One day after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was thrown into a storm of controversy by her curious appointment to the congressional debt reduction supercommittee, the senior senator from Washington State may have given her critics additional fuel.
While visiting a manufacturing firm in Richland, Wash., Murray pushed for passage of a new workforce training law that would require even more spending by the federal government.
Sen. Murray toured SIGN, an orthopedic implant manufacturing facility in Richland today. She is working to pass new Career Pathways legislation. Murray says getting high school and post high school students trained in technical skills will help them get these skilled jobs.
“What are you going to do with your life? They have no idea. We need to tell them there are engineering jobs, there are health care jobs, there are manufacturing jobs. These are the skills you need to know to get them,” said the Senator.
Murray also talked about getting the Workforce Enforcement Act passed, which is a plan to retrain laid off workers.
Murray’s call for a new program requiring federal spending comes amid a raging debate concerning her appointment yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to the so-called “Super Congress” debt reduction committee.
As the implicit objective of the Super Congress committee is to find spending cuts, Murray’s inclusion in the group is as peculiar as her thrustless rise to power.
Murray’s appointment raised immediate red flags from both liberals and Republicans primarily because of her role as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the political fundraising arm of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate.
The senior senator from Washington State has never been pinned as a budget hawk (unless one counts preying on chunks of loose pork) and as chief Democratic fundraiser (who can forget her recent promiscuous solicitation of the Dems’ public enemies numbers one and two – the Koch Brothers) makes her an odd choice if the Democratic leadership intends to portray themselves as genuinely interested in debt reduction.
The conflict of interest compelled even traditional allies in liberal groups to offer Murray a choice: She can be a spending hawk or a fundraiser, but not both.
From an article appearing Wednesday in The Hill,
A coalition of liberal groups is calling on Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to stop all fundraising while serving on the debt-reduction “supercommittee.”
If Murray does not pledge to stop her fundraising activity for the reelection efforts of Senate Democrats, she should step down as DSCC chairwoman, some say.
“It really sends a bad message to the American people when you’re the chief fundraiser trying to come up with this balanced approach to deficit reduction,” said Adam Smith, communications director of Public Campaign. …
“She should step down or say ‘I’m not going to raise any money,’” Smith said.
Republicans were less subtle in their reactions to the Murray’s appointment.
“Appointing Senator Murray as the Co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is like asking a fox to guard a hen house,” said Washington State Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur in a statement released Tuesday.
“Senator Murray has absolutely no history of cutting spending, ever. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I do not know of a single substantive vote she has ever cast to cut spending,” said Wilbur.
In his statement to the press, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus called for Reid to commit to a genuine debt reduction process by yanking Murray from the committee.
“Harry Reid’s appointment of Patty Murray to Co-Chair the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is absolute proof that Democrats are not serious about deficit reduction.” Priebus said. “The Select Committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics. Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately withdraw her appointment.”
[photo credit: flickr]