Reporters covering the pension reform bill in Washington got their usual tipoff for a July 19 stakeout opportunity. But when they converged on the Capitol room where top lawmakers were supposed to meet that afternoon to thrash out a legislative compromise, the legislators were missing.
Figuring the meeting had been postponed, the reporters decided to stay put — particularly after a congressional aide delivered snacks to the room, supposedly to satisfy the appetites of the hungry lawmakers. But one enterprising reporter, smelling a rat, eventually went to another floor, spotted and then tailed Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa — an important member of the pension reform conference committee — to a different room where the conferees were actually meeting. He then tipped his colleagues to the real location.
The suspicion among the reporters was they had been decoyed to the wrong room, perhaps because lawmakers were tired of coming up with excuses about why a long-promised deal on the pension bill continued to elude them. "Changes have to be made sometimes," an aide to Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who is chairing the conference committee, said in response. "We're certainly not changing locations to play a game of chess with reporters."