The Buzz contenders

#2: Budget fatigue sets in

President Bush woke up in a realistic frame of mind last week and said he wanted Congress to pass a continuing resolution — with no strings attached — to keep the government operating at current funding levels past Oct. 1. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) reacted to the administration’s instruction as if it were a provocation to fight. “This is the time when we ought to be sitting down to work out reasonable compromises with each other instead of issuing phony challenges or posing for political holy pictures,” Obey said. The chances of Congress passing all 12 appropriations bills before Oct. 1 are slim to nil. As that reality sank in, the Senate approved a short-term continuing resolution last week that would give Congress another seven weeks to pass those fiscal 2008 appropriations bills. Good luck.

#3: Another DHS defection

Michael Jackson, deputy secretary at the Homeland Security Department, announced he will resign from his position Oct. 26, leaving another vacancy in the senior leadership ranks at the struggling agency. The Associated Press reported that Jackson told members of his staff he is leaving public service “for financial reasons that I can no longer ignore.” Jackson’s annual government salary is $168,000.

#4: GAO’s audacious auditors

A team of undercover congressional investigators intent on testing the effectiveness of the Border Patrol successfully entered the United States from Canada carrying duffel bags containing simulated radioactive materials. Reports from the Government Accountability Office rarely have the kind of drama the investigators recounted in a 13-page report GAO released last week describing the undercover operation. The report tells how the audacious auditors came across the U.S./Canadian border undetected at three locations. On a fourth attempt to sneak in with contraband, the GAO team raised the suspicions of an alert resident who reported the sighting to the U.S. Border Patrol. Does this report have a happy ending? Sorry, but the Border Patrol agents failed to locate the GAO team.

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