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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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