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Mon December 20, 2010
Monday morning's headlines
Washington Ready to Add a Congressional Seat, while two western Washington Congressmen prepare for leading defense roles, and gay and lesbian service members mark the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
State's Political Clout Poised to Increase
Expectations are running high that Washington will gain another seat in Congress. The answer comes with the release of the latest national census results on Tuesday. The Seattle Times reports a population gain of about 860,000 since the last census likely means the pickup of one new seat. The Times reports there's speculation on where it would be:
A 10th district most likely would be carved out of the Olympia area, predicted Richard Morrill, professor emeritus of geography at the University of Washington and local authority on redistricting. "Olympia is by far the largest city in the state that is not the heart of its own district," Morrill said. The Olympia area is now split between the 3rd and 9th districts.
Eight states are expected to gain seats, with Texas leading the way with four. KPLU's Tom Banse reports the a new seat in the northwest had been expected to go to Oregon a couple of years ago. But the data trackers at the company following the national figures gives the nod to Washington.
More Congress Clout: Dicks and Smith Take Top Seats
As Republicans get ready to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress, two Washington Democrats find their political power rising. Longtime 6th District congressman Norm Dicks will be the top-ranking minority member of the Defense subcommittee of House Appropriations. Last week, Adam Smith (D-9th District) was chosen to lead his party on the House Armed Services committee. The News Tribune's Les Blumenthal reports:
Dicks said he and Smith will do everything they can to protect the Army, Navy and Air Force bases in Washington state. Smith’s district includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Dicks’ district includes the extensive Navy complex on the Kitsap Peninsula. “We will certainly be in a good position to work with the services, our colleagues and the administration,” Dicks said.
The Trib reports a national defense think tank, Lexington Institute, considers the committees two of the most powerful in Congress, and that posts will give the state a leading voice in defense spending and strategy.
History of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" Repeal Also a Washington Story
From the beginning of the policy until its dramatic end Washington's gay servicewomen and men have played leading roles in the effort to overturn the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. KING-TV's Owen Lei offers a portrait of two women with similar first names (Margarethe and Margaret) who came to symbolize the movement against the edict defeated as discriminatory. On Saturday, the US Senate followed the House in repealing DADT, on a 65 to 31 vote.
The policy will remain in effect until President Obama and US military leaders approve a final implementation plan, according to Military.com, quoting Defense Secretary Robert Gates:
Gates said it's important that the men and women in uniform understand that, although today's vote means the policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take time. "In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect," he said.
Both Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, say they welcome the policy change by legislation, rather than by judicial action.