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.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

U.S. Congress votes to reopen the federal government, reauthorize CHIP for six years

Round one of the #Trump­Shut­down appears to be over.

Today, majori­ties in each house of the Unit­ed States Con­gress vot­ed to reopen and fund the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment through Feb­ru­ary 8th, 2018, as well as reau­tho­rize the Chil­dren’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram (CHIP) for anoth­er six years, after Sen­ate Democ­rats reached under­stand­ing with Sen­ate Repub­li­cans regard­ing the fate of DACA — the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals ini­tia­tive.

“We will vote today to reopen the gov­ern­ment, to con­tin­ue nego­ti­at­ing a glob­al agree­ment, with the com­mit­ment that, if an agree­ment is not reached by Feb 8th, the Sen­ate will imme­di­ate­ly pro­ceed to con­sid­er­a­tion of leg­is­la­tion deal­ing with DACA. The process will be neu­tral & fair,” tweet­ed Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York around mid­day East­ern time.

“I am con­fi­dent that there are six­ty votes in the Sen­ate for a DACA deal. And now there is a real path­way to get a bill on the floor and through the Sen­ate. It is a good solu­tion and I will vote for it,” Schumer added.

“I expect [Mitch McConnell] to ful­fill his com­mit­ment to the Sen­ate & abide by this agree­ment. If he does not hon­or our agree­ment, he will have breached the trust of not only the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors but the mem­bers of his own par­ty as well.”

Two votes sub­se­quent­ly took place in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate: a clo­ture vote and a vote on final pas­sage of an appro­pri­a­tions res­o­lu­tion. The vote counts on each motion were iden­ti­cal: the ayes were eighty-one and the nays eigh­teen.

The roll calls from the Pacif­ic North­west were as fol­lows:

Ques­tion: On the Clo­ture Motion (Motion to Invoke Clo­ture: Motion to Con­cur in the House Amend­ment to the Sen­ate Amend­ment to H.R. 195 with Fur­ther Amend­ment )

and

Ques­tion: On the Motion (Motion to Con­cur in the House Amend­ment to the Sen­ate Amend­ment with Fur­ther Amend­ment )

Vot­ing Aye: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Lisa Murkows­ki and Dan Sul­li­van (AK), Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT)

Vot­ing Nay: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT)

Both cau­cus­es were divid­ed on the afore­men­tioned ques­tions, although the Democ­rats were far more divid­ed than the Repub­li­cans.

Two Repub­li­cans (Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and Mike Lee of Utah) joined six­teen Democ­rats in vot­ing no. The remain­ing Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans vot­ed aye.

Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray sent NPI a lengthy state­ment explain­ing her ratio­nale for vot­ing aye, which we’ll share in full con­sid­er­ing the impor­tance of today’s vote.

I am very glad that Pres­i­dent Trump and Repub­li­can lead­ers have stepped back from the precipice and have end­ed their gov­ern­ment shut­down and com­mit­ted to allow­ing Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans to work togeth­er on leg­is­la­tion to address the many chal­lenges fac­ing the fam­i­lies we rep­re­sent.

I know that there will be legit­i­mate con­cerns and ques­tions about the com­mit­ments that Repub­li­can lead­ers have made today. I share those con­cerns, and I am going to be watch­ing Repub­li­can lead­ers’ actions over the com­ing weeks, not just their words — and I stand ready to hold this Repub­li­can Con­gress account­able for results.

I sup­port this short-term agree­ment not because I blind­ly trust Repub­li­can lead­ers to deliv­er on their com­mit­ments, but because I believe this path offers us the best chance to reach a com­pre­hen­sive deal to pro­tect fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in this Repub­li­can Con­gress.

Repub­li­can lead­ers clear­ly under­stand that a major­i­ty of Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans sup­port bipar­ti­san solu­tions to the chal­lenges in front of us, and they now real­ize that they can’t keep the gov­ern­ment shut down in an attempt to stop that work from being done.

If Repub­li­can lead­ers renege on their com­mit­ment to work with us and to allow votes on the crit­i­cal issues before us, they will shut down the gov­ern­ment in just a few weeks and the pres­sure will be right back on them to work with us.

Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans agree that we should increase invest­ments in health care, edu­ca­tion, vet­er­ans’ care, and oth­er domes­tic and defense pri­or­i­ties — and now that Repub­li­cans have end­ed their shut­down, we need to work togeth­er to get that done.

Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans agree that we should final­ly pass a long-term exten­sion of the crit­i­cal pri­ma­ry care pro­grams that Repub­li­cans have allowed to expire months ago— and now that Repub­li­cans have end­ed their shut­down, we need to work togeth­er to get that done.

Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans agree that since the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion abrupt­ly end­ed the DACA pro­gram last fall, we should final­ly pass leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect our DREAM­ers who have known no home but Amer­i­ca and who live in con­stant fear for their futures — and now that Repub­li­cans have end­ed their shut­down, we need to work togeth­er to get that done. Repub­li­can lead­ers have made a com­mit­ment on this, and I am going to be hold­ing their feet to the fire.

There are bipar­ti­san solu­tions to all of these chal­lenges, and now that Repub­li­cans have stepped back from their com­plete­ly unnec­es­sary gov­ern­ment shut­down and say they are ready to work with us on respon­si­ble solu­tions — we need to tack­le them togeth­er, right now, with­out delay.

Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon had a dif­fer­ent take.

While spend­ing the past year jam­ming through a leg­isla­tive wish-list for the priv­i­leged and pow­er­ful, Pres­i­dent Trump and his con­gres­sion­al allies have time and time again neglect­ed the pri­or­i­ties of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Fund­ing for children’s health care and com­mu­ni­ty health cen­ters has lapsed; the opi­oid cri­sis has gone unad­dressed; and hun­dreds of thou­sands of DREAM­ers have been left to live in lim­bo.

This unwill­ing­ness to gov­ern reached a peak on Fri­day, when Trump and Repub­li­cans brought us the Trump Shut­down rather than reach a deal on these crit­i­cal, bipar­ti­san pri­or­i­ties.

I per­sis­tent­ly argued that we should keep the gov­ern­ment open while we nego­ti­ate, but that we need a short­er time­frame – one- to three-day incre­ments – to hold Trump’s and McConnell’s feet to the fire. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader struck down the con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tions that would have accom­plished this.

My con­cern with the three-week exten­sion adopt­ed today is that the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship will fail to nego­ti­ate for 15 of the next 17 days. Fur­ther­more, Leader McConnell’s track record of keep­ing his ‘com­mit­ments’ is thin at best. For that rea­son, I vot­ed no today.

I stand ready to work with all of my col­leagues to make urgent­ly-need­ed progress on these crit­i­cal issues fac­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple. It’s past time that we gov­erned ‘of, by and for the peo­ple,’ not just for the priv­i­leged and pow­er­ful.

After the Sen­ate vot­ed to reopen the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the House vot­ed to con­cur and send the leg­is­la­tion to 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue for a sig­na­ture. Two hun­dred and six­ty-six mem­bers vot­ed aye while one hun­dred and fifty vot­ed nay.

As in the Sen­ate, both cau­cus­es were divid­ed, although the mar­gins were dif­fer­ent. About three-fourths of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus vot­ed nay, with the remain­der vot­ing aye. The Repub­li­can cau­cus had five nay votes.

QUESTION: On Motion to Con­cur in the Sen­ate Amend­ment to the House Amend­ment to the Sen­ate Amend­ment (H.R. 195)

Vot­ing Aye: Democ­rats Suzan Del­Bene, Den­ny Heck, and Derek Kilmer (WA); Repub­li­cans Dan New­house, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, and Dave Reichert (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Don Young (AK), Raul Labrador and Mike Simp­son (ID), Greg Gian­forte (MT)

Vot­ing Nay: Democ­rats Prami­la Jaya­pal, Adam Smith, and Rick Larsen (WA), Earl Blu­me­nauer, Pete DeFazio, Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, and Kurt Schrad­er (OR)

Not Vot­ing: Repub­li­can Jame Her­rera-Beut­ler (WA)

Here’s Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal on why she vot­ed no.

Today, I vot­ed no on this most recent con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion, the fifth since Sep­tem­ber. Let me be clear, these con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tions are only nec­es­sary because of gross incom­pe­tence from Repub­li­cans who con­trol the House, Sen­ate and the White House.

Last Fri­day, the gov­ern­ment shut down because, even though Repub­li­cans con­trol all three branch­es of gov­ern­ment, they sim­ply can­not com­pe­tent­ly gov­ern.

Now, the Repub­li­can Sen­ate major­i­ty leader has giv­en his word that he will address the many pri­or­i­ties nec­es­sary to come to agree­ment on a bud­get — such as com­mu­ni­ty health cen­ters, the opi­oid cri­sis and dis­as­ter relief. He also promised that he would bring for­ward a vote on a bipar­ti­san deal that would pro­tect Dream­ers from depor­ta­tion.

As much as I hope that the major­i­ty leader will keep his promise, Repub­li­cans have done noth­ing to con­vince me that we should trust them. On Feb­ru­ary 8, the Amer­i­can peo­ple will find out if Repub­li­cans can keep their word on the promis­es they made to get the votes for this fifth con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion – or if they will once again refuse to gov­ern com­pe­tent­ly. The Amer­i­can peo­ple will find out if Repub­li­cans have any inter­est in pro­tect­ing Dream­ers with a per­ma­nent solu­tion and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship.

I hope they do, but if they don’t, Amer­i­ca will have a chance to make them face the con­se­quences of their intran­si­gence.

Let us also be clear that along with incom­pe­tence in gov­ern­ing, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, Repub­li­can lead­er­ship and some mem­bers of their par­ty have shown they will con­tin­ue to use immi­grants as scape­goats. Pres­i­dent Trump him­self cre­at­ed this cri­sis for 1.5 mil­lion young Dream­ers who now face depor­ta­tion from the only coun­try they know and can claim as home. Repub­li­cans keep mov­ing the goal­posts and chang­ing the nego­ti­a­tions. Now they want to add end­ing legal immi­gra­tion and fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion – cor­ner­stones of our immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy for 50 years – into the mix. That is unac­cept­able.

Today, though, my heart breaks for Amer­i­cans who rely on their com­mu­ni­ty health cen­ters but have no fund­ing for them, for our com­mu­ni­ties rav­aged by opi­oids, and for the peo­ple of Puer­to Rico and the Vir­gin Islands who are lit­er­al­ly dying as Repub­li­cans choose expe­di­ent pol­i­tics over the chal­lenge of effec­tive­ly gov­ern­ing. And my heart breaks for our Dream­ers who fear depor­ta­tion. These brave young peo­ple are Amer­i­ca, and Repub­li­cans are destroy­ing their lives.

We will update this post with addi­tion­al state­ments as they are received. Many mem­bers of Con­gress have yet to com­ment on the record regard­ing the ratio­nale for their vote either for or against this con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion.

The recep­tion to the deal from well-known pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions has been decid­ed­ly unfa­vor­able so far. Here’s a roundup of reac­tions:

The New York Times’ Nate Cohn, on the oth­er hand, tweet­ed that he thinks that Democ­rats may have played the best hand that they could, say­ing: “I appear to be the only per­son who thinks the Dems played this pret­ty well.”

This analy­sis from Huff­Post’s Matt Fuller is also worth a read.

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