Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, now serving as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security in the Obama Adminstration, played a key role in the negotiation of a nuclear arms pact that would reduce U.S. and Russian arsenals by one-third, according to the Washington Post.
The Senate confirmed Tauscher to the post in June, and former California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi was elected as her replacement in the 10th District in a special election in September.
“Work must still be finished on the technical annexes to the treaty that lay out details of inspection and verification regimes, Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. under secretary of state for arms control, told reporters at the State Department.
She said officials hoped to finish those annexes by the end of April and then submit the full package to the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is required for ratification.
“Our goal is to submit the treaty in the late spring and to seek ratification by the end of the year,” Tauscher said.
Tauscher insisted the new treaty placed no limits on U.S. missile defense systems, despite Russian suggestions last week that either side had the right to pull out of the offensive nuclear arms agreement if the other beefs up missile defenses.”
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has signed on as a co-author of legislation that would require the the health insurance industry to follow the same anti-trust laws imposed on other businesses.
The legislation comes on the heels of outcry over Anthem Blue Cross’ announcement that it would raise premiums as much as 39 percent for some customers.
“When almost every other industry colludes at the expense of consumers, we call it a crime,” Garamendi said in a prepared statement. “When the health insurance industry colludes, we call it business as usual. This legislation removes one of the most damaging weapons in the insurance industry’s arsenal: the ability to manipulate the market together behind closed doors.”
Garamendi is the former California insurance commissioner.
The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, H.R. 4626 was introduced by reps. Tom Perriello of Virginia and Betsy Markey of Colorado. According to Garamendi’s office, it will “restore competition and transparency to the health insurance market.”
Among its provisions, Garamendi said it removes the health insurance industry’s blanket antitrust exemption and allow federal agencies to investigate allegations of collusion.
“Anthem Blue Cross’s recent decision to increase rates on customers nearly 100 percent in the past two years, despite earning $2.4 billion in profits in the final three months of 2009, is Exhibit A of what happens when we let insurance companies operate behind a veil of legalized secrecy,” Garamendi said. “Removing the anti-trust exemption and including a robust public option are two of the most important tools available to us to improve public health and hold the insurance industry accountable for its actions.”
Watch my FlipVideo of Rep. John Garamendi’s visit this morning with members of the Contra Costa Times’ editorial board.
Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, was relaxed and clearly enjoying his new role as a member of Congress, where he can immerse himself in policy issues.
Among the issues he discusses are his assessment of the health insurance reform legislation, California’s budget, his recent cross-country driving trip from California to Washington, D.C., the new federal transportation spending blueprint, higher education funding and the prospects of redistricting in 2012:
Healthcare legislation — He hopes it will survive but if it doesn’t, it probably won’t come back onto the table for several years.
Driving cross-country: His wife and daughter bought an Elvis love songs CD in Memphis and he has heard enough Elvis for a while.
Transportation spending reauthorization bill: Debate centers around whether it should come up before or after the November election.
Higher education funding: California needs to get its act together and view education spending as an investment in its economy and future.
Redistricting: The job of drawing congressional boundaries should remain with the state Legislature and not turned over to an independent commission, a process he describes as chaotic and unlikely to produce a workable plan. And he would love to see the 10th District redrawn to include his house in Walnut Grove.
Okay, so let’s get this out of the way. No, Harmer doesn’t live in District 11. He lives in Dougherty Valley in District 10. Yes, he can run. The Constitution requires that members of Congress live in the state from which they are elected, not the specific district.
Harmer, an attorney, joins six other declared CD11 GOP candidates: Brad Goehring, a Lodi grapegrower; children’s advocate Elizabeth Emken of Danville; construction safety signage company owner and author Robert Beadles of Lodi; former U.S. Marshal Tony Amador of Lodi; Manteca teacher Jeff Takada and former San Jose Councilman Larry Pegram, now living in Tracy.
The primary victor will presumably challenge incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.
Harmer’s entry into the CD11 race will prove very interesting. Harmer waged a surprisingly strong although ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the heavily Democratic CD10. The party registration is much closer in CD11 — less than one-third of one percentage point in favor of the GOP.
On the other hand, Harmer made a big deal in the CD10 race about how Garamendi doesn’t live in the district. His primary opponents will undoubtedly make the same observation about his residency.