The Note: Mistaking Obstructionism for Progress

"Republicans are roiling over how to proceed with Social Security when a united Democratic caucus can block a vote in the Senate. Fifty of the 55 Republicans must vote together to change Senate rules to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees, and several moderate Republicans are considering joining Democrats in opposing the move."

Even with the to-be-sure paragraph, we aren't too sure about this one.

Congressional Republicans say they're wrapping up the first phase of their push for Social Security overhaul, and will soon start putting together a bill that could pass both the House and the Senate by early July, Roll Call's Emily Pierce reports. And they're ready for the President to start filling in his vague outline with specifics -- phase two is expected to start by May.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times' Warren Vieth wrote that some conservatives are concerned that after President Bush's difficulty in selling his plan for personal accounts within the Social Security system, he may have "laid the groundwork for what they regard as the worst possible outcome -- pressure for tax increases and benefit cuts to ensure Social Security's solvency, but a rejection of private accounts as part of the fix." LINK

Leader DeLay:

The Washington Post's Mike Allen wraps the Sunday talk shows on DeLay -- particularly the comments by Sen. Rick Santorum on "This Week," where he said DeLay needs to come clean and answer some questions about his travel and dealings with lobbyists. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) took it a step further at a town hall meeting in Greenwich on Saturday, saying DeLay should step down. Looking at the signs and despite the offensive of DeLay supporters he wrote about over the weekend, Allen seems to posit that the bricks may be beginning to tumble. LINK

The Santorum "explain yourself" and Shays "step down" comments get lots of AP and local paper treatment. LINK

"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The Houston Chronicle's Gebe Martinez includes this paragraph: "A top administration official also said Friday that DeLay has not yet become the political liability that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., became in 2002, when he was pushed out of his leadership post by the White House in favor of Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., after making a political gaffe." LINK

The New York Times' Phil Shenon summarizes the probe into the conduct of superlobbyist Jack Abramoff and writes that the fallout could touch many members of Congress -- not just Tom DeLay. LINK

Members are feeling pressure, Shenon says, to detail their ties with Abramoff.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff writes that Abramoff, at a Washington lunch last week, allegedly said that "DeLay knew everything" and gets Abbe Lowell to "hint" that Abramoff is cooperating with the Department of Justice. LINK

Bob Novak says that pressure from the press to bring down Tom DeLay may be what helps unite congressional Republicans around the sometimes "overbearing" lawmaker. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius, in an excellent wrap of all the back-and-forth, calls the comments more in the "cracks" in the "near-solid wall of public support" from Republicans for DeLay. And more George Soros comments from Dan Allen. LINK

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