Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Oil-spill hearing scheduled for Monday: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Martime Transportation will hold a field hearing on the big spill’s causes and response at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19 in the Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop in San Francisco’s Presidio. The offices of committee member Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, and Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, says they’ll be there, other attendees TBA.

mcnerneyportrait.jpgMcNerney still pushing PTSD clinic for Livermore: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, wrote a letter today to Gordon Mansfield, the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, citing a newly released study about the incidence of mental distress in Iraq veterans and touting the Livermore VA Medical Center as the ideal setting to treat post traumatic stress disorder. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds Iraq veterans with substantially greater percentages of mental distress several months after returning from deployment than immediately upon returning home; it also finds greater levels of mental distress among National Guard members and Army Reservists than among active duty soldiers. McNerney had been pushing former VA Secretary James Nicholson to put a PTSD treatment center at Livermore — a facility in danger of being shut down entirely — right up until the day Nicholson quit.

The next out-of-Iraq vote: The House at this hour is debating a resolution which would provide for consideration of HR 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwomen Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, sent the following note to about 100,000 Progressive Democrats of America members today:

lee3.jpgAs many of you know, today the House is set to bring up H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. While this bill is not perfect, it is the strongest Iraq bill to date, and there’s no way that we would’ve reached this point if it wasn’t for the work of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), and all of you. The work that you all have done, and the leadership that PDA has shown in delivering tens of thousands of signatures as part of its Peace Pledge have helped move the ball forward.

We know that most of you are disappointed that the end date of having our troops out by December 2008 included in the bill is a goal and not a requirement. So are we.

woolsey.jpgBut let’s be clear about what this bill accomplishes–this is the first time that this Congress has put forth a bill that ties funding to the responsible redeployment of our troops, and it also includes language mandating a start date for the President to begin the redeployment of our brave men and women. The bill also incorporates the principles put forth in H.R. 508, and provides for a regional stability plan which includes diplomatic, political, and economic strategies.

And most importantly, this is a concrete step in the right direction, and an important marker for this Congress to lay down.

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.