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Black Caucus members seek Silicon Valley diversity

Rep. Barbara Lee will join Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on a Silicon Valley junket aimed at increasing African Americans’ representation in the tech industry.

lack of diversityLee, D-Oakland; Butterfield, D-N.C.; and Jeffries, D-N.Y., will spend this Sunday through Tuesday meeting with tech executives and local organizations as part of the caucus’ TECH 2020 initiative, a five-year diversity launched in May. The lawmakers will visit companies including Apple, Bloomberg, Google, Intel, Kapor Capital, Pandora, and SAP.

“Our goal for this trip is to encourage and partner with these organizations to implement a diversity plan that will place more African Americans in the tech pipeline,” Butterfield said in a news release. “This will potentially lead to a wide range of opportunities, from student internships to positions on the boards of tech companies. Building a coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors ensures greater diversity and full representation of African Americans at every level of tech by 2020.”

Lee said she’s pleased to welcome her peers to the Bay Area.

“This visit is another step toward opening doors of opportunity for African Americans in the booming tech sector,” she said in the release. “Increasing diversity and inclusion within the tech sector is not only a moral imperative, it’s good for business and vital to continue economic growth. As we work to advance the TECH 2020 initiative and achieve full representation of African Americans in the tech sector, I look forward to continuing to work with these companies. We must all play a role in finding innovative solutions that bring diversity to Silicon Valley.”

As part of its TECH 2020 plan, the caucus has outlined diversity principles, best practices, and resources for African American students and entrepreneurs, and has introduced legislation focused on increasing STEM education.

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CA15: No, Swalwell didn’t vote for Ryan’s budget

State Sen. Ellen Corbett tells a bit of tall tale in one of her latest mailers attacking fellow Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom she’s trying to unseat in the 15th Congressional District.

The mailer’s front offers check-boxes for “Paul Ryan’s Republican Budget” and the “House Progressive Caucus Budget,” and asks, “Which one did Eric Swalwell choose?” Inside, the mailer claims Swalwell chose “Paul Ryan’s Radical Republican Budget.”

Click to enlarge:
Corbett mailer - front

Corbett mailer - inside top

Corbett mailer - inside bottom

Corbett mailer - back

The mailer details the Spring 2013 budget battle in which House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., offered a conservative budget, while liberal Democrats offered their own alternatives.

“On March 20, 2013, the House of Representatives voted on a motion to replace the Ryan budget with the House Progressive ‘Back to Work Budget.’ How did our Representative vote? Eric Swalwell voted with Paul Ryan – and against the Progressive Budget!” Corbett’s mailer reads. “The same day, Swalwell voted against an alternative by the Congressional Black Caucus that would also have protected vital services.”

“Eric Swalwell says he represents Democratic values, but when forced to choose between Paul Ryan and House Progressives, he made the wrong choice,” the mailer concludes.

Except Swalwell did NOT vote for the Ryan budget.

It’s true that Swalwell voted against the House Progressive Caucus Budget, which failed on an 84-327 vote. In the Bay Area, only the most consistently liberal members voted for it: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz.

Joining Swalwell in voting against it were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Mike Thompson, D-Napa, didn’t vote.

And the Congressional Black Caucus’ proposed budget failed on a 105-305 vote, with the Bay Area’s delegation all voting the same way as on the progressive caucus budget except for Pelosi, who didn’t vote.

But when it came time to vote on Ryan’s budget the next day, not a single Democrat voted for it; it passed on a 221-207 vote.

Clearly Corbett identifies with the Bay Area’s most liberal voices, the Lee/Honda/Huffman/Farr camp, while Swalwell sided with what passes for moderates in this region (though the rest of the nation would probably take issue with calling Pelosi, Speier, Lofgren and such “moderate”).

However, to say Swalwell chose “Paul Ryan’s radical Republican budget” is simply not true.

UPDATE @ 11:56 A.M.: I neglected to mention that Swalwell and every other Bay Area Democrat (except Miller, who didn’t vote) supported the mainstream Democratic alternative budget that was put forth during that March 2013 budget fight; it failed on a 165-253 vote.

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Barbara Lee speaks at anti-poverty prayer event

The Congressional Black Caucus held its first national Day of Prayer on Thursday, gathering with faith leaders on the U.S. Capitol’s East Lawn to seek divine help to end poverty and income inequality.

Hours after President Obama attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast, the lawmakers prayed for America to be awakened to and united against the plight of those living below the poverty line even as the nation’s richest get richer.

Lee at CBC prayer serviceRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, chairs the CBC’s Task Force on Poverty and the Economy, and so was front and center at Thursday’s event.

“As millions of families continue to live below the poverty line, and the gap between the wealthiest in our nation and all others continues to grow, it is more important than ever that members of the Congressional Black Caucus and interfaith leaders stand in solidarity to pray for the consciousness of America to be awakened and united against this startling and unconscionable trend,” Lee said at the event.

The Rev. Stephen McHale of Christ Episcopal Church in Alameda and the Rev. Diana McDaniel of Unity Church of San Leandro were among the clergy who gathered at the Capitol. Other East Bay clergy leaders are scheduled to gather for a similar prayer service at 4 p.m. Thursday in Oakland’s Allen Temple Baptist Church.

Lee last May introduced H.R. 2182, the Half in Ten Act, which would create a federal interagency working group on reducing poverty and develop a national strategy on cutting poverty in half within a decade. She recently used her seat on the Appropriations Committee to insert language supporting these principles in the omnibus spending bill approved by Congress and signed into law by the president.

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Lee to host ‘Fruitvale Station’ screening in D.C.

Rep. Barbara Lee will host a screening of “Fruitvale Station,” the critically acclaimed movie about the last day of BART Police shooting victim Oscar Grant, with other lawmakers next week in Washington, D.C.

Fruitvale_Station_posterLee, D-Oakland, is organizing the event in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“It is an especially timely film considering the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin and resulting verdict,” Lee wrote in an invitation.

Lee’s office says Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, is planning to attend.

The screening is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday, July 30; the invitation says lawmakers will be offered transportation from the Rayburn House Office Building at 7 p.m. or immediately after the day’s last votes.

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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.

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It’s National Voter Registration Day. Do it. Do it.

Today has been National Voter Registration Day, and Bay Area officials and activists joined their peers across the nation in urging people to “register in September and make it count in November.”

photo courtesy of Keith CarsonRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson were among those who rallied at mid-day outside the Alameda County Administration Building in Oakland to urge all eligible voters to register and cast ballots this fall.

The Oakland event was one of several held today across the nation by members of the Congressional Black Caucus as a part of the “For the People” Voter Protection Initiative. H. Res. 542 condemns “the passage of legislation that would unduly burden an American citizen’s ability to vote and opposing any State election law or proposed legislation that would have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities across the country.”

“We are engaged in a battle to protect the fundamental, Constitutional right to vote,” Lee said later Tuesday. “Voter suppression tactics do nothing at all to prevent voter fraud, while disproportionately excluding and disenfranchising people of color, elderly and young adults from their Constitutionally given right to vote. By preparing all Alameda County residents to vote this fall, we are standing in solidarity with communities fighting intense battles against voter suppression efforts throughout the country.”

Lee notes that at least 34 states have introduced laws that would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote, and at least 12 states have introduced laws that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register to vote or to vote. The states that have already cut back on voting rights provide 171 electoral votes in 2012, 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency, she said.

on Sproul Plaza (photo by Josh Richman)Meanwhile, groups at the University of California, Berkeley – including the Associated Students, Voto Latino and others – had tables on Sproul Plaza today in an attempt to register as many people as possible.

Election Day is six weeks away. Still not registered to vote? You’ve got until Monday, Oct. 22, and you need not even get up from where you’re sitting right now reading this post: You can register online. Or, if you prefer, printed voter registration forms are available at many government offices, DMV offices, post offices, public libraries and other locations.