Live Chat with Senator Patty Murray

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The following transcript is from a Democracy Month live interview with Patty Murray, Democratic Senator from Washington state. The discussion was held on October 5, 1994 in the Coliseum on America Online, and continues to be relevant to the study of the US government.

Senator Murray: Hi. This is Senator Patty Murray from Washington, DC. How are all of you?

FeliciaEH: Welcome to Scholastic.com, Senator Murray.

Senator Murray: It is great to be here.

CSEmcee1: Good afternoon and welcome to the Coliseum, Senator Murray!

Question: Mrs. Murray, are you the mom in tennis shoes? from Don and Shayla in Federal Way, WA.

Senator Murray: Yes. I am a mom as well as a Senator!

Question: What kind of changes do want to see in education? My name is Kris, I am homeschooled in FL grade 8

Senator Murray: I want to make sure that all kids get a good education and enjoy what they learn.

Question: What do you mean by good education?

Senator Murray: Good education means learning to read, write and most importantly learn how to learn so that you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.

CSEmcee1: Senator Murray, Drugs and violence are happening more with kids who don't have dads at home. How will laws against violence help us? From Melissa McConnell

Senator Murray: Violence is a problem we all want to solve. I want to make sure that kids learn to deal with anger by learning how to talk with people to solve problems. Here in the United States Senate I want to make sure we have safe schools, safe neighborhoods and good things for kids to do after school!

CSEmcee1: Senator Murray, What do you miss the most when you are in Washington D.C.? We live is such a beautiful state, do you miss it? Tyler

Senator Murray: I absolutely miss the mountains and the water and the great people!

Question: Ms. Murray, What we are asking is how hard is it being a Senator considering the amount of time that must go into it? We are not talking about 40 hour weeks are we?

Senator Murray: I work everyday from early morning till late at night, but I think I am lucky because I am doing the job I love!

Question: Why did you want to become a senator? Don and Shayla FW, WA.

Senator Murray: Because I wanted to have a voice in solving the tough problems we face -- making sure we have a great environment, good jobs and a great state to live in. This is a job where I can have direct input on what direction our country is taking. I am in the conversation!

Question: What is your personal opinion on abortion, we know your opinion on choice. Columbia Burbank

Senator Murray: I am pro choice, I believe everyone should have the right to decide for themselves.

Comment: We are Mr. Grealis's class from Fairview High School, Fairview Park, Ohio

Question: Senator, How many women are in the Senate currently? Brad

Senator Murray: There are 7 women out of 100 in the United States Senate. I am the youngest woman ever elected to the Senate and the only mom with kids at home in the Senate!

CSEmcee1: As you are aware, and mentioned on Meet the Press last Sunday, it is anticipated that the budget Deficit will begin to increase again toward the end of the decade. What are your specific solutions to solving and balancing the Federal budget, and by what year? Kevin

Senator Murray: We have a responsibility to make sure that every dollar we spend is spent wisely and fairly This is not easy to do because so many people want us to cut the budget, but they also wan to make sure we give them the money they need. In Washington State we need federal dollars for clean up of Hanford to saving salmon to helping our farmers to helping people who may have lost their homes. We also have to make sure we have a strong defense system. But we have to make sure we do it right. I will keep trying!

Question: How are you going to make all this happen? Shayla FW, WA

Senator Murray: What I do is look at each "budget request" that comes to my office, and I get hundreds! I evaluate what I think is most important and then I work in my committees and on the floor to get them put into the national budget. It is especially hard because I get people who want more money for research for a disease they might have, or money to make sure their job is not lost as well as people who want money to save our environment. Prioritizing all of this is the toughest challenge I face.

CSEmcee1: Do you have to dress up to go to work? Or can you wear whatever you want? What do you like to wear at work? Kerry

Senator Murray: Yes, I do have to dress up to go to work, but believe me I put my tennis shoes on the second I get home. I have to walk a lot during the day from meeting to meeting to run to the floor of the Senate to vote and back. So tennis shoes would be great to wear!

Question: How much money do you make? Don from FW, WA.

Senator Murray: I make $133,000 per year and I hope that is enough enticement for everyone of you to do well in school and become a United States Senator one day too.

Question: Recently a study showed that the D.A.R.E. program did not prove to be a beneficial program, but was well received by communities, parents, and kids. How can we be assured that this terrific program will be continued in our school and receive additional funding?

Senator Murray: I really like the DARE program both my kids took it and I do think it made a difference.

CSEmcee1: Senator Murray, Our class would really like to meet you in person. Is there a chance that you can meet us at school sometime this year? Our teacher is even a W.S.U. cougar!!! That was from Alicia, at Mill Creek School in Washington!

Senator Murray: Well I always try to go out of my way to say hi to Cougars, what school are you from?

Senator Murray: I would love to come to Mill Creek and meet all of you! I will talk with my staff and see what we can do!

Question: Senator Murray, When voting in the Senate do your family values effect your opinion of how you will vote? Olin

Question: You suggested programs to get students involved after school. What would they be and who would pay for them?

Senator Murray: I think that it is very important for kids to be involved in all kinds of activities from sports to clubs, but often it takes parents or other adults who can be available to help out. That means encouraging more adults to take time out of their lives to work with kids. What programs do all of you think we need for kids?

CSEmcee1: What's your favorite, and least favorite thing about being a Senator? L.B. Mill Creek Elementary

Senator Murray: My favorite is meeting and talking with all kinds of people and working hard to solve problems other people say are impossible to solve—like the salmon crisis! My least favorite is having to go to "receptions" late at night when I would rather be home with my kids!

Question: Are you communicating to us right now from Seattle or Washington DC? FW, WA

Senator Murray: I am sitting at my desk in my office in Washington DC. I am watching what is happening on the floor of the Senate as I type my answers to you on a video monitor in my office. If a vote would occur right now I would have to run 3 blocks to the Senate floor and vote!

Comment: Hello Senator Murray from Rochester, New York... a couple of teachers

Comment: As I, Paul Christensen, teacher, am talking on line, a D.A.R.E. officer is teaching to my class. The program is terrific! Burley-Glenwood Elementary, Port Orchard, WA

Senator Murray: What I like best about D.A.R.E. are the people who teach it. They are great!

Comment: Yes, but what you want to be isn't always the way it works out. North Dakota State, Fargo ,ND

Question: Hi, we are Don Farris and Shayla Bailey from Mrs. Keller's 5th grade class. Mirror Lake Elementary in Federal Way, WA.

Question: From Kiel, WI: How long have you been a Senator?

Senator Murray: For almost two years. Before that I was in the State Senate for 4 years and before that I taught preschool for five years!

Question: Does our other Senator from WA ever hold on-line conferences? This is the second time Burley-Glenwood has been on-line with Sen. Murray. Does he not own a computer, or what?

Senator Murray: Guess what -- I am one of the ONLY senators in the whole United States Senate that is computer literate!

FeliciaEH: Scholastic hopes that other Senators will be joining us online throughout the year.

Question: Hi! We just want to welcome the Senator to our online community, Northshore School District in Bothell WA!!!

Senator Murray: Yah Bothell! I am a graduate of Bothell High and my parents live there now!

Question: Do think it would be a better idea to concentrate on getting a national health care policy for all the children of the US than the one that they are trying to now? Kris grade 8 FL (Homeschooled)

Senator Murray: Unfortunately Congress is not going to pass any health care this year. However, I agree it is so important that every child has access to quality health care and I will keep working to make that happen.

Question: Kiel, WI -- Do you think it is harder to be elected if you are a woman?

Senator Murray: I think being in public office for anyone right now is difficult because so many people are unhappy and want to yell at anyone they think is in charge. But I also think it is worth it to keep trying and that is why I do what I do.

Question: We, in Rochester, New York are wondering how you are using technology in Washington State schools. Jerry & Don, Teachers in Greece, New York

Senator Murray: I can tell you a lot of schools in Washington use technology, from using computers to having access to libraries and other schools. It is great and I think the way we need to go for all schools.

Question: Senator Murray, are Haiti and Somalia a waste of time and money or do they serve some purpose for the U.S.A.? Garrett

Senator Murray: I am always concerned when we send American troops to a country that is in such turmoil because of their safety as well as whether or not we can accomplish what we set out to do. I opposed sending troops to Haiti, but I am glad that so far the President seems to be making progress there and I hope it continues that way. It is always hard to watch anyone whose life is hard, like Somalia or Haiti.

Question: Did you visit Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Seattle? Shayla FW

Senator Murray: Yes, I have been there. Do you go there?

Question: Kiel, WI: Were you there when the plane crashed into the White House?

Senator Murray: I was in Washington DC, but did not see the crash. It was in the middle of the night and believe me it made all of us think about safety!

Question: Why do we have to go by what you think is important. What if people like myself don't agree, what can I do about it? Mark, Fargo ND

Senator Murray: No matter what decision I make there is someone who disagrees with me! In fact often my own two kids disagree with me and debate me every night at dinner. I think you should write your own Senators and tell them how you feel. You never know, you might make them think of something they never thought of before!

Question: Senator Murray, we appreciate your time on-line. Columbia Burbank, WA

Question: What committees are you on? Should budget requests be sent to the Senators who are on a specific committee or to the Senator from WA state? Burley-Glenwood, Port Orchard, WA

Senator Murray: I am on Appropriations (where we decide where money should be spent), Budget Committee (where we decide how much money we have to spend) and Banking (where we talk about safety and soundness of our banks where you and I keep our money!). If you have a specific budget request and you live in Washington, write me. If you live in another state write your Senator.

Question: Kiel, WI: What are your future plans for being a Senator?

Senator Murray: I have 4 more years before I am up for election. Then I will ask my voters whether or not they think I should continue to speak for them in the United States Senate!

Question: Kiel, WI -- How old are you?

Senator Murray: I am 43, but next week is my birthday!

Question: Kiel, WI -- Do you think there should be a death penalty?

Senator Murray: There is a death penalty in Washington State which I support, but I always believe we should do everything we can to prevent people from becoming so violent that they commit a crime that means they will get the death penalty.

Question: What do you think about Utah schools?

Senator Murray: I have never been to Utah, I hear it is beautiful!

Question:, we are glad that your children went through the D.A.R.E. program, but you did not answer the question about continued funding. Please respond. Burley-Glenwood, Port Orchard, WA

Senator Murray: The D.A.R.E. program is mostly funded by state and local money, and I always tell my own state legislator to keep it in the budget. There is also some money in the just passed crime bill that might possible help fund D.A.R.E.

Question: Why did the Congress react so negatively to "midnight basketball" in the crime bill? Why are our politicians so slow to understand that you'll never deter crime with more jails and cops, but by providing all Americans a chance for a decent life?

Senator Murray: There are a lot of legislators who believe that we just have to be tougher and it will send a message to people not to commit crimes. I believe we must also fund programs for our kids that give them a positive influence in their communities and midnight basketball is a great example.

Question: Is it fun being a Senator? From Mill Creek.

Senator Murray: I love being a Senator because I have the opportunity to speak on the floor of the United States Senate on issues like education, health care, environment, families. I hope all of you consider being a Senator one day because we need new ideas and people who care!

CSEmcee1: All good things must come to an end! Time has run out for this event! It has been a pleasure having you with us this afternoon, Senator!

Senator Murray: It has really been great talking to all of you. Thanks!

FeliciaEH: Thanks to Senator Patty Murray for joining us on Scholastic.com!

  • Subjects:
    Politics
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