The region around Stornetta in Mendocino County gets about 1.75 million visitors each year, the vast majority of whom are from the Bay Area and Sacramento. The California Coastal National Monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, protects small islands, exposed reefs and pinnacles off the 1,100 miles of California coastline.
“Beyond the natural benefits the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands provide to our families and our communities, the region has a significant economic impact as well,” the lawmakers wrote. “Tourists drawn to Mendocino County to visit Stornetta and Mendocino’s south coast support nearly 5,000 jobs and generate more than $110 million in economic activity annually.”
Visit Mendocino County, the local tourism bureau, said the business community there strongly supports adding the land to the monument. “Over 50 local businesses signed a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar last month and emphasized that adding the Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument would have a strong economic benefit to our region,” president and CEO Scott Schneider said in a news release.
Thompson last summer had introduced H.R. 4969 to add the lands to the monument, but the bill never made it out of committee.
U.S. Senate Republicans defeated a motion today to end debate and call a floor vote on confirming former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as U.S. Secretary of Defense.
The 58-40 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to end the Republican filibuster. Republicans are saying they intend to allow a floor vote at the end of this month, but Democrats say this is the first time there has ever been a filibuster – however temporary – of a defense secretary nominee.
Here’s what U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said on the Senate floor before the vote:
“Mr. President, I am glad we are voting today on the President’s choice for Secretary of Defense, our former colleague, Chuck Hagel. I stand here as a Senator who has had a number of questions as well about some of the things he said in the past, some of the votes he has cast, and some of his philosophy. And what I did, as soon as I learned he was the President’s pick, was to ask those questions. Remember the President is the Commander in Chief. This is a critical appointment. It has to be someone he has faith in, puts his trust in, and he picked someone. He picked a brave hero who served in Vietnam.
“So I wrote all my questions down, and believe me, they covered some tough ground on women’s rights, gay rights, Iran, and Israel. There were a number of questions.
“I asked if it would be all right if when the answers came we could put them online so people could see the answers. The answer that came back was absolutely yes. The answers to my questions were very clear and very strong.
“Senator Hagel has evolved on certain issues. He admitted to a mistake on a couple. That is the hardest thing for any politician to admit. There are four words politicians hate to say – ‘I made a mistake.’ He admitted to that on a couple of issues.
“I just think the way he is being treated is so sad. It is so sad. When I watch some of the questioning from my colleagues — not all of them, a couple of them, and I am not referring to my dear friend, Senator Inhofe – it was reminiscent of a different time and place when someone would say: ‘I have here in my pocket a speech that you made on such-and-such a date,’ and, of course, nothing was in the pocket. It was reminiscent of some bad times.
“I am so glad we are voting today. I know it is going to be a close vote. I don’t know what the outcome will be. I do believe eventually this good man will be the Secretary of Defense. I believe that in my heart. If anyone is still undecided on this vote, let’s understand that never in history have we had a 60-vote requirement – to my knowledge – for a nominee for Secretary of Defense. If I am wrong, I hope to be corrected. There is a reason for it.
“Lord knows I was one of the key voices of dissent on the Iraq war, and I was not happy about a lot of the people who were put into place by George W. Bush. Believe me, I didn’t want to see them continue in those positions. I think they led us astray in Iraq, and it led to so many thousands of deaths. However, I never dreamed of requiring a 60-vote majority. In my view, this is not a good day for the Senate.
“I know my friend, Senator Inhofe, is very sincere. I am on the Foreign Relations Committee; I am a senior member of that committee. We have listened to the State Department on Benghazi. We have had briefings and hearings and answers came in. We had secret briefings that were highly classified. We had open hearings.
“I have to say, what more are you trying to get out of this? Benghazi was a crisis. It was a disaster. It was terrible. There should have been more security there, but don’t blame the brave Americans for it. Blame the terrorists who did this. As the facts became available, those facts came right out. Why are we trying to stop this good man because of something he had nothing to do with?
“In closing, I hope if you are on the fence, you will vote today for Chuck Hagel, and a ‘yes’ vote on cloture.”
I applaud the President’s talk tonight regarding jobs and technology. We must ensure the resilience of the American worker, and the adaptability and innovation inherent in our economy, to keep us at the forefront of global competitiveness.
This is the Silicon Valley way of life and business, where the manufacturing sector employs 1 in 5 workers (more than twice the national average), where breakthrough ideas are cultivated, and where the world’s most successful visionaries and businesses call home.
If we renew our national commitment to winning the manufacturing jobs of the future, bringing Silicon Valley sense to Washington, and employ strategies that play to our nation’s natural strengths, we should see a new golden age of American manufacturing.
That is exactly why my legislative platform, introduced this week, will reinvigorate a critical component of our national economy by focusing on three components: Next-generation technologies, startups and small manufacturers, and re-shoring production lines from overseas.
• The Market Based Manufacturing Incentives Act empowers an apolitical commission of private-sector experts to designate the next generation of disruptive, market-changing technologies.
• The Scaling up Manufacturing Act, endorsed by the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, the American Chemical Society, and Silicon Valley’s own Applied Ventures, provides support to this nation’s entrepreneurs at the most critical stage of their business’s growth. This proposal stops offshoring before it ever starts, keeps our bourgeoning businesses here at home, and helps turns ideas into success stories.
• The Re-Shoring Bonus Deduction Act is a draft proposal aimed at promoting growth in domestic manufacturing among this nation’s most established and global enterprises. We should reward companies that bring jobs back to the United States and contribute to our nation’s economic growth by employing American workers.
Additionally, my STEM agenda for the 113th Congress supports Obama’s SOTU call for leadership in these fields. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be infused into our public school curriculum, emphasized within the clinical teaching preparation programs and applied into vibrant learning experiences in the classroom.
In order to keep Silicon Valley competitive and stocked with highly-skilled, creative workers, we must improve STEM education coordination on a national scale. For our nation to remain a leader in scientific advancement and technological innovation, this is what is required of us, nothing less. It is time to step up and STEM it.
“The state of our union is getting stronger, but we have more work to do. Whether it’s creating jobs, getting our fiscal house in order, fixing our broken immigration system, or putting policies in place that respect the Second Amendment while also reducing gun violence, our nation faces big challenges. We won’t overcome these challenges as Democrats versus Republicans – we must meet them together as Americans.
“We need to put people to work fixing our roads, bridges, overpasses and waterways while also building an economy that can compete long-term by investing in new industries like clean energy. To get our fiscal house in order, we need a balanced approach that focuses on job creation, makes sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck, and reforms our tax code so everyone pays their fair share. We need to avoid manufactured crisis that do nothing but hurt our economy. And, we need a bipartisan, comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system.
“Finally, tonight President Obama once again called on Congress to pass legislation that will reduce gun violence. Last month the President acted by signing a series of executive actions that will have a meaningful impact on reducing gun violence. But as we know, the policies that would have the greatest impact require congressional action.
“Whether you’re an NRA member like Elvin Daniel, the guest I hosted at tonight’s State of the Union, a hunter and gun owner like me, or one of the millions of Americans who have never fired a gun, we can all agree that when thirty-plus people die every day from gun violence that it’s time for Congress act. My task force is already acting. Last week we released a comprehensive set of policy principles that both respect the Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding Americans and will prevent gun violence. We’re using these policy principles to develop and influence legislation in both the House and Senate and are working to get legislation based on these principles signed into law.
“But this can’t just be a Democratic effort. It’s time for our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to work with us and use the principles we developed to put laws in place that respect the rights of lawful Americans to own firearms and make our schools, neighborhoods, communities and country safer.
“As the 113th Congress moves forward, I will continue working to overcome the challenges we face. And I am confident that if we put the partisanship aside and work together then our nation has even better days ahead.”
Rock star Ted Nugent – an (ahem) outspoken advocate of Second Amendment rights – is attending President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight as the guest of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Tex., who released this photo a few hours ago:
It hardly seems five and a half years have passed since we wrote about the “Motor City Madman” directing some heated rhetoric (and some anatomy?) at Obama and others who support gun control. At a concert in Oroville, Nugent gave this diatribe:
“…I was in Chicago last week I said—Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk? Obama, he’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on one of my machine guns, let’s hear it for them. And then I was in NY and I said hey Hillary—you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer, she might wanna suck on my machine gun. Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? FREEDOM!
California’s U.S. Senators have laid their bet with Maryland’s over the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens this coming Sunday, Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., fired the first shot with a trash-talking letter promising the Ravens will “stomp” the 49ers.
“You can be sure we’ll be cheering on Ray Lewis and the whole team in his last game as the Ravens fly high to victory!” the Maryland senators wrote. “In fact, we’re so confident in our Ravens that we’re willing to wager a world-class feast: some delicious Faidley’s crab cakes, Berger cookies and a cold bottle of Heavy Seas beer to wash down the delicious taste of defeat. And so they won’t look ruffled after the Ravens prevail, Senator Barb will even throw in a can of one of Baltimore’s favorite hair sprays.”
“We’re looking forward to a great game,” Mikulski and Cardin concluded. “While the 49ers may come in red and gold, they’ll be seeing nothing but purple when they leave!”
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., swiftly took up the challenge, expressing “full confidence that the San Francisco 49ers will strike gold – and the Baltimore Ravens will flutter away in defeat – as we claim our sixth Super Bowl title.”
Feinstein and Boxer noted the 49ers continues a “tradition of excellence under reigning NFL Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh and talented athletes who play with grit and heart, from our explosive young quarterback Colin Kaepernick and powerhouse running back Frank Gore to a hard-nosed defensive unit that is the envy of the entire league.”
”Of course, San Francisco sports fans have had many opportunities to cheer on our teams in championship games in recent years. In fact, after the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in the World Series in October, we enjoyed celebrating with Michigan chocolates and wine courtesy of Senators Levin and Stabenow, who were kind enough to make a similar wager,” Feinstein and Boxer wrote. “Now we look forward to once again enjoying the spoils of victory, and we can’t wait to sample savory Maryland crab cakes, Baltimore beer and Berger Cookies after the 49ers complete their quest for a sixth title.”
“In return, we are proud to bet some delicious Dungeness crab, Napa Valley wine, San Francisco’s finest sourdough bread and a selection of Northern California cheeses,” they wrote. “We feel that it is only fitting that crab is on the menu since you are likely to be feeling very crabby after a tough loss by your Ravens.”
Even as one of California’s U.S. Senators was busy today introducing a new federal assault weapons ban bill, the other was introducing three bills to strengthen school safety – including efforts that jibe with calls for more armed guards in schools.
“We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to ensure that they are safe when they are at school,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a news release. “This legislation would give local communities and schools that want to strengthen security the opportunity for new resources and tools to help keep students safe.”
The School Safety Enhancements Act would strengthen and expand the Justice Department’s existing COPS Secure Our Schools grants program, providing schools with more money to install tip lines, surveillance equipment, secured entrances and other important safety measures.
The program now requires a 50 percent local match, but Boxer’s bill would let the Justice Department reduce the local share to 20 percent for schools with limited resources. The bill also creates a joint task force between the Justice Department and the Education Department to develop new school safety guidelines, and would boost the Secure Our Schools authorization from $30 million to $100 million.
The School Resource and Safety Officer Act would use community policing strategies to prevent violence and improve student safety by making grants available for local governments to put trained, sworn career law enforcement officials at schools. Cities and school districts that meet the requirements could receive grants of up to $200,000 for each “School Resource and Safety Officer.”
The Save Our Students (SOS) Act would let the federal government reimburse governors who want to use National Guard troops to help ensure that our nation’s schools are safe. It’s modeled after a successful National Guard program in place since 1989 that lets governors use guardsmen to aid law enforcement efforts related to drug interdiction activities; under this bill, guardsmen could support local law enforcement efforts to keep schools safe, such as helping with security upgrades or relieving local police so officers can do more patrols at schools.
Boxer noted the National Guard has said it is “particularly well suited for domestic law enforcement support missions” because it is “located in over 3,000 local communities throughout the nation, readily accessible, routinely exercised with local first responders, and experienced in supporting neighboring communities.”
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has reintroduced a bill that would blunt the ability to use the nation’s debt limit as a political bargaining chip, as Republicans have in recent years.
Congressional Republicans say they won’t approve raising the debt limit – the legal limit on the government’s borrowing, now at $16.4 trillion – unless Democrats and President Obama agree to deficit-reduction measures; the Democrats say raising the debt limit is a matter of paying bills on money we’ve already spent, and the threat of defaulting will wreck the world’s confidence.
The House is expected to vote later today on House Republicans’ plan to suspend enforcement of the debt limit through mid-May, giving everyone some time to cool off, reposition themselves and negotiate after the recently avoided “fiscal cliff.”
Boxer, D-Calif., said her S.57, the USA AAA Credit Restoration Act, would establish a predictable and fair process for considering an increase in the debt limit in order to avoid a default that would have catastrophic impacts on the global financial system and the U.S. economy.
“The last time Republicans threatened to default on our nation’s debt, consumer confidence plummeted, our country lost its AAA credit rating and it cost taxpayers more than $18 billion,” Boxer said in a news release. “This bill will bring sanity to future debt limit debates by laying out a clear, orderly process for raising the debt ceiling while allowing all voices to be heard.”
The bill she reintroduced Tuesday would set clear timetables for the Administration to request a debt limit increase and for Congress to consider it. On the day the President submits his budget to Congress each year, the Treasury Secretary would have to submit to Congress and print in the Federal Register the amount by which the debt limit must be increased for the following year. The Administration’s request would become law automatically unless Congress voted to disapprove of the debt limit increase under an expedited procedure.
Boxer said the measure is modeled on provisions in the Budget Control Act proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during 2011’s debt limit debate.
The debt limit has been raised about 100 times since 1940, more often under Republican presidents than under Democrats. President Ronald Reagan holds the record, at 18 debt-limit increases; no other president has exceeded 10, and Obama is now seeking his seventh.
From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, who chairs House Democrats’ task force on gun violence:
“The president and our task force agree that we need a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence. Executive action can and should be part of the process, and many of the executive actions announced today will have a positive influence on reducing gun violence. Now it’s time for Congress to step up and do what needs to be done to save lives. Many of the policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing gun violence will require Congressional action.
“During the next several weeks our task force will examine the president’s proposals and the proposals of others. We will continue meeting with stakeholders on every side of this issue. And we will develop a comprehensive set of policy proposals that both respect peoples’ 2nd Amendment rights and help keep our communities safe from gun violence.”
“Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.
“The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset – our children.
“Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”
From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who has introduced a bill to regulate ammunition sales in California:
“I applaud President Obama for presenting a comprehensive plan that will help reduce the gun violence ravaging our communities and, hopefully, stop the rash of mass shootings that have become an all-too-common occurrence.
“California has tough gun laws but our ability to address gun violence is undermined when one can bypass California rules by crossing state lines. Federal action is needed to ensure the effectiveness of our state laws.
“As public opinion shows, strong support for gun control exists nationally in favor of enforcement and regulations to bulletproof our communities from devastating gun violence.”
“Suddenly Mr. Obama wants to get more criminal and mental health records into the NICS background check data base and get a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Where has he been for the last four years?
“Perhaps he was too busy during his first term, while his administration was running thousands of assault rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition and countless high capacity magazines to violent criminals and drug cartel thugs through his administration’s Fast & Furious program. Now he wants to take away our Second Amendment rights when he and his friends have put more assault weapons in the wrong hands than all of organized crime?
“These firearms have been used not only to kill a Border Patrol agent, but also hundreds of people including women and children. This policy has resulted in more deaths and carnage than all the mass shootings in the United States in last ten years.
“The measures being proposed by the president will not prevent a repeat of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and he knows it. The initials ‘B. O.’ stand for more than Barack Obama. They stand for the bad odor of his blame game.”
President Obama yesterday re-nominated 33 people for federal judgeships – including three for seats in California – whose original nominations had languished without action in the last Congress.
“Several have been awaiting a vote for more than six months, even though they all enjoy bipartisan support,” Obama said in a news release. “I continue to be grateful for their willingness to serve and remain confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity. I urge the Senate to consider and confirm these nominees without delay, so all Americans can have equal and timely access to justice.”
Among those nominated again were San Francisco attorney William H. Orrick II, for a seat here in California’s Northern District; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, for a seat in the Central District; and Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Troy Nunley, for a seat in the Eastern District.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., had recommended Orrick and Reid to the White House after an interview and vetting process by a bipartisan advisory committee, while U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., did the same for Nunley.
“I urge my colleagues to move swiftly to confirm these talented nominees, who are desperately needed to serve in judicial emergency districts,” Boxer said Thursday.
Orrick from 2009 to 2012 served as a counsel and deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division; earlier he was a litigator at the San Francisco firm of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy and Bass for 25 years. Obama nominated him June 11 and he was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Aug. 2, but he never got a floor vote.
O’Connell has sat on the Los Angeles superior court bench since 2005; earlier, she had been an assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles since 1995. Obama nominated her Nov. 14, but she never had a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Nunley has sat on the Sacramento superior court bench in 2002; earlier, he was a deputy state attorney general from 1999 to 2002, a Sacramento deputy district attorney from 1996 to 1999, in private practice from 1994 to 1996, and an Alameda County deputy district attorney from 1991 to 1994. Obama nominated him June 25 and he was approved by the Judiciary Committee on Dec. 6, but he never got a floor vote.
The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre held a news conference this morning about his organization’s thinking on keeping America’s children safe in the wake of last Friday’s massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school:
“Everyone agrees our schools, movie theaters shopping malls, streets and communities need to be safer. But we need a comprehensive approach that goes beyond just arming more people with more guns to make this happen.
“Closing holes in our mental health system, addressing our culture’s glorification of violence, improving background checks for everyone who buys firearms, and reinstating the ban on assault weapons and assault magazines all must be part of a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence.”
From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who introduced bills this week to boost federal grants for school security and to offer federal reimbursement to governors who deploy National Guard troops to secure schools:
“The head of the NRA blamed everyone in sight – except his own organization – for gun violence in America, and showed himself to be completely out of touch by ignoring the proliferation of weapons of war on our streets.
“The NRA is now calling for stronger security at our schools. They should endorse my legislation, which would fund security upgrades for schools and trained law enforcement personnel to protect our kids.
“In the days ahead, I will work for a comprehensive strategy, which includes sensible gun laws, a focus on mental health and school safety.”
“To the NRA, gun violence is never about semi-automatic weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. Never. But to a majority of parents across the country, mass shootings and gun violence have everything to do with those types of assault weapons and people who have lost their minds. Congress needs to ban high capacity clips, reinstate a sensible ban on assault weapons, and dramatically increase access to quality mental health care in America as part of our effort to reduce gun violence.
“The fact is, the NRA’s approach would require armed guards not just in schools, but everywhere in America – at every store in every mall, every movie theatre, every supermarket, every church, synagogue, and mosque, and every sporting arena, because that is where America’s families and children spend their time outside of the home. And yet those locations would still be vulnerable to a deranged person wearing bulletproof vests and carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition and semi-automatic pistols and rifles.
“For most of us, everything has changed since Newtown. Sadly, one of the only things that hasn’t changed is the way the NRA thinks about the epidemic of gun violence in America.”
From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who authored a state law – struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 – to prohibit sale of certain violent video games to children:
“I find it mind-boggling that the NRA suddenly cares about the harmful effects of ultra-violent video games. When our law was before the Supreme Court – while several states, medical organizations, and child advocates submitted briefs in support of California’s efforts – the NRA was completely silent. Now, rather than face reality and be part of the solution to the widespread proliferation of assault weapons in America, they attempt to pass the buck. More guns are not the answer to protecting our children, as evident by the fact that armed guards weren’t enough to stop the tragedy at Columbine High School. The NRA’s response is pathetic and completely unacceptable.”
“The predicted Mayan Apocalypse apparently materialized today in the form of the NRA’s vision for America.
“The NRA’s suggestion that we militarize our schools is not the solution, and references to other militarized institutions simply reinforce the problem our nation has with gun violence. What next? Armed guards at Starbucks and little league games? This is completely the wrong direction.
“The NRA’s grotesque demonization of mental illness feeds ignorance. It insults the one in four Americans who suffer – overwhelmingly in silence – some form of mental health problem annually.
“What was billed as a constructive conversation spiraled into extreme rhetoric and profitable fear mongering. As I set out in a letter to Vice President Biden yesterday, we must focus our efforts on multiple fronts, including health care and gun control, to curb disturbingly familiar and horrific scenes of mass murder.”