NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, April 9th, 2021

The wait is almost over: Northgate Link will make its debut on October 2nd, 2021

Sound Tran­sit’s long-antic­i­pat­ed North­gate Link light rail exten­sion is near­ing com­ple­tion and will be ready to accept rid­ers in a lit­tle less than six months, agency lead­ers announced dur­ing a brief cer­e­mo­ny this morning.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan at a Sound Transit media event

Seat­tle May­or Jen­ny Durkan address­es the media at the cer­e­mo­ny announc­ing the open­ing date of the North­gate Link exten­sion (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“With Northgate’s com­ple­tion, Sound Tran­sit will enter an excit­ing peri­od of open­ing major light exten­sions every year through 2024, near­ly tripling the region’s light rail sys­tem from twen­ty-two miles to six­ty-two miles,” said Sound Tran­sit Board Chair and Uni­ver­si­ty Place May­or Kent Keel.

“This drum­beat of progress will extend ser­vice to Tacoma’s Hill­top in 2022, East King Coun­ty in 2023 and Lyn­nwood and Fed­er­al Way in 2024. It will posi­tion us to keep build­ing to com­plete vot­er-approved exten­sions to Taco­ma, Everett, West Seat­tle, Bal­lard, DuPont and oth­er des­ti­na­tions across the region.”

Sound Tran­sit has set Octo­ber 2nd as the tar­get date for inau­gu­ra­tion of ser­vice. In keep­ing with agency tra­di­tion, that’s a Sat­ur­day. Every pre­vi­ous Link light rail sta­tion grand open­ing has also been on a Sat­ur­day. There are cur­rent­ly six­teen sta­tions in the sys­tem; when North­gate Link debuts, there will be nineteen.

The exist­ing sta­tions opened in 2009 and 2016:

  • July 18th, 2009: Tukwila/International Boule­vard, Rainier Beach, Oth­el­lo, Colum­bia City, Mount Bak­er, Bea­con Hill, SoDo, Sta­di­um, Inter­na­tion­al District/Chinatown, Pio­neer Square, Uni­ver­si­ty Street, West­lake (12 total)
  • Decem­ber 19th, 2009: SeaTac/Airport
  • March 19th, 2016: Capi­tol Hill, Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington
  • Sep­tem­ber 24th, 2016: Angle Lake

The three forth­com­ing North­gate Link sta­tions are:

  • U Dis­trict (at NE 45th Street and Brook­lyn Avenue NE)
  • Roo­sevelt (at NE 65th Street and 12th Avenue NE)
  • North­gate (1st Avenue NE and NE 103rd Street)

U Dis­trict and Roo­sevelt are under­ground sta­tions that feel like sub­way stops. Both have wide sets of non-emer­gency stairs that go all the way down to the plat­form, unlike Capi­tol Hill and Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, plus heav­ier duty “tran­sit grade” esca­la­tors that tol­er­ate wear and tear more gracefully.

North­gate, on the oth­er hand, is an ele­vat­ed sta­tion built over the streetscape along­side Inter­state 5, as you can see from this aer­i­al pho­to tak­en today:

Northgate Link Station from the air

The brand new North­gate Link light rail sta­tion, as seen from sev­er­al dozen meters above the ground (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“This mile­stone will trans­form com­mutes and com­mu­ni­ties, and fur­ther demon­strate the pow­er of light rail to whisk rid­ers to their des­ti­na­tions quick­ly, sus­tain­ably, and absolute­ly reli­ably,” said Sound Tran­sit Board Vice Chair and King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine. “King Coun­ty Metro Tran­sit will expand North­gate Link’s ben­e­fits by tying local bus routes with sta­tions, so thou­sands of com­muters can sim­ply skip the dai­ly Ship Canal Bridge bottleneck.”

Lib­er­at­ing peo­ple from I‑5 con­ges­tion was a key objec­tive of the 1996 Sound Move plan that sup­plied Sound Tran­sit its ini­tial fund­ing and project mandate.

The Sound Move plan called for a light rail line that would run from North­gate to SeaT­ac. As not­ed above, Sound Tran­sit was able to com­plete the south­ern seg­ments of the sys­tem over a decade ago, and even opened a new south­ern ter­mi­nus sev­er­al years ahead of sched­ule (Angle Lake).

Neigh­bor­hoods locat­ed to the north of the Ship Canal have wait­ed near­ly a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry for light rail to reach them and begin service.

But their extra­or­di­nary patience is about to be reward­ed at last.

Con­struc­tion on North­gate Link has gone smooth­ly, and Sound Tran­sit is in now a posi­tion to deliv­er the new sta­tions on the revised 2021 time­line it com­mit­ted to back when the North­gate Link exten­sion moved out of the design phase.

A test train at the new Northgate Link light rail station

A test train at Sound Tran­sit’s North­gate Link light rail sta­tion (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Just as impor­tant­ly, Sound Tran­sit con­trac­tors are hard at work con­struct­ing more sta­tions in three dif­fer­ent direc­tions, which means we won’t have to wait half a decade for addi­tion­al neigh­bor­hoods to land their service.

In 2023, the sys­tem will under­go a mas­sive expan­sion as crews fin­ish the build-outs of the Sound Tran­sit 2 exten­sions. It won’t be long before light rail will begin cross­ing Lake Wash­ing­ton and the Sno­homish Coun­ty line. Light rail will also soon extend sig­nif­i­cant­ly fur­ther south, almost to the Pierce Coun­ty line.

An addi­tion­al set of light rail exten­sions approved by vot­ers as a part of Sound Tran­sit 3 (2016) remain in the design phase. Ris­ing real estate costs, cou­pled with the pan­dem­ic, have thrown seri­ous wrench­es into the projects’ finances.

I asked Sound Tran­sit CEO Peter Rogoff whether the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s Amer­i­can Jobs Plan (also known more col­lo­qui­al­ly as the infra­struc­ture bill) could help those Sound Tran­sit 3 projects. Rogoff (for­mer­ly the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion’s Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tor) is hope­ful, as are ST boardmembers.

The North­gate Link exten­sion cost near­ly $2 bil­lion to con­struct, and was made pos­si­ble in part with a $615 mil­lion TIFIA line of cred­it. The project is expect­ed to wrap up under bud­get, Sound Tran­sit says.

As Exec­u­tive Con­stan­tine men­tioned, King Coun­ty Metro will make sig­nif­i­cant route changes in tan­dem with North­gate Link’s open­ing. Com­mu­ni­ty Tran­sit will do like­wise, under the lead­er­ship of its new CEO, ST alum Ric Ilgen­fritz. This will allow bus ser­vice in many neigh­bor­hoods to be fur­ther optimized.

The North­gate Sta­tion is a great exam­ple of a ful­ly mul­ti­modal facility.

It is adja­cent to Metro’s exist­ing North­gate bus hub, which has plen­ty of bus bays. It has a brand new park­ing garage steps away from the light rail plat­form and mez­za­nine. It will also have a beau­ti­ful pedes­tri­an and bike bridge that cross­es over Inter­state 5, link­ing the sta­tion to North Seat­tle College.

The bridge is under con­struc­tion now and should be fin­ished by Octo­ber 2nd.

NPI has cov­ered every sin­gle light rail sta­tion open­ing in Sound Tran­sit’s his­to­ry, and we look for­ward to report­ing on the open­ing of North­gate Link this fall.

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Biden administration to the rescue! OMB halts sale of National Archives’ Seattle campus

An obscure fed­er­al board­’s haughty effort to sell off and dis­man­tle the Nation­al Archives’ Seat­tle cam­pus has been halt­ed by the Biden admin­is­tra­tion, the White House­’s Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get announced today, in a deci­sion cheered by the Pacif­ic North­west­’s con­gres­sion­al delegation.

“I am writ­ing to with­draw OMB’s Jan­u­ary 24, 2020 approval of the sale of the Fed­er­al Archives and Records Cen­ter,” Act­ing OMB Direc­tor Sha­lan­da D. Young announced in a let­ter to the “Pub­lic Build­ings Reform Board”.

“Trib­al con­sul­ta­tion is a pri­or­i­ty for this Admin­is­tra­tion. [T]he process that led to the deci­sion to approve the sale of the Fed­er­al Archives and Records Cen­ter is con­trary to this Admin­is­tra­tion’s trib­al con­sul­ta­tion pol­i­cy, and I am accord­ing­ly with­draw­ing OMB’s approval of the sale of that facility.”

The let­ter added:

“Any effort to sell the Fed­er­al Archives and Records Cen­ter in the future, through any avail­able and appro­pri­ate author­i­ty, must com­ply with at least two sub­stan­tial require­ments. First, it must be pre­ced­ed by mean­ing­ful and robust trib­al con­sul­ta­tion, con­sis­tent with the Pres­i­den­t’s Jan­u­ary 26, 2021 Mem­o­ran­dum on Trib­al Con­sul­ta­tion. Sec­ond, it must pro­ceed through the appro­pri­ate admin­is­tra­tive process, based on a new fac­tu­al record, and must com­ply with the atten­dant sub­stan­tive and pro­ce­dur­al safe­guards of that process.”

The NARA Seat­tle cam­pus is an impor­tant resource for the Pacif­ic North­west. No amount of con­sul­ta­tion will ever jus­ti­fy its dis­man­tling. Before a fed­er­al judge (and now Biden’s OMB) inter­vened to stop this ill-con­ceived sale, NARA was going to move the con­tents of the facil­i­ty to Cal­i­for­nia and Missouri.

NARA’s Seat­tle cam­pus is aging, to be sure. But the solu­tion is not to demol­ish the build­ing and move the records. It’s to mod­ern­ize the facility.

Both of Wash­ing­ton’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors were quick to hail the decision.

Sen­a­tor Cantwell said:

“OMB, under the Biden admin­is­tra­tion, has come to its sens­es. It believes deny­ing a pop­u­la­tion access to its his­toric records is wrong. I’m glad they are going to con­tin­ue to allow Trib­al com­mu­ni­ties to access this impor­tant information.”

Sen­a­tor Mur­ray said:

“While this process nev­er should have begun in the first place with­out Trib­al and local con­sul­ta­tion, I’m glad that OMB has lis­tened to local Tribes and reversed their deci­sion to approve the sale of the Seat­tle Archive build­ing. I want to thank every­one who made their voice heard through­out this process, and be clear I will con­tin­ue work­ing to ensure the gen­er­a­tions of arti­facts and his­to­ry stored in the Seat­tle facil­i­ty will remain acces­si­ble to stake­hold­ers across the Pacif­ic Northwest.”

As allud­ed to above, the idea to sell NARA’s Seat­tle cam­pus came from the “Pub­lic Build­ings Reform Board”, a five per­son enti­ty that was cre­at­ed a few years ago by an act of Con­gress. The board did not both­er to seek pub­lic input pri­or to get­ting Trump’s OMB to sign off on the sale. An attor­ney for the board stat­ed last year that the board was “not required by statute to seek pub­lic input first.”

That kind of atti­tude is whol­ly incon­sis­tent with the val­ues the peo­ple of this coun­try expect their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, whether elect­ed or appoint­ed, to gov­ern by.

The “Pub­lic Build­ings Reform Board” should be abol­ished. An enti­ty that has no sense of prop­er pur­pose or account­abil­i­ty does­n’t deserve to exist. Pub­licly owned build­ings and pub­lic lands deserved to be treat­ed with care and rev­er­ence — they belong to the peo­ple of the coun­try and can­not be eas­i­ly reclaimed once sold off.

Con­gress must rec­og­nize that it made a mis­take in 2016 by set­ting up an unac­count­able board and charg­ing it with mak­ing weighty deci­sions about prop­er­ties like NARA’s Seat­tle cam­pus. This mis­take should be rec­ti­fied through bipar­ti­san leg­is­la­tion as soon as pos­si­ble. We hope the Pacif­ic North­west con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion will step up to lead that effort.

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Two Puget Sound bus rapid transit projects get a boost from the Biden administration

On Mon­day, the Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tion (FTA) announced it has approved four new grants for Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT) projects totalling $187 million.

Over half of the new grant dol­lars from the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion will be flow­ing straight to West­ern Wash­ing­ton for two projects: the Madi­son Val­ley RapidRide line in Seat­tle, and the Swift Orange Line in south­west Sno­homish County.

The Seat­tle project will receive $59.9 mil­lion in FTA Cap­i­tal Invest­ment Grants as part of its Small Starts pro­gram. The Orange Line will receive $37 million.

RapidRide Swift Feb 2014

A Com­mu­ni­ty Tran­sit Swift bus (left) and Metro RapidRide bus­es (right) are seen Feb­ru­ary 15, 2014 at the Auro­ra Vil­lage Tran­sit Cen­ter in Shore­line. (Image: Atom­ic Taco/Flickr)

A joint press release from Wash­ing­ton’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors, Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell, deliv­ered the wel­come news:

“My office has been work­ing close­ly with the Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tion and local tran­sit part­ners to secure these funds and I’m pleased to see those efforts come to fruition,” said Sen­a­tor Mur­ray. “These resources will reduce con­ges­tion, cre­ate jobs, and build more equi­table com­mu­ni­ties. Secur­ing fed­er­al dol­lars to help us invest in pub­lic tran­sit across Wash­ing­ton state will con­tin­ue to be a top pri­or­i­ty for me this Congress.”

Sen­a­tor Cantwell said: “The Madi­son bus rapid tran­sit line in Seat­tle will pro­vide fre­quent ser­vice along one of the city’s busiest tran­sit cor­ri­dors, with depar­tures every six min­utes at peak hours and con­nec­tions to Sound Tran­sit light rail and Wash­ing­ton State Fer­ries. And Com­mu­ni­ty Transit’s Swift Orange Line will improve bus trav­el times by 25% while con­nect­ing Edmonds, Lyn­nwood and Mill Creek com­muters with Sound Transit’s new light rail expansion.”

The release of fed­er­al funds should allow con­struc­tion on the RapidRide G Line in the Madi­son Val­ley to begin this year.

With 15,000–18,000 dai­ly rid­ers expect­ed, the 2.3‑mile long G Line is short but mighty. It will con­nect to the fer­ries at Col­man Dock, the Seat­tle Street­car, the 3rd Avenue bus cor­ri­dor, and Link light rail.

The Seat­tle Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion has a detailed syn­op­sis of the project here.

RapidRide G Line SDOT

The improve­ments need­ed along Seat­tle’s Madi­son Street to deliv­er Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT). (Pho­to: Seat­tle Dept. of Transportation)

Approx­i­mate­ly 45% of the pro­jec­t’s total cost will be cov­ered by this grant. The rest of the project will be cov­ered by levy funds and Sound Transit.

Issues with vehi­cle pro­cure­ment, fund­ing uncer­tain­ties from the pre­vi­ous fed­er­al admin­is­tra­tion, and admin­is­tra­tion issues have delayed the project since it was approved by vot­ers in 2015, as part of the Move Seat­tle levy.

But with new hybrid diesel-elec­tric bus­es secured, staffing issues resolved, and fund­ing now secure, the project is ready to exe­cute the grant and seek bids from con­trac­tors. If no fur­ther delays emerge, the G Line should begin ser­vice in 2024.

Fur­ther north in Sno­homish Coun­ty, $37 mil­lion has been set aside for the coun­ty’s third Swift bus rapid tran­sit line.

Swift Orange Line Map Jan 2021

The Swift Orange Line will con­nect Edmonds, Lyn­nwood, and Mill Creek. (Image: Com­mu­ni­ty Transit)

The Orange Line will serve Edmonds Col­lege, Alder­wood Mall, and Mill Creek Town Cen­ter, as well as major Park & Rides in the area.

At Lyn­nwood City Cen­ter, it will also con­nect to Link light rail, feed­ing com­muters onto high-capac­i­ty rail tran­sit south towards King County.

Bus rapid tran­sit is a pop­u­lar mode of mass tran­sit all over the world.

By des­ig­nat­ing lanes, entire road­ways, and sta­tions exclu­sive­ly for bus­es, BRT can reduce trav­el times for large num­bers of trav­el­ers on core routes.

BRT is not a sub­sti­tute for a rail spine, but it does nice­ly com­ple­ment a sys­tem like Link. In fact, Sound Tran­sit has its own bus rapid tran­sit sys­tem in devel­op­ment, called Stride, which will oper­ate along the I‑405 corridor.

King Coun­ty already has six RapidRide lines in ser­vice. Six more are planned to open in the next five years, includ­ing the G Line.

Com­mu­ni­ty Tran­sit’s Swift lines already con­nect Everett to Shore­line and Bothell.

Clark Coun­ty will start bus rapid tran­sit con­struc­tion in Mill Plain this year.

And Pierce Tran­sit is study­ing a BRT align­ment that could open in 2024.

Wash­ing­ton State has long been well posi­tioned to secure fed­er­al dol­lars for infra­struc­ture projects thanks to the influ­ence of its con­gres­sion­al delegation. 

Wash­ing­ton’s senior Unit­ed States Pat­ty Mur­ray is an influ­en­tial mem­ber of the Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, and her office played a sig­nif­i­cant role in bring­ing these fed­er­al dol­lars to Washington.

Wash­ing­ton’s junior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, mean­while, is the new Chair of the Sen­ate’s Com­mit­tee on Com­merce, Sci­ence, and Trans­porta­tion.

The sen­a­tors have worked togeth­er to advance many tran­sit-relat­ed ini­tia­tives, includ­ing a bill that would expand fed­er­al grants for projects near com­ple­tion, such as Sound Tran­sit’s Fed­er­al Way and Lyn­nwood Link extensions.

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

Happy Easter 2021!

Blossoms at Eastertide

Blos­soms on a tree branch dur­ing Holy Week, the most sacred week in the litur­gi­cal years of many Chris­t­ian faith tra­di­tions (Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

If you are observ­ing the East­er hol­i­day today, please accept best wish­es from all of us at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

East­er is the most sig­nif­i­cant holy day for Christianity’s many denom­i­na­tions, although not all of them are cel­e­brat­ing it today. Pas­sages like the fol­low­ing excerpt from the Gospel of John (20:1–9) are com­mon­ly read dur­ing East­er ser­vices and litur­gies as part of Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties’ obser­vance of the hol­i­day, as they are con­sid­ered author­i­ta­tive accounts of the East­er sto­ry by Christians.

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Mag­dala came to the tomb ear­ly in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the oth­er dis­ci­ple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have tak­en the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the oth­er dis­ci­ple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the oth­er dis­ci­ple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the bur­ial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the bur­ial cloths there,
and the cloth that had cov­ered his head,
not with the bur­ial cloths but rolled up in a sep­a­rate place.
Then the oth­er dis­ci­ple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet under­stand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Easter liturgical services from Seattle Christian churches

St. James (Catholic faith tradition)

St. Mark’s (Epis­co­pal faith tradition)

Geth­se­mane (Luther­an faith tradition)

First Free Methodist Church

Easter messages from elected leaders

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s com­ments to faith lead­ers on pro­mot­ing COVID-19 vaccines:

Pro­tect your broth­er and sis­ter. That’s what this is about. It’s about pro­tect­ing peo­ple. It’s a patri­ot­ic duty I think we have.

But they’re going to lis­ten to your words more than they are me as Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. When they’re in your sanc­tu­ar­ies, you can talk to them about what we have to do, what’s avail­able, and not to be fear­ful — not to be fear­ful get­ting the vaccine.

And I’ve said, I think it’s — I guess I should say and I’ll con­clude by say­ing: I think it’s more than a patri­ot­ic duty; I think it’s a moral duty. Put an end to the dark years behind us — a dark year — and do our part to spread the light in the spir­it of all hol­i­days of this spring season.

I want to thank you all for what you’re doing. I look for­ward to being able to get back into hous­es of wor­ship and vis­it like I have in the past and will hope to do again.

But, in the mean­time, God bless you all.

Thank you for look­ing out for your — our brethren.  And I think we can get this done. But thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Biden’s video East­er mes­sage is avail­able here.

(Unlike his pre­de­ces­sor, Joe Biden is a prac­tic­ing Chris­t­ian who attends church ser­vices every week and strives to live by the teach­ings of Jesus.)

Pre­mier John Horgan:

East­er is being cel­e­brat­ed by Chris­tians in British Colum­bia and around the world this weekend.

Dur­ing these chal­leng­ing times, we are remind­ed of the pow­er of love, humil­i­ty and self-sac­ri­fice as exem­pli­fied by the cru­ci­fix­ion and res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus Christ.

East­er is a time of joy and hope for Chris­tians — and there is much to be hope­ful for this spring. The fin­ish line is in sight, but we need to keep work­ing hard to pro­tect our loved ones and communities.

Many peo­ple will still be spend­ing this hol­i­day away from their fam­i­ly and friends, and I want to thank you for the sac­ri­fices you’ve made to help keep com­mu­ni­ties safe over the last year. The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has been incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult, but we can look for­ward to bet­ter days soon. To every­one cel­e­brat­ing East­er this week­end, I wish you a safe, blessed and joy­ful holiday.

Easter reads

Again, Hap­py Easter!

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (March 22nd-26th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, March 26th, 2021.

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

EXTENDING PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM: Vot­ing 92 for and sev­en against, the Sen­ate on March 25th gave final con­gres­sion­al approval to a bill (H.R. 1799) extend­ing from March 31st to May 31st the dead­line for small busi­ness­es to apply for COVID-19 res­cue funds under the Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Program.

Begun in March 2020, the PPP pro­vides firms with few­er than 500 employ­ees with for­giv­able loans for meet­ing pay­roll and cer­tain over­head costs includ­ing rent or mort­gage pay­ments. The loans are for­giv­en if recip­i­ents agree to not lay off work­ers and rehire those already dis­missed as a con­se­quence of Covid-19.

To date, the Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion has approved about eight mil­lion loans total­ing near­ly $704 bil­lion with $93 bil­lion yet to be allo­cat­ed, includ­ing $28.6 bil­lion ear­marked for restau­rants and addi­tion­al set-asides for minor­i­ty- and women-owned businesses.

Susan Collins, R‑Maine, called it “imper­a­tive that we act imme­di­ate­ly …because we are just days away from the PPP being closed” to new applications.

Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, object­ed to the bil­l’s $15 bil­lion in deficit spend­ing, say­ing: “In Wash­ing­ton, every day is a good day to spend money.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to Pres­i­dent Biden.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

DENYING AID TO CONVICTED RIOTERS: Vot­ing 48 for and 52 against, the Sen­ate on March 25th defeat­ed an amend­ment that sought to deny aid under H.R. 1799 (above) to any per­son con­vict­ed in the pre­ced­ing two years of a felony relat­ed to a riot at the Capi­tol or in U.S. cities.

John Kennedy, R‑Louisiana, said sen­a­tors “either approve of the riot­ing that hap­pened this sum­mer and at the Capi­tol or you don’t.”

Ben Cardin, D‑Maryland, said the amend­ment should be defeat­ed “for the sake of get­ting this bill to the president…so we can help our small businesses.”

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

MARTIN WALSH, SECRETARY OF LABOR: Vot­ing 68 for and 29 against, the Sen­ate on March 22nd con­firmed Mar­tin J. Walsh, fifty-three, the may­or of Boston, as sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of Labor, the first union mem­ber to head the depart­ment since 1977. Walsh had been pres­i­dent of Labor­ers Local 223 in Boston and head of the city’s Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Trades Council.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Vot­ing 57 for and 43 against, the Sen­ate on March 23 con­firmed Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, forty-four, as U.S. sur­geon gen­er­al, a post he once held under for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. An advis­er to Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden on COVID-19 issues fol­low­ing the Novem­ber elec­tion, Murthy has been a physi­cian at Brigham and Wom­en’s Hos­pi­tal in Boston.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

SHALANDA YOUNG, DEPUTY BUDGET DIRECTOR: Vot­ing 63–37, the Sen­ate on March 23rd con­firmed Sha­lan­da D. Young, a for­mer staff direc­tor of the House Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, as deputy direc­tor of the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get. She also is under con­sid­er­a­tion to be nom­i­nat­ed as OMB director.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

RACHEL LEVINE, ASSISTANT HEALTH SECRETARY: Vot­ing 52 for and 48 against, the Sen­ate on March 24 con­firmed Rachel L. Levine, six­ty-three, as assis­tant sec­re­tary for the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. She becomes the first open­ly trans­gen­der per­son to be con­firmed by the Senate.

Levine has been a pro­fes­sor of pedi­atrics and psy­chi­a­try at the Penn State Col­lege of Med­i­cine and was physi­cian gen­er­al for Penn­syl­va­nia from 2015 to 2017.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

LWIC will be on hiatus for two weeks

As is cus­tom­ary at East­er­time, Con­gress will be in recess for the next two weeks. Last Week In Con­gress will return in mid-April.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Thomas Vot­ing Reports. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2021 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II to speak at NPI’s 2021 Virtual Spring Gala

As of today, we’re just two weeks out from NPI’s thir­teenth Spring Fundrais­ing Gala, which will be held vir­tu­al­ly instead of in-per­son for the sec­ond time due to the nov­el coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. Although we won’t be able to gath­er in per­son in Ren­ton for our tra­di­tion­al ban­quet, we will still have an infor­ma­tive and inspir­ing pro­gram that you can watch from the com­fort of your couch at home.

Our team is hon­ored and delight­ed to announce this morn­ing that our 2021 Vir­tu­al Gala fea­tured speak­er will be Michi­gan’s Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Gar­lin Gilchrist II, an NPI staff alum who also worked for Barack Oba­ma’s cam­paign, MoveOn, and the Cen­ter For Com­mu­ni­ty Change pri­or to join­ing Gov­er­nor Gretchen Whit­mer’s tick­et in the 2018 midterm elections.

“Born and raised on the east side of Detroit, Gar­lin Gilchrist II start­ed his life with a love for com­put­ers and tech­nol­o­gy when his grand­moth­er bought him his first com­put­er when he was five years old,” Detroit’s CW50 explained in a pro­file of the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor that aired last month.

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II

Michi­gan Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Gar­lin Gilchrist II, one of NPI’s alumni

The pro­file goes on to say:

Gilchrist’s moth­er spent thir­ty-two years at Gen­er­al Motors, while his father had a thir­ty-two-year career at the Depart­ment of Defense. Both of ​his par­ents were involved in their com­mu­ni­ty, as the Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent of the neighborhood’s block club.

They sur­round­ed Gilchrist with activism, along with con­stant­ly watch­ing C‑SPAN or CNN. Gilchrist may have tak­en sev­er­al years of a dif­fer­ent career path before end­ing up in pol­i­tics, but he was raised in a fam­i­ly where com­mu­ni­ty involve­ment and car­ing about what was hap­pen­ing in the world was important.

While earn­ing a degree in engi­neer­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, Gilchrist had been offered to intern with Microsoft three times. Even­tu­al­ly he accept­ed a posi­tion with­in the tech com­pa­ny for four years. Dur­ing his time at Microsoft, he was part of the soft­ware engi­neer­ing team that devel­oped the pop­u­lar Microsoft ser­vice SharePoint.

It was while Gar­lin was work­ing at Microsoft and liv­ing here in the Pacif­ic North­west that he joined the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

Gar­lin was part of the NPI team from 2007 to 2009. While on staff, he helped launch the series In Brief, which lat­er was spun off as NPI’s microblog, and cham­pi­oned caus­es like net neu­tral­i­ty and uni­ver­sal broad­band. He also par­tic­i­pat­ed in NPI’s 2007 NWroots Con­fer­ence in Olympia as a speaker.

In a Feb­ru­ary 2008 blog post here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, Gar­lin laid out the case for mak­ing invest­ments to improve Wash­ing­ton State’s Inter­net speeds:

Con­sid­er­ing Washington’s rep­u­ta­tion as high tech state with so a sig­nif­i­cant ecom­merce pres­ence, it’s easy to assume that we’re at the fore­front of high-speed Inter­net availability.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that’s not the case: only half of Wash­ing­ton res­i­dents have access to broad­band Internet.

Our broad­band isn’t the fastest around, either.

We’re 18th in down­load speeds and a mere 38th upload speeds com­pared to oth­er states.

Improved avail­abil­i­ty of broad­band is impor­tant for num­ber of rea­sons. The Wash­ing­ton Alliance of Tech­nol­o­gy Work­ers and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Work­ers of Amer­i­ca (Washtech/CWA) point out that wide­spread high speed Inter­net access results in a stronger econ­o­my, bet­ter health & safe­ty ser­vices, and increased edu­ca­tion­al opportunities.

What is need­ed to increase the avail­abil­i­ty of broad­band Inter­net access is a firm com­mit­ment at the state and local lev­els to require equal access, which would ensure a robust tech­nol­o­gy sec­tor and cre­ate new oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth.

Those words ring just as true today as they did then.

Inci­den­tal­ly, things are look­ing up for broad­band in Wash­ing­ton State right now.

Fron­tier Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, which acquired Ver­i­zon’s assets in the North­west over a decade ago and then failed to con­tin­ue Ver­i­zon’s fiber build-out, is no longer one of the region’s ISPs. Fron­tier depart­ed the North­west last year after sell­ing its infra­struc­ture to new local own­er­ship, Ziply Fiber. Ziply, which is well cap­i­tal­ized, has resumed efforts to expand high speed Inter­net access in the Northwest.

And State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen has been work­ing on a bill to lift the restric­tions in state law that pre­vent pub­lic util­i­ties and local gov­ern­ments from offer­ing broad­band ser­vices to Wash­ing­to­ni­ans themselves.

House Bill 1336 won House approval last month and advanced to the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee yes­ter­day. It now awaits a floor vote in the Senate.

“We have learned a lot dur­ing the pan­dem­ic and one of the biggest lessons is that access to high-speed inter­net is essen­tial in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, but not every­one has that access. Tele­coms have had decades to build out fiber net­works but there are still regions in our state that are inter­net deserts or have very poor access. That’s inequitable and unac­cept­able,” Hansen said in Jan­u­ary.

“Let’s give our local pub­lic util­i­ties a chance to pro­vide this essen­tial ser­vice to peo­ple who need it to work, go to school, or attend a telemed­i­cine appointment.”

It can take years to lay the ground­work for leg­is­la­tion like HB 1336.

As a vet­er­an orga­niz­er and pro­gres­sive leader, Gar­lin Gilchrist II under­stands the impor­tance of per­se­ver­ance and per­sis­tence. Set­backs and loss­es are inevitable in the elec­toral and leg­isla­tive are­nas. But when we learn from our set­backs and loss­es — and build on those expe­ri­ences — we can set the stage for big wins.

Gar­lin’s own sto­ry shows us this.

After mov­ing back to Michi­gan a few years ago, Gar­lin ran for Detroit City Clark. He did­n’t win, but his cam­paign paved the way for his selec­tion as Gretchen Whit­mer’s run­ning mate in the 2018 midterms.

Today, he’s the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of Michigan.

We are proud of all that he’s accom­plished, and delight­ed to wel­come him to the vir­tu­al stage at our Spring Fundrais­ing Gala next month as our fea­tured speaker.

We hope you can join us on April 10th to hear from Garlin.

Get tick­ets for NPI’s 2021 Vir­tu­al Spring Gala

As in past years, we have three types of tick­ets avail­able: Indi­vid­ual, House­hold, and Liv­ing Light­ly. Indi­vid­ual admits one per­son, house­hold admits a fam­i­ly, and Liv­ing Light­ly admits a stu­dent or activist on a lim­it­ed income.

Please note that the Vir­tu­al Gala will not be pub­licly livestreamed. To par­tic­i­pate, you must have a gala tick­et. Pro­ceeds from tick­et sales will be invest­ed into NPI’s research polling, so when you secure your spot at the event, you’re help­ing to ensure NPI can con­tin­ue mea­sur­ing sup­port for pro­gres­sive ideas like just cause evic­tion or a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy.

If you have ques­tions, please use our con­tact form to get in touch.

Thanks for your sup­port of NPI’s work, it’s deeply appreciated.

We hope to see you — vir­tu­al­ly! — next month.

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Meet the 2021 Seattle mayoral candidates: Councilmember Lorena González

In Decem­ber 2020, Seat­tle May­or Jen­ny Durkan announced that she would not be seek­ing a sec­ond term, upend­ing expec­ta­tions for the 2021 may­oral elec­tion. Durkan’s deci­sion came after a year in which Seat­tle was an ear­ly epi­cen­ter of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, and racial jus­tice protests rocked the city for months.

Both of these fac­tors strained the Mayor’s rela­tion­ships with her con­stituents and oth­er elect­ed city lead­ers to a break­ing point.

Durkan (a for­mer non­prof­it leader and U.S. Attor­ney) has pol­i­tics in her blood: her father was a state law­mak­er, two-time can­di­date for gov­er­nor, and one of the state’s most influ­en­tial lob­by­ists. By con­trast, one of the lead­ing can­di­dates to replace her grew up in one of the state’s most mar­gin­al­ized communities.

Coun­cil­member Lore­na Gon­za­lez grew up in a fam­i­ly of undoc­u­ment­ed Mex­i­can migrant labor­ers, migrat­ing from farm to farm in the Yaki­ma Valley.

As ear­ly as the age of eight, Gon­zá­lez was work­ing along­side her par­ents and sib­lings in fields and orchards. She was deter­mined to escape her family’s pre­car­i­ty, though, and worked her way up through com­mu­ni­ty col­lege and law school, earn­ing a Juris Doc­tor degree in 2005.

For the next decade, Gon­zá­lez made her name as a civ­il rights attor­ney, gar­ner­ing par­tic­u­lar atten­tion for her will­ing­ness to take on abus­es by police officers.

In 2014, her legal rep­u­ta­tion earned her a spot as a legal advi­sor for then-May­or Ed Mur­ray. From her posi­tion at the heart of city pol­i­tics, Gon­zá­lez mount­ed a suc­cess­ful run for the city coun­cil in 2015, becom­ing the body’s first Lati­na mem­ber. She was re-elec­t­ed in 2017, and became City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent in ear­ly 2020.

Lorena Gonzalez's swearing-in

Lore­na González is sworn in as a mem­ber of the Seat­tle City Coun­cil in ear­ly 2018 (Pho­to: Kevin Schofield, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

As a child, Gon­zá­lez trans­lat­ed for her par­ents as they nego­ti­at­ed bet­ter wages with farm-own­ers. As an adult, she has­n’t had a prob­lem stand­ing up to pow­er­ful fig­ures. In 2017, she became the first mem­ber of the Coun­cil to call for the res­ig­na­tion of May­or Ed Mur­ray (her old boss) over child abuse alle­ga­tions, stick­ing to her guns even though it took months for the rest of the Coun­cil to join her. The fol­low­ing year, she was on the front lines of a pro­tract­ed bat­tle over a cor­po­rate “head tax” that ulti­mate­ly end­ed up being repealed.

Dur­ing the year­long cri­sis that was 2020, Coun­cil­member Gon­zá­lez had ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to shine. As Coun­cil Pres­i­dent, with a decade of civ­il rights lit­i­ga­tion under her belt, she was per­fect­ly posi­tioned to lead the Council’s response to protests sparked by the mur­der of George Floyd, and the sub­se­quent vio­lence met­ed out on pro­test­ers by Seat­tle PD.

As May­or Durkan’s admin­is­tra­tion dithered, Gon­zá­lez and her allies on the Coun­cil imple­ment­ed sweep­ing reforms to the police force, includ­ing a 20% bud­get cut.

On the oth­er big issues fac­ing Seat­tle, Gon­zá­lez is staunch­ly pro­gres­sive.

End­ing home­less­ness is, not sur­pris­ing­ly, one of her biggest priorities.

As a Coun­cilmem­ber, Gon­zá­lez pro­mot­ed afford­able hous­ing invest­ment and part­ner­ships with neigh­bor­hood busi­ness­es to help tack­le the problem.

She has crit­i­cized the cur­rent may­oral administration’s slow­ness to use Coun­­cil-allo­­cat­ed resources to help home­less peo­ple, and promis­es to quick­ly use avail­able resources, fol­low­ing a hous­ing-first strategy.

One of the next mayor’s first jobs will be to pick a new police chief for the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment. Gon­zá­lez has promised to pick a can­di­date who is com­mit­ted “at their core” to reform­ing the cul­ture of the department.

Gon­zález is like­ly to go fur­ther than reform – she is one of the city’s biggest pro­po­nents for a total over­haul of the pub­lic safe­ty sys­tem, mov­ing mon­ey out of police bud­gets and towards pre­ven­ta­tive and care-focused programs.

Gon­zá­lez also has a strong record as a work­ers’ advo­cate (going back to her child­hood with migrant work­ers) that she would like­ly bring to the may­or’s office.

In Feb­ru­ary, the City Coun­cil passed a haz­ard pay ord­nance for gro­cery work­ers. Gon­zá­lez staunch­ly defend­ed the mea­sure against crit­i­cism from the Wash­ing­ton Food Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion and the North­west Gro­cery Asso­ci­a­tion, say­ing the deci­sion was “not only the right thing to do, but also good for business.”

The city coun­cil’s posi­tion was but­tressed by a U.S. fed­er­al judge last week in an impor­tant ear­ly legal vic­to­ry for the city over the ordi­nance’s validity.

Although it is too ear­ly in the year for a full pic­ture of the may­oral race to emerge, Lore­na Gon­zá­lez is undoubt­ed­ly one of the best-posi­­tioned candidates.

As City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent, she already has a high pub­lic pro­file and (thanks to the Council’s fast reac­tions to the pan­dem­ic and protests against sys­temic racism) is seen as respon­sive to Seattleites.

She is the only can­di­date so far to have already won a city-wide elec­tion, win­ning for her cur­rent at-large seat on the City Coun­cil by over 70% in 2017.

Her fundrais­ing num­bers are also solid.

Although she lags behind home­less­ness advo­cate Colleen Echohawk by a lit­tle under $7,000. González’s team will soon com­plete the qual­i­fy­ing process to redeem over 3,000 democ­ra­cy vouch­ers that have been gift­ed to her campaign.

The Top Two elec­tion will be held on August 3rd; the top two can­di­dates will pro­ceed to the gen­er­al elec­tion runoff on Novem­ber 2nd.

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

Book Review: In the U.S., the desire to “Break It Up” is more American than America itself

When you hear some­one make the argu­ment that the Amer­i­can Civ­il War was real­ly about states’ rights, it’s pru­dent to ask them the fol­low-up ques­tion, “states’ rights to do what?” This is not an unan­swer­able ques­tion. For exam­ple, “the great state of Texas” told us so quite explic­it­ly in their seces­sion doc­u­ment:

We hold as unde­ni­able truths that the gov­ern­ments of the var­i­ous States, and of the con­fed­er­a­cy itself, were estab­lished exclu­sive­ly by the white race, for them­selves and their pos­ter­i­ty; that the African race had no agency in their estab­lish­ment; that they were right­ful­ly held and regard­ed as an infe­ri­or and depen­dent race, and in that con­di­tion only could their exis­tence in this coun­try be ren­dered ben­e­fi­cial or tolerable.

That in this free gov­ern­ment all white men are and of right ought to be enti­tled to equal civ­il and polit­i­cal rights; that the servi­tude of the African race, as exist­ing in these States, is mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial to both bond and free, and is abun­dant­ly autho­rized and jus­ti­fied by the expe­ri­ence of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Cre­ator, as rec­og­nized by all Chris­t­ian nations; while the destruc­tion of the exist­ing rela­tions between the two races, as advo­cat­ed by our sec­tion­al ene­mies, would bring inevitable calami­ties upon both and des­o­la­tion upon the fif­teen slave-hold­ing states.

But what about a states’ right to abol­ish slav­ery or peo­ple not be pressed into ser­vice as a fugi­­tive-slave catch­er? To legal­ize cannabis or decrim­i­nal­ize hal­lu­cino­genic mush­rooms? What about the right to have sanc­tu­ary cities?

Sure­ly the “to do what?” is a crit­i­cal ques­tion to answer about states’ right, just as there is no neu­tral prin­ci­ple in any aspect of politics.

Jour­nal­ist Richard Kre­it­ner’s book Break It Up traces the his­to­ry of sep­a­ratist move­ments in what had or would become “the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca”, look­ing not just at his­to­ry as it hap­pened but move­ments that just as eas­i­ly might have hap­pened and become our his­to­ry instead.

Kre­it­ner began writ­ing the book, sub­ti­tled “Seces­sion, Divi­sion, and the Secret His­to­ry of Amer­i­ca’s Imper­fect Union”, in the spring of 2015, but since its release in the fall of 2020, it’s only become more relevant.

The his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States par­tic­u­lar­ly fol­low­ing the Civ­il War has made us believe it’s nat­ur­al to say “the Unit­ed States is” when we could have just as eas­i­ly con­tin­ued to say “the Unit­ed States are” or even “the Amer­i­can nations” when speak­ing of the same geo­graph­i­cal territory.

Break It Up book cover

Break It Up: Seces­sion, Divi­sion, and the Secret His­to­ry of Amer­i­ca’s Imper­fect Union, by Richard Kre­it­ner (Hard­cov­er, Lit­tle Brown & Company)

If you are already some­what knowl­edge­able about U.S. his­to­ry, much of the mate­r­i­al cov­ered won’t be a surprise.

The ear­ly saber-rat­tling of South Car­oli­na over tar­iff issues, abo­li­tion­ists like William Lloyd Gar­ri­son agree­ing with slavers about the inher­ent pro­tec­tions of slav­ery grant­ed by the Con­sti­tu­tion, the move­ment for a sep­a­rate peace with Britain in the War of 1812, and Aaron Bur­r’s plot to cre­ate a new nation west of the Appalachi­ans and uti­liz­ing the Mis­sis­sip­pi riv­er sys­tem for its exports are not exact­ly secrets.

The Cal­i­for­nia and Texas republics are prac­ti­cal­ly part of state lore.

But all of these things read dif­fer­ent­ly when placed in a his­tor­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity of union and dis­union, where a war between states might have hap­pened at any time, not just 1861, and for rea­sons oth­er than the defense of chat­tel slav­ery, although that remained the sin­gu­lar divid­ing issue for almost a century.

It’s a reminder that there are much more inter­est­ing coun­ter­fac­tu­als and alter­nate his­to­ries to con­sid­er than, “What if the Con­fed­er­a­cy won the war?”

Like­wise, although Break It Up came out pri­or to the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol, it is much less shock­ing when looked at in the con­text of a per­sis­tent spir­it of dis­union and polit­i­cal vio­lence to that end. 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lau­ren Boe­bert is not the first leg­is­la­tor to bring a hand­gun into the Capi­tol; Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lau­rence Keitt had his own to hold oth­er leg­is­la­tors at bay while Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pre­ston Brooks beat Sen­a­tor Charles Sum­n­er near to death in 1856. Ear­li­er, Robert E. Lee’s own father, Hen­ry Lee III even­tu­al­ly died from wounds suf­fered defend­ing a news­pa­per attacked by a vio­lent mob in Bal­ti­more due to the news­pa­per’s oppo­si­tion to the War of 1812.

“Tar­ring and feath­er­ing” or “run out of town on a rail” is spo­ken of casu­al­ly in pub­lic edu­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum rather than as the tor­ture and polit­i­cal vio­lence it was. And of course, the white suprema­cist vio­lence resist­ing and rolling back Recon­struc­tion involved many coups and attempt­ed coups.

Lead­ing up to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and even after­ward, I expect­ed much more polit­i­cal vio­lence than we got. It’s pos­si­ble that QAnon paci­fied many into think­ing that every­thing was still going accord­ing to plan, there­fore they did­n’t need to do any­thing more than post online. But as bad as Jan­u­ary 6th was, and as accu­rate as “insur­rec­tion” may be, it’s also crit­i­cal to not fall back on pure­ly legal­is­tic argu­ments as we attempt to talk about or denounce it.

Colonel Robert E. Lee is not an inap­pro­pri­ate man to ven­er­ate with stat­ues or high school names because he was a trai­tor and a los­er; it’s inap­pro­pri­ate because he was a human and child traf­fick­er who tor­tured peo­ple for prof­it and fought a war in defense of flesh-mon­ger­ing. But this eval­u­a­tion forces us to ask oth­er ques­tions. Thomas Jef­fer­son­’s rebel­lion was suc­cess­ful, but he, too, traf­ficked chil­dren as a way to main­tain dis­ci­pline among his enslaved labor­ers and tor­tured chil­dren to incen­tivize them to work hard­er.

There is no val­ue-neu­­tral way to talk about seces­sion, insur­rec­tion, or trea­son; “to do what?” is just as impor­tant a ques­tion as with “states’ rights.”

For all that it does well, there are two areas where the book ends up feel­ing lack­ing. The first is very niche and won’t be impor­tant to most peo­ple: the cita­tions are not marked out in the text and when try­ing to find the notes in the back of the book, they are not num­bered, either.

If this is part of some schol­ar­ly tra­di­tion, I’m not aware of it, and it makes fol­low­ing up on some of the quo­ta­tions and anec­dotes more dif­fi­cult, which is a shame because this book oth­er­wise is a good jump­ing-off point for more detailed reading.

The sec­ond com­plaint is more sub­stan­tial in the sense that it cov­ers Black nation­al­ism very lit­tle and Indige­nous sov­er­eign­ty not at all.

Some of the sep­a­ratist move­ments dis­cussed in the book seem to have very lit­tle chance of ever suc­ceed­ing and are includ­ed more to reflect that that ten­den­cy still exist­ed, such as the Sage­brush Rebellion.

But, up until the moment the U.S. decid­ed to turn its post­bel­lum war machine on the Plains Indi­ans, there still remained the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Indige­nous peo­ple would retain some ances­tral ter­ri­to­ry and have true sov­er­eign­ty of their own.

Of all the coun­ter­fac­tu­als pre­sent­ed in the book, the absence of that vision of the con­ti­nent is notice­able. When Kre­it­ner men­tions the Repub­lic of New Afri­ka of the late 1960s, draw­ing some con­ti­nu­ity with the idea for a Black South­ern repub­lic formed of the for­mer Con­fed­er­a­cy that was pro­posed in the 1860s, that sort of imag­i­na­tion is quite pow­er­ful and con­tin­ues to influ­ence the present.

To reit­er­ate, the book large­ly suc­ceeds in its what it sets out to do: exam­in­ing inher­ent and per­va­sive dishar­mo­ny of set­tler nation­al­ism in what is now the U.S.

But one final take­away, par­tic­u­lar­ly from the final two chap­ters that look at how the FBI’s COINTELPRO crushed Black, Chi­cano, and Puer­to Rican nation­al­ist move­ments, among oth­ers: when the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment claims that it needs more anti-domes­tic ter­ror­ism pow­ers in order to address specif­i­cal­ly white nation­al­ist and oth­er fas­cist move­ments like those that con­tributed to the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion, remem­ber that no such addi­tion­al pow­ers have ever been nec­es­sary when they have been infil­trat­ing, dis­rupt­ing, and arrest­ing mem­bers of move­ments they actu­al­ly view as a threat.

As long as peo­ple like U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Paul Gosar and Sen­a­tor Josh Haw­ley con­tin­ue to have sway in the Repub­li­can Par­ty, the call will always be com­ing from inside the House (and the Senate).

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (March 15th-19th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, March 19th, 2021.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

REMOVING EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT DEADLINE: Vot­ing 222 for and 204 against, the House on March 17th adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion (H.J. Res 17) that would remove June 30th, 1982, as the dead­line for states to rat­i­fy the Equal Rights Amend­ment. When Con­gress sent the ERA to the states in 1972, it set a 1979 dead­line that it lat­er moved to 1982. As many as thir­ty-eight states have vot­ed for rat­i­fi­ca­tion. But five rescind­ed their approval and Vir­gini­a’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion last year is under­cut by a Depart­ment of Jus­tice rul­ing that the 1982 dead­line must be obeyed. The ERA states: “Equal­i­ty of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the Unit­ed States or by any State on account of sex.”

Judy Chu, D‑California, said: “It was not an acci­dent that women were left out of the Con­sti­tu­tion. The founders very much believed us to be unequal, and as such, we could not own prop­er­ty, vote, hold cer­tain jobs or even serve on a jury… This is our chance to fix [that] by doing what they refused to do — assert in the Con­sti­tu­tion that women, too, have rights. The ERA will not end dis­crim­i­na­tion, but it will empow­er us to fight it in court.”

Michelle Fis­chbach, R‑Minnesota, said men and women “are already equal under law. The Fifth and Four­teenth Amend­ments to the Con­sti­tu­tion require as much, guar­an­tee­ing equal pro­tec­tion for all under the laws of this coun­try. To me, the ERA is unnec­es­sary, redun­dant and divi­sive. The only thing it will do is empow­er the far left­’s spe­cial inter­est groups to [pur­sue] activist litigation.…”

A yes vote was to send the res­o­lu­tion to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

RENEWING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: Vot­ing 244 for and 172 against, the House on March 17th approved a five-year exten­sion of the 1994 Vio­lence Against Women Act, which uses fed­er­al grants and laws to reduce crimes direct­ed pri­mar­i­ly at women. In part, the bill (H.R. 1620) would:

  • pro­hib­it per­sons con­vict­ed of domes­tic abuse, mis­de­meanor stalk­ing or dat­ing vio­lence from pos­sess­ing firearms;
  • ensure that those los­ing work because of domes­tic vio­lence qual­i­fy for unem­ploy­ment benefits;
  • require shel­ters to admit trans­gen­der individuals;
  • strength­en trib­al juris­dic­tion over out­siders charged with com­mit­ting crimes on reservations;
  • improve the care of chil­dren exposed to domes­tic violence;
  • expand rape pre­ven­tion and edu­ca­tion programs;
  • and step up efforts to address sex­u­al vio­lence on campuses.

Lucy McBath, D‑Georgia, said domes­tic vio­lence is “espe­cial­ly dead­ly when it occurs in the house­hold with a gun… Clos­ing the ‘boyfriend loop­hole’ is a crit­i­cal step to pre­vent abusers from obtain­ing a weapon that will like­ly be used to esca­late abuse…”

Michelle Fis­chbach, R‑Minnesota, said the bill would “force wom­en’s domes­tic-vio­lence shel­ters to take in men who iden­ti­fy as women, strip away pro­tec­tions for reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions and elim­i­nate Sec­ond Amend­ment rights with­out due process.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of IdahoVot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 12 aye votes, 5 nay votes

PROTECTING DREAMERS, OTHER IMMIGRANTS: Vot­ing 228 for and 197 against, the House on March 18th passed a bill (H.R. 6) that would grant per­ma­nent legal sta­tus and a path to cit­i­zen­ship to as many as 2.1 mil­lion “dream­ers” who were brought ille­gal­ly to the Unit­ed States as chil­dren and face poten­tial depor­ta­tion. The bill would grant relief to dream­ers who were younger than eigh­teen when they entered the Unit­ed States and meet oth­er qualifications.

In addi­tion, the bill would pro­vide the same depor­ta­tion pro­tec­tion and cit­i­zen­ship path to hun­dreds of thou­sands of aliens now the Unit­ed States under a human­i­tar­i­an pro­gram known as Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Status.

Zoe Lof­gren, D‑California, said the bill allows Dream­ers “to get right with the law… and go on and become the full Amer­i­cans that they are except for their paperwork.”

Bud­dy Carter, R‑Georgia, said the bill “does noth­ing to solve the prob­lem” of a human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis on the south­ern bor­der and even encour­ages more ille­gal immigration.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (8): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 12 aye votes, 5 nay votes

REJECTING REPUBLICAN AMENDMENT TARGETING IMMIGRANT GANG MEMBERS: Vot­ing 203 for and 216 against, the House on March 18th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can motion that sought to pre­vent mem­bers of crim­i­nal gangs from using a law designed to pro­tect dream­ers (H.R. 6, above) as a sub­terfuge for acquir­ing legal sta­tus. Democ­rats said the bill already has safe­guards to pro­hib­it undoc­u­ment­ed peo­ple who are a threat to nation­al secu­ri­ty, includ­ing gang mem­bers, from obtain­ing green cards and path to citizenship.

A yes vote was to adopt the motion.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes, 11 nay votes

OVERHAULING FARM-WORKER VISAS: Vot­ing 247 for and 174 against, the House on March 18th passed a bill (H.R. 1603) that would over­haul the H‑2A visa pro­gram, which admits undoc­u­ment­ed migrants for tem­po­rary U.S. agri­cul­tur­al jobs the domes­tic work­force is unable or unwill­ing to fill.

Over time, the bill could enable hun­dreds of thou­sands of these work­ers to apply for legal res­i­den­cy for them­selves, spous­es and minor children.

In addi­tion to meet­ing labor short­ages, the bill would estab­lish a manda­to­ry fed­er­al E‑Verify sys­tem by which agri­cul­tur­al employ­ers could deter­mine work­ers’ immi­gra­tion status.

Under the bill, undoc­u­ment­ed migrants employed in U.S. farm work (includ­ing at dairies) for at least one hun­dred and eighty days over the two pre­ced­ing years would qual­i­fy for Cer­ti­fied Agri­cul­tur­al Work­er sta­tus, which they could con­tin­u­al­ly renew by work­ing at least one hun­dred days annu­al­ly in farm jobs.

In addi­tion, undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants (and spous­es and minor chil­dren) employed in U.S. agri­cul­ture before the law takes effect would qual­i­fy to pur­sue legal sta­tus. All appli­cants would have to clear sev­er­al hur­dles includ­ing crim­i­nal and nation­al-secu­ri­ty back­ground checks.

The Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Dan New­house, R‑Washington, who rep­re­sents Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, said the bill a cre­ates a “mer­it-based pro­gram for for­eign work­ers to legal­ly work in agri­cul­ture, elim­i­nat­ing incen­tives for ille­gal migra­tion and strength­en­ing both our nation­al secu­ri­ty and our nation­al food sup­ply chain.”

Tom McClin­tock, R‑California, said “this cer­tain­ly is an amnesty bill” because “it says if you’re here ille­gal­ly and you have a friend vouch for you and you worked 2,000 hours in agri­cul­ture — the equiv­a­lent of thir­teen forty hour weeks — you get legal status.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of IdahoVot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 16 aye votes, 1 nay vote

APPROVING MEDALS FOR CAPITOL POLICE: The House on March 17th vot­ed, 413 for and 12 against, to award three Con­gres­sion­al Gold Medals in hon­or of U.S. Capi­tol and Dis­trict of Colum­bia police who defend­ed the Capi­tol against an armed insur­rec­tion on Jan­u­ary 6. Those vot­ing against the bill (HR 1085) were Repub­li­cans Andy Big­gs of Ari­zona; Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube of Flori­da; Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene and Andrew Clyde of Geor­gia; Thomas Massie of Ken­tucky; Andy Har­ris of Mary­land; John Rose of Ten­nessee; Bob Good of Vir­ginia; and Louie Gohmert, Michael Cloud and Lance Good­en of Texas.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of IdahoVot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher
The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 aye votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

CONFIRMING DEB HAALAND AS INTERIOR SECRETARY: The Sen­ate on March 15th con­firmed, 51–40, Deb Haa­land, D‑New Mex­i­co, as sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or. Haa­land, six­ty, is the first native Amer­i­can appoint­ed to a Cab­i­net posi­tion, and in 2018, she and Sharice Davids, D‑Kansas, became the first Native Amer­i­can women elect­ed to Con­gress. A mem­ber of the Lagu­na Pueblo Nation, she iden­ti­fies her­self as a thir­ty-fifth-gen­er­a­tion New Mexican.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING XAVIER BECERRA AS HEALTH SECRETARY: Vot­ing 50 for and 49 against, the Sen­ate on March 18th con­firmed Xavier Becer­ra, the attor­ney gen­er­al of Cal­i­for­nia, as sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, the first Lati­no to hold that posi­tion. Becer­ra, six­ty-two, was a Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gress­man from Cal­i­for­nia between 1993–2018.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING ISABEL GUZMAN AS SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATOR: Vot­ing 81 for and 17 against, the Sen­ate on March 16th con­firmed Isabel C. Guz­man, forty-nine, as admin­is­tra­tor of the Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion (SBS). She was a top offi­cial at the SBA dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and worked most recent­ly as direc­tor of the Office of the Small Busi­ness Advo­cate in Cal­i­for­nia. A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will vote on Biden admin­is­tra­tion nom­i­nees dur­ing the week of March 22nd, while the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be in recess.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Thomas Vot­ing Reports. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2021 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

The American Rescue Plan: An opportunity to scrap Reaganomics and government bashing

As Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris hit the road to explain and sell Amer­i­cans on ben­e­fits of the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress are tout­ing their con­tri­bu­tions to a sweep­ing pack­age of social and eco­nom­ic relief that they unan­i­mous­ly opposed.

They are attempt­ing a reprise of 2009, when Repub­li­cans suc­ceed­ed in hold­ing down the size of Pres­i­dent Obama’s Amer­i­can Recov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act, vot­ed against it any­way, but then claimed cred­it for projects sprout­ing in their dis­tricts. An aloof­ness from nit­ty grit­ty pol­i­tics kept Oba­ma from the sort of retail events being held this week by Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Harris.

We begin with a tweet from Alaska’s Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki, up for reelec­tion next year, who was snubbed by Alas­ka Repub­li­can vot­ers in the 2010 pri­ma­ry, only to be returned to the Sen­ate as a write-in candidate:

“There are good and nec­es­sary things in the (Res­cue) bill that I was able to shape and influ­ence. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Democ­rats final prod­uct went far beyond relief.”

An astute strat­e­gy: The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan pro­vides $31.2 bil­lion in aid for America’s trib­al gov­ern­ments and native com­mu­ni­ties. The native pop­u­la­tion accounts for near­ly twen­ty per­cent of the vote in Alas­ka. Giv­en the vast­ness of the Last Fron­tier, the Biden pro­gram has tan­gi­ble help, such as $140 mil­lion for infor­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies, tele­health and elec­tron­ic health records infrastructure.

The sheer gall award belongs to Sen. Roger Wick­er, R‑Mississippi, a nay vote from a very needy state. He took note that the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan pro­vides for $28.6 bil­lion in aid to the nation’s restau­rants. “Inde­pen­dent restau­rant oper­a­tors have won $28.6 bil­lion worth of tar­get­ed relief,” Wick­er tweeted.

“This fund­ing will ensure small busi­ness­es can sur­vive the pan­dem­ic by help­ing to adapt their oper­a­tions and keep their employ­ees on the payroll.”

He vot­ed nay but has con­trived to claim credit.

Wick­er and Sen­a­tor Krys­ten Sine­ma, D‑Arizona, did pro­pose a restau­rant fund­ing amend­ment that, not­ing its spon­sors, had sup­port in both parties.

Wick­er was left wig­gling, dis­miss­ing a reporter’s “stu­pid ques­tion” on whether he was try­ing to take cred­it for Biden’s res­cue plan.

“One good pro­vi­sion in a $1.9 tril­lion bill doesn’t mean I have to vote for the whole thing,” Wick­er argued. He is no stranger to the tac­tic, hav­ing spiked the foot­ball at the U.S. Coast Guard build­ing a new polar ice­break­er at a Mis­sis­sip­pi ship­yard. No mind that Sen­a­tors Murkows­ki and Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, pushed hard for the authorization.

The Repub­li­cans are in a bind. The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan pro­vides urgent­ly need COVID-19 pan­dem­ic relief, and with the child tax cred­it takes strides toward halv­ing child pover­ty in Amer­i­ca. Polls have shown it with two-thirds sup­port among Amer­i­cans, and even backed by much of the Repub­li­can base.

With the Recov­ery Act in 2009, Think Progress count­ed one hun­dred and four­teen Repub­li­cans who tout­ed ben­e­fits of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion recov­ery plan while vot­ing against it. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Yarmuth, D‑Kentucky, House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair, told col­leagues last week that “what we are all con­cerned about on our side is that Repub­li­cans are all going to vote against this, and then they’re going to show up at every rib­bon cut­ting, and at every project fund­ed out of this bill, and they’re going to pump up their chests and take cred­it for all of these great ben­e­fits that are com­ing to their citizens.”

Two big “shov­el ready” projects in this state were ready for the Oba­ma Recov­ery Act: the cleanup of nuclear waste at Han­ford and removal of the old, fish killing Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha Riv­er in Olympic Nation­al Park.

Then-Rep. Doc Hast­ings, R‑Washington, con­jured up the image as Hanford’s bring-home-the-bacon con­gress­man. The real cred­it for hav­ing a project ready belonged large­ly to Sen. Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington. When she ran for reelec­tion in 2010, how­ev­er, Mur­ray lost the Tri-Cities by a large margin.

I was hang­ing out with friends at the mouth of the Elwha Riv­er not long ago, pals active in con­ser­va­tion efforts. We mar­veled at a riv­er restor­ing itself, its estu­ary con­stant­ly chang­ing, with knowl­edge that salmon are start­ing to dis­cov­er the sev­en­ty miles of spawn­ing habi­tat opened by removal of the two hun­dred and ten-foot-high dam. It’s America’s largest riv­er restora­tion project, until and unless Biden puts Snake Riv­er dam removal into his infra­struc­ture plan.

Still, my com­pan­ions knew noth­ing of the vital role played by the Recov­ery Act in what we were see­ing in the mas­ter riv­er sys­tem of Olympic Nation­al Park.

The “sell­ing” job for the Oba­ma stim­u­lus was a Dis­cov­ery Park appear­ance by a bad­ly briefed Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Ken Salazar.

Salazar was mem­o­rably upstaged by two bald eagles fly­ing high overhead.

Back to 2021: New­ly elect­ed Flori­da Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Maria Elvi­ra Salazar (no rela­tion to the for­mer Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary) spiked the foot­ball last week, tweet­ing: “BREAKING… so proud to announce that the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion has just imple­ment­ed my bipar­ti­san COVID relief bill as part of @SBAgov.”

She linked to a web­site state­ment, con­tain­ing the quote: “I am so proud that my bipar­ti­san leg­is­la­tion has offi­cial­ly become SBA policy.”

As Vox report­ed, “The tim­ing of the tweet, com­ing one day after the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan was signed, led many to believe the law­mak­er was refer­ring to the COVID-19 relief bill Salazar vot­ed against – that bill con­tains $15 bil­lion in Eco­nom­ic Injury Dis­as­ter Loans fund­ing. But the SBA deci­sion she high­light­ed is actu­al­ly dis­tinct from the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan… “

It’s not tech­ni­cal­ly cor­rect to say Salazar is claim­ing cred­it for the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, Vox not­ed, but “her claim that the Biden admin­is­tra­tion ‘imple­ment­ed’ her ‘bipar­ti­san COVID relief bill’ is false.

The bill in ques­tion hasn’t come up for a vote in Con­gress, and it doesn’t appear that the SBA’s deci­sion was inspired by it.”

Salazar has gone snarky, say­ing her boast­ful state­ment “has noth­ing to do with the $1.9 T Blue State Bailout. I intro­duced sep­a­rate­ly that was adopt­ed by SBA.”

We’ll see much more of this. Our state’s three Repub­li­can House mem­bers have, so far, respond­ed with par­ti­san boil­er­plate and, with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house, (D‑04-WA) Nan­cy Pelosi bashing.

Still, Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al offices have a duty to show tax­pay­ers what the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan mon­ey is doing. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, (D‑01-WA) has react­ed quick­ly with a descrip­tion of dol­lars going into the 1st Dis­trict, includ­ing con­ser­v­a­tive rur­al What­com Coun­ty that votes against her.

Our con­gres­sion­al offices fre­quent­ly put out releas­es on bills our rep­re­sen­ta­tives have intro­duced that stand no chance of pas­sage, or boil­er­plate state­ments react­ing to recent events that reit­er­ate their views and posi­tions. As of last week, how­ev­er, they have a land­slide of new mate­r­i­al… the most sweep­ing social spend­ing leg­is­la­tion since Lyn­don John­son was in the White House.

For once, ben­e­fits focus on mid­dle income fam­i­lies and the work­ing poor – in mas­sive con­trast to Repub­li­cans’ 2017 tax “relief” bill.

It’s time to show that gov­ern­ment works, gov­ern­ment helps.

In short, it’s show time.

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Video: Toshiko Hasegawa on standing up to hate during tremendously challenging times

Edi­tor’s note: Last year, at NPI’s 2020 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala, we were hon­ored to have Toshiko Grace Hasegawa as one of our fea­tured speak­ers. Toshiko’s reflec­tions on stand­ing strong against hate dur­ing tremen­dous­ly dif­fi­cult times are just as worth watch­ing and hear­ing today as they were almost one year ago when she record­ed them, espe­cial­ly giv­en this week’s hor­rif­ic mur­der spree tar­get­ing Asian Amer­i­cans in Atlanta, Geor­gia. These are moments when we must do all we can to unite our coun­try behind the pro­gres­sive val­ues we hold dear.

Toshiko Hasegawa introduces Elizabeth Warren

Toshiko Hasegawa intro­duces Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren at one of her final cam­paign events of 2020, which was held at Seat­tle Cen­ter (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Meet Toshiko Hasegawa

Toshiko Grace Hasegawa, M.A. is the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Wash­ing­ton State Com­mis­sion on Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Affairs.

Toshiko is a life long res­i­dent of Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton. She cur­rent­ly resides and was raised in Bea­con Hill as a fourth gen­er­a­tion Japan­ese Amer­i­can. She went on to attend Garfield High School in the his­toric Seat­tle Cen­tral District.

She has a Mas­ter of Arts in Crim­i­nal Jus­tice from Seat­tle Uni­ver­si­ty. Toshiko also received a bach­e­lor of Arts in Crim­i­nol­o­gy and Span­ish Lan­guage and Lit­er­a­ture as an under­grad­u­ate stu­dent at Seat­tle University.

She has earned cer­tifi­cates in effec­tive busi­ness writ­ing, grant writ­ing for non prof­its and pro­tect­ing human research participants.

This week, Toshiko announced her can­di­da­cy for Seat­tle Port Com­mis­sion, a coun­ty­wide office. She will be seek­ing the seat cur­rent­ly held by Peter Stein­brueck. You can learn more about her pri­or­i­ties on her cam­paign web­site.

Watch Toshiko’s remarks at NPI’s 2020 Spring Gala

Orig­i­nal­ly record­ed in April of 2020

Further reading

Take action: Stop racism against Asian Americans

These non­prof­its offer forms for report­ing instances of racism and hate crimes:

Sup­port this col­lec­tion of fundrais­ers if you’d like to put your mon­ey to work to stop Asian hate and help vic­tims of the mur­ders in Atlanta.

Need a back­grounder on hate crimes? This guide, pub­lished in 2006, is a good start­ing point for peo­ple unfa­mil­iar with this dif­fi­cult topic.

Down­load OCA’s COVID-19 toolk­it to learn how to avoid even unin­ten­tion­al­ly per­pet­u­at­ing and rein­forc­ing harm­ful stereo­types and false narratives.

OCA’s COVID-19 Toolkit

Con­sid­er sup­port­ing local non­prof­its that work against vio­lence and racism — like API Chaya — with your time, tal­ent, and trea­sure.

API Chaya empow­ers sur­vivors of gen­der-based vio­lence and human traf­fick­ing to gain safe­ty, con­nec­tion, and well­ness. We build pow­er by edu­cat­ing and mobi­liz­ing South Asian, Asian, Pacif­ic Islander, and all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties to end exploita­tion, cre­at­ing a world where all peo­ple can heal and thrive.

(State Sen­a­tor and North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber Man­ka Dhin­gra co-found­ed Chaya, which is now API Chaya, sev­er­al years ago.)

There’s also the Asian Pacif­ic Islander Com­mu­ni­ty Lead­er­ship Foun­da­tion:

ACLF is a com­mu­ni­ty-based, non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that trains and sup­ports the lead­er­ship of Asian Pacif­ic Islanders (API) with a com­mit­ment to social jus­tice, com­mu­ni­ty empow­er­ment and pub­lic ser­vice. ACLF’s pur­pose is to pro­vide an envi­ron­ment which fos­ters the devel­op­ment of indi­vid­ual lead­er­ship, com­mu­ni­ty strength, and inter-com­mu­ni­ty uni­ty to pro­mote issues crit­i­cal to API’s.

And you can fol­low the Asian Pacif­ic Islander Coali­tion (APIC) on Facebook.

The most impor­tant thing you can do is con­front racism when­ev­er you’re in a posi­tion to. For exam­ple, if you hear some­one at your work­place, school, or faith com­mu­ni­ty make a racist com­ment, don’t let it slide. Report it and call it out. And if you’re will­ing and able, help that indi­vid­ual start their antiracism jour­ney. AAJC offers bystander inter­ven­tion train­ings — you can sign up for one here.

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (March 8th-12th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, March 12th, 2021.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

GIVING FINAL OKAY TO VIRUS RELIEF: Vot­ing 220 for and 211 against, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on March 10th gave final con­gres­sion­al approval to a $1.9 tril­lion coro­n­avirus relief pack­age (H.R. 1319) that would:

  • add $300 per week to unem­ploy­ment checks through Sep­tem­ber 6th;
  • deliv­er pay­ments of $1,400 per per­son to 150 mil­lion Americans;
  • increase the Child Tax Cred­it in a way designed to cut child pover­ty near­ly in half;
  • deliv­er $350 bil­lion to state, coun­ty, city, trib­al and ter­ri­to­r­i­al governments;
  • pro­vide $25 bil­lion in grants to the restau­rant industry;
  • increase Patient Pro­tec­tion Act pre­mi­um subsidies;
  • fund the reopen­ing of K‑12 schools;
  • pro­vide $25 bil­lion in rental aid to avert evic­tions and $10 bil­lion to help land­lords meet their expenses;
  • and fund pro­grams to vac­ci­nate against COVID-19 and slow the spread of the nov­el coro­n­avirus (SARS CoV‑2).

A yes vote was to send the bill to Pres­i­dent Biden.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

PROTECTING LABOR’S RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: Vot­ing 225 for and 206 against, the House on March 9th passed a bill (H.R. 842) that would pro­tect and expand employ­ee rights to col­lec­tive­ly bar­gain for bet­ter pay, ben­e­fits and work­ing con­di­tions. The bill would estab­lish the right to orga­nize as a civ­il right enforce­able in fed­er­al court, pro­hib­it the per­ma­nent replace­ment of strik­ing work­ers and enable employ­ees to file class-action law­suits over work­ing con­di­tions. The bill also would negate state right-to-work laws allow­ing non-union employ­ees to ben­e­fit from nego­ti­at­ed con­tracts with­out pay­ing union dues.

In addi­tion, the bill would:

  • Make it dif­fi­cult for employ­ers to clas­si­fy “gig econ­o­my” work­ers as inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors to pre­vent them from join­ing unions.
  • Autho­rize stiff Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Board fines for employ­ers who unlaw­ful­ly dis­rupt orga­niz­ing campaigns.
  • Impose per­son­al lia­bil­i­ty on cor­po­rate direc­tors who know­ing­ly sanc­tion their com­pa­ny’s union-bust­ing tactics.
  • Allow imme­di­ate rein­state­ment in court, through injunc­tive relief, of work­ers fired for union activity.
  • Allow medi­a­tion and arbi­tra­tion to resolve dis­putes between new­ly cer­ti­fied unions and com­pa­nies in draft­ing their first contract.
  • Per­mit unions to con­duct sec­ondary boycotts.
  • Allow union elec­tions to be con­duct­ed at neu­tral sites and pro­hib­it employ­ers’ “cap­tive audi­ence” meet­ings to per­suade workers.
  • Per­mit work­ers with mul­ti­ple employ­ers to nego­ti­ate direct­ly with the one exer­cis­ing the most con­trol over their employment.
  • Pre­vent employ­ers from using a work­er’s immi­gra­tion sta­tus to deter­mine his or her terms of employment.

Our own U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal, D‑Washington, said the bill “will undo decades of Repub­li­can anti­work­er poli­cies. It puts pow­er back into the hands of work­ers and secures the right to orga­nize and bar­gain for good wages, fair ben­e­fits and an equal voice on the job.”

Scott Fitzger­ald, R‑Wisconsin, said the bill would “under­mine the abil­i­ty of states to choose their own labor laws by strik­ing down the right-to-work laws of twen­ty-sev­en states,” forc­ing “mil­lions of work­ers to pay dues to labor unions with­out any say about how their mon­ey was spent.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

EXPANDING CHECKS ON GUN SALES: The House on March 11 vot­ed, 227 for and 203 against, to expand fed­er­al gun back­ground checks to cov­er sales con­duct­ed at gun shows, over the Inter­net or through clas­si­fied ads, with an excep­tion for sales between fam­i­ly mem­bers. The bill (HR 8) would plug loop­holes that allow mil­lions of U.S. firearms sales to skirt the FBI’s Nation­al Instant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check Sys­tem, which is struc­tured to deny guns to the men­tal­ly ill, indi­vid­u­als with crim­i­nal records and domes­tic abusers.

Mike Thomp­son, D‑California, said: “Every day thir­ty peo­ple are killed by some­one using a gun. That num­ber jumps to one hun­dred if you fac­tor in acci­dents and sui­cides involv­ing guns. The steady stream of gun vio­lence dev­as­tates fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and schools… This sta­tus quo is not okay.

Greg Mur­phy, R‑North Car­oli­na, said the bill would “absurd­ly ham­per peo­ple’s abil­i­ty to exer­cise their con­sti­tu­tion­al right to defend them­selves. This sort of broad gov­ern­ment over­reach does not save lives but treats every­day law-abid­ing cit­i­zens like criminals.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

REJECTING CHECKS ON UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: Vot­ing 207 for and 217 against, the House on March 11 defeat­ed a Repub­li­can motion to H.R. 8 (above) requir­ing undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants to be report­ed to U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment when fed­er­al back­ground checks detect they are attempt­ing to buy a firearm.

Ben Cline, R‑Virgina, said: “Since 1998, over 28,000 ille­gal aliens have been denied a firearm after fail­ing a [back­ground] check… This means over 28,000 crim­i­nals have been allowed to stay in the Unit­ed States when ICE should have been alert­ed about their crim­i­nal act but [was] not.”

No oppo­nent spoke against the motion.

A yes vote was to adopt the Repub­li­can requirement.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes, 11 nay votes

EXTENDING GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS: Vot­ing 219 for and 210 against, the House on March 11th passed a bill (H.R. 1446) that would allow more time for the FBI’s Nation­al Instant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check Sys­tem to com­plete reviews of impend­ing gun sales. Now, sales auto­mat­i­cal­ly go through if the check is not fin­ished with­in three busi­ness or week­end days.

The bill would extend the win­dow to as many as twen­ty busi­ness days.

Jer­rold Nadler, D‑New York, said the bill would “close a dan­ger­ous loop­hole that puts weapons in the hands of indi­vid­u­als who should not legal­ly be per­mit­ted to pur­chase them mere­ly because the FBI is not able to com­plete the back­ground check in time.”

Kat Cam­mack, R‑Florida., said the bill “puts the onus on indi­vid­u­als to con­tact the gov­ern­ment if their back­ground check has­n’t been com­plet­ed in ten days. You know who can­not afford to wait? The sin­gle mom look­ing to pro­tect her­self and her chil­dren from a vio­lent ex who has just been released from jail.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

CONFIRMING MARCIA FUDGE AS SECRETARY OF HOUSING: Vot­ing 66 for and 34 against, the Sen­ate on March 10th con­firmed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­cia L. Fudge, D‑Ohio, as sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment. Fudge, six­ty-eight, was a may­or in sub­ur­ban Cleve­land before enter­ing Con­gress in 2009, and she once chaired the Con­gres­sion­al Black Caucus.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING MICHAEL REGAN AS EPA CHIEF: Vot­ing 66 for and 34 against, the Sen­ate on March 10th con­firmed Michael S. Regan, forty-four, as admin­is­tra­tor of the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the first Black per­son to lead the agency in its 50-year his­to­ry. A spe­cial­ist in reduc­ing air pol­lu­tion, Regan served at the EPA under pres­i­dents Bill Clin­ton and George W. Bush and was sec­re­tary of the North Car­oli­na Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Quality.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The House will take up a bill to pro­tect women against vio­lence dur­ing the week of March 15th, while the Sen­ate will vote on Biden admin­is­tra­tion nominees.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Thomas Vot­ing Reports. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2021 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

Amtrak restores daily service on long distance routes thanks to the American Rescue Plan

With the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan on its way to Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, agen­cies and com­pa­nies that are due to get sore­ly need­ed relief funds have begun announc­ing their plans for revers­ing ser­vice cuts and bring­ing back fur­loughed work­ers. Among them is Amtrak, Amer­i­ca’s pas­sen­ger rail­road sys­tem, which sig­nif­i­cant­ly scaled back its long dis­tance ser­vice last dur­ing when the pan­dem­ic hit.

In a few weeks, Amtrak intends to resume dai­ly depar­tures on most of its long dis­tance routes, thanks to fund­ing from the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan. Ser­vice had been scaled back to three days a week due to sharply low­er demand.

“Offer­ing dai­ly long dis­tance ser­vice rep­re­sents a vital step in our road to recov­ery,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Fly­nn in a state­ment. “Rec­og­niz­ing the immense val­ue of our employ­ees, we’d like to thank Con­gress for enabling ser­vice restora­tion and help­ing us recall fur­loughed employees.”

The num­ber of fur­loughed work­ers who will be brought back begin­ning in April to help get Amtrak back to reg­u­lar order num­bers over 1,200.

The timetable calls for dai­ly ser­vice to be resumed on the fol­low­ing routes:

May 24thMay 31stJune 7th
Cal­i­for­nia ZephyrCapi­tol LimitedCres­cent
Coast StarlightCity of New OrleansPal­met­to
Empire BuilderLake Shore LimitedSil­ver Meteor
Texas EagleSouth­west ChiefSil­ver Star

The two long dis­tance routes that serve Seat­tle are the Coast Starlight and the Empire Builder. They’re both set to go back to a nor­mal timetable on May 24th, just in time for sum­mer. The Coast Starlight con­nects Seat­tle to Los Ange­les, while the Empire Builder con­nects the Emer­ald City to Chicago.

“All des­ti­na­tions and sched­uled departure/arrival times served by the long dis­tance net­work will be main­tained,” Amtrak says.

Unlike air­lines, Amtrak offers pri­vate rooms on its long dis­tance trains. It is thus pos­si­ble to prac­tice phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing while tak­ing a train across the country.

While it does cost more than sim­ply rid­ing in a coach seat, meals are includ­ed, and Amtrak’s din­ing cars have a rep­u­ta­tion for mod­est excellence.

Amtrak's Empire Builder in Montana

Amtrak’s Empire Builder in Mon­tana, head­ing east­bound at Two Med­i­cine Tres­tle (Pho­to: Loco Steve, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

“This is a real win for Amer­i­ca’s pas­sen­gers and for the hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ties served by Amtrak’s long-dis­tance trains, com­mu­ni­ties which suf­fered eco­nom­ic pain when they lost their ser­vice last sum­mer,” said Jim Math­ews, Pres­i­dent & CEO of Rail Pas­sen­gers Asso­ci­a­tion, in a state­ment.

“We extend our thanks to the many cham­pi­ons of pas­sen­ger rail in Con­gress who helped make this hap­pen. We worked tire­less­ly with exec­u­tive agen­cies, con­gres­sion­al lead­ers and, yes, Amtrak itself, to cre­ate urgency around the need to restore dai­ly ser­vice just as soon as pos­si­ble. Whether in tes­ti­mo­ny before House law­mak­ers or in pri­vate meet­ings with con­gres­sion­al lead­ers on both sides of the aisle, this Asso­ci­a­tion worked over­time to cre­ate the pre­con­di­tions Amtrak need­ed to restore ser­vices and recall its workforce.”

Amtrak is an Amer­i­can trea­sure, and it would have been a shame for its long dis­tance routes to have become vic­tims of the pandemic.

Amtrak will need addi­tion­al fund­ing in the future to con­tin­ue mod­ern­iz­ing trains and work­ing with local part­ners to save and upgrade his­toric stations.

For now, this jolt in the arm will get the rail­road back on track to recovery.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

Relief on the way: U.S. House sends American Rescue Plan to President Joe Biden’s desk

Joe Biden and Kamala Har­ris’ Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan is about to become law.

By a vote of two hun­dred and twen­ty to two hun­dred and eleven, the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives today vot­ed to con­cur in the Sen­ate amend­ments to H.R. 1319, vault­ing the bill out of the Unit­ed States Capi­tol and down Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue to Joe Biden’s desk in the West Wing of the White House.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was along par­ty lines, as Ore­gon’s Kurt Schrad­er decid­ed not to defect again on final pas­sage, pro­nounc­ing him­self sat­is­fied with the amend­ments made by the Unit­ed States Senate.

Vot­ing Aye: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er (OR)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son (ID), Matt Rosendale (MT), Don Young (AK)

Only one Demo­c­rat, Maine’s Jared Gold­en, vot­ed no. All oth­er Democ­rats vot­ed yes. All of the Repub­li­cans vot­ed no, except for one who did not vote.

“Today is an his­toric day,” said Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi. “It is a day of ful­fill­ment as the Demo­c­ra­t­ic House pass­es the Biden Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, join­ing in Pres­i­dent Biden’s promise to the Amer­i­can peo­ple: Help Is On The Way.”

“I encour­age you to hold events lift­ing up the leg­is­la­tion to be a part of Democ­rats’ nation­al mes­sage and to com­mu­ni­cate direct­ly to our con­stituents,” Pelosi told her cau­cus in an open let­ter. “A toolk­it is being pre­pared to give guid­ance for how con­stituents can find infor­ma­tion about the ben­e­fits of the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan in their lives. You may also want to pre­pare a franked mail or emailed newslet­ter to help its ben­e­fits be under­stood and enjoyed.”

“This leg­is­la­tion would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the excel­lent work of the Chairs of our Com­mit­tees of Juris­dic­tion, the intel­lec­tu­al resource of every Demo­c­ra­t­ic Mem­ber and the tire­less efforts of our staffs, as we meet the needs of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Pelosi’s let­ter added.

“I want to thank Speak­er Pelosi and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for pass­ing the bill that I will be sign­ing into law short­ly,” said Pres­i­dent Joe Biden. “This bill rep­re­sents a his­toric, his­toric vic­to­ry for the Amer­i­can peo­ple. I look for­ward to sign­ing it lat­er this week. Every­thing in the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan address a real need.” Biden empha­sized that the bill would boost vac­ci­na­tion efforts.

“Tomor­row night, I’m going, in prime­time, to address the Amer­i­can peo­ple, to talk about what we’ve been through as a nation this past year,” the Pres­i­dent added.

“But more impor­tant­ly, I’m going to talk about what comes next. I’m going to launch the next phase of the COVID response and explain what we will do as a gov­ern­ment and what we will ask of the Amer­i­can people.”

“There is light at the end of this dark tun­nel of this past year. We can­not let our guard down now, or assume that a vic­to­ry is inevitable.”

“It has been a year since our state had our first COVID cas­es,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er, D‑Washington, who rep­re­sents the 8th Dis­trict and is the first pedi­a­tri­cian to serve in Con­gress. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple need help. And they need­ed it a long time ago. This leg­is­la­tion is the bold action we need to get our econ­o­my reopened, chil­dren back into class­rooms, and every Amer­i­can vac­ci­nat­ed. This bill meets the moment and charts our path out of the pandemic.”

The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan is one of the most con­se­quen­tial pieces of leg­is­la­tion ever to be approved by Con­gress. While it does not con­tain some pro­vi­sions that our team at NPI want­ed, like a min­i­mum wage increase, it is nev­er­the­less a huge win, and it’s some­thing we can build upon. It is sim­ply and beau­ti­ful­ly named. Three words that prop­er­ly evoke the pro­gres­sive val­ues that the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion and Con­gress are now using to make deci­sions about our future. As I’ve writ­ten here before, I think George Lakoff would be proud.

While the leg­is­la­tion has a sim­ple name, the text of the bill itself is not sim­ple because it does so many good and impor­tant things. This leg­is­la­tion will deliv­er aid and assis­tance to Amer­i­can fam­i­lies in many dif­fer­ent ways.

There’s direct relief in the form of $1,400 checks to tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, of course, but there’s also mon­ey to help small busi­ness­es stay open, bring kids back to school, improve Inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty, increase nutri­tion assis­tance ben­e­fits, and com­bat the virus through bet­ter test­ing and rapid­ly ramp­ing up vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign. The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan is an invest­ment — a seri­ous, sore­ly need­ed invest­ment. Unlike last year’s COVID relief bills, this bill is focused and tar­get­ed towards low­er and mid­dle income Amer­i­cans and small businesses.

Arguably not since the Great Soci­ety has Con­gress passed a piece of leg­is­la­tion that does more for fam­i­lies and chil­dren than this bill. It isn’t a game chang­er, it’s a life chang­er. The pas­sage of this bill shows what pol­i­tics can and should be about: improv­ing lives. Bet­ter­ing the human con­di­tion. Bring­ing peo­ple together.

House and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans had a chance to be a part of this and they all declined — every last one of them vot­ed no. That was their choice.

Giv­en their feal­ty to Don­ald Trump and to pow­er­ful inter­ests like large cor­po­ra­tions, it’s prob­a­bly for the best that they refused to engage.

Pub­lic opin­ion research shows that plen­ty of Repub­li­can vot­ers sup­port this bill, as do many local Repub­li­can elect­ed offi­cials. To get Repub­li­can votes, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden would have had to com­pro­mise on the prin­ci­ples this bill was built on. He would have had to go more than halfway (Repub­li­can sen­a­tors like Susan Collins float­ed an alter­na­tive pro­pos­al that was about a third of the size.) The pack­age would have been a frac­tion of the size, and wast­ed yet anoth­er cri­sis. That was­n’t a choice Pres­i­dent Biden was will­ing to make. And thank good­ness for that.

What’s impor­tant is not how the bill passed or whether it was bipar­ti­san, but whether it meets the moment, and does what needs to be done.

ARP is pri­mar­i­ly an appro­pri­a­tions bill that changes pol­i­cy by mak­ing invest­ments as opposed to a pol­i­cy bill that also makes some invest­ments (like the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act). It does­n’t need Repub­li­can votes to stick, or have an impact.

The invest­ments, once made, are made, and can’t be repealed by Republicans.

The caveat that bears not­ing is that the invest­ments aren’t per­ma­nent. The nutri­tion assis­tance ben­e­fits, for exam­ple, only go through Sep­tem­ber 30th.

But they can be renewed, or extend­ed. And we can be sure that at the appro­pri­ate time, Nan­cy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will bring leg­is­la­tion to renew them, and force Repub­li­cans to once again reveal whose side they are on. Democ­rats are like­ly to con­trol Con­gress at least until Jan­u­ary of 2023.

Repub­li­cans seem to think they are des­tined for suc­cess in the midterms giv­en what usu­al­ly hap­pens to the pres­i­den­t’s par­ty in a midterm cycle.

How­ev­er, they may be in for a rude sur­prise. Every­thing I’m see­ing right now leads me to think that 2022 is going to be a most unusu­al midterm cycle that bucks his­tor­i­cal norms. I don’t have a work­ing crys­tal ball, so I can’t know the future. But I do know that the Biden-Har­ris Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan is what I’ve been yearn­ing to see Democ­rats in Con­gress pass for my whole adult life.

This is respon­si­ble gov­er­nance. This is what lift­ing peo­ple up looks like. This is what vot­ers have want­ed out of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty for a long, long, long time.

Our team looks for­ward to the bill sign­ing for the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan.

Let’s get this done and begin the implementation.

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