House reactions to Obama’s IS use-of-force plan

President Obama’s proposal for a new authorization for use of military force against the so-called Islamic State already is creating a stir in Congress, with some saying it goes too far and others saying it doesn’t go far enough.

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

Nancy Pelosi“As our nation confronts the ISIS threat, the President has worked diligently to engage Congress in determining the U.S. strategy to degrade and destroy these brutal terrorists. A key part of Congress’ responsibility is to debate and pass a new and narrowly-tailored Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

“Today, the President has submitted a serious and thoughtful draft for a new AUMF, one which ends the outdated 2002 AUMF that authorized the Iraq war, restricts the use of ground troops, and includes other important limiting provisions going forward.

“Congress should act judiciously and promptly to craft and pass an AUMF narrowly-tailored to the war against ISIS. I look forward to constructive bipartisan debate on this matter immediately.”

From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

Kevin McCarthy“Radical Islamist terrorists, such as ISIL, pose a grave and growing threat to the United States. The number of terrorist groups and the volume of fighters have all dramatically increased in recent years.

“I have been supportive of efforts to give the Commander-in-Chief additional authorities to confront these growing challenges, but rather than expanding his legal authority to go after ISIL, the President seems determined to ask Congress to further restrict the authority of the U.S. military to confront this threat.

“The Speaker and I told the President we’d consider his request. I am prepared to support an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that provides new legal authorities to go after ISIL and other terrorist groups. However, I will not support efforts that impose undue restrictions on the U.S. military and make it harder to win.

“Congress will be conducting hearings to review both the President’s strategy to combat radical Islamist terrorists and the legal authorities that might be required to implement an effective and sufficiently robust strategy. At the end of this process, I hope Congress and the Administration can be united on how best to respond to the increasingly complex and dangerous challenge we face.”

More, after the jump…
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Eric Swalwell endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

Rep. Eric Swalwell, the East Bay congressman who’d sent up a trial balloon last week about running for the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016, instead endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for that seat Wednesday.

“From her days as a prosecutor in the Alameda County D.A.’s office through her time as California Attorney General, Kamala has been an innovative and effective leader on so many issues facing Californians — crime prevention, consumer protections, environmental preservation, and strengthening public education,” said Swalwell, D-Dublin, who also was an Alameda County prosecutor. “I look forward to campaigning alongside Kamala and working together on behalf of the next generation of Californians.”

Swalwell, 34, who has just begun his second House term, will serve Harris’ campaign as chairman of Young Professionals outreach, spearheading young voter organizing and fundraising efforts. Harris said he’s “an incredibly hard-working and effective representative of his East Bay constituents in Congress, and I am grateful to have him by my side in this campaign.”


California lawmakers’ State of the Union guests

Here’s a sampling of guests invited by California lawmakers to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight:

FloresRep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: Honda is bringing Claudia Flores, an immigration rights activist who was allowed to stay in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Flores and her family moved to San Jose from Honduras when she was a teenager; she became a leader at San Jose High School and in her community, eventually earning a full-ride scholarship to Santa Clara University. She was an intern in Honda’s office two summers ago and is now a public policy fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. “This hard-working, bright woman, who has done so much in her young career, would have been deported if not for President Obama’s action in 2012,” Honda said. “She is exactly the type of person this policy was meant to encourage to stay in the United States.”

UsafiRep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: Swalwell is bringing Mohammad Usafi, an Afghan interpreter who worked with U.S. Marines and after waiting nearly four years received a special immigrant visa to move to the Bay Area one year ago. The Taliban kidnapped Usafi’s young brother for ransom and killed his father because of the aid he had worked for American troops; after Swalwell and other House members helped friends and advocates petition the State Department, Usafi’s mother and seven siblings were granted humanitarian parole to join him here in December. “It’s a great relief that today Mohammad and his family live in the Bay Area, but more must be done and can be done in a bipartisan fashion to help interpreters like Mohammad,” Swalwell said.

ChristensenRep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo: Speier is bringing retired U.S. Air Force Col. Don Christensen, that branch’s longest-serving chief prosecutor and a leading advocate of military sexual assault reform. Christensen is president of Protect Our Defenders, a group that’s leading efforts to remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. “I invited Colonel Christensen with the hope that he could witness President Obama announce his support of fundamental reform of the military justice system,” Speier said. “A year after requesting a report from the Pentagon, the president now has the results on his desk. He has all the information he needs. Tonight would be a perfect time for him to lead on this issue by supporting taking sexual assault cases out of the chain of command.”

MartinezRep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara: Capps is bringing Richard Martinez, whose son, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20, was among those slain in last May’s rampage near UC-Santa Barbara. Martinez, of Los Osos, became a face of the tragedy as he urged lawmakers to pursue stricter gun-control measures; he since has joined the staff of Everytown for Gun Safety. “As the 114th Congress begins their tenure, it is time they put the public safety of their constituents first, and that means making gun safety a priority to help reduce gun violence in America,” Martinez said.

OliverRep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove: Bera is bringing Susan Oliver, widow of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver, who was shot to death in the line of duty in October by a gunman who also killed a Placer County deputy. Their lives “remind us that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day for our safety,” Bera said. “They were true heroes and we are forever indebted to them and their loved ones. Let’s honor their memory by building understanding and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, just like Deputy Oliver did.”

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: Feinstein is bringing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He’s been mayor since 2013 and earlier was a councilman; Feinstein said they’ve worked together on issues such as funding for the Metro’s Purple Line extension and efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans.


Swalwell & Speier named to House Intelligence

My, hasn’t Rep. Eric Swalwell seemed upwardly mobile recently?

Swalwell, D-Dublin, on Monday became the only Bay Area House member with the cojones (or hubris?) to announce he’s considering whether to run to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2016 – quite a goal for a guy starting only his second term in Congress.

On Tuesday, Swalwell was the only Californian that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, named to a new committee charged with shaping House Democrats’ message for the next two years.

And on Wednesday, Pelosi named Swalwell and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, to the House Intelligence Committee, a plum spot in these troubled times of foreign strife and domestic surveillance.

“As we face escalating threats to our security, I will work to make sure our government is vigilantly protecting Americans, while being true to our values around privacy and civil liberties,” Swalwell, a former Alameda County prosecutor, said in a news release. “With the rise of data breaches, a top priority of mine will be to increase our cybersecurity capabilities. National security should know no party, and I vow to carry out this work in a collaborative, bipartisan manner.”

Swalwell in his first term tried to make a name for himself on the Homeland Security Committee, where he took up issues including the Transportation Security Administration’s proposal to allow certain knives aboard planes as well as airport-perimeter safety. On Wednesday, Swalwell noted he was an Capitol Hill intern with Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, on Sept. 11, 2001.

“That experience led me to a career in public service and generated my interest in national security,” he said. “It’s a privilege to serve on this committee so I can continue to fulfill my highest responsibility as a lawmaker, keeping Americans safe.”

Speier issued a statement saying she looks forward “to working on one of our nation’s most pressing issues: protecting our economic and national security against terrorist threats abroad, domestic, and over the internet.

“The heinous attacks in Paris underscore the fact that a handful of home-grown terrorists can wreak havoc on a nation. Cyber threats run the spectrum, from consumer information stolen to intellectual property and proprietary emails hacked from corporations. We must take this 21st century threat more seriously to protect our nation’s most sensitive information, in the public and private sectors alike,” she said.

But “from the torture report to broad NSA surveillance, it is clear that increased Congressional oversight is needed,” Speier added. “I look forward to working with my colleague to ensure our rights and values are not compromised in the name of security.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, had been the Bay Area’s only presence on the Intelligence Committee in the last Congress, but a spokesman said Wednesday that Thompson won’t be on the panel in this new Congress.


Swalwell to help focus House Dems’ messaging

Rep. Eric Swalwell was the only Californian named Tuesday to a new committee that will try to fine-tune House Democrats’ message.

Eric SwalwellMinority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said the new House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee – which Israel will chair – “will be tasked with developing a Caucus-wide message that forcefully communicates where House Democrats stand, that resonates with hardworking Americans, and that presents a sharp contrast to House Republicans’ special interest-first agenda.”

Pelosi said the panel’s 16 members “have consistently shown the wisdom, creativity and vision necessary to make our case to the American people.”

Swalwell, D-Dublin, later Tuesday issued a statement saying he’s “honored to lead House Democrats’ outreach to millennials.”

“This is a new way for the Party of the Future to speak with and for the future. Today, young people across America are asking themselves how they’re going to afford their education, whether their education will even produce a good-paying job, and whether they’ll ever realize the American dream of home ownership,” said Swalwell, now starting his second term in Congress. “House Democrats are putting forward policies that will enable millennials to not only dream, but achieve. This position presents the opportunity to find new ways to make sure that our nation’s leaders are listening to and speaking for America’s next generation.”


California pols say ‘Je suis Charlie’

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“This was a barbaric attack on innocent French citizens and on our shared belief in the fundamental right of free expression. My thoughts and prayers are with the injured and the families of those killed in this heinous and cowardly act of terror.”

From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“I condemn today’s horrific terrorist attack in Paris. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the French people. This terrorist attack, like so many before it, is an assault on fundamental democratic principles that are essential to a free society. It is also a reminder that the war on terrorism is not over, that radical Islamic terrorist organizations have not been defeated, and that they continue to pose a threat at home and abroad. Whether it is ISIL in Iraq and Syria, the Taliban, Haqqani network, and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ansar al Sharia and other terrorists in Libya, Boko Haram in Nigeria, or al Qaeda affiliated groups in Yemen, Somalia, and Mali, free and moderate societies face a growing and determined terrorist enemy. We ignore this gathering danger at our peril. We must recommit to our common efforts against these violent enemies and stand with our friends around the world. For their sake and for our own, we must prevail in this fight against violent extremism.”

From Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin:

“An attack on Paris is an attack on all free people across the world. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of French news magazine, Charlie Hebdo. We stand with the French people as they work to apprehend the terrorists.

“This attack serves as another sad reminder of the need to remain vigilant against terrorist threats at home and abroad. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I will continue to work to ensure we have the resources necessary to secure our country, as we work with our allies abroad to protect innocent citizens and our democratic ideals. Je Suis Charlie.