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My Commonwealth Club chat w/ Rep. George Miller

Please join us this Wednesday evening, Oct. 8 in Lafayette for my public conversation with Rep. George Miller – who is retiring at the end of this year after 40 years in the House – hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California.

George MillerFord was president; former U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell, former presidential Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman had just been convicted in the Watergate cover-up; and a gallon of gas cost about 57 cents in January 1975 when Miller, D-Martinez, first was sworn in at the tender age of 29.

Now 69, Miller has chaired, and is still ranking Democrat of, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; has been a key advisor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; and consistently has been among the House’s most liberal voices. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville, a Republican, are vying to succeed him in the 11th Congressional District.

“Join The Commonwealth Club to celebrate this long time public servant as Congressman Miller reflects on four decades in office, what he expects to see from Congress in the coming years, the race for his seat, and more,” the club invites.

Check-in starts at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Lafayette Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette. Tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for non-members and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

CA11: Miller endorses DeSaulnier as successor

Rep. George Miller endorsed state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier on Wednesday to succeed him in Congress when he retires at the end of this year.

George Miller“I know Mark DeSaulnier exceedingly well,” Miller said in a news release issued Wednsday by DeSaulnier’s campaign. “Mark is the most qualified and capable candidate to carry on my work in Congress on behalf of the residents in the 11th District. He is progressive, results-driven, and has a deep connection to the communities and neighborhoods in this district. Most importantly, Mark embodies the issues and values that I have fought for throughout my career.”

DeSaunlier, D-Concord, has been rolling out endorsements on an almost daily basis since Miller, D-Martinez, announced Jan. 13 that he would step down after his 20th term expires at the end of 2014. Though some of those endorsements came from people who initially had considered running against him for the seat – including Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson – none are likely to have as much impact as the incumbent’s.

Miller said he and DeSaulnier “share a common passion and profound commitment to public service. Mark has had a major impact on key issues in our community — saving the county library system, building the county hospital, championing transportation improvements like the fourth bore in the Caldecott, fighting for the poor and vulnerable, and many other issues.”

Miller also said DeSaulnier “brings enormous skill and integrity to everything he does. … He will continue our fight in Congress for the world’s best education and healthcare systems, and he will strive to end poverty and inequality once and for all.”

Mark DeSaulnierDeSaulnier said Miller “represents all that is great about public service” and has been a role model and friend.

“I have a bookmark from Rep. Miller that says, ‘You are not in public service to sit on your ass and watch the parade go by,’ and indeed we have not,” he said. “Together, we’ve engaged and have empowered the residents of Contra Costa County, and we have given them a strong voice in their state and federal government.”

“I will do my very best, every single day, to live up to his work ethic, determination, and resolve for championing the many cornerstone issues he’s fought for in Washington on behalf of the residents in the 11th District,” DeSaulnier said.

Other potential candidates include retired immigration judge Tue Phan-Quang, a 71-year-old Republican from Danville; and refinery worker Jason Ramey, a 33-year-old Democrat from Concord. The 11th Congressional District’s voter registration is 50 percent Democrat, 24.6 percent Republican and 21.2 percent nonpartisan – a safe Democratic district, in which DeSaulnier seems to have a firm lead on name recognition, funding and endorsements.

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

President Obama on George Miller’s retirement

The White House just issued President Barack Obama’s statement on the retirement of Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

President Barack Obama“George Miller has proudly represented the people of California in Congress for nearly 40 years, and he has spent his career fighting to grow and strengthen the middle class. Because of his tireless efforts, our air and water are cleaner, our workers’ rights are better protected, more young people can afford to go to college, and more working families can make ends meet. George was a chief author of the first bill I signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. His decades-long fight to bring quality, affordable health insurance to millions of Americans made him an indispensable partner in developing and passing the Affordable Care Act. And he continues to fight for our shared belief that a minimum wage should be a wage you can live on. Michelle and I thank Congressman Miller for his service and leadership, and we wish him, his wife Cynthia, and their children and grandchildren the very best in the future.”

Read a slew of other comments on Miller’s retirement here, and view a gallery of some of Miller’s finer (that is, more fiery) moments on the House floor here.

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014
Under: Barack Obama, George Miller, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Videos: George Miller’s greatest House floor hits

Rep. George Miller, who today announced he’ll retire from the House after 40 years by not seeking re-election to a 21st term this year, at times has vented his ire on the House floor in legendary finger-pointing, fist-pounding fashion.

In August 1995, his berating of Republicans during a budget battle turned into a gavel-breaking verbal slugfest. “It’s a glorious day if you’re a fascist!

In May 2007, urging an increase in the federal minimum wage:

In April 2008, on the war in Iraq:

In July 2008, blasting President Bush and Vice President Cheney for protecting the oil industry’s interests:

In January 2011, opposing Republicans’ effort to repeal the nation’s new health care law:

In May 2011, blasting Republicans for another repeal effort:

Last July, on education legislation:

During last October’s government shutdown, accusing a Republican House member of being on a “jihad” against the health care law:

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

George Miller is retiring from the House

After 40 years in Congress, Rep. George Miller is calling it quits.

Miller, D-Martinez, announced Monday morning that he won’t seek re-election to a 21st term this year.

George Miller“This is a great institution and I cannot thank my family and my constituents enough for having given me the honor and privilege of representing my district in Congress these past 40 years,” Miller said in a news release. “I have tried to repay them for their confidence by working hard every day to make our country a better place. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country, especially passage of national health care reform. Now, I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me. What a wonderful experience this has been.”

Miller, now the ranking Democrat on and former chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has made that committee’s issues the focus of his congressional career.

First elected in 1974 at age 29, he has collaborated over the years with fellow lawmakers as diverse as the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and current House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Now the fifth most senior House member, he has been a close adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

News of his retirement is sure to touch off a political feeding frenzy among possible successors.

See Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s full story here. Check back for updates…

UPDATE @ 9:14 A.M.: From Pelosi:

Nancy Pelosi“For 40 years in the House, George Miller has been the model of the serious, substantive and successful legislator. In the majority, as chairman of three committees, and in the minority as well, he has written some of the most creative legislation of our time – on health care, education, child policy and labor rights, and also on the environment, energy and national parks. George always incorporated the most current research of our best thinkers into innovative bills, and he passed most of them with bipartisan support.

“I especially value his long service to the Democratic Leadership as co-chairman of our Steering and Policy Committee, working with our Caucus to address jobs, economic innovation, child health and nutrition and a host of other national priorities. His foresight in the area of budget policy led him to originate the Pay-As-You-Go deficit reduction strategy that helped us balance the budget in an intelligent way.

“Now the Dean of California’s congressional delegation, George has always drawn a special inspiration from the creativity and innovativeness that is so crucial to our home state. He has worked closely with state leaders in so many fields to modernize education, reform natural resource policies, and serve the needs of children and those with special needs. And of course, he has always worked to reform water policy and enhance his beloved Delta.

“Capitol Hill and California are filled with Democrats and Republicans alike who have enjoyed working with George Miller and who deeply respect him because his dedication to the issues and his excitement for the legislative process are infectious and undiluted by the years he has served or the challenges he had faced. For me, as Speaker and Democratic Leader, George’s patriotism, wisdom and guidance have been especially valued, and he has been a close friend since my first days in the House.

“My sadness at his departure from Congress in 2015 is mitigated only by my certainty that he will utilize his exemplary knowledge and skills in a new venue where he will surely again be a successful leader for our state and our nation. I congratulate him on 40 years of inspired and inspirational leadership, I look forward to working closely with him during his last year of service in the House, and I wish him and Cynthia, and his beautiful family, many years of enjoyment and happiness together.”

UPDATE @ 10:51 A.M.: From California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton:

“George’s retirement is not only a great loss for the people of his congressional district and the people of California but for the nation as well.

“As a legislator, he was a giant in the areas of workers’ rights for both men and women, on the environment, in solving water problems, in advocating for infants, children and families and in particular the WIC program.

“His work and service have left a great mark in the Bay Area and beyond but after forty years of service, I’m sure it’s time to come home. Welcome home, George.”

From Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord:

“George Miller has proudly represented his constituents in Contra Costa County for over 40 years in Congress. In his exemplary service as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he wrote or co-wrote many of the significant laws that brought health care to the uninsured, improved wages for working families, helped students pay down their student loans, and protected California’s natural resources from development. His dedication to his constituents and leadership that he provided for Contra Costa County and California will be truly missed.”

UPDATE @ 11:03 A.M.: From Boehner:

“No one would confuse me and George Miller for ideological soul mates, but during our years serving together on the Education & the Workforce Committee, we got things done on behalf of the American people thanks in no small part to his dedication and willingness to work for the greater good. I have great respect for George, and on behalf of the whole House, thank him for his decades of service and congratulate him on a remarkable career.”

More after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Miller: Petition might be last option to avert ruin

An effort to force a House vote on a “clean” continuing resolution to re-open the federal government “may become the parachute that saves us from crashing” if other plans fall through in the next day or so, Rep. George Miller said Tuesday afternoon.

George MillerA plan for the House to vote Tuesday evening on a GOP proposal to raise the debt limit and reopen the government appears to be on the rocks. House Republicans appear split on whether to support it, and the Democrat-led Senate probably wouldn’t pass it anyway because it would fund the government only through mid-December and it’s predicated on a tweak to the national health insurance law.

Senate leaders had been inching toward a deal of their own Monday, but that was put on hold Tuesday pending the House vote. If the Senate can’t return to the bargaining table, that leaves little time before Thursday’s deadline – after which the government loses its ability to borrow and won’t be able to pay its bills, triggering chaos in the world’s financial markets.

Democrats on Oct. 4 announced they would start a discharge petition to force a vote on a clean continuing resolution, but due to procedural requirements, they couldn’t start gathering signatures until Saturday. As of Tuesday afternoon, 196 Democrats had signed but no Republicans; 218 signatures are needed to force a vote.

House Democrats have been pressing 30 specific Republicans – who have voiced their distaste for their party’s shutdown strategy and said they would vote for a clean CR – to sign the discharge petition.

“They have not (signed) yet – they’re in negotiations, and this is a very heavy lift to join a discharge petition against your own leadership,” Miller, D-Martinez, said Tuesday, but he’s convinced enough will sign if there’s no other way to avoid the impending fiscal disaster.

“We’re 48 hours away from having a dual image flash across the world: The United States government is shut down AND it’s about to default on its debt,” he said. “That is a catastrophic image for our country.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | No Comments »

Local lawmakers stand with fast-food workers

Several East Bay lawmakers have expressed solidarity with fast-food workers in the Bay Area and across the nation who walked picket lines Thursday to demand a $15-per-hour wage and the right to unionize without management interference.

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee:

“Today, I stand with workers across the country who are striving to build a better life for themselves and their families by fighting for a living wage. Those who work hard and play by the rules shouldn’t have to struggle to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table.

“Low pay not only harms the families forced to subsist on it, but it also holds back our recovery from the Great Recession. Better pay will put more money into local businesses and spur economic growth. That’s why a living wage is not about asking for a handout. Rather, it’s about valuing work. And it’s about growing the economy from the bottom up by increasing working families’ purchasing power. Americans on today’s picket lines aren’t just standing up for themselves – they are standing up for a stronger America.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“I applaud the courageous action taken by thousands of workers around the country today by participating in the walkout for job protection and fair wages.

“To re-build our economy and expand the middle class we need to put more money into the pockets of workers in fast-growing, low-wage jobs by creating a living wage. Our goal cannot simply be to increase the minimum wage, but rather, establish a living wage, with the dignity of benefits to achieve a good standard of living to afford the basics while working one full time job.

“A living wage will increase the quality of life for low wage earning families and will lift our entire economy.

“I am proud to support the workers striking today for a living wage, and I will continue to fight to make sure families receive the fair wages they deserve.”

From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

“Fast food CEOs have super-sized salaries, while their workers earn unlivable wages, wages that can’t support their own families. A single mom in Oakland with two school-age children needs to earn more than $50,000 to make ends meet, while the average fast food worker only earns between $10,000 and $18,000 a year. Families deserve a living wage. It’s just wrong for McDonald’s and others to ignore this inequity.”

The CEOs and their companies don’t own all of the fast-food outlets; many are owned by franchisees. From International Franchise Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira:

“Mandating increased wages would lead to higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and ultimately, lost jobs and opportunities for employees to become managers or franchise owners. The franchise industry is a proven job-creator and career-builder, yet efforts to double the minimum wage to $15 would clearly jeopardize opportunities for existing and prospective employees.

“Many franchises have developed successful programs designed to help employees rise from entry level to management and ultimately, ownership. Arbitrarily mandating a higher minimum wage will only reduce the amount of entry-level jobs that workers need to gain the skills to move up the employment ladder.”

“This campaign is also designed to pressure employees into organizing, generating much-needed headlines and revenue for labor unions who have faced a sharp decline in private-sector membership for years.”

Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Labor politics, Nancy Skinner, U.S. House | 26 Comments »

House members blast Brown’s Delta water plan

Five members of Congress held a news conference in Sacramento this morning to renew their staunch opposition to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, all believe the plan would devastate the Delta and ignores concerns repeatedly raised by local stakeholders. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, concurs but wasn’t at today’s news conference.

The state has released a 20,000-page Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the BDCP. Chapters 1-7 were released in the last few months and Chapters 8-12, including the financing mechanism, were released yesterday.

The lawmakers released statements after their news conference. From McNerney:

Jerry McNerney“The Governor recently released additional information on his deeply-flawed plan for the Delta region, which further proves he is intent on forcing this plan forward without any regard for the farmers, families and small business owners who rely upon a healthy Delta for their livelihoods, or for the incredible environmental damage that will result. As it stands, the plan will cost billions of dollars, devastate the most valuable water resource we have in California, and ultimately create no new water. There is a better way forward, and it must include the input of the people who stand to lose the most if the Delta is destroyed.”

From Thompson:

Mike Thompson“The proposed BDCP is not a workable solution. It puts the interests of South-of-Delta water contractors ahead of the Delta’s and North-of-Delta’s farmers, fishers and small business owners. Livelihoods are at stake. Until we have a plan that is transparent, based on sound science and developed with all stake-holders at the table, then any process that moves us closer to building these tunnels will recklessly risk billions of California tax dollars and thousands of jobs. Let’s take the time to get this right.”

From Miller:

George Miller“Governor Brown and his administration officials have failed to demonstrate that they are taking into account the real physical and financial harm that can come to Bay-Delta communities if a BDCP plan is pushed through without the proper cost benefit analysis of alternatives, an adequate finance plan, or without acknowledging the best available science — science that has pointed to the real possibility that this plan could overtax our water resources and devastate the Bay-Delta region. Without doing so the BDCP is further than ever from a sustainable policy. It is time to seriously reevaluate this plan to ensure it fulfills the co-equal goals that it is mandated to adhere to, and takes into consideration the concerns of the businesses, families and communities that rely on a viable, healthy Bay-Delta region for their livelihoods.”

Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, George Miller, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, U.S. House, water | 3 Comments »

George Miller is heading for Bangladesh

A Bay Area congressman is Bangladesh-bound this week, intent on inspecting sometimes-deadly conditions in the world’s second-largest garment industry.

George MillerRep. George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, will be the first member of Congress to visit Bangladesh since the April 24 building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers and injured more than 2,500. The disaster has brought a worldwide spotlight in working conditions in the South Asian nation, and whether U.S. garment retailers are benefiting from exploitation there.

Miller, who intends to meet with workers, victims, and industry and government officials, has been pressing major U.S. companies whose products are made in Bangladesh to sign onto a new binding and enforceable building and fire safety accord that has been signed by more than 31 companies worldwide. Most large American companies like Wal-Mart and Gap have so far refused to sign on.

“This trip to Bangladesh is an important opportunity to examine the circumstances surrounding the tragic events that have taken so many lives and threaten the lives of so many others,” Miller, D-Martinez, said in a news release.

Bangladesh building collapse (AP)“I hope to learn more about three particular aspects of these tragedies and American involvement in this burgeoning industry – worker safety and health conditions and the impact of the recently inked fire and building safety agreement, garment workers’ rights to form unions without fear of retaliation or persecution, and whether Bangladesh is guaranteeing labor rights and acceptable working conditions that are expected if the United States is to maintain tariff relief provided under the Generalized System of Preferences, a decision on which is expected imminently,” Miller said.

Miller recently penned a front-page editorial for Women’s Wear Daily, urging the fashion industry to come together and improve conditions in Bangladesh. Miller and Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat of the Ways and Means Committee, have also urged the Obama administration to coordinate action to improve workers’ rights and working conditions in Bangladesh.

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

A few upcoming Bay Area political events

Julian Castro at DNCThis Saturday, March 16, the Peralta Community College District presents the second installment of the 2012/2013 Barbara Lee-Elihu Harris Lecture Series with a speech from Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Tex., and a featured speaker at last year’s Democratic National Convention. Castro’s address on “Moving Forward… Together” is co-produced by the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and Merritt College. The 7 p.m. event at the Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, is free of charge but space is limited and so reservations are encouraged; call 510-434-3988.

Carly FiorinaOn Thursday, March 21, former HP CEO and 2010 Republican U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina will speak to the Commonwealth Club of California on “our financial future and the next tech revolution.” The club says Fiorina, now chairwoman of Good360.com and a CNBC contributor, “will share her thoughts on how the U.S. and California are performing in terms of innovation, job creation and economic growth.” Tickets to the 7 p.m. event at the Schutlz Cultural Hall in the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto, cost $20 for the public, $12 for club members or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

George MillerAnd way out on May 4, donors are invited to help Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, celebrate his 68th birthday (which actually is May 17) at a fundraiser with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, at the Shadelands Ranch, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek. The event aims “to support George’s re-election campaign and George and Nancy’s efforts to win back the House of Representatives,” the invitation says. Tickets start at $125 each.

Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Under: Calendar, Carly Fiorina, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »