• Sen. Specter (R-Pa.) proposes to give Bush the choice of getting a warrant from a special court for surveillance programs; proposal would specifically not limit presidential powers. Specter: "I think he [Cheney] is serious about trying to work something out. For the first time, he said they are willing to consider legislation." [WP]

  • Cheney says his communications with Sen. Specter "are not unusual." Specter: "He does not face head on; he does not deal with his not having taken it up with the chairman. This isn't me personally; this is institutional. This is not the way government works, to deal with a committee without going through the chairman." [WP, NYT]

  • Rep. DeLay (R-Tex.) gives "defiant retirement speech": "I did a good job... Given the chance to do it all again, there's only one thing I'd change. I'd fight even harder." [WP, NYT, LAT]

  • Death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will provide little reprieve for Republians feeling political heat. Official: "We don't want another 'Mission Accomplished' moment." [WSJ]

  • Troop levels in Iraq will not be down to 100,000 by the end of this year. [NYT]

  • Senate is three votes shy of repealing the estate tax. Sen. Lott (R-Miss.): "The conservative base will appreciate the fact that we are trying." [NYT, LAT, WSJ, USAT]

  • House and Senate negotiators agree on $94.5B for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf Coast; Bush gets his way on hurricane relief. [WP]

  • Congressional Black Caucus opposes leadership move to get Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) off of the Ways and Means Committee. [LAT]

  • Police suspect computer containing Veterans Affairs data was stolen for parts, not names. [WP, NYT]

  • Rep. DeLay's former chief of staff was a top recipient of privately funded travel; cost of trips totaled $85,000. [WP]

  • Congress is aging; the average age in the Senate is 60.4 years. [USAT]

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