By Miriam Raftery
Satellite: Photo: Strip mining of Athabasca oil sands, courtesy NASA
November 18, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – By a single vote, the Senate blocked passage of a measure to authorize building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The measure previously passed the House of Representatives 252-161.
But with Republicans taking control of the Senate in January, Senate Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell vowed to bring the matter up again soon after the new Congress convenes. Even if passed, however, the measure could face a veto by President Barack Obama.
California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer opposed the XL Pipeline, calling it the “Extra Lethal Pipeline.” She cited health risks from chemicals that can cause lung damage as well as serious environmental concerns. "The facts are the facts are the facts," she said. "If you're not a scientist then be humble and listen to the peer-reviewed scientists.”
By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – As a slap in the face to women on Equal Pay Day today, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act for women – for the third time. The measure failed due to lack of a single Republican vote. The bill had aimed to provide more effective remedies for women who are paid less than men for the same work.
California's Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, support the bill. On the House side, San Diego Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis is pushing for passage of a similar measure, H.R. 377. San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters is a cosponsor of the bill, which local Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas also supports.
East County Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has previously voted no on a similar paycheck fairness measure for women, along with San Diego Republican Darrell Issa.
Update October 17, 2013: President Obama signed the measure into law last night, ending the shutdown.
By Nadin Abbott
October 16, 2013 (San Diego)--Tonight both the House and the Senate voted to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling—just in time to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on our national debt by tomorrow’s deadline. The measure will fund the Government until January 15 and raise the ceiling until February 17. Moreover, a conference committee between the House and the Senate to discuss the budget has finally been appointed.
Among San Diego’s Congressional delegation, only Republican Duncan Hunter was unwilling to prevent a default on America’s debts, casting a “no” vote. Republican Darrell Issa joined with Democrats Susan Davis, Juan Vargas and Scott Peters to vote in favor of the continuing resolution to find the government and end the shutdown. Overall in the House, 285 voted yes and 144 voted no.
The vote in the Senate was overwhelming, with 81 of 100 Senators voting for the bill, including most Republicans. California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein both voted yes.
4 of 5 local Congressional members not sure yet how they will vote; both CA Senators support military intervention
By Miriam Raftery
September 4, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Three days ago, NBC news reported that San Diego’s Congressional delegation had “mostly positive” reactions to news that President Obama had decided to ask Congresss for approval before waging a military air strike on Syria. But a poll by CNN of Congressional members found San Diego’s representatives remain mostly undecided on whether to vote for war or not. Both California Senators, however, support the President’s call for military action.
Overall, the CNN poll found the majority in both houses of Congress have not yet committed how they will vote. In the Senate, 24 Senators say that they will support the war declaration, 16 will oppose it, and 58 remain undecided. In the House, 27 support going to war, 91 oppose, 254 are undecided, and the positions of 61 others are unknown.
This is a rare issue in which the vote does not split down party lines. Both parties are split, with many members on each side of the weighty issue appearing ready to vote their consciences or the will of their constituents, not a party preference.
San Diego Republicans drop opposition, vote to pass measure
By Miriam Raftery
March 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Two Republican Congressmen from San Diego, Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa, previously voted against renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act to include protections for Native American, gay and immigrant women.
But this week, both shifted their stance and joined with Democrats to pass the measure 286 to 138. Local Democratic House representatives Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas also voted in favor. (View roll call) The bill has also been approved by the Senate, where California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein supported it, and is expected to be signed into law by the President.
The law had expired, leaving all battered women without the protections afforded by the Violence Against Women Act, due to the House blocking the measure for over a year. But after mounting public pressure by women’s groups, Native American rights advocates, immigrant and gay rights organizations and others, 87 House Republicans joined with all 199 Democrats to pass the reauthorization bill, expanding rights to include all women.
By Miriam Raftery
Neighbors of proposed local wind farms dismayed at CA Senators Boxer and Feinstein votes for subsidies of industrial wind projects that pose dangers to their communities
April 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The U.S. Senate has voted to kill S. 2204, which failed to receive the 60 votes needed. The measure would have funded wind industry tax credits by eliminating tax credits for oil companies.
Many wind energy proposals in the pipeline may have the plug pulled by energy companies that say those projects would not be viable without federal money. At a hearing last week on the Ocotillo Express wind project, a representative from Pattern Energy warned that “delays can kill a project” since subsidies expire at year’s end.
By Megan McGlamery
February 20, 2012 (San Diego)--Last weekend at the Democratic State Convention, Senator Dianne Feinstein discussed her agenda for Congress as well as her aspirations for the United States. The Senator, who has served for 20 years, seeks reelction in November.
“First, there would be affordable access to healthcare,” she explained. “Second, prudent and strong regulation of financial institutions, so that American consumers get a fair trade when buying a home, investing hard earned money in a college fund or saving for retirement. Third, we need the protection of Medicare, social security and a social security net. We need to protect a woman’s right to choose.”
LUTZ FILES CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT AGAINST BUILDING MANAGER OVER ARREST WHILE REGISTERING VOTERS AT CIVIC CENTER PLAZA
Goldman Sachs is majority owner of property management firm headed by Senator Feinstein’s husband
Story by Miriam Raftery, photos by Ron Logan
November 30, 2011 (San Diego) –Startling ironies came to light today in the case of Ray Lutz, an East County political activist and former Democratic Congressional candidate arrested yesterday for refusing to move a voter registration table out of the Civic Center Plaza.
Bill would allow some court-martialed soldiers to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
October 7, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – The words on the United States Supreme Court building read “Equal Justice Under Law.” Yet some service members are denied access to the nation’s highest court. To correct what they believe is an inequity in the military justice system, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced legislation to grant these service members access to the Supreme Court.
Kinde Durkee is accused of stealing funds from dozens of Democratic candidates including Congresswoman Susan Davis, as well as many charitable organizations
September 24, 2011 (San Diego) – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has filed a lawsuit against First California Bank, claiming the bank “intentionally ignored dozens of red flags, ignored its duties and obligations under state and federal law, allowing campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee to allegedly steal funds from the campaign’s $5 million bank account. Feinstein is also suing Durkee’s accounting firm and business associates.
Durkee was arrested Sept. 2 by the FBI and charged with fraud. She is accused of robbing dozens of politicians, political committees, and nonprofit charities. She is free on bond. Meanwhile, bank accounts for those who lost money have been frozen, leaving those robbed feeling that they have been victimized twice.
Local pastor visits 60 Congressional offices and meets with CA Senators; Feinstein pledges to oppose new nuclear plants
By Rev. Peter Moore-Kochlacs
Special Correspondent for the Southern California Ecumenical Council, the National Religious Coalition for Creation Care and the Green Ecumenical and Interfaith Religious Communities in California
May 14, 2011 (El Cajon) -- April 29 to May 6 was a working week for me in Washington, DC. I was in the Capitol advocating against our government’s current new nuclear power public policies.
Visiting over 60 Congressional Senate and House offices, I made the point on moral, safety and financial grounds that in light of the Fukushima, Japan nuclear power plant accidents and other problems inherent with nuclear energy, the federal government should stop permitting the building of new US land-based nuclear power plants.
SAFETY OF U.S. NUCLEAR REACTORS QUESTIONED: CA SENATORS CALL FOR INSPECTION OF STATE’S NUCLEAR PLANTS
“The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ (seismic qualification) is to lie. The industry does it all the time.”
--Greg Palast, former lead investigator in government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations
By Miriam Raftery
March 17, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) –Catastrophic failures at a half dozen nuclear facilities in Fukushima, Japan has led to questions regarding the safety of nuclear reactors in America-- both existing facilities and new ones proposed—including some designed or operated by the same companies responsible for the nuclear meltdowns in Japan.
February 19, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – San Diego’s Congressional delegation is speaking out on spending and budget-cutting priorities –with widely divergent views. While Republicans have slammed President Barack Obama’s proposed budget, Democrats are blasting the rival Republican House appropriations bill.
As with any omnibus proposal, the devil is in the details. Issues at stake include funds for local border projects, birth control access, water supplies for Southern California, job training, and more. Here’s what our five local House representatives and both California U.S. Senators have to say about the spending proposals that Congress is weighing.
January 28, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) has introduced legislation that would halt the repeal of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. President recently signed the repeal into law and the military is on a path to implementation of the repeal measure, which will allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly in the U.S. military.
San Diego’s Congressional representatives earned grades from A to D. Who scored the highest--and the lowest? The answers will surprise you.
October 25, 2010 – Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)'s Congressional Report Card grades members of Congress on support for combat veterans in the past two years. San Diego’s Congressional delegation includes the Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, two veterans, a mlitary spouse, the wife of a military contractor, and a veterans' subcommittee member. So how did our legislators rank on supporting the many veterans in their districts?
By Buck Shott
August 4, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – This week, our Political Wrangler brings you the lastest from those smoke-filled rooms in Washington and San Diego. Amid pressing world issues, which of your U.S. legislators has a bill to ban marijuana brownies? Who is drawing fire for cozy ties to tobacco lobbyists after backing a cigar club for legislators? Which Congressman is fighting to make it easier to send cigarettes to our troops? Did a certain Supervisor break the law in doling out $80,000 in taxpayer money to a special interest group?
Democrats break Republican filibuster in Senate and win passage of bill
July 23, 2010 (Washingon D.C.) – President Barack Obama yesterday signed into law legislation to extend unemployment benefits for 2.5 milllion out of work Americans.
The law extends unemployment insurance through November for out-of-work Americans who have not yet exhausted up to 99 weeks of aid. Benefits will be retroactive to late May, when the last extension expired. Benefits vary by state but will average $310 per week.
FEINSTEIN BLASTS WELLPOINT CORPORATE GREED, INTRODUCES BILL TO HALT RATE INCREASE ON 800,000 CALIFORNIANS
Insurer also targeted breast cancer patients with computer program to terminate their coverage
April 27, 2010 (Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expressed outrage after Reuters published a story detailing how WellPoint Inc. used a special computer program to target breast cancer patients and terminate their health coverage. (Read the story here.) WellPoint is the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross of California, which plans to hike premium rates by up to 39 percent on 800,000 California policyholders on May 1.
"We have a duty to protect the American people from the corporate greed of these for-profit, publically traded health insurance companies," said Senator Feinstein. "If a CEO thinks it is okay to deprive women of their health coverage when they become seriously ill with breast cancer, we can't trust them to do the right thing, period. Left to their own devices, companies like WellPoint will throw paying customers to the sharks for the sake of profit."
EDITORIAL: POWERLINK SHOCKER: FEINSTEIN TELLS FOREST SERVICE CHIEF SHE SUPPORTS POWERLINK, SEES “NO OPPOSITION” OTHER THAN “NIMBY GROUPS FULLY CONSIDERED & DISMISSED”
ECM URGES FEINSTEIN: COME TO A PUBLIC MEETING IN EAST COUNTY ON POWERLINK
By Miriam Raftery, Editor
March 26, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has pressured the head of the U.S. Forest Service in an appropriations hearing last week to fast-track approval of SDG&E’s request to run Sunrise Powerlink through the Cleveland National Forest, the Union-Tribune reports today. Claiming to be unaware of major opposition, she later said she may reconsider her support if she hears of major concerns from the community.
39% Rate Hike by Anthem-Blue Cross Persuaded CA Senator that Consumers need Choice of a Public Plan
Updated February 19, 2010 (Washington D.C.) – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has joined with 16 other Senators to urge that Majority Leader Harry Reid pass a public option for health insurance using reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that allows a simple up-or-down vote with a majority of 51 Senators.