Washington (CNN) - One of the more shocking early moments of the Stephen Colbert hearing did not come from the star witness.
It was when House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers asked a confused Colbert to "leave the committee room completely and submit your statement instead."
2 p.m. ET - The Senate's number two Democrat was very candid in a gaggle with a few of us just now that the Senate is likely to adjourn late next week – a week earlier than planned.
"I think we're going to try to get out of here next week if we can," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill, said.
"Why?" I asked.
A couple of sources gave me a heads up that moderate Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins is considered such a crucial vote on the Defense bill, Vice President Joe Biden called her this morning to lobby her. Collins supports repealing the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy. She was the only Republican to vote with Democrats in committee to approve the language in the bill that allows the repeal, after a Pentagon review is complete and military leaders sign off. But she is signaling that Tuesday's procedural vote, she is sticking with her party.
CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett caught up with Collins outside the Senate chamber just now and asked her about the call, and she was really surprised we knew about it.
Here's how the conversation went:
(CNN) – A day before she declares whether she will mount a write-in candidacy to preserve her Senate seat, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski spent several hours in and around the Senate chamber Thursday talking with her colleagues about the difficult decision she faces.
After unexpectedly losing the Republican primary to Tea Party-backed Joe Miller, Murkowski is scheduled to be in Alaska Friday to announce whether she will run in the general election.
"I don't share personal conversations," Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe said about a lengthy discussion she and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas had with Murkowski in a closed foyer just off the Senate floor.
Visible through a partially frosted glass door, the three women senators stood together for about a half an hour during a series of votes.
Snowe is a moderate Republican who later complained to reporters that Tea Party supporters want "ideological purity" in the Republican Party. Lincoln, a moderate Democrat, barely survived a challenge from the left in her primary. Now she is far down in the polls to a conservative Republican opponent.
"She's a great colleague and a friend as well," Snowe said about Murkowski. "Obviously, we feel very bad about it. She's been serving in the Senate with great standing and distinction."
3:45 p.m. - Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina and other Obama officials just finished huddling with Senate Democrats here in the Capitol. I was told the topic was "messaging."
Since they've returned, we've heard Democrats try to refine their message with streamlined points: tax cuts for the middle class, and "made in America," which is their attempt to tap into populist fervor by saying – no more outsourcing.
On the big question of how and when to deal with expiring Bush tax cuts, several Democratic senators emerged from the meeting and said there was no decision.
But senators said they did talk about ways they can put legislation on the Senate floor during this short pre-election session that could show voters they are trying to keep jobs from going overseas.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said they talked about various ideas on how to do that, but would not elaborate.
"I think we'll do something, you'll see," he said.
11:30 a.m. - With the Obama administration trying to paint House Minority Leader John Boehner as the face of Republican opposition in the run-up to the November midterms, I asked him at his weekly press conference how it feels to be the GOP bogeyman.
"You all know me, I'm such a scary guy," Boehner joked. "I just say it the way it is. I'm the most open, transparent person in this town. I've got good attributes, I've got some that probably people don't like, but I say it the way it is. It comes with the territory."
Should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives Boehner would likely become Speaker of the House. Boehner has remained relatively unknown until now but as Democrats try to convince voters not to put Republicans in control of Congress, President Obama and top administration officials have persistently criticized the GOP leader.
Editors note: Watch for more real time dispatches from the hallways on Capitol Hill as CNN's correspondents and producers cover the machinations of Congress. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news- now even more so.
10:30 a.m. – A week after roiling many of his fellow Republicans by suggesting he could vote to extend just middle class tax cuts, House Republican Leader John Boehner is urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold an "up or down vote" on extending all Bush era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest Americans.
"On the issue of job killing tax hikes the American people are not going to accept anything less than the vote they deserve," Boehner told reporters in a prepared opening statement.
"Anything less than that is unacceptable." he said.
2:15 p.m. - Christine O'Donnell told CNN's Jessica Yellin in a mocking tone that the National GOP does not have a "winning track record" in GOP primaries this season.
The NRSC, under the leadership of John Cornyn, has in fact backed losing GOP candidates this primary season in Kentucky, Alaska, Colorado, and more.
I just interviewed Cornyn, who responded to that by saying, "My record will be determined after November 2nd and how many pickups we'll have. I'm not making any predictions here today. We have about a dozen seats in play. I think November 2nd, that's when my report card will get graded."
(CNN) - Despite primary election blows to Republican establishment candidates, House GOP Leader John Boehner said Wednesday he is not surprised by the results.
"You have heard me talk all year about the rebellion that is going on in America. I have never seen more Americans engaged in our government in my lifetime," Boehner said Wednesday at his first weekly press conference since returning from the summer recess.
Sen. Mitch McConnell:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he will support and donate money to the Senate campaign of Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party-backed surprise winner of Delaware's Republican primary.
"I'll be supporting the Republican nominee and we wish her the best," McConnell said Wednesday morning.
McConnell's support comes despite concerns in the Republican Party that it will be difficult for O'Donnell to win the general election.