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Barbara Lee is running for Dem Caucus vice chair

Rep. Barbara Lee has launched her campaign to become the House Democratic Caucus’ vice chairwoman, asking her peers for support.

Lee, D-Oakland, official threw her name into contention for House Democrats’ fifth-highest leadership post with a letter Tuesday; Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, declared her candidacy for the post last month. Current vice chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is limited to two terms in the post, and Democrats are expected to pick a new chairman and vice chairman soon after November’s elections.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“As Vice Chair, I will work to find innovative ways to champion the issues that are important to you, your district and our caucus,” Lee wrote in her letter to fellow House Democrats. “In 2013, I identified an opportunity to expand Democratic leadership on ending poverty in America. Together with our leadership, we launched the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity which works for the more than 46 million Americans struggling to make ends meet while developing pathways for these families into the middle class.”

Lee also touted her work on the Appropriations, Budget and Steering and Policy committees, as well as her stints as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, executive board member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and vice chairwoman and founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“In these roles, I have built diverse coalitions that advance our shared Democratic values,” she wrote. “Simultaneously, I have reached across the aisle to deliver bipartisan results, such as creating the bipartisan and bicameral HIV/AIDS Caucus and authoring or co-authoring every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation signed into law since 1998. The importance of listening to others with different points of view and new ideas has been critical in these and many other efforts.”

“It is an honor to work with you, side by side, to further our shared values and fight to ensure opportunity for all. I know firsthand the depth of your passion, talent and experience. It is this diversity of experience that is the backbone of our caucus,” she concluded. “I hope to serve you as the next Vice Chair and I look forward to continuing our discussions.”

Lee, 69, was first elected to the House in a 1998 special election to replace her mentor and longtime employer, Rep. Ron Dellums of Oakland, who retired mid-term. Earlier, she served in the state Senate from 1997 to 1998, and in the Assembly from 1991 to 1997.

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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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McNerney lands an Energy & Commerce seat

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is crowing that he has officially secured a seat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which deals not only with those namesake issues but also has input on health care and consumer affairs and protection. McNerney, a wind energy engineer by trade, said he’s “thrilled.”

“I’m anxious to delve into some of the committee’s issues, including the development of a new national energy policy that focuses on the use and production of renewable energy and addressing the need for affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans,” he said in his news release.

McNerney in his first term had served on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming; the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; the Veterans Affairs Committee; and the Science and Technology Committee.

Spokesman Andy Stone said McNerney will probably have to relinquish one of those seats, given the fact that he already needed a waiver to let him serve on four committees at once.

His new appointment became official today after a vote in the Steering and Policy Committee and then a ratifying vote by the entire Democratic Caucus. The vote and ratification also cemented last month’s palace coup staged by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, to replace Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., as Energy and Commerce’s chairman — a change which seems to be taking the panel in a much more liberal direction. Waxman is seen as more aligned with President-elect Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, on issues such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental concerns; Dingell, the panel’s top Democrat for close to three decades, was a staunch supporter of Detroit automakers and other big industries such as electric utilities.

So, an interesting place for McNerney to be, at an interesting time.

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Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lee and Woolsey push public investments: Representatives Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who are finishing up their stint as co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, were at the Library of Congress today for a conference sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future on New Deal-style public investments — from rebuilding our crumbling national infrastructure to pursuing alternative energy sources to lifelong education — that could bring long-term economic growth. In other Barbara Lee news, the Congressional Black Caucus will announce its new officers tomorrow, and we’re all but certain Lee will be the incoming chairwoman… stay tuned…

Tauscher remains regional whip: Democratic House members re-elected Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, as regional whip for Northern California, meaning she’ll remain the primary liaison between the House Democratic Leadership and her fellow members in the region. “On November 4th the American people sent a clear message for Congress to come together and solve problems,” she said. “I am eager to work with Speaker Pelosi and the new Obama administration to rebuild our economy, make healthcare more affordable, and move the United States to energy independence through innovation.” Her purview will include California’s Congressional Districts 1 through 22, as well as districts in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and American Samoa.

McNerney solicits holiday cards for troops: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is running his second annual “Holiday Cards for Our Troops” program, in which he’ll collect holiday cards for soldiers recovering from battle and stationed away from their families this holiday season, and then hand-deliver the cards to soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; sailors and marines at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; and National Guard and Reserve soldiers at Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin. “Thoughtful words of encouragement and support from the great people of the 11th District can make a huge difference in boosting the morale of our brave troops who have so honorably served their country,” he said. Constituents should make or buy a holiday card, write a message of thanks inside to a service member, and then deliver the card in an unaddressed, unsealed envelope by Dec. 10 to one of McNerney’s district offices — at 5776 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 175 in Pleasanton or 2222 Grand Canal Blvd., Suite 7 in Stockton. He passed along more than 700 cards last year, and hopes to top that number this year. And if you have thoughts to share with McNerney on this or any other topic, go talk to him at his next “Congress at Your Corner” constituent meet-and-greet, noon to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 22, at the Safeway supermarket at 11050 Bollinger Canyon Road in San Ramon.