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.

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Last Week (July 8th-12th) 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 12th, 2019.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

911 VICTIMS’ COMPENSATION FUND: By a vote of 402 for and 12 against, the House on July 12th passed a bipar­ti­san bill that would reau­tho­rize the Sep­tem­ber 11th Vic­tim Com­pen­sa­tion Fund through fis­cal 2090. Admin­is­tered by a spe­cial mas­ter, the fund pays eco­nom­ic and non-eco­nom­ic dam­ages to 911 first respon­ders and their sur­vivors as well as to indi­vid­u­als with health prob­lems as a result of par­tic­i­pat­ing in 911 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.

The bill replen­ish­es the fund to avert threat­ened cuts of up to 70% in pend­ing and future claims and makes whole claims already paid at reduced lev­els. Although the bill is pro­ject­ed to cost $10.2 bil­lion in its first 10 years, and count­less bil­lions after that as can­cers and oth­er latent dis­eases emerge, it does not yet include a “pay for” mech­a­nism or long-term fund­ing means.

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

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 aye votes

$733 BILLION FOR MILITARY IN 2020: Vot­ing 220 for and 197 against, the House on July 12th autho­rized a $733 bil­lion mil­i­tary bud­get (H.R. 2500) for fis­cal 2020, includ­ing $69 bil­lion for com­bat oper­a­tions and more than $57 bil­lion for active-duty and retiree health care. The bill:

  • sets a 3.1 per­cent pay raise for uni­formed per­son­nel;
  • address­es glob­al warm­ing as a nation­al-secu­ri­ty threat;
  • advances the clo­sure of the Guan­tanamo Bay mil­i­tary prison;
  • requires Pen­ta­gon strate­gies for coun­ter­ing Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2020 U.S. elec­tions;
  • lifts an admin­is­tra­tion ban on trans­gen­der mil­i­tary ser­vice;
  • pro­hibits U.S. troop reduc­tions in South Korea below 28,000;
  • funds pro­grams for mil­i­tary vic­tims of sex­u­al assault;
  • … and approves tens of bil­lions for con­ven­tion­al and nuclear weapons while defund­ing the devel­op­ment of low-yield nuclear weapons.

In addi­tion, the bill requires what would be the first con­gres­sion­al autho­riza­tion for the U.S. war against Islam­ic State in Iraq and Syr­ia (ISIS) forces in the Mid­dle East. At the same time, it would effec­tive­ly repeal the 2001 Autho­riza­tion for Use of Mil­i­tary Force (AUMF), which, along with the Iraq war res­o­lu­tion approved in 2002, has been the legal basis of U.S. mil­i­tary actions since 911.

The bill also would estab­lish twelve weeks’ paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave for the fed­er­al work­force to accom­mo­date cir­cum­stances includ­ing child­birth, adop­tions, fos­ter care and seri­ous ill­ness. The leave is now avail­able with­out pay to civ­il ser­vants under the 1993 Fam­i­ly and Med­ical Leave Act.

In addi­tion, the bill allows mil­i­tary per­son­nel who are vic­tims of sex­u­al assaults to receive emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion at base clin­ics, and elim­i­nates co-pays for con­tra­cep­tive ser­vices pro­vid­ed by the Depart­ment of Defense health­care sys­tem.

The bill also would:

  • bar fund­ing for space-based mis­sile defens­es;
  • pro­hib­it the diver­sion of mil­i­tary funds to wall con­struc­tion on the south­west bor­der;
  • halt the sale of F‑35 air­craft to Turkey unless it can­cels its pur­chase an air defense sys­tem from Rus­sia;
  • require the Marine Corps to admit women to basic train­ing;
  • fund repair of earth­quake dam­ages to mil­i­tary bases in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia;
  • require more accu­rate and trans­par­ent report­ing of U.S.-caused civil­ian casu­al­ties, and pro­vide $250 mil­lion to in secu­ri­ty assis­tance to Ukraine.

A yes vote was to send the bill to a House-Sen­ate con­fer­ence com­mit­tee.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Earl Blu­me­nauer

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: 10 aye votes, 7 nay votes

DEVELOPING LOW-YIELD NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Vot­ing 201 for and 221 against, the House on June 12th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can amend­ment to H.R. 2500 (above) that sought to fund an admin­is­tra­tion plan to start mount­ing low-yield nuclear weapons — W76‑2 war­heads — on sub­ma­rine-launched Tri­dent bal­lis­tic mis­siles. Mil­i­tary plan­ners say low-yield, or tac­ti­cal, war­heads are for use in lim­it­ed con­flicts, in con­trast to strate­gic nuclear weapons, which are designed to destroy tar­gets far from the imme­di­ate bat­tle­field.

Advo­cates say the Unit­ed States needs to counter Rus­si­a’s exten­sive low-yield arse­nal, while crit­ics say the weapons height­en the risk of Armaged­don because it is fol­ly to think nuclear war can be waged on a lim­it­ed basis.

Mike Turn­er, R‑Ohio, called it “uni­lat­er­al nuclear dis­ar­ma­ment” to not deploy low-yield nuclear weapons.

Our own Adam Smith, D‑Washington, called the weapon “a mis­take” because “it takes us down the road of say­ing we can have a man­age­able nuclear war.”

A yes vote was to add low-yield nuclear weapons to the U.S. arse­nal.

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

BUDGET INCREASE FOR COMBAT READINESS, PAY RAISE: Vot­ing 204 for and 212 against, the House on July 12th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can motion that sought to add near­ly $3 bil­lion to H.R. 2500 (above) for pur­pos­es such as expand­ing com­bat accounts and increas­ing the bil­l’s pay raise for uni­formed per­son­nel from the 3.1 per­cent lev­el request­ed by Trump to four per­cent.

Jim Banks, R‑Indiana, said: “Let us give our troops the raise they earned.”

Our own Adam Smith, D‑Washington, said the bill already funds “the largest pay raise for our troops in ten years.”

A yes vote was to adopt the motion.

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 (4): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er

Vot­ing Nay (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Cas­ca­dia total: 7 aye votes, 10 nay votes

NEW RULES FOR ALLOCATING GREEN CARDS: Vot­ing 365 for and 65 against, the House on July 10th passed a bill (H.R. 1044) that would change how “green cards” grant­i­ng per­ma­nent legal sta­tus are allo­cat­ed by U.S. Cit­i­zen and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices to immi­grants liv­ing in the Unit­ed States on tem­po­rary, employ­ment-based H1‑B visas. Those visas are used pri­mar­i­ly to bring high­ly skilled, well-edu­cat­ed for­eign­ers into the U.S. work­force for peri­ods gen­er­al­ly rang­ing from three to six years, after which they are usu­al­ly required leave the coun­try if they have not received a green card.

The bill would remove per-coun­try caps on the num­ber of employ­ment-based green cards issued each year, and instead award them first-come, first-served. The cur­rent caps pro­hib­it natives of any coun­try from receiv­ing more than 7 per­cent of the annu­al num­ber of per­ma­nent, employ­ment-based visas.

That dis­ad­van­tages work­ers from pop­u­lous coun­tries sup­ply­ing large num­bers of H1‑B recip­i­ents. Those from small­er coun­tries do not wait near­ly as long.

Ken Buck, R‑Colorado, said impos­ing per-coun­try caps “doesn’t make sense. Our employ­ment-based immi­gra­tion sys­tem has a sin­gle pur­pose, bring­ing in the best and bright­est. We shouldn’t ham­string our econ­o­my by plac­ing arti­fi­cial caps on who can get a green card quick­er based sole­ly on where you are born.”

Doug Collins, R‑Georgia, said he sup­ports much of the bill, but because it was not sub­ject­ed to com­mit­tee hear­ings to fix what he sees as flaws, it “is not ready for prime time.”

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 aye votes

INVENTORY OF U.S. BASES OVERSEAS: Vot­ing 219 for and 210 against, the House on July 11th required the Depart­ment of Defense to pro­vide Con­gress with an inven­to­ry of U.S. mil­i­tary instal­la­tions on for­eign ter­ri­to­ry along with the cost of oper­at­ing each one and an expla­na­tion of how it serves nation­al secu­ri­ty.

The amend­ment was added to the fis­cal 2020 mil­i­tary pol­i­cy bill (H.R. 2500). The depart­ment report­ed­ly owns sev­er­al hun­dred per­ma­nent bases and short-term mil­i­tary facil­i­ties abroad, and the first-ever audit of Pen­ta­gon oper­a­tions, released last Novem­ber, was unable to pin­point some of them.

Spon­sor Ilhan Omar, D‑Minnesota, said: “The Amer­i­can peo­ple deserve to know what their tax dol­lars are being spent on and not take it on blind faith that every dol­lar that is giv­en to the Pen­ta­gon is a dol­lar that is pro­tect­ing their safe­ty.”

Doug Lam­born, R‑Colorado, said Con­gress already has access to bud­get doc­u­ments show­ing “in exhaus­tive detail…thousands of line items on where the Pen­ta­gon spend­ing is going right now — domes­tic, for­eign, every­thing.”

A yes vote was to require an inven­to­ry of U.S. mil­i­tary hold­ings abroad.

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

PRESIDENTIAL CONTRACTS WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES: Vot­ing 243 for and 186 against, the House on July 11th amend­ed H.R. 2500 (above) to pro­hib­it pres­i­dents, vice pres­i­dents and cab­i­net mem­bers from hold­ing con­tracts with the U.S. gov­ern­ment, just as mem­bers of Con­gress are barred by fed­er­al law from doing. The ratio­nale of the ban is that high fed­er­al offi­cials, as insid­ers, could exert undue influ­ence over the terms of the con­tract.

The expand­ed ban pre­sum­ably would pro­hib­it any attempt­ed renew­al of the gov­ern­men­t’s con­tract for leas­ing the Old Post Office on Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue in Wash­ing­ton to the Trump Inter­na­tion­al Hotel, which gen­er­ates prof­its for the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion and there­fore the pres­i­dent.

Our own Adam Smith, D‑Washington, called this “a good amend­ment that will improve the ethics of our gov­ern­ment.”

Jody Hice, R‑Georgia, said the amend­ment is “noth­ing oth­er than, once again, an attack on Pres­i­dent Trump and his fam­i­ly.”

A yes vote was to bar top exec­u­tive branch offi­cials, includ­ing pres­i­dents, from hold­ing fed­er­al con­tracts.

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 (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

PROTECTING FEDERAL PERSONNEL AGENCY: Vot­ing 247 for and 182 against, the House on July 11th adopt­ed an amend­ment to HR 2500 (above) that would scut­tle a Trump admin­is­tra­tion pro­pos­al to down­grade the Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (OPM) by merg­ing it with the Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (GSA). With 5,500 employ­ees, the OPM admin­is­ters pro­grams rang­ing from health insur­ance to retire­ment accounts for mil­lions of active and retired fed­er­al civil­ian work­ers and their fam­i­lies.

The GSA, with a staff of 12,000, is charged with man­ag­ing fed­er­al office space, trans­porta­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pro­cure­ment, among oth­er duties.

Ger­ald Con­nol­ly, D‑Virgina, said:

“The admin­is­tra­tion’s inad­e­quate plan to dis­man­tle OPM has been a dis­as­ter. After real­iz­ing that it can­not pre­vail on the mer­its, the admin­is­tra­tion is now resort­ing to black­mail” by trim­ming the OPM work­force.

Jody Hice, R‑Georgia, said Repub­li­cans “want to find ways to improve ser­vices for fed­er­al employ­ees and get retire­ment ben­e­fits for fed­er­al retirees. But we need to keep all solu­tions and all options on the table.”

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

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

JOHN PALLASCH, ASSISTANT LABOR SECRETARY: Vot­ing 54 for and 39 against, the Sen­ate on July 10th con­firmed John P. Pal­lasch, the head of Ken­tuck­y’s employ­ment and train­ing agency, as an assis­tant sec­re­tary in the Depart­ment of Labor. He will lead the Employ­ment and Train­ing Admin­is­tra­tion, which con­sumes near­ly two-thirds of the depart­men­t’s bud­get while admin­is­ter­ing work­place pro­grams for 22 mil­lion Amer­i­cans. Pal­lasch was head of the Mine Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion.

Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, called Pal­lasch a “thor­ough­ly well-qual­i­fied” nom­i­nee.

The Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, said fed­er­al job pro­grams need a leader “who is expe­ri­enced and com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing work­ers with the train­ing, sup­port and ben­e­fits they need to suc­ceed in this chang­ing econ­o­my. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Mr. Pal­lasch is not that per­son.”

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

ROBERT KING, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: The Sen­ate on July 11th con­firmed, 56 for and 37 against, Robert L. King, the pres­i­dent of the Ken­tucky Coun­cil on Post­sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion, as assis­tant sec­re­tary of post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion. He served pre­vi­ous­ly as head of the Ari­zona Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion and chan­cel­lor of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York sys­tem of high­er edu­ca­tion, and he was an aide to for­mer New York Gov­er­nor George Pata­ki.

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

Key votes ahead

Dur­ing the week of July 15th, the House will vote on rais­ing the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage and on whether to hold Attor­ney Gen­er­al William Barr and Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wilbur Ross in crim­i­nal con­tempt of Con­gress over their dis­re­gard of com­mit­tee sub­poe­nas. The Sen­ate, oper­at­ing under the aus­pices of Mitch McConnell, will vote on judi­cial and exec­u­tive branch nom­i­na­tions.

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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