Campus Notebook: Democrats Push to Remove Styrofoam From Cafeterias

Posted March 8, 2011 at 6:06pm

Seven House Democrats sent a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday urging Members to co-sign a letter to Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other House Republicans condemning the use of Styrofoam in the House cafeterias.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Jim Moran (Va.), George Miller (Calif.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Chellie Pingree (Maine) and Susan Davis (Calif.) sent the letter in response to House Republicans’ decision to scrap the compostable food containers.

In the letter, titled “Cancer Causing Cups in the Cafeteria?” the Members argue that Styrofoam is a known health hazard and is bad for the environment.

“While some reforms to the House dining programs may have been warranted as cost saving measures, replacing highly recyclable containers and cups with polystyrene products is not,” the letter reads. “The House should be a model institution setting an example for others to follow.”

The Democrats want their colleagues to sign a letter to Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) urging them to reconsider the use of Styrofoam.

That letter says, “The desire to save a few pennies should never come at the expense of jeopardizing staff, members and visitors’ health.”

“The irresponsibility of the decision to use polystyrene foam without considering other options is all the more egregious because the cafeteria is not merely used by House members and our staffers,” the letter reads. “The health of constituents and visitors to the Hill who eat in the cafeteria will be impacted by this short-sighted decision.”

A spokeswoman for Moran said the group also plans to send a letter to Restaurant Associates, the company that manages the House cafeterias.

Meier Returns to Hill for Senate Diversity Post

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that he has hired former Congressional Hispanic Caucus Executive Director Maria Meier to run the Senate’s diversity hiring initiative.

“I am pleased to have someone with Maria’s vast experience and dedication in this role, which will ensure that all Senate Democratic offices work to ensure diversity among staff at all levels,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement. “Increasing diversity on Capitol Hill is an important part of effectively representing an increasingly diverse constituency, and something that has been important to me for years.”

Meier worked at the CHC from 2003 to 2005. Before that, she worked as associate director of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, as a communications director in former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and as director of outreach for the House Democratic Caucus under then-Rep. Bob Menendez (N.J.).

Since 2005, she worked in public relations for the Dewey Square Group, where she headed the firm’s Latinovations venture, which engaged in outreach with the Hispanic community.

Meier replaces Martina Bradford, whom Reid appointed deputy Senate Sergeant-at-Arms in December.

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