Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lee speaks out on poverty, AIDS: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, spoke today at a Poverty Prayer vigil in Washington, D.C.: “With the help and guidance of the faith community we can as a Congress, and a country, seize this opportunity to finally and truly address the needs of our most vulnerable. Record enrollment for food stamps and increasing demand at community food banks and homeless shelters have stretched our communities’ social safety nets to their breaking point. Because 37 million Americans living in poverty is 37 million too many. Because 47 million Americans without access to healthcare is 47 million too many. And yet again, our minority communities bear the greatest burden. 31.6 percent Hispanic children under 5 and an astounding 40.7 percent of African American children under 5 grow up under the shadow of poverty. That is why we have gathered here today, because working together we will change all that. We, as a nation, must commit to breaking this cycle of poverty.”
Also, Lee has followed up her call for a national AIDS strategy by introducing a resolution to that effect in cooperation with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Said Lee: “The sobering new statistics on HIV and AIDS in the United States show that this disease continues to take a heavy toll right here at home –particularly in minority communities. It is unacceptable that we are not doing more to address the epidemic in populations where infections rates are highest.”

Woolsey blasts DC gun amendment: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, had harsh words today for a proposal to lift some gun-control provisions for Washington, D.C. She said an amendment offered by Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., to H.R. 6842, the National Capital Security and Safety Act — a bill revising DC’s gun laws to comply with the Supreme Court’s repeal of the city’s handgun ban — would repeal the District’s semi-automatic weapons ban and registration requirements, letting people who’ve been convicted of some crimes, committed to mental institutions or are under 21 buy firearms. Said Woolsey: “Allowing people to go out and buy a gun the day after they are released from a mental institution is reckless, not reasonable. Putting in their hands the same weapons that killed 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech and 13 students and teachers at Columbine is reckless, not reasonable. Removing the requirement that they register these guns is reckless, not reasonable. I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this amendment because the safety of every person who steps foot in this city depends on it.”

Stark wants Medicare truth in advertising: House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, wrote yesterday to Kerry Weems, Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging strict enforcment of newly released final and interim rules for marketing of private Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans. Said Stark: “Given the insurance companies’ propensity to put their needs ahead of seniors and people with disabilities, it’s important that CMS take the steps needed to ensure truth in MA and Part D advertising. However, given that the Inspector General just recently pointed out CMS’s failure to enforce existing regulations, we’ll be paying close attention to make sure these new regulations are more than just another press release.”
In other news, Stark today announced his selection of Fremont’s Rodney Clark, executive director of Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, to receive a 2008 Angels in Adoption award sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute; this lets members of Congress honor individuals from their community who enrich the lives of foster children and orphans. Said Stark: “Each day, through the work Mr. Clark does, he positively impacts the lives of foster children, orphans, and children in at-risk families. He is helping to ensure that all children in our community are kept safe, are provided the tools needed to thrive and become healthy, educated, and productive adults.”

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.