Topic: Suzan DelBene
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November 15, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Updated at 1:35 p.m. with DelBene’s comments:
WASHINGTON — Washington state’s U.S. House delegation voted along party lines — with one exception — on a bill that would allow insurers to keep selling canceled health plans that ran afoul of coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
The House voted 261-157 for the GOP-sponsored Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would allow insurers to maintain millions of policies that were canceled in advance of the Jan. 1 start of coverage under Obamacare.
All four Republicans from Washington voted in favor; five of six Democrats voted no. Rep. Suzan DelBene of Medina was the sole Democratic yes vote.
In all, four Republicans and 39 Democrats defected from their caucuses on the bill.
Republicans said the bill would prevent Americans from being forced to buy higher-priced policies that don’t fit their coverage needs. Democrats assailed it as the GOP’s latest attempt to derail President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, just six weeks before coverage is set to start Jan. 1.
Each year, millions of Americans with individual policies don’t renew their coverage, often because insurers raise premiums or decrease benefits. But Obamacare not only requires Americans to have health insurance, they’re required to have adequate coverage. Insurers can no longer sell skimpy policies or plans that do not cover maternity care, mental-health services and other mandated benefits.
On the House floor, Democrats repeatedly accused the GOP of a “mission of destruction” against Obamacare under the guise of protecting consumers. Allowing people to pick and choose among bare-bone plans, they argued, would expose them to financial ruin in case of a medical catastrophe as well as undermine the risk pool that helps keep premiums lower for everyone.
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, said Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler were right to buck even President Obama’s decision Thursday to allow a one-year reprieve for the canceled policies.
Alluding to fretting over consumers’ anger by some Democrats facing tough re-elections, McDermott said, “I haven’t seen so much panic on this floor since 9/11.”
DelBene said she went against the votes of many of her Democratic colleagues to protect consumers from the Obama administration’s “broken promises.”
“While imperfect,” she said, “the bill before the House today allows many Americans in the individual market to keep their current plans for an additional year. This is why I voted ‘YES.’
“I understand that it’s ultimately up to state insurance commissioners and private insurance companies to determine whether to allow the extension of existing health plans. I respect the decision made yesterday by Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler not to allow plans that lack ACA benefits to be renewed.”
But Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, said through a spokeswoman that he co-sponsored the bill and voted for it because people are upset.
“Many of my constituents don’t think their current coverage is inadequate, it’s exactly the coverage they like and want to keep,” he said.
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, said in a statement he took the opposite vote for the same reason as Reichert’s: to protect consumers. Extending the old policies, he said, would allow insurers to again impose annual caps on coverage, charge women higher premiums than for men and keep out people with preexisting conditions.
October 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene rolled out a new immigration bill Wednesday, attempting to restart a move toward comprehensive reform that has stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, largely mirrors a measure passed by the Senate earlier this year. It would, among other things, allow citizenship for people living in the United States illegally 13 years after they apply and would admit more highly-skilled immigrants.
The annual cap on employment-based visas would remain at 140,000. But that ceiling would not apply to foreigners with master’s degree or higher in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields from American universities or people with “extraordinary ability,” among others.
In effect, that means STEM graduates with advanced degrees with American job offers would get green cards for permanent residency.
Significantly, the bill strips out a provision inserted in the Senate version by Republicans, called the Corker-Hoeven amendment, that imposes tough border-security conditions that must be met before any green cards can be issued.
DelBene, D-Medina, co-sponsored the bill with four Democratic lawmakers: Reps. Judy Chu of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Steven Horsford of Nevada and Joe Garcia of Florida, the lead sponsor. DelBene, Chu and Garcia serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration issues.
The chairman of that committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, has not put any immigration bills on the House floor. He has favored a piecemeal approach to immigration reform. None of the bills passed by the House Judiciary Committee include a pathway for citizenship for undocumented residents.
Look for full story in Thursday’s paper from my colleague, Lornet Turnbull.
September 19, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Washington’s 1st Congressional District is supposed to be swing-voter territory, but so far it looks as though Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene has little reason to fear a major Republican challenge in 2014.
While Republicans are well on their way to targeting vulnerable Democratic incumbents in other parts of the country, the GOP has no obvious prospects in the 1st District. A few names tossed around by local GOP leaders have not panned out. And national political analysts are starting to write the race off.
The influential “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics plans to list DelBene’s seat as “safe Democratic” in its new rankings of 2014 House contests to be released Thursday. It had previously listed the race as “leans Democratic.”
“The bottom line is that Republicans have many more attractive targets across the country,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the Crystal Ball, said in an email, noting that DelBene is an “intimidating” target for the GOP because of the former Microsoft executive’s vast personal wealth.
The district, which stretches from Redmond and Kirkland north across more rural territory to the Canadian border, showed mixed loyalties in 2012. It went for Rob McKenna with 52 percent support in the governor’s race but backed President Obama with 54 percent of the vote.
Susan Hutchison, newly elected chairman of the state Republican Party, said “we think it’s a Republican district” and vowed the GOP will find a viable candidate.
“We’re going to mount a serious challenge, I can tell you that,” she said. “There are some exciting people who are talking about it.”
But Hutchison declined to name any of the party’s prospects and those mentioned by other GOP leaders as possible candidates have not stepped forward.
GOP officials have met with Pedro Celis, a retired Microsoft engineer who co-chaired the Mitt Romney campaign’s steering committee in the state in 2008. But in an interview, Celis said he’s not inclined to run. State Sen. Andy Hill has also been mentioned, but officials said they don’t believe he’s ready to make the leap yet. (Hill didn’t return phone calls.)
Snohomish County Councilman John Koster, who lost to DelBene last year, said he’s not planning another try. After his 2012 loss, Koster blamed national Republican leaders for essentially ceding the district to Democrats by failing to back him with campaign cash. (State and national Republican leaders disagreed, blaming the Koster campaign.) Koster said he’s worried the GOP is going to skip the district again.
“I still believe it is very much a swing district,” Koster said. But if a challenge is going to emerge, “you’ve got to do it soon.”
Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, who helped draw the new 1st District boundaries during redistricting in 2011, said 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for Republicans generally. But he acknowledged the difficulty in finding a viable candidate to challenge DelBene.
“That person will either have to have money of his or her own, or there will have to be an extraordinary fundraising effort and third-party intervention,” Gorton said, referring to outside GOP allied groups that pour money into competitive congressional races nationally.
Kondik said there is still time for Republicans to field a candidate. “However, many of the competitive House races across the country have already begun to take shape. If no one emerges in the next couple months in WA-1, it could end up being a pretty sleepy race.”
September 3, 2013 at 11:37 AM
WASHINGTON — The Washington Post is counting U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene as among 19 House Democrats who are leaning against U.S. military action against Syria. But a spokesman for the Medina freshman said Tuesday DelBene’s position is more accurately “undecided.”
“She wants more information from the administration and to hear more constituent input as the debate occurs over the coming days,” said the spokesman, Viet Shelton.
DelBene’s wait-and-see attitude puts her in company with the biggest bloc of members of Congress. Only about three dozen lawmakers out of 535 in the Senate and the House have come out in support of President Obama’s call for “limited and targeted” military strikes against the Syrian regime. No member from Washington state is in that group.
Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, for instance, remain uncommitted on military action.
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, on the other hand, has made clear he sees no American interests at stake. But he said the president should be free to proceed with the strikes if he wins congressional approval.
Secretary of State John Kerry, however, has said the administration could act even without such support.
Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, supports arming Syrian rebels, but is deeply concerned about direct military action.
Two other members of that committee from Washington, Reps. Rick Larsen of Everett and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, say they are studying intelligence and will make their decisions afterward.
July 18, 2013 at 1:04 PM
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) regularly fires off boilerplate attacks on Democratic members of Congress, including Washington’s rookie U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.
So this was probably bound to happen.
On Thursday, the NRCC emailed a news release ripping DelBene for failing to join an anti-Obamacare vote taken by the U.S. House of Representatives. The release warned that “in 2014, Illinois voters will know that Suzan DelBene would rather help big business than help them.”
Yep, Illinois voters.
To be fair, the release did get DelBene’s geography correct in a headline and elsewhere in the text.
Albeit clumsily, the NRCC was hitting DelBene for voting against a Republican measure to delay the Affordable Care Act’s controversial “individual mandate,” which will require most individuals to purchase health insurance by next year or pay a tax penalty.
The latest House GOP attack on the law came after the Obama administration announced it would delay other provisions of the law that require businesses to provide health coverage to workers. DelBene was one of 35 Democrats to join Republicans in voting to codify that delay — the potential contradiction the NRCC was trying to point out.
DelBene represents Washington’s new 1st Congressional District, which stretches from North King County to the Canadian border. The district was drawn to be competitive and Republicans are seeking candidates to challenge the former Microsoft executive in next year’s midterm elections.
DelBene spokesman Viet Shelton joked in an email: “I suppose the NRCC makes a reasonable point. DelBene does indeed prioritize Washington voters over Illinois voters. She hopes the people of Illinois are not terribly offended by this.”
The NRCC did not immediately respond to an email for comment.
July 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM
WASHINGTON — Among the biggest news nuggets from this morning’s announcement about the corporate overhaul at Microsoft is the retirement of Kurt DelBene, president of the company’s Office division and husband of Rep. Suzan DelBene, a freshman Democrat from Medina.
Might that clear the way for Kurt DelBene to take on a more visible role in his wife’s career?
Kurt Delbene has largely avoided mixing business and politics. He has made rare fundraising pitches on his wife’s behalf, but otherwise has kept a low profile. He has declined to publicly weigh in on visas for temporary skilled workers, a legislative priority for Microsoft and an issue Suzan DelBene is involved in as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Suzan DelBene, herself a former Microsoft vice president, poured more than $5 million of her own money into two congressional races before being elected last November. She joined Microsoft in 1989, three years before her husband. The two married in 1997.
DelBene’s campaign office in Bothell did not immediately respond to a telephone and email requests for comment.
June 18, 2013 at 5:37 PM
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Tuesday approved a nationwide ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks of fertilization, a restriction that abortion rights supporters say violates the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The measure has no chance of passing the Democratic-majority Senate.
The 228-196 vote was the latest effort by conservatives, particularly by Republicans in the House, to limit legal abortions.
The bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is similar to one last year that was aimed at residents of Washington, D.C. The vote then was 220-154, but the bill failed because the House considered it under an expedited process requiring two-thirds majority for passage.
The current House bill would ban abortions beyond 20 weeks after fertilization. That could equal to as early as 22 weeks of gestation, or the age of the fetus, which is based on the first day of the woman’s last menstruation.
The constitutional standard for legal abortions is when the fetus can survive outside the womb. Today, that’s generally considered to be at 24 weeks of gestation.
All four House Republicans from Washington — Reps. Dave Reichert of Auburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas and Doc Hastings of Pasco — voted in favor. The four also backed the similar measure last year that would have applied only to the District of Columbia.
Late-term abortions are rare. In 2009, there were 784,507 reported legal abortions nationwide, according to most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The gestational age was known in 71 percent of those cases. Of those, 1.3 percent were performed at 21 weeks or beyond. Two-thirds of abortions occur before eight weeks of gestation.
Hours before Tuesday’s vote, members of the House Pro-Choice Caucus held a press conference to denounce the bill. Among them was freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene of Medina, the only female among the Washington delegation’s six House Democrats. Three other Democratic representatives for the state — Jim McDermott of Seattle, Adam Smith of Bellevue and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor — belong to the caucus as well.
The two others, Reps. Rick Larsen of Everett and Denny Heck of Olympia, also support abortion rights.
November 14, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Plenty of Republican governors, lots of soul-searching: As Washington s-l-o-w counted ballots in its close governor’s race last week, it was easy to forget– or ignore — the fact that Republicans did pretty well electing governors in the 2012 election. The total number of GOP governors now stands at 30, highest for either party in a dozen years. This week, the incoming chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana, urged fellow governors to stop being “the stupid party.” That sounds bad, but what he meant was to be more populist and less anti-intellectual. And, yes, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, persona non grata to some after his embrace of President Obama during the mega-storm, is joining his fellow governors at the Republican governors’ gathering. He might have to sit in the corner for a while, but he intends to be there. Then, back to Sandy recovery efforts.
Suzan DelBene is now First District Congresswoman Suzan DelBene: DelBene was officially sworn into her new job Tuesday afternoon.
Guess what she didn’t say at her swearing-in? SUZAN DELBENE!!! SUZAN DELBENE,!! as her heavily repetitive TV ads bellowed in the weeks leading up to the primary election. The Everett Herald has her prepared remarks from the swearing-in.
Reps. Norm Dicks and Doc Hastings spoke briefly at the event.
Pot prices: So you thought passage of Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measure, would make pot cheaper. Not so fast, says Slate Magazine.
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November 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Post updated at 2:09 p.m. with comment from Koster campaign manager Larry Stickney.
Finger pointing has erupted in the Republican Party over John Koster’s loss to Democrat Suzan DelBene in the 1st Congressional District.
Trailing 47-53 percent, Koster announced he’d concede the race Friday. But in a letter to supporters, he took shots at national and state Republican leaders for not helping him enough.
“Sadly, and for reasons untold, neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the Washington State Republican Party stepped up to provide us with anything more than token support. To be frank, we were on our own, yet thanks to people such as you, we nearly overcame the odds,” Koster wrote.
That enraged state Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur, who called Koster’s assessment hogwash.
“They simply ran a horrible campaign, and they’re blaming it on us,” said Wilbur, who put much of the blame on Koster’s campaign manager, Larry Stickney.
Wilbur said the Koster campaign didn’t get more help, because it failed to meet targets set out by the NRCC, which had to decide where to divvy up its money among Republican Congressional candidates nationally. Although Koster was named to the NRCC’s “Young Guns” program, he did not receive cash to buy the TV advertising needed to compete with DelBene.
“The NRCC wanted to work with them, wanted to help them, wanted to give them money – they didn’t meet any of the marks,” Wilbur said, adding the campaign also resisted advice from the state party.
Wilbur said the tension between the Koster campaign and the NRCC was building since at least the summer. On a conference call in July, Wilbur said he heard Stickney accuse a top NRCC operative of not liking the Koster campaign, because the operative was a “liberal.”
In an email, Stickney disputed Wilbur’s account of the campaign, saying Koster had met very rigorous standards to be named to the NRCC “Young Guns” program. Yet the party still did not come through with the help needed.
“The NRCC as well as the WSRP simply chose to not weigh into our campaign to a degree that would impact our race in a meaningful way… and the bottom line is that we lost because we were outspent 5 – 1,” Stickney wrote.
It’s not clear whether more cash or a better-run campaign would have pushed Koster over the top. The 1st District was redrawn last year to be the state’s only true swing district – equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. In other words, a district likely to favor a political centrist.
But Koster, a Snohomish County Council member, is a longtime social conservative who embraced the tea party movement and joined other national Republicans in making controversial comments about rape and abortion.
November 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Republican John Koster said he plans to call his opponent, Democrat Suzan DelBene, today to concede the 1st Congressional District race.
He has been behind since the first vote tallies Tuesday night, and wrote in a letter to supporters Thursday that “it would take at least a minor miracle in the final vote tallies for us to come from behind to win.”
He trailed 47-53 Thursday.
In his letter, Koster expressed frustration that national and state Republican groups did not come to his aid during his tight race with DelBene.
DelBene outraised Koster and put $2.8 million of her own money in the race, and independent groups stepped in to help her with ads and mailers. Koster got much less independent support, despite being on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of promising candidates. Koster wrote:
“Sadly, and for reasons untold, neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the Washington State Republican Party stepped up to provide us with anything more than token support. To be frank, we were on our own, yet thanks to people such as you, we nearly overcame the odds.”
And after a campaign in which he moderated his conservative stance on some issues, he sounded like his more conservative self as he expressed dismay about the liberal choices voters made Tuesday, including legalizing gay marriage and decriminalizing marijuana possession.
“It seems obvious to me that we have swung wildly in the wrong political direction and that we are now at a point where our society WILL suffer the consequences inherent with bad law and liberal representation,” he wrote, urging supporters to pray for their government leaders as the Bible says to do.
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