News December 9

News December 9

Senator Sanders

Happy Holidays About 500 Burlington-area family members got to greet Santa, sing Christmas songs, play games, get their faces painted and feast on a delicious buffet meal thanks to Burlington businessman Tony Pomerleau, WPTZ-TV reported. Sen. Bernie Sanders said the 33rd annual party was hatched during conversations between Pomerleau, Sanders, who was then mayor and his now wife, Jane, who headed the city’s youth office.  “It is important in life to take care of each other and develop a sense of community and not leave anybody behind,” Sanders said in the Burlington Free Press. “There is no family, I believe, in the state of Vermont that has been more generous to children and people in need than the Pomerleau family,” he added. LINK, LINK

Energy Conference More than 260 people from across Vermont attended the sixth annual Community Energy and Climate Action Conference on Saturday to share and collect tips about engaging communities on issues surrounding energy use and climate change. “I am here because I respect enormously the work that you are doing,” Sen. Sanders said in a Valley News article published Monday in the Rutland Herald and Times ArgusLINK

Iran Sanctions President Obama is sending two of his top diplomats to Capitol Hill in a  bid to stop new sanctions on Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry and his lead Iran negotiator, Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, will testify before House and Senate panels about the preliminary deal reached last month in Geneva.  Sen. Patrick Leahy won’t support increasing sanctions on Iran during the current round of negotiations but Sen. Sanders said he hasn’t ruled it out. “Clearly the sanctions have brought Iran to the table,” Sanders said. “But if increased sanctions end up driving them from the table, helping the hard-liners in Iran, that would be negative,” Sanders told Vermont Public Radio in an article published in Monday’s Rutland Herald. LINK

Social Security Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired back after the centrist think-tank Third Way accused her of ignoring what they call Social Security's “undebatable solvency crisis.” One way to increase monthly benefits to seniors, Warren said, would be to broaden the program's funding pool. She did not elaborate on how, but one proposal, introduced by Sen. Sanders and others, would raise the cap on the level of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, Mother Jones reported online. LINK

A Rising Star Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, last March called the first hearing on military sexual assault in nine years. Over the past six months, Gillibrand has assembled a collection of unlikely allies—from the libertarian Rand Paul to Sanders of Vermont—while alienating some members of her own party,” according to a profile in The New Yorker. LINK

White House ’16 Elizabeth Warren announced she won't run for president so one of the major potential obstacles on Hillary Clinton's path to the nomination is out of the way. Other potential liberal alternatives - Sen. Sanders and former Vermont governor Howard Dean – “certainly don't pack the same punch as Warren,” according to The Washington Post.

National

Congress Readies a Year-End Dash Congress gets a late chance this week to end the year with an elusive budget deal and to make headway on other fronts. In the final week of 2013 that the Senate and House are scheduled to be in Washington at the same time, lawmakers and aides are optimistic that negotiators can reach a budget accord and continue to make progress on a farm bill and other measures. Meanwhile, a Senate rule change pushed through by Democrats should help ease the way for confirmation of several of President Obama's executive-branch and judicial nominees, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Budget Deal Near House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011, when the battle over a soaring national debt first paralyzed Washington. The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators’ primary target, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Cell Phone Tracking Cellphone carriers last year answered at least 1.1 million requests from law enforcement agencies seeking information on caller locations, text messages and other data for use in investigations, according to reports from the carriers in response to a request from Sen. Edward J. Markey. He wants the Federal Communications Commission to limit the amount of time carriers could hold on to customers’ personal information. He also would narrow the information that police collected from a cell tower when doing so-called dumps, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

Eastern States Press Midwest to Improve Air In a battle that pits the East Coast against the Midwest over the winds that carry dirty air from coal plants, the governors of eight Northeastern states, including Vermont, plan to petition the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to force tighter air pollution regulations on nine Rust Belt and Appalachian states. The East Coast states have for more than 15 years been subject to stricter air pollution requirements than many other parts of the country. Their governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes, The New York Times reported. LINK