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Chief Facilitator

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) announced Tuesday that he reappointed Ohio Rep. Rob Portman as chairman of the Republican Leadership. Portman, who has close ties to President Bush, was first named to the job in the 107th Congress. [IMGCAP(1)]

“In this position, he will continue to preside over meetings of the House Republican Leadership, as well as serve as a liaison to the White House,” Hastert said in a statement.

Portman had been lining up support to become GOP Policy Committee chairman this Congress, before current Chairman Christopher Cox (Calif.) decided to hang on to the job.

“I would love to have had the opportunity to have additional resources to work for the team,” he told Roll Call earlier this year. “But I realize how fortunate I am to have the job I do as chairman of the leadership. I view my role as a facilitator — to help formulate the president’s proposals once they’re on the Hill.”

Dirksen Evacuated. The Dirksen Senate Office Building was evacuated Sunday afternoon because of an electrical failure in the basement. Workers reported smelling smoke, and officials cleared the building. Electricity was restored to the affected area and occupants were allowed to re-enter two hours later.

Tourism Fair. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce will hold an “Ask Me About Washington” fair Thursday to increase tourism this spring. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 345 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Refreshments will be served, and about 40 tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants will offer samples and information to Members and staff. The event targets new House Members and tries to assure all Members that the city is a safe place for their constituents to visit.

Foreign Agenda. The Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues will host a dialogue on “The Women’s International Agenda” from noon to 2 p.m. today in the Library of Congress’ Members Room. Speakers include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Under Secretary for Global Affairs Paul Dobriansky.

Caucus-o-Rama. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Portman will unveil the Friends of Switzerland Caucus at 4 p.m. today in Room H-137 of the Capitol.

Claude Nicati, deputy attorney general of Switzerland, will meet with Members in a closed discussion, and a “Taste of Switzerland Reception” will be held at 6:30 pm. in the Rayburn Building foyer.

Also launching tonight is the U.S. Philippine Caucus at 5:30 p.m. The reception, which will take place in 2200 Rayburn, will feature Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.), as well as Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Albert Del Rosario.

— Lauren W. Whittington, Suzanne Nelson, Bree Hocking and Jennifer Yachnin

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