Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Another California Democrat says it's up to the White House on climate change

Henry Waxman

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman says it's up to the president to act on climate change.

Congressional Democrats say it's up to President Obama to use his executive powers to fight climate change. That's the message from California's top environmental Democrats.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) was the chief architect of the climate change bill passed by the House three years ago. That measure died in the Senate.

But Waxman, who's the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, says Congress hasn't been interested in acting on climate issues since Republicans became the majority in the House.

Instead, he's calling on the President to develop a plan for the administration to take action on fighting greenhouse gas emissions.

President should act on his own

Waxman insists the President has "an enormous amount of authority" to do that — and to do it with Congressional help.

Read More...

President unlikely to get support from Congress on climate change

Mercer 440

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) doesn't expect Congress to move ahead with climate change legislation in the second Obama administration.

In his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to “respond” to the threat of climate change, saying the failure to do so would betray future generations.

"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science," said the president, "but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms." 

But President Obama shouldn’t expect any comprehensive legislation from Capitol Hill.

During his first two years on office, the then-Democratically-led House passed a cap and trade bill to reduce greenhouse gasses. The measure died in the Senate.

California Democrat Barbara Boxer doesn’t doubt the President will use his bully pulpit to push for action on climate change. But the chair of the Senate Public Works and Environment committee says don’t look for sweeping legislation to reduce greenhouse gases.

Read More...

Boxer says Villaraigosa would make "fine" Transportation Secretary

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gets a thumbs-up from Senator Barbara Boxer to be the next Secretary of Transportation - if there's a vacancy.

He's not officially announced he's leaving. But the possibility that Transportion Secretary Ray LaHood may step down is fueling speculation about who might replace him.

This morning, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California told a room full of reporters she  thinks L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa "would be terrific" at the job.

Boxer heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which championed Villaraigosa's idea of expanding transportation loans to communities willing to put up their own tax money to pay them back. Congress approved a billion dollars a year to fund the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act - or TIFIA program.

Boxer likes the idea so much, she wants to create a similar program to help landlords and developers make buildings energy efficient, suggesting it should be called the BIFIA program.

Read More...

CA Senator Boxer cautiously optimistic Congress can avoid going over the fiscal cliff

Mercer 1821

AP Photo

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. expresses some optimism that Congress and the White House can avert the fiscal cliff. Negotiations between the sides continued before the midnight Monday deadline.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden worked overnight on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. But Monday morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid said “a number of issues” still divide Democrats and Republicans.

Just what’s in the agreement isn’t clear. Reporters aren’t the only ones in the dark.

Senator Barbara Boxer says only a couple of people really know what’s in the proposal. She says she's hearing "leaks about it, we’re hearing rumors about it, we don’t know if we’ll have the deal."

The Democrat from California says it’s important not to prejudge the package before anybody sees it. On the Senate floor, Boxer urged bipartisan discussion. "One party doesn’t run the show," she said. "It is shared responsibility. It is frustrating. It is difficult."

She pointed out the example of one bipartisan success in 2012: a two-year transportation bill hammered out with the GOP leader on her committee, James Inhofe of Oklahoma. "You couldn’t find two people more philosophically apart than we are."

Boxer – who spent a decade in the House – urged John Boehner to follow the example of former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neil, who understood that the magic number of 218 meant votes from either side of the aisle. She said Speaker Boehner, "who I know and like personally, but it seems like he doesn’t want to talk to the Democrats. Nothing is going to get done for our country if we don’t talk to each other."

Boxer said she was “cautiously optimistic” Congress will be able to find a deal that’s “fair enough” to avoid the cliff. 

Read More...

Senator Boxer says gun control could pass Senate, NRA is key

Mercer 20666

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said Wednesday that the National Rifle Association would be a key to passing any meaningful legislation to curb gun violence.

President Obama has asked Vice President Joe Biden to head up a task force on gun violence. Democrats on Capitol Hill are proposing their own answers to the mass shooting at Newtown, Conn.

Republicans have been largely silent on the issue, but at least one California Democrat thinks that can change as soon as Friday.

There's a dark mood on Capitol Hill. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, combined with the death of Hawaii’s Senator, Daniel Inouye, plus the continuing battle over the fiscal cliff has put a pall over everything.

While waiting for the President and Speaker John Boehner to come up with a deal they can vote on, Democratic members of Congress have been busy crafting and promoting legislation to address an issue they think they can affect: The continuing gun violence evidenced at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Read More...