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House OKs John Muir park expansion

The House on Wednesday approved Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s bill to expand the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, sending it on to the U.S. Senate.

H.R. 1289, DeSaulnier’s first stand-alone bill as a House member, would add 44 acres of donated land to the existing 330-acre plot, improving access to the park and its scenic trails. DeSaulnier’s predecessor, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, had introduced the same bill last year; the House approved it but the Senate failed to vote on it before adjourning.

“This historic site is the place where Muir, the father of the National Park system, championed the revolutionary idea that wild spaces should be set aside for all to enjoy,” DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said in his news release. “I look forward to seeing this bill passed by the Senate and signed into law.”

Linus Eukel, executive director of the John Muir Land Trust, said Muir “often walked this land with his two daughters, to admire the coast live oak that grow there, as well as the annual wildflowers that punctuate its grassy hillsides. Expansion of the John Muir Historic Site will forever protect this beautiful property and allow future generations to share in the same delights as Muir’s daughters,”

DeSaulnier’s bill has 31 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has introduced companion legislation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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…
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