Not too much to report this week as your U.S. House continues to be slow getting off the mark this election year. Things aren't going to pick up any time soon: next week is Presidents Day recess.
The big event for the week will be the Wednesday release of the House special Katrina committee's report on What Went Wrong. Somehow a draft of the document was leaked to the Washington Post -- hometown newspaper of the committee's chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R-No. Va.) -- which printed parts of it yesterday on the front page. From what we have seen of it, the report dispenses enough blame to go around, but so far the focus has been on the role of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, who today is rejecting assertions that his agency was too preoccupied with terror threats to adequately plan for -- and respond to -- a natural catastrophe.
Members of Congress will get a chance to question Chertoff in person on THURSDAY when he testifies before the Committee on Homeland Security. Ostensible topic: his agency's budget.
On WEDNESDAY the "Big 5" congressional leaders -- Reps. Hastert, Pelosi and Boehner; Sens. Frist and Reid -- will head down bright and early to the White House at 7am for another in a sporadic series of weekly breakfasts with the president. Those are closed to the press.
Minority Leader Pelosi will hold her weekly on-camera briefing for reporters on THURSDAY...Pelosi is expected to spend some time this week reacting to the aforementioned Katrina report, though at its inception Pelosi repeatedly and forcefully called the committee a "sham" and worse. Pelosi leaves FRIDAY for a congressional trip to Africa.
As for legislative action on the House floor: TUESDAY, a series of post-office namings and other relatively minor matters; WEDNESDAY, the House will vote to increase the amount that the government can borrow in order to pay the post-Katrina flood insurance bills. There will be a "sense of Congress" resolution that proclaims that no U.S. aid should be provided to the Palestinian Authority so long as the party holding a majority in their parliament espouses the destruction of Israel. And the House will vote on a similar resolution condemning Iran for violating its international non-proliferation obligations.
And finally, a reader of my post last week on the House Republican retreat encouraged me to follow up on the outcome. One doesn't know for sure, seeing as how it was all closed-door, except for about five minutes of presidential remarks, but it doesn't appear that there were any grand strategies laid out. In my experience, these things -- whether they be Democratic or Republican -- are given more weight than they actually merit in terms of specific planning and scheduling. It's more a chance to them to get together away from the public eye and chat, relax, schmooze, network, etc. I was there for a portion of the time, though we in the press were kept about a quarter mile from the building where all the action was.