So I'm standing around waiting for an elevator in the basement of the Capitol early this afternoon when erstwhile majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and a phalanx of fellow House conservatives walk up behind.
The big question of the day for me is about the pending tax cut legislation that Republicans are struggling to bring to a vote before leaving this afternoon for a two-week Thanksgiving recess. So I ask him about the floor schedule. Even though he isn't technically in charge anymore, it's obvious to everyone around here that he's still deeply involved in running the place.
"Two conference reports, the tax bill and an anti-Murtha resolution," he tells me in a voice raspy from a late night of twisting arms on the budget bill and a cold that he picked up along the way. "Anti-Murtha?" says I. "A 'no retreat' resolution," he confirms.
The half-dozen or so Republicans who had shoe-horned aboard the elevator are apparently hearing this for the first time, too. "Oh Tom, that would be great," says Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Pa. "We should really do that," agrees Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif. Doolittle sports a small hammer-shaped lapel pin on his suit, a symbol of solidarity with the embattled DeLay.
I thought he was joking. Until I had the chance to interview Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., himself for Andrea Mitchell's spot in this evening's broadcast. Before we began I asked Murtha if he had heard anything about it. "Yes, I will debate them on the floor if that's what they want to do," says Murtha.
It turns out that the plan is to put a non-binding resolution on the floor demanding an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, and dare Democrats gleeful over what Murtha has done to put their vote where their smile is.
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