You are currently viewing all posts written by Kyung M. Song. Seattle Times Washington, D.C., bureau correspondent
April 12, 2013 at 9:01 AM
UPDATED AT 1:03 P.M. WITH PHOTO.
WASHINGTON – Sally Jewell will be sworn in as the nation’s 51st secretary of the Interior in a private ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court Friday afternoon.
Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will administer the oath of office, according to an Interior Department official.
Jewell, former chief executive of Kent-based REI, and O’Connor served together on the National Parks Second Century Commission, an independent commission convened in 2008 by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
Jewell was vice chair of NPCA’s board; she has given up that post because of her cabinet appointment.
Friday will be last day on the job for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is returning to his Colorado ranch. On Monday, Jewell is scheduled to meet some of the department’s 70,000 employees as well as discuss key issues before the agency.
The Senate confirmed Jewell’s appointment Wednesday by a 87-11 vote, with all no votes coming from Republicans.
March 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM
WASHINGTON — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote Thursday on Sally Jewell’s nomination as Interior secretary. The vote comes two weeks after the REI chief executive’s sometimes-pointed confirmation hearing before the committee’s 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans.
Jewell’s ties to conservationist causes drew sharp questions from committee members who support more aggressive energy exploration on federal lands.
Still, her nomination is expected to clear the panel. A vote by the full Senate is expected shortly after, clearing the way for Jewell to replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has said he plans to leave at the end of March.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, most controversial of President Obama’s recent Cabinet nominees, won a 14-11 partisan vote before the Senate Armed Services Committee before winning final confirmation.
February 26, 2013 at 6:05 PM
WASHINGTON — With millions of federal workers facing possible unpaid furloughs from mandatory budget cuts slated to start Friday, Sen. Patty Murray took to the Senate floor Tuesday to point out the culprits: Republicans.
The Washington Democrat spoke out against the $85 billion in spending cuts while standing next to a chart labeled “Republican Plan for Sequestration.” A red WARN NOTICE was stamped on it.
That was a reference to a 30-day notice of furloughs that are expected to go out starting March 1 at most government agencies, from the Pentagon to the Bureau of Prisons to the Food and Drug Administration. The Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, has announced that in order to cut $483 million from its operating budget, all of its 40,000 workers will have to take 11 unpaid days off this year.
Murray contends Republicans’ refusal to accept any new taxes in order to offset the spending cuts is directly to blame for the coming furloughs. Republicans counter that they’ve already agreed to raise income taxes on families earning more than $450,000 a year and won’t agree to more.
February 26, 2013 at 5:46 AM
WASHINGTON — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing March 7 to consider REI Chief Executive Sally Jewell’s nomination to become the next Interior Secretary.
President Obama nominated Jewell earlier this month to succeed Ken Salazar, who said he will leave the administration at the end of March and return to Colorado.
The hearing will be led by committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon.
Jewell, an avid mountain climber and skier who worked as a banker and a petroleum engineer, would be taking on a department with a dual mission of protecting public lands while tapping timber, coal, gas and other wealth from them.
Already, Jewell’s nomination has drawn attention from interest groups, ranging from mountain bikers who want to lift the ban from their pursuits in national parks to east coast governors who want drilling permitted off the Atlantic Coast.
January 23, 2013 at 3:50 PM
WASHINGTON — One ugly painting. Three recipients.
A congressional tradition observed by members of Washington’s delegation took an unusual turn this year when a painting of a just-hatched chick was passed to the state’s newest member of Congress — and rotated among the state’s three House freshmen.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas, who took possession of the artwork when she arrived in Congress in 2011, bestowed it Wednesday — briefly — to U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene of Medina.
DelBene was elected to fill the 1st District seat vacated by the new Gov. Jay Inslee. But because Inslee resigned before his term was up, DelBene was seated shortly after the November elections — a month before the rest of the freshmen class.
DelBene immediately handed the painting off to U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor. Kilmer was elected to the 6th District seat vacated by Rep. Norm Dicks, who retired this year.
Kilmer got dibs on the painting before fellow freshman Democrat Denny Heck of Olympia; he represents the newly-created 10th District. That’s because Kilmer’s victory margin of 59 percent just edged out Heck’s 58.6 percent. Heck will get the painting next year.
Kilmer, according to a spokesman, said: “The painting has been in Congress longer than I’ve been alive. … I intend to hang it next to my life-sized poster of Russell Wilson as both have been described as too young and too short to succeed.”
Former U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard bought the picture in 1972 for either 50 bucks or 50 cents. Dicks received in when he got to Congress in 1977, and all the subsequent House freshmen have hung — or hid — the artwork in their office.
January 15, 2013 at 9:55 AM
Reichert, a fifth-term member from Auburn, will be the top Republican on the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee. This will be his second stint as a subcommittee chair; as a freshman, the former King County sheriff chaired the Homeland Security committee’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science and Technology.
In a statement, Reichert said serving on the human resources subcommittee will give him a chance to help Americans “who have fallen on difficult times” — something he knows firsthand.
“As the oldest of seven kids growing up in a home of scarce means, I ran away on several occasions. There were times I attended high school out of my car in order to escape difficult family circumstances. Yet, there were those along the way who prevented me from falling through the cracks. I know what it’s like to struggle, and I know the vital role that hope plays when trying to find a pathway to a better tomorrow,” he said.
In October, Reichert was one of 50 members of Congress and one of only three Republicans to be named as top advocates for children by First Focus Campaign for Children. The group also cited Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, and Sen. Patty Murray.
January 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM
WASHINGTON — A U.S. District Court on Friday rejected a motion to block construction of a munitions wharf at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, rebuffing arguments by anti-nuclear groups and the Suquamish Tribe that the Navy failed to conduct necessary environmental review.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton of Tacoma ruled the plaintiffs failed to show the Navy withheld information required under the National Environmental Policy Act. He also rejected arguments that the Navy failed to consider other options to building the wharf and accused the plaintiffs of using the lawsuit to “second guess the Navy’s missile maintenance program.”
The Navy began construction
last month in September on the $715 million wharf. The Navy said the existing 1970s-era wharf lacks capacity to handle upgrade work on Trident II D5 ballistic missiles carried aboard the base’s eight nuclear submarines.
The lawsuit was filed in June by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, an anti-nuclear group in Poulsbo, Kitsap County, and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility of Seattle, among others.
Kathy George, an attorney of the plaintiffs, said the groups will continue their fight. They plan to file for summary judgment on grounds that the second wharf did not undergo proper public review.
December 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM
WASHINGTON — Maria Cantwell and her fellow Senate Democrats are ramping up their opposition to a pending federal proposal to ease restrictions on cross ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets in Seattle and other large markets.
Cantwell and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, held a news conference Thursday morning on Capitol Hill to blast a draft plan by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to drop a 37-year-old rule that has prevented newspaper owners from also operating a television station or a radio station in the same market.
This is the FCC’s third attempt since 2003 to rewrite media cross-ownership rules it says need updating in an era when more people are getting their news on the Internet. Twice before, courts have thrown out the FCC’s decisions for lack of public input.
Cantwell has been sharply critical of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s recent attempt to relax the ban. Specifically, the FCC is preparing to allow the same owner to operate a daily newspaper and a television station or a radio station in the same market.
Some critics say that would accelerate media monopolies by allowing conglomerates like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel and more than two dozen local TV stations.
Cantwell also is concerned about shrinking diversity in media ownership. As it is, minorities control just 39, or 2.2 percent, of full-power commercial TV stations in the nation, according to the FCC.
Sen. Patty Murray also has cited “abysmally low levels” of media ownership by women and minorities in calling on the FCC to justify its proposal.
But supporters of lifting the ban, including the Newspaper Association of America, say such action could help the ailing print industry by opening new business opportunities.
The Blethen family, majority owner of The Seattle Times, however, has long opposed easing cross-ownership rules.
November 30, 2012 at 9:20 AM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler will trade up her committee assignment in the next Congress, joining the powerful appropriations panel in January.
Herrera Beutler, a freshman Republican who represents Southwest Washington’s 3rd District, is one of six new GOP members added to the House Appropriations Committee. The group includes U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, who like Herrera Beutler is finishing his first term in Congress, as well as two others who were elected to the House in November.
Herrera Beutler’s move comes as Rep. Norm Dicks, the Bremerton Democrat, is preparing to vacate his seat on the appropriations panel, which writes spending bills. Dicks, who has served in Congress since 1977, is retiring in January.
Herrera Beutler will give up her seats on the Small Business and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.
November 30, 2012 at 7:26 AM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott apparently set a record for congressional travel with his roughly $21,000 privately-funded trip to Bali earlier this month.
According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, the Seattle liberal’s visit to Indonesia appears to be the costliest trip taken by a member of Congress since rules on privately-sponsored trips were tightened in 2007.
Costs for McDermott’s aide, Jessica Lee, for the weeklong trip totaled nearly $24,000. All expenses were covered by Chemonics International, which contracts with the federal government on global development projects.
McDermott is known for his congressional wanderlust. He has taken 26 trips in the past six years, 12 of them to Belgium, Rwanda, Japan and other international destinations. Rep. Norm Dicks of Bremerton, by contrast, reported taking two trips during the same period — to Hawaii and to Spain.
McDermott, co-chair of the congressional Indonesia Caucus, was attending the Bali Democracy Forum as well as lobbying Indonesian officials to drop new regulations that have effectively halted exports of Washington apples to that country.
McDermott’s trip costs, submitted by Chemonics, included $9,600 in apparent business-class airfare from Seattle to Bali to Washington, D.C. It also included related expenses, including $2,500 for interpreters and $400 for hotel rooms for security escorts.
Most of McDermott’s trips have been paid for by nonprofits and private foundations. By contrast, official congressional delegation trips, called CODELs, are paid for by the federal government.
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