters away from grieving families and friends and allow these heroes to be mourned and honored with dignity and respect."How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][8] [1]: http://www.localnewswatch.com/skyvalley/stories/index.php?action=fullnews&id=185503 [2]: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/10/MNGAQIOMVN1.DTL [3]: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aiDyz0vXQbBA&refer=us [4]: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/14540734.htm [5]: http://www.thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/051006/news1.html [6]: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/drugs/2006-05-09-mediwrap-side-usat_x.htm [7]: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/politics/14539284.htm [8]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

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