Tag: U.S. Senate

Dana Gresham Named Chief of Staff for Newly-Sworn in U.S. Senator Doug Jones

PHOTO: Dana Gresham was named on Jan. 2, 2017 by Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala., as his chief of staff.
Dana Gresham was named on Jan. 2, 2017 by Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala., as his chief of staff. (via abcnews.com)

by David Caplan via abcnews.com

Senator-elect Doug Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who beat Republican Roy Moore in last month’s special Senate election, has tapped former Department of Transportation staffer Dana Gresham as his chief of staff, making him the only African-American chief of staff for a Senate Democrat.

“I would like to welcome Alabama native & former Asst. Secretary for Governmental Affairs at @USDOT Dana Gresham, who will be joining our team as Chief of Staff,” Jones tweeted Tuesday.

Prior to working at the Department of Transportation under President Barack Obama, Gresham worked for Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., and Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.  The appointment follows pressure from several organizations representing various communities of color that asked Jones last month to hire at least one minority to a senior-level position.

Two Republican senators, though, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jerry Moran of Kansas, reportedly have black chiefs of staff.

Seventeen organizations, including the NAACP, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Urban League, wrote a letter to Jones in December suggesting he hire a person of color in light of the lack of diversity among Senate staff. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies organized the effort and drafted the letter.

“As a new Member of the U.S. Senate, you have an opportunity to show your constituents that not only do their voices matter, but that their experiences and skills are vital to the work that you do to represent them,” the groups wrote in the Dec. 19 letter to Jones. “Ensuring racial diversity among your staff would enhance the deliberation, innovation, legitimacy, and outcomes of your office and of the Senate as a whole. Hiring at least one person of color to your senior staff in Washington would speak loudly, and we ask that you do so among the qualified applicants that you will receive.”

News of Gresham’s hire was applauded across the Twittersphere.

“Great News! Birmingham’s own stand out Dana Gresham chosen to be Chief of Staff to Alabama’s Senator Doug Jones!” tweeted Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala. “Looking forward to working with them to move Alabama forward!! @GDouglasJones.”

Amanda Brown Lierman, political and organizing director for the Democratic National Committee tweeted, “Snaps for @GDouglasJones naming Dana Gresham as his Chief of Staff! #DougJones will be the ONLY #Senate #Democrat to have a black COS.”

And Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity tweeted, “Congratulations to Brother Dana Gresham [Mu Lambda ’97] for being appointed as Chief of Staff for Alabama Senator-elect, Doug Jones, who will be the only member of the Democratic caucus to have a Black/African-American chief of staff.”

To see original post, go to: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/doug-jones-hires-senate-democrats-african-american-chief/story?id=52109446

Doug Jones Won U.S. Senate Race in Alabama Because of Black Women Trying to “Save America”

(photo via thenation.com)

by Marie Solis via newsweek.com

Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in Tuesday’s Alabama Senate race with the overwhelming support of black women voters, 98 percent of whom cast their ballots for the Democrat.  According to CNN’s exit polls, only 34 percent of white women voted for Jones, with 63 percent of that voter bloc offering their support to Moore instead. The Republican has been accused of pursuing inappropriate relationships with teen girls as an adult.

“Doug Jones would not have won today without the turnout we saw from African-American voters,” Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist, told Newsweek. “Black women have been absolutely clear in their support for Democratic policies and Democratic candidates. It’s high time for Democrats…to invest in that effort.”

Sanders said it was the grassroots, on-the-ground efforts of Jones’s African-American supporters that helped bring black voters to the ballot box on Tuesday and push him across the finish line. But if Democrats want to carry their 2017 successes into the 2018 midterms, they can’t count on black women alone to carry the party.

“Black women have been attempting to save America since the dawn of time,” Sanders said. “That doesn’t mean we should allow the fate of America to be laid at the feet of black women. It has to be a multicultural effort.”

Still, others couldn’t help but notice the poetic justice of a Democrat with an upstanding record on civil rights winning in deep-red Alabama. “It’s no coincidence that Selma, where blood was shed in the struggle for voting rights for Black people, pushed Doug Jones ahead for good,” Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, tweeted following Jones’s win. Selma, Alabama—the site of 1965’s “Bloody Sunday”—was one of the Democratic candidate’s strong spots with black voters.

The Jones camp had tried to leverage the candidate’s civil rights record to appeal to African-American voters in the state. When he served as a prosecutor, Jones was responsible for convicting members of the Ku Klux Klan who bombed a Birmingham, Alabama, Baptist church, killing four young girls. “I’m very humbled and honored to have played a part in the civil rights saga, if you will, many years after the fact,” Jones said during a campaign rally in Montgomery, Alabama, another famous site for the civil rights movement.

Continue reading “Doug Jones Won U.S. Senate Race in Alabama Because of Black Women Trying to “Save America””

Kamala Harris Sworn in as California’s 1st Black U.S. Senator and 1st Indian American Senator – LA Times

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D) California [photo via latimes.com]
article by Sarah D. Wire via latimes.com

Before friends and family in a packed chamber, Kamala Harris was sworn in as California’s newest U.S. senator Tuesday morning. She became  the first black woman the Golden State has sent to the Senate and the first Indian American to ever serve in the body.

Harris, 52, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden shortly after 9 a.m. PT as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her new Senate colleagues looked on. Harris’ husband, Los Angeles attorney Doug Emhoff, her stepchildren, brother-in-law Tony West, sister Maya Harris, extended family as well as several state officials from across the country who traveled to celebrate with the now former state attorney general watched from the gallery.

“Whatever advice she wants, all she has to do is ask,” Feinstein said. “I have said to her that I would like to have a close relationship.”

Feinstein and Harris met repeatedly in the weeks since the election, with Feinstein sharing advice on how to set up the largest Senate office in the country, including how to deal with the up to 100,000 emails, letters and phone calls that can come into a California senator’s office in a given week.

Harris, one of seven new senators, replaces Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retired after 24 years in the Senate.

To read full article, go to: Kamala Harris sworn in as first Indian American senator and California’s first black senator – LA Times

Catherine Cortez Masto, America’s 1st Latina Senator, is Ready to Be “One Hell of a Check and Balance” on Trump

U.S. Senator-Elect Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada (photo via elle.com)

article by Gina Mei via elle.com

Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto made history on Tuesday night when she became the first Latina to be elected to the Senate in U.S. history—and she’s already making it very clear she’s more than willing to go head-to-head with Donald Trump once she arrives in Washington, D.C.

“Our government is built on a system of checks and balances, and I will promise you this: I will be one hell of a check and balance on him,” she said during her victory speech on Wednesday. “Tonight we start our fight together…. The diversity here is our strength and we will continue to be strong.”

“It’s not my voice I’m taking to Washington, it’s all of yours,” she added.

Cortez Masto beat out Republican Rep. Joe Heck to become the first woman to represent Nevada in the Senate on Tuesday, ultimately winning 47 percent of votes. She is the proud granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, and strongly supports “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.”

After her victory on Tuesday, Cortez Masto took to Twitter to thank her supporters and voice her willingness to fight hard for the rights of all Americans.

To read more, go to: http://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/news/a40705/first-latina-senator-catherine-cortez-masto-check-and-balance-donald-trump/

CA Attorney General Kamala Harris Becomes 2nd Black Woman Elected to U.S. Senate

Newly-elected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (photo via essence.com)
Newly-elected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (photo via essence.com)

article by  via essence.com

California Attorney General Kamala Harris made history Tuesday night when she won the Senate race and became the second Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Harris, an Oakland native, will replace Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who intends to retire 23 years as a California senator. The last African-American woman elected to the senate was Carol Moseley Braun (D, Illinois) who served one term, from 1993-1999.

The Howard University graduate’s platforms included criminal justice, abortion rights and immigration reform. She beat out fellow Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez for the hotly contested race.

A career prosecutor, Harris, whose mother is Indian and father is Jamaican, not only becomes the second Black woman in the senate, she’s also the first Indian woman in the position. For her run, Harris won endorsements from President Barack Obama and California Governor Jerry Brown.

In an interview with ESSENCE earlier this year, Harris, 52, pledged “to ensure our children have a fair shot in school and in life by passing universal prekindergarten legislation.”

“This issue is important to all, but for Black women, poor women, working women, it’s about economic empowerment,” she added.

Harris joins two African-American men in the 100-member Senate: Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey). “Kamala is one of the most exciting leaders in the country right now,” Booker told ESSENCE. “She brings an incredible combination of life experiences and skills that are sorely needed on issues like prison reform, empowering victims, addiction and violence. And she has actually run [and managed] something, and shown herself to be a creative problem solver.”

With additional reporting by Donna Owens.

CA Attorney General Kamala Harris Wins U.S. Senate Primary

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris greets supporters in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 7. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)
Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris greets supporters in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 7.  (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

article by John Myers via latimes.com

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris  was declared the top vote-getter Tuesday night in the state’s open race for the U.S. Senate, as a bevy of primary candidates competed for the other spot on the fall ballot.

With 13% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Harris, 51, who was long seen as the front-runner in a crowded field of 34 candidates.

The most prominent challenger, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange, is a Democrat like Harris. Should they finish in the top two spots once all the votes are counted, it would mark the first time in a statewide election in which a Republican failed to make the November ballot.

Sanchez was second in early returns, followed by a trio of Republicans: former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim, attorney Phil Wyman, and former GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro.

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-primary-kamala-harris-declared-the-winner-of-1465359023-htmlstory.html

Senate Confirms John King Jr. as U.S. Education Secretary

John King, Jr. (middle) with President Barack Obama (photo via ischoolguide.com
John King, Jr. (middle) with President Barack Obama (photo via ischoolguide.com

article by Emma Brown via washingtonpost.com

The Senate voted on Monday to confirm John King Jr. as U.S. Education Secretary, a move that shows that education has become a rare issue on which a polarized Washington can reach bipartisan compromise.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting 49 to 40 in favor of King’s confirmation at a time when key GOP senators are refusing to even consider an Obama nominee to the Supreme Court.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — chairman of the education committee who previously served as education secretary under President George H.W. Bush — urged his colleagues to confirm King, arguing that the education department needs a leader who can be held to account as the nation implements a sweeping new education law that replaced the long-maligned No Child Left Behind.

“This vote is not about whether one of us would have chosen Dr. King to be the education secretary. Republicans won’t have the privilege of picking an education secretary until we elect the president of the United States,” Alexander said Monday, 25 years to the day after his own Senate confirmation. “We need a United States Education Secretary confirmed by and accountable to the United States Senate so that the law to fix No Child Left Behind will be implemented the way Congress wrote it.”

King, 41, has been serving as acting secretary since his predecessor Arne Duncan stepped down at the end of 2015. A former teacher, principal and charter-school founder, he led New York’s state education department from 2011 until 2014, when he joined the U.S. Education Department.

Continue reading “Senate Confirms John King Jr. as U.S. Education Secretary”

CA Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris Overwhelmingly Wins State Democratic Party Endorsement for U.S. Senate Campaign

Kamala Harris (photo via latimes.com)
California Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Kamala Harris (photo via latimes.com)

article by Phil Willon via latimes.com

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris won the coveted California Democratic Party endorsement for U.S. Senate on Saturday, solidifying her status as the front-runner and delivering a setback to her top rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Harris captured 78.1% of the votes to earn the state Democrats’ official seal of approval. It’s a prize that provides her with a clear edge in the June 7 primary and, most likely, financial support from the party.

The endorsement came after the two Democratic Senate candidates, running to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, made their final pitches to local activists and other elected officials.

Harris asked Democrats to help her deliver a “more perfect union” and Sanchez asked them to trust her experience and record over other candidates’ “talk.”

But Harris prevailed in a landslide. Of the 2,139 ballots cast, 19.3% were for Sanchez and 2.6% voted for no endorsement at all.   Their back-to-back speeches, the warm-up acts before Vice President Joe Biden took the stage, capped a furious two days of campaigning by both women.

Sanchez spoke of her hardscrabble upbringing, cleaning homes to help one of her brothers pay for college, and how her Mexican immigrant parents’ hard work and perseverance allowed them to achieve the American dream. The congresswoman emphasized her record and experience in Washington and received the warmest response when extolling her votes against the Iraq war, the bank bailout and the Patriot Act.

“While other candidates talk about boldly changing in Washington, I’ve done it for 20 years,” Sanchez said, taking a subtle dig at Harris. “Experience matters, and I will hit the ground running in the Senate.”

Harris walked onto the stage to rousing applause and described the life-shaping experience of growing up in the Bay Area as the daughter of two civil rights activists. Harris’ speech hewed to the high ideals of the Democratic Party and the “poison” politics consuming the Republican presidential race. She vowed to protect and restore the fundamental rights of all Americans.

“For far too many, liberty and justice for all is a promise we have failed to keep,” Harris said.

Winning the party endorsement required at least 60% of the votes from credentialed party delegates or their proxies, a mark that historically has been difficult to reach because delegates also have the option of checking a box for “no endorsement.”
Continue reading “CA Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris Overwhelmingly Wins State Democratic Party Endorsement for U.S. Senate Campaign”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris to Announce Bid for U.S. Senate on Tuesday

“She’s not testing the waters. She’s charting the course. She’s in with both feet,” said the source who requested anonymity while discussing Harris’ plans.

The move comes as California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he would not run for the seat, averting an ugly battle between two Democrats who share many of the same supporters, have national profiles, are both from the Bay Area and are popular with the liberal wing of the party.

Harris, 50, who is in her second term as attorney general, previously served as the district attorney of San Francisco. She is the first candidate to officially declare. Boxer announced last week that she would not seek reelection in 2016, setting off a scramble among Democrats who have not seen an open U.S. Senate seat since 1992.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer are seriously considering bids, as are several members of Congress.

article by Seema Mehta via latimes.com

Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Agreement, Avoids Another Shutdown

The Capital is mirrored in the Capital Reflecting Pool on Capitol Hill in Washington early Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has sent President Barack Obama a modest, bipartisan budget pact designed to avert another U.S. government shutdown and ease the harshest effects of automatic budget cuts.  Obama’s signature was assured on the measure, which lawmakers in both parties and at opposite ends of the Capitol said they hoped would curb budget brinkmanship and prevent more shutdowns in the near future.  The final vote on the measure was 64-36 in the Senate. The House approved the bill last week.

The product of intensive year-end talks, the measure met the short-term political needs of Republicans, Democrats and the White House.  As a result, there was no suspense about the outcome of the vote in the Senate — only about fallout in the 2014 elections and, more immediately, its impact on future congressional disputes over spending and the nation’s debt limit.

The measure will restore $45 billion, half the amount scheduled to be automatically cut from the 2014 operating budgets of the Pentagon and some domestic agencies, lifting them above $1 trillion. An additional $18 billion for 2015 would provide enough relief to essentially freeze spending at those levels for the year.  The budget deal marks a modest accomplishment for the divided and often dysfunctional Congress.

Continue reading “Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Agreement, Avoids Another Shutdown”