Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
House Republicans have managed to force Democrats to include a provision in their new public transportation bill that protects passengers who report suspicious activity from getting sued by the suspects. The measure was inspired by a lawsuit filed on behalf of six Muslim imams who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis after passengers reported disturbing behavior.
Republicans used a parliamentary device called motion to recommit to get the protection passed and 105 Democrats voted with them. That vote to recommit is just the latest example of Republicans using new rules written by Democrats against them.
Dems adopted in January what are called "pay as you go" spending rules mandating that any new expenditures be met by either corresponding spending cuts or new revenue. Bills may be sent back to committee with orders to make specific changes — often having to do with funding.
But Congressional Quarterly reports the rules have inadvertently allowed Republicans to insert language into bills that is politically difficult for Democrats to oppose — such as yesterday's bill on passenger whistleblowers.
Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is now vowing to change the rules to negate the new Republican tactic.
House Democrats plan to spend $225,000 to hire a private law firm to help investigate the Bush administration over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
The Washington Times reports this is in addition to the House Judiciary Committee's approximately 30 paid staff positions and the staffers of various subcommittees.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman — a Democrat who's seen his share of investigations — says he does not recall ever paying for outside legal help.
Just when you thought you were helping the environment by buying those new compact fluorescent light bulbs that last a long time and use less energy — scientists and environmentalists are warning that the bulbs may cause trouble when you throw them away.
They say that if the bulbs break, the poisonous mercury inside can leak into landfills — contaminating the food chain and water supply much more than the mercury released from coal-fired power plants. Recycling the bulbs is expensive — costing up to fifty cents for bulbs that sell for around two dollars.
The good news is that the city of San Francisco has decided that those recyclable plastic grocery bags are dangerous and is doing something about it. The city has voted to ban the petroleum-based bags in large markets and pharmacies in favor of biodegradable plastic or recyclable paper bags. The San Francisco Chronicle reports grocers argue that the new bags will just confuse the current recycling efforts.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.