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Spokane and others make pitch for STEM money

WASHINGTON — A group of education and industry professionals from Washington state offered U.S. lawmakers their suggestions to promote science, technology, education and math instruction Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

The meeting, co-hosted by Washington STEM, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sen. Patty Murray, focused on the skills gap that exists in the four disciplines between graduates and industries. The panel included representatives from Microsoft, Highline School District south of Seattle and Greater Spokane Incorporated President Rich Hadley.

Washington state ranks first in the nation in STEM jobs per capita. However, it ranks 46th in advanced degrees earned by students in those fields.

Hadley stressed the need to align class offerings in early and secondary education with the demands of the modern workforce. He said health care training was key in the Spokane area.

“The life science industry in Spokane is probably the largest benefactor of increased STEM training,” Hadley said. He pointed to several biomedical programs at Spokane Public Schools as successes of STEM-targeted instruction in eastern Washington.

Sen. Maria Cantwell addressed the panel, calling for compulsory computer science education in secondary curricula and expressing her interest in an immigration proposal that would channel fees from skilled worker visa applications to domestic STEM education funding.

McMorris Rodgers on Bloomberg TV

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers gets time on "Political Capital with Al Hunt" tonight to defend House Republicans' approach to the nation's budget problems and lay the blame on Senate Democrats and President Obama.

The show airs first at 6 p.m. Pacific tonight on Bloomberg TV, and repeats several times through the weekend. Here's a Bloomberg News print  version of her comments. 

Tribe: McMorris Rodgers ‘misinformed’ about casino process

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers seems “misinformed” in her recent request to delay a government recommendation on the proposed Spokane tribal casino on the West Plains, the tribal chairman told a federal agency this week.

But the tribe won’t object to the requested 45-day delay, if the department doesn’t allow future attempts to delay the process “for reasons beyond meaningful justification.”

In a letter to a top Interior Department official, Tribal Council Chairman Rudy Peone said the reasons McMorris Rodgers listed in last week’s request for a delay don’t match the facts of the long process of studying the project . . .

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

McMorris Rodgers asks more time on casino study

The federal government should delay its decision on a proposed tribal casino on the West Plains an extra 45 days to allow Spokane County to voice its objections, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Thursday.

In a dw-ah letter to a high-ranking Interior Department official, McMorris Rodgers asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to extend the comment period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino and retail development on land just outside Airway Heights. The congresswoman said Spokane County commissioners, who until recently were barred by a legal agreement from saying anything about the proposal, should be given an adequate opportunity to comment.

The current county commissioners oppose the project.

The bureau, in an impact statement released Feb. 1, said a plan to build a casino, hotel and shopping mall is the “preferred alternative” of four options it considered for the 145 acres purchased by the tribe away from its Eastern Washington reservation.

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

Murray backs Obama’s plan not to negotiate

The new leader of the U.S. Senate’s Budget Committee said Tuesday that Republican threats to shutdown the government are irresponsible.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said there will be opportunities to negotiate budget cuts without crafting a deal around increasing the county’s borrowing limit.


“The budget ceiling debate just puts our country in a very precarious position where we’re defaulting on our loans,” said Murray, who held a forum about job programs in Spokane on Tuesday. “That puts every business and person in our country in jeopardy. And it’s not a good place to be debating.”


To read more of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

McMorris Rodgers not backing away from shutdown threat

WASHINGTON — More tough talk from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers today.

The House Republican Conference chairwoman disputed any suggestion the GOP was engaging in irresponsible threats by acknowledging its willingness to shut down the government over federal spending policies. Instead, she said it’s President Barack Obama’s position that should be seen as troubling.

“He said it would be irresponsible and absurd to shut down,” McMorris Rodgers said in a phone interview. “I would say that it’s irresponsible and absurd for the president to want another blank check.”

McMorris Rodgers hinted over the weekend a shutdown might be needed to force Obama to consider cuts to federal programs. She said Tuesday no one in Washington wants to see that happen, but “we need to get serious about cutting spending, and the president says we don't have a spending problem.”

The congresswoman said she hadn't seen the president's news conference Monday, in which he said he would not permit House Republicans to charge a “ransom” in refusing to raise debt ceiling in an attempt to address spending cuts.

But McMorris Rodgers, who represents Spokane and much of Eastern Washington, said the time has come to address America's mounting debt.

“What got us to this point is too much spending by both parties,” McMorris Rodgers said. “But especially in recent years we've seen record deficits, and we need to be rolling back Obama's spending increases.”

The Treasury Department reported a federal deficit of $1.1 trillion in fiscal 2012, the fourth straight year with a deficit higher than $1 trillion. However, the deficit shrunk $207 billion, or roughly 16 percent, from the year prior, thanks in part to higher corporate tax receipts and decreased spending as a share of GDP.

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.

Today’s videos: McMorris Rodgers on point for GOP budget proposal

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been getting plenty of face time on the TV news networks as the House GOP's spokeswoman on its counter to President Obama on the fiscal cliff negotiations.

It has prompted criticism from some liberal blogs that she only sticks to the talking points and won't answer questions about things like spending cuts with any substance.


Morning Joe:

Fox News:


Situation Room:

McMorris Rodgers wins leadership battle

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers won the fourth highest position in the House of Representatives today in a closed meeting of House Republicans, The Hill, Politico and other media are reporting.

McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was elected chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. It ranks just below Speaker of the House, majority leader and majority whip. McMorris Rodgers has served for two terms as the vice chairwoman of the Republican Conference.

McMorris Rodgers was cast the pick of party establishment both for her experience and to present a female face among Republican leadership. Her opponent in the race, Tom Price, R-Ga., had the support of more conservative forces in the party.

SR Blogs: McMorris Rodgers Wins Post

"Traditional Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough – just making sure that everyone’s favorite dish is on the menu is enough to make even a seasoned cook’s head spin," writes Lori Hutson/Too Many Cooks. "Add a vegan or vegetarian to the guest list or someone with a gluten allergy, lactose intolerance or egg aversion and it can get downright difficult to make sure everyone will get stuffed, especially the turkey." More here.

Featured SR.com Blog post: U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers won the fourth highest position in the House of Representatives today in a closed meeting of House Republicans, The Hill, Politico and other media are reporting. McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was elected chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. It ranks just below Speaker of the House, majority leader and majority whip. McMorris Rodgers has served for two terms as the vice chairwoman of the Republican Conference/Jim Camden, Spin Control. More here.

More SR blogs:

Question: Should North Idaho conservatives adopt Cathy McMorris Rodgers from the adjacent congressional district in Eastern Washington as their own?

Ryan snubs McMorris Rodgers, but she may still have edge

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has missed a key endorsement in her quest to win the fourth-most powerful position in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the recent Republican vice presidential nominee, has backed Tom Price, R-Ga., in the race between Price and McMorris Rodgers for the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference.

McMorris Rodgers may still be the favorite, especially after last week's elections showed a wide gap in enthusiasm for the GOP among women, but it does show that a McMorris Rodgers' win isn't a guarantee.

Here is the Washington Post's story about Ryan's decision.

McMorris Rodgers starts public campaign for promotion

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has begun her public campaign in her race to become the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth-highest ranking position in the U.S. House of Representatives.

She sent a letter to her Republican colleagues this morning that outlines her qualifications. Republicans will choose a new conference chairman in a vote on Wednesday.

"As your Vice Chairman over the past two Congresses, I have worked to be worthy of your trust and support. I am honored to have played a role in communicating our conservative agenda – to build an America that is strong, prosperous and free," he letter says. "On the political front, I’ve helped recruit stellar candidates, raised over $1,000,000 to the NRCC, contributed over $300,000 to candidates and traveled to 51 Congressional districts in 22 states."

The timing of the news release isn't surprising. Part of what helps a member of Congress win votes from colleagues for a leadership spot is a proven ability to raise money for those colleagues' elections. But she couldn't brag about her fund-raising prowess until after Tuesday because her Democratic opponent in Tuesday's election, Rich Cowan, made a big issue out McMorris Rodgers' time spent campaigning in other districts.

(Here is an article in today's S-R about McMorris Rodgers' position on compromise in dealing with the fiscal cliff and if her 2004 pledge not to support tax increases will affect if she will support a deal.)

McMorris Rodgers' push to become conference chairwoman has been well-known for weeks, and last week, Politico reported that she likely has the votes to win, though The Hill today reports that the race between her and U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga, is tight.

Mapping the Vote: Spokane on U.S. House race

Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers easily won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, and defeated Democrat Rich Cowan in all the counties in the Eastern Washington District, including Spokane County. 

Click here to see a map of the vote for all of Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District.

For a closer look at the Spokane County results, check out the PDF version of the map below


McKenna calls Koster’s comment on rape “innapropriate”

Rob McKenna, the Republican nominee for governor, has called remarks made by a Republican candidate for Congress in a close race in western Washington “inappropriate.”

John Koster, who is running in the Congressional district that includes Seattle suburbs and Mount Vernon, told a liberal activist this week that abortion should be illegal, including when it involves “that rape thing,” according to a report from The Associated Press.

Answering reporters’ questions after a Republican rally in Spokane, McKenna called the comments “inappropriate.”

“I disagree with him strongly,” said McKenna, who supports abortion rights.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who contributed $1,000 to Koster’s campaign earlier this year, said she wasn’t prepared to offer her thoughts on Koster’s statements.

On the Web: Politico thinks McMorris Rodgers in line to move up

Washington state politicians are getting some ink in other publications. Politico has a long piece today assessing Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' prospects of moving up in House GOP hierarchy.

It mentions she's been travelling around to other congressional districts to help Republicans campaign…something her Democratic opponent Rich Cowan has criticized.

Thursday he said the story just confirms his criticism: "Her actions show she spends much of her time being a professional fundraiser for the Republican Party, not our representative. It’s clear she is everywhere in the country but here, pushing her partisan political agenda instead of helping Eastern Washington.”

Did Shea break pledge to Republican group?

In August, state Rep. Matt Shea appeared to be mending bridges in the local Republican Party.

He attended a meeting of the Republicans of Spokane County and won the group's endorsement. The Republicans of Spokane County is an organization that formed a few years ago among some Republicans concerned that the official Spokane County Republican Party had been taken over by Libertarians and Constitutionalists not dedicated to party unity after the primaries.

Shea, who was an effective leader in the Ron Paul for president campaign, has been outspoken in his criticism of "mainstream Republicans." In the primary, he declined to offer a recommendation for incumbent Republican and nationally recognized GOP leader, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the race for Congress. For governor, he supported Shahram Hadian over Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Notes from a Democratic rally

About 150 gathered for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s campaign rally this evening in Spokane at the Lincoln Center.

There wasn’t much we haven’t heard on the trail before, so here are a few miscellaneous thoughts:

— The Democrats appear enthused about the race for Congress. Sure, it’s still somewhat of long-shot for them and Democrat Rich Cowan did not come near to raising the $1 million he said was his goal when he began his campaign for the seat in Washington’s 5th Congressional District.

But he’s not Daryl Romeyn, who was the party’s nominee two years ago and who was not embraced by the party. Cowan has raised enough to advertise on TV and he even got a mention recently in the Capital Hill newspaper, Roll Call.

Listen to McMorris Rodgers and Cowan make case on pot

Get Adobe Flash player

Both candidates for Congress in Spokane's 5th Congressional District oppose the initiative that would legalize marijuana under many circumstances. But they differ on an issue over which they may have some say.

That's the proposed reclassification of the drug to allow it to be prescribed by doctors. That stance is increasingly supported by many in Washington, including the Republican-leaning Spokane City Council which voted unanimously in January in support of a nonbinding resolution requesting classification.

Click on the video above to hear Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democrat Rich Cowan state their positions.

McMorris Rodgers, Cowan debate for first time

The Democratic opponent of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the November election used much of the first debate for Congressional seat representing Spokane working to portray the incumbent Republican as an engrained fixture in a bickering Congress.

But McMorris Rodgers used her time to defend her record, which she said proves that she fights for Eastern Washington and can work with Democrats. She noted her work on bipartisan legislation on hydroelectric power.

Snip-snip: N. Spokane Corridor photo op today

Break out the giant scissors. We're having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the North Spokane Corridor.

Make that another ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Today at 11 a.m., the powers that be will be holding a "Celebration of Progress" for the much-discussed roadway, a thoroughfare so deeply ingrained in the Spokane mythos that Mike Lowry once said that the oldest politician was the one who could claim the oldest date when he first made a speech mentioning what was then called the North-South freeway.

The celebration is to mark the opening of the northern half of the corridor. So that would be the North North Spokane Corridor, presumably.

This being an election year, the celebration will include politicians, including Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who disagree on many things, but not on whether the roadway deserves federal money.

It's at 11 a.m., where the corridor intersects with Parksmith Road. For directions, go inside the blog. (One interesting thing to note in the directions: "The event cannot be reached from the North Spokane Corridor. You must use Market Street.)

Let's hope the scissors have been sharpened, because nothing ruins a good photo op like a ribbon that refuses to be cut.

McMorris Rodgers backed national park at Hanford

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, on Thursday backed a proposal creating a national park at three sites central to the creation of atomic weapons, including Hanford.

The vote was bipartisan in its support and opposition. It failed 237-180. It needed supermajority support to move forward. The bill's sponsor was U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington.

You can read more about the proposal here.

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.

Parker gets honorary gig on McMorris Rodgers’ campaign

State Rep. Kevin Parker has plenty of time on his hands, politically speaking.

The Republican from Spokane's 6th District doesn't have an opponent in this year's election. So over the weekend, he signed on as honorary chairman of Cathy McMorris Rodgers' congressional re-election campaign.

According to the press release, she is pleased and he is honored. She wants him to help her campaign "move forward". He wants to make sure the campaign stays in touch with voters while she's back in that other Washington.

The press release also contains some bio information on Parker, such as his co-ownership of coffee shops, serving as a leadership instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base and adjunct business prof at Whitworth University.

He was also "honorary commander for Fairchild" last year, it notes. We're guessing as honorary commander of the base, Parker didn't get to order launches of any of the planes. Perhaps this honorary gig will be more action-packed.

Watch McMorris Rodgers’ speeches at GOP convention

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has kicked off the last two nights of the Republican National Convention as the gathering's host.

She hasn't generated much national attention, though as the host, she probably isn't supposed to.

Here is her first night's speech:

Click inside this post to watch her speech from Wednesday.

McMorris Rodgers: I’ll debate 10 times if Cantwell will debate 39

Democrat Rich Cowan and Republican Mike Baumgartner seem to have a shared problem of getting the incumbents they want to unseat to debate with them as many times as they want. Or at all.

Cowan, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, proposed 10 debates, one in each county for Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District. McMorris Rodgers agreed to two, both in Spokane. One would be sponsored by Greater Spokane Inc., the other by KSPS-TV, which has handled a 5th District debate for years, even in those elections when no one else cared to.

Baumgartner has proposed 39 debates, one in each county of Washington state, against Democrat Maria Cantwell. So far, Cantwell hasn't agreed to any, although there are several invitations pending.

In replying to Cowan's letter requesting 10 debates, McMorris Rodgers used Cantwell as her leverage in accepting two: "I contemplated following the lead of our junior senator and only schedule debates with my opponent when she has scheduled debates with hers."

But folks in Eastern Washingo deserve to hear a discussion of the issues, so she was agreeing to the GSI and KSPS invitations. "Additionally, if you are able to encourage Senator Cantwell to debate Mr. Baumgartner in all 39 counties, I would be happy to debate you in all 10 counties located in the 5th Congressional District. We could arrange our debates in tandem with senate debates as well."

A spokesman for the Cantwell campaign said she has dozens of invitations for a variety of forums, debates and editorial boards, as well as "a large chunk of September" that will be taken up by the Senate's work schedule.

"We will debate," Kelly Steele  said, but there's no commitment at this time on how many times, when or where. That will likely become clear in early September, he added.

This leaves us at Spin Control pondering the question of which is stranger: Ten debates in Eastern Washington, which would essentially be one a week between now and the election? 39 debates across the state, which would essentially  be one every other day between now and the election? Or one candidate conditioning her debate schedule on her opponent convincing a candidate for another office to debate an opponent of another party?

Feel free to weigh in, in the comment section.

McMorris Rodgers GOP convention “host”

Tropical Storm Isaac might be bad news in general for the Republican National Convention, but the storm clouds at least have a silver lining for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The storm is shortening the convention by one day, by knocking out all but the official opening from today's agenda. McMorris Rodgers was among the long list of people scheduled to speak from the podium tonight on the theme of "We can do better."

Now, the Eastern Washington congresswoman won't be making that speech, but will be on the stage for the three remaining nights as the convention's "host." This may sound a bit strange when one considers her district is pretty far from Florida — you can't get much farther without leaving the lower 48. When one throws a party, the "host" is usually the person whose house the party is at, or who is paying the bar tab at the restaurant, and neither of those descriptions fit.

"I wouldn't look at it from a geographic perspective, but from a national political perspective," her spokesman Todd Winer said.

McMorris Rodgers has been involved in the Mitt Romney presidential campaign for months, and is currently campaign co-chairwoman for Washington state, campaign liaison to the House of Representatives, co-chairwoman of Farmers and Ranchers for Mitt and co-chairwoman of Women for Mitt.

The title of convention host is a new rule for this GOP national convention, Winer said. McMorris Rodgers, who had been slated for a seven-minute speech in the original game plan, will speak from three to five minutes at the beginning of each night's events, explaining who the speakers are and the evening's theme. (There's a different theme for each night.) . She'll be on the stage a fair amount, throughout the convention, Winer said.

For the complete "Order of Business" for the convention, click here.

Local notes on GOP convention

UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, has been given an expanded role at the Republican National Convention.


The Republican National Convention is in Tampa this week, if Hurricane Isaac doesn’t blow the GOP into the next county. They just released a revised schedule, because Monday is going to be a quick opening and then folks will mostly hunker down.

That moves the speech by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District, to Tuesday. She still has a prime-time speaking gig, at least on the East Coast, sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. The original speech was going to go 7 minutes, her staff said. We'll see if she has to cut back.
State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, who would like to be U.S. Sen. Baumgartner, R-Wash., also will be in Tampa. No speaking slot, but his campaign says he’ll be available for interviews through Tuesday. Not sure if the national press corps knows to use a five-second delay on live broadcasts, in case they need to bleep out anything.
Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and his brother Roger Reed, a Spokane attorney, are both Romney delegates to the convention. Sam is an avid Coug, so look for WSU colors during shots of the state delegation.


McMorris Rodgers agrees to two debates

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has decided to debate her Democratic opponent twice before the November election.

After this month's primary, Democrat Rich Cowan challenged McMorris Rodgers to debate him in each of the 5th Congressional District's 10 counties. After her town hall meeting on Thursday in Spokane, McMorris Rodgers said that she responded to Cowan in writing by agreeing to his request - but only if Washington's Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell agrees to debate her Republican rival in all 39 of Washington's counties.

So, in orther words, her answer was no — though it's worth noting that her decision to debate twice is twice as many as she agreed to in 2010.

McMorris Rodgers gets speaking part at GOP convention

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is doing about everything she possibly can to make sure Mitt Romney gets elected.

She's his campaign co-chairwoman for Washington state. She's is the campaign liaison to the House of Representatives.  She's a co-chairwoman of Farmers and Ranchers for Mitt. She's a co-chairwoman of Women for Mitt.

Later this month, she'll get to make a prime-time pitch for Romney at the Republican National Convention.

McMorris Rodgers is on the list of speakers announced today for the first day of the convention. She'll be following House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky,  and preceeding Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ann Romney. Announced theme for the night: We can do better.

The evening schedule starts at 7:45 p.m. Eastern, so that's 4:45 p.m. Pacific.

Earlier in the day, viewers can see the "roll call of the states" for president. That's when people in funny hats stand at a microphone and say things like "Madam Chairman, the great state of West Dakota, home of a buncha things you never heard of but we think are damn special so we're going to take this opportunity to list them all…cast their six and one-third votes for the next president of the United States Mitt Romney, 2 and one-third votes for the other next president of the United States Ron Paul, and one-third vote for the bartender at our Holiday Inn who made the best margaritas we ever had last night."

McMorris Rodgers back from other Washington

Got a question for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers?

The congresswoman, a Republican, will be meeting with constituents this week across parts of the sprawling 5th congressional district, including a town hall event Thursday in Spokane.

Here's the details:

WALLA WALLA — 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Port of Walla Walla, Airport conference room, 310 A St.

DAYTON — 3 p.m. Wednesday, Weinhard Hotel, 235 E. Main St.

SPOKANE TOWN HALL — 6 p.m. Thursday, Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln.