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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Patty Murray

Tax-cut vote splits House delegations

This week’s votes to keep income tax rates from rising for most Americans split the House delegations in Washington and Idaho, but unified the two state’s senators behind the last-minute deal.

Two Washington Democrats in the House voted against the tax changes, while the state’s three other Democrats and all four Republicans voted yes.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said Wednesday her vote was a close call that came down on the side of tax cuts: “My vote last night was to reduce taxes for as many Americans as possible.”

To read more reaction to the vote on tax cuts or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Senate passes bill to rename Spokane VA

Spokane's Veterans Affairs Medical Center moved a step closer to getting a new name today as the Senate passed a bill to name it after two local Medal of Honor winners.

The Northwest Spokane facility would become the Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in honor of Pfc. Joe E. Mann and Platoon Sgt. Bruce Grandstaff.

Mann was a member of the 101st Airborne in World War II who was wounded four times while destroying an enemy artillery position near Best, in The Netherlands. Later that night, with both arms bandaged to his body, he volunteered for sentry duty and when the Germans attacked and a grenade was thrown, he threw himself on the grenade to save other members of his unit.

Grandstaff was a member of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam who was leading a reconnaisance mission that was ambushed near the Cambodian border. He crawled through enemy fire to rescue his men, and crawled outside the safe position to mark the location with smoke grenades for aerial support. He continued to fight until mortally wounded, then called in an artillery barrage to knock out enemy forces.

The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Democrat Patty Murray to rename the center. A companion bill sponsored by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers is pending in the House of Representatives.

There appears only one problem with this idea: Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a really long name, so someone is going to have to come up with a way to shorten it. If you've got any suggestions, put them in the comment section.

Today’s fun video: When filibuster shoe was on the Democratic foot

Senate Democrats may decry the filibuster now, but in 2005, when they were in the minority, they were all for it. 

Note the young guy speaking in favor of it at the start. Sen. Patty Murray shows up about 1:40 in.

Murray to lead Senate Budget Committee

Patty Murray will be the Senate's chief budget writer next year when Congress convenes for its new session.

The Washington Democrat announced today she will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, a position that will become open at the end of the year with the retirement of Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Although the position won't become official until the new Congress meets, Democrats will hold a 55-45 majority in the chamber so the result is a foregone conclusion.

The committee also considers the nation's economic policy and the budgetary impact of “everything we do and everything wie fight on,” Murray said. She hopes to expand the discussions of the committee, which in recent years have focused on debt and deficits, to consider the other side of the budget: the nation's spending priorities and the investments it should make.

“It gives me a really good place to fight for the priorities of Washington state,” she said, such as the cleanup of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, better transportation systems, military and veterans issues and improved job training for health care and aerospace workers.

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

9/11 remembrances

Flag placed in a name of a victim of the 9/11 attacks at the Ground Zero memorial in New York.

Sept. 11 is traditionally a day for politicians to reflect on their thoughts and remembrances of that day in 2001.

Today was no different. Inside the blog are some comments from local office holders about the day. You can read them by clicking here.

Murray: Keep Senate Democratic, too

While voting to re-elect Barack Obama, please help keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, Patty Murray asked delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Murray, Washington's senior senator who also leads the organization dedicated to electing Democrats to that chamber, got an early evening speaking slot to boost Obama, knock GOP nominee Mitt Romney and make a pitch for a Democratic Congress.

She reiterated the Democrats line of the night, that Obama believes in “an economy that's built from the middle out, not from the top down.” That Republican proposals could turn Medicare into a voucher system, repeal health care reforms and take away abortion rights.

“To them, every problem is a nail and the onlly hammer they have is cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires,” she said. “With a Republican Congress riding shotgun, Mitt Romney will put the middle class on the roof and take our country on a long ride.”   

'About an hour after her speech, the Republican National Committee issued a statement that Democrats were resorting to “false attacks to distract from their abysmal record” that includes high debt and employment above 8 percent for 42 months. “Nothing the Democrats can say will change the fact that voters know they are not better off after four years of failed policies and leadership,” Ted Kwong, a GOP spokesman, said.

Democratic convention: Murray to speak this afternoon

Sen. Patty Murray has a pre-prime time speaking role at the Democratic National Convention today.

Washington's senior senator will be the third scheduled speaker in the block of speakers on tap from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Convention schedule says it will be AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, then Murray. She'll be followed by Rep. Pedro Pierluisi and a video on Energy.

Murray, Crapo, McMorris Rodgers on list of “Best”

Take all 535 members of Congress, and select out 30 for special recognition via a “Best of Congress” award.

In that group of 30, place Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith, and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

That kind of list was just announced. Who gave them the award, and for what?

Answer inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: Asking for money a waste of an e-mail

Last week, like most weeks, among the hundreds of e-mails that made it through the spam filter were some cheery yet urgent missives from politicians.

Among them was one from Patty Murray, Washington’s Democratic senior senator, andanother from Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. Not surprisingly, they both wanted the same thing. Money.

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Feds to give N. Spokane Corridor $10 million

The U.S. Department of Transportation will give the state $10 million for the North Spokane Corridor, to be used to help relocate some railroad tracis and extend a bike trail.

A joint announcement from U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says the state will get the money from the feds on Friday.

The money is known as a TIGER grant, which stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. It will be used to relocate 7.5 miles of BNSF rail lines near the Freya Street interchange, and to extend a bike and pedestrian trail for 1 mile into Hillyard.

All three members of Congress described the North Spokane Corridor — also known by some as the North-South Freeway — as a top priority for them and the community.

To read the announcement of the grant, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Air Force sets standards for new tanker base

The Air Force released the criteria today for deciding which of its bases will get the first new air refueling tankers, and Fairchild will be among about 60 bases being considered.

That means the Air Force won't limit those first KC-46As to a base that already serves as a current home for tankers, but will look at most facilities in the continental United States. The main criteria for making this first list for consideration?

“A runway,” a spokeswoman for the officer of the Secretary of the Air Force said after a short description of the criteria was released. That's essentially all bases with airplanes, although not every Air Force base has planes, Ann Stefanek said.

From that most basic of necessities for a jet patterned after the Boeing 767 commercial airliner, the Air Force will consider other important details, such as the capacity of the fueling system, available space on the runway, size of hangars, proximity to planes needing to be refueled, airspace availability, environmental considerations and costs.

The Air Force expects to have scores for all the potential bases sometime this summer, Stefanek said, and narrow the list further to a small group of top scorers from which the preferred site and reasonable alternatives will be chosen late this year.

The Air Force began briefing members of Congress and posted the criteria briefly on its website this afternoon. It later removed the criteria, even though it kept a link with a picture of a prototype of the new tanker refueling a cargo plane that promised information about the criteria.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said she believes the criteria puts Fairchild Air Force Base in a ” very competitive position” to be an early home for the new planes, which will be built in Everett: “I'm confident that Fairchild's long tanker history, strong community support and joint operations between the Active Duty and Guard place it in an ideal position to succeed.”

The West Plains base has a new runway and a new wing headquarters under construction, Murray said in an e-mail. A letter from the state's congressional delegation to Air Force leaders on how the base stacks up to the criteria could be sent as soon as Tuesday.

To read the Air Force announcement of criteria for the first two new tanker bases, and the tanker “formal training unit, click here to go inside the blog.

NY Times: Washington state elects women.

The New York Times recently discovered a phenomenon about Washington that most state residents take for granted. We tend to elect women to office.

Last week, “All the News that’s Fit to Print” included a story about the evolving nature of women in politics that focused on Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. That’s because Washington is the only state with women in all three of those statewide positions. That will end next year, the Times noted, because Gregoire’s not seeking re-election and the likely replacements are men.

 It also mentioned the state had a woman as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, an earlier woman governor, Dixy Lee Ray, and Seattle has a woman for mayor back in the  1920s.

Had it looked just a tad east, the Times might have discovered Eastern Washington residents are even more prone to female representation, with a woman as their U.S. Representative, and until the beginning of this year when Spokane’s chief executive left office, many city residents north of the river had a woman as mayor, a city councilwoman and a state senator.

The fact that Mary Verner lost to David Condon doesn’t suggest residents are any less likely to elect a woman. Rather, it suggests that women may have achieved something close to equality in local politics, where their gender wasn’t a major factor in their election or unelection.

Still, it’s a decent article, with a great photo.
  

Fancy meeting you here

OLYMPIA — You never know who will show up in the “wings” of the Senate or House chambers.

That's the area behind the curtains, off the main floor, where members come and go, chat, discuss legislation.

On Monday, two former legislators who have now gone on to bigger things bumped into each other as Sen. Maria Cantwell was leaving the Senate Democratic Caucus room, and Sen. Patty Murray was going in.

Both are in the state during the Presidents' Day recess in Congress.

Note to Sen. Murray: About that ‘50s reference. . .

Sen. Patty Murray, in the state Senate wings on Monday.

Sen. Patty Murray is getting some mileage out of a recent e-mail she sent out as head of the group that raises money to elect or re-elect Democrats to the Senate.

In it, Murray denounces both a comment by a prominent Rick Santorum supporter on “old-style”  birth control and an all-male panel discussing contraception in a House Committee.

I feel like I woke up this morning on the set of “Mad Men.” Republicans have set their time machine for the 1950s – back when, according to one prominent Republican, women could just “put aspirin between their knees” to avoid getting pregnant.

According to a follow -up from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Aspirin Agenda appeal  was a big hit on the money-raising circuit. Murray got mentioned on Meet the Press in a discussion of the controversy which is sometimes framed as being over contraception and other times being about  religious freedom.

Talking heads can argue that point on TV through the election if they want. It's your typically breathless, the sky is falling, “please give us your money before some deadline passes” appeal for campaing cash.

But Spin Control wants to point out one slight flaw in Murray's e-mail.

“Mad Men” is not set in the 1950s. It is set in the 1960s.

True, the '50s is probably considered a more Republican decade, with Ike in the White House, Joe McCarthy in the Senate and men in gray flannel suits. The '60s is probably viewed as the more Democratic decade, with JFK and LBJ, Civil Rights and anti-war protests, flower children, hippies and yippies.

But the adventures of Don Draper, et al, start in 1960, when the ad firm is hired to work on the presidential campaign of a young candidate, a World War II vet that many people see as his party's next generation of leaders. Richard Nixon.

Just sayin.

The full e-mail is inside the blog, for those who aren't on the DSCC list.

Supercommittee gives up

It's official: The Supercommittee isn't super. It's a bust

A press release from Sen. Patty Murray and her supercomm co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling acknowledge as much today.

Of course, they tried to put the best face on it possible, saying that they hope Congress can build on the work the supercomm did “and find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and the economy.”

And in honor of Thanksgiving, they thanked the American people “for sharing thoughts and ideas and providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task.”

Not sure how much good will is likely to continue, considering that the task was not accomplished. But, you know, they did need some kind of holiday reference, and it would've probably been inappropriate to suggest that this whole thing was a turkey.

To read the whole statement, go inside the blog.

Murray in Common Cause sights for defense $

Super committee co-chairwoman Patty Murray gets more money from defense contractors than any other member of the panel assembled to find ways to cut the budget deficit.

So says Common Cause, a public watchdog organization and longtime critic of the campaign financing system, in a new report.

Murray, D-Wash., has received more than a quarter million dollars from the defense industry since 2004, $247,000 to her re-election campaign and $29,000 to her “leadership PAC” a separate campaign fund that funnels money to other candidates.

Of course, one could argue that's not surprising, considering one of the nation's biggest defense contractors is also one of Washington state's biggest employers, Boeing.

Common Cause looks at it another way: That military spending doubled in the last decade and contracts to defense suppliers went up even faster. And 20 percent of all those contracts went to just five companies, one of which was Boeing.

“These companies are pooling their resources – working through vehicles such as their trade group, the Aerospace Industries Association – in an attempt to keep Pentagon spending as high as possible in the face of pressures to reduce the federal deficit,” the report contends. “Their most immediate goal is to keep defense spending out of the super committee’s deficit reduction proposal.”

The supercommittee roars to life

Those wondering when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — a.k.a. the Supercommittee — will get up and running need wonder no more.

A press release from Sen. Patty Murray and her Supercommittee Co-chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling announced the panel will have its “organizational meeting” next Thursday, Sept. 8. Members will “make opening statements and consider proposed committee rules.”

Sept. 8. Hmmm. Why does that date seem familiar?

Oh yeah, that's when House Speaker John Boehner invited President Obama over to the Capitol to address a joint session of Congress on jobs. So look out recession. Between the Supercommittee and Obama, all this speechifying is sure to do knock you for a loop.

The committee also has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 13, which will feature the head of the Congressional Budget Office and focus on “The History and Drivers of Our Nation's Debt and Its Threats.” 

Hopefully, this will consist of more than “We've been spending more money than we take in, for a very long time, and it's not a good thing to keep doing.”

What’s up with the Supercommittee?

So what's the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the supercommittee, doing two weeks after it got set up? Tons of stuff, according to co-chairpersons Patty Murray and Jeb Hensarling.

Engaging in serious discussions. Deciding on the rules.Setting a schedule. “And exploring how to build a committee staff that will help us achieve success” the Washington Democrat in the Senate and the Texas Republican in the House said in a joint statement today.

Oh, and committee members and staff are “eager to engage one another as we begin our work.”

Good thing, too, considering there's only three months left before the committee's recommendations for cuts or taxes is due.

Want to read the full statement? Click here to go inside the blog.

Murray actually does do budgets

Sen. Patty Murray is getting flak from all sides after her appointment as co-chairman of the budget cutting supercommittee.

Republicans and government watchdog groups continue to complain that she's also the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has as its sole raison d'etre the raising of money for the electing of Democrats to the Senate. It's a reasonable complaint that will probably only be silenced if the committee comes back with budget proposals that go against entrenched interests AND pass Congress.

But Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans For Tax Reform — which gets candidates to sign pledges to never, never, never raise taxes, ever — levelled one that seemed a tad uninformed in a recent issue of The New York Times.

“The lady from Washington doesn't do budgets,” Norquist reportedly told the Times.

As genteel as it is for Norquist to refer to Murray as a lady (a term that probably sends some of her feminist supporters up a wall) the real problem is that the premise just isn't true. She's on the Budget Committee. She's on the Appropriations Committee. She has been and continues to be the head of Appropriations subcommittees. The main criticism of her by opposing Republicans has been that she uses the budgeting system too well and taps it with earmarks. That requires strong knowledge of the system, not a lack of knowledge of the system.

One must allow, of course, for the prospect that a commie, pinko publication like the Times misquoted Norquist — on the budget part, if not the lady part. But if not, researchers for Americans For Tax Reform might want to try a Google search before firing their next salvo.

Murray to be co-chairwoman of debt supercommittee

Staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON — Sen. Patty Murray will be the co-chairwoman of a powerful “supercommittee” charged with finding more than $1 trillion in deficit cuts this fall.
The Washington Democrat was one of three named Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. He also appointed Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana to the panel.
In a prepared statement announcing the appointments, Reid said Murray's years of experience on the Budget and Appropriations committees “have given her a depth of knowledge on budget issues and demonstrated her ability to work across party lines.”
The three issued a joint statement calling the committee’s work “long overdue to step beyond the partisanship and politics that have overwhelmed these discussions for months.”
Kerry and Baucus are two of the Senate's most experienced legislators, Reid added. In naming the trio, the Associated Press noted he bypassed Democrats like Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad who have been more forceful in advocating curbs on Medicare spending and Social Security benefits.
Washington state and national Republicans were quick to denounce Murray's selection. Even before the appointments were official, but after they had leaked out from congressional sources to hit political websites, state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur contended Murray's selection proves Reid wasn't taking debt reduction seriously.
“Appointing Senator Murray as the co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is like asking a fox to guard a hen house,” Wilbur charged in a press release. “Senator Murray has absolutely no history of cutting spending, ever.”
(That's right, Kirby Wilbur just called Patty Murray a fox, which is probably inappropriately sexist…but, we digress. To read the rest of this post, click here to go inside the blog.)

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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