I’m posting this in response to some offline requests from our friendly discussion group.  (This is cross-posted at Washblog, btw)  Yesterday, it was suggested in that group that our legislators are lazy and ineffective.  That stuck in my craw, as while some may disagree with individual votes they’ve taken, it’s impossible to say with any degree of credibility that they’re lazy or ineffective.  My first response was almost entirely about Patty Murray – this is because I know Senator Murray very well and could dredge this info up, and because I was sleepy and couldn’t as easily come up with stuff for Senator Cantwell.  

That being the case, I’ll post only the information regarding Senator Murray here, and I’ll just make this a series.  I’ll update it as often as possible, but hopefully at least a couple times a week.  
First, it was mentioned that Washington gets less back than we pay in Federal taxes, and that rather than building schools in Alabama (much-needed, btw), our taxes should go towards mass transit here in Washington.  Well, it doesn’t work that way.  Federal legislators don’t make local transit decisions; they provide funding for the transit that’s being built by local agencies. (IOW, freeways yes, buses no. Not without local decisions) That said, Patty Murray is the most powerful Democrat on the transportation committee, and annually brings about half a billion dollars into the state for transportation projects. Without Patty, Sound Transit wouldn’t have put one rail on the ground. Without Patty, subtract about 50% of the buses driving in the state. This is as much true within King County as in the rest of the state.

Patty’s the second ranking Democrat (and first and still the only woman) on the Veterans’ Affairs committee. Every year, she fights for veterans and pisses off the right. In 2004, she managed to prevent closure of VA hospitals in Vancouver (a hospital that has expanded since, btw), Walla Walla and one other – I apologize that I can’t remember the third. She recognized there would be a shortfall in this year’s VA budget and tried repeatedly to enter an amendment to provide the necessary funds. It lost on a party-line vote every time, until the VA itself announced that it was out of money and unable to stay open. Then the amendment got passed PDQ, and even Rick Santorum was forced to say, on the Senate floor, that Patty had been right and they had been wrong.

The reason Plan B is still being discussed by the FDA (and the interim director resigned instead of being confirmed)? Patty and Hillary Clinton refused to allow the confirmation to go through and investigated the nominee, revealing his ties to the Christian Right. Why is there ANY port security – at all? Patty and Susan Collins of Maine. Patty held up Bush’s nominations (again) until he released the appropriations for port security projects. Patty has provided – against extreme Republican opposition – armor for National Guard troops, childcare and healthcare for National Guard families when they’re deployed, and job protections for deployed Guard troops. She led – LED – the fight to protect National Guard re-enlistment bonuses when the Pentagon decided not to pay them. Just this weekend she revealed that the IRS has been gathering partisan affiliation information on taxpayers.

I can obviously go on and on, but these are just a few examples. In fact, Patty’s one of the hardest-working members of the Senate and is one of the most powerful members of the Senate minority leadership. There’s a reason the right hates her so much, and it ain’t because she’s lazy.

So this is quoted verbatim from my response to the discussion group.  In the future, I’ll write specifically for this venue (I’m at work and in a hurry today – hence, no links.  Sorry.).  I welcome any feedback, corrections or suggestions.  In fact, consider this a Patty Murray thread – what’s she done for you or your community?  What has she done for Washington state that I missed?  Would anyone like to fill in the blanks about Operation Safe Commerce?

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