- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

HOUSE

GOP decides against reprimand

House Republicans are backing off an effort to reprimand a Florida congressman for saying the Republicans’ health care plans amount to wanting sick people to “die quickly.”

Republicans led by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia drafted a resolution last week scolding Democrat Alan Grayson of Florida for his remarks. The measure mirrored a resolution that Democrats pushed through last month against Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, for shouting “You lie!” at President Obama.

Price spokesman Brendan Buck said Tuesday the party still isn’t ruling out pursuing the measure.

“But at this point the people of his district are probably in the best position to register their approval or disapproval of Mr. Grayson’s consistently embarrassing behavior,” he said.

The spokesman also acknowledged that passing the measure could be difficult.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week declined to call for Mr. Grayson to apologize, saying Republicans have made similar criticisms of Democratic health care proposals and that there was no reason to single out Mr. Grayson. She also asked all lawmakers to tone down their rhetoric.

SENATE

Ensign denies breaking rules

Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, said Tuesday that he complied with Senate ethics rules and the law when he arranged a “soft landing” as a lobbyist for his former chief of staff, Doug Hampton - and later made calls on behalf of companies Mr. Hampton represented.

Mr. Ensign had been having an affair with the man’s wife, Cynthia Hampton, who worked on the senator’s campaign. Mr. Ensign later dismissed the couple from his staff.

“I recommended [Mr. Hampton] for jobs, just like I’ve recommended a lot of people,” Mr. Ensign told CNN in a brief on-camera interview outside his office on Capitol Hill. “We absolutely did nothing except to comply exactly with what the ethics laws and the ethics rules of the Senate state.”

Asked whether he intended to resign, Mr. Ensign said he was focused on his work and headed to the Senate for a vote. He has stepped down from his Republican leadership post and is the subject of a preliminary ethics committee investigation. Mr. Ensign would not say whether the Justice Department had tried to contact him or his lawyer regarding any criminal investigation.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Holder: Meeting deadline ‘difficult’

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. acknowledged Tuesday it will be “difficult” to close Guantanamo Bay by January 2010, as Washington faces a litany of challenges in shuttering the controversial prison.

“It’s going to be difficult for us to make the January 22 deadline,” Mr. Holder told reporters, insisting the facility eventually would be closed.

President Obama faces a firestorm of opposition from both Republicans and his fellow Democrats in Congress to his plans to shut down the prison and move at least some detainees to U.S. soil.

About 80 detainees are eligible for release from Guantanamo, the U.S. naval base in southern Cuba where 223 terror suspects are still held. The administration expects that another 60 will be prosecuted.

Mr. Holder said a task force assigned to review detainee cases, with the goal of determining whether individuals should be released, prosecuted or detained without charges, has “gone through all the files.”

NFL

Limbaugh bids on football team

ST. LOUIS | Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday he is teaming up with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams, owners of the National Football League’s longest losing streak at 14 and just 5-31 since 2007.

Mr. Limbaugh declined to discuss details, citing a confidentiality agreement with Goldman Sachs, the investment firm hired by the family of former Rams owner Georgia Frontiere to review assets of her estate, including the NFL team.

Mr. Limbaugh also declined to discuss other partners who might be involved in the bid, but said he and Mr. Checketts would operate the team.

“Dave Checketts and I have made a bid to buy the Rams, and we are continuing the process,” Mr. Limbaugh said.

Forbes magazine has estimated the Rams franchise has a value of $929 million.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to host Hispanic concert

The White House is taking on a Latin flair next week.

President Obama plans to host a concert next Tuesday to honor Hispanic musical heritage.

The White House says Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan and Jose Feliciano plan to join the event. Other entertainers will include Jimmy Smits, Pete Escovedo, George Lopez, Thalia, Los Lobos, Tito “El Bambino” and Aventura. Sheila E. will lead the house band.

The concert will be taped for a PBS broadcast to air Oct. 15. It will then air on Telemundo Oct. 18 and on V-me Dec. 25.

Chef Maricel Presilla will be a guest chef for the event, called Fiesta Latina.

The White House previously hosted a jazz session in June and a country music performance in July. The White House plans a night of classical music in November.

WHITE HOUSE

Biden to visit Eastern Europe

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is heading to Europe to meet with NATO allies.

The White House on Tuesday said Mr. Biden will visit Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic from Oct. 20 to 24. Mr. Biden’s schedule has him meeting with heads of state and government, parliamentary leaders and other political figures.

The White House also said Tuesday that Mr. Biden plans to meet with citizens to talk about expanding trade and investment, strengthening democracy and further cooperation.

President Obama recently announced the United States would scrap plans to install a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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