Patty in the News

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
The fight to get a Veteran’s Administration disability claim settled for a Coulee Dam man took action by U.S. Senator Patty Murray. Daniel Johnson’s cancer showed up in February last year and was attributed to his contact with Agent Orange, while he was in the navy in Vietnam. Johnson said contact with Agent Orange occurred after the cease fire while his ship was still in Vietnam, through the ship’s ventilation system and eventually the ship’s water. Johnson was on a large amphibious ship that transported marines and their equipment into battle. While repeatedly applying for help with the V.A. all through 2011 and most of this year, he was repeatedly turned down. It wasn’t until he had lost his job with the federal government, and faced bankruptcy, that he decided to seek political help. On Nov. 30, just a few weeks ago, he picked up the phone and one of Senator Murray’s staff members was on the line telling him that the V.A. had reconsidered his application for disability and it had been approved. Murray chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and in 2011 helped block an amendment that would have made it impossible for veterans to get approved for help with Agent Orange-related medical expenses.

- The Grand Coulee Star
The Senate this week passed an amendment that would reshape the Defense Department’s behavioral health and suicide prevention programs, compelling each service to adopt common practices.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., submitted the provision to the $631 billion defense authorization bill. Her amendment mirrors a bill she submitted in June.

- The News Tribune
”: With legislators focused on looming cuts to defense spending and entitlement programs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told a gathering of progressives on Capitol Hill Tuesday that she is worried the most vulnerable groups depending on domestic programs may get “lost in the shuffle” during the deficit negotiations. “It’s very concerning to me that so much of the focus in D.C. and across the country has been on the other half of sequestration -- the defense cuts,” Murray said. “I feel very strongly that while we certainly need to cut spending responsibly and get our debt and deficit under control, we shouldn’t do that on the backs of the families and children who can afford it least.” Democrats and Republicans need to hammer out a deficit-reduction deal before the New Year to avert the so-called fiscal cliff -- the moment when the Bush tax cuts expire and drastic budget cuts hit defense and domestic spending. As Murray noted, those automatic cuts, known as sequestration, would include painful hits to programs that help needy families, such as child care funding, home heating assistance and job training for the unemployed.

- Huffington Post
U.S.Sen. Patty Murray has become the de facto leader of an idea that once seemed far-fetched: deliberately allowing the double punch of the looming "fiscal cliff" of massive tax increases and automatic spending cuts to take effect in January. That strategy gained wider currency only five months ago, after Murray gave a speech in Washington, D.C., vowing to take the fiscal debate into 2013, rather than agree to a Republican deal "that throws middle-class families under the bus." The Washington Democrat said Thursday that triggering the fiscal cliff is a last-resort option — but one Democrats will use if forced. The strong-arm gambit was borne of her disillusionment after co-chairing last year's failed deficit-reduction supercommittee that was charged with seeking alternatives to $1.2 trillion in mandated budget cuts over the next decade

- The Seattle Times