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Inertia on immigration reform riles Dems

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:

Pelosi tweet

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.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, last month was the first House Republican to sign onto H.R. 15; others who’ve done so since then include Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford. They and certain other California Republicans might face tougher re-election fights next year if no action is taken on immigration reform.

Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Immigration, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 16 Comments »

Tix start at $1k for Obama’s DNC fundraiser in SF

President Barack Obama will be back in the Bay Area in late November to raise money for Democrats.

The luncheon on Monday, Nov. 25 at the San Francisco Jazz Center will be hosted by novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, who held a fundraiser for Obama in their Pacific Heights home in February 2012.

An invitation to the event says tickets cost $1,000 per person; $5,000 for lunch and a photo reception; $7,500 for lunch and the photo reception for two; $10,000 for lunch and the photo reception for a family of up to five people; or $15,000 for lunch and a special co-chair reception. All money goes to the Democratic National Committee.

The San Francisco luncheon is part of the latest national fundraising blitz the President is undertaking on behalf of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Obama did fundraisers for the DSCC in Palo Alto and Portola Valley this past June, and for the DCCC in April in San Francisco.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, campaign finance, Democratic Party | 20 Comments »

Barbara Lee met with President Obama today

Congressional Black Caucus members including Rep. Barbara Lee met with President Obama today to discuss legislative priorities.

“I’m pleased that today I had the opportunity to discuss the goals of the CBC’s Poverty and the Economy Task Force, which I co-chair, during our meeting at the White House,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release issued after the meeting. “President Obama was receptive and positive about our work, and was very clear that addressing poverty and opportunity is a high priority for his administration.

“I’m looking forward to working with the President on a wide range of critical issues that touch all of us, regardless of region, race, or economic status; issues like immigration, voting rights, the protection of our environment, as well as poverty and creating good jobs,” Lee added.

Lee was an early and ardent supporter of Obama’s campaigns and sees eye-to-eye with him on most issues, but not all; she has criticized his stances on issues including drone warfare, the timeline for withdrawing from Afghanistan, and his inclusion of the chained CPI – a cost index used to help calculate cost-of-living adjustments for benefit levels – in his 2014 budget proposal.

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

I’d hate to be the White House aide who…

President Barack Obama, preparing to discuss Obamacare and his administration’s controversial intelligence-gathering programs, strode to the podium at San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel this morning, greeted the crowd of reporters – and paused.

“I think there’s only one problem, and that is that my remarks are not sitting here,” he said, smiling and gesturing to the podium before calling offstage, “People!”

“By Friday afternoon, things get a little challenged,” he said, drawing laughter; a moment later, an aide handed him his notes. “Oh, somebody is tripping. Folks are sweating back there right now.”

Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 29 Comments »

Inside Obama’s DSCC fundraiser in Portola Valley

Again, here’s the pool report I just filed to the White House:

From the Palo Alto event, POTUS’ motorcade made its way back out to Highway 101 South, to Oregon Expressway, to Page Mill Road, to Interstate 280 North, to Alpine Road, to Los Trancos Road. Finally, it proceeded up the vineyard-lined private drive to the palatial home of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems, and his wife, Neeru. POTUS arrived at 7:32 p.m. Pacific Time.

Reporters were ushered into the house at 7:54 p.m. as Khosla addressed the crowd of only a few dozen who’d paid $32,400 each for this DSCC fundraising dinner. Khosla said he met Obama while he was a senator and found him “amazingly adept” at energy issues. POTUS took the microphone at 7:56 p.m.

POTUS thanked the Khoslas “and these beasts” – their large, shaggy dogs – for hosting the event. “These two could eat Bo,” he said, gesturing toward the canines. He acknowledged the presence of DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Obama again described his visit this morning to the Mooresville, N.C., middle school which has vastly improved its performance by moving to a laptop-based, high-tech teaching system. “The passion that young people now have for learning… because of that, the school has transformed itself.” The administration’s new goal is that within five years, all schools will have broadband and wireless access to transform the nation’s educational system “and save money in the process,” he said.

Silicon Valley knows of this transformation better than anywhere else, he said, and now the question is how to engage the rest of the nation, how to make sure everyone has access to the resources for success.

After an extraordinary economic crisis, things are getting better, he said. Referencing his meeting Friday with the president of China, “when you look at the challenges they face and the challenges we face, I’ll take our challenges any day of the week,” but we have to make our government work again.

Government has an important role to play from education to regulatory structure that encourages clean energy and protection of intellectual property, and if we get that part of it right, nothing can stop us, the president said.

“From my perspective, that’s what it means to be a Democrat… that’s what leads us to believe in this democratic ideal,” he said. “So in order for us to accomplish that, we’re going to need to have a Democratic Senate.”

Democrats have no monopoly on wisdom, he reiterated, and he’ll continue to reach out across the aisle in search of Republican cooperation. “But on too much of the big stuff, what we see coming out of the other party is an interest in winning elections or in obstruction, not enough interest in solving problems. Too often what we see is the notion that compromise is a dirty word. And sometimes what we see is the denial of science, around climate change for example.”

He remains optimistic, he said, because of the kids he saw in North Carolina and the businesses he sees in Silicon Valley. “But I’m going to need your help to make that happen… and if you’re willing to engage and be involved and stay committed… then I think we’ll succeed.”

POTUS finished speaking at 8:07 p.m. Reporters were ushered out before he started taking questions from the crowd.

Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency, U.S. Senate | 10 Comments »

Inside Obama’s DSCC fundraiser in Palo Alto

Here’s the local pool report I’ve just filed to the White House:

Air Force One landed at 5:50 p.m. Pacific Time at Moffett Field in Mountain View. POTUS was greeted on the tarmac by Dr. S. Pete Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center; Lewis Braxton III, NASA Ames’ deputy director; Col. Steve Butow, USAF Air National Guard, commander of the 129th Rescue Wing; Mountain View Mayor John Inks; and Sunnyvale Mayor Tony Spitaleri.

The motorcade left at 6:01 p.m., heading north on Highway 101 to the University Avenue exit in Palo Alto, then winding into town to the home of Flipboard CEO Mike McCue and his wife Marci. Tickets for this reception to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee started at $2,500 per head and ranged up to $12,000 per person or $15,000 per couple. A long line of well-heeled guests wended through the garden and into the side door of the photo for photos with the president.

The McCue and the president strode out the home’s back door and to a podium on the back patio at 6:38 p.m.

McCue said Obama “absolutely understands what’s happening in Silicon Valley” and has “a holistic approach to the economy,” understanding that the economy and society are intertwined.

“It is good go be back in California, especially when the weather is this good,” the president said, thanking the McCues and acknowledging the presence of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., chairman of the DSCC.

Obama said he visited a school earlier Thursday in Mooresville, N.C., where the superintendent decided a few years ago to get rid of textbooks and replace them with a laptop for every student, starting in third grade. That and having teachers rethink the whole curriculum has made it a low-spending but high-performing district now.

“You could see these kids just excited about learning and wanting to keep learning well after the school day was done,” he said.

And so the new initiative is that in five years, all schools will have high-speed connections to all students can take advantage of these technologies. “One of the best things about this is, we don’t need a vote through Congress,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

The economy is coming back, jobs are being created every month, the auto industry has recovered and financial markets are stabilizing, and so America is poised to make the 21st century its own, Obama said.

Whether it’s education, infrastructure, fiscal policies, “on all these issues, there’s a range of common-sense solutions available to us right now, and if we implement them, we’re going to leave an America behind for our kids and grandkids that is stronger and more prosperous than ever before,” he said. “We’ve got what we need in order to succeed.”

But “too often government is getting in the way of this process,” Obama said, though government must help play a role no matter how robust the private sector is. “There are some things we do better together… Often the private sector cannot or will not make those investments.”

“The reason that Washington is a problem is that right now, it’s broken – it’s not working the way it needs to,” he said.

Democrats “don’t have a monopoly on wisdom” but “we’re just not getting a lot of cooperation from the other side,” he said. There are some “glimmers of functionality,” like Bennet working with the Gang of 8 on immigration reform, but many other issues remain stymied.

Democrats believe in “a light touch” of regulations and taking care not to over-tax, but government must play its part nonetheless, he said. No other advanced nation lacks universal health care, he said, and so this must be made to happen here. And roadblocks like budget sequestration are freezing funds for important research that could move the economy forward. “We have a role to play.”

Climate change will be the most important choice this generation makes, and “we’re going to have to make some collective decisions about this,” he said. In the face of science that’s “irrefutable,” we have to balance clean energy and other means of carbon reduction with economic growth.

“Here’s the bottom line: I have never been more optimistic about America than I am right now,” Obama said, noting that people have remarked upon his gray hair and the difficulties of his job. Despite tough economic times, “we’re more inclusive, we’re more prosperous, we are less violent now than just about any time in human history, and that should give us hope.”

“But we’ve got to get this right, and the only way I’m going to be able to do that is if I’ve got people in Congress who share my optimism and share the sense that there are solutions out there and that compromise is not a dirty word,” he said, exhorting the crowd to be optimistic and stay engaged. “Ultimately our government represents us, and if we neglect it, it doesn’t work.”

POTUS finished speaking at 6:56 p.m. He worked the rope line briefly before returning to the car; motorcade departed for the fundraising dinner in Portola Valley at

Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Obama returning to Silicon Valley in two weeks

President Barack Obama will return to the Bay Area on Thursday, June 6 for a pair of pricey fundraisers to help U.S. Senate Democrats keep their majority in next year’s midterm elections.

Tickets for a 5 p.m. reception at the Palo Alto home of Mike McCue – who helped found tech companies including Paper Software, Tellme Networks and Flipboard – and his wife, Marci, start at $2,500 and range up to $12,000 per person or $15,000 per couple. But it’ll cost a cool $32,400 per person to get into a 6:30 p.m. dinner and discussion at the Portola Valley home of Sun Microsystems founding CEO and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife, Neeru.

“With key second-term issues ranging from immigration reform to climate change to trying again on gun violence prevention, the stakes for holding the Senate couldn’t be higher,” said Wade Randlett, one of the president’s pre-eminent fundraising bundlers in the Bay Area.

U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., are expected to attend both events. Bennett now chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which these fundraisers will benefit; Schumer chaired the DSCC from 2005 to 2009, during which Democrats made significant gains in the Senate, and he’s currently the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate’s leadership.

A contribution of $32,400 enrolls one as a DSCC “Majority Trust” member and, along with other benefits, allows for attendance at the DSCC’s signature retreats.

These fundraisers will be held just two months after President Obama’s last Bay Area visit, during which he raised money in San Francisco and Atherton for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, campaign finance, U.S. Senate | 31 Comments »

Pool reports from President Obama’s SF fundraisers

Here are the verbatim pool reports filed late last night from President Obama’s San Francisco fundraisers by the Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci:

About 100 guests gathered at the home of Democratic billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer to hear President Obama Wednesday — an event inside a three story stucco home which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge (and lists for $5.8 million on Zillow).

The setting was spectacular, at the end of a peninsula and a dead end road in the tony Seacliff neighborhood, though the famous bridge was covered in fog. Obama said his hosts apologized to him for that.

Obama addressed the crowd in a high ceiling room without furniture, but repeatedly mentioned the issue of climate change in his 19 minute remarks.

Among House members present: Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose, Rep. Eric Swalwell of the East Bay and Rep. Jared Huffman of the North Bay.

He was introduced by Steyer, who was with his wife, Kat Taylor, who sang to guests as a greeting.

“This is the cheapest ticket in town,” Steyer told the crowd, in introducing the president.

Steyer, a vociferous opponent of the Keystone pipeline and a strong supporter of climate change leglislation, appeared to try to put at ease concerns that Obama would not make good on promises to keep the issue at the top of his agenda.

“He is doing everything we can on the issues that we care about,” Steyer said. “He has political limitations…so we really have an obligation to help him.”

“We are like role players in basketball…,” said Steyer. “And we have the great star gunner who has to take the star shot…we have the best left-handed shameless gunner in the world.”

Obama for his part, addressed the climate change issue repeatedly in his remarks.

Despite an “aggressive agenda” by Republicans, he said, “We’ve been able to reduce carbon emissions in this country …(and) address one of the biggest challenges of our time — and that is climate change.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Obama. “We can do so much more.”

Obama acknowledged that the issue is “close to Tom’s heart,” but added, “the politics of this are tough.”
“If you’ve still got that job that is powered by cheap energy … and you certainly can’t afford to buy a Prius,” he said, “you may be concerned about the temperature of the planet.”

“But it’s probably not rising to your number one concern,” Obama said, such as keeping a job or “how do I feed my family.”

Obama said that supporters will need to “marry a genuine, passionate concern about middle class families” and convince them that “we are working just as hard for them as we are for an environmental agenda.”

“And that’s going to take some work.” The President’s biggest applause line, though, came when — citing accomplishment of his administration — he noted that because of changes in culture in this country, “we’re able to see that the LGBT community has full and equal citizenship.”

Second pool report, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 10 Comments »

Anti-pipeline protesters to target Obama in SF

CREDO and other groups intend to protest outside President Obama’s fundraiser next Wednesday evening in San Francisco to send a message that if he’s serious about fighting climate change he must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

They’ll be targeting the $32,500-per-person Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising dinner that Obama is headlining along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty, at Broadway and Baker Street in the Pacific Heights district.

Activists say the controversial pipeline project would accelerate climate change by speeding tar sands development and exporting dirty tar sands oil from Canada to foreign countries. Other organizations taking part in the protest include 350.org, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club.

CREDO in 2011 turned out over a thousand people at President Obama’s re-election campaign fundraiser in San Francisco, shortly before he first delayed his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, energy, Environment, Obama presidency | 3 Comments »

Thoughts on the Iraq War’s 10th anniversary

These two statements cover some of the same points, but seem so very different in tone.

From President Barack Obama:

“As we mark the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, Michelle and I join our fellow Americans in paying tribute to all who served and sacrificed in one of our nation’s longest wars. We salute the courage and resolve of more than 1.5 million service members and civilians who during multiple tours wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in military service. We honor the memory of the nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to give the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future after many years of hardship. And we express our gratitude to our extraordinary military families who sacrificed on the home front, especially our Gold Star families who remain in our prayers.

“The last of our troops left Iraq with their heads held high in 2011, and the United States continues to work with our Iraqi partners to advance our shared interest in security and peace. Here at home, our obligations to those who served endure. We must ensure that the more than 30,000 Americans wounded in Iraq receive the care and benefits they deserve and that we continue to improve treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. With a strong Post 9/11 GI Bill, we must help our newest veterans pursue their education and find jobs worthy of their incredible talents. And all Americans can continue to support and honor our military families who are pillars of so many of our communities. On this solemn anniversary, we draw strength and inspiration from these American patriots who exemplify the values of courage, selflessness and teamwork that define our Armed Forces and keep our nation great.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, (in remarks delivered on the House floor):

“Today is a solemn anniversary: a tragedy that began ten years ago today when President George W. Bush launched a war of choice in Iraq, dragging our country into a costly, bitter conflict based on falsehoods and hyperbole. It took President Obama fulfilling his campaign promise to end the Iraq war, and we are grateful that he brought the war to an end.

“But we must not forget how we got into the war in the first place.

“We were told we would find weapons of mass destruction. We were warned about mushroom clouds. I offered an amendment at the time that would have taken us down a different path. It would have required the U.S. to work through the United Nations, using inspectors and maximizing diplomacy and mediation to ensure that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction.

“Unfortunately the amendment failed, by a vote 72 – 355.

“What happened from there? We all know the tragic consequences: President Bush dragged the country into an unnecessary war; no weapons of mass destruction were ever found; the costs of the Iraq war soared far beyond what was projected; and we lost 4,486 American troops in Iraq, and over 32,000 were wounded.

“Ten years later, the full consequences and costs of the Iraq war remain to be seen. According to a new study by the Watson Institute at Brown University, the war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to our war veterans. And the long term costs including caring for our veterans, which we must do, could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades.

“Most importantly, we’ve paid for this war most tragically in loss of life and injury. Fighting the war in Iraq has also undercut nation building here at home. Investments we should have been making in job creation, educating our kids, putting cops on the street, and rebuilding our aging infrastructure. Instead of nation building at home, we poured billions of dollars into nation building in Iraq with little oversight or accountability.

“The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued its final report to Congress last month detailing billions of dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. Speaking with an Iraqi official, Special Inspector Stuart Bowen was told, ‘You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad, but you cannot point a finger to a single project that was built and completed by the United States.’

“Unfortunately, these lost opportunities and tragic mistakes are not behind us.

“As the daughter of a 25-year veteran of the armed forces, I am incredibly thankful for the sacrifices our women and men have made in Iraq, and continue to make in Afghanistan. I am also deeply concerned with the widespread, often undiagnosed, incidents of PTSD and the alarming suicide rates amongst our returning soldiers.

“We need to honor our troops who served and show our support by giving our men and women who served the best health care, the best educational opportunities, and the best job training available. They deserve nothing less.

“It is my hope that this reckless and short-sighted decision will mark a turning point in American history, and that we will never again wage an unnecessary war. We must use all the tools of American power in resolving disputes, including diplomacy. And we must have sufficient congressional debate and oversight before ever putting another U.S. solider in harm’s way.

“Finally, just like in Iraq, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. We need to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated end, and bring our troops home now.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in expressing this sentiment during a different war said, ‘The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities of a decent America.’

“Let us put this decade of perpetual warfare behind us, invest in our veterans, our children, and get about the business of nation building here at home.”

There’s more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 5 Comments »