Sen. Pat Roberts won a victory today in a fight that goes back to his first Senate campaign in 1996. He thought child care ought to be more affordable. One of the first bills he introduced in 1997 was a program to keep workers from having to quit their jobs because they had no place to put their children.
But the idea has languished ever since - until today when the Kansas Republican's measure became an amendment to the Democrats' minimum wage bill. The Senate added Roberts' measure by unanimous consent. Leading Democratic child care advocates Sens. Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd spoke in support of it.
Roberts wants to create a five-year, $50 million short-term grant program to encourage small businesses to either work together or with local child care agencies to offer child care services for employees. Businesses could receive grants worth up to $500,000 for start-up costs and other activities. In return, they would have to match any federal funds.
The minimum wage bill, a Democratic priority, is expected to pass, so Roberts' idea seems like a lock. Did he find it curious that his bill never saw the light of day while his party was in power, but the Democrats have wielded the Senate gavel for less than a month and it's headed for approval?
"There's a lesson there and I'm not sure what it is," Roberts said. "It does show you that if you work in a bipartisan fashion you can get things done. This is a much preferred way of doing legislation as far as I'm concerned."
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2002, will no longer serve on the panel, his office announced today.
Of course, readers of the KC Buzz Blog - and its dead-tree affiliate - knew that two weeks ago.
Roberts is also term-limited off the Armed Services Committee. He'll join the prestigious Finance Committee, on which only one seat was available. The committee has authority over tax, trade and entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.
“It has been my honor to work for the nation on efforts to improve our intelligence gathering capabilities, better enabling us to prevent terrorism at home and abroad,” Roberts said in a press release. “But with the opportunity to bring a Kansas voice to the Finance Committee, I believe the time is right to make this move...to work on the issues that are important to the daily lives and pocketbooks of all Kansans.”
Roberts also will serve on the Agriculture; Ethics; and Health, Education, Labor and Pension (known as HELP) committees.
We're awaiting word on who will be his replacement on Intel.
Who was that woman in red sitting in the spectator section during the comfirmation hearing of Robert Gates as defense secretary?
Missouri's own Democratic senator-elect, Claire McCaskill.
McCaskill, who will join the Armed Services Committee next month, said she thought it was important to listen to what Gates had to say: "I hope I don't ever have to remind him any of his answers, but I wanted to be in a position to."
And what did she think of those answers? "I was very pleased that he did talk about change at the very opening of his remarks, that he repeatedly said all options are on the table."
Among McCaskill's future colleagues on the committee will be Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Roberts asked pointed questions about the potential of a regional war in the Middle East if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq and urged help from the Pentagon for National Guard units dealing with major equipment maintenance problems upon their return from Iraq: "We're in a world of hurt."
He also brought up a matter dear to Kansans when he suggested to Gates, now the president of Texas A&M University, that "Texas A&M go a little easy on Kansas and K-State."
Well-informed scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill has it that Kansas Sen.Pat Roberts may be looking for an exit from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he has chaired since 2002 and which Democrat West Virginia Sen.Jay Rockefeller will chair in the 110th Congress.
Those in the know say this editorial from the Lawrence Journal-World is worth a close read on Roberts' intentions, especially the "he has told some" sentence.
With the soon-to-be-minority Senate GOP determining committee assignments for the next Congress right now, things could shake out as early as next week.
Roberts has drawn partisan barbs for years for his stewardship of the committee. Critics say he did all he could to protect the Bush Administration from oversight; Rockefeller once memorably accused him of taking "all his talking points from the White House."
But Roberts points to his committee's investigations - some completed, some ongoing - of the uses of pre-war intelligence as evidence of his commitment to effective oversight.
The Roberts move also means Missouri Sen. Kit Bond could become the committee's top Republican, depending on where and how various chips fall.
Sen. Pat Roberts: "It is clear the North Korean government continues to pursue its provocative and defiant policies. The international community must quickly and firmly respond to this action."
Sen. Jim Talent: "I fully support U.S. and Japanese diplomatic efforts through the United Nations Security Council to impose economic and commercial sanctions that would persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program."
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican, weighed in on the controversy over the latest National Intelligence Estimate.
The New York Timesreported Sunday that the NIE said the Iraq war had helped fuel Islamic radicalism and jihad. The White House said the report was an incomplete assessment of the NIE.
Folks from left and right have subsequently called for the report to be declassified so it can be read and analyzed in its entirety.
Roberts agreed: "The administration should declassify this document so the American people can see the material for themselves and come to their own conclusions."
Roberts said his committee has had the NIE since April and said "There is a false impression that the NIE focuses solely on Iraq and terrorism. That is not true. The NIE examines global terrorism in its totality. In this regard , I also agree with (National Intelligence) Director (John) Negroponte that we have had notable successes against the terrorists but that there is much that remains to be done."