Front Row Washington

Key retirements mean a changing of the guard next year in U.S. Congress

Regardless what voters decide in the November elections, there will be a major changing of the guard next year in the U.S. Congress as result of a number of key retirements.

Those stepping down rather than seeking another term include five Senate Democratic chairmen with plenty of institutional power and knowledge on matters particularly important to President Barack Obama, such as healthcare, taxes, trade, labor and defense.

Also leaving are two top Democratic liberals in the House of Representatives – George Miller and Henry Waxman, both of California and allies of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) addresses the Reuters Washington Summit in the Reuters newsroom in Washington, November 9, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Among the Republicans calling it quits is Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, founder and chair of the congressional Tea Party Caucus who made a failed 2012 White House bid.

McCain, Biden coming together for Sedona, Arizona forum

These days Washington is not known for bipartisanship, but every now and then a breakthrough is made.

So it is noteworthy that Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Senator John McCain, a Republican, are appearing together at a forum in Sedona, Arizona on Friday.

The occasion is an annual event staged by the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University in McCain’s home state.

State of the State of the States

If the State of the Union speech is the artisanal homebrew of the political year, State of the State addresses are buying tall boys in bulk.

History suggests that President Obama will deliver 7,000-odd words in his address. So far in 2013, governors in 44 states have laid out nearly 200,000 words of State of the State stock-taking. Carving this rhetorical thicket into what’s relevant to national politics and what’s not provides a survey of support for current policies, a sense of how new proposals may be received and a reminder that states churn with concerns far beyond the issues that will be wedged into primetime TV. Most used words in each 2013 State of the State address

Education and the economy dominate the 10 most-used words in each State of the State address . Governors riffed on one broad economic story this year — and Obama is sure to follow suit — of recovery from the financial crisis with a long road ahead. To hear governors tell it, the turnaround relied on state commitments to hard budgetary choices and careful rebuilding to overcome inaction in Washington, D.C. Obama must convince the nation, particularly the middle class, that he can wrangle Washington to prime the nation for growth amid sequestration and gridlock — perhaps with an emphasis on infrastructure and clean energy projects, which regularly featured in this year’s state addresses.

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