Today’s Congressional odds and ends

pelosi.jpgPelosi goes to Israel: Sure to drive many Bay Area pro-Palestinian activists absolutely wild, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will address Israel’s Knesset — its national legislature — this Sunday, April 1; it’ll be at 6 p.m. Israeli local time, which is 8 a.m. PDT. She’ll be the highest ranking American woman ever to speak at the Knesset, and this will be her first speech to a foreign government. She intends to discuss America’s commitment to Israel and the challenges facing the two nations in the Middle East. Pelosi and a bipartisan congressional delegation — including House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, a staunch Israel supporter — arrived today in Israel, where they will meet with the Prime Minster, Deputy Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister in the next few days. Pelosi always has been a strong supporter of Israel, and is tight with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), although some more hawkish members of this powerful pro-Israel lobby have taken issue with Pelosi’s criticism of the war in Iraq.

lee3.jpgReport supports Lee’s bill: The federal Institute of Medicine issued a report today on the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in which it recommends removing the requirement that 33 percent of all prevention funds be earmarked for abstinence-until-marriage programs. The earmark, it says, “has greatly limited the ability of the Country Teams to develop and implement comprehensive prevention programs that are well integrated with each other and with counseling and testing, care and treatment programs and that target those populations at greatest risk.” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, on Tuesday re-introduced a bill to remove the earmark, and today said HIV prevention policies “should be based in science, not ideology. We need a comprehensive and balanced prevention approach that achieves results, and this report shows that the insistence on abstinence funding is disrupting the development of country specific prevention plans and keeping us from achieving the results we are looking for.”

miller.jpgMiller probes student-loan payola: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, sent letters yesterday to the nation’s top five college student-loan providers requesting information regarding their relationships with colleges financial aid offices. Miller noted recent news reports have revealed some private lenders offer gifts or other questionable incentives to colleges that agree to encourage students to take out their education loans with those specific lenders. Miller and other Democrats on his committee recently introduced the Student Loan Sunshine Act, which would require lenders and institutions to provide full disclosure of the terms of their relationships. The letters went out to the chairmen of the Sallie Mae Corporation; Citibank/The Student Loan Corporation; Bank of America; Wells Fargo & Company; and JP Morgan Chase & Co. To see a list of the documents Miller is demanding, click here.

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.

  • OaklanderAlso

    Hey Josh, you forgot to mention that Nancy is going to visit Syria too
    over the objections of the Bush Administration. Falling down on the job? 🙂 Seriously, dialogue is important. I support the House Speaker’s travels around the world taking a first hand look at what Israeli society is all about and promoting dialogue with various parties in the region. It’s about time somebody stepped in and brokered a Middle East dialgoue and promoted negotiation even if AIPAC is promoting this tour. I could be wrong, but I don’t see war and unilateral attacks being on the Democratic agenda right now. Let’s hope and pray of course.