Today’s Congressional odds and ends

pelosi.jpg Breaking hearts ain’t what it used to be: As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, marshals her forces for three days of debate on a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq, activists on her home turf aren’t nearly satisfied. They’ll bring broken hearts to her San Francisco office at 11 a.m. tomorrow, urging her to demonstrate her Valentine’s Day love for Iraqis and our soldiers by halting funding for the war. The group plans weekly sit-ins at the office until Pelosi cuts the funding. “Passing a non-binding resolution is ridiculous. It will do nothing to stop this war,” Janet Weil, from Bay Area CODEPINK, said in a news release. “We want Nancy Pelosi to be a real leader and lead Congress to stop funding this disastrous war.”

boehner.jpgFunding for troops but not vets?: House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, has announced Republicans today will use a parliamentary procedure to force a vote on whether they can offer a proposal by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, to bar Congress from cutting off funding for American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’ll be interesting to see whether Boehner, Johnson and the rest of their party are as enthusiastic about ensuring funding for the troops once they’ve returned home: the Bush Administration’s latest budget proposal has a slight increase for veterans care next year, but then cuts it in 2009 and 2010 and freezes it thereafter, leaving the already stretched Department of Veterans Affairs in the lurch after the war in Iraq (hopefully) winds down.

george-miller.jpgMore college $$$: House Education and Labor Commitee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; his Senate counterpart, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.; and Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wisc., today unveiled the Student Aid Reward Act, which they say would boost college scholarships without costing taxpayers a dime. The idea is to generate $13 billion in savings, according to the Congressional Budget Office, by encouraging colleges and universities to use less expensive federal student-loan programs; the bill would then reinvest at least $10 billion of that in additional Pell Grant scholarships and graduate fellowships. Also today, Miller and Education and Labor ranking Republican Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, introduced the Pell Grant Equity Act to repeal a rule known as “tuition sensitivity,” which reduces the annual maximum Pell Grant for students at schools with very low tuition; it might affect as many as 100,000 students per year. “Students should not be financially penalized for attending a low-cost school, and colleges and universities should not be punished for reducing their tuition costs,” Miller said in a news release.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.