Archive for Monday, October 29, 2007

Congressional briefing: Does this Congress make me look fat?

October 29, 2007

Here are today's headlines from the Kansas congressional delegation:

Sen. Pat Roberts (R)

(McClatchy) Doctors: Congress to blame for obesity: Arguing a salad shouldn't be more expensive than a Big Mac, America's doctors are blaming Congress for an epidemic of obesity in the country. Seeking a healthier and slimming national diet, many physicians -- including the American Medical Association -- want Congress to stop subsidizing the production of foods high in fat and cholesterol and are urging more spending to promote fruits, vegetables and grain. ... Farm Belt lawmakers are on the defensive. ''I agree that obesity and health are serious issues in America today,'' said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. ``However, blaming the cause on the crops that we grow in Kansas and/or the U.S. farm program is overlooking the personal responsibility we all have in our daily lives and diets.''

(New York Times) Spies Do a Huge Volume of Work in Invisible Ink: THE splotches of black ink that block out words, sentences and sometimes whole pages of Valerie Plame Wilson's new memoir, "Fair Game," pose an irresistible challenge to readers: What did the Central Intelligence Agency not want us to know? ... In every nook of the national security agencies, redactors labor anonymously. The federal Information Security Oversight Office says 460 million pages of previously classified records have been made public since 1996, usually after a markup by the overworked gnomes of declassification. ... Aggrieved spy-authors are not the only critics of the redactors' heavy hand. Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who is usually friendly toward the spy agency, grumbled publicly about its editing of the 2004 Senate report on pre-Iraq-war intelligence. "If the agency were classifying basically an elementary book and the book had, 'See Spot run,' it would redact 'Spot,' " Mr. Roberts said.

(AP) Cherokee County questions Oklahoma casino site: Cherokee County officials have called in federal help in its growing concerns with an Indian-owned casino being built across the state line in Oklahoma. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts sent a letter this week to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, asking questions about property on which the Quapaw Tribe is building its Downstream Casino Resort. Penn National Gaming has applied to the Kansas Lottery Commission for a contract to build a state-owned casino in Cherokee County and supporters worry the Indian casino will draw away players. The tribe said the county should have asked tribal officials the questions first. Roberts cited a letter sent to the bureau last week by David Cooper, an attorney working on behalf of Cherokee County.

Rep. Jerry Moran (R)

(Newsday commentary) Saul Friedman: Part D killing small pharmacies: While I was on the phone with Frank Deluco, a Staten Island pharmacist, he had a typical emergency. The customer was in pain and needed his prescription quickly but couldn't figure out his benefits under Part D. Deluco filled the prescription and helped relieve the elderly customer's pain and confusion. But Deluco, 56, whose Delco Pharmacy has been in business 40 years, may be a dying breed; thousands of neighborhood drugstores like his represent an endangered species. Deluco explained one reason why: A 90-day supply of the drug for his customer costs him $216 and change, but he'll be reimbursed only about $214 by the insurer and the Pharmaceutical Benefit Manager (PBM) he deals with. ... Several pieces of pending legislation, opposed by the PBMs, are designed to help the community pharmacies survive. Two bipartisan proposals would force the PBMs to speed up reimbursements to less than 30 days. Another bipartisan measure by Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), called the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act, would permit an exemption from antitrust laws so that independent druggists can band together to negotiate more favorable contracts with the PBMs. House Judicary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Michigan) held a hearing earlier this month to move the legislation forward.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R)

(AP) Politics seeping into tanker contract decision: The Air Force is just a few months away from awarding a multibillion dollar contract to replace its aging fleet of aerial refueling tankers. But there is a growing dispute over the possibility that the project could be split between Boeing Co. and a rival international team led by Northrop Grumman Corp. and European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., majority owner of jetmaker Airbus. Earlier this month, a group of lawmakers from Kansas, Missouri and other states with thousands of Boeing workers wrote a letter urging Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne to reject the so-called split-buy plan and declare just one winner. ... Boeing estimates that the KC-767 contract would support more than 44,000 jobs at 300 U.S. suppliers. If Northrop wins, the company says it would produce 25,000 jobs at more than 200 suppliers. "Nearly every state in the union would be touched by Boeing's KC-767 tanker program, something Airbus cannot say," said Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from the Wichita area.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R)

(Catholic News Agency) Brownback talks to Giuliani, Catholics for Brownback "outraged": Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who sought the Republican presidential nomination on a socially conservative platform, is considering supporting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's candidacy. He met with the former mayor on Thursday to discuss his position on abortion. "I'm going to meet with him and I'm going to talk to him and hear what he is specifically saying now because he's changed on a number of the abortion issues," Brownback said in an interview with The Hill. "He's changed on partial-birth [abortion] and he ... has said he would appoint strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court. ... The possibility that Brownback is likely to endorse Giuliani has left "Iowa moms and Catholics outraged," according to a Catholics for Brownback source who contacted CNA. Speaking of the potential Brownback endorsement, Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University said, "It would be absolutely huge. It would mean that Giuliani is getting support from a part of the Republican Party that has been hostile to him." "Brownback is very well-respected," he added. "It would give a lot of social conservatives and evangelicals cover if they want to support Giuliani."

Congressional briefing appears semi-regularly, Monday through Friday. If you've seen a news story or other blog entry about the Kansas Congressional delegation that we've missed, do let us know.

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