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Rep. Barbara Lee Off To 110th Congress - Josh Richman

As a note, I ran into Rep. Barbara Lee at the Montclarion Albertson's while shopping late with my mother. Rep. Lee informed us that she'd been flying the red-eye back and forth from here to Washington DC. Lots of work to be done, as this article will reveal.

Lee hits ground running in 110th Congress
By Josh Richman
Rep. Barbara Lee clearly doesn't believe in starting slowly.

While five Bay Area members of Congress have yet to introduce a bill in the 110th Congress convened last week and four more have introduced one bill each so far, Lee already has introduced 17 pieces of legislation.

For Lee, D-Oakland, the early blitz is partly a matter of staking out her turf.

"These are critical issues, not only to the people of my district but to the entire nation, and I am not going to wait for an invitation to stake out my position or take a leadership role," she said Tuesday. "These are issues that I have been working on, many of them for years, and I intend to hit the ground running and keep fighting until they become law."

Some of Lee's bills would:

• Call on the League of Arab States to acknowledge the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region and to step up their efforts to stop it;

• Require the government to identify and bar contracts with companies conducting business in Sudan;

• Urge the U.S. Postal Service to issue commemorative stamps honoring victims of HIV/AIDS and the late former Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y.;

• Urge that recent tax cuts for the richest 5 percent of Americans should be repealed, with those monies instead spent "to relieve the growing burden on the working poor and to alleviate poverty in America";

• Disavow President Bush's doctrine of preemptive military action against nations he perceives as threats;

• Help teachers and police receive affordable housing; and

• Provide assistance to combat HIV/AIDS in India.

Lee introduced 46 bills and resolutions and seven amendments in the 109th Congress. Her only bill signed into law by President Bush was an act requiring the creation of a comprehensive strategy to meet medical, educational, food and other needs of orphans and vulnerable children around the globe.

The House passed Lee's resolutions supporting the goals and ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and National Passport Month; recognizing the anniversary of the 13th Amendment's ratification; and urging President Bush to establish a Caribbean-American Heritage Month, which he later did. The House also approved three of her amendments on unanimous voice votes: prohibiting U.S. arms sales to Haiti; barring funds to strike a deal for permanent bases in Iraq; and requiring a report to House and Senate Intelligence committees describing any U.S. intelligence activities in the past decade related to overthrowing a democratically elected government.

Lee will have some extra influence in the 110th Congress, having been newly appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee that holds the federal government's purse strings. She'll sit on subcommittees dealing with foreign operations; labor, health and human services, education and the legislative branch.

Reach Josh Richman of The Oakland Tribune at jrichman@angnewspapers.com.
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