Daily Briefing: 'Just Getting Started'

Hastings, Smith recuse themselves from ethics panel looking into DeLay "to remove any doubt about this at the very start of the process." [NYT, LAT, USAT]

House Republicans consider stricter rules on travel and lobbying; may "grant amnesty for minor violations in order to preclude hundreds of potential investigations." Aide: "It is becoming obvious that there was a chronic disregard for the letter of the rules." [WP]

Twelve "current or former House and Senate leaders... flew on corporate-owned jets at least 360 times" from 2001 through 2004, according to WP examination; Blunt, DeLay were frequent fliers. [WP]

Bush phones Italian prime minister ahead of visit to Rome to express condolences for death of Italian in Iraq; Berlusconi under pressure to withdraw 3,000 troops. [NYT]

Letter from Bush to president of the Baltics irks Putin on eve of trip to Moscow. [NYT]

In Moscow, Bush faces "balancing act of honoring the enormous Russian sacrifice during World War II without condoning the repression that followed." [WP, USAT]

Bush "just getting started" on promotion of Social Security proposal. [WP, WSJ]

Thomas has not given up on private accounts; he "wants to get in the game." [WP]

F.B.I. still bogged down by bureaucracy, Justice Department study finds. Grassley: "The fact that these experts who are supposed to be analyzing terrorist information are taking out the trash or answering phones 50 percent of the time doesn't seem to be a good use of anybody's talents." [NYT]

Administration questions legality of A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s opposition to Social Security proposal; Labor Department "very concerned" that workers' money may be used to "advocate a particular result in the current Social Security debate." [NYT, WT]

DeLay can't hide from reporters, photographers. [WP]

Kerry tries to stay in the spotlight and improve legislative record. [WT]


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