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October 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., belatedly joined more than two dozen House Republicans Tuesday night in support of no-strings-attached legislation to reopen government and raise the debt ceiling.
It appears she’ll have a chance to make good on her word Wednesday, as the Senate is passing both to the House, perhaps for a vote Thursday. This is a full capitulation by the GOP and admission it made a historic blunder. And if the House does vote on no-(or few)-strings-attached bills, it will do exactly what President Obama dared Speaker John Boehner to do nine days ago.
How much credit does Herrera Beutler deserve for breaking from her party’s nihilism? Only a little, because it came as a deal was already being cooked. But it’s more than what Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., has done. He said on Oct. 4 that he’d vote on any bill that kept government open, but it was such a passive and weak statement that it could be read to support, or buck, his party.
Contrast that with Herrera Beutler’s direct statement:
“Despite my skepticism, until now I have refrained from public comment on the House budget negotiating strategy. I wanted to give House Republican leaders leeway to craft the best deal they could. But it’s time to reopen the government and ensure we don’t default on our debt. I will not vote for poison pills that have no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law.
Herrera Beutler suggested the final straw was the grounding of an airlift helicopter based at Longview’s St. John’s Medical Center because it wasn’t able to get certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. The same hospital hasn’t been able to use a new $2 million breast cancer imaging machine, due to shutdown of the Food and Drug Administration, according to The Daily News of Longview.
“We have a beautiful machine in a renovated faculty and the staff all trained and ready to go, but we here we wait,” (hospital spokesman Randy) Querin said. “It’s frustrating because so many people worked so hard to make this happen.”
Needless self-inflicted pain on the economy. Who knows how it will play out in 2014, when Herrera Beutler and Reichert are up for re-election, but it’s clear who voters blame in the moment.
October 11, 2013 at 9:23 AM
The GOP can do better. The party will be haunted by the legacy of a pointless shutdown of the federal government, and the looming threat of the first-ever default on U.S. government debt. Republicans need to look at their bench, and mount challenges to that timid, stodgy crew snugly in place on Capitol Hill.
My column makes that point. The shutdown has idled tens of thousands of workers outside of government for lack of access to federal services and regulatory needs. The closure of national parks has devastated tourist-dependent communities. None of this will be forgotten by voters at election time.
The crisis is grounded in the hostility of a small band of Republicans upset about the Affordable Care Act. The political issue is the failure of the larger party and its leaders to run the legislative chamber it controls. A political disaster morphed into an economic tragedy for American families. Shameful.
August 5, 2013 at 6:45 AM
Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. skittered back to their home districts for five weeks of vacation. They must be exhausted. Congress passed 15 bills in 2013.
My column this past Friday talked about the GOP election apparatus gearing up for a 50-state strategy. I welcomed the campaign offensive because someone needs to explain what the party stands for. Confused, vexed Republicans are among those most perplexed.
Comments appended to the column online wagged a rhetorical finger and invoked other symbolic uses of a digit. None of those upright expressions of anger were accompanied by a coherent defense of the party.
A story from the Washington Post, featured in the Seattle Times’ excellent CloseUp feature on page A3, made it clear why there is a scarcity of vigorous defense.
There is nothing to defend. Not even zesty partisans are willing to promote gridlock, empty imaginations, and a wholesale lack of political skills.
July 31, 2013 at 5:49 AM
The departure of Kirby Wilbur as chairman of the Washington State Republican Party leaves open an important job, and it’s important that the party not mess up.
Washington needs a healthy Republican Party for the same reason it needs a healthy Democratic Party: so that the public has a choice, and feels safe about exercising it. In this state the Republicans have for a long time come in second. Of statewide offices it holds only the Secretary of State. In 2012 the party offered the best-qualified candidate available and lost. It contested three open seats for Congress and lost all of them. It has made some gains in the state Senate that allowed a de facto Republican takeover this year, but overall it is not doing well.
The chairman is responsible for raising money, recruiting candidates, running a get-out-the-vote effort, and being the face and voice of the party to the public.
February 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The U.S. Senate took an important step Monday toward reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The chamber voted by a wide margin, 85-8, to move the bill forward. A final vote is expected later this week.
For a sober look at the domestic violence crisis, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., tweeted this infographic from the National Task Force to End Domestic Violence:
Here’s our newspaper’s editorial supporting immediate passage of this bill, which provides assistance to victims and prosecutes their abusers. The bipartisan measure sailed through the Senate last spring before it skidded to a halt in the House during a contentious election season.GOP leaders didn’t allow a vote on the upper chamber’s version of the bill.
Those same leaders are still in power. If they want to stay relevant, they should work with the Senate and pass something.
As we noted in our editorial, they must not squander a second chance to save lives.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is reportedly taking the lead on VAWA for Republicans. She must respond to the needs of her own constituents here in Washington.
The state receives $9.3 million annually in VAWA funding. The money is used to help victims through 20 different organizations associated with tribes, YWCA chapters and government-assistance programs.
Grants run through September 2013, but advocates need to be able to plan for the long term.
Here’s a suggestion for Congress: It’s still early. Greenlight this latest bill before lawmakers become consumed by fierce debates over budget cuts, debt ceiling limits and immigration.
In his opening statement as co-sponsor of the bill, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, pointed out a sobering statistic: since Jan. 1, four individuals in his home state have died from domestic abuse.
Overall, VAWA pays for a plethora of services to help the abused escape from violence and prosecute their perpetrators. This year’s expanded bill reflects the reality of today’s population. Funds would increase the government’s capacity to perform DNA testing on rape kits, identify and treat high-risk cases, push colleges to protect students, expand protection for gay and lesbian victims, and respond to an epidemic of abuse in tribal communities.
Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both support VAWA. Murray released the following statement after Monday’s vote:
“Today’s vote brings us one step closer to finally renewing our national commitment to ending domestic violence. And while I’m encouraged by the renewed sense of bipartisanship on this issue in the Senate, and look forward to its passage in the near future, the ultimate fate of VAWA still lays squarely on the shoulders of Eric Cantor and John Boehner. They can either give in to the extreme voices of their caucus or they can stand with Democrats, moderate Republicans, and the many millions of Americans who believe there is no reason this critical bill should be put on the back burner or delayed any further. Too many women have been left vulnerable while House Republican leaders have played politics and I encourage the moderate Republican voices in the House to call on their leadership to pass the bipartisan Senate bill as soon as they are able.”
The Act technically expired in September 2011, but lawmakers have allowed funding through September 2013. The latest bill reauthorizes VAWA for five years. Read a news account of the bill’s recent troubles here.
Bottom line: Congress should pass VAWA now.