Senator Murray and Senator Ayotte
When our best and brightest don a U.S. military uniform, they do so with the understanding that they will sacrifice much to defend our country from dangerous threats. But they shouldn’t have to face a threat from within their own ranks. Twice in two weeks, the very people in the military who are responsible for protecting victims of sexual assault have been accused of committing these crimes. These incidents are disturbing — and the secretary of defense must act swiftly to re-examine sexual assault services across the department. It is also time for Congress to enact legislation that gives victims the protections they deserve to seek justice and provides the Pentagon with the necessary tools to deal with this growing crisis. When a service member fails to live up to our values and commits sexual assault, we must ensure he or she is held accountable and that victims can come forward without fear of retribution. While the Pentagon has made good faith efforts to address this problem, it has fallen well short. This month, the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual assault in the military, showing an alarming increase in the estimated numbers of sexual assaults, from 19,000 in 2010 to 26,000 in 2012. Equally disturbing is that while the number of assaults rose, the number of assaults that were reported did not change significantly. With 3,158 cases reported in 2010 and fewer than 3,400 being reported in 2012, the vast majority of sexual assaults continue to go unreported. As military sexual assaults are becoming increasingly common, too many victims are suffering silently, unable to receive the care they need and the justice they deserve — all while continuing to bravely serve our country.
Military sources tell NBC News the man in charge of sexual assault prevention in Fort Hood, Texas, may have allegedly coerced a female soldier into prostitution. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.
- NBC Nightly News
Democrats in Congress have had a hard time convincing the public that sequestration is a problem. Their assertions that the automatic federal spending cuts are imperiling services for poor children, vulnerable seniors and the disabled are falling on disinterested ears. They know children are not getting booted in droves from Head Start programs, seniors are not getting dropped by the thousands from Meals on Wheels services and homeless teenagers are not getting sent back to the streets as shelters are shuttered. Not yet, at least. To most Americans, the sky hasn't fallen on their lives. And when the skies did get a touch unfriendly recently, Congress moved swiftly to end furloughs of air traffic controllers in order to end long waits for travelers.
- Everett Herald
Ever since the federal sequestration went into effect, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is on what you might call a “sequestration tour” to point out how the cuts are affecting this state. She’s been to Head Start classes, met with furloughed military families, talked to seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels, and, today, met with cancer researchers and patients to hear their stories about worries about the cuts. “We need to replace the entire sequestration and do it in a responsible way,” Murray said. “I am deeply concerned that the message in Washington D.C., has been, oh the sequestration, a few airport lines, we’ve fixed it, all’s good.” During a tour of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Murray met a former patient, Lisa Verner, who had stem cell transplant a few years back to treat a life-threatening lymphoma. “If we don’t have the NIH funding these clinical trials, then people like me die,” Verner said, calling the sequester cuts “disastrous.” In all, there will be $44 million in NIH sequestration cuts in Washington state between now and September that will directly impact medical research. “We are severely hampering our ability to save lives in the future, to save costs in the future, and to do what the country has always done, which is to innovate and be a leader in the world,” said Murray.
The federal budget sequester is starting to squeeze biomedical research, Seattle scientists told Sen. Patty Murray on Tuesday. Some federal grants, which are the lifeblood of institutions like the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, have been cut by as much as half, said researchers who participated in a round-table discussion. At the UW School of Medicine, the bite adds up to $24 million so far, said Dr. John Slattery, vice dean for research and graduate education. The Hutch is facing layoffs, though the number remains uncertain, added Senior Vice President Dr. Fred Appelbaum. Already high, the bar for new funding has been raised even more. The branch of the National Institutes of Health that sponsors most diabetes research used to fund the top 20 percent of grant applications, said John Wecker, president and CEO of the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute. Now, because of budget uncertainty, fewer than one in 10 applications make the cut.
- Seattle Times
Senator Patty Murray looked inside a liquid nitrogen vault that holds more than a thousand cancer patient tissue samples. It was part of a personal tour she received at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Researchers are manipulating the samples to see if they can use a body's own defenses to fight cancer. The cells are "trained" by researchers then put back into the patient, then tested to see if the cells will kill the tumor. The work impressed Senator Murray. "So each patient is unique, you figure out what works for them, and put their cells back in and it targets cancer?" Murray asked a researcher. "Exactly," said Dr. Aude Chapuis, the research associate giving her the tour. "And [Chapuis] says this is going to replace chemotherapy one day," said Murray.
- King 5
Flanked by the teary-eyed parents of the Connecticut school shooting victims, Washington Senator Patty Murray vowed to keep the fight over gun control going after the Senate Wednesday voted down a measure requiring expanded background checks for gun buyers. "It makes no sense today that it is easier to get a weapon or a gun than it is to get an airplane ticket. No one should go through what these families have gone through," Murray said following the vote. Her remarks were restrained compared to a visibly infuriated President Barack Obama, who called it a "pretty shameful day for Washington" after the Senate rejected a measure designed to make it tougher for criminals to get their hands on guns. The Senate, which is controlled by the president's own party, handed him a stinging first defeat for his second term by voting down a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun buyers. The disappointment was all over the faces of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, their mouths turned into deep frowns as they appeared in the Rose Garden shortly after the vote with family members of the Newtown tragedy.
- KIRO Radio
Senators Murray and Mikulski, Debra Ness
This week, we recognize yet another Equal Pay Day — the day that marks how far into the new year women have to work to catch up with men’s wages from the previous year. Equal Pay Day is always a rude awakening for those of us who have fought for women’s equality in the workplace and society for decades and a frustrating reminder that the days when women faced discrimination in the workplace are not over. This Equal Pay Day, a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the National Partnership for Women & Families reminds us that women in every corner of the country continue to suffer from a gender-based wage gap. It is present in all 50 states and in the 50 largest metropolitan areas, and it is hurting the nation’s families and its economy. According to the analysis, women in the Seattle area suffer from the largest wage gap of any metropolitan area in the country. Women there are paid just 73 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a loss of more than $16,000 each year. On the other side of the country, in Baltimore, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar, taking home $10,000 less than men each year. This translates into the loss of months’ and years’ worth of basic necessities like food, rent, mortgage payments and gas.
In the last two weeks, I've heard two very different stories about sequestration. In Washington, D.C., some of my colleagues have said that since sequestration is going into effect and the world hasn't ended, it's best to sweep this under the rug and move on. But as is often the case, I heard a very different story from the families and communities I represent in Washington state. In Washington state I spoke with constituents who can't just accept sequestration as the status quo, because it's having real and in many cases devastating effects. Military families, who are already giving so much, are concerned about cuts at their children's elementary schools. Head Start centers are accepting fewer young students. Workers are facing deep pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. I know that my fellow elected leaders are hearing about similar struggles. As the Huffington Post reported last week, there are stories across the country of job cuts, smaller paychecks, and painful reductions in services that protect our most vulnerable families and seniors and maintain our national defense.
- Huffington Post
She may not attend Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee for Energy secretary, but you can bet Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., will make sure the department has all the money it needs to keep the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in her home state running safely. That’s not an easy task when the DOE, along with most other government agencies, is facing across-the-board sequester cuts and intense scrutiny over how Washington spends taxpayers’ dollars. The positions Murray holds on the Senate Democratic leadership team and key committees empower her to ensure that funding for the nuclear-waste site—a whopping $2 billion a year—remains intact. The Hanford site, which takes up nearly 600 square miles along the banks of the Columbia River in south-central Washington, produced plutonium for nuclear weapons during World War II and the Cold War, including the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan. Today, the site holds 56 million of gallons of radioactive waste from those weapons in underground tanks fraught with problems, including leaks into surrounding soil. It’s considered the most contaminated radioactive site in North America. In addition to her role on the Democratic leadership team and her chairmanship of the Budget Committee, Murray is also the second-most senior Democrat on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees DOE’s budget.
- National Journal