Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Republican Leader John Boehner, in a private conversation on the House floor Wednesday, warned his Democratic counterpart, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, of a legislative "meltdown."

Hoyer earlier had threatened rules changes limiting efforts of the Republican minority to alter legislation through "recommittal" votes at the end of debate. If that happens, Boehner told Hoyer, look for Republicans to delay the appropriations process and bring the House's work to a standstill.

House Republicans have experienced some success this year by exercising the minority party's traditional right to recommit a bill to its originating committee. Most recently, it prevented passage of a bill authorizing a House member for the District of Columbia through a recommittal motion repealing the capital city's restrictive gun law. Hoyer then warned that Democrats will impose a new requirement of germaneness on such motions.


Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), conferred privately with two Democratic committee chairmen -- with no Republicans present -- the night before the March 16 House hearings on the Valerie Plame CIA leak.

Hayden talked to Rep. Henry Waxman, whose Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducted the hearing, and Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the Intelligence Committee chairman. Waxman the next day quoted Hayden's description of Plame's status with the agency after the CIA's repeated refusal to discuss this subject with Republican chairmen before the 2006 election.

Hayden, a career Air Force officer, has assured complaining Republicans he is not a Democrat. However, these Republicans speculate that Hayden is angling to move a step up as Director of National Intelligence (DNI) under a Democratic president who might be elected in 2008.


The Senate's top two Republicans, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Trent Lott, voted against their GOP colleagues Wednesday on a motion to cut extraneous spending from the Iraq emergency appropriations bill. They did so to help Sen. Norm Coleman, who faces a tough run for re-election from Minnesota next year.

The motion by reform Sen. Tom Coburn would have eliminated $100 million to provide security for the 2008 national party conventions. With Republicans meeting in Minneapolis, Coleman (a former mayor of St. Paul) made a strong pitch to retain the money.

The Coburn amendment was supported by 37 of the 49 Republican senators. But McConnell and Lott opposed it for Coleman's sake. It lost, 51 to 45.


Robert Novak

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

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