Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) discussed her work in the Senate before a group of Century City business leaders at a luncheon sponsored by the Century City Chamber of Commerce.
"Today, I want to give you a brief report on what I'm doing in the U.S. Senate," Feinstein said in the talk that covered her work on the Senate Intelligence Committee of which she is the chair. She spoke about nuclear waste in the wake the earthquake in Japan and ended with the "800-pound gorilla" -- the nation's debt ceiling and proposed cuts.
Feinstein also spoke about the availability of federal funding for the Westside Subway Extension and other local topics. To read more, click here.
Feinstein also commented on Tuesday's earthquake in Washington, D.C., reassuring the audience that no one had been hurt in the 5.9 tremblor, even though her offices and the rest of the Hart Building (where the Senate offices are) were evacuated.
Throughout the talk, Feinstein encouraged bi-partisanship in the Senate, offering compliments to her committee colleagues Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
While expressing concerns about the current turmoil in the Middle East, including the recent disappearance of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Feinstein said that the answer to the question whether the U.S. is a safer place than before the September 11, 2001, attacks is an emphatic "Yes, we are."
She said that the nation's intelligence system has been streamlined so that agencies are effectively sharing intelligence.
"The finished intelligence is as solid as it can be," she said. "It's being put together better than it has been before."
Nonetheless, Feinstein said work needs to be done related to social networking because Facebook and Twitter have played such large roles in recent events in Egypt, as well as the current situation in Libya.
Feinstein also pointed out that Libyan rebels have gotten control over 80 to 90 percent of the country, but is concerned that new structures for the Libyan government need to be put into place for the country to stabilize.
The other issue that Feinstein is concerned about is the storing of nuclear waste "hot rods" in fuel pools next to the nuclear power plants.
"We need a thoughtful spent fuel policy for the nation," she said.
Her discussion of the federal budget and the cuts mandated by the recent debt ceiling agreement led to the one comment that raised applause from the audience.
"What's missing is any kind of revenue generation," she said about the plans to cut federal spending, adding that drastic cuts "would virtually incapacitate it all."
Feinstein insisted the government needs to raise more money.
"The well-to-do should not be excluded from paying their fair share," she said, raising the applause.