Gov. Jerry Brown has sent a letter to President Barack Obama appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of a major-disaster declaration for the Rim Fire that devastated a swath of the Sierra Nevada this year.
“The Rim Fire ultimately burned 402 square miles over a period of 69 days, encompassing more than 257,314 acres; causing significant impacts to the State and to the affected local jurisdictions of such severity and magnitude that recovery efforts remain beyond our capabilities,” Brown wrote in the letter.
“In the aftermath of the fire, the State and its communities face infrastructure damage, significant negative economic impact, as well as complex and multifaceted environmental damages,” he wrote. “The burned area created an enormous potential for catastrophic flooding and debris runoff from winter storms.”
Brown sought a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration – which would trigger the release of federal funds to help communities recover – on Oct. 8, after declaring states of emergency in Tuolumne, Mariposa and San Francisco counties, but FEMA denied his request Nov. 4. Current estimates of the damage caused by the fire, which began in August and continued burning throughout October, now top $54 million.
We’ll be posting a full story about reactions to President Obama’s plan to delay cancellation of some individual health insurance plans that don’t meet standards set by the nation’s new law, but here are a few pols for whom we didn’t have space in that article.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the president’s proposal a “good step” that’s “very helpful in the implementation of the law.” She also spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about Republicans’ constant opposition to this law.
“This is typical of Republicans through the generations. Every time we’ve tried to expand health care, they’ve opposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it,” she said, adding that the new insurance law can be fixed “but that’s not good enough for my Republican friends. They just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down Medicare.”
Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, said in an email that he supports the president’s fix, which “continues to provide more choices without undermining the strengths of the new health care law. Implementing any new law creates a few bumps. We should be look for minor tweaks that strengthen the law rather than return to the old system that left millions of Americans without quality coverage.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, issued a statement calling Obama’s proposal “a step in the right direction towards fixing issues with the health care law. This was a promise that was made and it is a promise that should be kept.”
“I’ve said from the beginning that the health care reform law isn’t perfect,” Thompson said. “But instead of engaging in partisan bickering and playing blame games, I want to work to make health care reform better. … If we quit the partisan games, we can build on the reforms made in Obamacare, work out the imperfections, and make sure every American can get quality, affordable health insurance. That is a goal worth fighting for.”
Democrats are hitting back at Speaker John Boehner’s statement today that the House won’t take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill before this year’s end.
NBC Latino reports Boehner, R-Ohio, was eating breakfast at a Washington diner this morning when he was approached by two children of immigrants who urged House action.
“I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” he reportedly told them. “It’s as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward but I made it clear since the day after the election, it’s time to get this done.”
Later this morning, Boehner wouldn’t set a timeline, but rather said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is working with Democrats to develop a set of principles “for us to deal with this issue.” He also said the House has “no intention of ever going to conference” on S.744, the bipartisan bill that the Senate passed in June on a 68-32 vote.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, replied to Boehner with a tweet this morning:
H.R. 15 is the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” introduced last month by Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. It mostly mirrors the Senate bill, but replaces the Senate’s border-security plan with a different one authored by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and approved unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, the senior Democrat on Judiciary’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, spoke about Boehner’s comments during today’s committee hearing on an automated, biometrics-based entry-exit system to track the entry and exit of all travelers to and from the United States.
“Before I close, let me just say, how disappointed I was to hear the news that the House is not intending to consider immigration bills before the end of the year. I think we have a historic opportunity before us to work together to improve our immigration laws. I thank the Chairman of the [Immigration] Subcommittee [Rep. Trey Gowdy] for his kind comments about myself and Mr. [Luis] Gutierrez. I am mindful that we did not do immigration reform in a comprehensive way when we had the majority as Democrats. We were actually, in the House, deferring to the Senate hoping that they could have bipartisan agreement. They ultimately failed. The gentleman was not a Member of that Congress, but we did pass the DREAM Act when Democrats were in the majority, and it fell short in the Senate.
“I just believe that we can put our hands across the aisle and work together to improve our laws. I would hope the spirit and intent to do that has not faded on the part of the majority [Republicans]. Certainly I would hope to continue to work with the majority to solve this problem for our country.”
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials met this morning at the White House with faith leaders to discuss the importance of passing immigration reform.
“The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations,” according to the White House’s readout of the meeting. “The President and the leaders discussed their shared commitment to raise the moral imperative for immigration reform and said they will continue keeping the pressure on Congress so they can swiftly pass commonsense reform.”
Obama commended the faith leaders for their efforts, and “noted there is no reason for House Republicans to continue to delay action on this issue that has garnered bipartisan support,” the readout said. “It would show the American people that Washington can still work together to solve our nation’s challenges.”
Three Bay Area business executives were among those who met with President Obama this morning at the White House to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity framework.
The meeting in the Situation Room was to “discuss the importance of cybersecurity, the joint efforts by the Administration and industry to develop the Cybersecurity Framework, and ongoing work to implement the Executive Order to enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure,” the White House reported.
A White House official said the participants included Steve Bennett, president and CEO of Mountain View-based Symantec; Renee James, President of Santa Clara-based Intel; and Charlie Scharf, CEO of Foster City-based Visa.
Other attendees included Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga; Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Pepco Holdings CEO Joe Rigby.
Interns work in one White House departments including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of Chief of Staff, the Office of Communications, the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of the First Lady, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the White House Counsel, and the Office of White House Fellows.
Janet Yellen, a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business whom President Obama nominated Wednesday to chair the Federal Reserve Bank, was “a thoughtful and engaged member” of the Bay Area Council’s executive committee, the council said Thursday.
“Janet Yellen provided an incisive voice on economic policy during her tenure with the Bay Area Council,” council president and CEO Jim Wunderman said in a news release. “Janet was an active and valuable leader … providing thoughtful and timely insights on the regional, state and national trends that were shaping our economy leading up to and entering the Great Recession.”
The Bay Area Council is a public policy advocacy organization composed of more than 275 of the nine-county region’s biggest employers. Yellen, 67, served on its executive committee from 2004 to 2010 during her tenure as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
She was a frequent speaker at Bay Area Council conferences and meetings, including an April 2008 address to hundreds of CEOs and leading executives in which she shared her perspectives on the emerging financial crisis that would soon become the Great Recession. She also spoke at the 2006 Outlook Conference, discussing the forces driving the economic boom at the time and the surging housing market.
Chris Lu this week might face a task more daunting than his four years as President Obama’s Cabinet Secretary: convincing college students of the value of public service, even as a federal shutdown sends public distrust of government skyrocketing.
Lu, 47, from January 2009 through this past February was the main liaison between the president and his executive departments and agencies; Obama called him “one of my longest-serving and closest advisors.”
He’s speaking Tuesday evening at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, and then again at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in at San Jose State University’s Morris Dailey Auditorium.
And with Obama and House Republicans in stalemate, large swaths of the federal government shut down, and an Oct. 17 deadline for raising the nation’s debt limit and staving off economic chaos, Lu might be glad he’s 2,400 miles away from Washington.
“I’m optimistic that cooler heads will prevail… but candidly I can’t see the path forward at this point,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “It is hard for me to see what the exit strategy is, and I think that’s unfortunate.”
He said House Republicans first wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act, then to delay it, and now might be making demands about other spending instead, he said.
“It’s hard to negotiate when the other side’s demands keep changing,” he said, noting the shutdown in 1995-96 was over budget issues on which it was easier to settle by splitting the difference. “Here there is obviously some money involved, but the president has made clear he’s not negotiating over defunding Obamacare … or on the debt limit, either.”
Lu defended the glitchy rollout of enrollment in health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. It’s an extremely complex system in which more than half the states have refused to cooperate, leaving the federal government to do it for them, he said.
“This was always going to be challenging, but what I am optimistic about is – to the extent that there were glitches in the first week – the glitches were a result of too many people going online,” he said, which is a far better problem than having too few people interested. “The president made clear this was not going to be a smooth rollout, that there would be glitches along the way, but we’ve got multiple months to work it out.”
“Even in the best of times, encouraging people to go into public service and work in the government is a tall order,” he said, but it’s moreso when a shutdown situation like this breeds rampant distrust of government. People outside of Washington aren’t immersed in partisan bickering and “they don’t understand why the government isn’t running, why people can’t sit down and talk these things out and reach some kind of compromise.”
But college campuses still offer some hope, he said. “I still think young people get the value of service… of thinking beyond themselves and looking to help others.”
The president created the partnership in 2011 to bring industry, academia and government together to revitalize the manufacturing sector and boost the nation’s global competitiveness.
Among those on the new committee are University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks; Ajit Manocha, CEO of Milpitas-based semiconductor manufacturer GLOBALFOUNDRIES; and Mike Splinter, executive board chairman of Santa Clara-based Applied Materials Inc.
The original steering committee issued a report last year, “Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing,” that called for sustaining U.S. investments in science, technology, and innovation; establishing a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, a set of public-private partnerships to build shared high-tech facilities and advance U.S. leadership in emerging technologies; upgrading community-college workforce training programs and deploying the talent of returning veterans to meet critical manufacturing skills needs; and improving the business climate for manufacturing investment through tax, regulatory, energy, and trade reform.
While we debate the extent and invasiveness of our surveillance society and the wisdom (or lack thereof) of U.S. military action in Syria, President Barack Obama on Tuesday extended – again – the official national emergency that began a dozen years ago this week with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Here’s the official notice issued by the president:
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN TERRORIST ATTACKS
Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622(d), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency previously declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2013. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency that was declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
President Barack Obama won’t be coming to California next week as planned.
The White House announced Thursday that the president – now in Russia for the G20 Summit – will remain in Washington next week to work on getting a resolution from Congress to authorize use of military force in Syria.
President Obama had been scheduled to address the quadrennial AFL-CIO convention Monday in Los Angeles. U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., still are scheduled to address the convention.