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● At a news conference this week, President Barack Obama expressed optimism about moving comprehensive immigration legislation next year. Notably, in this context, he included foreign agricultural labor as one of the points needing Congressional attention: “I think that the agricultural sector obviously has very specific concerns about making sure they’ve got a workforce that helps deliver food to our tables.”

● Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R/Washington) was elected  yesterday, over Tom Price of Georgia, to be conference chairman of the House Republican Conference. This is one of the four top jobs on the GOP’s side of the House of Representatives. In these same leadership elections, Greg Walden (R/Oregon) won the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee, a committee with the primary aim of electing Republican candidates to the House.

● Congressman Doc Hastings (R/Washington) was not picked by Speaker Boehner to be the next chairman of the Rules Committee. Instead, this political plum went to Mr. Pete Sessions of Texas.  It may be that the Speaker, although close to Mr. Hastings, felt the need to give something to the Southern wing of the Republican party, especially in light of the leadership positions won by Ms. McMorris Rodgers and Mr. Walden.

●  The newest member of the United States House of Representatives from Washington State was sworn in on Tuesday. Suzan DelBene (D/Washington) takes over the 1st District seat from which Jay Inslee had resigned earlier this year. She is a former Microsoft executive who also once worked on state budget issues for Governor Christine Gregoire. A graduate of Reed College in Portland, Ms. DelBene earned an MBA from the University of Washington.

●  The week after Thanksgiving Day, I plan to travel back to Washington, D.C., to attend a November 29 meeting of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, which advises Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ambassador Ron Kirk on international trade issues.