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Boxer, DiFi co-sponsor DADT repeal

Both of California’s U.S. Senators are among the 14 original co-sponsors of a bill to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring military service by gays and lesbians who don’t agree to hide their sexual orientation.

The “Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010” was introduced today by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., among the co-sponsors.

“The time has come to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It is the right thing to do. Every American should have the opportunity to serve their country, regardless of race, sex, creed, or sexual orientation,” Feinstein said in a news release. “The criteria for serving one’s country should be competence, courage and willingness to serve. When we deny people the chance to serve because of their sexual orientation, we deprive them of their rights of citizenship, and we deprive our armed forces the service of willing and capable Americans.”

Boxer, in Lieberman’s news release, said she looks forward “to ending the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy as soon as possible. We cannot afford to lose the service of dedicated and honorable military personnel, which is happening right now.”

The bill would prohibit the U.S. armed forces from discriminating based on sexual orientation; repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, enacted in 1993; create a federal law preventing discrimination against current and prospective members of the armed forces based on sexual orientation; direct the Pentagon Working Group, established by the Secretary of Defense and led by military leaders, to conduct a thorough study and recommend regulations to implement repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” and require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress within 180 days of the bill’s enactment on what actions have been taken to deny federal funds to any university that prevents establishment of an ROTC unit on campus.

Feinstein’s office says that about 13,000 U.S. service members have been discharged from the military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy since 1993; the Government Accountability Office estimates it has cost taxpayers more than $200 million to recruit and train replacements. Among those now supporting the policy’s repeal are Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; and retired Secretary of State and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell.

Posted on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Boxer: GOP boycott won’t stop climate-change bill

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is moving ahead with her cap-and-trade climate change bill despite Republican threats to boycott next Tuesday’s mark-up session.

“That won’t stop us. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal to get that done,” she said this afternoon during a visit to Blue Bottle Coffee Co. on Webster Street near Oakland’s Jack London Square, at which she was touting her efforts to support small businesses through the economic downturn. Asked to elucidate on “every tool at our disposal,” she replied, “We’ll use the rules of the committee.”

“We are going to sit down on Tuesday, we’re ready to go, we’re not canceling it,” she said “I’m still hoping the Republicans will come to the committee room and do their work.”

Boxer said she can’t imagine why anyone with a chance to end America’s dependence on foreign oil, combat climate change and create jobs all at the same time would boycott such an opportunity, going “absent without leave, AWOL” at a moment so vital to the nation’s interests. She urged the committee’s Republican members to “try to work with us, let’s try to get something done.”

Part of the small-business support scheme of which Boxer spoke today was affordable health care, which she said absolutely must contain a public option. U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., this week said he’ll refuse to caucus with Senate Democrats to break a filibuster on any health care reform legislation containing a public option.

Boxer in 2006 was among Senate Democrats who went to Connecticut to stump for Lieberman in the Democratic primary – angering many of her more liberal constituents, given his support of the Iraq war and other stances – though she later supported Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in that year’s general election. And Senate Democrats have been kind to Lieberman since, including letting him keep his chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in hopes he would caucus with them on vital votes such as this.

Asked today what she thought of Lieberman’s health care stance, Boxer replied she “can’t answer for him, I just want to say that we have to get this (health care reform) done.”

“All of our colleagues will be making important decisions, but at the end of the day, we can do this with a majority, not a super-majority,” she said, making it clear she was speaking for herself and not for Senate Democratic leaders.

Democrats would need 60 votes for cloture to overcome a Republican filibuster and bring a health-care bill to the floor for a final vote, but there’s been talk that they might use a procedure called “budget reconciliation” to move the bill through with just 50 votes.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Barbara Boxer, energy, Environment, General, Global warming, healthcare reform, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

How California’s Senators voted on Lieberman

The U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus voted 42-13 today to let U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, despite his having been at odds with the caucus for years on Iraq and other matters, and despite his having repeatedly smack-talked President-elect Barack Obama while stumping for Republican presidential nominee John McCain this past year.

The liberal blogosphere is beside itself with rage — see here, here, here and here — generally calling Senate Democrats a bunch of wusses for failing to hold Lieberman to account for kicking sand in their collective face for the past few years. My favorite bit of bone-dry derision comes from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, offering this breaking news: “Lieberman expelled from Pilates class in Senate gym.”

But even though Obama himself reportedly supported Lieberman, it seems U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was among those voting against him today. “The resolution did not reflect Senator Boxer’s belief that Senator Lieberman should remain in the caucus but not retain his full Committee Chairmanship, and she voted accordingly,” Natalie Ravitz, Boxer’s communications director, told me today.

Boxer was among several Senators who had stumped for Lieberman in the 2006 primary – incurring some of her constituents’ wrath, since she’s been so staunchly against the war and Lieberman thought it was a good idea – but then supported Democrat Ned Lamont in the 2006 general election as Lieberman successful ran as an independent. I guess BaBo’s truly done with ol’ Joe now.

As for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., communications director Gil Duran noted “the vote was by secret ballot,” but pointed me to what DiFi told reporters after the vote.

“What we’re trying to do today is bring about reconciliation, not only within our caucus, but between Democrats and Republicans. We are trying to develop a more civil dialogue and hopefully get more done on behalf of the American people,” she said. “The jury’s out whether that’ll happen or not, but the resolution that was presented in the caucus did pass. Senator Lieberman will remain a member of the caucus and will retain his chairmanship. My hope is that he becomes a Democrat again.”

Make of that what you will, dear readers.

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Boxer mum on what should happen to Lieberman

With Democrats having widened their U.S. Senate majority this week, the political fate of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is up in the air.

Lieberman, you’ll recall, lost his state’s 2006 Democratic primary to a more progressive challenger, Ned Lamont, whose victory was attributed in large part to Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war. But Lieberman ran in the 2006 general election as an independent, and kept his seat.

This put Democrats in something of a bind – they needed Lieberman, along with Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, to hold onto their 51-49 Senate majority. So Lieberman, who agreed to keep caucusing with the Democrats on most matters, was allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

But since then, Lieberman endorsed John McCain in this presidential election; spoke at the Republican National Convention; and trash-talked Barack Obama on several occasions. Now that Democrats don’t need his help to keep control of the Senate anymore, the calls for his political head are mounting – see here, here and here.

Rumor has it Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told Lieberman yesterday the price of his remaining in the caucus would be relinquishing his committee chair. Lieberman reportedly balked, perhaps hoping to convince the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee – which helps guide the caucus’ decision-making on committee chairmanships – that he should keep his post.

And that brings us right here to California, for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is a Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee member.

Boxer was among several Senators who stumped for Lieberman in the 2006 primary – incurring some of her constituents’ wrath, since she’s been so staunchly against the war and Lieberman thought it was a good idea – but then supported Lamont in the 2006 general election. Now, it seems, Boxer may once again have a role to play in Lieberman’s fate.

I asked Boxer’s spokespeople today what she believes should be done about Lieberman, and whether her office has been receiving phone calls on this issue. “Senator Boxer feels that what Sen. Lieberman did was extremely hurtful, but beyond that, we aren’t going to comment at this time,” communications director Natalie Ravitz replied.

Posted on Friday, November 7th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, General, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Tuesday’s RNC video highlights

First Lady Laura Bush and President George W. Bush:

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.:

Former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.:

Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
Under: Elections, Fred Thompson, General, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, President Bush, Republican Party | No Comments »

The week in review

Lots goin’ on this past week, so I thought maybe we could recap some of the highlights…

We saw Bill Clinton in Oakland trying to mobilize a mostly-minority crowd for Hillary, and we saw Barack Obama in San Francisco trying to mobilize women.

We saw Tom Lantos endorse Jackie Speier to succeed him, and we saw Leland Yee promptly declare he’s not running — but wait, here comes Yul Kwon, a San Mateo management consultant who won the $1 million prize on “Survivor: Cook Islands” in 2006, reportedly considering a run. He’s a former aide to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. — which quite frankly might be more hinderance than help in Lantos’ district.

We saw Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorse Proposition 93, which would lower the total number of years a state legislator could serve from 14 to 12, but would let him or her divide those years between the houses as they choose — and would grandfather current officeholders so people like Don Perata and Fabian Nunez could serve another term. The governor’s own party this week called Proposition “a self-serving measure, authored by a small group of state legislators seeking to extend their terms in office beyond the limits set by voters in Proposition 140.”

We saw the Green Party hold a presidential debate in San Francisco, with former George Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney a clear front-runner.

And we saw Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums give a passionate State of the City Address… but it’s not his passion with which some disgruntled residents are taking issue.

Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, California State Senate, Cynthia McKinney, Don Perata, Elections, Fabian Nunez, Green Party, Hillary Clinton, Jackie Speier, Joe Lieberman, Leland Yee, Oakland, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | No Comments »

VC partners endorse Giuliani, Clinton

kvamme.jpgSilicon Valley mogul E. Floyd Kvamme told reporters on a conference call just now that Rudy Giuliani — who’ll be in the Bay Area early next week — would be the business-friendly president the valley desires.

“The valley is a very globally thinking kind of economy,” he said. “The mayor talks a lot about that… competitiveness in improving our picture.”

Kvamme — a partner emeritus at high-tech venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — said Giuliani wants to roll back government regulation that forces business overseas, but also is “very committed to the whole issue of workforce generation and education… Most of us here in the valley believe that more choice in the (school) system would be good for the system.”

On immigration, “the mayor is the one person who can sort out this issue, because its a big one and he lived in it for a number of years” but also because he understands total, comprehenisve reform may not be the appropriate, immediate goal if Silicon Valley wants to continue attracting the best and brightest from around the world. And on energy, Kvamme said, Giuliani “has recognized that on the electricity front, the cleanest electricity going is nuclear power” and opposes raising taxes on U.S. oil production.

Giuliani is “taking California very seriously — he has been here a ton of times,” Kvamme said. “People are excited about his candidacy and I think he’s going to do extremely well in California.”

doerr.jpgIncidentally, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr and his wife, environmental advocate Ann Doerr, today announced their support of Hillary Clinton, citing her “forward-looking agenda in energy, innovation, healthcare and the economy” and her “experience, judgment and leadership to strengthen America’s standing in the world.”

Just as Kvamme is a longtime GOP figure — high-tech advisory positions in the administrations of President George W. Bush and former Gov. Pete Wilson; a stint as chairman of a Bill Bennett-founded conservative think tank; giving, with his wife, at least $122,000 to Republican causes in the 2004 cycle, $252,000 in 2000 — the Doerrs were big-time Al Gore supporters in ’00 and gave $428,000 to Democratic causes in ’04. John Doerr had endorsed Joe Lieberman in 2003 but quickly fell in line behind John Kerry post-nomination in 2004.

Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007
Under: Al Gore, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, President Bush, Republican Party, Rudy Giuliani | No Comments »

Boxer hopes to save the whales

boxer.jpgU.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., led seven other Senators in sending a letter today to Ryozo Kato, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S., urging Japan to reconsider a hunt in which Japanese whalers are expected to hunt about 1,000 whales, including some vulnerable and endangered species.

“(W)e join the growing chorus of world leaders and environmental experts in asking Japan to reconsider its decision to conduct this hunt, or, at a minimum, significantly scale back its scope. We also ask that Japan immediately cease the killing of both humpback and fin whales, and only employ non-lethal techniques for studying these populations. By pursuing these actions, Japan can continue to make significant scientific contributions, while conserving and protecting these important species.”

Read the whole letter, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Under: Barbara Boxer, Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Activists pressure Lieberman on Iran

Hunger-striking North Bay activist Leslie Angeline was arrested yesterday morning for refusing to leave the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., whom she says is advocating a military strike on Iran. Here’s a video shot by a member of the phalanx of CodePink protesters who accompanied Angeline:

Angeline, 50, of Santa Rosa, had fainted in Lieberman’s office a few weeks ago and was briefly hospitalized.

Lieberman this morning joined with three Republican Senators to introduce an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act “confronting the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran over its proxy attacks on American soldiers in Iraq,” according to Lieberman’s news release:

The amendment details the publicly available evidence put forward over the past year by General David Petraeus, commanding general of Multi-National Force Iraq, and others about Iran’s violent and destabilizing activities in Iraq.

The amendment states that “the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act of hostility against the United States,” and demands the government of Iran “take immediate action” to end all forms of support it is providing to Iraqi militias and insurgents. The amendment also mandates a regular report on Iran’s anti-coalition activity in Iraq.

“For many months, our military commanders and diplomats have warned us that the Iranian government has been training, equipping, arming, and funding proxies in Iraq who are murdering our troops,” said Senator Lieberman. “This amendment is a common sense, common ground statement of the Senate to Tehran: we know what you are doing, and you must stop.”

Watch Lieberman talking about the amendment today on the Senate floor here.

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Under: Iran, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

She’ll be waiting for Snoop Dogg’s set

boxer.jpgSenate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., will watch tomorrow’s Live Earth concerts — a 24-hour series of concerts in nine cities on seven continents, expected to be viewed by 2 billion people, calling attention to the issue of global warming — from her Oakland home, she told reporters this morning.

“Yes, I’m going to watch everything that I can,’’ she said. “For me the most important thing is action, I’ve got to get the votes out of my committee — I’m going to watch the party, but boy I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Boxer said she approaches the issue “with hope, not fear.”

“Just six months ago few would’ve predicted that meaningful action on global warming was possible in this Congress,” she said, yet an unrelenting stream of scientific evidence and expert testimony has “begun to build the consensus that I was so hopeful for when I took the gavel.”

U.S. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., last week announced they’ll collaborate to draft an economy-wide global warming bill that includes a cap-and-trade program, she noted — a bipartisan effort that could finally kick the federal government into gear on an issue for which hundreds of cities and dozens of states already have committed to action. “People all over the world realize action on global warming is needed now … and Americans are far ahead of our government.”

On the same conference call, Political Action Executive Director Eli Pariser said the hubbub around Live Earth is adding up to his group’s biggest series of events since the 2004 presidential election. Tens of thousands of Americans will attend MoveOn-organized house parties tomorrow, and with help from partner organization, almost 10,000 such parties are expected to be held worldwide.

Previously scheduled for eight cities but nixed from the nation’s capital by Republican critics, Live Earth will have a show in Washington, D.C., after all: a last-minute affair at the National Museum of the American Indian, kicked off tomorrow morning by country music stars Garth Brooks — upon whom global-warming guru Al Gore reportedly prevailed upon personally to give an out-of-retirement performance — and Trisha Yearwood.

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2007
Under: Al Gore, Barbara Boxer, Global warming, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senate | No Comments »