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, August 4th, 2019

Last Week (July 29-August 2nd) In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cas­ca­di­a’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, August 2nd, 2019.

The House was in recess.

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

APPROVING TWO-YEAR BUDGET DEAL: Vot­ing 67 for and 28 against, the Sen­ate on August 1st approved a two-year bud­get deal (H.R. 3877) that would allow Pen­ta­gon and non-mil­i­tary spend­ing to increase by $320 bil­lion over cur­rent lev­els while sus­pend­ing the statu­to­ry bor­row­ing lim­it until July 31, 2021, to pre­vent default on the $22 tril­lion nation­al debt.

The bill address­es the near­ly 30 per­cent of the $4.6 tril­lion fed­er­al bud­get com­prised of dis­cre­tionary spend­ing, leav­ing untouched the approx­i­mate­ly 70 per­cent allo­cat­ed to manda­to­ry pro­grams includ­ing Medicare, Social Secu­ri­ty and vet­er­ans ben­e­fits and rul­ing out tax increas­es as a means of curb­ing fed­er­al debt. The bill caps dis­cre­tionary spend­ing at $1.375 tril­lion for each of fis­cal 2020 and 2021 while antic­i­pat­ing annu­al deficits approach­ing $1 tril­lion and inter­est pay­ments on the nation­al debt like­ly to top $400 bil­lion annu­al­ly.

Top Sen­ate Repub­li­can Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, described the agree­ment (already vot­ed on by the House) as “the right deal for our nation­al defense. It is the right deal because it ensures the Unit­ed States main­tains its full faith and cred­it. It is the right deal because it brings pre­dictabil­i­ty and sta­bil­i­ty through 2020 and moves toward restor­ing reg­u­lar appro­pri­a­tions.”

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑New York, said the bill pro­vides “addi­tion­al resources for the states to com­bat the opi­oid epi­dem­ic; sup­port for VA hos­pi­tals car­ing for our vet­er­ans; can­cer research and oth­er crit­i­cal med­ical research; cli­mate and clean ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy; reduc­ing the bur­den of col­lege debt; infra­struc­ture and trans­porta­tion improve­ments.”

Oppo­nent Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, said the nation­al debt “now stands at $22 tril­lion. This year, we will add over $1.2 tril­lion. We are approach­ing record deficits, and nei­ther par­ty cares.”

He added: “Inter­est on this debt will be over $400 bil­lion next year, pre­cise­ly, $455 bil­lion. Inter­est will sur­pass all wel­fare spend­ing in the next two years. Inter­est on the debt will sur­pass defense spend­ing by 2025.”

Rand Paul has tak­en flak for these com­ments, giv­en that he vot­ed for the Repub­li­can tax cut plan in 2017 that sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased the nation­al debt.

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

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jim Risch

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: 5 aye votes, 1 nay vote

BLOCKING INCREASE IN NATIONAL DEBT LIMIT: Vot­ing 23 for and 70 against, the Sen­ate on August 1st defeat­ed an amend­ment to H.R. 3877 (above) that would have blocked any increase in the statu­to­ry debt lim­it until after Con­gress has imposed fis­cal dis­ci­pline in three areas.

The Sen­ate and House would have to enact major spend­ing cuts, restore spend­ing caps that the under­ly­ing bill removes and send the states a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment requir­ing a bal­anced fed­er­al bud­get. Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, who spon­sored the amend­ment, said “shame on the politi­cians who have cam­paigned as con­ser­v­a­tives but who have gov­erned as big spenders.”

(Again, as men­tioned, Rand Paul has been crit­i­cized for preach­ing fis­cal dis­ci­pline to his col­leagues when he vot­ed for a huge tax cut bill that was not paid for.)

None of the sev­en­ty sen­a­tors who vot­ed against the pro­pos­al spoke against it.

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

UPHOLDING TRUMP VETO OF SAUDI ARMS MEASURE: Vot­ing 45 for and 40 against, the Sen­ate on July 29 failed to over­ride Don­ald Trump’s veto of a mea­sure (S.J. Res 36) that would pro­hib­it the sale of up to $8 bil­lion in U.S. arms to Sau­di Ara­bia and its allies for use against Iran­ian-backed forces in Yemen.

The muni­tions con­sist main­ly of tens of thou­sands of laser-guid­ed “smart” bombs. Crit­ics need­ed a two-thirds major­i­ty of sen­a­tors present and vot­ing to defeat the veto. This marked Trump’s sec­ond suc­cess­ful veto this year of attempts by Con­gress check the admin­is­tra­tion’s expand­ing mil­i­tary alliance with Sau­di Ara­bia.

With the oth­er veto, Trump turned back a mea­sure that would end U.S. involve­ment in the Yemen war unless it receives con­gres­sion­al autho­riza­tion under the 1973 War Pow­ers Res­o­lu­tion.

Robert Menen­dez, D‑New Jer­sey, said: “This admin­is­tra­tion’s will­ing­ness to turn a blind eye to (Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s) whole­sale slaugh­ter of civil­ians and the mur­der of jour­nal­ists and move for­ward with the sale of these weapons will have a last­ing impli­ca­tion for Amer­i­ca’s moral lead­er­ship on the world stage.”

Jim Risch, R‑Idaho, said the arms deal serves “the legit­i­mate secu­ri­ty inter­ests of our part­ners. Reject­ing these sales at this time will reward recent Iran­ian aggres­sion and risk Iran­ian mis­cal­cu­la­tion, which will lead to dis­as­ter if Iran con­tin­ues down its cur­rent path.”

A yes vote was to over­ride the pres­i­den­tial veto.

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 KELLY CRAFT AS UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADOR: Vot­ing 56 for and 34 against, the Sen­ate on July 31 con­firmed Kel­ly Craft as U.S. ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations. Craft has been U.S. ambas­sador to Cana­da since Octo­ber 2017 and was an alter­nate del­e­gate to the Unit­ed Nations in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. She received her appoint­ment to Ottawa after her hus­band, Joe Craft, a Ken­tucky-based coal pro­duc­er, con­tributed more than $1 mil­lion to Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Repub­li­cans praised Craft’s work in Cana­da on mat­ters includ­ing a trade deal to replace the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

But Democ­rats fault­ed her for hav­ing spent 357 days away from Cana­da while ambas­sador and for allow­ing her hus­band to take part in meet­ings on ener­gy and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies. They also crit­i­cized Craft for doubt­ing the sci­ence val­i­dat­ing glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate dam­age.

Top Sen­ate Repub­li­can Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky., said Craft has a record of “skill­ful­ly and effec­tive­ly advo­cat­ing for the inter­ests of the Unit­ed States on the inter­na­tion­al stage,” includ­ing help­ing to fash­ion a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agree­ment now await­ing con­gres­sion­al approval.

Robert Menen­dez, D‑New Jer­sey, said: “Tak­en togeth­er, Ambas­sador Craft’s lack of expe­ri­ence, her dere­lic­tion of duty and exces­sive absences in Ottawa, and her unwill­ing­ness to address poten­tial con­flicts of inter­est, ren­der her unfit to serve as our ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations.”

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

LWIC will be on hiatus for several weeks

The House and Sen­ate are in recess until the week of Sep­tem­ber 9th, so there will be no fur­ther install­ments of Last Week In Con­gress until mid-Sep­tem­ber.

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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