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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 »

Which local House members are targets in 2014?

With House elections only a month behind us, eyes are already turning toward the 2014 election’s landscape.

The fine folks at renowned political prognosticator Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” have tagged several Northern California House members as potentially vulnerable in 2014:

For Republicans, they might take fresh shots against Rep.-elects Scott Peters (D), Ami Bera (D) and Raul Ruiz (D), who all defeated Republican incumbents in razor-thin races. They may have some other opportunities across the state, particularly if some unsuccessful but promising 2012 challengers — Ricky Gill (against Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney) and Kim Vann (against Democratic Rep. John Garamendi), among others, decide to mount rematches.

The difficulty for Republican candidates in California, though, is that their statewide party is in rump status, akin to Democrats in Texas — and, unlike demographics in Texas (which might very slowly move in the Democrats’ direction), demographics in California provide little hope to resuscitate the California GOP.

The article also notes the potential for a fight in the 10th Congressional District, where Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, beat back a challenge this year from former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, a Democrat from Stockton. “Hernandez is openly considering a repeat run, although he might wait until 2016 — a clear indication that he understands the turnout problems Democrats have in midterm elections.”

Meanwhile, Rep.-elect Eric Swalwell – the Dublin Democrat who unseated 20-term Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, last month – today tells Roll Call exactly what we reported right after Election Day: that it’s never too soon to consider who’ll be coming at you two years hence.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Under: Ami Bera, Eric Swalwell, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Garamendi honors Dave Brubeck on House floor

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, spoke on the House floor today to honor iconic jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, a Concord native who died Dec. 5, one day before his 92nd birthday.

Brubeck grew up in Ione (Amador County), graduated from the College of the Pacific in Stockton and later attended Mills College in Oakland before recording with San Francisco’s Fantasy Records. A long residency at the Black Hawk nightclub in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district helped him establish a reputation that would soon grow to international stature.

UPDATE @ 5:11 P.M. THURSDAY: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, today introduced a resolution honoring Brubeck. “Dave’s contributions to music, jazz, and the arts have had a tremendous impact here in Stockton and around the world,” McNerney said in the news release, adding he’s “proud to introduce this resolution recognizing his contributions and talents.” Garamendi; Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, are among the resolution’s original co-sponsors.

Read the full text of Garamendi’s remarks, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Under: John Garamendi, U.S. House | No 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 »

Garamendi raising funds to pay off campaign debt

With a hard-fought re-election race done, Rep. John Garamendi needs more money to pay off his campaign debts.

Garamendi, D-Fairfield, will hold a fundraising luncheon Monday at an Italian restaurant in South San Francisco, seeking from $500 to $2,500 per person.

Garamendi fended off a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District. He finished with 54.1 percent of the vote to Vann’s 45.9 percent, according to still-unofficial results scheduled to be certified next week.

As of Oct. 17 – the final reporting deadline before the election – Garamendi’s campaign had outspent Vann’s by about 43 percent, but had only $112,698 cash on hand with $132,354 in outstanding debts and obligations.

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Pelosi names Garamendi to Agriculture Committee

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today named Rep. John Garamendi to the House Agriculture Committee for the final few weeks of this 112th Congress, even as the House might take up a big farm bill during the lame-duck session.

Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Garamendi, D-Fairfield, expect approval of the assignment at Wednesday’s House Democratic Caucus meeting. This is a committee seat that was left vacant in August by the sudden retirement of Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

John Garamendi“I didn’t enter Congress to twiddle my thumbs and sit quietly in the background. I must be where the needs of my district are and that’s in the final negotiations for the five-year farm bill,” Garamendi said in a news release Tuesday. “I want to thank Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi for giving me this opportunity to serve where I am needed.”

He said passing a good farm bill is important to the family farmers in his newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, where he won re-election this month by turning away a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican. But the food aid contained in the bill will provide vital help to struggling families across the state, he added.

“As a farmer and rancher, I know we need to get this done, and I will work around the clock to make sure California specialty crops and commodity programs are protected,” he said.

House rules dictate that joining the Agriculture Committee requires Garamendi to resign from the House Natural Resources Committee, which he did today; he’ll continue serving on the Armed Services Committee in this lame-duck session. Committee assignments for the new 113th Congress, which begins at noon on Thursday, Jan. 3, have not been announced yet.

Posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Under: Agriculture, Dennis Cardoza, John Garamendi, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | No 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 »

3rd quarter fundraising reports for House races

Yesterday was the deadline for House candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission for the third quarter of 2012, July 1 through Sept. 30. Here’s what’s happening in some of Northern California’s more interesting races:

3rd Congressional District
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, raised $448,758 and spent $518,327 during 2012’s third quarter, and had $162,452 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $93,947 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $68,505 unencumbered. Republican challenger Kim Vann of Arbuckle raised $410,369 and spent $491,005 in the third quarter, and had $156,862 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $52,514 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $104,347 unencumbered.

7th Congressional District
Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, raised $507,383 and spent $436,323 during the third quarter, and had $1,229,226 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $23,743 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $1,205,483 unencumbered. Democratic challenger Ami Bera of Elk Grove raised $731,002 and spent $1,665,117 during the third quarter, and had $402,609 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $256,454 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $146,155 unencumbered. So while Bera outspent Lungren by almost four-to-one in July through September, Lungren had eight times as much money to spend heading into the campaign’s final weeks.

9th Congressional District
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, raised $523,483 and spent $558,723 in the third quarter, and had $1,037,825 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $5,294 in outstanding debts and obligations. He was outmatched by Republican challenger Ricky Gill of Lodi: Gill raised $722,729 and spent $601,445 in the third quarter, and had $1,145,983 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. But counting Gill’s $153,222 in outstanding debts and obligations, McNerney had a slight edge in unencumbered money to spend going into the contest’s home stretch.

10th Congressional District
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, raised $314,288 and spent $813,223 in the third quarter, and had $752,864 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $16,358 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $736,506 unencumbered. Democratic challenger Jose Hernandez of Stockton raised $490,922 and spent $679,746 in the third quarter, and had $269,644 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $24,893 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $244,751 unencumbered. So, Denham had a half-million dollar edge going into the campaign’s final weeks.

15th Congressional District
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, raised $266,871 and spent $202,712 in the third quarter, and had $537,749 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debts and obligations. Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell of Dublin raised $233,537 and spent $151,894 in the third quarter, and had $161,117 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debts and obligations. That’s a better than three-to-one cash advantage the incumbent had over his Democratic insurgent challenger heading into the campaign’s final weeks.

It’s important to note that these numbers don’t tell the whole story in the 3rd, 7th, 9th and 10th Districts, where partisan committees and various super PACs are spending a great deal of money to buy copious ad time on their candidates’ behalf.

Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Bill Clinton to stump in Davis for House candidates

Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University of California at Davis tomorrow to give a boost to four Democratic House candidates fighting fierce battles here in Northern California.

Bill ClintonClinton, arguably now one of his party’s most beloved figures, will bring his vaunted rhetorical skills to bear on behalf of Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, who faces a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the 3rd Congressional District; Dr. Ami Bera, the Elk Grove physician who’s challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River in the 7th Congressional District; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who faces a challenge from Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi in the 9th Congressional District; and Jose Hernandez, the former NASA astronaut challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, in the 10th Congressional District.

These races – especially Bera’s second attempt at unseating Lungren – have generated millions of dollars in advertising spending from the campaigns, national organizations, and super PACs. Clinton will headline a rally for the candidates Tuesday morning on UC Davis’ quad.

“Middle class Americans need champions in Congress who will fight for good American jobs, and who will put people before politics,” Clinton said in a statement issued Monday. “I’m proud to endorse four people who will do just that: John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Ami Bera, and Jose Hernandez. They’ve got fresh ideas to help restore the economy for middle class families, and they know Congress is a place for service, not personal gain.”

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

Two area Democrats OKed ‘No More Solyndras’ bill

Two Northern California House Democrats sided with House Republicans last week to pass a bill called the “No More Solyndras Act” to phase out the clean energy loan-guarantee program that bankrolled the now-defunct Fremont solar manufacturer.

Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, were among the 22 Democrats who joined with 223 House Republicans to vote in favor of H.R. 6213; they were the only California Democrats to do so. On the other side, 157 Democrats and four Republicans opposed the bill, which now is before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, praised the bill as ensuring “that taxpayers are no longer left holding the bag for the administration’s reckless investments. … The Obama administration may still regard the loan program that brought us Solyndra as an ‘enormous success,’ but the American people know better.”

Both McNerney and Garamendi are locked in tough re-election battles: McNerney, with Lodi Republican Ricky Gill; and Garamendi, with Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, also a Republican. Also, both voted for President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus package, which funded the loan-guarantee program among many other things; the program itself began during President George W. Bush’s administration.

“This program, like all government programs, needs to be reviewed and modified to address problems,” Garamendi said in a statement issued by a spokesman Friday. “I will continue my work to strengthen energy independence, create clean energy jobs, and Make It In America.”

McNerney last year had defended the loan-guarantee program.

“Solyndra certainly needs to be accounted for,” he had said in an interview. “But in order to develop new sources of energy we need to do research and development, and a well-supervised loan guarantee is one way to achieve that. I think there is a need for loan guarantees, especially considering what’s happening overseas.

McNerney had said it’s “not a good argument to say that the failure of one company is an indication that the whole industry has a problem. Moreover, oil, gas and coal companies have had government subsidies for 100 years or so, so I think it’s reasonable that renewable resources companies can look to the government for help both in research and in incentives.”

McNerney spokeswoman Lauren Smith on Saturday noted McNerney’s use of the phrase “well-supervised,” and said he made no endorsement of a program that lacks proper oversight and management.

“Congressman McNerney has always taken pride in being an independent voice and representing the people in our community,” she said. “With the people in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties struggling in today’s economy, he felt compelled to vote for H.R. 6213 to ensure that their hard-earned tax dollars are spent in a responsible way with proper oversight and accountability. He understands what it’s like to be out of work and worried about money – and how every last dollar matters to most families in our region.”

As the Associated Press reported, Republicans have noted that three of the first five companies to get loan guarantees under the stimulus, including Solyndra, have gone bankrupt. But Democrats say Republicans are ignoring the Energy Department’s successes, including saving nearly 300 million gallons of gasoline a year by supporting such projects as one of the world’s largest wind farms in Oregon, a large solar generation project in California and a major photovoltaic solar power plant in Arizona.

Gill’s campaign is making hay of McNerney’s vote, noting McNerney had called green energy his “signature issue” during his initial run for the House in 2006.

“It turns out his signature was written in disappearing ink,” said Gill campaign consultant Kevin Spillane, accusing McNerney of “suddenly running away from the issue that defined his candidacy and his entire record in Congress — the advocacy of green energy, its supposedly endless economic potential, and the need for costly government incentives to promote its development.”

“Seems like McNerney’s true ‘signature issue’ is saving his political career,” Spillane said.

Smith replied this is “a blatant political attack… There is no credibility there.”

Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, economy, energy, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | No Comments »