- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

HOUSE

McClellan to testify on Cheney, Plame

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan will testify before a House committee next week about whether Vice President Dick Cheney ordered him to make misleading public statements about the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

Mr. McClellan’s lawyers said he has accepted House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr.’s invitation to testify June 20. The attorneys said Mr. McClellan will appear and be sworn during the proceedings.

Mr. McClellan said he was misled by others, possibly including Mr. Cheney, about the role of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. in the leak and has said publicly that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney “directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby.”

Mrs. Plame’s CIA identity was leaked to the news media by several top Bush administration officials in 2003, including Mr. Libby and former top White House political adviser Karl Rove.

SENATE

Restaurants likely to go private

The famed bean soup served in Senate restaurants is made up of dried navy beans, smoked ham hocks, onions and a million-dollar tab for the taxpayer.

That menu for financial distress could be about to change as the Senate, following the lead taken by the House more than 20 years ago, moves to privatize the restaurants, coffee shops and cafeterias located in the Capitol and Senate office buildings.

The Senate last week passed a bill authorizing Senate restaurants, now run by the Architect of the Capitol, to go private, ending months of back-and-forth between Democrats appalled by the operation’s money-losing ways and other Democrats worried that restaurant workers would get thrown out like the ham bones.

The measure is expected to win easy approval in the House, where privately run restaurants and food courts run profits and draw good crowds every day of House members and employees, tourists and disaffected Senate staff.

HOUSE

Legislation gives Cheney protection

Vice President Dick Cheney would continue to be shielded by the Secret Service for at least six months after he leaves office under legislation the House passed Monday.

The measure, approved by voice after being endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee last month, writes into law a common practice of extending federal protections for the vice president and his family in the months immediately after his time in office ends.

Former presidents up through former President Bill Clinton could, if they so chose, receive Secret Service protection for the remainder of their lives. That changed with a congressional act, which went into effect in 1997, limiting protection for future ex-presidents and their families to 10 years, barring exceptions for specific threats.

The bill, which still needs Senate consideration, provides permanent authority for the Secret Service to protect former vice presidents, their spouses and their children under the age of 16 for up to six months after leaving office.

The Department of Homeland Security secretary can extend that protection if it is determined that conditions warrant it. The former vice president can decline the protection.

AGENCIES

Park summit a waste, some say

Leaders of the National Park Service will gather next month at a private resort in the Utah mountains for a summit meeting that some career officials say feels more like a $1 million exercise in political promotion.

The national meeting, set for July 16-17 at Snowbird, Utah, will bring together more than 400 park superintendents and other top Park Service officials to hear from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Park Service Director Mary Bomar, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and others.

Some of those attending the conference question the value of a meeting with political leaders who won’t be around in just a few short months, when the Bush administration ends. They also say the timing is bad, coming in the month when many parks are having their busiest period of the year.

And they say the cost - estimated at $1 million or more for travel, rooms and meals - is an unnecessary burden for their budgets, already taxed by a backlog of unfunded maintenance.

None of the current park officials who were critical of the meeting would allow their names to be used, saying they feared retribution.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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