Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lofgren takes Ethics Committee chair: The House Democratic Caucus today approved Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, as chair of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, had announced Lofgren’s nomination earlier this week. Pelosi had said Lofgren “has demonstrated tremendous leadership in her 15 years of service” in the House, including eight years on the ethics panel — a perfect leader to take the chair as House Democrats try to deliver on promises of accountability, honesty, and openness. Said Lofgren: “The American people deserve a Congress that holds their interest above all others. I pledge to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that the House of Representatives maintains the highest of ethical standards and holds the public interest above all.” Lofgren spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said Lofgren will retain her influential post as chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, as well as her Homeland Security Committee membership.

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Stark to hold town meetings: Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, will meet with constituents this Saturday, Jan. 24, to discuss issues such as the recovery and reinvestment package being considered in Congress, fighting in the Gaza strip, and this year’s agenda for President Obama and Congress. At the first meeting, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado Niles Road in Union City, Stark will present the Purple Heart to Maj. Jarrell D. Southall of Newark, who was severely injured in a rocket attack while serving in Iraq. The second meeting will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Hayward City Hall’s Council Chambers, 777 B St.

Tauscher praises Obama’s Gitmo order: Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, issued a statement today praising President Obama for signing executive orders and directives to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within a year and limit the C.I.A.’s interrogation methods to those approved in the Army Field Manual: “For some time I had asked President Bush to close Guantánamo Bay and follow the rule of law. As President Obama said in his inaugural address, ‘we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’ By closing Guantánamo Bay, which has become a stain on our national honor, and by instituting legal interrogation methods for detainees, the United States has begun the process of rebuilding our reputation and credibility around the world.”

Woolsey keeps subcommittee chair: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, announced his panel’s members and subcommittee chairs in the 111th Congress after its official organizing meeting Wednesday evening. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, will remain chairwoman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, which oversees wage, hour and compensation issues; training for dislocated workers; trade and immigration issues as they impact employers and workers; and workers’ health and safety.

Honda remains DNC Vice Chair: The headlines were mostly about Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine becoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but among the other news coming out of the DNC’s winter meeting yesterday was Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, keeping his seat as a vice chair. Honda was a busy bee on the campaign trail last year, aiming to mobilize Japanese- and Korean-Americans in Colorado; Latinos in Michigan; Vietnamese- and Indo-Americans in Virginia; and Filipino-Americans in Nevada. DNC officers serve four-year terms.

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.