Robert Novak

Pickering, 39 years old with five young sons, was asked to be president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association beginning Jan. 1, paid at least 1 million dollars a year (compared with his $154,700 congressional salary). The four-term congressman had accepted the offer, but President Bush talked him into staying in Congress. Pickering is the son of U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering, whose nomination as an appellate judge has been blocked by a Democratic filibuster.

There was little danger of Republicans losing Pickering's seat. He won 64 percent of the vote last year against Democratic Rep. Ronnie Shows in a contest between two incumbents created by reapportionment. Party leaders regard the younger Pickering as a political comer and wanted him to stay in the House.


First-year Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the former Clinton White House aide elected to Congress from Chicago last year, and Rep. Gil Gutknecht, a conservative Republican from southern Minnesota, plan to visit each other's districts to conduct bipartisan townhall meetings on health care.

They are co-sponsoring an amendment that would give Americans access to cheaper name-brand drugs across the border in Canada. With House Republican leaders blocking the Emanuel-Gutknecht amendment, Gutknecht defied the party line and voted against the prescription drug bill. Emanuel also voted against the bill, along with most Democrats.

At the townhall meetings in Chicago and Minnesota, the congressmen will promote their amendment as a free-standing bill.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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