Introducing Dana Milbank's Washington Week in Preview.

A political calendar.
Feb. 5 2006 8:51 AM

Introducing Washington Week in Preview

What's really happening in politics next week.

Monday

Senators, meet Mr. Stonewall. Arlen Specter and his Senate judiciary committee, fresh from their party-line vote on Sam Alito, wade into another contentious matter, holding hearings into the legality of the Bush administration's warantless—some say unwarranted—eavesdropping. Senators may need to resort to some creative espionage of their own if they want to find out about what the administration calls its "terrorist surveillance program." The administration has refused so far to hand over legal documents that justified (or challenged) the eavesdropping program when it began soon after the 2001 attacks. And the committee's sole witness, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, is famously unforthcoming. Democrats on the committee are pushing Specter to call more current and former administration officials to testify, including former AG John Ashcroft and White House staff chief Andy Card, but the request, if made, will almost certainly run into "executive privilege" objections.

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Washington's answer to the Grammys. The music world hands out its awards on Wednesday. The political world does it on Monday: Budget Day. This is when the White House's Office of Management and Budget announces all the winners and losers in the president's 2007 spending plan. At 8:15 a.m., thick, paperback copies of the budget arrive in Room 608 of the Dirksen Senate Office building, home of the Senate Budget Committee. "Cameras may shoot budget books arriving in the 6th floor hallway, unloading in the hearing room and distribution to staff," the committee advises. Next comes a flurry of budget briefings throughout the day from the bureaucracy: OMB, OSTP, DOT, EPA, DOI, DOL, HHS, NASA, VA, DOD, USACE, ETC., ETC. At 3:15, the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities holds its traditional conference call to contradict pretty much everything the administration said.

Early reports have the Pentagon getting a 5 percent boost, while NASA's space plans and the military reserves could be cut. There should also be new money for nuclear plants and new medical tax breaks—and, according to congressional forecasts, a deficit of $270 billion.

Moussaoui's star power. The trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is proving to be a tougher ticket than the baby panda at the National Zoo. Jury selection begins today at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., and is expected to last the month. Moussaoui has already pleaded guilty, and a jury must decide whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison. The court, facing a crush of media interest, is granting no public access and is restricting admission to just two "pool" reporters, who must describe the proceedings to their peers.

And they're off! Cheney will be in Alabama on Monday at a fund-raiser for Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., at the Racking Horse Breeders Association. The Racking Horse group, which promotes a breed known for its "evenly timed, bi-lateral gait," should not be confused with the Arabian Horse Association, which is known for sending Mike Brown to FEMA. The peripatetic vice president then trots back for an interview with Jim Lehrer on Tuesday.

In other political wanderings, Mark Warner, the now-former Democratic governor of Virginia, makes another trip to New Hampshire Friday, preceded by RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman on Tuesday. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., another presidential wannabe, tours Iowa on the weekend. Back in Washington, Bush sits down with the new Polish president, Lech Kaczyński, on Thursday.

Wednesday

Will the Capitol Police confiscate the muskets? "The Minuteman Project" holds a rally at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Capitol grounds to highlight the "national crisis of illegal immigration."

Fossils older than Robert Byrd: The world's oldest tyrannosaur will be visiting the capital on Wednesday—or at least a sketch of him will. George Washington University biologist James M. Clark will describe details of his discovery of "the oldest known and most primitive tyrannosauroid." In other science news, the National Inventors Hall of Fame will, on that same day, induct a person dear to Dick Cheney's heart: the creator of the "intravascular stent." Also to be honored is the inventor of "the protocol that is the basis for the Internet." Isn't that Al Gore?

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.