Today, Congress announced the House and Senate lawmakers who will be serving as conferees to work out the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The list:
SENATE: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA)
HOUSE: Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI)
Missing from this list? Women lawmakers.
These conferees are the chairman and ranking members of the relevant committees, and just happen to be men. But it underscores how important it is for these lawmakers to be extra vigilant in making sure that programs benefiting women and children don’t face the brunt of the cuts. Already, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, such provisions have been the first to go:
– The Senate bill put together by the so-called “Gang of Moderates” disproportionately cut programs that target women and children, including Head Start, Violence Against Women, school improvement, and food stamps.
Having women conferees wouldn’t necessarily ensure better results, unfortunately. After all, Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins were key players in devising the “centrist” cuts to the Senate bill.
But the line-up of conferees does highlight how important it is to make sure there are progressive women in leadership positions in the House and the Senate. The Speaker of the House, of course, is Nancy Pelosi, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the cuts to health care, education, and other programs in Senate bill. Also not coincidentally, the House version that went through under her leadership was far more progressive and allocated funding for programs that would benefit working class families.
Sen. Collins was given an opportunity to speak at the conferees’ press conference.