Patty in the News

Sen. Patty Murray plans to leave her bully pulpit as chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and seek a greater role shaping federal spending as the leader of the Senate Budget Committee. We're planning to speak with Murray later today. She intends to remain on Veterans Affairs, a committee that she used to draw attention to long waits for patient services in the VA and to push for improved behavioral health services in the active-duty military. She told Politico she wants to leverage her new role on Budget Committee to shape discussions about investing in the country's future. "I think what's been lacking from our discussion for a long time is really that other part of what a Budget chair does, which is set the priorities for this country in terms of making sure we invest in the right places, in education, in job training, and to make sure we do a balanced approach moving forward," Murray told Politico. "I am fighting for those middle-class families who want us to deal with our debt and deficit, but they also want the investments that are critical to our country moving forward. And I want to help them understand why this word 'budget' is so important to them," she added. "It's about whether their kids get access to college, or we have an ability to create the infrastructure for our roads to bring new jobs here, or we have job training, and a really deep concern of mine, that we are ready to take care of the veterans who are returning home by the hundreds of thousands.

- The News Tribune
While Conrad had a reputation as a deficit hawk and numbers guy, Murray, nicknamed the "mom in tennis shoes" after her successful 1992 Senate run, underscored that she'll bring a more compassionate approach to the budget process.

- Politico
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said Thursday she would seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, a perch that could further amplify her role in shaping far-reaching decisions about the nation's fiscal future. Murray, who is the budget panel's second-most senior Democrat, would take over the helm from retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. The committee is responsible for writing an annual blueprint for spending on education, housing, transportation and other discretionary outlays by the federal government. Murray's announcement came a day before President Obama was scheduled to meet with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to forge a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," a $500 billion-plus mix of automatic spending cuts and tax increases slated to go into effect Jan. 1.

- Seattle Times
They are casualties of war not often heard about: wounded soldiers who can no longer start a family. Under its current policy, the Veterans' Administration does not assisting military families with in-vitro fertilization. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., calls the policy a disgrace, and is working to change that. Thinking of coming home to family is what gets members of the military through deployments. But some of them return home wounded and unable to conceive. Capt. Niall Kennedy is in a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury. His wife, Margeaux, is worried about him and their prospects of starting a family. "I have the ER doctors looking at me, (saying,) 'We're just trying to keep your husband alive.' And I'm like, 'Oh, he'll be fine, but I need to make sure that I can be a mom one day, like this is my dream."' Sarah and Sean Halsted found themselves in the same situation several years ago. "I fell from a helicopter about 40 feet," said Air Force veteran Sean Halsted. "Shattered all vertebrae, became a spinal cord injury." The couple chose in-vitro fertilization and conceived twins, but had to pay for the procedure themselves.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked Sen. Patty Murray’s $1 billion legislation to create a jobs corps for veterans, invoking a budget rule to kill what they contend is an unproven and unaffordable program. The 58-40 vote to waive a procedural budget motion fell two votes short. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had already postponed the vote from last Friday, when Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said the bill violates the Budget Control Act. Five Republicans sided with all 53 members of the Democratic caucus to override the GOP objection, but that was insufficient. Sixty votes were needed. The Veterans Jobs Corp Act would have trained and employed veterans for jobs in forests, wildlife refuges, parks, cemeteries and other public lands. Murray proposed paying for the $1 billion tab over five years in part by collecting delinquent taxes from Medicare providers and suppliers and from individuals with more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Murray said the GOP’s motion in effect told veterans the nation has spent enough money on them. The Washington Democrat, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said the bill incorporated many ideas from Republicans to improve its chance for passage.

- The Seattle Times
Senate Democrats made another push Thursday to shake a veterans jobs bill loose from procedural hurdles for passage this week. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) and bill sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida expressed frustration that the bill is being held up, and suggested lawmakers put politics aside and pass the measure bill that would provide $1 billion to help veterans find jobs. "For this to be drug out utilizing the delay tactics of the Senate rules is unconscionable and it's all balled up in the presidential election," Nelson told reporters. The legislation, which would help train veterans and help them transition into police officers, firefighters and EMTs, as well as work in the park system, is mired in a political quagmire by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who wants a vote on his bill to end aid to Pakistan before letting the Senate take a vote. "Veterans are watching, and they have no stomach for political posturing," Murray said. The lawmakers stressed that the bill is a collaboration between Democrats and Republicans and includes the bulk of an alternative bill offered by Veterans Committee ranking member Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

- The Hill
Murray, Miller, and others at the news conference had to say. (In case you are wondering, no, this is not a campaign visit – Sen. Murray won a new six-year term two years ago.) Miller introduced Sen. Murray by talking about his 80-year-old family business and its 40 or so employees, and the challenges of competing against “big stores,” as well as the importance of tax breaks. Sen. Murray said that taxes will go up unless Senate Bill 3412 is passed to extend current tax cuts.

- West Seattle Blog
After three years of work, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks say the compromise “Wild Olympics” bill they filed in June will suit the interests of pretty much everyone, from the hard-core environmentalists to the timber industry.

The two gathered with others at the Taylor Shellfish Works on Skookum Bay on Thursday, Aug. 16, to discuss the bill’s contents and to promote its passage.

- The Sequim Gazette
WASHINGTON — In 1973, the Suquamish Indian Tribe of Washington state accused a non-Indian man of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest and ordered him to appear in tribal court. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the charges, saying the tribe had no authority to try or punish the man.

Decades after the landmark ruling, it remains a source of irritation and frustration for tribal officials across the country, who complain they’re powerless to bring non-Indians to justice when they commit crimes on Indian lands. Tribal leaders say it’s particularly hard to prosecute rape cases.

- The News Tribune
The U.S. Senate stands behind its strengthened, bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act and will never accept a weaker bill from the House of Representatives, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday.

“I will not abandon Native American women, nor leave out victims of domestic violence who happen to be gay, nor immigrant women who find themselves victims, ” Murray said in an interview, referring to three groups included in the Senate legislation.

- SeattlePI