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, November 17th, 2019

Last Week (November 12–15) 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, Novem­ber 15th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

EXTENDING EXPORT-IMPORT BANK FOR TEN YEARS: Vot­ing 235 for and 184 against, the House on Novem­ber 15th passed a bill (H.R. 4863) that would reau­tho­rize the Export-Import Bank’s con­gres­sion­al char­ter through fis­cal 2029 while renam­ing it the Unit­ed States Export Financ­ing Agency.

The bill would increase the bank’s lend­ing author­i­ty from $135 bil­lion to $175 bil­lion and require at least 5 per­cent of its annu­al financ­ing to sup­port sales of renew­able-ener­gy and ener­gy-effi­cien­cy prod­ucts.

Estab­lished dur­ing the New Deal era, the bank pro­vides tax­pay­er-backed financ­ing to help for­eign cus­tomers pur­chase U.S. goods and ser­vices when pri­vate-sec­tor lenders are unable or unwill­ing to pro­vide the finan­cial assis­tance.

Few­er than two per­cent of the Ex-Im trans­ac­tions have default­ed in recent years, and the bank usu­al­ly returns a prof­it to the Trea­sury even with an expo­sure of $100 bil­lion-plus in tax­pay­er lia­bil­i­ty. But crit­ics say the agency dis­torts free mar­kets by prac­tic­ing “cor­po­rate wel­fare” and “crony cap­i­tal­ism.”

Our own Den­ny Heck, D‑Washington, said: “With­out a robust offi­cial export-cred­it agency… we sim­ply lose out on over­seas sales, espe­cial­ly for small busi­ness­es, and cap­i­tal equip­ment mak­ers and farm­ers. Every coun­try rec­og­nizes this fact, but the U.S. alone among major economies has failed to ful­ly act on this knowl­edge. If we want to max­i­mize our exports, we need to stop the sab­o­tage of our cred­it agency, the Ex-Im Bank, and enhance it.”

Bill Huizen­ga, R‑Michigan, said the bill “allows the bank to pro­vide the tax­pay­er financ­ing to enti­ties owned and con­trolled by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment includ­ing Chi­nese state-owned enter­pris­es involved in mil­i­tary activ­i­ties, human rights abus­es ….At a time when Chi­na is divert­ing mas­sive sub­si­dies to state-owned enter­pris­es, specif­i­cal­ly through the use of export sub­si­dies, why would Con­gress autho­rize the use of tax­pay­er dol­lars to make the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s job eas­i­er?”

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 (8): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler

Cas­ca­dia total: 12 aye votes, 4 nay votes, 1 not vot­ing

TREATING FOSSIL FUELS & CLEAN ENERGY EQUALLY: Vot­ing 188 for and 232 against, the House on Novem­ber 15th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can-spon­sored amend­ment that sought to remove from H.R. 4863 (above) pro­vi­sions that favor renew­able-ener­gy sales abroad over sales of fos­sil-fuel prod­ucts.

The bill requires sales of renew­able-ener­gy goods and ser­vices to over­seas cus­tomers to receive at least 5 per­cent of the Export-Import Bank’s annu­al lend­ing author­i­ty. In addi­tion, ener­gy-relat­ed trans­ac­tions would have to esti­mate the vol­ume of car­bon diox­ide emit­ted by projects receiv­ing Ex-Im sub­si­dies.

In part, the amend­ment would block cre­ation of a new Ex-Im unit aimed at pro­mot­ing ener­gy-effi­cien­cy and renew­able-ener­gy exports and require the bank to weigh the over­seas afford­abil­i­ty of ener­gy prod­ucts before approv­ing trans­ac­tions.

Bill Flo­res, R‑Texas, said: “If emis­sions reduc­tions are the goal, fed­er­al poli­cies must focus on total per­for­mance and not favor one tech­nol­o­gy over the oth­er. In the devel­op­ing world, afford­able, clean ener­gy will give peo­ple more oppor­tu­ni­ty for a bet­ter life when expen­sive alter­na­tives are unaf­ford­able.”

Sean Cas­ten, D‑Illinois, said: “The sci­ence is real­ly clear. The cli­mate cri­sis is here, and we are already see­ing its dev­as­tat­ing impact. Despite the best efforts of the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion to the con­trary, the Unit­ed States must be a glob­al leader in act­ing to com­bat the cli­mate cri­sis.”

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 (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kurt Schrad­er

Vot­ing Nay (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Peter DeFazio

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: 7 aye votes, 10 nay votes

BARRING ASSISTANCE TO CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS: Vot­ing 203 for and 218 against, the House on Novem­ber 15th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can-backed change to H.R. 4863 (above) that sought to place addi­tion­al require­ments on Export-Import Bank assis­tance designed to facil­i­tate U.S. sales to com­pa­nies owned by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. Under the motion, the assis­tance would be denied in cas­es where the Chi­nese com­pa­ny has a record of human rights abus­es.

Den­ver Rig­gle­man, R‑Virginia, said that if mem­bers “care about what hap­pens to free­dom and democ­ra­cy, and if you care about human rights around the world, and if you want to see the [Ex-Im] bank reau­tho­rized with a pur­pose, then please join me in sup­port­ing this [motion].”

Den­ny Heck, D‑Washington, said he was opposed to “turn­ing [the bank] into a for­eign pol­i­cy agency.” He added: “Every­one on both sides of the cham­ber wants to do more to com­bat the com­pe­ti­tion of Chi­na and all the threats that they pose to our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment. But pas­sion untem­pered by exper­tise can lead to some very [prob­lem­at­ic] out­comes.”

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 (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kurt Schrad­er

Vot­ing Nay (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Peter DeFazio

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: 7 aye votes, 10 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

CHAD WOLF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Vot­ing 54 for and 41 against, the Sen­ate on Novem­ber 13th con­firmed Chad F. Wolf as an under sec­re­tary at the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS).

The vote paved the way for his pro­mo­tion a day lat­er to the post of act­ing sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty. He becomes Don­ald Trump’s fifth DHS sec­re­tary. Because Wolf’s sta­tus is “act­ing,” he avoids a con­fir­ma­tion process that would vet his qual­i­fi­ca­tions to run what is the gov­ern­men­t’s third-largest depart­ment with 240,000 employ­ees. Democ­rats called this a mis­guid­ed end-run around the Sen­ate’s con­sti­tu­tion­al “advice and con­sent” author­i­ty.

A for­mer lob­by­ist, Wolf has held sev­er­al DHS posi­tions, includ­ing chief of staff under for­mer Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen, where he helped devel­op the admin­is­tra­tion’s pol­i­cy of break­ing up migrant fam­i­lies on the south­west bor­der.

Ron John­son, R‑Wisconsin, said: “Ded­i­cat­ed Amer­i­cans serv­ing at DHS in act­ing posi­tions are doing admirable jobs under often times dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. I trust that Chad Wolf will do the same…”

Jacky Rosen, D‑Nevada, said she could not sup­port “a nom­i­nee who played an inte­gral role in this admin­is­tra­tion’s cru­el fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy.…”

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

STEVEN MENASHI, FEDERAL APPEALS JUDGE: Vot­ing 51 for and 41 against, the Sen­ate on Novem­ber 14th con­firmed Steven J. Menashi, a White House coun­sel and for­mer Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion act­ing coun­sel, as a judge on the 2nd Cir­cuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has juris­dic­tion over dis­trict courts in New York, Ver­mont and Con­necti­cut. Menashi has been a law clerk to Supreme Court Asso­ciate Jus­tice Samuel Ali­to, an attor­ney in pri­vate prac­tice and a law-school pro­fes­sor. He drew Demo­c­ra­t­ic crit­i­cism over his author­ship of a Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy deny­ing debt relief to stu­dents defraud­ed by for-prof­it col­leges, and for his stands on issues includ­ing Roe v. Wade, gun laws and LGBT rights.

Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, said:

“Even the Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on the Fed­er­al Judi­cia­ry, which has late­ly made head­lines for treat­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nees in a less-than-even­hand­ed way, has rat­ed this nom­i­nee well-qual­i­fied.”

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑New York, said: “The Sen­ate is going to be asked to con­firm some­one to be a judge who designed an ille­gal scheme to deny debt relief so as to defraud stu­dents. The man has no prin­ci­ples. The man has no con­science. The man has no morals. He should not be on the bench.”

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

Next week (which begins Mon­day, Novem­ber 18th), both cham­bers will take up a stop­gap fis­cal 2020 fund­ing bill to keep the gov­ern­ment in oper­a­tion after tem­po­rary spend­ing author­i­ty expires Novem­ber 21st.

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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