In Washington D. C., even the street-cleaners felt that something momentous was about to happen. They saw a man in a derby swagger up to a man in a flopping, broad-brimmed, black hat and grip his hand magnificently; they heard two unimportant-looking old gentlemen discussing something terrifically important. "Why all this ho-kum?" they asked one another, laying down their shovels. Alert citizens would have told them that Congress reconvenes on Dec. 6 and that lawmakers often arrive early.

Republican Senators, ill particular, had many vexing items to dis cuss—not the least of...

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