Patty in the News

I have a very simple message for Senate Republicans: Do your jobs, and allow me to do mine.

I was elected by the voters in Washington state to be their voice, but I can't do that if Republicans refuse to allow the Senate to perform one of our most important Constitutional responsibilities: carefully evaluating and voting on whether to confirm justices of the Supreme Court.

When I talk to people across Washington state, they tell me they are frustrated with the partisanship and dysfunction in Congress. Democrat, Republican, independent: They say they want their government to work for them and their families, and they want Congress to help make that happen. I couldn't agree more.

I know we can make progress when we work together, and I am particularly proud of the work I've done to do to break through the gridlock with the bipartisan budget deal I struck with now-Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and the bipartisan law I wrote with Republicans that finally fixed the broken No Child Left Behind law. But unfortunately, instead of working with us to build on that bipartisan work, the Republicans who control Congress have now taken the dysfunction to a whole new level and are spreading it beyond Congress and into our nation's highest court.

Just hours after the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican leaders made it clear that they had no intention to even consider filling the vacancy. They immediately decided that they were going to put petty partisan politics above our Constitution, our country, and their responsibilities as United States senators — and that they would hobble the Supreme Court for a year or more in the hopes that a Republican is elected President. That is absolutely wrong, and I hope they reconsider.

The Constitution could not be clearer. Article II, Section 2 states: “[the President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the Supreme Court.”

The Constitution doesn't say “shall nominate only in his first three years.” It doesn't say “shall nominate unless the Senate doesn't feel like working that year.” It says he “shall nominate,” then it is up to the Senate to ultimately help make sure that vacancy is filled with a qualified person.

To be very clear: Republicans aren't objecting to a person. They are objecting to the very idea that this president should be allowed to nominate anyone. Now they are saying they won't even hold hearings, no matter how qualified a nominee is. And some of them are saying they would refuse to even meet with one!

So how are Republican leaders defending this? Well, they are saying that we should wait until voters weigh in this November. But voters have weighed in. They elected President Obama and entrusted him with the powers and responsibilities granted by the Constitution for four full years — not just three.

Republicans also say there is precedent to stall on Supreme Court nominations in the last year of a president's term, but that is just not true. A Democratic Senate unanimously confirmed Justice Kennedy in President Reagan's last year in office.

So I am truly hoping that Republican leaders reverse course on this. The Supreme Court plays such an important role in protecting the rights, liberties and responsibilities of all Americans from women's health and rights, to workers' rights, the environment, campaign finance and more. But in order to function for our families, the court shouldn't have vacancies and potential deadlocks at every turn.

I'm not arguing for Republicans to simply rubber stamp anyone the president sends us — of course not. I know I will personally be evaluating any nominee using my long-held standards: Are they qualified? Are they honest, ethical, and fair? Will they be independent and even-handed? And will they uphold our rights and our liberties, including the critical right to privacy? I would like to ask those questions of a nominee on behalf of Washington state families, but I can't do that unless Republicans let us act.

Making sure Washington state families have a voice on issues like these is what drove me to run for the United States Senate. Back in 1991, so many of us watched the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings on television, and we were frustrated. We couldn't believe that he wasn't pushed on the issues we cared about most, and we didn't think that the members of that committee represented the full spectrum of perspectives in our communities. So I ran for office to be a voice for families like mine, and I have worked hard to make sure Washington state families have a seat at the table in the debate over nominees for the highest court in the land.

I consider that to be our job as United States senators, and I am hoping that Republican leaders will put politics aside and let us do it.

Education is Senator Murray's past, present and future. She was a preschool teacher who first got into politics when state preschool funding was threatened, and now, she can’t stress enough the importance of education, specifically early childhood education.
Senator Murray introduces legislation to return the skeleton found along the Columbia River in 1996 to a coalition of Columbia Basin tribes after a scientific study completed in June at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark concluded that the DNA from the 8,500-year-old bones of Kennewick Man is related to that of contemporary Native Americans, including those who have lived in the region where his bones were found.
Two Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation on Thursday delivered an appeal to the Republican-run Congress: Don’t kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The LWCF, established 50 years ago, uses a portion of revenues from the federal government’s offshore oil and gas leases to pay for conservation and recreation programs, often in matching grands with the state. It has invested $637 million in Washington, saving old-growth forests in Southwest Washington, establishing wildlife refuges and buying up mine holdings in our national parks.
James Cook was waiting in line for military surplus clothing when a United States senator walked up and introduced herself.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., asked Cook how the veterans’ system was treating him. Cook told Murray about his problems getting timely shipments of prescription medications.

“It’s supposed to take three to five days,” Cook told Murray. “It can be seven to 10 days.”

From his perspective, Cook said, part of the problem is that the distribution center is east of the Mississippi River.
Joined by 37th District State Senator Pramila Jayapal, the visit to the seafood restaurant capped the South Seattle leg of Murray’s day-long tour of the district. The United States Senate’s highest-ranking woman made stops at an Othello neighborhood daycare center and Hillman City cornerstone Tin Umbrella Coffee earlier in the day after breakfast with the Sound Cities Association in Renton.
Ryan and Murray's proposal is a major step forward in figuring out what works, and what doesn’t, in government. The legislation would establish a commission charged with reviewing the inventory of federal data related to programs and tax expenditures and developing recommendations for making the data more available for the evaluation of programs’ effectiveness.
It took some doing to make it happen, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., reminded listeners. For more than a decade, Murray worked with veterans, community leaders and federal VA officials to push for funding for a veterans home in Eastern Washington. In 2014, she helped secure $23 million in federal funding to help the project keep moving.
In 2004, the Veterans Affairs put the entire VA hospital on the chopping block, which would have forced veterans to go to Spokane or Seattle for care. But because community members spoke up by writing to their elected officials, attended committee hearings Senator Murray chaired, and joined her in countless meetings making their voices heard, they not only saved the facility from closure, they helped prove that it was worth expanding.
“If you served our country, then we will serve you. No questions asked about length of service or how you left,” said Murray, a Democrat and former chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.