At about noon on March 4, a few hours before he announced he was retiring from the Senate, Majority Leader George Mitchell put in a call to Tom Daschle. "He just wanted to let me know his plans," Daschle says. Daschle was on Mitchell's heads-up list for good reason. As co-chair with Mitchell of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the South Dakota Democrat is one of Mitchell's closest allies. Even so, Mitchell's decision "came as a complete surprise," Daschle says.
It's a few minutes to six on a Thursday evening in October, and the corridor outside the House chamber, thick with bodies a week ago, is a lazy parlor for a team of guards kicking back on swivel chairs bolted to the marble floor. Afternoon light sifts through windows painted shut since Truman was president, smoothing a coat of gold over the sculpted walls and vaulted ceiling.
"No, no, I do not know what is the number of the form. It is the one for a person who has a family to bring to the country. Do you have that one? The one for relatives?... No. I tell you. I do not know the number of the form." It was early afternoon on a Wednesday in December, and the line at the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service's regional office in Northern Virginia was backed up to the door.