Patty in the News

The cost of war has no end. Today, on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of America's tragic folly in Iraq, the Associated Press is out with an analysis that shows the U.S. government spends more than $40 billion a year to compensate veterans and survivors from the Spanish-American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq campaigns and the Afghanistan conflict. Sen. Patty Murray said the enormous price tag should remind us about war's long-lasting financial toll. "When we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about the cost," said Murray, who voted against the resolution to wage war in Iraq. "While I did not support the decision to enter into this conflict, I have made it my priority over the last decade to ensure the costs - both visible and invisible - are not forgotten," Murray said in a statement. "Today's solemn anniversary must serve as a reminder that our work has just begun. We must not waver on our duty to serve those who have served.

- Seattle Weekly
For three years, Senate Democrats feared that presenting a budget would cloud their message against Republicans. But this year, they’re seeking to leverage a budget framework into a stronger hand at the table with the House GOP and Obama administration. Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington is set to unveil and mark up a budget next week, in the middle of a fight over a continuing resolution to keep the government open. Murray might have to battle for time and attention for her larger, 10-year document against a more pressing shutdown fight. But as a member of leadership, she is in a better position than her predecessor, former Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., to thread that needle and use her new platform to shape the smaller debate, too. “We’re all jammed here in a few weeks ... and I think the story becomes really conflated at that point,” Murray told CQ Roll Call, referring to averting a government shutdown, dealing with the sequester cuts and unveiling a budget. Murray resisted the idea that producing a budget would not be as effective as doubling-down on more targeted talking points Democrats have used in the past, such as exceptions for corporate jets and oil companies. In the summer of 2011, top Democratic leaders including Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York pressured Conrad to give up his pursuit of a budget framework to allow caucus leadership to better focus on specific talking points such as tax breaks for the rich or protecting entitlements.

- Roll Call
The talking point is on the tip of virtually every Republican’s tongue in the Capitol: Democrats have failed to pass a budget resolution in the Senate for more than 1,400 days. Sen. Patty Murray is trying to end that, but it hasn’t been easy. Heading into a decisive week of private meetings with fellow Democrats, the new Budget Committee chairwoman is trying to thread the needle between red-state senators who want deeper spending cuts and liberals worried about cutting too much into entitlement programs like Medicare. The Washington Democrat also has enlisted a team of aides to defend her plan while attacking the GOP proposal coming from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Murray’s plan is still being developed, but it could be split 50-50 between spending cuts and new taxes, with some Democratic senators on the panel pushing for tax increases upward of $1 trillion, according to people familiar with the matter. It is also widely expected to include fast-track procedures to overhaul the Tax Code despite resistance from the powerful Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who has privately expressed strong objections to such an approach.

- Politico
The Violence Against Women Act now on its way to President Barack Obama’s desk after a yearlong delay has deep ties and connections to the Inland Northwest and its U.S. congressional delegation. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is a co-sponsor of the bill that will arrive for Obama’s signature. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., led the charge on the House GOP alternative that was shot down Thursday. One of the main reasons for the House GOP bill’s failure was its lack of a mechanism for tribal courts to prosecute non-native persons accused of abuse. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., argued for the Senate’s provision granting tribal courts authority over abuse cases as chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee. Throughout the process, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has maintained staunch support of the Senate version and publicly called out House GOP leadership for failing to bring it to a floor vote. That changed Thursday, when the House shipped the Senate version to the White House. Before that happened, McMorris Rodgers took to the House floor Thursday morning in an effort to combat Democratic attacks on the Republican version of the bill, saying the focus had been on partisanship in debate on the legislation rather than the victims who would be protected by her version of the bill. She also cautioned the law would not stand up to judicial scrutiny.

- Spokesman Review

House renews bill on domestic violence

The U.S. House on Thursday ended a 16-month standoff with the Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Feb 28 2013

Helped by dissent among Republicans, the U.S. House on Thursday ended a 16-month standoff with the Senate to renew the Violence Against Women Act. The passage — by a 286-138 vote, with 87 Republicans siding with a unanimous Democratic caucus — came immediately after the House voted down a less-expansive version of the domestic-violence bill offered by Spokane’s Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chamber’s highest-ranking Republican woman. It marked a retreat by the House GOP’s conservative faction, which for more than a year had resisted a floor vote on the measure — twice passed by the Senate. The legislation, which President Obama has said he will sign, expands protection for gays and lesbians, and gives tribal courts for the first time the power to prosecute non-Indians accused of assault on tribal lands.

- The Seattle Times

The budget boss

Feb 27 2013

Fresh off the shellacking in the 2010 elections, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked four senators to run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and only one said yes. Few thought Democrats would be able to hold onto the Senate. But then came 2012. “Well, today the poor woman who they finally suckered into taking that job is a super-genius hero of the year,” liberal pundit Rachel Maddow said after the 2012 elections. Not a single Democratic incumbent lost. Democrats actually gained two seats. That woman, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, stood before three American flags after the election and proclaimed, “We’ve played offense every day, and we never let up… ” and began listing all the Democratic winners to cheers. But now she’s in another nearly impossible job. She’s the head of the Senate Budget Committee. It’s either one of the most important or impotent committees on Capitol Hill, a committee that hasn’t officially passed a budget resolution in nearly four years. If Murray can’t pass a budget by next April, senators will have their paychecks withheld. Meanwhile, the $16.5 trillion national debt grows. The economic recovery continues to limp forward. Work to fix one problem, and risk inflaming the other.

- The Inlander

Op-ed: Avoiding sequestration requires balance, cooperation, certainty

Avoiding sequestration and solving our debt crisis requires a balanced approach, writes Sen. Patty Murray. Spending cuts alone aren’t enough and will mostly hurt the middle class. Revenue from the very wealthiest must be part of the solution.

Feb 26 2013

As I toured communities throughout our state last week and discussed the sequestration cuts looming over our military and economy, the frustration was palpable and the questions were the same.

Whether it was teachers, veterans or local leaders from either political party, Washingtonians wanted to know why, when we’re just clawing our way out of a recession, we continually face crises that threaten the progress we’ve made. They asked why compromise is seemingly impossible. And why, when their families need certainty most, Washington, D.C., continues to let them down.

- The Seattle Times

Another way forward

Feb 26 2013

Sequestration is scheduled to hit in just a few days and, unless Congress acts, deep automatic cuts will slash critical investments in national priorities like education, law enforcement, and defense. Sequestration will threaten our economic recovery, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost us 750,000 jobs within the year. Some of our colleagues think sequestration is inevitable. Others actually think it's a good idea. We disagree. We've been working to replace sequestration in a balanced and bipartisan way for the past year, and the only reason we haven't gotten a deal is because Republicans have insisted on protecting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. We believe there is still a path to agreement -- but it is going to require true compromise from both sides. Democrats believe that deficit reduction, and sequestration in particular, should be handled in a way that is balanced, fair for the middle class, and good for the economy. We certainly believe that we need to cut spending responsibly -- and are willing to make tough compromises to do so. But we also think that while families continue to struggle in this tough economy, the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations ought to be a part of the solution. To us, that's just common sense.

- The Huffington Post
When the American people went to the polls last November, they strongly endorsed a balanced approach to our budget challenges that puts jobs and the middle class first and calls on the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. If you were one of the many who cast a ballot, knocked on a door, or talked with your friends and family in favor of pro-growth, pro-middle class budget priorities, I'm asking you today to stand with us again. Because the work didn't end on Election Day -- and Republicans are already gearing up to push a new Ryan budget that could be even more extreme than the last one. As I move into my new role as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and we work to write a budget, I am committed to tackling this issue in a way that works for the middle class, protects seniors and families, and lays down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth. I am eager to contrast our budget values and priorities with the Ryan budget that would end Medicare as we know it, gut job-creating investments and programs middle class families depend on, and continue protecting the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations from paying a penny more in taxes. Because we know that when our priorities are laid out next to Republicans', the public stands with us.

- The Huffington Post
Republicans have been complaining for years that Senate Democrats aren’t writing and voting on formal budget plans. Democrats’ stated reasoning for this has been that there’s no point in passing a budget resolution that’s dead on arrival in the House of Representatives, especially when budget policy is actually made in high-stakes negotiations between House leaders and the Obama administration. But their real reason for the budget negligence was more political. Democrats have shied away from voting for budgets that either contain large tax increases or large budget deficits and have been divided among themselves over how best to proceed. The GOP believes that forcing Democrats to go on the record with a budget will be a political bonanza. A year ago it might have been. But Senate Democrats have a new top budget officer in town—Patty Murray of Washington state—who’s substantially more liberal and also more politically adept than her predecessor. With Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, now retired and Murray in the chair of the Budget Committee, Democrats are eager to play “compare the budgets.” They believe they can win the budget politics as soundly as they won the 2012 elections.

- Slate