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The Search for Chandra: Representative Stenholm Appears in Committee Hearing

Aired July 26, 2001 - 10:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to show you some pictures now from the House Agriculture Committee. A moment ago as we were talking with Bob Franken, he mentioned that Congressman Gary Condit had not yet arrived to take his seat on that committee. But we have now seen that the congressman has, in fact, taken his seat and is focusing on the kind of work in the House that he says is his first priority in spite of the distractions of the investigation into Chandra Levy's disappearance.

These are live pictures now of the congressman taking his place and as we look at them, we'd like to weave in Bob Franken once again for some more insights into what all this implies -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as luck would have it, Steve, we are seeing what you can call a single shot of Congressman Condit. Now we see the camera pulling out and what we will be seeing in just a second is that he is, in fact, seated in his normal place next to Charles Stenholm on his right as we look at the picture. Stenholm, of course, is the congressman who night before last put out a very strong statement saying, among other things, that Congressman Condit has brought discredit to the House of Representatives.

Now, those are very loaded words. That is, in fact, accusing him of a violation of the House rules that does not allow members to do that and could be the cause of disciplinary action. The significance of this also is that Stenholm, unlike other political adversaries, is a political ally, somebody who, in fact, helped co-found what we have now learned about the Blue Dog Coalition, a coalition of conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill. They are fellow members of the Agriculture Committee. As a matter of fact, Stenholm is talking now. Why don't we just listen to him for a second?

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. CHARLES STENHOLM (D), TEXAS: You're under constraints of budget. We're under constraints of the deadlines. And therefore we're having to do some things that might be perceived as being somewhat unusual, maybe counterproductive. I don't think so.

FRANKEN: It was Charles Stenholm, of course, it was really kind of appropriate what we heard him saying right then, talking about budget constraints. This is a favorite subject not only of Stenholm, but of Congressman Condit. The two of them, in fact, really, that's the principle reason that the Blue Dog Coalition exists. As I said, the two of them are co-founders.

They do consult quite a bit. At the moment, of course, Condit is just listening, as he appropriately would, as the Agriculture Committee slogs through the farm bill, routine business, Steve, the kind of business that Condit's staff says that he has continued to do in spite of all the controversy that swirls outside this committee room.

FRAZIER: And the congressman giving all this his full attention. And Bob Franken, we're grateful to you for those insights from Washington.

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