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Shutdown: Glimmer of hope, calls to ease harm

Thursday afternoon brought some glimmer of progress toward ending the federal government shutdown, as well as California House members’ renewed calls to mitigate the shutdown’s harms.

From the office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“This evening in the Roosevelt Room, the leaders laid out the House proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit, formally appoint budget negotiators, and begin immediate discussions over how to re-open the government. No final decisions were made; however, it was a useful and productive conversation. The President and leaders agreed that communication should continue throughout the night. House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations with the president, and we are pleased there was an opportunity to sit down and begin a constructive dialogue tonight.”

Meanwhile, 10 California Democrats took to the House floor today to complain of the damage that the shutdown is doing to the Golden State’s economy, even while there are enough House votes to reopen the government immediately.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said the North Coast’s tourism economy is taking a beating as visitors are turned away from federal lands including Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwood National Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, causing local businesses to lose money.

“Visitors from all over America, and in fact all over the world, come to the North Coast’s public lands. Thanks to the Republican shutdown much of that economic activity is grinding to a halt,” Huffman said. “Let’s stop posturing, let’s stop the PR stunts, let’s stop the ‘Hollywood storefronts,’ stop deflecting, and stop insulting the intelligence of the American people. Let’s have an up or down vote to reopen our public lands and, indeed, to reopen our government.”

Elsewhere, Rep. Eric Swalwell announced he and other Bay Area lawmakers are urging U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to ensure that employees at national laboratories –contract workers who facing furlough if the shutdown goes on much longer – will get back pay once the federal government reopens, just as the House already has approved for federal workers.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton represents Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories in Livermore, where 7,500 government contractors will be furloughed without pay starting Oct. 18 if the shutdown doesn’t end first.

“National lab employees in Livermore should not have to suffer because of a shutdown caused by the Tea Party,” Swalwell said in a news release. “Lab employees are dedicated public servants who are supporting our country’s national and energy security, and just because their paychecks stop doesn’t mean their bills won’t keep coming.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, represents the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, where 1,500 employees are at risk of being furloughed. “They are our nation’s premier scientists and engineers who daily are engaged in cutting-edge research that is changing the world,” Eshoo said.

And Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is in the district of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

“Congress has moved to provide back pay to hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the country who continue to suffer furloughs due to the unnecessary Republican shutdown of the government,” Lee said. “The scientists, technicians, and workers at our national labs make enormous contributions to this nation, and they deserve to be paid for their work..”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, is signing the letter too, as a longtime supporter of national lab and the fusion research conducted by the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore.

“We take pride in the cutting-edge advancements in our scientific research, but budget cuts and now a government shutdown are threatening these important undertakings,” Lofgren said. “It’s irresponsible political gamesmanship for Republicans to continue to refuse to put a clean funding bill before the House for a vote. If they did, it would pass, ending the harm that is being done to furloughed workers like these scientists and the vital research they are engaged in.”

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Lynn Woolsey will retire, so let the race begin

As widely expected, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma – a paragon of progressive politics, and so a longtime burr in the saddle of conservatives near and far – announced today she’ll be retiring at the end of her current term.

Supporters heaped copious praise upon the 10-term Congresswoman today.

From Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future:

“Today’s announcement from progressive champion, Lynn Woolsey, marks the culmination of a distinguished Congressional career. For two decades Congresswoman Woolsey has worked tirelessly on behalf of America’s working class families and advocated for some of our nation’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised.”

From Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List:

“The entire EMILY’s List community thanks Representative Lynn Woolsey for her leadership and service to her district, her constituents and the state of California. We wish her the very best. Rep. Woolsey has had a remarkable career, rising from a single mother on welfare to a ten-term leader in Congress. She has been an outstanding advocate for women and families, and a leader in increasing access to higher education. With over a year left in her term, we look forward to her continued leadership. While it will be hard to fill the void left behind by Rep. Woolsey, EMILY’s List will work to keep this seat in the hands of a progressive Democratic woman.”

UPDATE @ 10:40 A.M. TUESDAY: From President Barack Obama:

“A fierce advocate for children, families and the people of the North Bay, Lynn Woolsey has never forgotten the people who sent her to Congress for nearly two decades. She is a leader on progressive causes and a fighter for working families, and we will miss her passionate voice in Congress. Michelle and I wish her well and join the people of California in thanking her for her many years of service.”

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey is a partner in many ways. I thank her for her years of service on behalf of the people of Northern California and all Americans.

“She is a valued leader of the Progressive Caucus, and a tireless voice for the most vulnerable among us. Her dedication to peace, to ending our senseless wars, to the creation of a public option, and to women and children is inspiring to Members of Congress and to her constituents alike. I look forward to working with her through the rest of this Congress and will wish her a fulfilling retirement.”

Woolsey, 73, now represents all of Marin County and most of Sonoma County, but redistricting could change all that. Woolsey fired off an angry statement earlier this month when the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s first draft Congressional map showed her district being narrowed and elongated along the state’s North Coast to stretch all the way from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

Woolsey didn’t endorse anyone to succeed her, but rather said she’ll leave it to the 6th Congressional District’s voters to decide who’s best for the job. Among Democrats likely to vie to replace her are Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa; Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams of San Rafael; and progressive activist Normon Solomon of Inverness.

Of those four, only Evans’ home would fall outside the newly drawn district according to this draft – not that living within the district is a constitutional requirement.

Read the full statement, as prepared, that Woolsey made this afternoon during a news conference at her home, after the jump…
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Lynn Woolsey is NOT happy with redistricting map

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, is the first Bay Area House member to come out swinging against the first-draft maps released today by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Woolsey’s 6th Congressional District – which now starts with Marin County and runs up to the Sonoma-Mendocino county line – instead would run all the way up the coast to the Oregon border.

“In manufacturing a new coastal district under this draft map, the Redistricting Commission has dismissed its mandate and violated its own guidelines,” Woolsey said in a statement issued this afternoon. “The whole point is to keep communities of interest together. According to the Commission itself, districts are supposed to ‘be drawn to encourage geographical compactness such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant populations.’

“What could be more distant than the expanse from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border? It’s a 375-mile trip. You could barely make the drive in a single day,” she said.

She may or may not be concerned for her own career security: Woolsey, 73, has indicated she might not seek another term in 2012. Among Democrats who might vie to replace her if she bows out are Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa; Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams of San Rafael; and progressive activist Normon Solomon of Inverness.

Of those four, only Evans’ home would fall outside the newly drawn district according to this draft – not that living within the district is a constitutional requirement.

Read the rest of Woolsey’s statement verbatim, after the jump…
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