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Sunday, July 28th, 2019

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

Good morning! Here’s how Cascadia’s Members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday, July 26th, 2019.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

BOYCOTTS, DIVESTITURE, SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL: The House on July 23 voted, 398 for and 17 against, to condemn the anti-Israel “BDS” movement, which is a global campaign that encourages businesses, governments and other entities to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel and firms owned by Israelis. The non-binding measure (H. Resolution 246) also reaffirms U.S. support of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, the measure stops short of binding provisions approved by the Senate in February that give a federal green light to anti-BDS laws enacted by state and local governments in the United States. Those laws deny contracts and other benefits to companies or individuals supporting the BDS movement.

Lee Zeldin, R-New York, said the BDS movement “is supported by people who want to see the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state, and that is not something that we can stand idly by and watch happen.”

Elliot Engel, D-New York, said: “Do you want to criticize a government? That is your right. Do you want to stop buying products from a certain country? That is also your right. But participating in an international commercial effort that undermines Israel’s legitimacy and scuttles the chances of a two-state solution isn’t the same as an individual exercising First Amendment rights.”

No member spoke against the resolution.

A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (4): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader; Republican Representative Greg Walden

Voting Nay (1): Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (9): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Voting Nay (1): Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal

Cascadia total: 15 aye votes, 2 nay votes

SHORING UP MULTIEMPLOYER PENSIONS: Voting 264 for and 169 against, the House on July 24 passed a bill (H.R. 397) that would set up a new lending unit in the Treasury Department to aid up to 160 financially troubled multiemployer pension plans covering 1 million-plus union workers.

The new Pension Rehabilitation Administration would make 30-year loans at low interest rates to help those plans keep their promises to retirees.

In multiemployer plans, companies fund pension plans covering multiple union locals. The employers pool risk and achieve economies of scale for holding down administrative and medical costs. But the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that insures private-sector retirement benefits, has warned that it lacks resources to adequately cover benefits at risk in failing multi-employer plans.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the program would cost taxpayers $48.5 billion over its first ten years.

Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, said: “Today, we are telling millions of Americans who worked a lifetime for their pensions that are now in jeopardy, through no fault of their own, that we are standing with you. We are listening. We are taking action.”

Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, said the bill “creates a new federal… bureaucracy. It allows for billions of dollars of loans to be just forgiven. It provides loan terms that actually encourage not paying down the principal of these loans.”

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, Kurt Schrader

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

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

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

Cascadia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

SECOND VOTE ON “BDS” MOVEMENT: Voting 200 for and 232 against, the House on July 24th defeated a motion by Republicans stating that no pension plans receiving loans under H.R. 397 (above) could participate in the so-called BDS movement against Israel (above).

Backers of the motion offered no evidence of any union participation in the movement, and critics said they were using Israel as a wedge issue.

Brian Mast, R-Florida, said: “If you are one of the 398 members who voted last night to condemn the BDS movement, then you should support this (motion), stand with our ally Israel….”

Bradley Schneider, D-Illinois, called the motion “a cynical, partisan gimmick, continuing a dangerous effort to make Israel a wedge issue. It must stop.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

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 Denny Heck

Cascadia total: 6 aye votes, 11 nay votes

REQUIRING HUMANE TREATMENT OF MIGRANTS: Voting 233 for and 195 against, the House on July 24th passed a bill (H.R. 3239) setting minimal standards for the government’s treatment of migrants in its custody.

The bill would require Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — the agency primarily responsible for border controls — to conduct medical screenings of migrants within twelve hours of their detention, or three hours for children, the disabled, and pregnant women, and provide healthcare as warranted.

In addition, CBP would have to provide appropriate hygienic care including access to toilets, regular showers and drinking water and adequate clothing, bedding and incarceration space. The bill also would require CBP to enlist child welfare and health care professionals for dealing with unaccompanied children and to provide interpreters, chaperones and mental health care as warranted.

The bill directs the Department of Homeland Security inspector general to conduct unannounced inspections at ports of entry, border patrol posts and detention facilities and report its findings to Congress.

Barbara Lee, D-California, said:

“We can no longer allow individuals to suffer, be abused or die under CBP. Our values demand that we take this action. It is past time for us to protect adults and children fleeing violence, seeking a safe haven in America.”

Gregory Steube, R-Florida, said the bill “does not address the root causes of the conditions at CBP facilities,” which are that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services “do not have enough space available to take custody of these individuals.”

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, Kurt Schrader

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

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

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

Cascadia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

GRANTING TEMPORARY LEGAL STATUS TO VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS: Voting 272 for and 158 against, the House on July 25th passed a bill (H.R. 549) conferring Temporary Protected Status on as many as 200,000 Venezuelan citizens who have taken refuge in the United States from domestic turmoil in their country. The Department of Homeland Security occasionally grants TPS to migrants from countries beset by war or natural disasters.

After paying a $360 fee, recipients acquire legal U.S. residency for eighteen months and can apply for work permits and Social Security numbers.

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 Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (9): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Dan Newhouse

Cascadia total: 13 aye votes, 4 nay votes

APPROVING TWO-YEAR BUDGET DEAL: Voting 284 for and 149 against, the House on July 25th approved a two-year budget deal (H.R. 3877) that would raise the national debt ceiling to accommodate additional deficit spending through July 31st, 2021. The bill would allow military spending to increase by $46.5 billion and discretionary non-military spending by $56.5 billion over fiscal 2019 levels.

In addition, the bill prohibits tax increases but makes slight cuts to public services over two years to partially offset rising red ink.

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

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (1): Republican Representative Mike Simpson

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (3): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Peter DeFazio; Republican Representative Greg Walden

Voting Nay (2): Democratic Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

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

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)

SEPTEMBER 11TH VICTIMS’ COMPENSATION: By a vote of 97 for and two against, the Senate on July 23rd gave final congressional approval to a bill (H.R. 1327) that would reauthorize the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund through fiscal 2090. The bill originated in the House.

Administered by a special master, the fund pays economic and non-economic damages to 9/11 first responders and their survivors as well as to those afflicted by health problems as a result of taking in 9/11 cleanup efforts, and to their survivors. In addition, the bill would allow claims to be filed until October 2089, remove a cap on non-economic damages in certain circumstances and index for inflation the program’s annual limits on compensation for economic losses.

Although the bill is projected to cost $10.2 billion in its first ten years, and countless billions after that as cancers and other latent diseases emerge, it does not include a “pay for” mechanism or long-term funding means.

Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said: “Our 9/11 heroes deserve this program as it is written in the bill, without these amendments, which will only force them to have to come back here again and again.”

Mike Lee, R-Utah, said the bill “has a peculiar feature” in that it “authorizes the program for seventy-two years and does not specify a dollar amount. In other words, without any finite authorization, it offers no way to ensure that the money actually gets to its intended beneficiaries and is not lost in government bureaucracy or misuse.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to Donald Trump.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (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: 6 aye votes

BUDGET CUTS TO FINANCE 9/11 COMPENSATION: Voting 22 for and 77 against, the Senate on July 23rd failed to reach 60 votes needed to advance a measure that sought to cut mandatory spending (except for Medicare, Social Security and veterans) by less than one percent over 10 years to help pay the cost of H.R. 1327 (above). The defeat of this amendment means that all Treasury payments into the 9/11 compensation fund will be deficit spending.

Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said:

“The Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: Spending money is the most important thing they can do. The deficit doesn’t matter.”

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said: “Some senators [like Rand Paul] voted proudly for tax cuts, unpaid for, to the wealthiest of Americans, but demanded offsets for these folks who had served us.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

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

CONFIRMING MARK ESPER AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Voting 90 for and eight against, the Senate on July 23rd confirmed Mark T. Esper as the 27th secretary of defense since the office was established in 1947.

He becomes the first confirmed defense secretary since James Mattis resigned in December 2018. Esper, fifty-five, joined the administration in 2017 as secretary of the Army, and before that he was a lobbyist for the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon. He was an infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division during the Gulf War in 1990-91 and served as chief of staff to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, from 1996-98. He was a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

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

Cascadia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING GENERAL MARK MILLEY AS JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Voting 89 for and one against, the Senate on July 25th confirmed Army Gen. Mark Milley to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September, replacing Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford as the nation’s top leader in uniform.

Milley has been an infantry officer and commander of Special Forces units in a career that has included service in the Iraq War and a multinational mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina to implement the Dayton Accords peace agreement. The lone negative vote was cast by Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (1): Democratic Senator Ron Wyden

Voting Nay (1): Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

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

Cascadia total: 5 aye votes, 1 nay vote

Key votes ahead

Next week, the Senate will vote on a bill setting military and domestic spending levels through September 2021 and raising the national debt limit through July 2021. The House is in recess until the week of September 9th.

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!

© 2019 Thomas Voting Reports.

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