Meanwhile in Washington —


Campaign news continues to dominate MN headlines, with Ashwin Madia changing campaign managers, Michelle Bachmann cozying up to a major supporter with major licensure problems, and everybody talking T-Paw for Veep–or not. The serious business of governing takes second place, but a few major votes must still be counted.

The House voted to give the executive branch still more spy powers, passing the FISA amendments bill that also grants immunity for telecoms that break the law in the course of cooperating with the feds. All together now: “We were only following orders.” Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, James Oberstar and Tim Walz voted against the spy powers bill, with all of the Republicans and Colin Peterson voting for it.

The MN congressional delegation also split on war funding, with Ellison, McCollum and Oberstar opposing the latest infusion of cash ($162.5 billion), and the other Minnesotans supporting it.

The lines shifted on the federal family leave act, which would increase leave time for families that give birth to, adopt, or foster a child. Could a yes vote represent family values? Guess not – MN’s John Kline and Michelle Bachmann voted against the bill. (All other MN reps, from both sides of the aisle, joined in the 278-146 vote to pass the bill.)

Kline and Bachmann also opposed a bill to criminalize trafficking in primates, which passed by a 302-96 margin.

In other actions:

• The House and Senate voted to override President Bush’s veto of the farm bill.

• The House of Representatives voted unanimously to honor: the late Tim Russert (on the occasion of his death), Juan Antonio “Chi-Chi” Rodriguez (for his success on the golf course and his dedication to charity and youth), Louis Jordan (on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth), and James Madison University in Virginia (on its 100th anniversary).

• With only one vote in opposition (Texas Republican Ron Paul), the House called for peace in Zimbabwe and condemned the electoral violence there.