How do you ingratiate yourself with the House leadership if you're a freshman congresswoman with two weeks in your seat? If you're Laura Richardsonson (D-Calif.), you don't. Richardson, who won her seat representing California's diverse 37th district via special election, announced her arrival in the nation's capitol by taking her sweet time deciding how to vote on the S-CHIP legislation for children's health insurance -- not a maneuver to be undertaken by the faint of heart. (Leaders of both parties tend to expect the automatic fealty of newbies in Congress.)
Today at the opening plenary of the national joint conference of the Women Legislators' Lobby (WiLL) and Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), Richardson explained her reticience: the S-CHIP legislation as it emerged from committee was its elimination of insurance for the children of legal immigrants. "Don't be afraid to withhold your vote," she told a roomful of state legislators. By remaining undecided, Richardson explained, she got herself the opportunity to explain to House leaders what her problem was with the bill, which the president is expected to veto (despite the fact that it covers only the children of U.S.-born parents).
In the next version of the bill, Richardson explained, she will be pushing to have the anti-immigrant eliminated.
--Adele M. Stan