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.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

House Democrats use their new majority to pass bills to reopen the federal government

Upon tak­ing the gav­el ear­li­er today, Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi declared:

“Our nation is at an his­toric moment. Two months ago, the Amer­i­can peo­ple spoke, and demand­ed a new dawn… They want a Con­gress that deliv­ers results for the peo­ple, open­ing up oppor­tu­ni­ty and lift­ing up their lives.”

With­in hours of that speech, House Democ­rats used their new major­i­ty to pass leg­is­la­tion to reopen the gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, which has been par­tial­ly shut due to Don­ald Trump’s ridicu­lous demand for more than five bil­lion dol­lars to osten­si­bly be used for con­struct­ing a wall on the bor­der with Mex­i­co. (Trump said Mex­i­co would pay for it dur­ing his cam­paign, but of course, he was lying, and he has con­tin­ued to lie each and every day since.)

The House act­ed on two bills: one to re-open and fund the gov­ern­ment until Sep­tem­ber (H. R. 21) and one to fund the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty with­out mon­ey for a bor­der wall (H. J. Res 1). Each passed eas­i­ly.

Sev­en Repub­li­cans broke ranks to help Democ­rats pass H.R. 21. The total num­ber of votes in favor was two hun­dred and forty-one. One hun­dred and nine­ty votes were cast in oppo­si­tion, all from the remain­ing Repub­li­cans.

The roll call on H.R. 21 from the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, Den­ny Heck (WA); Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden (OR)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA); Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher (ID); Greg Gian­forte (MT); Don Young (AK)

Ore­gon’s Greg Walden was the only Repub­li­can from this region to break ranks and vote for the bill. The oth­er Repub­li­cans who vot­ed aye on H.R. 21 were Will Hurd of Texas, Peter King of New York, Bri­an Fitz­patrick of Penn­syl­va­nia, Elise Ste­fanik of New York, John Katko of New York, and Fred Upton of Michi­gan.

At Indi­vid­ual Num­ber One’s behest, the White House wast­ed no time in announc­ing its oppo­si­tion to H.R. 21 in a State­ment of Admin­is­tra­tion Pol­i­cy.

The vote for H.R. 1, which pre­ced­ed the vote for H.R. 21, saw the Pacif­ic North­west­’s del­e­ga­tion divid­ed along par­ty lines, with no Walden defec­tion:

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

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, Greg Walden (OR); Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA); Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher (ID); Greg Gian­forte (MT); Don Young (AK)

Peter King of New York and Fred Upton of Michi­gan joined Greg Walden in oppos­ing H.R. 1, but lat­er vot­ing for H.R. 21. Chris Smith of New Jer­sey was the only Repub­li­can to vote for H.R. 1, but against H.R. 21.

Mitch McConnell has vowed not to take up these bills, stu­pid­ly insist­ing that he won’t bring any bill to the floor for a vote that Trump oppos­es.

(This sense­less and inde­fen­si­ble pos­tur­ing has caused peo­ple to joke that McConnell is oper­at­ing the U.S. Sen­ate like it’s a sub­com­mit­tee of the White House.)

But McConnel­l’s cau­cus is already frac­tur­ing. Vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans up in 2020 have start­ed releas­ing state­ments say­ing they want to reopen closed fed­er­al agen­cies, like Col­orado’s Cory Gard­ner and Maine’s Susan Collins.

Mitch McConnell has a rep­u­ta­tion as a shrewd strate­gist and tac­ti­cian, but so does Nan­cy Pelosi. The Speak­er has a proven track record of hold­ing House Democ­rats togeth­er, and her cau­cus’ posi­tion (let’s restore fund­ing and get on with gov­ern­ing) is entire­ly rea­son­able, where­as McConnell, who must face vot­ers in Ken­tucky in 2020, has tak­en Paul Ryan’s place as Don­ald Trump’s chief lap­dog in Con­gress.

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