Boxer and Cheeks–More women to watch in the new Congress

I confess that I have never had the patience to pay attention to who chairs what in Congress. Up until now, the answer was more times than not, some white guy or white guy wannabe. In the last few weeks though, we have gotten a preview of what may be possible as women rise to the top of the legislative foodchain. Yesterday Sen. Barbara Boxer put a hold on Alex Beehler, President Bush’s nominee to to be Inspector General of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The hold will prevent the nomination from coming up for a vote during this lameduck session of Congress. When Congress reconvenes in January, Boxer will be the Chair of the Senate Environmental Public Works Committee, ensuring that the Beehler nomination is dead.

Boxer’s objection to Beehler, who is currently with the Department of Defense as Assistant Deputy under the Secretary of Defense for environment, safety and occupational health, was based on his,

“being “unclear at best and evasive at worst” when she questioned him at his September 13 nomination hearing on his role in Defense Department initiatives to affect standards for pollutants like perchlorate.”

Perchlorate is an ingredient in rocket fuel that is used by the military. It affects the thyroid gland and can be particularly harmful to pregnant women and children. Because of inadaquate environmental standards which have allowed the military to get away with inadaquately cleaning up this chemical, it has been found in groundwater throughout the U.S. I have written several articles about perchlorate that provide more information,

“Military Pollution: The Quintessential Universal Soldier”

and

“Unacceptable: The Impact of War on Women and Children”

————

Another woman to watch in January is Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), the incoming head of the Black Congressional Caucus. The CBC now has 43 members and will have a number of members in significant positions in the new Congress.

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