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 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The State of the Union address. President Obama will spend part of the week practicing his remarks, which, political junkies surely know, will be delivered Tuesday evening. These speeches often have someone referring to them as the most important of — what? — the year, a term, a presidency. Here’s one bit of analysis from The Washington Post that calls Tuesday’s oratory the most important state of the union of Obama’s two terms, because he has an ambitious legislative agenda on everything from gun control legislation to immigration reform.
The Sunday New York Times said the speech will focus on boosting the economic prosperity of the middle class, while mentioning a few initiatives in education, infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing.
The official Republican response to the president will come from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and the less official tea party response will come from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.
U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are busy on the Violence Against Women Act. Murray and Cantwell both are involved in the debate over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and both are especially vocal about the law as it relates to Native Americans. The matter comes up for a vote Monday. Murray spoke last week on the Senate floor. The first few minutes of the video below give a flavor of what Cantwell has to say.
All this talk of gun control. In the ongoing back and forth on gun control, President Obama recently said, tweeted, to be more precise, that as many as 40 percent of guns are sold by private unlicensed sellers — without background checks. Obama has been challenged for saying that, but here is a pretty interesting take on this angle of the discussion.
PolitiFact says the claim is based on old data from the 1990s and rates it half true
Dennis Kucinich Road Tour.Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is heading out on a speaking tour, discussing his views of his time in Congress and other topics. And, guess what, he’s not coming to the Northwest. That is so last year. Kucinich is going to Santa Barbara and Oakland, Calif., and Madison, Wis.
Tuesday is the last day to mail ballots in the Seattle school levy election. There are two levies, one operating, one capital. King County Elections will announce the first batch of results around 8:15 p.m.Tuesday.
Our relatively new Facebook page is up and running, looking for likes and friends.
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 6:00 AM
Good Morning. Happy Friday.
Who’s running for Seattle mayor in 2013? Lots of people. And some are just toying with the idea before, well, likely running. Former Seattle City Council member — or should I say, friends of Steinbrueck — have launched a beg-Peter-to-run Facebook page. Publicola has more details. Scroll down a bit. The other candidate who may not be able to resist the mayoral temptation is former King County Executive Ron Sims. Don’t miss the inside-baseball fight over where and how City Councilmember Tim Burgess made his announcement for mayor this week.
Running Olympia: As Olympia watchers have probably heard, state Sen. Ed Murray was elected by fellow Dems to be Senate majority leader. That sounds so simple, until you consider two other events, the squeaky close, gotta-do-a-recount race in the 17th Legislative District in Vancouver. State Sen. Don Benton, a Republican, is currently ahead of Democrat Tim Probst, by 78 votes. The recount is next week. So, I know, who is staying awake at night wondering if Benton wins or loses? Murray, probably. A couple of moderate Dems are threatening to join Republicans in the Senate and install one of the Dems, Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina, as the majority leader of some sort of coalition group in the Senate.
Sen. Murray is obviously trying to work around that while keeping himself as majority leader. So he offers committee assignments to folks he wants to keep, win over, whatever.
The world according to Grover Norquist: A bunch of Republican members of Congress are having second thoughts about their never-raise-taxes pledge with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Seattle Weekly has an interesting piece tying that development to an alleged weariness of anti-tax crusaders in general, i.e., Washington’s own Tim Eyman. But, but, but. Didn’t voters just say yes in big numbers to Eyman’s latest offering, Initiative 1185, the measure that re-instates the two-thirds requirement to raise taxes in our Legislature? Yes, they did.
Politico has a piece arguing that Grover’s not over.
November 28, 2012 at 7:07 AM
This will win back the female voters — not. The House Speaker has announced Committee Chairs for the 113th Congress and let’s just say it’s not very female-friendly. Huffington Post dubs it “The Man Show.” Washington Sen. Patty Murray, for one, tweeted her disappointment last night.
In a story Sunday in The Seattle Times, reporter Brian M. Rosenthal wrote about the declining number of women in the Washington Legislature in the session that begins in January. He was referring to the Legislature in general, not necessary leadership positions. In Washington’s case, some might argue the state had some distance to fall, because it was number one among the states in electing women lawmakers for 11 years.
Election trivia: Guess which statewide race in Washington ended up closest? The Secretary of State contest with Republican Kim Wyman, the only Republican elected statewide this time, winning by a mere 22,000 votes.
War on Christmas or something: And that means it’s time for the annual suggestion/accusation that somebody somewhere is waging a war on Christmas, Hanukkah or some holiday. The Spokesman-Review of Spokane has the latest on what decorations are planned for our very own Capitol grounds and surrounding area. There will be a nativity scene, and not too far away, a lighted Menorah, and maybe an atheist display of some sort. Read the post. All religious displays, save for a holiday tree in the Rotunda, are to be outside.
Jump the fiscal cliff: Sen. Murray has an idea for handling the vaunted fiscal cliff in Washington. D.C. She says jump. Or at least that is what she and several leading Democrats say may be the best way to win the kind of tax cuts and spending reductions her group favors. Murray is a big-time leader in Washington and it’s time we said that, again.
A new poll shows more than majority support for some of the tax decisions Murray is talking about. Murray, according to a press release, was planning to speak Wednesday in the Senate about middle-class tax cuts.
November 15, 2012 at 10:14 AM
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray Thursday declared her plan to seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, a post that would move her closer to the looming debate about the nation’s long-term fiscal policy.
Murray hopes to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of
Nebraska North Dakota. She now is the No. 2 Democrat on the panel, which is responsible for producing an annual blueprint for how much money the federal government should bring in and spend.
But Senate Democrats have not passed a regular budget since 2009 in part because of deep ideological differences with Republicans, particularly those in the House, about spending priorities.
Largely as a consequence, the federal government for the past two years has been operating on a series of stopgap spending bills.
Committee leadership decisions won’t be finalized until after Thanksgiving, but Murray is certain to get her wish.
In return, Murray will give up her chairmanship of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, though she will remain a member of the panel. She is expected to remain as chairwoman of two Senate subcommittees, one under the Appropriations Committee and the other in the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.
November 12, 2012 at 6:00 AM
U.S. Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers joins the soul-searching: McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, rising star of the U.S. House, told CNN Sunday that the Republican Party, now licking its considerable wounds from last week’s election, should become more “modern” not more “moderate,” as it figures out what went wrong and right in the 2012 campaign. She also called last week’s election a “status quo” event.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and the fiscal cliff: Washington Sen. Patty Murray spent some time this weekend on the national talk shows. She took a very hard line on the looming fiscal cliff, telling ABC’s This Week that Congress should simply let the tax cuts expire if Republicans won’t bargain on taxing the wealthiest Americans.
Washington and Colorado’s pot law cracks up TV anchors. I know, I know. Jon Stewart fans saw this clip last week. But just in case you missed it. He has a pretty funny take on how silly the TV news anchors became describing the passage of the new laws.
Some clear-eyed lessons from Election 2012. Polls, speaking, debates.
November 7, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Washington elections offices take a little while to count ballots, but here is a handy-dandy list of some of the top contests called so far by The Seattle Times.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell soared to victory.
Initiative 502, the measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana passed handily.
Initiative 1185, the two-thirds threshold for raising taxes, won by a commanding margin.
In the 1st Congressional District, Democrat Suzan DelBene beat Republican John Koster and she is heading to Washington, D.C.
Three Democrats in statewide office will stay in their jobs. Peter Goldmark will continue as lands commissioner, Mike Kreidler as insurance commissioner and Treasurer Jim McIntire has been re-elected.
Seattle’s $290 million seawall bond measure was approved.
The new King County sheriff will be the old sheriff-department spokesman John Urquhart.
And for Washington Supreme Court, Sheryl Gordon McCloud won.
November 6, 2012 at 11:39 PM
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell didn’t have to sweat too much tonight, as her victory over Spokane state Sen. Michael Baumgartner was called early.
Democrat Cantwell promised to prioritize jobs, especially “getting more aviation jobs in Washington state” in her third term. She also said she would work to change the rules around the filibuster, which Republicans in the Senate have been using to require 60 votes for passage of bills favored by Democrats.
“I’m not going back to the United States Senate to salute stalemate,” she said in a brief speech. “I’m going back there to put in economic policies to get our people back to work.”
In an interview, Cantwell said she beat Republican Baumgartner because her economic policies were more specific and realistic.
Cantwell, who was leading Baumgartner with more than 59 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s incomplete results, said she spoke with Baumgartner and wished him well in the future.
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