This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee began marking up an immigration bill. We used to speak of immigration reform, but in recent years it's become circumspect to say overhaul, which is presumably more neutral. Our Friday political commentators don't seem especially neutral about the issue. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution, good to see you here.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. At congressional hearings this week, three witnesses introduced as State Department whistleblowers criticized the administration's handling of last September's assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. That attack claimed the life of United States Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
When the House held its much-anticipated hearing on Benghazi Wednesday, one major figure not at the witness table was Thomas Pickering, the former ambassador and co-chair of the Accountability Review Board that reported on last September's attacks.
Why wasn't he there?
That's somewhat in dispute. California Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Pickering and report co-author Adm. Mike Mullen.
State Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) said Friday she will seek the post during the party's annual convention on Saturday, May 18. Democratic campaign strategist Jed Green will seek the vice-chair position.
Current Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins also is seeking re-election to the post, along with current vice-chair Dana Orwig. Collins is a former Democratic state legislator from Norman.
They're baaack! Both Mark Sanford and Benghazi made triumphant returns to the national consciousness this week, as Sanford won the special election in South Carolina and career diplomat Gregory Hicks testified about what happened in Libya – testimony that pleased Republicans, displeased Democrats. Meanwhile, NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving are still seeking their own redemption.
Oklahoma House Democrats say an improper vote was cast for a $7.1 billion budget bill on behalf of a Republican legislator who had left the building.
House Democratic Leader Rep. Scott Inman said Thursday that Tulsa Republican Rep. Terry O'Donnell had left the Capitol when two votes were cast on the general appropriations bill. O'Donnell was shown voting yes on both votes.
It is a violation of House rules for a vote to be cast for any member who is not present in the chamber.
On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning.
Congress has held its first hearing on last month's Boston Marathon bombing. Boston's police commissioner testified yesterday that he did not know about an FBI probe into one of the suspects. He also said he's not clear the information would have made a difference.
But as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, lawmakers still want answers about the flaws and inadequacies of joint terrorism task forces.