Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was frustrated with House Republicans Monday afternoon, just hours before a midnight deadline to reach a deal to keep the federal government from shutting down.
“It’s terribly unfair, it’s wrong and it’s irresponsible on the part of the majority of Congress,” Moran told ARLnow.com. “The idea that you would deprive 35 million of affordable health insurance for a minimum of a year in exchange for keeping the government open for another 45 days; that’s not a real negotiation. We can’t accept that.”
Moran said the chances of a shutdown were “pretty high,” and expressed dismay that his constituents would be among the hardest hit of any district in the country.
“I think [my constituents] know that I’m doing everything I can to keep the government funded,” he said. “I feel terrible that this kind of anxiety has been put on their shoulders through no fault of their own.”
Monday afternoon, President Obama said in a press conference that he was “not resigned” to the government shutdown, even after the U.S. Senate voted 54-46 to reject the House’s measure to delay a shutdown 45 days in exchange for delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year.
Moran said he has prepared a bill with bipartisan sponsors that, if the government were to shut down, “would drop at 12:01 a.m.” to ensure federal employees furloughed by the shutdown would receive retroactive pay. While Moran expects the bill to pass the Senate, he said he’s less sure about its chances in the GOP-controlled House.
“There are a lot of Republicans who want federal employees to be punished just because they work for the government,” he said. “These are the ones who are more often than not elected on the platform that government doesn’t work. They get elected, then they go about trying to prove it.”
The last time the government shut down was for 21 days in 1995 and 1996, during which time Moran was also in Congress. He said legislators who were there “swore they were never going to let it happen again.”
“I think the American people are going to appreciate the federal government more when they find they don’t have it,” Moran said.
Moran’s New Beard Called ‘Santa Chic’ — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been sporting a white beard since August. While the 68 year old’s new look has its supporters and detractors, the congressman’s own staff has taken to calling it “Santa chic.” [The Hill]
Letter: Arlington Dems Use African-Americans as ‘Window Dressing’ — In a letter to the editor, Bobbie Fisher, an African-American resident of Arlington, says that Arlington Democrats are taking African-American voters for granted and not paying sufficient attention to their concerns. “Walk into any [Arlington County Democratic Committee] meeting, you will never find more than a few African-Americans present,” she writes. “We are viewed as window-dressing or bobble-heads, to sit quietly while others raise questions of interest to their community.” [Sun Gazette]
GGW to Host Arlington Happy Hour — The blog Greater Greater Washington will be hosting a happy hour at Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse next Tuesday. The happy hour is an opportunity for the blog’s contributors, editors and readers to get together “for some drinks and lively conversation.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Central Library Renovations in ‘Home Stretch’ — The second floor reference desk and the old first floor circulation desk at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) are gone, among other ongoing renovations. The library’s renovation project as now entered the “home stretch,” officials write. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
Reconfigured W. Glebe Road Intersection Considered — Arlington and Alexandria are considering moving the intersection of W. Glebe Road and S. Glebe Road in order to lessen congestion on Glebe near I-395. The proposal is now part of Alexandria’s long-range planning process. [Patch]
New Picnic Shelter for Lacey Woods Park — The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote this weekend on an enhancement to Lacey Woods Park (1200 N. George Mason Drive). The Board will consider awarding a $341,000 contract to reconstruct the park’s 100-person picnic shelter. [Sun Gazette]
Moran Decries Proposed Cuts to Food Stamps — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says a Republican plan to cut nearly $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will hurt low-income families and children and unemployed adults. Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the plan by a vote of 217-210. In his weekly newspaper column, Moran wrote: “it is disheartening to find House Republicans wasting valuable time on efforts to reduce food availability for the hungry instead of addressing urgent issues facing our nation.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Girl Raises Awareness of Rare Disease — A 5-year-old Arlington girl, who just started kindergarten at Abingdon Elementary, is battling a genetic, degenerative mitochondrial disease for which there is no known cure. Ellie McGinn and her parents have launched a campaign to raise medical awareness of the extremely rare disease. [Washington Post]
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday was “only the latest in a long line” of horrific events.
The shooting spree claimed the lives of 12 people and gunman Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist. Moran, an outspoken supporter of gun control legislation, spoke on the House floor today and said that Congress must act to pass stronger laws to minimize gun violence.
“While it’s too early to know what might have prevented this week’s mass shooting, we do know what will ensure it happens again: doing nothing,” he said. Moran’s office supplied the following transcript of the speech.
On Monday, just over one mile from where I stand, once again our nation experienced a horrific incidence of mass gun violence. Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and families who lost loved ones at Washington Navy Yard.
As this chart shows, this mass shooting is only the latest in a line that includes Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown. But even these horrendous mass killings do not fully reflect our nation’s problem with gun violence.
Each year, approximately 100,000 people in America are shot by a gun, 30,000 die from a gun-related injury, and 10,000 are murdered by a firearm. By 2015, gun-related deaths will surpass auto-related deaths for the first time in decades. And while it’s too early to know what might have prevented this week’s mass shooting, we do know what will ensure it happens again: doing nothing.”
Our nation’s gun violence epidemic will continue so long as we resign ourselves to the belief that indiscriminant violence is the price of freedom. The Chief Medical Officer at MedStar Hospital expressed the sentiments of many when she pleaded, “There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate.” If we don’t do all we can to minimize gun violence through stronger laws and improved services, all we’ll ever have to offer our constituents are more condolences.
The congressman, who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the military surge in Afghanistan, strongly supports a “surgical strike” against Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities. The Syrian government, which is battling rebel forces, is accused of killing nearly 1,500 civilians in a chemical attack outside Damascus.
President Obama has called on Congress to authorize a military strike, but public support is still thin and congressional authorization is in doubt. Moran blamed former President Bush and the Iraq war for the lack of American public support and the recent vote by the British Parliament against military intervention in Syria.
“I was adamantly opposed to the invasion of Iraq because I knew that the information being presented was specious… we were cherry picking information to reach a conclusion that the administration had already come to,” Moran told ARLnow.com Tuesday afternoon. “What’s happening today, the vote by the British Parliament and the reluctance of the American people to respond to what [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad is doing in Syria is a direct legacy of the Iraq war… the fact that the world was deliberately misled by the Bush administration to go into a war of choice.”
On Syria, however, Moran is convinced.
“The evidence is irrefutable, that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against innocent people,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind about the verifiability of that information.”
While supportive of the president and his call for military action, Moran said he would have preferred the president use his authority as Commander-in-Chief to strike Syria without congressional approval.
“I feel strongly that President Obama was right to draw a red line against weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “I’d like to see the president to follow through on his original instincts to execute a surgical strike against the capability of Assad’s military to ever use chemical weapons again.”
“Of course he should have” authorized airstrikes, Moran continued. “It’s what Reagan did and what Clinton did. I think that if the vote were held today, it would lose. That’s why the president was wrong to leave the credibility of the United States and the viability of his presidency in the hands of the most dysfunctional Congress in modern history.”
Arlington County Democrats were joined by Sen. Mark Warner at their annual Labor Day Chili Cook-off in Lyon Park on Monday.
Between chatting with local Democratic elected officials and activists, Virginia’s senior U.S. senator cheered on contestants during the event’s popular no-hands-allowed pie eating contest. Finishing first in the contest was Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog.
The main attraction, of course, was the chili contest. A dozen and a half entries competed for the votes of a panel of judges — the “electoral college” — and for the votes of all attendees — the “popular vote.”
Del. Patrick Hope captured top honors from the popular vote, with attorney Betsey Wildhack and School Board member Noah Simon in second and third respectively. Rep. Jim Moran’s “Animal Lovers Chili,” meanwhile, won the electoral college vote.
Among other attendees at the cookout were all five Arlington County Board members, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Bob Brink and Del. Alfonso Lopez, whose son won the cupcake decorating contest.
Yorktown Ranked #17 in Preseason — Yorktown High School’s football team is 17th in the Washington Post’s Top 20 preseason rankings. The team was undefeated in last year’s regular season, but was defeated in the regional championship. Meanwhile, Yorktown senior running back M.J. Stewart is the only Arlington player to make the 2013 All-Met preseason team.
Second Pike Farmers Market to Launch — The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is planning a second farmers market, to be held on the grounds of the new Arlington Mill Community Center. The center is located at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwidde Street, in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood. Organizers believe there are enough residents on the Pike to support two farmers markets. [Patch]
Clerk Prefers Online Juror Submissions — Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson wants those who receive jury duty questionnaires next month to fill the form out online. Ferguson says opting for the electronic form is safe and convenient and saves time. [Sun Gazette]
Moran: Inequalities Remain — The country commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 93rd anniversary of the enactment of the 19th Amendment this week, but Rep. Jim Moran cautions that the country has taken “troubling steps backward” in recent years. “Inequalities remain, and misguided efforts that will take us backwards continue,” he writes in his weekly editorial. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Moran, Wolf Visit Gitmo — Last Friday, Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) visited the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where suspected foreign terrorists are held and interrogated. Moran, who has said that keeping the facility open “is not worth the damage it continues to inflict on our international standing,” said after the trip that he hopes to work out a compromise with Wolf, who supports keeping the facility open. [Sun Gazette]
Shirlington Oktoberfest Date Set — This year’s Shirlington Oktoberfest, the largest of its kind in N. Va., will take place on Saturday, Oct. 5. Over 50 breweries will be represented. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.)
Arlington Democrats hosted the entire statewide Democratic ticket at their annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner Saturday night.
The party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general give passionate campaign speeches. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, arrived late but closed the event with the keynote address, touching on the effects sequestration will continue to have on Virginia’s economy, noting Arlington’s place as a hub for defense jobs, in particular.
“The stakes have never been higher,” McAuliffe told the crowd of several hundred local political leaders and donors. “You want a governor who knows the ups and downs of business.”
Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Lieberman delivered the first speech of the event, held annually at the Westin in Ballston, chronicling the past 12 months in Arlington politics.
“We have had an amazing last year,” said Lieberman, who is in his final year as chair of the local party. “We went eight-for-eight in general elections on three different election days.”
The dinner — which cost $125 a plate for the general public and $250 for VIPs — is the organization’s biggest fundraising event. The Dems also raised money with a silent auction during the dinner.
Through June 30, McAuliffe has raised almost $12.7 million, compared to almost $7.7 million for his Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, according to the Federal Election Commission. Lieutenant governor candidate, state Sen. Ralph Northam, has raised more than $2 million compared to $390,683 raised by his GOP opponent, E.W. Jackson, and Attorney General candidate Sen. Mark Herring has raised $1.6 million to Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain’s $1.2 million.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) gave a fiery speech after Lieberman, lambasting the Republicans in the House of Representatives who he said have been obstructionists, hurting the country by blocking meaningful legislation.
“There’s always going to be people who want plunder villages for their own benefit,” Moran said.
Herring and Northam spoke in more tempered tones than Moran and McAuliffe, emphasizing their strongest issues — Herring on the social issues that have come to the fore in Cuccinelli’s tenure as Attorney General, Northam on the Chesapeake Bay and healthcare.
“I will be a bulwark against the radicalization of Mark Obenshain, E.W. Jackson and Ken Cuccinelli,” Herring said.
Monday afternoon, the Republican Party of Virginia issued a response to the Democrats’ speeches.
“It’s only fitting Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring all landed on the ticket together, because they support higher taxes, more spending and burdensome regulations,” said Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia. “With liberals like McAuliffe, Northam and Herring wanting to usher in a new era of job-killing tax hikes, Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican Party are advocating pro-growth economic policies that will lower taxes and create jobs for Virginians.”
McAuliffe also spent time talking about the state’s transportation issues, commending Gov. Bob McDonnell on his work to pass the state’s new transportation bill. He railed against Virginia’s low pay of teachers, and promised to opt into the Medicaid expansion clause of the Affordable Care Act.
Concluding his remarks, McAuliffe said he plans to be the one to break the Virginia’s habit, since 1977, of electing a governor from the opposite party of the President of the United States.
“I have to stop a 40-year jinx,” he said. ”Whoever wins the White House, the other party has won the governor’s race, but I’m going to break it.”
A controversial bill amendment to limit the federal government’s collection of Americans’ personal information failed by a narrow margin last night in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Jim Moran (D) had voted in favor of the measure, which was defeated in a 217-205 vote.
The amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, would have ended funding for the program that allows the blanket collection of personal records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It would have placed restrictions on the National Security Agency and other federal agencies, only giving them the authority to gather data from individuals connected to ongoing investigations.
Amash brought forth the amendment in response to the information recently leaked by Edward Snowden, indicating the NSA collects residents’ phone and internet records. Moran voted in favor of restricting the NSA.
“I supported the Amash amendment because Section 215 opens the door to serious abuses by a future administration. I also opposed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act and FISA Amendments Act that provided the legal justification for this program,” said Moran in a statement. “We have to view these issues through the lens of how a future ‘Nixonian-style’ administration could misuse this type of information. It’s our best safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.”
Democrats and Republicans were split on the issue, which pitted national security against Americans’ privacy. Long-time adversaries Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), for instance, both ended up on the same side and voted against the amendment.
With the proposal’s defeat, the NSA may continue to collect residents’ private information.
The bill would extend the Federal Offset Program to local governments. The program currently helps 42 states and Washington, D.C. to collect funds from delinquent taxpayers by reducing — or “offsetting” — their federal tax refund.
The bill, if passed, would be a triumph for Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, who has advocated for such a tax-collecting tool on the local level.
“This is a win-win program for all levels of government and those who regularly pay their taxes,” O’Leary said in a press release. ”Passage of this legislation could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for local governments without increasing the tax burden on those who faithfully pay their fair share of taxes.”
“This bill offers a unique opportunity not just to provide needed, owed funds, at no cost to the federal government, it also protects honest taxpayers from an increase in local property taxes,” Moran said. “The federal government has done this successfully with states and we should provide the same partnership to local governments looking for relief.”
The federal government will collect a $25 fee from localities for each offset request. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Federal Offset Program collected more than $400 million in delinquent taxes to the states enrolled, Moran’s office said.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) raised more than $336,000 in the second quarter of 2013, a large haul considering it’s for an election that’s not happening until 2014 and doesn’t yet include a another announced candidate.
Moran, who is in the first year of his 12th term, now has $577,115 cash on hand through two quarters of fundraising, according to the Federal Election Commission. His campaign spent $121,523 in the quarter.
Moran was able to raise a healthy amount of funds despite not yet having a declared challenger. Mike Ginsberg, the chair of Virginia’s 8th District Republican Committee, said no candidates have expressed interest in running for the seat Moran has held since 1991, but he “suspects we’ll have a few come out in the fall.”
In last year’s election, Moran was challenged by Bruce Shuttleworth in the Democratic primary. Shuttleworth said he expects to announce his decision on whether to run again in the fall.
“I am very strongly leaning in one direction, but I don’t want to make an official announcement until the fall,” he told ARLnow.com.
Shuttleworth said he doesn’t want to take attention away from the statewide races for the governor’s office and the House of Delegates. Shuttleworth announced his candidacy last February, just four months before the June primary.
“You clearly need to jump in earlier than I did last year,” he said.
The biggest donors to Moran, who sits on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, were the political action committees of large defense contractors. Among the boldfaced names and organizations donating to Moran in the quarter ending June 30 were:
- Connecticut billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife — $5,000
- Lobbyist Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group — $1,500
- Brian Moran, the congressman’s brother and former chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia — $1,075
- The Chickasaw Nation, the Oklahoma-based Native American tribe — $1,000
- Lockheed Martin PAC — $10,000
- Computer Sciences Corporation PAC — $10,000
- ManTech International PAC — $6,500
- Raytheon PAC — $5,000
- Boeing PAC — $5,000
- Unisys PAC — $5,000
- Electrical Contractors PAC — $5,000
- Harris Corporation PAC — $4,000
- Home Depot PAC — $2,500
Organizations representing U.S. Postal Service employees collectively donated $5,500 during the quarter.
In Virginia alone, nearly 72,000 DoD employees are affected by furloughs, which require one unpaid day off per week for 11 weeks. The state is expected to be particularly hard hit by the cuts due to the Pentagon being housed in Arlington.
It’s too early to definitively claim furloughs will ease traffic congestion, but AAA believes fewer people on the road could lead to less gridlock and fewer accidents. In fact, the organization suggests commutes could resemble those of July and August, when the region experiences its lowest traffic volume and rate of accidents.
“For all other workers, the morning and evening commutes to the daily grind could look like it does on any of the ten federal holidays in the Washington metro area or on Fridays, when federal workers use their flex-time schedules or compressed work weeks (AWS) to take time off,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
AAA predicts Metrorail and Metrobus ridership may be affected as well. According to WMATA, nearly half of peak period commuters are federal employees and 35 Metrorail stations serve federal facilities, including the Pentagon in Arlington.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) took to Twitter earlier today to express his displeasure with the furloughs. He also sent the following statement to ARLnow.com:
“Due to sequestration, today marked the first of 11 furlough days for 650,000 DOD civilian employees. This 20 percent pay cut is the unfortunate and shameful result of Congress’ failure to work together to find an appropriate way to reduce the federal debt and deficit. I voted against the Budget Control Act that set up sequestration not only because it focused solely on cutting discretionary spending at the expense of increased revenues, but I feared that the Supercommittee could not find compromise. Congress must make tough choices, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal workers.”
(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) This morning, in a historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thus allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.
The high court also ruled on California’s Proposition 8. The ruling will have the end effect of allowing gay marriages in the state of California, barring further legal challenges.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, issued the following statement about the ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today puts the court on the right side of history. DOMA is unjust, un-American, and out of step with the values of our country. Beginning today, same-sex couples in the 12 freedom to marry states will be eligible for the federal protections and responsibilities afforded all other married couples.
Our nation has a long history of fighting to overcome discrimination to secure civil rights for all citizens. I hope this decision gives momentum to efforts across the country to enshrine marriage equality into our laws. Discrimination has no place in our country.
Republicans have wasted more than $3 million on this lawsuit over the past three years. That’s unconscionable while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs.
The Declaration of Independence affirms that “all men are created equal” and that every American has a right to “the pursuit of happiness.” These principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.
Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, talked to ARLnow.com shortly after the rulings. An excerpt:
It’s a terrific day for the country and for fairness. It’s another important step forward for the inevitability of marriage equality.
You feel a sense of pride at the progress and the ability of people in this country to learn and grow and address the irrational fears that existed 30 years ago. It’s so wonderful that a country and a democracy can make [this progress] despite the challenges.
This does not provide what I would call marriage equality across the board for all Americans. One thing has not changed: Bob [Rosen, Jay's partner] and I cannot get married in Virginia. In Virginia, we have… a conservative General Assembly that has no interest in providing marriage equality. We’re still in the baby steps phase.
Fisette said that while he and Rosen have in the past rejected the “symbolism” of getting married in another jurisdiction, like D.C. (which allows same-sex marriage), the DOMA decision may prompt them to reconsider.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was one of two Virginia congressmen to participate in a recent photoshoot for the NOH8 Campaign.
The gay rights campaign is described as a “photographic silent protest.” It was organized by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in response to the 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which invalidated the recognition of same-sex marriage in California.
Moran was one of 67 members of Congress to participate in a photoshoot for the campaign, and one of only two in Virginia. (Rep. Gerry Connolly, the Fairfax County Democrat, was the second.)
In his photo, Moran, a former amateur boxer, makes a fist while wearing duct tape over his mouth. Moran said in a statement that he is proud to oppose “hateful laws” like Proposition 8.
I am proud to participate in the NOH8 project. Proposition 8 and other hateful laws like the far-reaching constitutional amendment that passed in Virginia in 2006 fly in the face of our nation’s commitment to equal treatment under the law. Discrimination has no place in the laws that govern our nation.