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Deal on Keystone Vote, Energy Efficiency Elusive in Senate

Talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be at a standstill over an energy efficiency bill and holding a vote authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats have said they are willing to give Republicans a vote on a bipartisan proposal to bypass the president and authorize the controversial pipeline in exchange for passing the energy efficiency bill. But in addition to a vote on Keystone, Republicans are asking for a vote on five energy-related amendments to the Shaheen-Portman bill, which Democrats have balked at.

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Reid: Obama is 'Wrong' on Earmarks

There aren't many issues on which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid disagrees with President Barack Obama, but earmarking is one of them. "I have been a fan of earmarks since I got here the first day," the Nevada Democrat said Tuesday afternoon. "Keep in mind, that's what the country has done for more than 200 years, except for the brief period of time in recent years that we haven't done these," Reid said. "I think it is wrong. I disagree — underline, underscore, big exclamation marks — with Obama on earmarks. He's wrong."

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Reid Defends Veterans Affairs Secretary Amid Calls for Resignation

Majority Leader Harry Reid deflected Senate Republican calls on Tuesday for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, to resign. "This is the same guy that was ordered to step down [from the U.S. Army] when he said we would need more troops in Iraq. He was fired there. He is a fine man. He's a disabled veteran from the Vietnam conflict," the Nevada Democrat said. "The issue that came up in Phoenix, these are allegations and there will be a complete investigation of that that's gone on."

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Top GOP Senators Call for VA Secretary Shinseki's Resignation

Top Senate Republicans called for new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday. "A change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in response to a question about whether he supported calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Minority Whip John Cornyn explicitly called for Shinseki to resign. "I agree with the American Legion that Gen. Shinseki's time as Secretary of Veterans Affairs has come to an end, and he needs to step down," the Texas Republican said.

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GOP Like 'Greased Pigs' on Energy Efficiency Bill, Reid Says

The bipartisan energy efficiency bill that the Senate has debated on and off since last year is once again on the verge of becoming the punchline of a bad joke. During his opening remarks Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid compared trying to reach an amendment agreement on the pending bill to children trying to catch a greased pig. "Oft times, working with my Senate Republican colleagues reminds me of chasing one of these little pigs in a greased pig contest. Regardless of all efforts, any time we get close to making progress, it stands as though we watch it slip out of our hands, and the Republicans scamper away," the Nevada Democrat said.

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Harry Reid Reflects on His Travels to Maine

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scored an unexpected invitation from Angus King to visit the independent senator’s home state of Maine. The invitation came after the Nevada Democrat conceded in a floor speech recognizing National Travel and Tourism Week, with King presiding over the chamber, that Reid had only once visited the state that calls itself Vacationland.

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Roll Call's Behind the Photo: Bill Clark on Photographing on Capitol Hill

Roll Call Photo Editor Bill Clark discusses his editorial judgment and what he does when a congressman stumbles down the steps of the Capitol.

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Roll Call's Behind the Photo: Tom Williams on Shooting on Capitol Hill

Roll Call Staff Photographer Tom Williams explains the way he photographs on Capitol Hill and how he manages to capture a new moment every day.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of April 28

Members teach us about the singing group "50 Cent" and the Capitol Hill fox, while telling us that we don't know what we don't know because we don't know it.

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Pelosi, Democrats Pounce on GOP In-Fighting Over Immigration

The dissension among Republicans over immigration that flared anew this week, sparking talk of an open revolt against House Speaker John A. Boehner, gave Democrats a rhetorical opening that Nancy Pelosi and others were more than happy to fill Thursday. Speaking to reporters at her weekly press conference, the House minority leader said she believes Boehner supports action on immigration, but is hamstrung by hard-liners in the GOP. "He ran it up the flagpole. We saluted, his caucus cut the flagpole down," she said.

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House Approves Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training to End 'Mad Men-Style Antics'

Rep. Vance McAllister's affair put the spotlight on sexual relationships between members of Congress and their aides, but "he was not the tipping point" for the lawmaker pushing mandatory sexual harassment training for all House offices. "We've had plenty of incidents before him," Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told CQ Roll Call on Thursday, in reference to the Louisiana Republican. "The truth is, there's a vulnerability that I've thought for a long time needed to be fixed."

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Hoyer Wants Unemployment Extension, Immigration Rewrite Before Unpaid-For Tax Credits

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer called Republicans to task on Thursday for bringing up unpaid-for tax extenders while allowing unemployment insurance to lapse, and suggested that all of it could be paid for if the House passed a comprehensive immigration overhaul. In his weekly colloquy, the Maryland Democrat told Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that it is not right for Republicans to demand that certain policies be offset — such as a "doc fix" and unemployment insurance — while the House plans to take up a $155 billion permanent research and development tax credit that is not paid for.

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Pelosi on Benghazi: 'Why Aren't We Talking About Something Else?'

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wanted to talk about immigration and the minimum wage at her weekly press conference on Thursday morning – not what she called the newest Republican attack line on the State Department's response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Asked by reporters more than once about revelations that the White House withheld certain documents after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed all relevant e-mails on the matter, the California Democrat threw up her hands. “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi,” Pelosi said to reporters at her weekly press conference Thursday. “Why aren’t we talking about something else?”

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Harry Reid, Citing Donald Sterling Ban, Tells NFL to End Redskins 'Tradition of Racism'

Citing the NBA's ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the NFL should change the name of the Washington Redskins to end the moniker's "tradition of racism." "How long will the NFL continue to do nothing, zero, as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?" the Nevada Democrat asked Wednesday on the Senate floor. "It is untoward of Daniel Snyder to try and hide behind tradition. Tradition, that's what he says, in refusing to change the name of the team. Madam President, tradition? A tradition of racism is all that name leaves in its wake."

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McConnell on NBA’s Sterling Ruling: 'Sounds Pretty Good to Me'

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the NBA’s punishment of Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling, calling his recently publicized comments outrageous and unacceptable. When told of the lifetime ban and the $2.5 million fine, the Kentucky Republican added, “Sounds pretty good to me.”

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Reid Chides Boehner and House Republicans on Immigration Overhaul

Majority Leader Harry Reid is returning the favor to Speaker John A. Boehner, after Boehner mocked his colleagues last week over their reluctance to take up immigration overhaul legislation. On Tuesday, the Nevada Democrat criticized Boehner for walking back last week’s immigration comments and instead blaming President Barack Obama for a lack of action on the issue. “I’m glad he’s complaining about his members for a change and I don’t have to,” Reid said.

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Harry Reid Describes ‘Vile’ Threats From Backers of Cliven Bundy

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has received “vile” and “horrible” threats following his denunciation of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose dispute with the federal government over grazing rights drew praise from conservatives and armed supporters, the Nevada Democrat told reporters Tuesday.

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Reid Pushes Republicans to Take Up Minimum Wage Bill

Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday called on Republicans to allow the Senate to advance a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, saying it is good for business and the majority of Americans support the measure. “Minimum wage is an important issue for the American people,” the Nevada Democrat said. “All that we are asking is that we are allowed to get on the bill.”

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Barney Frank Counsels Aspiring Public Servant

Retired Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and liberal activist Alec Baldwin give a would-be politico a crash course in campaign finance reform.

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Rangel: Tea Party Does Not Believe the Union Won the Civil War

During the Congressional Black Caucus' special order hour on the House floor last night, Rep. Charles B. Rangel hammered the tea party not only for embracing the Confederate flag, but also for hating President Barack Obama "as much as their [Dixiecrat] predecessors probably hated Abe Lincoln." "[In] some parts of the United States of America, they don't believe that the Union won. The reason I come to that conclusion is that ... I have never seen so many Confederate flags that represent groups that are proud of the fact that they call themselves the Tea Party," the New York Democrat said during his 10-minute floor speech, referring to an event he attended with President Ulysses S. Grant's great-great-grandson. "They're from that part of the country that the states owned slaves."

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Ready Rebukes Documentarians at Tribeca Film Festival

Jim Ready publicly chides "Compared to What" directors Michael Chandler and Sheila Canavan for dredging up retired Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank's sordid past.

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Frank Discusses Gay Disclosure Fallout

Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., talks about how coming out impacted his political career.

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Tourism Most Fowl: DC Ducks

The people who make their lives in Washington exist in sometimes uneasy concert with the tourists who journey here year-round to see the nation’s capital and its attendant attractions: museums, monuments, government edifices. In places like the Capitol or the National Mall, these two tribes occupy the same space. But on ventures like the DC Ducks tour, never the twain shall meet. But what if they did?

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Wisconsin Republican Asks Members to Save Our Sausages

Wisconsin Republican Tom Petri took to the House floor Thursday to issue a dire warning to grill tenders the world over: Europe is coming for our pork products.

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Appropriations Chairman Piles On to Members 'Underpaid' Remarks

Turns out not even the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee can avoid weighing in on whether members are "underpaid." At an appropriations markup Wednesday, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., laid into Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., after Moran's amendment to raise each member's pay by $2,800 was rejected by voice vote.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of April 7

While senators explain their beef with cable TV and representatives talk about Big Macs, Majority Leader Harry Reid just cannot get enough Koch.

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What You Missed: House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

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Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi, IRS

During his weekly press conference, which lasted for just more than 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former IRS official Lois Lerner, knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs, and, most notably and vociferously, knocked the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Operation Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.

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Pelosi: 'Race' Part of the Reason GOP Won't Act on Immigration

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that "race" is one reason Republicans are avoiding an immigration overhaul. During her weekly press conference, the California Democrat implied there were ulterior reasons Republicans weren't addressing immigration. "I think race has something to do with them not bringing up the immigration bill," Pelosi said. "I've heard them say to the Irish, 'If it was just you, it would be easy.'"

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House Oversight Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Thursday to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. The vote, coming as Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess, is the latest chapter in a year-long probe that has sparked some of the fiercest partisan clashes among panel members in recent memory — from cutting off the ranking member’s microphone as he sought to speak to comparing the chairman to Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.

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Boehner Still Blocking Unemployment Extension

Speaker John A. Boehner doesn't seem to think the Senate passing an unemployment benefits extension has changed the political calculus for the House. Boehner said Thursday morning that he had made it clear to the president in December that an unemployment insurance extension would "have to be paid for and would have to include things that would help get our economy moving.

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Cummings Compares Lerner Contempt Vote to McCarthyism

The Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Thursday compared the committee's vote to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress to McCarthyism. "I cannot cast a vote that would place me on the same page of the history books as Senator Joseph McCarthy," Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., said. "I do not draw that comparison lightly."

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Graham to Comcast Exec: 'Anybody Represent DIRECTV?'

When officials from Comcast and Time Warner Cable appeared at the Senate Judiciary Committee to push the case for their proposed $45 billion merger, Sen. Lindsey Graham asked questions that any ordinary American consumer might. The South Carolina Republican had service issues, with both cable and DirecTV. Before he switched to the satellite service, Graham said at the hearing that his cable TV "went out right in the fourth quarter of a ballgame."

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Holder Testifies Before House Judiciary: What You Missed

Marijuana, accusations of perjury, election integrity and asparagus were the range of topics covered in Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the committee in a hearing designed for oversight on the Department of Justice. Holder and members of the committee had some tense exchanges as congressmen tried to nail down the attorney general on specific enforcement of laws.

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McConnell Doubts Individual Campaign Finance Limits Will Go Away

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, an outspoken foe of many campaign finance restrictions, said Tuesday that he didn't think limits on individual contributions to candidates will disappear any time soon. "I think that's not likely to happen," the Kentucky Republican said when asked at a news conference about the possibility of the restrictions on individual contributions being thrown out.

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Holder to Gohmert: 'You Don't Want To Go There, Buddy'

Things got heated between Rep. Louie Gohmert and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department. Gohmert, who was questioning the attorney general about releasing documents relating to the Holy Land Foundation's 2008 conviction of providing financial assistance to Hamas, then suggested contempt was "not a big deal" to Holder. "You don't want to go there, buddy," Holder quickly shot back. "You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. ... Don't ever think that."

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Eric Holder in the Hot Seat on Pot, Fired Up to Defend DOJ Enforcement

As states and cities move to liberalize marijuana laws, the administration looks at changes to federal policy and the No. 2 House Democrat reverses course on decriminalization, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. found himself in a charged congressional hearing on Tuesday. Pressed by members from both sides of the aisle to defend Justice Department practices in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, Holder insisted the Obama administration has not “retreated.” Holder also said the DOJ won’t scale back marijuana punishments by rescheduling the drug, as House Democrats have been pushing President Barack Obama to do, saying he was “satisfied” with what the department is doing.

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McCain and Kerry Have Tense Exchange at Foreign Relations Hearing

Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., confronted Secretary of State John Kerry about the Obama administration's foreign policy in a heated exchange at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Tuesday. "I must say, I think you're about to hit the trifecta," McCain told Kerry, citing the ongoing conflict in Syria, the seemingly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the uncertain nuclear deal with Iran, which McCain predicted would collapse. McCain further lambasted Kerry, who was testifying on the administration's national security and foreign policy budget priorities, on failing to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine, saying the failure to do so was "beyond logic."

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‘Cuban Twitter’ Dominates USAID Hearing

The senior senator charged with overseeing the U.S. Agency for International Development budget unleashed scathing criticism on the department’s leader Tuesday over a “Cuban Twitter” program. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., the longtime chairman of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, pressed USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah over the U.S-run social media platform in Cuba that was reported last week by The Associated Press. Leahy wanted to know who was behind creation of the program, but Shah did not have a specific answer, saying it came before he started running the agency at the end of 2009.

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Sensenbrenner: Intelligence Director Committed Perjury

During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper's refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans' communications had been conducted was perjurious after conceding the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.

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Steve King: Illegal Immigrants Kill Americans Every Day

Rep. Steve King has been known to make, from time to time, some controversial remarks about immigration — and his floor speech on Friday was no exception. Speaking to a nearly empty chamber, the Iowa Republican said the result of an immigration overhaul would be more dead Americans.

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Roll Call's Book Club With Mark Halperin in 3 Minutes

Roll Call editors Christina Bellantoni and Jason Dick sit down with Mark Halperin, co-author of "Double Down: Game Change 2012," to discuss the 2014 midterm elections, the 2016 presidential election and the political climate in Washington.

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Coats Wanders Into Wrong Committee Hearing

Congressional hearing witnesses may start worrying about members not in the room, as opposed to those in the room. During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Dan Coats wandered in and began asking the Treasury Department's witness a series of questions, before a staffer informed him he was in the wrong place.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 31

Rep. Robert A. Brady tells zookeepers how to dress, Rep. Mark Takano stages an "intervention" and Majority Leader Harry Reid says he is not afraid of the Koch brothers, again.

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Dem Rep: 'American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid'

Despite what constituents outside of Washington might think, members of Congress are underpaid, a House Legislative Branch appropriator suggested Thursday. Virginia Democrat James P. Moran said he plans to highlight the injustice by introducing an amendment to Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint next week. Moran made the comments while the bill that funds member’s $174,000 salaries was being marked up. Read more at http://blogs.rollcall.com/hill-blotter/moran-members-cant-afford-to-live-decently-in-d-c/

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Pelosi: SCOTUS Campaign Ruling 'Existential Threat'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is one of the most prolific fundraisers in congressional history. But that doesn’t mean she’s a fan of Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the aggregate limit on campaign contributions. Pelosi told reporters Thursday that the court decision was “suffocating the voice of the many.” Read more at http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/pelosi-slams-mccutcheon-ruling/

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Roberts Blasts IRS at Finance Markup

Senate Republicans fired another warning shot Thursday in their ongoing battle against the Internal Revenue Service's treatment of conservative organizations. The latest came at the Finance Committee's markup of the broad "tax extenders" package, when GOP Sen. Pat Roberts floated an amendment to block, for one year, the IRS from making new rules governing political activity by social welfare groups under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.

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Iowa Democrat: GM Induced Customers to Buy Vehicles Through Safety Misrepresentation

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, hammered the CEO of General Motors Tuesday during a House hearing investigating deaths and injuries stemming from defective ignition switches, saying the company made representations of safety to induce customers to buy GM vehicles.

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House GM Hearing Highlights in 4 Minutes

General Motors CEO Mary Barra's testimony Tuesday before a House oversight subcommittee had fairly low drama, despite the emotional subject matter. The hearing — titled "The GM Ignition Switch Recall: Why Did It Take So Long?" — was meant to investigate GM's culpability and response to faulty ignition switches in small cars. The ignition switches are believed to have resulted in injuries and deaths of several car owners.

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Ami Bera Challenger Starts Television Ads in California Race

Former Rep. Doug Ose, one of three Republicans looking to oust vulnerable freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., hit the airwaves Wednesday with his first advertisement of the cycle. The 30-second spot, which highlights his biography, will air on cable across the 7th District, an Ose aide confirmed.

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