Democrats and human rights advocates criticized President Bush's veto Saturday of a bill that would have banned the CIA from using simulated drowning and other coercive interrogation methods to gain information from suspected terrorists.
Bush said such tactics have helped foil terrorist plots. His critics likened some methods to torture and said they sullied America's reputation around the world.
A longtime Republican district fell to the Democrats Saturday when a wealthy businessman and scientist snatched former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's congressional seat in a closely watched special election.
Democrat Bill Foster won 52 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for Republican Jim Oberweis. With 565 of 568 precincts reporting, Foster had 51,140 votes to Oberweis' 46,270.
"Tonight our voices are echoing across the country and Washington will hear us loud and clear, it's time for a change," Foster told cheering supporters Saturday evening.
While everyone seems to be focused on the melodramatic race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, a few things are actually happening in Congress.
The Senate Monday confirmed a Chicago judge to serve as the Number 2 attorney general in the justice department.
The approval of Mark R. Filip, 41, came as part of a deal between the White House and Congressional Democrats to move long-stalled executive appointments.
Such deals have been announced in the past. Most have fallen apart.
It didn't all start with Watergate -- the age of Washington ethical lapses, that is -- and the ghosts of earlier scandals still haunt the halls of Congress.
Back in the '60s following a Senate scandal of huge proportions, first the upper chamber of Congress and then the House decided to establish bipartisan committees to convince the public that lawmakers took ethics seriously. Until that time, allegations of ethics violations were handled by standing committees controlled by the majority party.
The national Democratic party wants campaign finance regulators to investigate whether Sen. John McCain would violate money-in-politics laws by withdrawing from the primary election's public finance system.
McCain, who had been entitled to $5.8 million in federal funds for the primary, has decided to bypass the system so he can avoid spending limits between now and the GOP's national convention in September.
Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason notified McCain last week that he can only withdraw from public financing if he answers questions about a campaign loan and obtains approval from four members of the six-member commission. Such approval is doubtful in the short term because the commission has four vacancies and cannot convene a quorum.
It isn't a high-profile bill, but the Global Poverty Act has lit up the conservative blogosphere, and even Rush Limbaugh has gotten into the act.
Quietly approved by the House last fall with bipartisan support, the measure would require the president to develop a comprehensive strategy to help reduce extreme global poverty.
The death of Rep. Tom Lantos this week brought to seven the number of Capitol Hill lawmakers who have died during the 110th Congress, which still has almost another year to go.
Like most of the others, the California Democrat succumbed to cancer.
The current congressional death toll is the highest in at least a decade, but it pales next to the 76th Congress (1939-41), when 29 members passed on.
Both the White House and the U.S. House ended the week on a mutually sour note.
As he has with all his terrorism legislation, President Bush tried to stampede Congress into passing a wiretap bill, saying the country was "in more danger of an attack" if it didn't enact the law precisely the way he wanted.
The prior law, a temporary measure smarmily called the Protect America Act, expires this weekend and very little will change. Wiretapping foreign communications will be governed, as it has been for the last 30 years, by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
With a deadline looming, President Bush and congressional Democrats are locked in a standoff over the government's authority to spy on foreign phone calls and e-mails that pass through the United States.
A temporary law that makes it easier to carry out that spying expires Saturday night at midnight, and Bush and his top intelligence officials say the consequences are dire. Al-Qaida, Bush says, is "thinking about hurting the American people again," and would be helped if U.S. eavesdropping is hampered.
The Senate Ethics Committee said Wednesday that Idaho Sen. Larry Craig acted improperly in connection with a men's room sex sting last year and had brought discredit on the Senate.
In a letter to the Republican senator, the ethics panel said Craig's attempt to withdraw his guilty plea after his arrest at a Minneapolis airport was an effort to evade legal consequences of his own actions.
Craig's actions constitute "improper conduct which has reflected discreditably on the Senate," the letter said.