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Lee & Hoyer offer ‘Half in 10′ bill to cut poverty

Halving the number of Americans who live in poverty is the goal of a bill introduced Thursday by Rep. Barbara Lee with support from one of the House’s most powerful Democrats.

With 46.2 million Americans living in poverty in 2011, including 16.1 million children in households below the poverty line, “we’re at a critical time in our nation,” Lee, D-Oakland, told reporters on a conference call. “The economy still is not working for anyone.”

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“At every turn, our nation’s most vulnerable cannot find pathways out of poverty that they need to achieve the American dream,” she said. “It’s time that we make a commitment to confront poverty head-on.”

Her Half in Ten Act of 2013 would establish the Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Poverty, which would develop and implement a national strategy to reduce poverty by half in ten years, as well as provide regular reports on their progress.

“It’s morally the right thing to do … but it’s also the economically sound and fiscally prudent thing to do,” Lee said. ”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is an original co-sponsor of Lee’s bill, and recently formed a Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

“Too often we don’t see the poverty that exists around us,” he said on Thursday’s call, adding that focusing on developing and coordinating a real campaign against poverty is especially “important as the devastating Republican policy of sequester takes a blunt ax” to the nation’s social safety net. “Congress should be taking steps to make it easier, not harder, for lower-income Americans to enter the middle class.”

steny hoyerBudget sequestration – across-the-board cuts in federal programs including those that help support the poor – was the result of a 2011 deal between President Obama and House Republicans that created a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. That “super committee” was tasked with producing legislation that would decrease the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade, but it turned out to be just as deadlocked as the rest of Congress, and so these deep, automatic cuts kicked in earlier this year.

And House Republicans have contended that budget cuts are necessary to reduce the nation’s deficit, stimulate the economy and create jobs that will left workers out of poverty.

Lee said the House Budget Committee had a debate around her amendment that’s similar to this new bill, and she saw some bipartisan agreement on the goals. But the House GOP’s budget ultimately “eviscerated all of the building blocks that lead to pathways out of poverty,” she said. “The rhetoric on the Republican side is not matching what they’re actually doing.”

Hoyer noted the faith community strongly supports poverty-reduction efforts such as this, and so he hopes Republicans – many of whom “are people of strong faith and convictions” – can be won over.

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Lee, progressives hold hearing on drone policy

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including the caucus’ Peace and Security Task Force Chair Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, held a hearing Wednesday on U.S. drone policy.

Predator droneAt issue were lethal drones operations abroad, questions of due process, implications for executive and congressional war-making authority, and the precedent being set as other nations rapidly adopt drone technology.

“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus on this issue, and am especially grateful for their efforts in calling this hearing,” Lee said in a news release. “We need to ensure that both chambers publically debate the implications of drones and drone warfare. We cannot retreat from our Congressional duties of oversight and accountability, especially on issues like this where the stakes are so high.”

Caucus members heard testimony from former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ron Dellums, D-Oakland; Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Campaign; international human rights lawyer and New York University Professor Sarah Knuckey; Chris Rogers, program officer of the Regional Policy Initiative at the Open Society Foundation; counterterrorism and human rights lawyer Professor Naureen Shah; and journalist Adam Baron. The hearing also includied video testimony from Baraa Shiban, a youth representative in Yemen’s National Dialogue and Reprieve Project.

Caucus co-chairs Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn., recently wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking the administration to explain the legal basis for drone strikes. “It is far past time that the White House openly discuss the drones program,” the letter said. “The President has full reign to protect the United States as Commander in Chief, but Congress has a vital oversight role in this issue, and we cannot shy away from those responsibilities.”

Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Civil liberties, U.S. House, War on Terror | 2 Comments »

>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 »

Obama’s budget: Something for everyone to hate

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“House Republicans passed a balanced budget that will help foster a healthier economy and to help create jobs. Unfortunately, the president’s budget never comes to balance. Every family has to balance its budget, Washington should as well.

“The American people know you can’t continue to spend money that you don’t have. The federal government has spent more than what it has brought in in 55 of the last 60 years. Now think about this, you can’t continue to go on like this. That’s why we came forward with a plan that will balance the budget over the next 10 years. We believe strongly that it is time for Washington to deal with its spending problem.

“And while the president has backtracked on some of his entitlement reforms that were in conversations that we had a year and a half ago, he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget. But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes. Listen, why don’t we do what we can agree to do? Why don’t we find the common ground that we do have and move on that?

“The president got his tax hikes in January, we don’t need to be raising taxes on the American people. So I’m hopeful in the coming weeks we’ll have an opportunity, through the budget process, to come to some agreement.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“The President’s budget makes critical investments in our economy and in job creation. I’m particularly pleased to see the investments in mental health, HIV/AIDS, and education, including promise neighborhoods, and universal pre-K. Given my efforts to repeal the Tiahrt amendments, I’m also very pleased to see that this budget excludes pieces of that policy rider which inhibits law enforcement’s abilities to track illegal guns and prevent gun violence. Unfortunately, this budget also includes chained CPI, a benefit cut to Social Security which I strongly oppose.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee:

Orrin Hatch“What a disappointment this budget is. Not only is it two months late, but the President’s budget is a rehash of the same tax hikes, spending increases and deceptive budget gimmicks that have already been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike. What’s more, it barely makes a dent in our sky-high debt, while not doing enough to fundamentally reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Any reasonable person understands that our $17 trillion debt – which represents a burden of over $55,000 for every man, woman, and child in America – is a crisis that demands addressing.”

“Falsely claiming $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, as the President proposes, isn’t the kind of leadership the people of Utah and America deserve. Confronting our debt crisis with such an unbalanced set of massive tax increases, as the President does in his budget, will only result in less economic opportunity for middle-class families and small businesses, and more government spending from Washington. After last week’s dismal job numbers where the labor force dipped by a half-a-million workers and the labor force participation rate fell to the lowest since the early years of the Carter Administration, we need policies that grow our economy, the paychecks of the American people, and opportunities for our children and grandchildren – not grow our government as the President proposes in his budget.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“President Obama has put forth a budget proposal that makes investments to grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class while continuing to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.

“The President has made it clear that this proposal is in furtherance of his efforts to achieve compromise with Republicans and demonstrates that he is willing to make tough decisions to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a bold and balanced agreement that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and includes initiatives that spur economic growth by creating jobs.

“Now that the House and Senate have acted on their own budget proposals, it is time for Speaker Boehner to appoint budget conferees to avoid any further delay. The American people want their elected representatives in Washington to work together to tackle the difficult decisions facing our nation. We must lift the sequester and find common ground to grow our economy, put people to work, and build a strong, thriving middle class.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Jeff Denham, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Mike Honda pushes for gun-trace rules reform

Rep. Mike Honda has led 42 other House members in urging the Obama administration to omit from its budget amendments that block law enforcement from being able to track firearms used in crime.

The Tiahrt Amendments are a set of policy riders that have been attached, for the last nine years, to annual appropriations bills. They prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring licensed gun dealers to perform inventory checks; require that background check records be destroyed within 24 hours; and limit state and local law enforcement authorities’ access and use of ATF gun trace data.

The lawmakers sent a letter Tuesday to Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“While pharmacies and other fields are required to check for inventory, guns are not. As a result, the restrictive Tiahrt Amendments have allowed thousands of guns to cross our border or to be purchased illegally without any oversight. These guns are now killing innocent Americans and limiting investigations by authorities,” Honda, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, said in a news release.

“I have worked for years on the Appropriations Committee to repeal these amendments and believe that now is finally the time to put common sense reforms in place to stop the flow of illegal guns and end the violence,” he said. “We must now ensure that the FY14 budget is clean of this language, which has never had a floor vote or a full debate.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, among the signatories of Honda’s letter, said the amendments “block access to vital information that lawmakers, police-officers, and federal agencies need to begin to tackle the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. We must treat gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic, and no one would ever stop the Centers for Disease Control from tracking data on heart disease.”

Others signing the letter include Reps. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz.

Posted on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, gun control, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Barbara Lee, Jeff Denham do immigration forums

House members near and far, and from both sides of the aisle, are holding forums to hear their constituents’ thoughts on immigration reform.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will join with community leaders and activists for a forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26, at St. Elizabeth’s High School, 1530 34th Ave. in Oakland, with testimony from East Bay residents.

Lee’s office says she “been a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform to address our broken immigration system” and “is committed to developing a comprehensive immigration policy that is fair, preserves family unity, promotes long-term economic growth, and includes a clear roadmap to citizenship.”

Next week and far away, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, will hold two similar forums – one on April 2 in Modesto, and another on April 3 in Manteca. He’ll be joined by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, at both listening sessions.

“As your Congressman, I’d like to hear from you about the critical issues facing our country and our community,” Denham said in a news release. “From creating fair and respectful immigration policies, to helping to create good paying jobs, and improving our children’s schools, we have a lot of work to do, and the answers are going to come from people like you – not the bureaucrats in Washington.”

Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Immigration, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Thoughts on the Iraq War’s 10th anniversary

These two statements cover some of the same points, but seem so very different in tone.

From President Barack Obama:

“As we mark the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, Michelle and I join our fellow Americans in paying tribute to all who served and sacrificed in one of our nation’s longest wars. We salute the courage and resolve of more than 1.5 million service members and civilians who during multiple tours wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in military service. We honor the memory of the nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to give the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future after many years of hardship. And we express our gratitude to our extraordinary military families who sacrificed on the home front, especially our Gold Star families who remain in our prayers.

“The last of our troops left Iraq with their heads held high in 2011, and the United States continues to work with our Iraqi partners to advance our shared interest in security and peace. Here at home, our obligations to those who served endure. We must ensure that the more than 30,000 Americans wounded in Iraq receive the care and benefits they deserve and that we continue to improve treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. With a strong Post 9/11 GI Bill, we must help our newest veterans pursue their education and find jobs worthy of their incredible talents. And all Americans can continue to support and honor our military families who are pillars of so many of our communities. On this solemn anniversary, we draw strength and inspiration from these American patriots who exemplify the values of courage, selflessness and teamwork that define our Armed Forces and keep our nation great.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, (in remarks delivered on the House floor):

“Today is a solemn anniversary: a tragedy that began ten years ago today when President George W. Bush launched a war of choice in Iraq, dragging our country into a costly, bitter conflict based on falsehoods and hyperbole. It took President Obama fulfilling his campaign promise to end the Iraq war, and we are grateful that he brought the war to an end.

“But we must not forget how we got into the war in the first place.

“We were told we would find weapons of mass destruction. We were warned about mushroom clouds. I offered an amendment at the time that would have taken us down a different path. It would have required the U.S. to work through the United Nations, using inspectors and maximizing diplomacy and mediation to ensure that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction.

“Unfortunately the amendment failed, by a vote 72 – 355.

“What happened from there? We all know the tragic consequences: President Bush dragged the country into an unnecessary war; no weapons of mass destruction were ever found; the costs of the Iraq war soared far beyond what was projected; and we lost 4,486 American troops in Iraq, and over 32,000 were wounded.

“Ten years later, the full consequences and costs of the Iraq war remain to be seen. According to a new study by the Watson Institute at Brown University, the war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to our war veterans. And the long term costs including caring for our veterans, which we must do, could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades.

“Most importantly, we’ve paid for this war most tragically in loss of life and injury. Fighting the war in Iraq has also undercut nation building here at home. Investments we should have been making in job creation, educating our kids, putting cops on the street, and rebuilding our aging infrastructure. Instead of nation building at home, we poured billions of dollars into nation building in Iraq with little oversight or accountability.

“The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued its final report to Congress last month detailing billions of dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. Speaking with an Iraqi official, Special Inspector Stuart Bowen was told, ‘You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad, but you cannot point a finger to a single project that was built and completed by the United States.’

“Unfortunately, these lost opportunities and tragic mistakes are not behind us.

“As the daughter of a 25-year veteran of the armed forces, I am incredibly thankful for the sacrifices our women and men have made in Iraq, and continue to make in Afghanistan. I am also deeply concerned with the widespread, often undiagnosed, incidents of PTSD and the alarming suicide rates amongst our returning soldiers.

“We need to honor our troops who served and show our support by giving our men and women who served the best health care, the best educational opportunities, and the best job training available. They deserve nothing less.

“It is my hope that this reckless and short-sighted decision will mark a turning point in American history, and that we will never again wage an unnecessary war. We must use all the tools of American power in resolving disputes, including diplomacy. And we must have sufficient congressional debate and oversight before ever putting another U.S. solider in harm’s way.

“Finally, just like in Iraq, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. We need to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated end, and bring our troops home now.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in expressing this sentiment during a different war said, ‘The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities of a decent America.’

“Let us put this decade of perpetual warfare behind us, invest in our veterans, our children, and get about the business of nation building here at home.”

There’s more, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Gun controllers push their message, momentum

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 today to pass a bill that would require all gun sales be subject to background checks, and congressional Democrats and their allies are looking to maximize their gun-control momentum and messaging.

Today, Mayors Against Illegal Guns released a new advertisement featuring religious leaders demanding that Congress act to pass gun law reforms.

The ad concides with the start of the Papal Conclave in Vatican City, and comes just ahead of this weekend’s Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend – organized by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Cathedral and PICO – in which congregations across the nation will gather to reflect and act on preventing gun violence including requiring background checks for all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francsico; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; and other women in Congress will join Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, for a Capitol Hill news conference “to highlight the urgency for common-sense gun violence prevention legislation to protect our communities, families, and schools.”

On Thursday – the three-month anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. – members of MomsRising, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Million Mom March (part of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence), Reston-Herndon Alliance to End Gun Violence, and other concerned citizens will deliver a petition with more than 150,000 signatures on it to National Rifle Association President David Keene at his Fairfax, Va. office. The petition urges the NRA to support common-sense gun safety laws.

On Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, will chair the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force’s hearing on “The Need for Background Checks: Preventing Criminals and the Dangerously Mentally Ill from Getting Guns” at the Capitol. Panelists are expected to include Carol Gaxiola of Arizona, the mother of gun violence victim; Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Joseph Bielevicz, a detective with the Pittsburgh Police Firearms Tracking Unit; Austin, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo; Joe Deaser, owner of the Capital Gun Club in Roseville, Calif.; and Jesse Ogas of Colorado, a hunter, sportsman, gun owner and former NRA Member.

Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, gun control, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 10 Comments »

Lawmakers joust as budget sequester looms

As the federal budget sequester looms with potentially dire consequences for California and the Bay Area, local House members are continuing to sound the alarm.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, today cited the White House’s assessment of the sequester’s impact on California:

“The report today details the harm that these automatic cuts pose to our fragile economy and to the safety and security of families here in California. There is no need for these painful and indiscriminate cuts. That is why I have joined with my colleagues to call on the House Republican leadership to do what is right for our nation by averting these damaging and mindless spending cuts.

“With every passing day, thousands of jobs are at risk, the security of poor, working poor, and middle class families hang in the balance. Our nation’s economy cannot afford any further uncertainty, obstruction, and delay. Too much is at stake.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“We are witnessing the result of an abject failure in leadership by Republican Speaker Boehner and his Tea Party team in Washington. Let’s not forget, they brought us to this point by fabricating a financial crisis and refusing to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, which resulted in the first U.S. credit downgrade in our history. Now, by refusing to ask the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay a little more and by blocking any alternative to the sequester, they are bringing down a meat cleaver on American jobs and the economy.

“They’ve wasted months by not coming to the table with balanced plan to reduce the deficit and grow the economy while avoiding these indiscriminate cuts. Congressional Republicans would rather gamble — again — on inaction and blame the President than do what’s right for our economy, our country’s safety and the security of working and middle class families. This is not leadership befitting the party that controls the U.S. House of Representatives. We can and should pass a balanced approach to reduce the deficit and grow the economy this week rather than create another avoidable crisis that will hurt millions of families across the country.”

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had this to say at a news conference today:

“You know, the president proposed the sequester, yet he’s far more interested in holding campaign rallies than he is in urging his Senate Democrats to actually pass a plan.

“Listen, we know there are smarter ways to cut spending and to continue to grow our economy. That’s why Republicans have acted twice, as Cathy said, to replace the sequester with what we would argue are smarter cuts.

“Listen, the president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester. Well, Mr. President, you got your tax increase. It’s time to cut spending here in Washington.

“Instead of using our military men and women as campaign props, if the president was serious he’d sit down with Harry Reid and begin to address our problems. The House has acted twice, we shouldn’t have to act a third time before the Senate begins to do their work.”

UPDATE @ 5:07 P.M.: Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, weighed in with these remarks on the House floor today:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my strong disappointment that the House Republican Leadership is committing such legislative malpractice by failing to do anything about the automatic spending cuts that will happen this Friday.

“Here we are, on the brink of another economic crisis manufactured by Washington. And, just as before, this crisis will have real consequences, to real people.

“In my district alone, schools will lose $11 million in federal funding. California will be losing $87.6 million in funding for primary and secondary schools. That means fewer students learning and more teachers out of work.

“There’s a rational way to approach balancing the people’s budget, and this is not it. And, we can cut foolish spending without foolishly cutting spending.

“H.R. 699, of which I’m a cosponsor, would replace this method of budgeting with a balanced approach. It would include additional revenue from multimillionaires and smart cuts to reduce unnecessary spending.

“We may not agree on the right way to cut spending, but almost everyone agrees using broad, indiscriminate cuts is the wrong way to cut spending. Let’s come together to pass legislation to avert these cuts.”

Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, John Boehner, U.S. House | 59 Comments »