Topic: Rep. Jim McDermott
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June 11, 2013 at 1:42 PM
WASHINGTON — With the federal government mere months away from possibly breaching the debt ceiling yet again, Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California are proposing to withhold lawmakers’ paychecks until they vote to raise the borrowing limit.
The two Democrats on Wednesday will roll out their Pay Your Bills or Lose Your Pay Act of 2013, which would lock up members’ salaries in escrow accounts until they lift the $16.4 trillion federal line of credit.
In January, Congress temporarily suspended that borrowing limit. That reprieve expired May 19. Since then, the Treasury Department has been shuffling money from various accounts to keep paying out Social Security benefits, interest payments on bonds and other obligations.
Now the U.S. national debt has risen to more than $16.7 trillion, and Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling by October or November to prevent a federal default. Some conservative Republicans are balking at increasing the government’s statutory borrowing limit.
The McDermott-Boxer bill is the second time in five months Congress is resorting to fiscal threat against itself. In January, the “no budget, no pay” proposal helped spur Senate Democrats to pass a budget, which they had failed to do for three years, in part to avoid votes on controversial spending issues.
But the Senate budget has yet to be reconciled with the version from the House. One holdup: insistence by conservative Senate Republicans such as Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas on a binding pledge not to raise the debt ceiling.
June 4, 2013 at 3:51 PM
WASHINGTON — First came the apology, then the scolding.
That was U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott’s attempt to steer a congressional hearing Tuesday over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups to what he considers the central issue — whether taxpayers ought to subsidize organizations that might have political agendas.
The Seattle liberal told six witnesses from tea party groups and others the IRS made a mistake in singling out their tax-exempt applications for delays and close examination. The hearing was held before the House Ways and Means Committee, of which McDermott is a member.
“It is unacceptable in every way for a government agency to unfairly scrutinize any organization because of their political affiliations,” McDermott said. ”I am sorry your organizations were singled out like this, and while I think this was a case of foolish account management and dangerously careless shortcuts, I will not hesitate to say that the IRS was wrong.” (Cue this video to the 1:18:30 mark.)
But McDermott quickly reminded the witnesses that “none of your organizations were kept from organizing or silenced. We are talking about whether or not the American taxpayers would subsidize your work.”
The witnesses spoke of “intrusive” tactics and obstruction by IRS employees in granting them tax-exempt status. But McDermott said the groups were engaged in highly political work, such as opposing gay marriage, that goes beyond promoting social welfare that is the basis of tax exemptions.
Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican from Auburn who also sits on Ways and Means, made a similar point about AARP in 2011. Reichert accused the seniors’ advocacy group of misusing its tax-exempt charter when it actively backed President Obama’s 2010 health-care law.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Reichert mused that IRS Acting Commissioner Steve Miller resigned last month on the president’s order.
“Who else should be asked to resign?” Reichert asked.
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.
August 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM
U.S. Reps. Adam Smith and Jim McDermott joined eight other members of Congress in signing a letter calling for an independent investigation into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s authority to stop people and vehicles within 100 miles of the northern border.
The letter instructs the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), to look into practices by Border Patrol agents, which they say target individuals on the basis of race or religion for extra scrutiny during border crossings and wrongful stops. It also claims that agents stop, interrogate and arrest legal U.S. residents many miles from the border.
The Border Patrol’s growing presence along the northern border has been a source of ongoing complaints by immigrant advocates, particularly on behalf of people who are in this country unlawfully.
The lawmakers say the the agents also conduct operations outside places frequented by children and families, including churches, schools and human services facilities.
“We are concerned that the CBP’s activities may potentially undermine immigrant communities’ trust in law enforcement, violate people’s civil rights and adversely impact public safety,” the letter says. “We are also concerned that the diversion of resources away from the border comes at the expense of U.S. national security.”
The lawmakers want the GAO to develope statistics on apprehensions at or within 100 miles of the border, to include information on race, ethnicity, length of time in the U.S. and the results of the apprehension and determine if there are statistically significant racial or ethnic disparities in the rate of apprehensions by CBP.
August 7, 2012 at 10:48 PM
An upstart bid to force an intraparty general election in the Seattle-area Congressional district appears to have fallen far short.
Andrew Hughes, a Democrat and 30-year-old tax attorney, took just about 6 percent of the early returns, not nearly enough to face Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle.
Instead, McDermott will face Republican attorney Ron Bemis, who was at about 15 percent.
McDermott, a 24-year incumbent, received 69.5 percent.
That would be the lowest he’s received in any election since winning the heavily-Democratic seat in 1988.
Still, McDermott said he was pleased.
“How can you not be happy with that result?” said McDermott, speaking to reporters at a primary night party at the campaign headquarters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee.
McDermott attributed the below-usual showing to the fact that the district changed by 30 percent in redistributing.
He had predicted he would receive in the mid-60′s.
August 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM
WASHINGTON — Cap and trade is all but dead. Cap and dividend didn’t get far. And Congress is too busy with looming budget cuts, expiring tax cuts and other problems to deal with global warming.
It’s against that backdrop that Rep. Jim McDermott on Thursday planned to introduce the latest version of his legislation to combat climate change.
The Seattle Democrat is touting his Managed Carbon Price Act as a two-fer response to the federal deficit and extreme weather patterns that have gripped half of the United States in a drought.
The bill aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by putting a rising price on that pollution. At the same time, it sets targets to gradually lower total greenhouse gas emissions, to just 20 percent of what was released into the atmosphere in 2005 by the middle of this century.
McDermott’s staff say the bill would avoid creating volatility in energy prices that has dogged the cap and trade system in place in the European Union.
The money from carbon emissions would be deposited into a public trust fund, with 25 percent going to pay down the deficit and the rest spent to offset any increases in consumer utility rates. If the price were set at $15 for each ton of carbon emissions, it could bring in about $80 billion, and more in later years.
McDermott, a liberal, said in a statement that even conservatives support his idea “because they know we have to wean ourselves off of carbon emitting energy sources, and do it in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy and makes sense for businesses.”
In late 2009, Sen Maria Cantwell coauthored another variant of cap and trade, called cap and dividend. Under that proposal, the federal government would auction off “carbon shares,” or pollution permits, to oil producers and importers. Similar to McDermott’s proposal, Cantwell’s bill would have rebated 75 percent of the proceed to the public. The other 25 percent of the money would have gone to clean-energy research.
Cantwell’s bill, which she introduced with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, died in committee. Cantwell and Collins are planning to reintroduce it.
July 12, 2012 at 6:10 AM
How do you get attention if you are running against a 12-term incumbent who usually takes at least three-quarters of the votes?
Well, if you’re Andrew Hughes, a Democratic challenger to longtime Congressman Jim McDermott, you bike, boat and swim across the district. You spend the night in Westlake Park with the homeless, then don a Seattle SuperSonics sweatshirt and rally for the return of big-league basketball.
Hughes, 30, may still be an underdog in his race against McDermott for Seattle’s 7th District seat, but he is the undisputed leader in campaign stunt-pulling. On Monday, he dunked himself in a tank of water for 90 minutes — with scuba gear —
on Alki Beach in the South Park neighborhood, then surfaced to discuss the pain of homeowners who are also underwater — in their mortgage payments. Get it?
“Mount McDermott’s a big mountain to climb,” said Hughes, a tax attorney when he’s not running for office. The stunts are a way to draw attention to important issues, he said. They also demonstrate how he would legislate if elected, he said — at community events that may seem “beneath” federal office-holders.
“It does involve new energy,” he said. “It involves being a member of the community and doing community events. … He’s been around for a long time and I think that’s part of the problem as well.”
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