Congress rushes toward recess
Actions as lawmakers work toward their August recess:
FIRED PROSECUTORS – The Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed White House political aide J. Scott Jennings about the firings of federal prosecutors. It was the committee’s first public interview with a current aide to Bush. But the session yielded little more than an appeal for sympathy from Jennings, who made clear he was appearing only to signal good will and to avoid a contempt of Congress citation. Karl Rove, the president’s senior political adviser, failed to show up.
IRAQ – The House voted 229-194 to give U.S. troops guaranteed time at home between deployments to Iraq. The legislation is designed to complicate the Pentagon’s ability to rotate sufficient troops into the war zone. The bill does not apply to soldiers in Afghanistan.
BRIDGE COLLAPSE – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation that would direct $250 million for Minnesota to help it replace a bridge that collapsed Wednesday night.
GUN LAW – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced a bill, inspired by the shootings at Virginia Tech, that would tighten requirements for states to pass mental health information to the federal government for background checks for prospective gun buyers.
TERRORISM SURVEILLENCE – Congress is struggling over whether the government should have more power to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists. Democratic lawmakers worry that the person who would oversee the plan is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House suggested that Gonzales share that power with National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said lawmakers are trying to reach a compromise.
MATH AND SCIENCE – The House passed legislation that creates programs to encourage people to study and teach math and science and supports high-risk technology research. It passed on a 367-57 vote. The Senate is expected to endorse it before the recess.