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Washington Notebook

Hagel honors 24

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and top Army leaders held their own ceremony Wednesday at the Pentagon honoring the 24 soldiers who were just awarded the Medal of Honor, including 1st Lt. Donald Schwab of Hooper, Neb.

The medals were awarded after Congress ordered a review to ensure eligible recipients had not been overlooked due to prejudice. That review turned up others eligible for the award, including Schwab.

“We are here this morning to celebrate the heroism of twenty-four selfless individuals, twenty-four soldiers whose acts of gallantry in battle merit our highest recognition,” Hagel said at the start of Wednesday’s ceremony. “We’re also here to correct an injustice of history, to help right twenty-four wrongs that should never have occurred.”

The Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes induction ceremony came a day after President Barack Obama presented the medals at the White House. Only three of the recipients are still alive, so most of the medals were accepted by family members.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 11:05 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Return of the Nebraska Breakfast

Another year of Nebraska fellowship, hot coffee and recycled jokes kicked off Wednesday morning with the first Nebraska Breakfast of 2014.

Both of Nebraska’s U.S. senators and all three of its House members can be found most Wednesdays when Congress is in session in the basement of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Attendance is free, with the program starting at 8 a.m. and running about an hour. The audience typically includes Nebraska business and community leaders out to lobby Capitol Hill and attend conferences.

Depending on the time of year, plenty of tourists on vacation and visiting school groups also stop by the breakfast.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:52 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Ashford has support of national Dems

Brad Ashford might have been a little late to the party, but national Democrats are welcoming him to the contest for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Steve Israel told the World-Herald on Wednesday.

The New York congressman and head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee previously had talked up the prospects of Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen, a Democrat, defeating incumbent GOP Rep. Lee Terry.

Festersen jumped into the race, but quickly jumped back out.

Israel said that he’s excited about Ashford’s candidacy and reiterated that Terry’s role in last year’s government shutdown should make him vulnerable this November.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:04 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Democrats say they're not frustrated - yet

The World-Herald’s Robynn Tysver reports today that Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., has more than $800,000 in campaign funds squirreled away for his re-election fight.

National Democrats thought they had recruited a top-tier challenger in Pete Festersen last fall, but the Omaha City Councilman opted against a bid.

The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is holding out hope that someone else will step forward for his party and run against Terry.

“We’re looking at lots of options right now,” said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., recently told the World-Herald.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 2:16 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Johanns chides Bob Gates over book

Don’t hold your breath for any tell-all memoirs by Sen. Mike Johanns after he leaves office next year.

The Nebraska Republican criticized the practice of writing about private conversations with the president on Thursday and took some specific shots at his former fellow Cabinet member Bob Gates.

During his weekly conference call with reporters, Johanns was asked about the book Gates has written about his time as Defense Secretary under both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Johanns served alongside Gates in Bush’s Cabinet as the Secretary of Agriculture.

Posted in Washington notebook on Thursday, January 9, 2014 8:12 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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A new year on Capitol Hill

Lawmakers returned from their holiday recess this week with a full agenda ahead – farm bill, immigration and unemployment benefits are just a few of the pressing issues before them.

In case you missed them, here was our look back at 2013 and a run-down of the ongoing debate over unemployment benefits, which is likely to dominate the political discussion on the hill in the near future.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 10:52 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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A different kind of blackshirt

In the middle of a joint press conference Monday, the New Zealand Minister of Defense Jonathan Coleman presented Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with a jersey for the All Blacks rugby team on Monday.

The Pentagon posted a photo of the moment here.

“When Secretary Hagel and all those free Sundays in Nebraska is out mowing his lawns, I hope he’ll spare a thought for New Zealand and be able to wear this in some of his copious leisure time,” Coleman said.

Coleman and Hagel discussed various national and regional security matters. The U.S. military’s ongoing pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region has been at the top of Hagel’s agenda since he took over the post early this year.

Posted in Washington notebook on Monday, October 28, 2013 2:15 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Husker Hagel

As a Republican senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel would make predictions about the next Husker game at the end of his weekly conference calls with reporters.

Unsurprisingly, he would predict a Nebraska victory, even when the team was a serious underdog.

Now the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Hagel continues to tout his love for Big Red.

On a trip to South Korea earlier this year, Hagel took questions from some troops and a First Sergeant wanted to get his thoughts on the gridiron.

Posted in Washington notebook on Monday, October 28, 2013 2:11 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Fortenberry recalls own furlough

There’s at least one member of Congress who has some familiarity with the experience of furloughed federal workers – Jeff Fortenberry was once in their position.

As a 23-year-old graduate student at Georgetown University in the mid-80′s, Fortenberry landed a paid internship at the now-defunct USDA Farmers Home Administration.

“Someone came in at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and said you’ve got to go home, the government’s shut down,” the Nebraska Republican recalled this week. “You shrug your shoulders and go home and I think they paid us when we came back for the work we didn’t do.”

That was one of several one-day federal government shutdowns that happened in the 1980′s. Fortenberry said he used the extra time to hit the books.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 10:34 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Nebraska delegation avoids taking position on Pelini

Members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation were determined to steer clear of the controversy over Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini’s two-year-old, profane tirade about the team’s fans.

The senators and House members offered neither support nor condemnation for the coach.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said he has always taken the position that he wouldn’t weigh in on the performance of the Nebraska coach if the coach stayed out of his business as a politician.

“Football coaches are going to go through good times and bad times and times of plenty and times of drought,” Johanns said. “I just long ago decided I wouldn’t comment on their fortunes or misfortunes.”

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 8:52 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Fischer and Grassley pack schedules

It’s the slow days of Congress’ August recess here in the nation’s capital.

The president heads off to Martha’s Vineyard and lawmakers return to their home states for town halls, business roundtables and coffee shop chats with constituents.

The Washington-based newspaper Roll Call has been tracking which members are holding the most town halls.

The top ten list includes Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Posted in Washington notebook on Friday, August 16, 2013 3:21 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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King focuses on Bud Day

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is typically more than happy to stop and chat with reporters in the lobby just off the House floor.

And Washington scribes love to seek out the colorful conservative for his pot-stirring quotes on immigration, the Obama administration and every other hot-button topic possible.

But King was waving off reporters Friday, saying he didn’t want to talk about anything but the life of Col. Bud Day, the Medal of Honor recipient and native of Sioux City, Iowa.

Day, 88, died Sunday.

Posted in Washington notebook on Friday, August 2, 2013 3:13 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Grassley runs for cancer research

Sen. Chuck Grassley will be at the Washington Monument at 6 a.m. Wednesday to jog a mile as part of a run to increase public awareness of cancer and raise funding for medical research.

It actually represents an easy morning for the Iowa Republican, who typically rises at 4:30 a.m. to run three miles.

Grassley noted that his wife is a breast cancer survivor herself and he has run in similar events back in Iowa.

He said he was invited to participate in the Million Dollar Marathon, a coast-to-coast relay run, by former Iowa state legislator Steve Falck.

Posted in Washington notebook on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 6:54 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Reid compares John McCain to Bob Kerrey

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was on the floor Tuesday praising Sen. John McCain’s work on brokering a deal to avert the so-called “nuclear option” when he compared the Arizona Republican to a Democrat who used to represent Nebraska in the Senate.

Reid talked up McCain’s persuasive, persistent advocacy and said he was struggling to come up with just the right words to describe his colleague.

“You know who he reminds me of? Bob Kerrey,” Reid said. “I hope that’s not a, doesn’t disparage John McCain, but John McCain is the reason we’re at the point we are.”

You can see the video here.

Posted in Washington notebook on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 3:11 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Bradley touts background

The World-Herald reported this week on potential challengers for Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., in the 2014 midterm election, including Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen and state Sen. Bob Krist.

Omaha Democrat Larry Bradley is another one mulling a bid against Terry.

Bradley said he would be motivated by issues that include the need for immigration legislation and keeping food stamps in the farm bill.

Bradley holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Nebraska. He describes himself as “half Mexican-American, half Irish” and said he’s able to relate well to a diverse community.

Posted in Washington notebook on Friday, July 12, 2013 12:21 pm. Updated: 10:12 am.

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New D.C. digs for Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer has a new office in Washington.

The Nebraska Republican has moved into 383 Russell Senate Office Building. That’s in the same building and just one floor below the office of Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

Fischer was elected last year to succeed Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat who decided to retire after two terms.

It typically takes months for new senators to receive their long-term office assignments and then move into the new space.

Posted in Washington notebook on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 4:08 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Keystone Kardashian

According to the Hill, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has found a colorful way to describe the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It’s the Kim Kardashian of energy,” the Hill quotes pipeline supporter Heitkamp saying at a tax policy conference. “I don’t know why we care.”

Kardashian, of course, is the quintessential not-sure-why-she’s-famous reality television personality.

Pipeline supporters say the project would create jobs, promote energy independence and pose little environmental risk based on various State Department studies.

Posted in Washington notebook on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 2:50 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Around the world in seven days

The notebook is currently traveling with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

We’ll be back with coverage of Congress soon but in the meantime see our coverage of the secretary’s trip to Hawaii, Singapore and Brussels at Omaha.com.

Our story on his tour of a fast new warship in Singapore is here.

Posted in Washington notebook on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 2:28 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Johanns wants hearings into IRS actions

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., wants hearings by the Senate Appropriations Committee to on reports that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting conservative groups for review of tax documents.

Johanns is the top Republican on the committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which oversees IRS spending.

Johanns wrote to Appropriations Chairman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., on Monday asking for the hearings. He noted that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller gave no indication this news was about to break when they appeared before the subcommittee recently to testify on the administration’s budget requests.

“Every Member of Congress, regardless of party, owes it to the American people to demand answers about this disturbing practice – including who knew about it and when, who authorized it, and why it was allowed to continue in secrecy for so long. The first step in getting those answers is calling a hearing, which is what I’m doing today,” Johanns said.

Posted in Washington notebook on Monday, May 13, 2013 1:15 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Tom Vilsack: King's last race prevented Senate bid

Did Rep. Steve King pass up a bid for the U.S. Senate because he was too damaged by last year’s campaign?

That’s apparently what U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack thinks.

The former Iowa governor spoke with the World-Herald this week about his ideas for the farm bill’s conservation title – story here.

But we also asked the former Iowa governor what he made of the hesitation by several top Republicans to run for his home state’s open Senate seat.

Posted in Washington notebook on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 10:15 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Bob Kerrey backing Suttle in mayor's race

Bob Kerrey will be casting his vote for fellow Democrat Jim Suttle in the Omaha mayor’s race – by absentee ballot.

Kerrey said he’s been splitting his time between New York and Omaha since his unsuccessful bid last fall to represent Nebraska – a campaign that was dogged by talk about his time away from the state.

He told the World-Herald that he had been planning to cast his mayoral vote in person on May 14, but now expects he will require an absentee ballot.

The former governor and two-term senator from Nebraska moved to New York to run the New School in early 2001. He registered to vote again in Nebraska last year, just before the filing deadline for the Senate race.

Posted in Washington notebook on Thursday, May 2, 2013 4:57 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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King moving toward decision

Rep. Steve King said this week that he is inching closer to a decision on a Senate bid, but he’s still not there.

“I sure don’t like being on the bubble here, but that’s how it is,” King told the World-Herald. “It’s a big decision. There are a couple of components that aren’t where they need to be.”

If he makes a run, the outspoken conservative Republican from northwest Iowa would be an instant frontrunner for the nomination.

The seat will be open as Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.

Posted in Washington notebook on Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:53 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Midlanders shell out for inauguration

The Sunlight Foundation has posted a database of donors to President Barack Obama’s second Inaugural.

Contributions totalled $43 million, with the top donor AT&T chipping in $4.6 million in equipment and services.

Nebraskans gave about $13,000 and Iowans $10,000. You can look at all of the names at the link.

A few you might recognize: Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who contributed $300 and Nebraska state Sens. Heath Mello and Jeremy Nordquist. Mello gave $318 and Nordquist $330.

Posted in Washington notebook on Monday, April 22, 2013 1:07 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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It's cherry blossom time

Abbie Gabel is Nebraska’s 2013 Cherry Blossom Princess, the Nebraska Society announced Monday.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs April 7 through April 13 in Washington. The Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program dates back to 1948.

Gabel will meet with lawmakers, representatives from the Japanese Embassy and princesses from other states.

Gabel is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is majoring in Elementary Education and HRTM – Event Planning.

Posted in Washington notebook on Monday, April 8, 2013 11:05 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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GOP Senators press EPA over disclosures

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is taking issue with the Environmental Protection Agency’s disclosure of information about concentrated animal feeding operations.

Fischer joined several of her GOP colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in writing a letter Thursday to Bob Perciasepe, the acting administrator of the EPA, about the agency’s decision to provide specific information about individual feeding operations to environmental groups who requested it through the Freedom of Information Act.

“This action demonstrates a troubling disregard for the interests of both private citizens and competitive businesses,” the senators wrote. “We understand that you are currently investigating the propriety of the FOIA releases and whether the releases contain sensitive information not already publicly available. EPA claims that the recipients of the information have agreed not to disseminate the data EPA provided to them. Since the information has already been released, EPA’s assertion that the groups will not distribute the information is hardly reassuring. As such, the lack of appropriate safeguards within EPA’s FOIA office requires your immediate attention.”

The senators requested additional information about the disclosures and a briefing of committee staff by April 18.

Posted in Washington notebook on Thursday, April 4, 2013 4:29 am. Updated: 10:12 am.

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Wednesday 03/19/2014

Hagel honors 24

Wednesday 02/26/2014

Return of the Nebraska Breakfast Ashford has support of national Dems

Wednesday 01/15/2014

Democrats say they're not frustrated - yet

Thursday 01/09/2014

Johanns chides Bob Gates over book

Wednesday 01/08/2014

A new year on Capitol Hill

Monday 10/28/2013

A different kind of blackshirt Husker Hagel

Wednesday 10/02/2013

Fortenberry recalls own furlough

Wednesday 09/18/2013

Nebraska delegation avoids taking position on Pelini

Friday 08/16/2013

Fischer and Grassley pack schedules

Friday 08/02/2013

King focuses on Bud Day

Tuesday 07/30/2013

Grassley runs for cancer research

Tuesday 07/16/2013

Reid compares John McCain to Bob Kerrey

Friday 07/12/2013

Bradley touts background

Tuesday 06/18/2013

New D.C. digs for Sen. Deb Fischer

Wednesday 06/12/2013

Keystone Kardashian

Tuesday 06/04/2013

Around the world in seven days

Monday 05/13/2013

Johanns wants hearings into IRS actions

Tuesday 05/07/2013

Tom Vilsack: King's last race prevented Senate bid

Thursday 05/02/2013

Bob Kerrey backing Suttle in mayor's race

Thursday 04/25/2013

King moving toward decision

Monday 04/22/2013

Midlanders shell out for inauguration

Monday 04/08/2013

It's cherry blossom time It's cherry blossom time

Thursday 04/04/2013

GOP Senators press EPA over disclosures

Friday 03/29/2013

Hagel notes Vietnam Veterans Day

Monday 03/25/2013

Fischer solicits ideas for cutting regulations

Friday 03/22/2013

Break from Capitol coverage

Wednesday 03/13/2013

10-under-40 includes Nebraska's Beau McCoy Steve King at CPAC

Monday 03/11/2013

Food inspector furloughs - painful necessity or ruse?

Wednesday 03/06/2013

Grassley Twitter feed soldiers on

Friday 03/01/2013

Chuck Hagel meets with joint chiefs

Thursday 02/28/2013

New spokesman for Lee Terry

Tuesday 02/26/2013

Professor Ben Nelson

Thursday 02/21/2013

How will Fischer vote on Hagel next time?

Tuesday 02/12/2013

Prime seat for State of the Union

Friday 02/08/2013

How a farm bill really gets done Harkin on Braley

Thursday 02/07/2013

Johanns fine with Fischer decision

Wednesday 02/06/2013

Senator Steve King?

Tuesday 02/05/2013

Hagel moving forward, still taking fire Eggs, orange juice and corny humor

Friday 02/01/2013

Bob Kerrey and New School separate

Wednesday 01/30/2013

Hagel snags a Republican

Monday 01/28/2013

Group pushes anti-Hagel case

Thursday 01/24/2013

Nelson sells Berkshire stock

Tuesday 01/22/2013

Ben Nelson scores new jobs

Sunday 01/20/2013

Inauguration Weekend

Tomorrow's Events
Rec's Kids Club
Omaha area recreation centers
3:00 pm
This free program offers activities like crafts, sports and field trips for ages 6-12. Locations and times vary each week.
 
Piano Hour with Emily Bass
Zoo Bar, 136 N. 14th St., Lincoln
5:00 pm
Genre: Piano.
 
Mike Gurciullo and His Las Vegas Lab Band
Ozone Lounge, 7220 F St.
6:30 pm
Genre: Big band.
 
Zoo Bar House Band
Zoo Bar, 136 N. 14th St., Lincoln
7:00 pm
Genre: Rock. Cost: $3.
 
Live Blues Saxophone with Ed Archibald
The Omaha Lounge
7:30 pm
Join us every Monday for Blues & Jazz Saxophone with Ed Archibald.

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