"Neither of our "power team" has signed onto the "Three State Solution" for ERA ratification. Please give them call and encourage them to cosponsor Senate Joint Resolution 15, "Remove the ratification deadline from the Equal Rights Amendment." -  Walt Kloefkorn, PDA Washington


A normally reserved Sen. Maria Cantwell was exchanging bear hugs with fishermen in Seattle on Friday,  hours after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved to stop a mammoth proposed mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, on grounds it would threaten the world’s greatest salmon fishery.

senspattymurrayandmariacantwellwaCantwell took the fishing industry’s cause, framed the Pebble Mine debate in economic terms, and pressured the EPA to send its scientists into the field and scope out impacts of the mine. They did, and the impacts were many and frightening.

At a time when members of Congress are held in low esteem, exceptions deserve to be noted.

The two “Gentle Ladies from Washington,” Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray, have recreated the one-two punch of two guys who together represented Washington in the U.S. Senate from 1953 to 1980, Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson.

Murray is the state’s provider, a senior power on the Senate Appropriations Committee, once chaired by Magnuson.  She holds Maggie’s old Senate seat.  Doing double duty, Murray is also chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

The federal purse strings were looser in Maggie’s time.  The canny senator secured money for the great third powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam, which heats and lights Northwest homes during cold, dark winter days.  But Murray has secured bucks for such projects as Sound Transit’s light rail to Sea-Tac Airport.

Cantwell barely won Jackson’s old seat in 2000, but was recently reelected to a third term in 2012 by a landslide majority.

Jackson was a legislator, the architect of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Air Act.  He defied the Nixon administration’s “detente” policy with the Soviet Union with the Jackson-Vanik amendment that linked emigration of Soviet Jews to increased trade ties. Moscow hated him.


(Sen. Maria Cantwell: She has climbed Mt. Rainier, the Grand Teton and Kilimanjaro.)

Jackson was a workaholic, once even taking time off from his Hawaiian honeymoon to visit headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and receive a briefing on the Soviet Union’s growing naval presence in the Pacific.

Likewise, Cantwell.  She works and she works out.  The senator’s vacations in recent years have been spent scaling Mt. Rainier, summiting the Grand Teton in Wyoming, and reaching the 19,360-foot summit of Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.

She has inherited a lot of heavy lifting.  Cantwell was an architect of the 2010 Wall Street reform bill, insisting on a strong consumer agency and making herself an expert in the eye-glazing field of derivatives.

She has taken up complicated stuff, from closing the gap in radar coverage of storms sweeping in off the Pacific, to ocean acidification that threatens Washington’s $300 million-a-year shellfish industry, to the threat to Northwest ports as they face emboldened competitors from Prince Rupert, B.C., to Charleston, South Carolina.

Cantwell has twice been an impact player on key Alaska decisions.

In 2005, then-Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, tried to use a defense spending bill to open the coastal plan of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and roads.  Uncle Ted’s reasoning:  No Senator would dare organize a filibuster to block defense bill.

Caribou in northern Alaska.  The huge Western Arctic Caribou Herd, with 325,000 animals, is protected by Obama administration plan.

(Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Sen. Cantwell blocked a backdoor effort to open the coast of the Refuge to oil drilling and haul roads.)

Cantwell took his dare, and the Arctic Wildlife Refuge was spared.  Stevens did a memorable nut out on the Senate floor, threatening to come into Washington and campaign against Cantwell.  He did, and she won reelection in 2006 by the biggest margin of a Washington Senator since “Scoop” Jackson was on the ballot.

After Hurricane Katrina, House Republican leaders came up with legislation to encourage construction of more oil refineries.  A hidden-away provision have lifted the prohibition of supertankers on Puget Sound (written, years ago, by Magnuson) and other protection against oil spills.

Cantwell helped squelch the legislation while it was still in the House, with help from Reps. Jay Inslee and Dave Reichert.

With the proposed Pebble Mine, Cantwell stood a frequent developers’ argument on its ear.  The mine’s assault on a pristine environment would have damaged the economy.  The commercial, sport and native fishery of Bristol Bay is a $500 million-a-year business and supports 14,000 full and part time jobs.  About 1,100 Puget Sound-area fishers have licenses in Bristol Bay.

The senator helped stitch together a coalition that included sport and commercial fishing interests, the restaurant industry, even major jewelry outfits — Tiffany and Ben Bridge — which pledged they would never buy gold from the Pebble Mine.

The EPA is using its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, setting in motion a process to bar the Alaska mine project due to its detrimental impacts on river and wetland systems that support 46 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon fishery.

With Washington, D.C. burdened down with show horses — folks like Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and various crazy Texas congressmen — it’s sometimes hard to appreciate that the capital still has work horses. Magnuson once loved drawing the show horse-work horse distinction.

Our “Gentle ladies” are among the workers.

Murray had her victory when she ironed out a budget compromise with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chair of the House Budget Committee, that lifted painful sequestration and put an end to spending and debt crises at least until March of 2015.

Cantwell can celebrate giving the Pebble Mine a rocky future.  She won’t have much time, sitting on three A-list Senate committees — Finance, Commerce and Natural Resources — and having just become chair of the Senate Small Business Committee.

She’s climbing.

Original article on Seattle PI

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The power team of Cantwell and Murray

The power team of Cantwell and Murray

"Neither of our "power team" has signed onto the "Three State Solution" for ERA ratification. Please give them call and encourage them to cosponsor Senate Joint Resolution 15, "Remove the ratification deadline from the Equal Rights Amendment." -  Walt Kloefkorn, PDA Washington   A normally reserved Sen. Maria Cantwell was exchanging bear hugs with fishermen in Seattle on Friday,  hours after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved to stop a mammoth proposed mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, on grounds it would threaten the world’s greatest salmon fishery. Cantwell took the fishing industry’s cause,...

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Port of Tacoma terminal reopens after picket

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John Gillie | The News Tribune 02 May 2013 Hits:829 Washington

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Hanford Nuclear Waste Site at Risk of Hydrogen Explosion, Report Warns

Hanford Nuclear Waste Site at Risk of Hydrogen Explosion, Report Warns

Following report of leaks, nuclear safety board finds dangerous hydrogen build up in waste holding tanks Tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which sits on the Columbia River in Benton County, Washington face dangerous risk of hydrogen build up which could trigger an explosion of radioactive materials, a nuclear safety board announced on Monday. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board expressed these concerns in a briefing letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who sought the board's review ahead of next week's confirmation hearing...

Lauren McCauley | Common Dreams 03 Apr 2013 Hits:1523 Washington

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Who’s progressive in the Washington State Senate? — based on combined data from four score…

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Don Smith | Washington Liberals 24 Mar 2013 Hits:1039 Washington

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Rep. Jim McDermott on the Ryan Budget (video)

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Washington’s Democratic representatives, except for Jim McDermott, are willing to cut Social Security

On Feb 15 a majority of House Democrats released a letter: Majority of House Democrats Call on President Obama to Reject Benefit Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Benefits. But the only Washington State representative who has signed the above letter is Rep. Jim McDermott.   Democratic Representatives Smith, DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, and Heck haven’t signed on. Moreover, Ivan Weiss reports that he asked newly elected 1st CD Rep. Suzan DelBene whether she would pledge not to support the “chained CPI” plan. She refused to make that pledge. Walter Kloefkorn, of PDA, reports...

Don Smith | Washington Liberals 16 Feb 2013 Hits:850 Washington

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Seattle’s Teacher Uprising: High School Faculty Faces Censure for Boycotting Standardized …

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Democracy Now 30 Jan 2013 Hits:1168 Washington

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From our friends at Health Care for All and Walter Kloefkorn 30 Jan 2013 Hits:1113 Washington

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The Inevitable Republican Coup and Its Inevitable Silver Lining

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David Neiwert | Crooks and Liars 06 Jul 2012 Hits:1239 Washington

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WA Legislators with ALEC Ties

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Legislators Who Have Cut Ties With ALEC

  • Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim, Majority State Whip) - Van De Wege made the following statement to the organization "Fuse Washington" on his resignation from ALEC:
“I have decided to resign my membership from ALEC, effective April 11, 2012. As a legislator, my job is to represent the interests of all my constituents, not just those whose views align perfectly with mine. I have been a member of ALEC since I was first elected to the Legislature, and my very-limited participation enabled me to learn more about the organization’s legislative agenda and its stance on issues. I thought this insider’s view would help me to better understand those who do not agree with me politically, and in many ways, it has. However, my membership status is increasingly becoming a divisive issue this year, and I prefer to put my time and energy into efforts that unite our district rather than divide it.”[29]
  • Rep. Troy Kelley (D-28) - Kelley said he did attend one meeting but told Washington's Newsstand News that he does not participate in ALEC and is not a member.[30]
  • Rep. Brian Hatfield (D-19) - Hatfield announced in April 2012 that he has not renewed his ALEC membership and has no plans to attend upcoming ALEC meetings.[31]

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