10

House votes to cut off money for high-speed rail

Rep. Jeff Denham’s amendment to would cut off federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project was approved by the House on Tuesday.

Denham introduced H.R. 3893, the Responsible Rail and Deterring Deficiency Act, in January with support from all California House Republicans. The House passed it Tuesday as an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, H.R. 4745.

“Without a viable funding plan like the one voters supported, California’s high speed rail project is going nowhere fast,” Denham, R-Modesto, said in a news release. “I’m pleased to have the support of so many of my House colleagues who recognize that we shouldn’t be spending any more taxpayer money on a project without a future.”

The roll call was 227-186. Among the six Democrats who voted for it were four Californians who face tough fights to keep their seats this November: Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; Julia Brownley, D-Thousand Oaks; Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs; and Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

Here’s what Denham said about it on the floor:

But before you get too excited: This has happened before. Denham offered the same amendment to the same THUD (!) appropriations bill in June 2012, and that one passed on a 239-185 vote; all California Democrats (and all but four House Democrats) had voted against it.

6

Denham is 1st GOPer to back immigration bill

A Central Valley congressman is the nation’s first Republican House member to say he’ll support House Democrats’ comprehensive immigration reform bill, earning him praise from advocacy groups and depriving his Democratic challenger of a key talking point.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, announced he’ll cosponsor H.R. 15 on Sunday on Univision’s political talk show “Al Punto,” and later issued a statement.

Jeff Denham“We can’t afford any more delays,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants, but today, our broken system has failed to secure the border, enforce our current laws and help us to attract the best and brightest who want to come and contribute to the greatness of America.

“I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks,” Denham continued. “This is a common-sense solution to our broken system. I also support a faster pathway for the children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, who have been raised in America and educated in our schools and have no other country to call home.”

Denham also noted the bill “includes language that makes securing the border a requirement, not a goal, and puts measurable benchmarks in place to be verified by independent sources to ensure that our border is secure.” And he said his ENLIST Act, H.R. 2377, which allows a path to citizenship through military service, will be incorporated into H.R. 15.

The move has earned Denham plaudits from groups including the National Council of La Raza (“a bold message that immigration reform is not a partisan issue”); the National Immigration Law Center (“doing what’s best for his district, California, and our country”); and America’s Voice (“a major crack in the dam that has been blocking reform”).

Activists from immigration advocacy groups in his district rallied outside Denham’s Modesto district office this morning to show their appreciation, and Denham and the bill’s author, Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., joined immigration advocates on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.

The 10th Congressional District’s voter registration as of February – the most recent figures available – was 39.7 percent Democrat, 38.5 percent Republican and 17 percent nonpartisan. The Cook Political Report lists the seat as “likely” Republican, a designation for races that “are not considered competitive at this point, but have the potential to become engaged.”

And the district is 41.2 percent Latino, according to the U.S. Census’ 2011 American Community Survey.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month had worked up a web video blasting Denham for a “history of immigration extremism, support for hard-line stances that divide families and hurt businesses and workers, and his refusal to push for the bipartisan Senate solution.”

And Denham’s presumptive Democratic challenger, Michael Eggman – an almond farmer, beekeeper and younger brother of Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton – had expressed support for H.R. 15 earlier this month and challenged Denham to do the same.

But Eggman still has at least one potentially potent arrow in his quiver. Read more about that, after the jump…
Continue Reading

12

Liberal ad dings Jeff Denham for shutdown

A Northern California congressman is one of 10 House Republicans being hammered with a new TV ad over the federal government shutdown.

The liberal/labor-backed Americans United for Change told Politico it’s a six-figure ad buy for the 10 swing districts across the nation, but wouldn’t provide a breakdown showing how much of that is for the ad against Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.

“Make no mistake: Congressman Denham and fellow Republicans’ refusal to support clean legislation to keep the government open at the 11th hour was the act of politicians that that welcomed a shutdown,” AUFC President Brad Woodhouse, who formerly was the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, said in a news release.

“Denham joined with the extortionist Tea Party crowd in Congress who demanded a ransom they knew they would never get: killing the Affordable Care Act,” Woodhouse said. “With local stories pouring in each day of the very real ways the Tea Party shutdown is hurting the middle class, it’s time Denham and fellow Republicans in Congress come to grips with reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, that it was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it’s working.”

Denham’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato insisted this shutdown is Democrats’ fault.

“Voters in these districts aren’t going to buy these laughable attacks from an extremist group,” he said via email. “Republicans have passed bipartisan resolutions to keep the government open, but President Obama and Harry Reid won’t compromise one inch. It’s time to end the political games and stop putting families, seniors and our economy at risk.”

The House Republicans’ continuing resolutions were predicated upon defunding or delaying the nation’s new health insurance law; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to allow a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution, even though a bipartisan majority of the House now seems to support one.

UPDATE @ 1:37 P.M.: “We are not surprised that a liberal special interest group would decide to start negative campaigning so early and to exploit the situation in Washington. The ad is factually wrong,” said Dave Gilliard, Denham’s campaign consultant. “Rep. Denham did not vote to shut down the government. In fact, he voted numerous times to keep the government open; he requested his own pay be withheld during the shutdown; and he is working hard to find a compromise that will resolve the situation, protect taxpayers and get the government working again.”

1

A gun-policy bill on which both parties agree

Apparently there’s at least one gun-policy bill in Sacramento on which both sides of the aisle can agree.

The state Senate Public Safety Committee today approved SB 644, by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, which would increase penalties for felons caught in possession of firearms.

It’s already illegal in California for convicted felons to possess firearms, but current law limits the punishment for that crime to three years or less; SB 644 would increase that sentence to as much as six years and would automatically count such a conviction as a new strike under the state’s “Three Strikes” law.

“I think we all can agree enforcing existing gun laws and giving them real teeth is good public policy,” Cannella said in a news release. “Under the current statute, a felon in possession of a gun does not constitute a serious or violent crime, whereas someone entering a private residence while no one is home is considered a serious offense. A felon in possession of a firearm is surely more of a danger to public safety than someone entering a private residence while no one is home.

“Getting these criminals off our streets is real gun control,” he said. “This is a common sense bill that makes a difference and keeps our families safer.”

Cannella spokesman Jeff Macedo said the committee passed the bill just a few minutes ago. A final vote isn’t available yet because committee vice chairman Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, and member Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, were absent and could still add their votes before the committee adjourns today, but there aren’t any “no” votes thus far.

SB 644 now goes to the state Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s supported by the National Rifle Association, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and the Modesto and Salinas Police Departments.

UPDATE @ 5:06 P.M.: The committee’s final vote was 6-0; contrary to my earlier information, it was actually state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who was absent and didn’t cast a vote today.

1

Obama’s budget: Something for everyone to hate

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“House Republicans passed a balanced budget that will help foster a healthier economy and to help create jobs. Unfortunately, the president’s budget never comes to balance. Every family has to balance its budget, Washington should as well.

“The American people know you can’t continue to spend money that you don’t have. The federal government has spent more than what it has brought in in 55 of the last 60 years. Now think about this, you can’t continue to go on like this. That’s why we came forward with a plan that will balance the budget over the next 10 years. We believe strongly that it is time for Washington to deal with its spending problem.

“And while the president has backtracked on some of his entitlement reforms that were in conversations that we had a year and a half ago, he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget. But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes. Listen, why don’t we do what we can agree to do? Why don’t we find the common ground that we do have and move on that?

“The president got his tax hikes in January, we don’t need to be raising taxes on the American people. So I’m hopeful in the coming weeks we’ll have an opportunity, through the budget process, to come to some agreement.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“The President’s budget makes critical investments in our economy and in job creation. I’m particularly pleased to see the investments in mental health, HIV/AIDS, and education, including promise neighborhoods, and universal pre-K. Given my efforts to repeal the Tiahrt amendments, I’m also very pleased to see that this budget excludes pieces of that policy rider which inhibits law enforcement’s abilities to track illegal guns and prevent gun violence. Unfortunately, this budget also includes chained CPI, a benefit cut to Social Security which I strongly oppose.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee:

Orrin Hatch“What a disappointment this budget is. Not only is it two months late, but the President’s budget is a rehash of the same tax hikes, spending increases and deceptive budget gimmicks that have already been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike. What’s more, it barely makes a dent in our sky-high debt, while not doing enough to fundamentally reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Any reasonable person understands that our $17 trillion debt – which represents a burden of over $55,000 for every man, woman, and child in America – is a crisis that demands addressing.”

“Falsely claiming $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, as the President proposes, isn’t the kind of leadership the people of Utah and America deserve. Confronting our debt crisis with such an unbalanced set of massive tax increases, as the President does in his budget, will only result in less economic opportunity for middle-class families and small businesses, and more government spending from Washington. After last week’s dismal job numbers where the labor force dipped by a half-a-million workers and the labor force participation rate fell to the lowest since the early years of the Carter Administration, we need policies that grow our economy, the paychecks of the American people, and opportunities for our children and grandchildren – not grow our government as the President proposes in his budget.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“President Obama has put forth a budget proposal that makes investments to grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class while continuing to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.

“The President has made it clear that this proposal is in furtherance of his efforts to achieve compromise with Republicans and demonstrates that he is willing to make tough decisions to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a bold and balanced agreement that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and includes initiatives that spur economic growth by creating jobs.

“Now that the House and Senate have acted on their own budget proposals, it is time for Speaker Boehner to appoint budget conferees to avoid any further delay. The American people want their elected representatives in Washington to work together to tackle the difficult decisions facing our nation. We must lift the sequester and find common ground to grow our economy, put people to work, and build a strong, thriving middle class.”

More, after the jump…
Continue Reading

2

Barbara Lee, Jeff Denham do immigration forums

House members near and far, and from both sides of the aisle, are holding forums to hear their constituents’ thoughts on immigration reform.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will join with community leaders and activists for a forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26, at St. Elizabeth’s High School, 1530 34th Ave. in Oakland, with testimony from East Bay residents.

Lee’s office says she “been a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform to address our broken immigration system” and “is committed to developing a comprehensive immigration policy that is fair, preserves family unity, promotes long-term economic growth, and includes a clear roadmap to citizenship.”

Next week and far away, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, will hold two similar forums – one on April 2 in Modesto, and another on April 3 in Manteca. He’ll be joined by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, at both listening sessions.

“As your Congressman, I’d like to hear from you about the critical issues facing our country and our community,” Denham said in a news release. “From creating fair and respectful immigration policies, to helping to create good paying jobs, and improving our children’s schools, we have a lot of work to do, and the answers are going to come from people like you – not the bureaucrats in Washington.”