Wake Up To Politics - January 9, 2015
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Friday, January 9, 2015
670 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Friday, January 9, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- Boxer to Retire in 2016 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced Thursday that she will not run for a fifth Senate term in 2016. Boxer is the first Senator of the 2016 cycle to announce plans to retire.
- Boxer, who has served in the upper chamber since 1993, announced her retirement via a Youtube video interview with her grandson Zach Rodham (whose father is Hillary Clinton’s brother – thus the shared Rodham name). The longtime senator’s retirement will cause a vacuum for the Democratic Party in D.C. and in California, particularly on issues like the environment, and sparks what will be a heated race to replace her.
- The announcement came just days after Democrats become the minority party in the United States Senate for the first time since 2007, which meant Boxer’s loss of two committee chairmanships: the Environment and Public Works Committee and Ethics Committee, both of which Boxer had chaired for the past eight years. She is the only U.S. Senator to have chaired two committees simultaneously.
- The California Democrat was first elected to the Senate in 1992, after 10 years of service in the U.S. House. Boxer was elected on the same ballot as Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA); the latter has seniority because she was elected in a special election and sworn in two months earlier. Boxer and Feinstein became the first all-female U.S. Senate delegation after both being elected in 1992, dubbed the “Year of the Woman” due to the record-breaking four women elected to the Senate. The two are the longest-serving delegation pairs currently in the Senate, meaning Boxer and Feinstein have served together longer than any other current Senate delegation pair. Because Boxer has been junior to Feinstein all this time, she is the most senior junior senator currently serving in the chamber.
- “I always knew I had a partner in Barbara. She is never one to shy away from any challenge, and I can’t thank her enough for being such a resilient collaborator,” a statement from Boxer’s longtime partner Diane Feinstein read. “We blazed many trails together, and now I’m eager to see where her next steps take her. Barbara is so passionate about so many things, I know her work has really just started. I’m sure she’ll continue to be a role model and inspiration to us all.”
- Boxer has been a top liberal voice in the Senate, especially on the environment and climate change, her pet issues. Many names have been floated to run in the Democratic primary to succeed Boxer, chief among them the rising stars of California Democratic politics, state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom. All candidates of all parties to replace Boxer will run together in a June 2016 primary, and the two candidates – whatever their party – will face off in the November general election. It is unlikely both Harris and Newsom will run, considering it could mean sparring in the general election, despite the fact that they are both Democrats – and close friends.
- Boxer retirement was met with almost universal surprise, but beyond that, mixed reactions. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused to say Thursday if he was considering a run for the seat, instead taking a pass at Boxer’s tenure. “There’s been a vacancy for two decades. The fact that she’s not running doesn’t change the fact it’s always been a vacant office,” Issa said. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, seemed to take the opposite opinion, saying, “I am sorry to see her go, but there are still two years left. And two years of Barbara Boxer is like having four to six years of any other Senator.”
- The best response to Boxer’s retirement, though, came from @FruitOfTheLoom, the verified Twitter account of the underwear company, which tweeted, “Congrats to Barbara Boxer on a term that was anything but brief. #WeLoveBoxers”.Capitol Hill News
- 114th Congress Passes First Bill, Renewing Terrorism Insurance With Senate passage Thursday, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) became the first bill sent to the President’s desk by the 114th Congress.
- The bill passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support, passing the Senate 93-4 and the House 416-5, and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.
- TRIA “allows the government to serve as a financial backstop for businesses suffering losses due to catastrophic attacks,” according to the Washington Post. The bill was first passed in 2002 after the September 11 attacks, to cover insurance for buildings wrecked by terrorist attacks, and was pushed for by business leaders. TRIA was renewed in 2007, and expired on December 31 of last year; this latest renewal will last until 2020.
- No bill is passed without controversy, however, and for this legislation, it stemmed from a “unrelated measure [attached by House Republicans] that exempts farmers, ranchers, small businesses and other nonfinancial ‘end users’ of derivatives from capital requirements imposed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation law,” according to the New York Times.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) attempted to drum up opposition to the Dodd-Frank rollback with an amendment to erase the provision, which failed in a bipartisan 66-31 rejection.
- House: Status Update The House will vote today on passage of a bill to speed up construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The measure, which is expected to pass, is similar to one passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee 13-9. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a co-sponsor of the bill, was the only Democrat to vote it out of committee. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any measure greenlighting the pipeline.
- Also today, House members will switch off reading the U.S. Constitution, a tradition for the start of a new Congress that began in 2011, and was done once again in 2013.
- Finally today, House Republican leaders will unveil legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which is currently only funded until February 28. The proposal, yet to be announced, will still attempt to block President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.
White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule At 9:30 AM, President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing.
- At 10:20 AM, Obama will depart the White House and arrive in Tennessee at 12 PM.
- At 1:20 PM, as Vice President and Dr. Biden attend, the President will speak on college affordability initiatives at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee.
- In Knoxville today, President Obama will unveil a proposal to make two years of community college free for “responsible” American students. According to the White House, this initiative will save community college students an average $3,800 per year, and benefit about 9 million students every year.
- Only students attending community college half-time at least, with a 2.5 GPA or higher will be eligible for the program. The federal government will be for 75% of the tuition, and the state will pay the remaining 25%, although the White House has not said how much money that costs.
- At 2:30 PM, the President will turn his focus to manufacturing job creation efforts as he and Vice President Biden visit Techmer PM in Clinton, Tennessee, a plant that manufactures polymer modifies.
- Here, the President will launch a regional manufacturing innovation hub, “which involves a public-private partnership, [and] is part of a broader push by the White House to bring together private companies, universities and other academic and training institutions to help stimulate job creation,” according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Six regional hubs have already been launched; Obama will call for 45 to spring up across the United States.
- At 4:10 PM, President Obama will depart Tennessee and arrive back at the White House at 5:45 PM.
- Supreme Court Justices to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Appeals In their private conference today, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will hear appeals on five same-sex marriage cases, before voting on whether or not to hear oral arguments in the cases.
- Same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Louisiana are challenged in the cases.
Happy Birthday To...
- Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States