SENATOR MARIA CANTWELL
SENATORS CRUZ AND SCOTT TO FACE OFF AGAINST SENATORS CANTWELL AND SANDERS IN A CNN TOWN HALL DEBATE ON NOV. 28
JAKE TAPPER AND DANA BASH TO MODERATE LIVE TOWN HALL DEBATE ON THE FIGHT OVER TAXES
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nov. 21, 2017 — Anchor Jake Tapper and chief political correspondent Dana Bash will moderate a CNN Town Hall Debate on the fight over taxes at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 28.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will debate Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a 90-minute Town Hall Debate that will air live from Washington, D.C.
The CNN Town Hall Debate comes as Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are deeply immersed in a philosophical battle over the GOP’s plan to remake the U.S. tax code that may include repealing the Obamacare individual mandate.
The Town Hall Debate will air on CNN, CNN enEspañol, CNN International, stream live for subscribers via CNNgo (at CNN.com/go and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android. The Town Hall Debate will also air on CNN’s SiriusXMChannel 116. The Town Hall Debate will also be available November 29 on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.
[Footnote by Ed.- FCC Chair Aji Pai is also opting for NO net neutrality to benefit corporate markets]
Led by Cantwell & Udall, Senators Call for Impartial Investigation into Potential Quid Pro Quo between Chairman Ajit Pai, Trump Administration, and Sinclair Broadcasting
Senators unveil troubling timeline, call for Pai to recuse himself from Sinclair-related business until matter fully investigated
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and 13 of their Senate colleagues are requesting the inspector general of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) open an investigation into the objectivity and impartiality of the FCC’s review of the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media.
“We have strong concerns that the FCC’s ongoing review of the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media may be tainted by a series of actions and events that raise questions about the independence and impartiality of the FCC,” wrote the senators to FCC Inspector General David Hunt.
In addition to Sens. Cantwell and Udall, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also signed the letter.
In their letter to the inspector general, the senators point out 16 actions and events that suggest a disturbing pattern of a three way quid pro quo involving Sinclair, the Trump Administration, and Chairman Ajit Pai. Many of the actions taken by Chairman Pai have overturned decades-long, settled legal precedent.
The disturbing timeline shows that:
· After the November 2016 presidential election, President-Elect Trump met individually with David Smith, the executive chairman and former CEO of Sinclair, and discussed changing FCC rules to benefit Sinclair. According to reports, "potential FCC rule changes were discussed" after President-Elect Trump asked Mr. Smith, "What do you need to happen in your business?”
· On November 16, 2016, then-Commissioner Pai traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to have an off-the-record meeting with Sinclair employees and lunch with key company executives. This meeting was not disclosed publicly at the time.
· In December 2016, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in law and current Senior White House Advisor, reported that the President’s campaign had “struck a deal” with Sinclair for better media coverage during the election.
· On January 6, 2017, Commissioner Pai met privately with Sinclair representatives at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This meeting was also not initially publically disclosed.
· On January 16, 2017, Commissioner Pai traveled to New York City to meet privately with President-Elect Trump.
· On January 19, 2017, Commissioner Pai traveled to Arlington, Virginia, to meet again with executives from Sinclair. A summary of the meeting, filed in the FCC’s public docket, shows that the agency’s restrictions on joint or shared-service agreements were discussed in detail.
· On January 22, 2017, President Trump elevated Commissioner Pai to be permanent Chairman of the FCC.
· On February 3, 2017, pursuant to unilateral direction from the now Chairman Pai, the FCC’s Media Bureau announced that it would no longer review joint sales agreements and shared-services agreements in broadcast mergers.
· On February 23, 2017, the FCC started a proceeding to allow TV broadcasters to begin using Next Gen TV (also known as ATSC 3.0)—a technology for which Sinclair holds the key patents.
· On March 6, 2017, Chairman Pai again met with President Trump. Chairman Pai, stated that he and the President did not discuss “any pending proceedings” at the FCC.
· On April 12, 2017, Chairman Pai led the FCC in a party line vote to ease ownership caps by reinstating the technologically-outdated UHF discount. Without this reversal, Sinclair would have been legally barred from merging with Tribune.
· On April 21, 2017, Sinclair announced its intention to purchase Bonten Media Group (Bonten), owner of 14 television stations in eight markets. Bonten also provided services to four other stations through joint sales agreements.
· On May 8, 2017 Sinclair announced its intention to acquire Tribune for $3.9 billion.
· On June 30, 2017, the FCC approved the purchase of seven Bonten stations by Sinclair (Sinclair divested the other seven stations). The transaction was later consummated by the parties on September 5, 2017, at which time Sinclair assumed the joint sales agreements held by Bonten. If the FCC had not relaxed its review of joint sales agreements consistent with Sinclair’s request, it is unlikely this transaction would have been approved expeditiously without the termination of at least some of the joint sales agreements.
· On October 24, 2017, Chairman Pai led the FCC (on a party-line vote) in eliminating the broadcast main studio rule. Doing away with the rule, which was established in 1940, benefits the largest broadcasters, especially Sinclair who has made a pattern of reducing local investments in station studios and consolidating studio and newsgathering operations at its headquarters in Maryland.
· At the upcoming November 16, 2017 FCC Open Meeting, Chairman Pai is expected to lead FCC (on a partisan basis) to take two actions that will directly benefit Sinclair.
o Chairman Pai is expected to lead the FCC’s party-line vote to eliminate decades-long rules that prevent TV stations in the same market from merging if the outcome leads to fewer than eight independent stations operating in that market, or if the merger is between two of the top four stations in a market. This rule change directly benefits the monopoly aspirations of Sinclair by eliminating the need for it to divest any of the stations it is purchasing from Tribune.
o At the same meeting, Chairman Pai also is expected to lead the FCC (on a party-line vote) to approve broadcaster’s use of Next Gen TV. The item that Chairman Pai has put forth for vote would directly benefit Sinclair. First, the draft order would establish a licensing framework for broadcasters that would allow Sinclair to establish and maintain a monopoly over its patented technology. Secondly, the proposed licensing scheme will facilitate Sinclair’s ability to extract licensing fees to transmit and receive Next Gen TV signals.
In a separate letter to FCC Chairman Pai, Sens. Cantwell, Udall and 11 of their colleagues are also asking that Chairman Pai recuse himself from all FCC business related to the Sinclair-Tribune merger until the investigation has determined whether or not there were any improper actions that would call into question the independence of the agency.
“It is imperative you recuse yourself from certain matters in order to protect the public interest, integrity and independence of the agency’s decision-making process until after the FCC’s inspector general determines whether the facts warrant your permanent recusal,” said the Senators in their letter to Chairman Pai.
The full text of the senator’s letter to the FCC inspector general can be found here.
The full text of the senators’ letter to Chairman Pai can be found here.
For Immediate Release
November 14, 2017
Cantwell Lays into GOP Tax Plan Over Middle-Class Tax Hikes
Senator cites new analysis: 300,000 Washingtonians will see higher tax bills next year under GOP plan
Washington, D.C. – Today, at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing to review the Republican tax proposal, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) criticized the misguided bill for increasing taxes on working and middle-class Americans to further enrich corporations and the very wealthy.
“Gouging middle class families to pay for the corporation [tax] breaks that you want to give is just wrong,” Senator Cantwell said, addressing her Republican colleagues.
Further, Cantwell defended the right of Washingtonians not to be double-taxed by repealing the state and local tax deduction. She noted that Washington state taxpayers will be forced to pay for tax breaks that businesses in Washington state don’t even consider a priority.
“I guarantee you that none of [the businesses in WA] are going to call me and say, ‘Yes, please gouge middle class taxpayers in King County and make them pay $1,000 more and please open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Because, by God, I can’t be competitive without it.’ I guarantee you they aren’t going to call me up and say that,” said the senator.
Recently, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released analysis indicating that almost 14 million families across the country would face a tax increase if the proposal becomes law. Cantwell noted that more than 300,000 middle-class Washingtonians would also see an increase, according to IRS data and an analysis by the New York Times.
Senator Cantwell also released an example of how the Republican tax plan would affect one of the 300,000 Washington families who would be saddled with a tax increase.
A transcript of Senator Cantwell’s questions and the witnesses’ answers is below.
SEN. CANTWELL: Yeah, we do want more jobs here in America. And if you wanted more jobs right now in Ohio you’d make sure that the Export-Import Bank was reauthorized. GE jobs have left Ohio because we don’t have a functioning Export-Import Bank. So that should be number one. We’ll talk to your colleagues and to this administration.
If I could, Mr. Chairman… We had this discussion yesterday, which was about middle class individuals. Now I’m all for having the broad discussion my colleague from Ohio just wanted to have, but I’m not willing to have it at the expense of Washington tax payers.
That is to say, this chart shows two earning families and an average salary for an elementary school teacher and a police officer. They have two kids under the age of 17. So they are trying to live the American Dream.
Yet under this proposal they will pay $900 more in taxes than they currently do. $900 more, which is less money for college education, less money for groceries, less money for a rainy day.
So when we started this debate, it was about how we were going to close corporate loopholes and make sure that the tax bill paid for itself. Or that we were going to close loopholes but maybe add… But not that we were going to do it on the backs of my constituents. So this number right here--$927 more for this family, which is average.
Now, I think some of my colleagues, “Now that must be an anomaly. That must be this mythical person that you came up with.”
No. I’ve read Mr. Abraham our chair, the things pointed out by Joint Tax.
My estimate in my state is 20% of my middle class is what you say this affects—it’s more than 300,000 or could be 300,000 people in the state of Washington that this could affect.
So am I reading the charts right from Joint Tax that they’re estimating that it’s 20%, Mr. Abraham. I’m going to ask Mr. Barthold the second question.
Abraham: Yes, that’s correct.
SEN. CANTWELL: OK and Mr. Barthold, you’ve come up a number that you think that this is the number that could be affected across the United States. Your number is 13 million, is that correct?
Barthold: Senator Cantwell, I believe you’re referring to in analysis we did at the request of Senator Wyden. I think I have that here but it will take a moment. So if you want to ask another question…
SEN. CANTWELL: Mr. Abraham, Is that right? Estimating that it’s 13 million people?
Abraham: That’s correct.
SEN. CANTWELL: I hardly call 13 million middle class people inconsequential. I hardly call it a random thing where we're raising taxes on just a few people. 13 million people and certainly 300,000 in my state aren't just a few people.
So the point is, Mr. Chairman, when we started this exercise we were going to close some of these other business loopholes. We talked about that businesses were coming to tell us they wanted simplification. They were willing to do things in order to get these. But yet we haven't done those things.
I don't know in the process of this markup whether we're going to continue. But did we -- I don't want to distract you, Mr. Barthold, from your looking at these. Are you verifying the 13 million?
Barthold: I can't immediately verify the 13 million. The information we provided to Senator Wyden's staff was a percentage calculation of percentage of taxpayers in different income categories that would have a tax increase, no tax change or tax decrease. So I assume the 13 million was calculated by my friend Mr. Abraham or one of his colleagues.
SEN. CANTWELL: I think it's actually 13.8 million. But my point is people are talking about letting states do what they want to do. Our state has a unique tax code. We've grown economy faster than the national average every year since World War II. Now you're taking that away from us. People said they would close these loopholes. The CEO of AT&T said he would give up expensing perks on the books in exchange for 20% corporate rate. Mr. Barthold, does this mark eliminate bonus depreciation, accelerated depreciation or other expensing?
Barthold: After five years.
SEN. CANTWELL: So we're going to take it from my constituents in the meantime. So Mr. Chairman, I want us to understand that these are states like Nevada, Texas, Florida—that all have tax codes that are, I would say, efficient tax codes. A lot of people have debates about them, about whether they should have a different tax structure like the rest of the country. But this is our tax system and we do not appreciate … Now a lot of these corporations are in our state too and they are doing very, very well. And if you ask them what do they want dealt with here, they say, “I want the immigration policy dealt with. I want a trained and skilled workforce. I want affordable housing. I want the infrastructure to work.” That’s what they want.
And I guarantee you that none of them are going to call me and say, “Yes, please gouge middle class taxpayers in King County and make them pay $1000 more and please open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Because, by God, I can’t be competitive without it.”
I guarantee you they aren’t going to call me up and say that.
So I hope—and I’ll be happy to send my colleague from Louisiana the details here—so I hope that we can come to some resolution because the day that you switched over to making the state and local deductions the major pay-for in this bill along with this huge deficit is the day that you made a mistake.
And gouging middle class families to pay for the corporation breaks that you want to give is just wrong.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell • Deputy Press Secretary
Office 202-224-3441 • Mobile 202-695-9056
It's official: Republicans have drafted a bill that will destroy the Arctic Wildlife Refuge with oil and gas drilling -- and it will get a committee vote this Wednesday!
We have to act fast. Republicans are urgently trying to exploit our public lands in order to push forward their terrible tax breaks for the wealthy. It's a ludicrous and short-sighted idea.
I'll be the first to say how dishonest and wrong this bill is. I'm going to fight it in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, but Republicans have never come so close to destroying the Arctic. It's going to take all of us to stop them.
Republicans want to use drilling in our public lands to cover up their massive budget deficit. But that's absurd. Exploiting the Arctic won't be able to fund their tax cuts for billionaires. It will destroy America's last great wilderness.
We can't let this pass. Help me use the next 48 hours to show Republicans that they can't attack our Arctic Refuge without facing a wave of opposition from grassroots environmental champions.
Republicans have rolled two disastrous policies into one: They want to drill in our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to pay for their tax breaks for billionaires.
I think that's dishonest and wrong. And I said just that at this week's Senate hearing on the Refuge.
Selling out our Arctic won't fund the Republicans' trillion-dollar deficit, and certainly won't help us achieve the energy future we deserve. Instead, it's a handout to the fossil fuel industry that will tarnish America's last great wilderness.
For this decision to pass, it'll have to go through the Energy and Natural Resources committee. That means it'll have to go through me.
We've been here before. In 2005, I stood up and filibustered this bill on the floor of the Senate. And, thanks to a wave of support from grassroots progressives, Republicans dropped the bill.
But this time, the decision can't be filibustered. And that's why I'm relying on you even more. To pass, it has to be approved by my committee and then the full Senate. If we can show Republicans the strength of our grassroots opposition, we can stop this plan in its tracks.
We have another chance to fight for America's final untouched wilderness. Let's make the most of it, together.
Scott Pruitt has launched an outrageous attack on science at the Environmental Protection Agency.
He will be kicking scientists who have received EPA funding off of the agency's crucial scientific advisory panels -- and replacing them with oil and gas industry advocates.
The leaked list of replacement appointees is dismaying: It includes longtime critics of environmental protections and scientists whose research is funded by oil and gas companies.
Scott Pruitt is doing everything he can to suppress the truth at the EPA, but I vow to fight him at every step.
Scott Pruitt isn't trying to "ensure independence" for the EPA's scientific advisors. He wants to replace objective scientists with people who agree with his backwards ideology.
He's suppressing objective scientific research because he knows that all the evidence points to the same conclusion: His anti-environment agenda is harming our health and planet, and must be stopped.
I won't allow Scott Pruitt and the fossil fuel industry to continue stacking the deck against our environment and our future. Will you stand with me in this fight?
Sen Maria Cantwell Reviews Tax Bill Failings in Vancouver
Sen Maria Cantwell was in Vancouver Wed 11/21/17 to publicize and demonstrate the failings of the proposed GOP tax bill. She had speakers from Vancouver talk about what and when the tax bill would cost them money, and more money. Here's the article from The Columbian - LINK
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Cantwell was elected to the US Senate beginning January 01, 2001. She is the ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee. She was in the Washington State House from 1987-1993, and then gained the US Senate in 1993. She worked in the private sector after one Senate term and returned to the Senate in 2001. LINK to Sen. Cantwell's Website
United States Senate
For Immediate Release October 4, 2017 Contact: Kerry Arndt (202) 224-2834
Bryan Watt (202) 224-8277
Murray, Cantwell, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Close Automatic Weapon Loophole
Legislation would ban, among other devices, the bump stocks used in the Las Vegas mass shooting
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and a number of their Senate colleagues introduced the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act, a bill to close a deadly loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years.
In addition to Senators Murray and Cantwell, cosponsors include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“It’s past time this Congress pursued common sense policies to address the rampant gun violence in this country, and this legislation is a good place to start,” said Murray. “Like so many people I’ve heard from over the past few days, I refuse to believe the politics are just too tough to do whatever is possible to prevent another senseless, horrific mass shooting like we just saw in Las Vegas.”
“We must close this loophole that allows the sale of devices to convert guns into unlawful automatic weapons meant for war zones,” said Cantwell.
Under the National Firearms Act, the sale, manufacture and transfer of automatic weapons are illegal. However, bump stocks, slide fire devices, and other similar accessories can be attached to semi-automatic weapons, allowing them to reach fully-automatic rates of fire.
Semi-automatic rifles typically have a rate of fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. However, bump stocks or other similar devices increase the semi-automatic rifle's rate of fire between 400 and 800 rounds per minute.
This bill would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar accessories that accelerate a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire.
The bill also makes clear that its intent is to include only those accessories that increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire. Legitimate accessories used by hunters would be exempt. The bill also contains exceptions for lawful possession of these devices by law enforcement and the government.
Senators Murray and Cantwell continue to support common sense proposals for reducing gun violence, such as background checks on private sales for gun purchasers.
Sen Maria Cantwell slams the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. WATCH VIDEO
Specious Pharma bill concern over vote
Back in January of 2017, Senator Cantwell, and Sen Murray, voted against a pharmacy bill that was supposed to reduce US pharmaceutical consumer's costs by allowing drug imports from Canada. Maria voted against drug price negotiations, and voted against limits on Health Insurance premiums, NOT because she receives money from Big Pharma, but because of safety concerns related to tracking drug source materials and the production and distribution process. The Canadiancontrols were not as robust as demanded by our FDA. Later, she actually sat down with Bernie Sanders, who agreed with her, and worked out a more comprehensive bill to address the safety concerns. They jointly sponsored that bill.
For Immediate Release
June 27, 2017
Contact: Peter True
Hirono, Cantwell Lead Call to Fire “Bigoted, Misogynistic” Department of Energy Appointee
Senators: “[William] Bradford’s divisive rhetoric has no place in public service…We are concerned that Dr. Bradford’s character, as demonstrated by his past statements and writings, make him unfit to lead”
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) called on Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to fire William Bradford, who was recently appointed to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy. After his appointment, the Washington Post exposed his record of making bigoted and misogynistic statements, including calling the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II “necessary.”
The letter was also signed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
The Senators wrote:
“Public officials in leadership positions have the responsibility to serve all Americans regardless of race, gender, and religion. These officials must be held to the highest standards of conduct. Dr. Bradford’s divisive rhetoric has no place in public service. While he has since apologized for his deeply offensive and hurtful statements, we are concerned that Dr. Bradford’s character, as demonstrated by his past statements and writings, make him unfit to lead an important program like the Department’s Office of Indian Energy. For this reason, we ask that you remove Dr. Bradford from his position of leadership immediately.”
In addition, the Senators questioned how Dr. Bradford was able to clear the Administration’s vetting process, considering his record of disturbing public statements. Dr. Bradford’s position does not require Senate confirmation.
Click here to download a copy of the letter.
The full letter is printed below:
Dear Secretary Perry,
We write to express our serious concern with the appointment of William C. Bradford to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy. On June 22, 2017, The Washington Post reported on Dr. Bradford’s extensive record of bigoted and misogynistic statements on Twitter as well as his controversial career in academia. Among his many offensive tweets, Dr. Bradford wrote that the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II was “necessary”.
The internment was not “necessary,” it was “wrong.” A blue ribbon commission established by Congress in 1980, after exhaustive study, found that the internment “was not justified by military necessity.” To the contrary, it was driven by “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership,” which resulted in a “grave injustice.” The Commission’s findings have been echoed and implemented by Congress, 50 U.S.C. 4202(a), and the courts, e.g., Korematsu v. United States, 584 F. Supp. 1406, 1417 (N.D. Cal. 1984). Even many of those who aided and condoned the internment came to see that it was “an inhuman mistake” and “ill-advised, unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel.”
The internment of Japanese-Americans was deeply immoral and serves as a reminder of what can happen when our country succumbs to fear. It is a shameful chapter that many people have dedicated themselves to ensuring never happens again. Public officials in leadership positions have the responsibility to serve all Americans regardless of race, gender, and religion. These officials must be held to the highest standards of conduct. Dr. Bradford’s divisive rhetoric has no place in public service. While he has since apologized for his deeply offensive and hurtful statements, we are concerned that Dr. Bradford’s character, as demonstrated by his past statements and writings, make him unfit to lead an important program like the Department’s Office of Indian Energy. For this reason, we ask that you remove Dr. Bradford from his position of leadership immediately.
The fact that Dr. Bradford was able to clear the vetting process despite his documented history of offensive public statements is disturbing. What were the procedures and criteria for selecting and vetting Dr. Bradford and the other political appointees? If Dr. Bradford was vetted through the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House, what role did the Department of Energy play in the vetting process? What is the Department’s protocol for handling reports of inappropriate communications or behavior from staff?
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this very important matter and to our questions.