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Category: Congress


Wash. delegation splits on ‘cliff’ vote; GOP yes, Smith and McDermott lone Democrats against

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas was among the 85 Republicans who voted last night to pass the so-called fiscal-cliff bill, saying it falls short of fixing budget problems but was needed to avert income tax hikes on individuals earning less than $400,000 a year.

In Washington state’s delegation, only Democratic Reps. Adam Smith of Bellevue Jim McDermott of Seattle and voted against the deal that avoids hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and automatic spending cuts but increases deficits by $4.5 trillion over a decade. The vote roll call is here.

Herrera Beutler put out a statement explaining her action, which mirrored that of the other Washington Republicans. Reps. Dave Reichert of Auburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and Doc Hastings of Pasco also voted in favor. Read more »


Sen. Cantwell: ‘fiscal cliff’ deal includes sales-tax break for Washington taxpayers

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell says the “fiscal-cliff” tax bill that passed by a vote of 89-8 early this morning includes the sales-tax deduction for taxpayers in Washington and a half-dozen other states. Cantwell had said the deduction, which covers 2012 and 2013 returns, would be a top priority for her after the November election.

The tax break has previously been estimated to have a value of up to $500 million yearly to state taxpayers, who are unable to deduct state income taxes because Washington does not tax income. Cantwell said the deal should save 850,000 taxpayers who itemize their income

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Washington’s congressional districts don’t produce many compromisers with few swing districts, many safe districts

Nate Silver of the New York Times’ fivethirtyfive.com writes this week about the decline in truly contested Congressional districts and wonders if that has contributed to the polarization in Congress.

Silver shows how the number of swing districts has fallen in just 20 years from 103 to 35 (out of 435). Toss in districts considered lean Democrat and lean Republican – those that might elect members with a motivation to act bipartisan – and the number falls from 188 to 88 since 1992. The rest, he theorizes, are likely to appeal to the political extremes because the threat to

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Derek Kilmer tapped for House Armed Services Committee

Derek Kilmer, the Gig Harbor Democrat headed to Washington, D.C., to take Congressman Norm Dicks’ place, today announced that he has landed a spot on the House Armed Services Committee.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on the Armed Services Committee,” Rep-elect Kilmer said in a statement. “Not only does the military play a vital role in keeping our entire nation safe and secure, it also has an enormous impact on the lives of many residents in our region. I look forward to the opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping to strengthen our military and

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Cantwell eulogizes Inouye, highlighting his work in Pierce County

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., took to the Senate floor today to praise Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who died this week.

Cantwell focused in part on Inouye’s work on the $162 million Puyallup Land Claims Settlement, in which the Puyallup Tribe of Indians was paid $162 million in exchange for relinquishing claims to land in the port area and downtown Tacoma.

“Together with Congressman Norm Dicks, we had a very difficult situation,” Cantwell said in her floor speech. “The Puyallup Tribe, the Port and City of Tacoma and others all had a difficult dispute going on. The end result

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Derek Kilmer names Congressional staff; Democrats working to fill Senate vacancy

Derek Kilmer, the Gig Harbor Democrat newly elected to Congress to succeed Rep. Norm Dicks, has been preparing to take office Jan. 3 by hiring staff for his offices in D.C. and the 6th District.

Today he named his chief of staff, Jonathan Smith, who he said has worked for other members of the House and for the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also announced campaign staffer Meadow Johnson will become his district director and a Dicks aide, Joe Dacca, will be deputy district director.

Kilmer has resigned his seat in the state Senate — giving the Pierce County Council and Kitsap County

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Rep. Adam Smith moves farther from JBLM but keeps his post as ranking Democrat on House Armed Services

Rep. Adam Smith moved a little farther from Joint Base Lewis-McChord when he followed the center of the 9th Congressional District into King County, but he kept his position as the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Smith in the coming year likely will face more tough decisions on where to cut spending in the Defense Department. Over the past year, he has said he supported some reductions in defense spending as the wars ended and the country turned its focus to improving its economy.

That position is a contrast to the Armed Services Committee’s Republican chairman,

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Washington state now ranks 9th in percentage of women in state Legislature

There was a time when Washington state led the nation in the percentage of women in the Legislature but now has fallen to 9th. Colorado leads the nation for women in the Legislature.

When the next Legislature convenes in January,  just over 30 percent of those serving will be women – 28 Democrats and 17 Republicans. But that is down from 41 percent when the state led the nation.

Just under 25 percent of all state legislators are women.

Five of the state’s 12-member Congressional delegation will be women including both U.S. Senators. But just one of the statewide

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