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House Republicans, Senate Democrats make assignments

OLYMPIA — Legislative caucuses continued to assign members to committee and internal leadership posts as the countdown to the 2015 session continues.

On Thursday, the two minority caucuses, House Republicans and Senate Democrats, announced some of their spots;

Andy Billig is the only Senate Democrat in the Spokane area. He'll be the deputy minority leader in the Senate and assigned to both the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee and the Ways & Means Committee.

House Republicans from the Spokane area, of which there are many, got several top spots, known as "ranking member" and No. 2 spots "assistant ranking" as their caucus announced committee assignments. The full list is inside the blog, with Spokane reps in italics. Click here to check it out, or to comment.

Lousy Time For Food Stamp Cut

Ten bucks a month. That’s roughly the size of cut that each person who receives government food aid is facing in five weeks. Your response to this cut may vary, and may reveal something about your understanding of what it’s like to need food stamps. It may seem small, this 10 bucks a month. For some of us, it wouldn’t cover condiments. But if you’ve ever struggled to put food on the table – ever walked that thin line where the grocery check lives dangerously close to the checkbook balance – then you might recognize that 10 bucks can be significant. If you’ve ever relied upon food stamps yourself, you realize that 10 bucks is more than significant. According to the federal guidelines used to determine benefits, it covers more than five meals. That would be one way to look at it/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Is this a good time for House Republicans to try to cut food stamps?

House GOP recess plan: Fight ObamaCare & Washington DC

House Republicans seem to be leaving little to chance as their members prepare to spend the August recess among their voters. A “planning kit” explains how to maximize exposure and minimize contrary opinions on issues like health care reform.

In the kit’s introductory letter to her fellow Republicans, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says they should tell the folks back home the GOP is fighting for them against Washington and the bureaucracy. “There is no better message than one that puts the American people before an out-of-control government,” she wrote.

As chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, the Eastern Washington congresswoman is in charge of this year’s kit, a 30-page booklet of helpful hints to members on how to make the most of their time back in the district. Riva Litman, a conference spokeswoman, said something similar goes out before each August recess. It’s a “a playbook of best practices” gleaned from many members’ experiences.

The kit offers suggestions for events on energy, health care and jobs; at power plants, on Main Street and on farms; highlighting red tape and government waste. It suggests events aimed at “millennials” – the young adults who voted strongly for Democrats in the 2012 election

It also suggests an ObamaCare Media Tour, “to emphasize the need to repeal ObamaCare to protect employees, small businesses and jobs.” House Republicans have voted 37 times to repeal the law, also known as the federal Affordable Care Act, but it remains on the books.

In planning such an event, the kit advises members and their staff to “make sure all participants will be 100 percent on message. They do not have to be Republicans. They need to be able to discuss the negative effects of ObamaCare on their employees" . . .

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

To see the "Fighting Washington For All Americans" click on the document below.


WA Lege Day 25: House GOP to release Education 1st budget

OLYMPIA — House Republicans, who say they've been essentially shut out of the budgeting process in a session when the budget was supposed to be the main thing the Legislature tackled, will be releasing their plans for K-12 programs today.

They call it "Fund Education First", something that various Republicans of both chambers have suggested over the years in pointing out that basic education in the state's public schools is the "paramount duty" under the state Constitution.

This effort, however, would be more than a slogan because it would put down on paper what education programs they think the state should pay for. It's not a full budget — other spending priorities will be released later — but it would provide voters with a view of how their education priorities would differ from the supplemental budget Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed in November. At this point, that's the only other budget that exists in a form to which comparisons can be made.

Today’s fun video: House GOP pep talk


When talking to House Republicans about an upcoming deficit reduction plan, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy reportedly showed members this scene from the movie "The Town" to get them to fall in line.

Out of context, it may work fine. In the context of the movie, however, it does seem strange, considering the characters here are bank robbers who are about to go beat the bejeezus out of someone. While the House GOP might want to metaphorically beat congressional Democrats and President Obama, they clearly wouldn't want to be seen as robbing the nation's bank.

It may surprise no one out there that Ben Affleck was not pleased the movie was associated with the GOP solution to the debt crisis. But hey, you never know what a clip from your movie will be used for. And it may prompt some Republicans to order it on Netflix or rent it from Redbox, so he really can't complain.

Stil, there might be better movies to excerpt for an inspirational GOP moment. George C. Scott's speech at the beginning of "Patton" comes to mind. If it were up to you, what would you show?

WA Lege Day 87: House GOP counters with its own budget plan

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt makes a point during the unveiling of the GOP budget plan.

OLYMPIA — House Republicans unveiled a leaner spending plan for 2011-13 than their Democratic counterparts, one that eliminates some social programs but spends more on education.

Like the Democratic proposal, it has no tax increases.

Republican leaders released the budget at an 11:30 p.m. press conference, and plan to offer it as a substitute for HB 1087, the House Democratic spending plan when the Ways and Means Committee meets this afternoon.

For details on the House Republicans' plan, or to comment, click to go inside the blog.

Update: House Votes To Defund NPR

The House of Representatives on Thursday voted 228-192 on a bill to defund National Public Radio, the vast public radio network whose leadership has been questioned after a series of executive decisions about programming, staffing and reporting bias. Seven Republicans broke with House leadership and voted against the package. One GOP member, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, voted present/Fox News. More here.

Question: Do you listen to public radio enough to care about this vote?

Simpson Gavels Down ‘Birther’

House Republicans' reading of the Constitution was interrupted Thursday by a woman who shouted "except Obama, except Obama" to the venerable document's words on a U.S. citizen's eligibility to be president. Just as Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., was reading "no person, except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States" is eligible for the presidency, a woman in the visitor's gallery yelled out that it did not apply to President Barack Obama. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who was presiding over the House, banged the gavel and halted the proceedings, warning that such action from members of the public was a violation of House rules. The woman was quickly removed by Capitol police/Jim Abrams, Associated Press. More here. (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers the House oath to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who holds a copy of the U.S. Constitution, during a mock swearing-in Wednesday.)

Question: What do you make of House Republicans opening their session today by reading the U.S. Constitution?

McMorris Rodgers, House GOP unveil new website

Congressional Republicans announced a “new initiative” to get the public to weigh in on important issues. And by new initiative, they mean a…

A new website.

They call it America Speaking Out, and it allows folks on the Internet to offer their own ideas or comment on others’ ideas on things like prosperity, fiscal accountability, American values and national security.  And even earn “badges” (why do I keep hearing Alfonso Bedoyo saying : “Badges…We don’t need no badges. I don’t  have to show you any stinking badges”?)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is in charge of New Media Outreach for the House Republicans, and is tasked with maximizing the site’s effectiveness.

“All across America, New Media technologies – such as websites, blogs, online videos, and social networking sites - have greatly improved communications in our personal and professional lives,” she said in a press release.  “Now it’s time for New Media to have the same impact on America’s government. ”

Perhaps, but McMorris Rodgers and House Republicans may discover one other fact about a political social media site, which is “if you build it, God knows who will come and write long-winded diatribes.” A check of the site on its first day showed that some of the posts are fairly acerbic, and some could best be described as logic challenged.

But anything that  moves the political dialog forward is a good thing, right?