Patty in the News

Scientists feeling sequester pinch

Health scientists tell Sen. Patty Murray that many have already seen their grants cut, threatening innovation and public health.

Apr 30 2013

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
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.

- Politico
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
Patty Murray won her first U.S. Senate campaign two decades ago despite being portrayed as “a mom in tennis shoes,” turning an insult into a powerful political tool. This past November, she led Democrats as they expanded their majority in the upper chamber by turning opponents’ words and beliefs against them. Now, as chairwoman of the Budget Committee, Murray is at the center of the country’s most contentious debate -- how to reduce the deficit and manage the debt -- by attempting to transform what she perceives as an election mandate into policy. The 62-year-old, camera-shy senator from Seattle is in some ways the Democrats’ answer to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the lower chamber’s budget chairman and a former vice presidential candidate who has garnered national attention in recent years for his financial proposals and command of economic minutiae.

- Real Clear Politics
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
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
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