News February 15

Senator Sanders

Global Warming A measure that Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced Thursday would tax carbon emissions and use 60 percent of that money on rebates to make up for the expected spike in utility bills. The proposal is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Climate Change Scientists say the global temperature may warm by up to 8 degrees this century. “It would mean cities in America being underwater. It would mean the price of food skyrocketing. It would mean people dying of heat stroke. So this is a major crisis that has to be dealt with and this is the most significant legislation ever brought forth to address that crisis," he told WPTZ-TV. “In fact, the crisis facing our planet is much more serious than [scientists] had previously believed,” Sanders said on Fox 44 and ABC 22. VIDEO, VIDEO

Climate Science Sen. Sanders asked a panel of scientists at a Senate briefing Wednesday what the nation will look like at the end of the 21st century if the planet continues to warm at a rapid rate. Harvard oceanographer James McCarthy said sea levels will rise 3 to 6 feet by then if the temperature rises by 8 degrees or so as substantial scientific research indicates, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported.  No Republican on the environment committee, including Sen. David Vitter, attended a briefing. LINK

Planetary Crisis The legislation aimed at putting a price on carbon came as the Government Accountability Office added climate change to its list of ``high risk'' fiscal issues that threaten big costs to taxpayers, Canada Press reported. Sanders said that the legislation will "actually address the crisis,” according to Rolling Stone. "We are looking at the danger of a planetary crisis," he added, according to Agence France Presse. The measure would create millions of green energy jobs, Democracy Now and WEAA-FM in Baltimore, Md. reported. Sanders said Congress must act to cut pollution significantly, WDBO-FM in Orlando, Fla., reported. Global warming already has caused devastation and extreme weather, Sanders told The Weather Channel. LINK, LINK, LINK, AUDIO, AUDIO, AUDO, VIDEO  

Carbon Caucus Sen. Lisa Murkowski said on Fox News that the Sanders-Boxer bill is “going absolutely nowhere” and she claimed that “it would increase the cost to consumers.” The legislation faces big hurdles in the Senate and would almost certainly be dead on arrival in the House, according to PoliticoVIDEO, LINK

USPS Senators are urgently trying to save the struggling Postal Service after its announcement that it will cut Saturday delivery starting in August. Sen. Sanders and Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced legislation that would repeal the law under which the Postal Service prefunds 75 years of benefits for retirees in 10 years. The retiree health benefits have crippled the Postal Service and cost the agency $11.1 billion in the past year, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported.

Sequester Senate Democratic leaders reached agreement Thursday on a $110 billion mix of tax increases and spending cuts to head off automatic spending cuts through the end of the year. But with even some Democrats tepid on the proposal, the chances of a deal before the March 1 deadline have receded. Sens. Tom Harkin and Sanders decried the 50-50 mix of cuts and taxes, after Democrats have swallowed far more spending cuts than tax increases over two years of deficit-reduction efforts, The New York Times reported. LINK

Consumer Protection Senate Democrats said Thursday that they were united in opposing Republican efforts to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and told President Obama they supported the re-nomination of Richard Cordray to head the agency. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson organized a letter signed by 52 of 53 Senate Democrats and the chamber's two independents, Sanders and Angus King, telling Obama they backed his decision to re-nominate Cordray and that they oppose Republican attempts to change the bureau's structure, the Los Angeles Times reported. LINK

Veterans Summit Sen. Sanders and author Kristin Henderson headline a Veterans Summit at Lyndon State College on March 9 put on by the college’s veterans club and student support committee. Sanders will deliver the summit address and discuss the current status of veterans’ issues in Washington, D.C., according to the Times Argus. LINK

Irene Recovery Vermont is going to receive another $18.25 million in federal emergency road aid for damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene and the 2011 Spring flooding. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch made the announcement Thursday, Fox 44 and ABC 22 reported online. LINK

World

Syrian Refugees Open a School in Turkey At a new school for teenage Syrian refugees, in a still-under-construction apartment building near a Turkish hospital, psychology has been added to the standard Syrian curriculum. Turkish is now required, too. But the course about the legacy of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been dropped, The Washington Post reported. LINK

National

Republicans Block Vote on Hagel for Defense Post Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked President Obama’s nominee to lead the Pentagon in a defiant move likely to further strain partisan tensions while preventing the White House, at least temporarily, from assembling its second-term national security team. In a result that broke down almost strictly along party lines, Democratic senators could not muster the support to advance the nomination of Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, to a final vote. The vote was 58 to 40, falling short of the 60 that were needed. LINK

Lautenberg Won’t Seek Reelection Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a self-made multimillionaire and the only U.S. military veteran of World War II still serving in the U.S. Senate, will not seek reelection in 2014. The New Jersey Democrat, 89, made his decision official Thursday after months of speculation in his home state and Washington as Newark Mayor Cory Booker began openly discussing the possibility of running for the seat, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Social Security Outgoing Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has some parting shots for Congress, the White House and advocates for seniors. They have all “really walked away from Social Security,” he says, leaving the program “fraying because of inattention to its problems,” The Associated Press reported. President Obama now will have the opportunity to choose a nominee who must be approved by the Senate. LINK

Vermont

Death Bill The Vermont Senate on Thursday passed a stripped-down version of a bill that would let doctors help terminally ill patients die, relieving health workers and family members of criminal or civil liability but removing several patient protections that were in the original version of the bill. The final vote was 22-8, AP reported. LINK