Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Dems meet with White House on Iraq: Here’s what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, had to say after she; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisc., met with Republican leaders and White House officials regarding the Iraq Accountability Act:

pelosi12-14-06.jpg“Let me associate myself with the comments of Senator Reid by saying this: the meeting was disappointing. We had come in hopeful that there could be an opportunity to enlarge the issue of this bill, to how we bring stability to the Middle East, to the region. We wanted to talk about how we help the American people by turning our soldiers back to fighting terrorism, strengthening our military, which this war is weakening. And do that in a way that we can work in a bipartisan way and with the President of the United States.

“The domestic initiatives in the original bill we sent to the President are emergencies — Katrina, hurricane disaster assistance, health care for America’s children. All of those issues are emergencies. But because the President made it an issue that they were not appropriate on the war funding bill, we said, ‘OK, take those off. And then accept the bill that we sent that includes everything you have asked for our troops and more.’

“But it has accountability in it. The President’s representatives said no. Then we said, ‘Okay, you have a problem with timelines, we’ll give you a waiver on that.’ They said no.

“So it is clear that the difference between the Democrats and the President is the issue of accountability. He will not accept any accountability or responsibility for what has happened there.

“Going into the meeting, we had hopes that we could find our common ground, one where the line would be drawn on accountability, without an open-ended war without end, with a blank check. For we are speaking out with the wishes of the American people. To create a new direction in Iraq — that can only happen with accountability.

“So it was disappointing, and we will now proceed with a bill to fund the troops before we leave here for Memorial Day weekend, to pay tribute to those that have fallen on behalf of our country. Our troops will be funded. That’s the work we have between now and then.”

george-miller.jpgMiller to co-chair national summit on kids: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, will co-chair the National Summit on America’s Children next Tuesday in Washington, a day-long session bringing together national experts on the latest scientific findings about early childhood development and its impact on children’s health and their ability to succeed in school.
“Upon becoming Speaker this January, Rep. Pelosi said that her top priorities for the country included ending the war in Iraq, attacking the causes of global warming, and restoring America’s attention and commitment to the needs of our children,” Miller said in a news release today. “This summit is an important step in that direction, by highlighting the sound science that that makes clear that we can successfully invest in services for our children that will dramatically improve their ability to lead healthy and productive lives, and that without those investments millions of children will suffer the neglect that ultimately becomes a national catastrophe. This summit provides an excellent opportunity to restore America’s efforts to help children thrive.”
Among the summit’s 21 panelists are two from the Bay Area: Dr. Paul H. Wise, a professor of child health at the Stanford School of Medicine; and Rucker C. Johnson, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. And at Miller’s invitation, several child advocates and local officials from Contra Costa and Solano counties will travel to Washington to attend, too. It’ll be Webcast live at www.speaker.gov/.

mcnerneyportrait.jpgMcNerney pushes for Livermore VA: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has written to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson asking for a meeting to discuss the future of the Livermore Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the French Camp Outpatient Clinic, following up on their talk when Nicholson testified to the Veterans Affairs Committee last week. “Recent conversations with my constituents have led me to believe that closure of the Livermore hospital is imminent. This move would severely limit veterans’ services in the area and would be detrimental to the care of our veterans in the region,” the letter says. “With the creation of a new generation of veterans, increasingly afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I believe we must not only maintain services at the Livermore VAMC and French Camp Outpatient Clinic, but also expand the services offered to meet the need for PTSD-specific treatment.”

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.