Today’s Congressional odds and ends

lee3.jpgLee’s latest Darfur bill advances: The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday approved a bill by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, calling on the Arab League‘s member nations to take more aggressive action to end the genocide in Darfur; the hearing, which included testimony from actress Mia Farrow, sets the bill up for a floor vote next week. H.Con.Res. 7, the Darfur Partners for Peace Act, has 79 co-sponsors, including Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, and urges the League of Arab States to declare the systematic torture, rape, and displacement of Darfurians a genocide; pass a resolution to support and accept a robust, hybrid United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force to enforce the ceasefire, protect civilians, and ensure access to humanitarian assistance in Darfur; and work with the United Nations, the African Union and the U.S. Presidential Special Envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, to bring peace and stability to Darfur, the refugee camps, and along the Chadian border. Lee recently returned from her third trip to Darfur, along with a stop in Egypt to discuss efforts to end the genocide with President Hosni Mubarak.

pete-stark.jpgStark to hold town meetings: Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, has scheduled three town-hall meetings in his district this Saturday, April 21. “Given recent news, likely topics include Congressman Stark’s initiatives in the new Congress as well as ‘Cover the Uninsured Week,’ President Bush’s request for additional funds for his War in Iraq, and the Supreme Court’s decision to restrict a woman’s right to choose,” the news release says. The meetings are scheduled for 9 to 10 a.m. in the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado-Niles Road in Union City; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the San Lorenzo Adult School Auditorium, 820 Bockman Road in San Lorenzo; and noon to 1 p.m. in Alameda City Hall’s Council Chambers, 2263 Santa Clara Ave.

doolittle.jpgDoolittle resigns committee post: Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay, whose house was searched by the FBI in an influence-peddling investigation, said Thursday he will step down temporarily from the House Appropriations Committee. The nine-term lawmaker’s announcement came one day after the disclosure that agents had raided his home in Oakton, Va. In the search last Friday, the FBI had a warrant for information connected with a fundraising business run by Doolittle’s wife, Julie, that had done work for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Doolittle was one of two Northern California Republican incumbents seen as vulnerable in 2006’s election; the other was House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who was unseated by Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton. Despite massive grassroots efforts — including those of many Bay Area activists — Doolittle pulled the football away from Democrat Charlie Brown, taking 49.1 percent of the vote to Brown’s 45.9 percent, to keep his seat… a seat which now seems to be growing very, very hot. Brown’s 2008 campaign already is under way.

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.