A senior staffer for Rep Jim Himes, D-CT4, confirmed late Wednesday that Himes will serve as finance chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the current election cycle.
The DCCC will make the announcement Thursday morning.
“As the Republican majority once again holds jobs, recovery, and the middle class hostage to extreme ideology, it is more important than ever that we fill the House with representatives who will eat, sleep, and breathe opportunity for their fellow Americans,” Himes said Wednesday night. “I’m thrilled to devote myself to that effort.”
The move confirms earlier media reports that Himes had interest in taking a DCCC leadership role.
Himes, currently in his third term, is well-positioned, given his financial-services connections, to be a significant fundraiser for Democrats.
The DCCC could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Continuing coverage of the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Feinstein’s proposed assault-weapons ban:
The crowd at the hearing, boisterous at other times, was utterly hushed as Newtown’s Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Newtown victim Jesse Heslin, testified, the father’s grief pouring across the room like a tsunami wave. Most of the Republican members of the committee had left, the right side of the committee seating area conspicuously empty, but no one who was in the room could forget the father’s broken voice as he described saying goodbye to his son for the last time on the morning of last Dec. 14.
“It was 9:04 when I dropped him off with a hug and a kiss. ‘I love you and I love Mom too,’ he said to me. ‘Goodbye.’” And that was the last time I saw him, as he ducked around the corner.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (AFP photo)
“I remember the hug he gave me … he just held me, and he rubbed my back. … and Jesse said, ‘It’s going to be alright. Everything’s going to be okay, Dad.”
“He was six and a half. The day he was born was the happiest day of my life. The day he died was the saddest. … I was at that Sandy Hook firehouse until 1:30 in the morning — Sen. Blumenthal was there, Governor Malloy was there … that night I went home without my son to an empty house.”
“My son was brutally murdered,” he said tearfully. “He was the love of my life.”
“I fully support the Second Amendment,” he said. “(but) I had a little boy I devoted my life to.”
He said that Jesse was curious about guns — he’s gotten a BB gun the previous Christmas and Heslin had taught him gun safety — and the night before he died he was looking at a gun magazine.
Heslin said on one page was three pictures — one of a Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle, one of a Glock and one of a Sig-Sauer — the three weapons Adam Lanza used the next day.
Heslin said that when he came to the Capitol Wednesday morning, he saw a guard with an assault weapon. “Protecting our Capitol, protecting us now,” he said. “But I can’t believe somebody could bring one of those into an elementary school.”
The second Newtown witness. Dr. William Begg, EMS Medical Director at Danbury Hospital and a Newtown resident, said he was at the hearing for one reason: My goal is to tell you that banning assault weapons will make a real difference.”
“What galls me,” Dr. Begg said, is when people say we should fix mental health before we ban weapons. “What programs get cut first? Mental health!” Begg said.
His voice hoarse with emotion, Begg said, that when you say assault weapons account for a small number of gun deaths, “Don’t tell that to the citizens of Newtown!” It produced a burst of applause.
“To the families of those who lost loved ones,” he said, his voice breaking, “on behalf of the ER, we tried our best.”
And to you lawmakers … please, make the right decision on the behalf of Newtown and Connecticut, and the United States.”
Continued coverage of the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban:
Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who have been conservative outliers on many issues in the opening days of this Congress, certainly voiced their opposition to an assault-weapons ban, but they showed the political acumen to be much more measured in their approach than, say, Cruz was in going after Chuck Hagel.
Cruz offered condolences to gun-violence victims present in a very carefully worded statement: “I’d like to express the deepest sympathy that law enforcement was not able to prevent” the tragedies.
He said forcefully, “We need to target our efforts at violent criminals. We should not target our efforts toward needlessly restricting” citizens’ rights.
Cornyn sounded much the same note, pointing out through questioning that 4 million “law-abiding citizens” will still have guns classified as “assault weapons” under the proposed ban.
“Call me skeptical,” Cornyn said, because “criminals will continue to get weapons.” He added, “Sixty thousand people killed in Mexico show that drug cartels are not stopped by weapons restrictions.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina started by saying, “To all the victims of these shootings, I don’t know what to say, except ‘I’m sorry.’” Then he took the gloves off.
He repeatedly, argumentatively, interrupted U.S. Attorney John Walsh as Walsh tried to point out that law-enforcement is not making cases against people who fail background checks. As Walsh kept trying to respond that Graham was missing the point, the audience erupted into applause, drawing an admonition from Feinstein, who had to be grateful nonetheless for the evidence of support.
Graham, unperturbed, said, “I would argue that the law is fundamentally broken, and we should start fixing the laws we have rather than expanding them.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked Walsh, “Could you describe for us the events in that movie theater in Aurora, and how they might have been different?”
Walsh replied that while he was limited by his role in what he could say since Aurora is an active case, “It is a matter of public record that a shooting that resulted in 12 dead and 58 wounded took place in a time of 90 seconds.” He added that the Newtown killings occurred in less than four minutes. He cited the Tucson, Ariz., event in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, citing the fact the shooter was disarmed by heroic bystanders when he had to change magazines. Walsh posited the possibility that fewer people would have been shot if the shooter had not had a high-capacity 30-round magazine.
“There is no way we are going to prevent people from engaging in these sorts of attacks completely. What we can do by limiting and banning high-capacity magazines, is you can limit the damage and the tragedy these people cause.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 opened solemnly, before a packed hearing room, many of the observers gun-violence victims and law-enforcement personnel from gun-tragedy locations.
Feinstein, flanked by a photo of the 26 Newtown victims, opened with a pointed reference to Newtown and the growing number of mass-casualty events over the past decade.
While Feinstein’s tone was dispassionate, her words about the urgent need for an assault weapons ban were certainly emphatic: “It is clear we need a national solution,” she said. She showed a SlideFire Solutions Inc. promotional video of their product, which turns a semiautomatic rifle into a near-machine gun. And she stressed that a ban on high-capacity magazines was a “crucial” part of the bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking minority member of the committee, offered his condolences to the families of Newtown victims, but said “I happen to have a different view” about the assault weapons bill. He advocated improving the NICS database of non qualified shooters and mental-health services nationwide, but said he thought the AWB would be ineffective.
The first panel of witnesses, United States Attorney John Walsh of Colorado and Edward Flynn, Milwaukee police chief, spoke forcefully in support of limiting the access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Walsh said he hoped he would “never have another predawn phone call” like the one he got about the Aurora tragedy, and he said that while the Justice Department has not taken any position on the ban, it “strongly supports the goals” and “is confident that both the assault-weapons ban and the ban on high-capacity magazines” can be implemented constitutionally.
Flynn said America’s cities are experiencing “slow-motion mass murder every single year.”
“It’s time for Congress to pick a side,” Flynn said. “This time, I hope it’s the side of law enforcement.”