Federal City Digest

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Up With Women

When Michelle Obama visits the State Department to speak at the International Women of Courage Award ceremony today at 4 p.m., she won't just be marking the achievements of some brave women or continuing her tour of federal agencies. She'll be part of a new drive across the government toward elevating women's issues at home and abroad.

In February, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), took the lead by forming a subcommittee on women's issues, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). That move was followed at State by the creation of a new position of ambassador at large for global women's issues. On Friday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Melanne Verveer, chair and CEO of the Vital Voices Global Partnership for emerging women leaders, to that post. Verveer was once Hillary Rodham Clinton's White House chief of staff.

And today, the first lady's visit to State will coincide with her husband's signing of an executive order forming a White House Council on Women and Girls, our colleague Chris Cillizza reports, to be chaired by Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett.

WHAT TO WATCH

-- Before the Council on Women and Girls signing, the president has an announcement about earmark reform. Later, he will meet with Democratic members of the Senate and House budget committees. And it's a Wednesday -- when the Obamas have tended to entertain at the White House in the evening.

-- On the Hill, plaintively titled subcommittee hearings ask: Where did we go wrong?

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health holds a morning hearing in the wake of the scandal over tainted peanut butter, asking, "How Do You Fix Our Ailing Food Safety System?"

The House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law asks this afternoon, after the electronics retailer's collapse, "Circuit City Unplugged: Why Did Chapter 11 Fail to Save 34,000 Jobs?"

The House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, undertakes, amid the mortgage mess, "A Comprehensive Review of the American Mortgage System."

And in the wake of the appointment of Roland Burris (D-Ill.) to the Senate, a House-Senate subcommittee hearing explores a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) that would bar governors from appointing senators.

-- Garance Franke-Ruta federalcity@washpost.com


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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