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Dick Cheney lunches with GOP senators

November 29, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro | Washington Bureau
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney, shown here during a radio interview last month, was a surprise visitor to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, shown here during a radio interview… (Brendan Smialowski / Getty…)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney dropped in for a visit to the weekly Senate GOP luncheon, recalling a time when the then-veep was a regular fixture at the Tuesday noon-hour event.

In those days, Cheney’s presence was seen by critics as an example of the President George W. Bush administration’s influence over the legislative branch, even though Cheney usually sat quietly at the lunch.

The weekly policy gatherings are a mainstay in the Capitol, a chance for senators to sound off, privately and within their own party, on issues of the day. It is also a chance for leaders to assess mood and set strategy.

Once President Obama took the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made it clear that the new vice president, former Sen. Joe Biden, would not enjoy such regular access to the Democratic lunches that are also held on Tuesdays, just a few doors down.

There was no immediate word on what drew Cheney to the Capitol on Tuesday. Among the issues being debated this week in the Senate are detainee provisions in an annual defense bill, an issue that had been important to the former vice president.

Senators said they had a robust debate on the detainee issue during the lunch, but Cheney did not join the discussion.

A GOP aide said the former vice president wanted to come. And he did.

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