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Civil Rights Mission

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) recently told political supporters that he plans to head south in February on a civil rights fact-finding mission. [IMGCAP(1)]

“In February I will be leading a bipartisan delegation to Montgomery, Alabama, to study the history of civil rights in our nation,” Frist wrote in a Dec. 1 e-mail to supporters of VOLPAC, his political action committee. The three-day trip will take place over Presidents Day weekend, which begins Feb. 13. Other details of the trip are still being worked out, said Amy Call, Frist’s spokeswoman.

New Year, New Accounting System. House offices will receive an updated version of the Congressional Accounting and Personnel System in January.

“The new CAPS release will have enhancements that will further improve your office’s effectiveness and productivity by automating and improving your budget accounting tracking and reporting processes,” House Chief Administrative Officer Jay Eagen wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter.

The program will allow offices to automatically generate recurring direct payments and “leave without pay” forms and automatically back up database information.

Training sessions will be held Jan. 13-16 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in Room 1539 of the Longworth House Office Building. To receive the new software, offices must contact a technical support representative at (202) 225-6002.

National Security 101. The National Defense University invites staffers to participate in a free, week-long Hill Staffer National Security Course from Jan. 5 to Jan. 9 at Fort McNair.

To RSVP, call Commander Gerry Stines at (202) 685-4836 or Kimberly O’Connor at (202) 685-4837.

Budget Autonomy for D.C. The District moved a step closer to gaining autonomy over the majority of its budget when the Senate approved the District of Columbia Budget Autonomy Act on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine), would allow the District to enact its locally funded budget, even if Congress has not approved the D.C. appropriations bill.

A similar bill is sponsored in the House by Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

Flag Flap. With adding “No Taxation Without Representation” to the D.C. flag stalled by new opposition in the City Council, Norton and the wife of Washington’s first elected mayor are urging the council to revisit the issue.

The effort met unexpected resistance last month when council members attending the funeral of former Mayor Walter Washington expressed concern that the new flag would appear gaudy at stately functions.

Norton said she agrees with statements made by the former mayor’s wife, Mary Washington, that the Boston Tea Party wasn’t very pretty either but made a point. Norton said new design options should be explored.

— Mark Preston, Jennifer Yachnin, Bree Hocking and John McArdle

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