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The Chatter Over Sauerbrey

Take, for example, one release last week after a Medicaid hearing. Two governors -- Democrat Mark R . Warner of Virginia and Republican Mike Huckabee of Arkansas -- told the committee something had to be done about runaway Medicaid costs.

But "the . . . unified, bipartisan approach was not completely embraced on the committee," the release said. " 'I think there is a real moral deficit in the Congress and in the budget,' said one critic. 'This is wrong. I think we should start over,' said another. . . ."

And who are these scurrilous "critics"? readers demanded.

Wouldn't you know it. They were just two Democrats on the committee: Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (Calif.) and Jan ice D. S c hakowsky (Ill.), speaking on the dais at the hearing.

Sounded more mysterious when they were anonymous.

'Millennium': Challenged

Paul V. Applegarth , head of President Bush 's oft-criticized major foreign aid initiative, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, is resigning after just 18 months on the job. The announcement came two days after the leaders of five African nations complained to Bush that bureaucratic bottlenecks are making it hard to get assistance.

Congressional critics, noting the slow pace of disbursement, say that although the MCC has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to four countries, much of that remains in the pipeline. And on Thursday, a House subcommittee recommended $1.75 billion in funding for the aid program, $1.25 billion less than Bush had asked for.

Supporters point out that it is very hard to start an agency from scratch, something that cannot be done quickly. But eyebrows were raised recently when the MCC announced it had approved turning over the financial management of a large grant to Madagascar to a nonprofit, German-government-owned corporation.

In Other Moves

The expected nomination of diplomat Ross L. Wilson to be ambassador to Turkey is moving along at a brisk pace. Wilson, former ambassador to Azerbaijan, is now a top aide to Deputy Secretary of State Robert B . Zoellick .

Former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), now working in the private sector, has signed on to be a "distinguished senior fellow" at the liberal Center for American Progress, where he will focus on health care and international issues.

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