Boxer seeks political truce to pass vital bills

It’s time to put politics aside for a few weeks and pass some vital bills, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer told reporters on a conference call this morning.

Boxer, D-Calif., said partisan gridlock has brought Congress to record-low approval ratings and productivity.

“Things are really dismal but we have a window of time between now and the election,” she said, adding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., still seems pre-occupied mainly with ensuring that President Obama doesn’t win a second term. “We all are going to get out there and fight for our candidates… but not on the Senate floor. We need to come together and pass these important bills.”

Boxer identified four priorities. One, she said, is Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), the two-year surface transportation authorization bill that’s being heard in conference committee next Tuesday, May 8. This is the successor to SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 surface transportation funding bill, which expired more than two and a half years ago; that earlier bill’s latest extension is up at the end of June, so time is of the essence, Boxer said. She said the bill has no earmarks and is revenue-neutral, but would create or save about 3 million jobs nationwide, about a tenth of which are in California.

“This is the only jobs bill that we can pass this year, in my opinion,” she said.

Another priority is legislation to ensure that the interest rate on student loans doesn’t double to 6.8 percent on July 1. The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to extend the lower rates for a year, paid for by eliminating funding for a preventative health care fund established under the Affordable Care Act; the Democrat-controlled Senate has proposed paying for it instead by eliminating tax loopholes for shareholders of certain small corporations.

A third priority is reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, an anti-domestic-violence measure that expires in September, Boxer said. The Senate passed its version – which would expand the law’s funding and protections for same-sex couples, immigrants and tribal communities – last week with bipartisan support, but House Republicans are working on their own version of the bill without those updates.

And Boxer said Congress must move to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bar employers from retaliating against workers who share their salary information with co-workers – a means of uncovering salary discrimination. The House passed a version of this in 2009, but it was filibustered in the Senate, she said.

“It’s time to get things done right this second, there’s not a minute to waste,” she said.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Does anybody give a rat’s ass what Baba Booboo thinks?

    When Joe Biden left she immediately became the stupidest member of the senate, the Peter Principle personified.

    With all her seniority in the Senate (only in CA) can anyone tell me what important legislation she has authored or what prestigious committees she has chaired?

  • Josh Richman

    Re#1: For the sake of discussion…
    1.) She’s one of California’s two U.S. Senators, whether you voted for her or not, and Californians should know what she’s thinking and doing.
    2.) You can see all the legislation she has introduced in this current Congress here; I’ll leave it to you to decide what is or isn’t important. She chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees all federal public infrastructure.

  • Elwood

    @ #2 Josh

    The junior Sen. from CA for as long as I can remember was and continues to be a black hole.

    To wit: George Murphy, Sleepin’ Sam Hayakawa, John Tunney etc.

    1.) I don’t believe she either thinks or does much.

    2.) The question I should have asked is how much important legislation authored by Boxer has been enacted into law. Any fool can introduce a ton of bills, which is one of the problems with the U.S. Congress and the CA leg.

    The Environment and Public Works Committee is hardly a prestigious committee such as Judiciary, Defense, Intelligence etc.

    Did I say Intelligence? Never mind!

  • JAFO

    Hey Josh, one could conclude you’re bucking for a job as “Bab’s” Bay Area flak. You really don’t need to carry her water. Surely you’d agree that blog readers should be permitted to express their opinions, no matter how much they may differ from your own, “for the sake of discussion.” Right?

  • JAFO

    Sorry for the inadvertent typo, Josh. I was referring to Bab’s “flack” position, not bombs bursting in air. My bad.

  • Josh Richman

    Re#4 – Reporters cover what elected officials do and say, not what readers want to hear. I’d think everyone would want to know what their elected representatives are thinking – even moreso if they disagree, in order to build a stronger case for voting those lawmakers out of office next time around.

  • JAFO

    Josh, your generalization about today’s reporters can best be described as quaint. I’m happy to give you the benefit of the doubt, but obviously, you aren’t a regular reader of The New York Times, Time or Newsweek; or, a regular viewer of national news broadcasts. Sadly, journalism is not the craft it once was. Opinion, heck even outright bias, regularly seeps into far too many of today’s supposedly straight news stories. That said, I’m still an avid news reader and viewer. I’m just far more discriminating these days.

  • JohnW

    Re: #7

    First, Josh’s post summarizing what one of California’s Senators told reporters hardly constitutes “bucking for a job as Bab’s Bay Area” flak.” That particular item is straight-up reporting.

    Second, this is an online political board. It’s called “ibabuzz” for a reason. It’s not the electronic edition of the newspaper. By design, the process by which the paper’s political reporters choose what to post and how they say it is less formal than for the newspaper. I assume they choose content based on what they think the readers and commenters on this board will find interesting and provocative.

    Third, talk about “generalization!” Your comment about what news sources Josh does or doesn’t read is based on nothing and is, itself, the mother of all generalization. By the way, I do read the New York Times (print edition) most days, along with the Wall Street Journal and the online Washington Post, among others. Just ask my bank about my weekly trips for rolls of quarters to use in the vending machines! You shouldn’t confuse what a newspaper says on it’s editorial page and what it reports on the news pages. These papers are still in the gold standard category for excellence in balanced, objective, probing reporting. I don’t agree with much on the WSJ editorial page, but, even with Murdoch’s ownership, it’s still a damned good newspaper. Most people who remember the Washington Post of the Kathryn Graham years don’t realize that the paper’s editorial page has taken a noticeable turn from center-left to center-center in recent years. It’s probably true that people who choose to go into legitimate journalism are, more often than not, center-left. However, they are mindful of it and bend over backwards to filter out bias. They also love a great story, no matter whether the “victim” is liberal, conservative or whatever. Just ask Gary Hart or Congressman Weiner.

    I occasionally challenge people who make claims of “liberal bias” in the NYT, the Washington Post, the SF Chronicle or BANG to explain just what they mean. I ask for specific examples, and they can’t give it. Reporters and editors are human beings. None of us is bias-free or able to completely keep bias from subtly seeping into our work or our view of events and issues. But the aforementioned newspapers do a pretty good job of it. So, do broadcast outlets like KTVU news or CBS news. There is a huge difference between a Fox News or MSNBC, both of which deliberately and strongly slant their content, and the reputable journalism of what the Right likes to call the “Mainstream Media,” as if “mainstream” is somehow a bad thing.

  • Elwood

    @ #8 John W.

    “I occasionally challenge people who make claims of “liberal bias” in the NYT—”

    Oh, come on, John W. The NYT admits it themselves.

    YOUR liberal bias is showing.

    If you don’t believe it, check out this link for a few days:


  • Elwood

    Disregard previous link. Try this one:


  • Truthclubber

    @9 —

    “What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1960

    And, might I add, I am also proud to be a liberal, since we liberals, and our determination to see justice prevail, are why people with merely the “genetic affliction” of darker skin can now travel this country freely, and own property, and vote, and marry someone regardless whether their skin color might be lighter, and be elected to the highest offices of this land — something they could never aspire to a mere couple of decades ago because of the bigotry and hatred and selfishness of people who were proud to call themselves “not a liberal!”…

  • Publius

    I am grateful for gridlock. Senator Boxer puts too much faith in her self and her cohorts on the hill. With congress; less is more. Now, if they got together to repeal burdensome laws, reform the tax code, and cut government spending I would be estatic, but until then I am content with gridlock.


    A self professed Dem/Liberal that would waste a vote on an incompetent Stark to get to the next guy in 2014 would undoubtedly rally to the defense of the established liberal main stream media. The liberal dems wield so much power in this state that thier left leaning views have become “main stream”. If you cannot see that the CCtimes is biased then you have been swigging the KoolAid too long and are incapable of looking at anything objectively.

    I do agree however that on this forum that Josh should have the freedom to espouse his liberal views.

    In my mind Liberals and Dems are the same in this state. There is no middle of the road, Ca. is the darkest of blues. That said here are some basic facts-

    -Dems control State government
    -Dems control most local governments
    -Dems control state wide media
    -Dems control Hollywood
    -Dems control Education.
    -Big Labor controls the democratic party

    The only saving grace of this state that has not yet been destroyed by the “main stream” liberal culture of California is the weather. When they get control of that I hope I will be in a position to move.

  • Josh Richman

    Re#12 – If you think my reporting what this state’s duly elected U.S. Senator says and does constitutes an expression of “liberal views,” then you’ve got your head jammed pretty deep in… (ahem) the sand. I think you know perfectly well that if California was represented by Jim Inhofe or some other conservative Republican, I’d report on that Senator’s doings, too.

    Perhaps Publius and JAFO are miffed that I didn’t opine on Boxer’s statements; that, however, would actually be bias (a la the “fair and balanced” Fox News). As I said in #6, my job is to tell you what she’s doing and saying, and that’s what I did. I don’t care what you do with it, that’s your business.

  • Publius


    Classic Lib smear tactic. If you are not a progressive forward thinking liberal you are racist.

    The Tooth Mucker proudly calls himself a liberal-

    The modern Liberal has done more harm to people of color and the poor than any right winger ever did or ever will do. The prison of government dependency, the poor and minorities are held in bondage by your politics of race and envy. The party of race distinction holds people of color hostage. Conveniently the Dems divide people into groups and set them against eachother. Blame the rich white racist for all of your problems! Generations have been lost to the culture of government hand outs. The true tragedy is that those of color and the poor keep voting for the party that can never improve thier life. By fooling the people that someone else is to blame and that the government will take care of them from cradle to grave, the Liberal Dems have successfully created a permanent voting block that is unwilling or incapable of helping themselves. Proud to be a liberal?

  • Elwood

    Re: #14

    What Publius said!

  • JohnW

    Re #10

    I stand by my comments about NYT and other outlets. Not keen about clicking your links. However, if there is some reporting in, say, today’s or yesterday’s NYT (not the editorial page) that you think illustrates how they are a hopelessly liberal propaganda sheet, do tell us about it — what it says and why you think it is deliberately slanted. Or, if you like, do that with BANG or the Chron. I’ve done this with some of my conservative friends and family a few times. They usually change the subject.

  • Truthclubber

    @14 —

    I think I hear someone squealing like a stuck pig…

    It was a Democrat (Johnson) who pushed through Congress and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which led Nixon and the GOP to adopt their “Southern Strategy” for the 1968 elections and beyond, deliberately using race as a divisive tool to pit whites in the south against Democrats for their “kowtowing” toward (as the term was used then) “the negro”.

    In fact, “…in 2005, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman formally apologized for his party’s use of the Southern Strategy in the previous century….”

    Truth hurts, Publius — and you are entitled to your own opinion, but NOT your own facts.

  • Truthclubber

    @14 —

    One more thing; “the modern liberal” got a “person of color” elected to the office of President of the United States, meaning both me AND you — and THAT is what has you so up in arms, since other “people of color” (including some of us “beiges”) are going to look up to him as an example that skin color is no more a measure of a person’s character than is hair color (now that the Irish have been accepted into our national melting pot — that only took a century or so…).

  • Elwood

    @ John W.

    “You shouldn’t confuse what a newspaper says on it’s editorial page and what it reports on the news pages.”

    How can one tell the difference?

    In most newspapers the “news” columns are totally polluted with the liberal viewpoints of the reporters, the serfs of the newspaper industry.

  • JohnW

    Re: 19

    “…the ‘news” columns are totally polluted with the liberal viewpoints of the reporters.”

    Yeah, I know. I just want to scream every time I see Dan Borenstein cramming down his liberal views when he does his columns going after the public employee unions and Democratic officials on pension issues.

  • Elwood

    @ #20 John W.

    It’s the exception that proves the rule.

    And I wouldn’t use the Cow Cow Times (an edition of the San Jose Mercury News) to attempt to prove anything.

    I have read a few newspapers in my time and the Cow Cow Times may be the worst of all. Their motto on local news should be “We get the story a day after everyone else and we still get it wrong”.

    It appears that local news must be written in San Jose.

    Of course I find San Jose news fascinating. I’ve been there and might go again some day.

  • JohnW

    Re 21

    My one “exception” infinitely exceeds your zero proof of liberal bias contaminating the news business.

    You’re entitled to your views of the CoCo Times, but I obviously don’t share them.

    Perhaps you would like to share with us the name of a news outlet, print or electronic, that exemplifies your idea of good journalism. Should be good for a laugh or two.

  • Truthclubber

    @20 —

    You forgot one. Deb Saunders.

    Now your proof is infinity squared…

  • Elwood

    Saunders is the Chronicle’s token conservative.

    They keep her around just for amusement.

  • Truthclubber

    @24 —

    You want more punishment for your ignorance?

    Okie, dokie — how about Tom Curry from the Satan Channel itself, MSNBC?

    Ron Paul supporters go waaaaaay out of their way to praise him and his coverage of their libertarian messiah, and even do so on the “internets” where nothing ever dies…

    Keep lying, baby — you’re at least able to fool yourself…

  • Elwood

    What is MSNBC? Is that the one they call MESSNBC?

    Is it one of NBC’s sports channels?

    I don’t believe I’ve ever watched it, and from what I hear, no one else does either.

  • Truthclubber

    @26 —

    I trust even you have come out from under your rock to occasionally watch something called CNN, so let me give you a point of reference:

    In the first quarter of 2010, MSNBC beat CNN in primetime and overall ratings, marking the first time doing so since 2001. The channel also beat CNN in total adult viewers in March, marking the seventh out of the past eight months MSNBC achieved that result.

    In addition, the programs Morning Joe, The Ed Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and The Rachel Maddow Show all finished ahead of their time slot competitors on CNN.

    In the third quarter of 2010, MSNBC continued its solid lead over CNN, beating the network in total day for the first time since 2Q 2001 in the key adult demographic.

    The network also beat CNN for the fourth consecutive quarter, among both primetime and total viewers, as well as becoming the only cable news network to have its key adult demographic viewership grow over the last quarter, increasing by 4%.

    During this time, MSNBC also became the number-one cable news network in primetime among both African American and Hispanic viewers.

    Net, net: More people watch Rachel Maddow than watch Piers Morgan, who took over for Larry King when his suspenders broke…