Matsui Wins Calif. Seat; Bankruptcy Bill to Pass



In a landslide victory, Doris Matsui won a special election Tuesday in California's 5th District, joining 68 other women in the 435 member House.

She will fill the House seat previously held for 26 years by her husband and fellow Democrat, Rep. Robert T. Matsui. Robert Matsui died Jan. 1 of complications from a rare bone barrow disease.

In her campaign, Matsui, a 60-year-old lobbyist and former Clinton administration official, emphasized her opposition to Bush administration initiatives on Social Security and taxes and her support for local concerns such as improved flood protection and transportation infrastructure.

Matsui was sworn in on Thursday. She filled the only vacancy in the House, making the new partisan breakdown 232 Republicans, 202 Democrats and one independent.

— Sen. Joe Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, and Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, introduced a bill on Tuesday to protect women and children in areas hit by war and disaster. The bill urges the Secretary of State to cut off military assistance to countries who do not investigate allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by their troops who are serving as U.N. peacekeepers, according to a press statement from Biden's office. It also prohibits U.S. funding of humanitarian organizations that have not pledged to impose a “zero tolerance” policy for exploitation of women and children by aid workers, the statement added. Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, is introducing companion legislation in the House.

— The Italian government is calling for a full investigation of the events that led to the death of senior Italian intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, who was shot by American soldiers while rescuing kidnapped journalist Giuliana Sgrena. U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, told The Washington Post Tuesday that he had been unaware last week that Italian officials had entered Iraq to rescue Sgrena. In a speech Wednesday, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi challenged the U.S. version of Calipari's death by providing new details of how the Italians had been working for the past month to free Sgrena.