Jane Harman’s Legacy

Jane Harman has announced that she will leave the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this month, less than half a year after winning re-election to the seat representing California’s 36th district. Harman will become President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

As a Blue Dog Democrat, Representative Harman’s record has been disappointing to the progressive Democrats in her congressional district, but she has won re-election with a coalition of right wing Democrat, independent and Republican voters.

Last year, Harman voted in favor of extending George W. Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. The measure also included tax breaks for people inheriting multi-million dollar estates.

In a vote that will not be forgotten for a long time, Jane Harman failed to stand against George W. Bush’s rush to invade Iraq. Instead, she helped Bush push the unnecessary and ill-fated Iraq War forward.

Harman’s record on civil liberties has been mixed – between disregard for Americans’ constitutional rights and self interest. Harman has voted in favor of laws that have enabled the federal government to set up a massive electronic and physical spy network that gathers information about millions of peaceful, law-abiding Americans every day. She voted for the FISA Amendments Act. She voted for the original Patriot Act, without reading it, and then voted in favor of renewals of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act without reform – twice. However, when it was discovered that government spy networks had been used to wiretap her own communications, Representative Harman was outraged.

At the end of this month, Democratic voters in California’s 36th congressionial district may feel a welcome sense of relief that, at long last, they will have the opportunity to elect a new Democratic U.S. Representative – this time, one who represents their liberal values.

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