U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole has introduced her first bill: legislation to give the Lumbee Indians federal recognition as a tribe.
The Lumbees, who number 46,000 in North Carolina, have been recognized by the state since 1885. They were offered only partial recognition by the federal government in 1956.
Dole's bill, which makes good on a campaign promise, would make the Lumbees eligible for benefits available only to fully recognized tribes, including federal health care, education and economic development funding. Full recognition also allows the tribe to tax its members.
Dole announced the bill introduction this week during an appearance in Robeson County, where much of the tribe resides.
"This tribe has been unfairly denied for decades," Dole said. "The regional economy has suffered through floods and drought, reduced farm commodity prices and lost manufacturing jobs. ... This bill will help to right those wrongs."
Chambers joins fray
Julius Chambers, former chancellor of N.C. Central University and a long-time civil-rights lawyer, will be treasurer of U.S. Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign.
"It is a real honor to have a man with the integrity and vision of Julius Chambers join me in this campaign," Edwards said Thursday. "He has spent his whole life fighting to bring justice to those without a voice."
Chambers is chairman of the Center for Civil Rights at UNC Law School. His earlier work as a lawyer included a landmark 1971 school desegregation case in which he persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to approve court-ordered busing in Charlotte. In the 1980s, Chambers served as director of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Briefing the Supremes
Edwards was among a dozen Democratic senators who signed a legal brief this week urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, another Democrat seeking the party's 2004 presidential nomination, signed the same brief.
President Bush and others have spoken out against Michigan's policies, arguing that they amount to unconstitutional quotas.
Dozens of universities, companies and other groups have also weighed in. Among those supporting Michigan are North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and 21 other attorneys general, Duke University Law School and the UNC law school.
RIP, Pugsley Felts
Pugsley Felts, the 11-year-old tarantula of U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes' press secretary, Jonathan Felts, passed away last week, apparently from natural causes.
Felts said Pugsley was "a veteran of North Carolina political wars," accompanying his owner during his work on Hayes' 1996 gubernatorial bid and U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth's 1998 re-election campaign. Pugsley sat furrily on Felts' desk at campaign headquarters during both efforts.
"He was an inspiration to us all, really," Felts said, adding that he is considering having his beloved pet cast into a paperweight.
Washington correspondent John Wagner can be reached at (202) 662-4380 or firstname.lastname@example.org.