By Tricia Miller
Roll Call Staff
Jan. 19, 2010, 12 a.m.
It was an unusual occurrence: a Congressional hearing that turned highly emotional last May, leaving a mark on those involved.
A joint effort of two Senate Foreign Relations subcommittees, the hearing focused on violence against women in the conflict zones of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. John Prendergast, the co-founder of the Center for American Progress’ Enough Project, which seeks to stop political violence against civilians in Africa, testified that day.
“I can’t even count the number of hearings I’ve testified at during the last couple decades. They come and go, and Members are usually somewhat attentive, and they have a day or two worth of chatter afterward,” he recalled last week. “This particular hearing — I thought it was quite profound. The Members who attended still talk about it when I see them.”
The hearing was a distinct highlight in the first year of a revamped Foreign Relations subcommittee. Formerly known as the Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights and Democracy, the panel added global women’s issues to its portfolio in the 111th Congress.
Issues affecting women around the world are getting a new look in the U.S. With Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) as chairman of the revamped subcommittee and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton serving as secretary of State, the committee quickly moved to confirm a former Clinton aide, Melanne Verveer, to a new post at the State Department: ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. Verveer was among the witnesses in the first panel at the subcommittee’s hearing in May.
Wonky Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) aren’t exactly known for being the hippest Members of Congress, but they’re scheduled to appear alongside one of Hollywood’s hot young actresses Thursday night at the Capitol Visitor Center.
“Veronica Mars” actress Kristen Bell will headline a reception and screening of the documentary “The Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers” tonight at the CVC. Bell, who narrates the CW’s “Gossip Girl,” will join co-hosts Feingold and Inhofe at the event, designed to educate Members and their staff about child abduction connected to ongoing conflicts in central Africa.