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>100 cosponsors for House background-check bill

More than 100 House members from both sides of the aisle have signed on to co-sponsor a bill that would require background checks for all commercial gun sales.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, chairman of the House Democrats’ gun-violence task force, and Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., introduced H.R. 1565 on April 15, two days before the Senate rejected the identical Manchin-Toomey amendment.

“We won’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to passing commonsense laws that keep guns from criminals, terrorist and the dangerously mentally ill,” Thompson and King said in a news release today. “This debate isn’t over. The American people deserve for this bill to be signed into law.”

The bill would expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads; it would not cover private, person-to-person sales, as California’s law does.

This widening of background checks is tempered by several nods to those concerned about Second Amendment rights: The bill bans the government from creating a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also lets gun owners use a state concealed-carry permit issued within the last five years in lieu of a background check, and allows interstate handgun sales from licensed dealers.

And it improves the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by offering incentives to states to improve reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and by directing future grants toward better record-sharing systems; federal funds would be reduced to states that don’t comply.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

The King-Thompson bill’s original co-authors are Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; Pat Meehan, R-Pa.; Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.; and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

From the greater Bay Area, co-sponsors include Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton.

The locals who haven’t signed on are Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and George Miller, D-Martinez. I’ve reached out to their offices to find out where they stand on the bill, and will update this item accordingly.

UPDATE @ 1 P.M. TUESDAY 5/7: McNerney and Miller both have signed on.

Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, gun control, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Farr, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Swalwell raised big money in 2013′s first quarter

One of the Bay Area’s House freshmen was among the region’s top fundraisers in the first quarter of 2013, according to newly filed Federal Election Commission reports.

Eric SwalwellRep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, raised $262,810 in the first three months of the year, leaving him with $222,932 cash on hand as of March 31.

On its face, that’s more even than the $207,030 that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, collected in individual contributions to her campaign committee. But Pelosi also transferred in more than $136,000 from her Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund, which itself raised $671,400 in the first quarter. (Now THAT’s some serious scratch; don’t mess with the big dog, Congressman Swalwell.)

Still, Swalwell’s first-quarter fundraising outstripped that of every other Bay Area House member including Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who raised $214,000 while already in full campaign mode due to the challenge posed by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna.

Swalwell might also face a fellow Democrat in 2014: state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, who like Swalwell had hoped to succeed Pete Stark in the 15th Congressional District but chose not to run against him last year. Corbett, who’s favored by many of the same local Democrats who had backed Stark in 2012, raised $16,201 in the first quarter of this year and had $114,963 cash on hand as of March 31.

Here’s a readout of the rest of the greater Bay Area delegation’s first-quarter haul, looking only at their principal campaign committees:

    Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: $69,482 raised, $29,804 cash on hand
    George Miller, D-Martinez: $79,253 raised, $215,537 cash on hand
    Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: $45,240 raised, $571,704 cash on hand
    Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: $32,650 raised, $70,731 cash on hand
    Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: $50,186 raised, $319,929 cash on hand
    Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo: $34,728 raised, $976,878 cash on hand
    Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: $95,152 raised, $116,503 cash on hand

Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, campaign finance, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

Post office to be named for soldier slain in Iraq

A Mountain View post office will be named Saturday in honor of a local soldier who was killed in Iraq.

Kenneth BallardRep. Anna Eshoo, who authored the bill to dedicate the post office in honor of U.S. Army Lt. Kenneth Ballard, will attend the 1 p.m. ceremony at which a memorial plaque will be unveiled at the post office at 211 Hope St. Ballard’s mother also will attend.

Ballard, 26, died in Najaf, Iraq on May 30, 2004 when a M-240 machine gun mounted on his vehicle accidentally fired. The Army initially had reported Ballard was killed by small arms fire during a battle with insurgents, and didn’t inform his family of the truth until more than a year later.

Ballard had served in the Army for almost nine years, and was awarded the Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars, two with Valor Device. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Lieutenant Ballard demonstrated great courage and heroism throughout his military career,” Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said in a news release announcing her bill last year. “He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and he should be remembered and honored by our community.”

Born in Rome, N.Y., Ballard and his family moved to Mountain View in 1981. After graduating from Mountain View High School in 1995, he enlisted in the Army and attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He went on to serve in Germany, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Iraq. He won a “Gold to Green” Army ROTC Scholarship and attended Middle Tennessee State University, but after graduation returned to Germany and was then deployed to Iraq.

Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Iraq, Iraq War, U.S. House, veterans | No Comments »

Pelosi, Eshoo will attend new Pope’s investiture

Two Bay Area members of Congress will be headed to Vatican City for the March 19 inaugural mass for newly elected Pope Francis.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will be part of the presidential delegation led by Vice President Joe Biden; other members of that group include New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Georgetown University President John DeGioia.

And Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, has been chosen by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to be part of the bipartisan congressional delegation to the event. “It is a high honor to be appointed to the House delegation to attend the investiture of Pope Francis, and humbling to be a witness to history,” Eshoo said in a news release today.

That delegation will be led by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and also includes Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Sean Duffy, R-Wisc.; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas; Jim Langevin, D-R.I.; Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.; and Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, as well as House Chaplain the Rev. Patrick Conroy.

Besides Pelosi and Eshoo, Bay Area members George Miller, D-Martinez; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, are of the Roman Catholic faith, as is California Gov. Jerry Brown, himself a former Jesuit seminarian.

“I’m glad he’s a Jesuit,” Brown told reporters during a question-and-answer session Wednesday. “He is from Argentina, so that might give him a broader perspective to see the world through the Southern Hemisphere, but what the hell do I know? I thought Jesuits weren’t allowed to consider higher office. At least they weren’t in my day.”

Posted on Friday, March 15th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

TV commercial volumes get turned down today

No, you’re not going deaf – a new law taking effect today turns down the volume on television commercials.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., held a news conference this morning on Capitol Hill to highlight the implementation today of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which requires broadcast, cable, satellite and other video providers to keep the volume of commercials at a level consistent with the rest of their programming.

“Earsplitting television ads have jolted and annoyed viewers for decades,” Eshoo, the law’s original author, said in a news release. “With this new law, loud TV commercials that make consumers run for the mute button or change the channel altogether will be a thing of the past.”

National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith said broadcasters have taken the lead in addressing the issue’s technical challenges, and National Cable and Telecommunications Association President and CEO Michael Powell thanked Eshoo and Whitehouse “for enacting sensible legislation that will improve the consumer TV experience. Our industry will continue to work closely with the FCC and the entire TV ecosystem to prevent loud commercials from being a disruption.”

Loud commercials have been a top consumer complaint to the Federal Communications Commission for decades and were listed as such in 21 of the FCC’s 25 quarterly reports between 2002 and 2009. According to a 2009 Harris poll, almost 90 percent of TV viewers are bothered by high commercial volumes, prompting 41 percent of viewers to turn down the volume, 22 percent to mute the TV, and 17 percent to change the channel altogether. Before this law, the official FCC policy recommended that consumers mute commercials if they found them to be excessively strident.

President Obama signed Eshoo’s legislation into law in December 2010, and the FCC passed its final rules implementing the law in December 2011. An FCC consumer guide to the new provisions of the CALM Act can be found here.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Act now for tickets to Obama’s re-inauguration

Bay Area members of Congress are offering their constituents chances to win free tickets to President Barack Obama’s re-inauguration Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., but one lawmaker wants applicants to sing for their supper.

“Please write a paragraph of at least 5 sentences, submit a video, or draw a picture suggesting an innovative idea either to put Americans back to work, or ensure that each and every child has access to a quality education,” Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, asks 17th Congressional District constituents seeking tickets.

Entries (only one per person) must be posted as responses on the congressman’s Facebook page by Thursday, Jan. 3.

Other local members are doing it on a more straightforward lottery basis; you can apply only through your own House member, or through either of California’s U.S. Senators.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield: Call 202-225-1880

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa: Email here or call 202-225-3311 or 707-226-9898

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton: Call 202-225-1947 or 209-476-8552

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez: Apply here

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: Call 202-225-4965

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: Apply here

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo: deadline already passed

Rep.-elect Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: available in January

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: deadline already passed

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: Call 202-225-3072

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: Join stand-by list here

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif: Apply here

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: Apply here

If leaving a voice-mail message, be sure to include your full name, address, city, phone number, e-mail address and number of tickets requested.

Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Want tickets to Obama’s re-inauguration?

With the presidential election only a week behind us, members of Congress are starting to take requests for free tickets to President Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Some – including Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo – already have pages on their websites at which you can request tickets in a lottery system. The rest of the Bay Area’s delegation will have similar pages up soon; you must request tickets from your House member, or from one of your state’s two U.S. Senators.

Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 29 Comments »

Your state and Bay Area House-race roundup

All in all, it was a dismal night for Republicans in California House races.

Of the 11 California House races deemed competitive by the renowned Cook Political Report, Democrats won seven outright and are on top in two too-close-to-call other races. Another way of slicing and dicing it: All of the three endangered Democratic incumbents in these races won re-election, but only one of the four Republicans might’ve. And of the new or open seats, Democrats won three of the four.

More specifically:

    The battles to unseat Reps. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, remain too close to call with some mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted, but both trail their Democratic challengers by narrow margins.
    Reps. Jerry McNerney; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara all turned away their Republican challengers to win re-election. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, is the only Republican incumbent definitely left standing in these competitive races.

Not than anyone considered it competitive, but Democrat Jared Huffman trounced Republican Dan Roberts to succeed Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-San Rafael, in the North Bay’s newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, which reaches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

In the Bay Area, as usual, the only question for most Democratic incumbents (with the exception, of course, of Pete Stark) was by how enormous a margin they would dispatch their challengers. See how that all stacks up as of this hour, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dan Lungren, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 7 Comments »

Eshoo moves to name post office for slain soldier

A Mountain View post office would be named for a slain Iraq war hero, under a bill by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

Eshoo’s H.R. 6260 would rename the facility at 211 Hope St. as the Lieutenant Kenneth M. Ballard Memorial Post Office.

Ballard, 26, died in Najaf, Iraq on May 30, 2004 when a M-240 machine gun mounted on his vehicle accidentally fired. The Army initially had reported Ballard was killed by small arms fire during a battle with insurgents, and didn’t inform his family of the truth until more than a year later.

Ballard had served in the Army for almost nine years, and was awarded the Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars, two with Valor Device. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Lieutenant Ballard demonstrated great courage and heroism throughout his military career,” Eshoo said in a news release. “He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and he should be remembered and honored by our community.”

Introduced Aug. 1, Eshoo’s bill now has the support of California’s entire 52-member House delegation, a necessary step before it can be considered by the House Oversight Committee. The legislation also is supported by the Mountain View City Council.

Born in Rome, N.Y., Ballard and his family moved to Mountain View in 1981. After graduating from Mountain View High School in 1995, he enlisted in the Army and attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He went on to serve in Germany, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Iraq. He won a “Gold to Green” Army ROTC Scholarship and attended Middle Tennessee State University, but after graduation returned to Germany and was then deployed to Iraq.

Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, U.S. House | No Comments »

Lawmakers tout free birth control under new law

Some Bay Area lawmakers are highlighting the fact that effective today, the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to provide free, guaranteed preventative health care for women including contraception, HPV and HIV testing, domestic violence screening, breastfeeding support and supplies and more.

“Beginning today, 47 million women across the country, including five million women in California, will now receive important preventive services without co-pay because of the new healthcare law,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said in a news release. “With these new provisions, women will no longer need to forgo preventive services to stay healthy, catch potentially life-threatening illnesses earlier, and protect against prohibitive medical costs.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, spoke about it on the House floor:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius co-authored an opinion piece in today’s edition of USA Today saying women no longer must choose between seeing a doctor for prevenative care and putting food on the table for their families.

“(U)nder the health care law, we’re banning discrimination against women in the insurance market. In 2014, it will be illegal to deny coverage to someone because of her health status. And it will also be illegal to charge women more than men just because they’re women. In other words, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition,” they wrote. “For too long, insurance companies stacked the deck against women, forcing us to pay more for coverage that didn’t meet our needs. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a new day for women’s health has arrived.”

The California Family Health Council estimates 99 percent of American women have used contraception at some point in their lives, despite an average out-of-pocket cost of $600 per year. The money women will save on birth control each year is equal to five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks, the council says.

“The policy being implemented today is a huge step forward for women’s health. The Obama Administration should be applauded for maintaining its commitment to breaking down barriers to accessing critical preventive services for women like contraception,” council president and CEO Julie Rabinovitz said in a news release. “Although there remain legal and political challenges to this new policy, these new benefits will make a real difference in the lives of women and families across the state and country.”

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, healthcare reform, Jackie Speier, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 11 Comments »