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Eric Swalwell gets second bill signed into law

President Obama’s signature this month of a second bill by Rep. Eric Swalwell – naming a Dublin post office for a late veteran and community activist – means the East Bay congressman now has had more bills enacted than the 69 other House freshmen.

That’s right, folks: Two bills signed into law is the best any freshman has done in this 113th Congress.

Eric SwalwellSwalwell’s H.R. 1671 renames the post office at 6937 Village Parkway in Dublin for Dr. Jim Kohnen, who died in May 2012 at age 69. The U.S. Postal Service will schedule a formal naming ceremony.

Kohnen retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a colonel after over 30 years of service in the Corps of Engineers; during his service, he had graduated from the U.S. Army War College, the Air War College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, earning his doctorate in education. Later in life, he was a teacher at San Leandro High School, an elected or appointed official on five local boards, and a volunteer with organizations including the Boy Scouts and the Dublin Historical Preservation Association.

“Through this Post Office, Jim will always continue to be part of his beloved community,” Swalwell, D-Dublin, said in a news release Monday.

Swalwell’s earlier successful bill was H.R. 3771, which President Obama signed into law in March. That one encouraged Americans to donate to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts by letting them deduct contributions to Philippines recovery efforts made before April 14 from their 2013 taxes; otherwise, a person would have had to wait until he or she filed their taxes next year to claim the deduction.

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Caption contest: Swalwell trips the VR fantastic

(Click to enlarge)
Swalwell at Facebook

The real story: Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, was among House Homeland Security Committee members who visited Facebook’s Washington, D.C., office Tuesday morning; he tried out the new Oculus virtual reality system as part of learning how social media can be used during disasters.

I thought maybe he was immersing himself in a virtual reality in which:

    his bipartisan bills don’t get killed at the last minute by conservative groups;
    someone is calling him “Speaker Swalwell;”
    he’s nominated by peers and chosen by The Hill’s staff to be on that publication’s 11th annual “50 Most Beautiful” list. (Oh, wait – that really happened today. Well, maybe he’s envisioning himself in a sash and tiara, gripping a bouquet of flowers while the late, great Bert Parks croons “There he is…”).

What do YOU think Rep. Swalwell is seeing in those virtual-reality goggles? Keep it clean, please; we’re a family-oriented publication.

Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Congressional Soccer Caucus turns eyes to Qatar

Rep. George Miller helped introduce a resolution Thursday calling for better protection for migrant workers in Qatar who are building that tiny Middle Eastern emirate’s facilities for the 2022 World Cup.

Miller, D-Martinez, who co-chairs the Congressional Soccer Caucus…

Wait, what?

Yes, there is a Congressional Soccer Caucus. It has three other co-chairs plus 23 members.

“The mission of the Congressional Soccer Caucus is to encourage legislation, activities and events that promote soccer and issues affecting the greater soccer community, toward encouraging healthy and active lifestyles among America’s youth,” according to the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s website. The foundation “serves as the public advocacy arm for the game and provides information and support for the Caucus.”

Who knew? I did not. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

qatar2022Lawmakers contend Qatar’s migrant workforce faces horrible conditions, including 12-to-16 hour working days in triple-digit heat, indentured servitude by unscrupulous labor contractors, and squalid, overcrowded labor camps. More than 500,000 additional immigrant workers, primarily from Nepal, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, are expected to arrive in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Recent reports warn that as many as 4,000 migrant construction workers could die from the unsafe living and working conditions by the time that tournament kicks off.

“After America’s exciting showing in the 2014 World Cup and as soccer fans around the world look forward to future world cups, we must ensure that the workers who make these events possible have safe working conditions,” Miller said in a news release. “The current conditions Qatar’s migrant workforce face are simply unacceptable. The Qatari government, FIFA, the United Nations, and the International Labour Organization have all recognized that conditions need to improve but have taken no meaningful action. We’ve introduced this resolution in hopes of ending the abuse of migrant labor in Qatar.”

H.Res. 862, of which Miller is lead sponsor, resolution calls on the Qatari government to make changes to their legal system to better protect migrant workers; urges the United States to prioritize the rights of migrant workers in their relations with Qatar; encourages American businesses to honor international human rights standards by holding their contractors and subcontractors accountable for labor violations; and asks FIFA to continue to advocate for fair labor practices in Qatar. The European Parliament already has passed a similar resolution.

Among the resolution’s 17 cosponsors (all Democrats) is fellow Soccer Caucus member Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, who attended the University of Maryland initially on – you guessed it – a soccer scholarship.

Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, George Miller, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Conservative groups fell Swalwell’s bipartisan bill

A Bay Area House member’s bill to step up the nation’s exploration of critical elements – used in tech products, aircraft and renewable energy projects – failed this week after two conservative groups urged its defeat.

Eric SwalwellRep. Eric Swalwell’s H.R. 1022, the Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act, needed a two-thirds majority to pass, but fell short Tuesday with a 260-143 vote.

“Under the threat of punishment from Heritage Action and Club for Growth, a majority of House Republicans voted against America’s manufacturing and national security interests,” Swalwell, D-Dublin, said in a news release.

“Thanks to their obstruction, American job-creators and the Department of Defense will continue to be at the mercy of China to acquire these critical elements that help power our homes and protect our troops,” he said. “Rather than support research and development that will help create jobs here at home, 142 House Republicans just voted to send good-paying American jobs overseas.”

The Club for Growth had issued an advisory earlier Tuesday urging lawmakers to oppose the bill, and noting it would be included in the club’s 2014 legislative scorecard.

“With very little debate and no ability to amend, this bill creates a whole new $125 million program within the Department of Energy to monitor and research ‘critical minerals’ that are often used in the manufacturing industry. Through this bill, government intervention in the private sector will only increase,” the club’s advisory said.

The advisory also noted an earlier version of the bill, along with a similar bill in 2010, had included giving the Energy Department authority to hand out loan guarantees for commercial projects that develop rare-earth technologies. “We can only assume that supporters of this bill will seek to implement these guarantees after this program has firmly found its place in the federal government after a few years.

“So rather than add another layer of bureaucracy and another layer of crony capitalism onto the federal government, we should be cutting wasteful programs and reducing government intervention in the private sector,” the club advised.

Swalwell’s office said the United States relies on other countries for more than 90 percent of many energy critical elements, and China is the world’s largest producer of rare earth elements – an important subset of ECEs.

Swalwell’s bill would have authorized in law and strengthened the Energy Department’s Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub, which was created last year and is making important advances in understanding how to extract, recycle, and produce substitutes for energy critical elements. The hub is a collaboration among national laboratories, universities, research institutes, and private companies.

The bill did not authorize any new spending and reflected a compromise between Republicans and Democrats on the House Science Committee. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, supported the bill, as did Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.

“This bill was the product of a year’s worth of cooperation between me and Republican leadership,” Swalwell said. “Unfortunately, this hard work was derailed by puppeteering from right-wing groups.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

CA15: More time for a recount… if Corbett asks

Contrary to what was reported here last week, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett has not yet run out of time to request a recount of her apparent defeat in this month’s primary election for the 15th Congressional District.

After Contra Costa County’s results update on Tuesday afternoon, Corbett, D-Hayward, trails Republican candidate Hugh Bussell of Livermore by 430 votes in their battle to finish second after Rep. Eric Swalwell. The second-place finisher, of course, will go on to face Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election.

A spokesman for Alameda County Registrar Tim Dupuis had said Friday that candidates have five calendar days after the election results are certified – which Dupuis did Friday – in which to request a recount. But Dupuis said Wednesday that because this district spans two counties, candidates actually have five days starting on the 29th day following the election; the 29th day will be July 2, so a recount can be requested up until July 7.

Dupuis said Corbett has not yet requested a recount. Corbett hasn’t returned several calls over the past two weeks seeking comment on her intentions.

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CA15: Corbett silent as recount clock starts

Alameda County Registrar Tim Dupuis certified his county’s primary election results Thursday, starting a five-calendar-day clock in which candidates can request recounts.

That’s particularly germane for state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, who is still 413 votes – half a percentage point – behind Republican Hugh Bussell of Livermore in their battle to finish second after Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District. The second-place finisher, of course, will go on to face Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election.

Most of the district is in Alameda County, where Corbett beat Bussell by 1,048 votes. But it also includes a small piece of Contra Costa County as well, where Bussell outperformed Corbett by 1,461 votes.

Corbett hasn’t returned six phone calls over the past 10 days, including one this afternoon, inquiring about her intentions (though her Senate staff has issued 10 news releases about her activity in Sacramento during that time). Depuis has not yet received any request from her for a recount, spokesman Guy Ashley said.

Posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CA15: Hope fades for Ellen Corbett

Republican Hugh Bussell leads state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett by 413 votes in their battle to finish second behind Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District, following Friday’s election-returns update from Contra Costa County.

Contra Costa Registrar Joe Canciamilla said all his county’s ballots are now counted except for about 4,000 with damages, soiling or errors; only a fraction of those would fall in the 15th District, most of which falls in Alameda County where counting was completed earlier this week.

“Based on the data from this run that I have just been given, I don’t think it will make much of a difference in the outcomes,” Canciamilla said. “The close races have margins that are remaining pretty much the same.”

Corbett, D-Hayward, did not return phone calls Friday afternoon. The most recent item on her campaign’s Facebook page was posted Tuesday.

“As we await the final vote tally, I want to take a moment to thank my many supporters, volunteers, and team for an outstanding show of support and dedication,” she wrote. “Together we have shown East Bay voters a real difference and why it matters.”

Hugh BussellBussell, the Alameda County GOP vice chairman from Livermore, sounded ebullient Friday afternoon.

“It still feels like we’re 95 percent there to crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s,” he said. “It isn’t quite official yet and the margin is so slender, and no matter who ends up the winner, it certainly was a great battle.”

“Obviously I’m very pleased with how things have turned out at this point … and I’m looking forward to stepping up the pace between now and November,” Bussell added.

As of Friday’s update, Swalwell, D-Dublin, had finished first with 42,386 votes, or 49.1 percent of all those cast. Given that Corbett ran as a more progressive candidate while Bussell ran as a more conservative candidate, he seems well-situated in the middle to pick up many of Corbett’s votes come November.

Bussell on Friday had 22,204 votes (25.7 percent) and Corbett had 21,791 (25.22 percent).

Posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA15: Bussell’s lead over Corbett has been halved

Republican Hugh Bussell’s narrow lead over state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett in the 15th Congressional District was halved by an election-results update posted Wednesday afternoon by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Bussell, of Livermore, and Corbett, D-San Leandro, are vying to finish second in the race; whoever prevails will face Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election. Swalwell finished first with 49.1 percent of the vote in last Tuesday’s primary.

Since the previous update on Saturday, Bussell had led Corbett by 721 votes, or about 1 percent of all votes cast. But after the update at 4 p.m. Wednesday, his lead is now 323 votes, or about four-tenths of a percent.

However, this might be as close as Corbett gets.

This now Alameda County’s “unofficial final” result, spokesman Guy Ashley said Wednesday afternoon – all ballots have now been scanned, and the county is now starting its one-percent manual tally to audit its results, as required by law.

The district also includes a slice of Contra Costa County, where registrar Joe Canciamilla won’t update his online results until Friday; as of Monday, his county had about 6,000 provisional ballots and about 4,000 exception ballots – damaged or otherwise questionable – left to count.

But Bussell has led Corbett in Contra Costa County all along, so it’s unlikely that further results there will help her.

Corbett could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

CA15: Corbett still lags as uncounted ballots wane

A Saturday update in Alameda County’s ballot tally didn’t help state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett gain any ground in her bid to finish second in the 15th Congressional District race.

Ellen CorbettAs of now, Corbett, D-Hayward, trails Republican Hugh Bussell by 721 votes, or about 1 percent of all votes cast in the race; before Saturday’s update, she’d been trailing by 713 votes. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, finished with a more-than-comfortable 49.3 percent of the vote to Bussell’s 25.9 percent and Corbett’s 24.9 percent.

Alameda County, which contains most of the district, still has about 4,500 ballots (1,000 vote-by-mail and about 3,500 provisional) to process county-wide; a spokesman said the registar will next update the results on his website Tuesday afternoon. Contra Costa County has about 10,000 (6,000 provisional and 4,000 exceptions – damaged or otherwise questionable vote-by-mail ballots); registrar Joe Canciamilla said he’ll next update the results on his website Friday before 5 p.m.

But Bussell has basically maintained the same lead as the number of ballots still outstanding has dwindled tremendously since last Wednesday, and so it’s growing ever more unlikely that the relative few ballots remaining will suddenly turn the tide.

Corbett couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

CA15: Bussell now leads Corbett by 710 votes

The long, tough wait goes on in the 15th Congressional District, where Friday’s vote-tally updates still couldn’t provide a clear picture of who’ll finish second behind Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Alameda County’s update had narrowed Republican Hugh Bussell’s lead over state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, from 600 votes to 310, but then Contra Costa County’s update broke in Bussell’s favor so that he now leads Corbett by 713 votes – about 1.1 percent of all votes counted so far.

Both counties still have tens of thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots to process, so the candidates must remain on pins and needles – except for Swalwell, of course, who’s sitting pretty no matter who’s in second place.

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 31 Comments »