Maria Cantwell Gets Things Done
From the Washington state legislature to the private sector, Maria has always understood that you’re measured not by what you say, but by what you do for the people who are counting on you.
In two terms in the Senate, she’s amassed a record of accomplishment on a wide range of issues. Some of the most important to Washington include:
Standing With Middle-Class Taxpayers
Middle-class families around Washington and across the country are facing tough times–and tough decisions about balancing the family checkbook each month. Maria has fought to strengthen the economic security of Washington families and cut taxes for the middle-class.
- Maria is fighting to crack down on the oil price speculation driving up gas costs for Washington families and businesses. She authored a landmark bill, based on her successful legislative battle against Enron, which made wholesale oil market manipulation a crime. Up against staunch opposition, Cantwell has led her colleagues year after year to investigate the impact of market-rigging that may inflate the price of gas far above what is dictated by supply and demand. In a 2011 Senate hearing, under questioning from Maria, the CEO of Exxon Mobil revealed that excessive oil market speculation continues to raise the cost of oil. Maria is pushing the CFTC and the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on this speculation to lower gas prices and protect consumers.
- Maria led a bipartisan coalition to pass the sales tax deduction, saving Washington taxpayers an average of $500 each, for the first time in 18 years. Since that breakthrough in 2004, she has pushed each year to secure an extension of the deduction and introduced bipartisan legislation to make it permanent.
- For years, Washington had been penalized in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) because it was already a leader in covering uninsured children. In 2009, Maria fought to eliminate the penalty and won, securing an additional $50 million to help provide children’s health care in the state.
- Maria was instrumental in the inclusion of tough regulations in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act targeting the trading of derivatives, which were widely faulted for the financial collapse that hurt middle-class families.
- When Enron defrauded Washington energy providers and their customers, Maria made sure Snohomish PUD and the families and business relying on it wouldn’t have to pay for energy Enron never delivered. She overcame a Bush administration stonewall to secure evidence that Enron had indeed carried out schemes to rip off customers under absurd names like “Death Star” and “Russian Roulette.” That evidence helped bring down Enron in court. Then Maria authored legislation giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to punish this kind of manipulation, saving Snohomish PUD and other West Coast energy providers, hundreds of millions of dollars against Enron’s bogus claims. This law continues to protect taxpayers from a repeat of Enron-style shenanigans.
Keeping Washington Families Safe
Maria has taken a leadership role on safety and security issues, ranging from defending our borders and strengthening our military to protecting families from theft and attacking drug crime in Washington communities.
- Maria successfully passed landmark legislation to crack down on identity theft — the nation’s fastest-growing crime — and help victims recover their good name and their economic security faster and more easily. And after Washington law enforcement officials raised the alarm about the connection between identity theft and methamphetamine – up to an 80% overlap in cases in Clark County by one sheriff’s estimate, Maria fought to give law enforcement new tools to share information and fight both crimes. Maria has also been a leader in the fight against gangs, championing bipartisan legislation to target at-risk youths and help law enforcement reduce violence. In 2011, Cantwell worked across the aisle to protect funding for programs in Washington state that put more police on the street and violent criminals behind bars.
- The rate of violent crime on Indian reservations is 2.5 times higher than the national average. According to an Amnesty International report, Native American women are nearly three times more likely to be the victim of sexual assault. This is unacceptable and Maria is fighting to reverse this trend. She pushed legislation to increase federal support for tribal governments to help victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. In 2010, she played a leading role in shepherding the Tribal Law and Order Act through Congress to help local tribal government combat violent crime and support historically underfunded tribal justice systems.
- Maria secured funding for Washington’s first coastal Doppler radar to help Washington businesses and homeowners better prepare for dangerous storms that form off the coast. Her partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is bringing the state-of-the-art technology to Grays Harbor County on time and under budget.
- In 2010, President Obama signed Maria’s Coast Guard Authorization bill, establishing new safety standards for fishing vessels. The Seattle Times commended Maria’s hard work, editorializing, “Lives will be saved because of her efforts.”*
- Representing a border state in the Senate, Maria has fought to strengthen our nation’s border security. After a terrorist attempted to enter the country through Washington’s Port Angeles, Maria investigated the Visa Waiver Program, passing a bipartisan bill through the Senate that closes a potentially dangerous loophole by pushing foreign countries to include biometric information on visas and keep terrorists away from our shores. After the attempted terrorist attack by the so-called Underwear bomber on Christmas Day 2009, Maria pushed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reinforce the Visa Waiver Program further and improve terrorist monitoring data sharing between the US and our allies.
- Maria is a proud voice in the Senate for active military servicemembers, veterans, and their families. She championed the Military Reservists bill signed into law to help Reservists maintain their businesses at home during deployment and find job opportunities when they return. And, representing the more than 8,500 soldiers, airmen and civilian employees of the Washington National Guard, Maria pushed legislation that requires the Pentagon to track equipment left in the field so that Guardsmen and Reservists are properly equipped to serve and train for their duties at home and overseas.
- After four forest firefighters lost their lives in the 2001 Thirtymile Fire, Maria was instrumental in pushing for federal investigations into the tragedy and Forest Service protocols that contributed to their deaths. The findings of that effort culminated in her Wildland Firefighter Safety bill that would fix the serious training and accountability lapses in current regulations over this already inherently dangerous profession. Undeterred by opposition and procedural roadblocks, Maria reintroduced this bill in every Congress until it finally became law.
Fighting For Washington Businesses and Workers and Jobs
Maria knows Washington’s business community — because, as an executive at an innovative software company, she was part of it. And as a Senator, she’s led the way in helping businesses large and small throughout Washington grow, thrive, and create jobs.
- Maria was responsible for the creation of a Center of Excellence at the University of Washington that encourages innovation in Washington’s thriving aerospace industry, one which leads not only the nation but the world in developing new technologies and building the best aerospace products. In 2011, after years of hard work from both Maria and Senator Murray, the Air Force announced Boeing beat out a foreign competitor to build the military’s next generation of refueling tankers, creating 11,000 Washington jobs. And Maria continues to fight to end unfair European subsidies that would threaten the livelihoods of Washington aerospace workers.
- Washington’s apple, pea, and lentil farmers hadn’t been able to sell their products to Cuba in four decades – until Maria visited Cuba and paved the way for the opening of that export market. She continues to urge the Obama administration to loosen trade restrictions on exports for Washington farmers to Cuba and other markets.
- Maria is one of the most outspoken advocates for small businesses in the Senate. She aggressively pushed for legislation that would create a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund to be tapped solely by the community banks small businesses rely on for loans to hire workers and grow. The bill was signed into law and in July 2011 UniBank in Lynnwood became one of the first banks in the nation to benefit from this funding. Hailing the good news for UniBank, which loans to small businesses in King and Snohomish counties, Maria said “This recession began on Wall Street, but only Main Street can end it.”
- As Maria has often said before, the clean energy sector is a potential $6 trillion opportunity for high-paying American jobs. She championed legislation in 2008 that would end tax giveaways for oil and gas companies for the first time and give them instead to the renewable energy sector to help spur thousands of new jobs in the solar, wind, fuel cell, biomass, and hydropower fields. Since that initial breakthrough, Maria has successfully won extensions of these programs and is currently pushing for new ones.
Protecting Washington’s Natural Resources
As one of the most beautiful states in the union–and one of the richest in natural resources–Washington has a special interest in energy and environmental policy. And Maria has fought hard to uphold the state’s conservation tradition, while also working to bring our energy policy into the 21st century.
- Maria is fighting to encourage the development and use of clean, home-grown energy sources. In 2005, she brought together stakeholders for the Washington Biofuels Business Collaborative, helping to jumpstart the state’s biofuels market. Maria also helped to lay the groundwork for the biodiesel plant at the Port of Grays Harbor. In 2007, she helped author the Renewable Fuels Standard and successfully fought to extend it the following year. In 2011, she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to better incentivize growth of the domestic biodiesel industry. As the chairman of the National Biodiesel Board said in support of Maria’s bill, “If Congress is serious about digging our way out of this recession and creating good-paying jobs, this bill is a no-brainer.”
- For four years, Maria fought to pass legislation to protect Washington’s waters from oil spills, and in 2010 President Obama signed those protections into law. As a result, oil spill response equipment, such as booms, barriers, and tugs are now stationed throughout Washington ports including along the once-neglected, busy shipping lane of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
- Maria worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass a law expanding Mt. Rainier National Park–the largest such expansion in 70 years. The park isn’t just an example of Washington’s great beauty, it’s an important tourist attraction, bringing in nearly 1.8 million visitors in 2010 generating millions in tourism revenue for the state and supporting local businesses.
- Maria succeeded in pushing for creation of the Wild Sky Wilderness area, first new wilderness site in Washington state in twenty years, signed into law in 2008. As a leader on the Senate Energy Committee, she championed this effort to protect 106,577 acres of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as wilderness. The area lies just north of Highway 2 in the Cascade Mountains, and is only 90 minutes by car from 2.5 million Washington residents.