Cutting TAA loose, pigheaded in Olympia, ALEC’s Death Star…

Wednesday, June 17, 2015




► From The Hill — House Republican leaders zero in on new trade strategy — The plan is to vote again — as soon as this week — on the Fast Track bill narrowly approved by the House on Friday, but to leave aside the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill, the second part of the original package that was torpedoed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats. Decoupling Fast Track from TAA would put pressure on the Senate to pass the legislation. Several House Democrats say they are prepared to vote for Fast Track again (even without the TAA). “I voted for it already. I’d vote for it again,” Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) told The Hill. But getting Senate Democrats to go along with passing Fast Track without the TAA program could be a difficult sell.

► From Politico — GOP leaders hatch trade workaround — Sen. Patty Murray could carry great weight (in the new GOP plan to pass Fast Track). The Washington state Democrat spent significant political capital to help muscle the bill out of the Senate last month. But Murray said Friday that an extension of TAA must be part of any package in order to win her support. “My position is really clear: We passed TPA and TAA in the Senate,” said Murray, the only member of her party’s elected leadership to back the trade package. “We expect the House to do the same.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Let’s hope Sens. Murray and Maria Cantwell retain their commitment to American workers whose jobs are offshored and aren’t willing to cut loose the TAA program, as Rep. Larsen appears to be. Given strong Republican opposition to TAA, GOP leaders’ assurances that it will be voted upon later, or merged into a less controversial bill, are far from a guarantee of passage. The bigger question is, why must aid for victims of trade-related layoffs be contingent on passing more job-killing trade deals? Discuss.

► Today from Politico — Pro-trade Democrats huddle over fast-track strategy — Pro-trade House and Senate Democrats are planning to meet Wednesday afternoon as they try to strike a deal with Republicans to move President Barack Obama’s stalled trade agenda.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Reporters: Calling Fast Track supporters “pro-trade” implies that its opponents are not. This is not a question of being for or against trade, it’s a question of being for or against the same-old failed trade policies that have served America so poorly for decades. Also, calling the New Democrat Coalition “moderate Democrats” implies that the Democrats who side with the public in opposing Fast Track are somehow extreme in their views. Let me suggest that, in both cases, these folks would be most accurately described as “corporate Democrats.” Your Friend, The Entire Staff of The Stand

► In today’s NY Times — Export-Import Bank divides once-supportive Republicans — House Democrats prevented passage of Fast Track, but most of them still back the Ex-Im Bank as an institution that supports jobs, while Republicans have splintered with the influx of antigovernment conservatives like Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). Never has the Ex-Im Bank seen such opposition, certainly not from the party of business — further evidence of Republicans’ shift to the right.




► In today’s News Tribune — Without budget, state to send layoff notices soon — With a budget deal still elusive, thousands of state employees will start receiving notice next week that they may be temporarily laid off on July 1 unless Washington lawmakers reach agreement soon.

ALSO at The Stand:

‘Stop the shutdown!’ Unity Rallies across Washington on Thursday

As state shutdown looms, the sounds of silence (by Bill Lyne) — The silence (from budget negotiators) has echoed the larger silence that has grown louder every day: the silence of the corporate community on the issue of taxes and revenue.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Pigheadedness: lessons learned from another Washington (by Danny Westneat) — A state shutdown would be even more pigheaded than what Congress did in 2013. The small gap (between House and Senate negotiators) could be bridged easily by closing some tax loopholes or by a capital-gains tax… Obstinance about no-new-taxes-ever is holding up the obvious compromise. Romer, (a state contractor who received a layoff warning) who is just trying to help disabled people get out of bed, said it’s a sorry way for a state as healthy as ours to behave.  “It’s not like we’re a poor state,” he said. “But we’re acting like it.”

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Legislators worry state could be headed for shutdown — A transportation deal considered critical to Cowlitz County is being held up by state budget negotiations, and local legislators are concerned the deal’s chances of passing are sinking fast.

► From KPLU — As Boeing mulls new jet, state begins courtship dance — Boeing says it’s exploring the idea of building a new mid-sized jet, and Washington state officials say they’re already lobbying the company to build it here.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Bend over, Washington. This won’t hurt a bit.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Stop detaining immigrants to fill quotas in ICE facilities (editorial) — A scathing watchdog report by the Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights adds fuel to the growing criticism against exorbitant taxpayer funding for private prison contractors. Detention of any civil prisoner should be based on the severity of the alleged crimes, not on a bed quota that guarantees private prisons make a profit at the expense of human rights of detainees.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Newhouse: Visa problems stalling farm workers at border must be solved — For the second year in a row, foreign guest workers headed to Washington for the cherry harvest have been stuck at the border with visa problems. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4th) has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson asking for their help to clear the backlog caused by computer problems at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana and let in hundreds of Mexican workers on an H-2A guest worker visa.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima council refuses to drop appeal 
of ACLU case — More than 100 people filed into the Yakima City Council chambers Tuesday, calling for an end to the city’s appeal of a voting rights case that changed Yakima’s elections system to give Latinos a greater voice.




► In today’s NY Times — GOP worries that health care win could have its own risks — Republicans in Congress would face an enormously complicated challenge to fashion an alternative if the Supreme Court upends Obama’s health care law, and they fear the fallout could lead to election losses if millions of Americans abruptly found themselves without health insurance.

► From The Hill — Senate Dems give GOP 45-day highway deadline — While they aren’t ruling out supporting another short-term fix when funding runs out at the end of July, they suggest it will be difficult to get such a measure through the Senate.




► In today’s Washington Post — Michigan may soon end local control over minimum wage, benefits and other labor issues — The state’s majority-Republican legislature is poised this week to approve a bill that would strip local governments of the power to regulate employers in almost any way, including setting minimum wages or requiring employers provide paid or unpaid leave or other benefits. The legislation is so broad that opponents have taken to calling it the “Death Star” bill.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Republicans usually oppose heavy-handed government and support local voters’ control of their own government… unless it offends their corporate sponsors at ALEC.

► In today’s NY Times — In turnabout, Disney cancels tech worker layoffs — Although the number of layoffs planned at Disney/ABC Television was small, the cancellation set off a hopeful buzz among tech employees in Disney’s empire. It came in the midst of a furor over layoffs in January of 250 tech workers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. People who lost jobs there said they had to sit with immigrants from India, some on temporary work visas known as H-1B, and teach them to perform their jobs as a condition for receiving severance.




► From Time — Labor movement hopes to get a bump from Pope Francis visit — Cardinal Donald Wuerl spoke in front of a sparkling mosaic on Monday morning, and he was not in a church. The mosaic was a wall-sized portrait honoring workers at the AFL-CIO headquarters, where the Catholic archbishop was speaking alongside the labor organization’s president, Richard Trumka. Together, the two men championed care for workers. Both are hoping that Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the U.S. in September will be an opportunity to build momentum toward around supporting workers and immigrants. “Just the fact that he is coming here, not even that he has arrived yet, has brought renewed hope to the people all through the labor movement,” Trumka said.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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