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Westlands farmers bank on Delta House aspirants

Two Republican House candidates from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area took campaign cash from downstate farmers whom would benefit from a new water plan at the Delta’s expense, the area’s current lawmakers say.

Kim Vann, a Colusa County Supervisor challenging Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District received $5,000 from the California Westside Farmers PAC in late April. Ricky Gill, a Lodi law graduate challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, received $5,000 from the PAC in late June.

The PAC acts on behalf of farmers in the Westlands Water District, an agricultural powerhouse in the otherwise arid west reaches of the San Joaquin Valley. McNerney’s campaign noted today that Sarah Woolf, a member of the Westlands board of directors, is the PAC’s treasurer.

A new Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposal announced last week by Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar includes a $14 billion tunnel system beneath the Delta to ship water southward, largely for agricultural purposes. Garamendi and McNerney are among lawmakers who say this plan would benefit Westlands farmers while economically and environmentally devastating the Delta.

“This development is a huge breach of the public trust,” McNerney had said last week. “The families, farmers, and small business owners in northern California stand to have their livelihoods destroyed. This will have ruinous consequences for our local economy at a time when we already struggle with record unemployment.”

McNerney campaign spokeswoman Lauren Smith said Tuesday that Gill has claimed to side with Delta area residents, “but his willingness to cozy up to the people intent on robbing us of our water, ultimately causing economic ruin for our area farmers and small business owners, is deeply disturbing. Once again, Ricky Gill has shown that he just doesn’t get it. It’s clear that peripheral canal supporters believe they have an ally and advocate in Ricky Gill and a staunch and vocal opponent in Jerry McNerney.”

Not so, replied Gill spokesman Colin Hunter.

Ricky Gill“Ricky has been and remains opposed to any plan to divert water around the Delta because of the devastating effect it could have on farmers in this region including his family, which has been farming here for 30 years,” he said. “Unlike Jerry McNerney, who carries an ‘F’ rating from the American Farm Bureau, Ricky intends to be an advocate for farmers when he’s elected to Congress.”

(Taking a quick glance around the interwebs, I see the American Farm Bureau rated McNerney at 41 percent in 2011; also, here’s a more specific rundown of how he voted on issues of importance to the bureau.)

Hunter called the new Delta plan “the culmination of Jerry McNerney’s failed tenure in Congress. He’s been sitting on the sidelines for five years and effectively allowed this to happen.”

As for the PAC money, Hunter said, “Ricky doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Westlands on several issues, but they are farmers like Ricky and they know that Ricky is going to stand up for farmers up and down the valley when he’s in Congress” on issues from free trade to regulatory reform. “McNerney is on the wrong side of all of them.”

Gill’s campaign also Tuesday was touting new poll results Tuesday showing Gill and McNerney in a dead heat. (UPDATE @ 8:07 p.m.: McNerney’s camp just produced its own new poll showing he has a commanding lead.)

In the 3rd District, Garamendi last week had said the tunnel proposal “could wreak havoc on the Delta and the jobs it sustains and put existing water rights in the Delta and Northern California at risk.”

“It is possible for California to solve its water problems, but the Delta and Northern California counties must be at the table, and it will take a comprehensive, multifaceted approach, not just a piece of plumbing in the Delta,” he said. “We must address the needs of all Californians by prioritizing storage, conservation, recycling, levee improvements, and habitat restoration.”

Kim VannVann campaign manager Alee Lockman emailed today that Vann “believes that any conveyance plans must also include authorizing language for increasing water storage. The proposed plan is by no means a perfect solution and there are a number of local issues at stake, but the dialogue of the past week underscores the need for all of us to come together and work toward a solution that will best serve the entire state’s water needs.”

Asked specifically about the PAC money, Lockman replied there’s “nothing to add that hasn’t already been included. We need an open dialogue and we need to find a solution that works best for the entire state of California.”

The PAC also has given $10,000 to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as $5,000 each to Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Clovis; and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. Among other House challengers, the PAC has given $5,000 each to Republican David Valadao in the 21st District and to Democrat Denise Ducheny in the 51st District.

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, economy, Environment, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House, water | 4 Comments »

Reactions to the Affordable Care Act repeal vote

Here’s what some Northern California voices had to say about today’s symbolic, 244-185 House vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

“I should be saying today that the House of Representatives voted for a good bipartisan jobs bill to get Americans back to work … but I can’t. The Republican leadership in Congress would rather waste time on meaningless theater than do something about jobs. Yet again, they scheduled a vote to allow 17 million children with pre-existing conditions to once again be denied coverage and to raise prescription drug costs for more than five million seniors.”

From Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, Garamendi’s Republican challenger:

“By voting to protect the health care law’s $600 billion tax on American families and small businesses, John Garamendi has proven once again where his priorities lie—and they’re not with the people of California’s new 3rd district. John Garamendi has reaffirmed his support for a law that threatens seniors’ access to care by cutting over $500 billion from Medicare and empowering an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats to make decisions regarding seniors’ health care.

“As small businesses continue to be burdened with new regulations and as health care costs continue to rise, it’s clear that John Garamendi’s health care overhaul isn’t working—and it’s even more obvious that the radical ‘single payer’ Canadian-style government-run system, which John Garamendi is fighting for, is completely out-of-touch with what Californians need. I’ll fight not only to repeal John Garamendi’s healthcare overhaul, but to also implement common sense reforms that increase access to quality care, allow Americans to keep the insurance they like, and protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, while lowering costs and ensuring that patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats, remain in control of their health care decisions.”

Lots more from Bay Area House Democrats, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, George Miller, healthcare reform, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Super PAC, union reserve Sacramento ad time

A Democratic super PAC and one of the nation’s biggest unions announced today they’re backing Democratic House candidates by reserving almost $20 million worth of television ad time in 38 markets across the nation – with the biggest buy in Sacramento.

The House Majority PAC said it’ll spend $999,600 while the Service Employees International Union spends $488,000 in the Sacramento TV market.

That should accrue to the benefit of Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who are seeking reelection in the 9th Congressional District and 3rd Congressional District, respectively. But it may be primarily designed to help Ami Bera, who’s taking on Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, in the 7th Congressional District.

The PAC says this is just the first stage of its airtime reservations and a continuation of the SEIU’s voter-contact program.

“From day one, House Republicans have pursued an agenda that is extreme and out of touch – and House Majority PAC will be on TV to hold them accountable,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said in a news release. “Partnering with SEIU allows us to be more successful by effectively leveraging every dollar we spend.”

SEIU National Political Director Brandon Davis said the partnership with the House Majority PAC “will ensure that the work being done by SEIU member volunteers at the doors, on the phones and in the neighborhoods is backed up by a vigorous paid media campaign. Our members want to make sure the voice of the hardworking men and women who keep America running is heard and the steps we are taking today will help ensure that happens.”

Reserving ad time early lets buys lock in lower ad rates, saving millions. Lapp said Republican benefactors such as the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Karl Rove might “have deep pockets, but House Majority PAC has a proven ability to spend efficiently and effectively and win races – just like in the NY-26 and AZ-08 specials when we won despite being outspent by Republican groups.”

A full list of this round of ad buys follows, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, Dan Lungren, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Lawmakers boycott contempt vote on Holder

The House voted 255-67 today to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly stonewalling over documents relating to the probe of the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But more than 100 Democrats left the House floor to boycott the vote, including several Bay Area lawmakers: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I cannot and will not participate in this hyper-partisan and purely political vote today to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress,” Lee said in a news release.

“Contempt power should be used sparingly, carefully and only in the most egregious situations. The Attorney General has gone above and beyond in his response to request for information on “Fast and Furious”, an unfortunate operation that began under the Bush Administration and, in fact, was terminated by Attorney General Holder,” she said. “This contempt vote is unprecedented, unwarranted and entirely unnecessary. Gandhi once said that ‘Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.’ That is why I am standing with so many of my colleagues in refusing to participate in this shameful Republican political stunt.”

Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Mike Thompson, D-Napa remained on the floor to cast votes against the resolution.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for the vote with this statement:

John Boehner“It’s important for the American people to know how we got here and to know the facts of this case. The Congress asked the Department of Justice for the facts related to Fast and Furious and the events that led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The Department of Justice did not provide the facts and the information that we requested. Instead, the information came from people outside the Department, people who wanted to do the right thing. In addition to not providing the information, the Administration admitted to misleading Congress, actually retracting a letter it had sent 10 months earlier.

“I think all the Members understand this is a very serious matter. The Terry family wants to know how this happened and they have every right to have their answers. The House needs to know how this happened, and it is our constitutional duty to find out. So the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee issued a lawful and narrowly tailored subpoena. We’ve been patient, giving the Justice Department every opportunity to comply, so that we can get to the bottom of this for the Terry family. We’ve shown more than enough good faith, but the White House has chosen to invoke executive privilege. That leaves us no other options. The only recourse left for the House is to continue seeking the truth and to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress.

“Now I don’t take this matter lightly, and I frankly hoped it would never come to this. The House’s focus is on jobs and on the economy. But no Justice Department is above the law and no Justice Department is above the Constitution, which each of us has sworn an oath to uphold. So I ask the Members of this body to come together and to support this resolution so that we can seek the answers that the Terry family and the American people deserve.”

After the vote, Holder issued a statement which is presented in its entirety after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Attorney General, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, John Garamendi, Law enforcement, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 17 Comments »

McNerney, Garamendi & foes on SCOTUS ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ensures the health care reform law will be a top issue in this November’s battles for control of the House. In and near the Bay Area, the candidates have come out swinging today.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District:

Jerry McNerney“When I am with people, working in our region, I hear how having access to affordable health care is imperative to our families. I have been unemployed and understand what it’s like to worry about providing for your family and had to struggle to find health coverage.

“The health care reform we passed is far from perfect and needs to be improved upon, but it is a big step in the right direction. Folks who are uninsured will now have some peace of mind, knowing that they will have health care. In our area, where unemployment has been much higher than the rest of the country, and where people need access to affordable health care, this is a vital element to our economic recovery.”

And from McNerney’s opponent this November, Republican candidate Ricky Gill of Lodi:

Ricky Gill “Jerry McNerney promised that his health care plan would reduce health care costs, but today we learned it is simply a massive tax increase that is already contributing to skyrocketing health care premiums for middle class families. Jerry McNerney stands for the status quo, but I am committed to moving responsibly towards bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform that increases patient choice, reduces costs, and protects coverage for seniors, young people and those with pre-existing health conditions.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District:

John Garamendi “When people fall ill, we should help them get better. Most of us have experienced hard times. Many of us have gone without health coverage. When you lay all the heated rhetoric and legalese aside, the health care debate is really about what we’re going to do when people get sick or injured. In America, we should take care of each other. It is irresponsible to force millions of Americans to delay treatment because they can’t afford it, to live one broken leg or one chronic illness away from financial calamity.

“Today a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court made the right decision. President Obama and Democrats in Congress did the right thing. We developed a plan that extended health coverage to most Americans. We fulfilled our moral obligation to seniors, to children, and to hardworking Americans. The Supreme Court sided with our authority to improve health care for all Americans.

“The health care law establishes a powerful Patient’s Bill of Rights. No longer will Americans with a pre-existing condition be denied health coverage. No longer will women be charged more for coverage. The health law will finally close the prescription drug donut hole, so seniors can afford their medication. The benefits of the Affordable Care Act have already started. 32.5 million Seniors have already received free preventative services. Three million additional young adults now have health coverage because of the law. Small businesses can take advantage of tax credits so they can provide insurance for their employees. Starting in 2014, 30 million more Americans will be able to afford access to health care.

“Jesus taught us, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ All the world’s great religions urge us to be compassionate and to help the sick. All good people recoil at the sight of needless suffering and cruelty.

“We all deserve the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. While I hope to eventually see Medicare for All in America, the Affordable Care Act is a vast improvement over the dark days when we allowed the insurance companies to run roughshod over our health.”

And from Garamendi’s opponent this November, Republican candidate and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann:

Kim Vann “Today’s Supreme Court ruling underscores the urgency with which Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with solutions that do not tax and cripple our economy. Rather than providing a lasting solution to the challenges facing our health care system, the health care law places a $600 billion tax on American families and businesses, while cutting over $500 billion from Medicare, empowering an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats to make decisions regarding seniors’ health care, and imposing burdensome and costly regulations on our small businesses. It’s clear these solutions aren’t working. We must work for real reforms that lower costs and increase access to quality care, while ensuring that patients and their doctors—not government bureaucrats—remain in control of their healthcare decisions.

“My opponent, Congressman John Garamendi, has already voted for a more radical government health care overhaul than Obamacare. He supports the complete government takeover of health care—a ‘single payer’ government-run system. This radical position is not only out of step with most Republicans and Democrats—it’s out of touch with reality.”

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, healthcare reform, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

McNerney will skip convention, Garamendi unsure

Add Rep. Jerry McNerney to the list of Democratic elected officials who won’t attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this September even as they try to retain their seats.

But it seems he has a pretty solid reason.

“The Congressman won’t be attending the convention, as it conflicts with his son’s wedding,” spokeswoman Lauren Smith said today.

McNerney, D-Stockton, is being challenged in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District by Ricky Gill, a recent law school graduate from Lodi whom the National Republican Congressional Committee named one of its Young Guns – a well-funded, well-organized up-and-comer taking on a vulnerable incumbent.

But Gill spokesman Colin Hunter said Gill hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August; he declined comment on McNerney skipping Charlotte.

Various national media outlets have been building a list of Democrats avoiding the Charlotte convention, often from districts where President Obama’s approval ratings are low. Likewise, some Republicans who might benefit from distancing themselves from the GOP are avoiding Tampa.

It’s unclear whether Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will go to Charlotte. Garamendi is challenged in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District by Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, another of the NRCC’s Young Guns.

“A decision has not been made yet,” Garamendi spokesman Donald Lathbury said today. “We’ll have a better sense of his schedule closer to the convention.”

A spokeswoman for Vann didn’t immediately return a call or an e-mail.

UPDATE @ 1:05 P.M.: Alee Lockman, Vann’s campaign manager, says “no plans have been made as of yet” on whether Vann will go to the GOP convention in Tampa.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Is one of these ‘Young Guns’ shooting blanks?

Two of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” are near the Bay Area, but one of them might be shooting blanks.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary in the 3rd Congressional District show incumbent John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, got 52.5 percent of the vote while “Young Gun” Kim Vann – a Colusa County supervisor – got 25.4 percent.

It’s true that Vann had to beat back three other Republican challengers, but the long and short of it is that Garamendi still managed to pull a majority of the votes in a low-turnout election that should’ve favored Republicans. In November, with the presidential election drawing many more voters to the polls and Democratic turnout improving accordingly, Vann’s going to have a much tougher time. The well-respected Cook Political Report agrees, listing Garamendi’s district – which has pieces of Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties – as a “likely Democratic” win this fall.

Not that Vann is letting any grass grow under her feet. Here’s the video she released yesterday:

It could be somewhat different story over in the 9th Congressional District, listed by Cook as “lean Democratic” as incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, seeks re-election.

Unofficial results show McNerney got 48.4 percent of the vote, while “Young Gun” Ricky Gill – a Lodi native who just finished law school at UC-Berkeley – drew 39.5 percent; another Republican, Mountain House businessman John McDonald, got 12.1 percent.

Unlike Garamendi, McNerney didn’t manage to get a majority on Tuesday. Spokeswoman Lauren Smith told me late Tuesday night that he’s not worried; he believes stronger Democratic turnout in November will buoy him to victory. The district – with parts of San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties – is registered 43.8 percent Democrat, 36.5 percent Republican and 15.8 percent no-party-preference, which gives him a better edge than the tiny GOP advantage he overcame in his old district in November 2010. But Gill is playing up his local roots and has raised a lot of money, and McNerney certainly can’t kick back and relax this summer.

Posted on Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 primary election, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

House OKs indefinite detentions, TBI treatment

The House today voted 182-238 against a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act, expressing Congress’ view that no one detained on U.S. soil can be indefinitely detained and that every person deserves access to a lawyer and a fair judicial process.

All Bay Area members voted for the amendment except Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, who didn’t vote.

“Last year, when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, he laid out his concerns regarding provisions that would have allowed for indefinite detention of American citizens and required that certain individuals captured even on US soil be held in military custody,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said afterward.

“The Smith-Amash amendment would have addressed these concerns, righting a wrong that flies in the face of our commitment to protect the American people and have the proper balance between security and liberty,” she said. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in the House failed to join the vast majority of Democrats in supporting this amendment to realign detention policy with the U.S. Constitution.”

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, had co-sponsored the amendment.

“The NDAA allows the Executive Branch the power to detain individuals indefinitely without giving them their day in court,” he said. “Not only does this subvert the core principles embedded in our Constitution, this policy prevents our judicial system from trying and punishing anyone who would harm Americans. Instead of allowing terrorists to hang in legal limbo, we must bring them to justice.”

Among other amendments, however, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, scored a win with his bipartisan effort to speed up new and innovative treatments to servicemembers and veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Our troops and veterans have earned the very best treatment and care that we can provide,” said Thompson. “But sometimes the best treatments aren’t available at military and veteran medical facilities. My amendment will make sure that our heroes who return from combat with TBI or PTSD have access to the highest quality care our nation has to offer.”

The amendment Thompson cosponsored with Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, creates a new five-year, $10 million pilot program to let military patients get treatment from health care facilities outside the VA that use cutting-edge, successful therapies for TBI and PTSD. Physicians and residential treatment centers can qualify for payment from the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs through a “pay-for-performance” plan, meaning they must prove a patient has had demonstrable improvement. The amendment also requires an annual report to Congress on the results of the program, as well as a report on plans to integrate successful methods into Defense and VA medical facilities.

Ultimately, the House passed the NDAA today on a 299-120 vote; the only Bay Area member to vote for it was Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton.

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012
Under: Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | No Comments »

Safeway exec’s joke falls flat for House members

Much of the Bay Area’s House delegation has asked top officials at Pleasanton-based supermarket giant Safeway for an apology after one of those officials told what the lawmakers say was a sexist joke about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The letters the lawmakers sent today to Safeway CEO Steve Burd and General Counsel Robert Gordon takes issue with something Gordon, 60, of Orinda, said at the company’s shareholder meeting Tuesday in Pleasanton:

“You know, this is the season when companies and other institutions are interested in enhancing their reputation and their image for the general public, and one of the institutions that’s doing this is the Secret Service, particularly after the calamity in Colombia. And among the instructions given to the Secret Service agents was to try to agree with the president more and support his decisions. And that led to this exchange that took place last week, when the president flew into the White House lawn and an agent greeted him at the helicopter. The president was carrying two pigs under his arms and the Secret Service agents said, ‘Nice pigs, sir.’ And the president said, “These are not ordinary pigs, these are genuine Arkansas razorback hogs. I got one for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and one for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” And the Secret Service agent said, ‘Excellent trade, sir.’”

(Thanks very much, he’ll be here all week, try the veal and don’t forget to tip your waiters.)

SO not funny, say the lawmakers.

“Poking fun at politicians is part of our culture, and TV comedians carry this out nightly. But sexist jokes told by a top executive of a Fortune 500 company to an international audience are completely inappropriate and demonstrate a shocking lack of respect, not only for two of the most important and respected people in our country but for all women,” they wrote to Burd. “Safeway owes an apology to Secretary Clinton, Leader Pelosi, and the country. It is up to the Safeway board to decide what action to take against its general counsel for his comments but let there be no doubt as to our strong disapproval and deep disappointment in your company for what he said.”

The letters were signed by George Miller, D-Martinez; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; and Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

I’m awaiting a response from Safeway, and will update this when it’s received.

UPDATE @ 4:30 P.M.: “Both letters will be responded to shortly,” Brian Dowling, Safeway’s Vice President of Public Affairs, e-mailed me about an hour ago; he did not clarify whether this will be the extent of the company’s comment today, so I must assume that it will be.

UPDATE @ 4:48 P.M.: Dowling clarifies that the company will respond directly to the lawmakers, and Gordon also will write directly to Pelosi and Clinton.

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Lawmakers urge faster Afghanistan withdrawal

Most of the Bay Area’s House delegation was among 101 members who signed a letter, co-authored by Rep. Barbara Lee, urging President Obama to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan government and security forces.

The lawmakers want the president to announce this at the upcoming NATO summit meeting in Chicago, in order to effect a speedier withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“Earlier this month you visited Afghanistan to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement. As you stated at Bagram Air Base, ‘this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end,’” the lawmakers wrote. “The core of al Qaeda has been greatly reduced in size and ability to attack Americans. Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything that we have asked of them. With over 17,000 dead and wounded U.S. servicemen and women, and long term costs estimated at $4 trillion for the past decade of unfunded wars, the overwhelming majority of American people want to bring the war in Afghanistan to an expedited end.”

The lawmakers wrote that while many of them would prefer an immediate full withdrawal, there’s broad bipartisan consensus that the process at least should be speeded up. “We also remind you that any agreement committing U.S. troops to Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding.”

The only Bay Area members who didn’t sign the letter – which Lee, D-Oakland, coauthored with Walter Jones, R-N.C. – were Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Lee also this afternoon offered an amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act, which would’ve limited further funding for the Afghanistan war to only what’s required for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and contractors.

Lee’s amendment failed on a 113-303 vote. “My amendment provided members of the House the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people,” she said in a statement issued afterward. “I am disappointed that a majority of House members did not stand with seven out of ten Americans who oppose the war in Afghanistan.”

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »