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Politics and

PAGE FOUR • NOV. 16-22, 2017

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So Cal Focus with Thomas D. Elias Partisan Schisms the Result of The One-Party Rule


Rep. Susan Davis Secures $2.8 Billion for Military Widows and Major Policy Reforms in Defense Bill WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Susan Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, successfully fought to extend survivor benefits for 63,000 military widows in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the House today. These widows will receive approximately $2.8 billion in benefits over the next ten years. The benefit for widows of servicemembers who died on active duty, called the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA), was set to expire next spring. In the culmination of a two-year struggle, Davis helped extend the benefit indefinitely for these widows through amendments to the NDAA and strong advocacy with other members of the House Armed Services Committee. “This is an example of bipartisan work on behalf of those who sacrificed an immeasurable amount for our country,” said Davis. “I thank the Chairman for working with me to honor our commitment to the sacrifice made by these widows.” Davis also secured $41 million, an increase from $25 million last year, to be used for the recruitment, integration, retention, training, and treatment of women in the Afghan National Security Forces; and the recruitment, training, and contracting of female security forces. “Empowering the young women of Afghanistan is essential for the security of Afghanistan and essential for America’s security,” said Davis. “Having traveled to Afghanistan for over 10 years and meeting with Afghan women, I have always been inspired by their resilience and determination to rebuild their country and ensure peace

for the Afghan people.”

Other policy provisions Davis included in the NDAA:

Equal Justice for our Military. The Davis amendment directed the DOD to examine cases where servicemembers have less access to Supreme Court review than civilians operating in the civilian court system. This study is an important early step to eliminating restrictions to our servicemembers’ ability to access our Supreme Court. Davis has introduced the Equal Justice for our Military Act to grant personnel access to the Supreme Court. Military Family Leave Act. Those who serve our country give so much, and their spouses and families are no exception to the sacrifice. Davis seeks to minimize that burden. Davis added an amendment so servicemembers will have more flexibility when it comes to their frequent moves when it concerns their spouses’ job or education, their children’s education, and exceptional and chronically sick family members. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Report. As Co-Chair of the House Explosive Ordance Disposal Caucus, Davis increased the occasions and depth of briefings required by Congress regarding the Explosive Ordnance Disposal programs in the DOD. These briefings will continue to help develop EOD talent management, career opportunities and funding, among other things. It will ensure we are best managing and utilizing this critical capability within the armed forces. GI Bill Benefit Transparency. There is a substantial benefit that the Post 9-11 GI Bill pro-

vides servicemembers to further their or their dependent’s education. Due to the length of service requirements to earn the benefit or transfer the benefit to a dependent, many servicemembers have experienced difficulty understanding how much of the benefit they have earned. In this year’s bill the DOD will find ways to better educate servicemembers on their earned GI Bill benefits before they leave the service. Cyber training and talent management. Davis directed the Secretary of Defense to examine how to further develop cyber protection teams that can leverage the best attributes, authorities, and capabilities of both civilian and military cyber practitioners. In addition, the DOD will seek to help cyber forces evaluate and quickly integrate new technologies such as autonomy, machine learning, and big data analytics. Minesweeper Capabilities Protections. Davis protected a critical capability in the U.S. Navy. Her amendment will preserve mine countermeasure ships and helicopters until there are adequate replacement mine countermeasures capabilities that are available in sufficient quantity and capacity to meet the combatant commander. Congresswoman Davis represents the 53rd Congressional District, which includes central San Diego, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista. Davis is a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, serving as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. She is also a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

ome of the 25 surviving Republicans in the state Assembly – a politically endangered species in today’s California – rebelled against their minority leader this summer because he went along with Democrats in authorizing a continuation of the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases and fight climate change. Those Assembly members were not alone: Earlier in the year, the board of directors of the state GOP voted 13-7 to ask Redlands Assemblyman Chad Mayes to resign as the party leader in the Legislature’s lower house. His offense: Mayes wanted his party to reach out to nonRepublicans now that GOP voter registration has fallen to third place in half a dozen legislative districts, behind Democrats and independents. This represents a full-fledged party schism, with the Republican right wing led by former gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly and other hard-liners insisting on full-out support of President Trump and ideological purity on social issues like gun control and abortion. The Democratic Party also has a divide. Democrats dominate voter registration as no political party ever has in California and hold every statewide elected office from governor to insurance commissioner. While many Republicans feel some of their representatives are insufficiently conservative, a lot of Democrats believe their party is too wishy-washy, too deeply in bed with large corporate contributors and not as “progressive” as they would like. So during party caucuses last winter, the left-wing – led by devotees of Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders – turned out in big numbers and sent hundreds of grass roots members as delegates to the springtime state party convention where the Democrats’ longtime Los Angeles County chief Eric Bauman was narrowly elected to succeed San Francisco’s John Burton as state chair. Richmond-based party organizer Kimberly Ellis lost that race by 57 votes out of almost 3,000 and immediately challenged the result. Party committees later affirmed Bauman’s election, but Ellis vowed a court challenge, claiming party committees were biased. There’s also Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Paramount in Los Angeles County, who in early summer essentially killed a Senate-passed bill setting up a single-payer health care system for the state. His move so angered some liberals for whom that is a pet cause that they quickly made him the target of a recall effort. And five Democratic Assembly members were targeted by full-page ads in local newspapers for being undecided for awhile on a bill to create a statewide immigration sanctuary policy. All this is in many ways the result of the Democrats’ stranglehold on state government and voter preferences. Among Democrats, there’s little sense of peril in challenging party leaders. Their voter registration numbers are so much larger than Republicans’ and their success among independents is so much greater than the GOP’s that they have no worries about party splits somehow producing Republican victories. In fact, the most dramatic races now shaping up for governor and other statewide offices pit Democrats against one another. For example, no Republican has yet indicated interest in opposing Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reelection or in getting into a race to replace her if she retires at 84. But other Democrats are in. Nor do Republicans act as if they have much prospect, or even hope, to improve their position here during the Trump presidency. So Ronald Reagan’s “11th Commandment” – “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican” – is all but forgotten. The essence of many Republicans’ approach: If you’re going to lose anyhow, you might as well be pure. So far, few Democrats show signs of worry about their split, a leftover from last year’s bitter primary battle between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. But some Republicans, including Mayes, want to improve their party’s position. “We can remain in denial and continue to lose elections, influence and relevance,” he wrote in a recent essay. “Or we can…articulate our principles in a way that resonates with a changing California.” The party’s nominal top-ranking officeholder, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, added that Republicans “must focus first and foremost on fixing California” and “regain (its) role as the party of freedom.” None of these party schisms would exist if state Democrats were not so dominant. But one-party rule creates movements toward ideological purity in both parties, and no one can be sure where that might lead.

Elias has covered esoteric votes in eight national political conventions. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. His opinions are his own. Email Elias at

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