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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, February 16th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (February 10th-14th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 14th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

GIVING NEW LIFE TO EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT: Vot­ing 232 for and 183 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 13th adopt­ed a mea­sure (House Joint Res­o­lu­tion 79) that would advance the Equal Rights Amend­ment (ERA) to the Con­sti­tu­tion by replac­ing a long-expired dead­line for states to vote on rat­i­fi­ca­tion with an open-end­ed dead­line.

The ERA states: “Equal­i­ty of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the Unit­ed States or by any state on account of sex.”

Con­gress on March 22, 1972, sent the ERA to the states, allow­ing sev­en years for them to muster the three-fourths major­i­ty (thir­ty-eight) need­ed for rat­i­fi­ca­tion. The leg­is­la­tures of 35 states vot­ed to rat­i­fy, although five — Ida­ho, Ken­tucky, Nebras­ka, Ten­nessee and South Dako­ta – rescind­ed their approvals on or before the March 22nd, 1977, dead­line. In 1978, Con­gress and Pres­i­dent Carter set a new dead­line of June 30th, 1982, but no states came aboard dur­ing the exten­sion. Neva­da, Illi­nois and Vir­ginia have vot­ed to rat­i­fy the ERA since 1982.

Repub­li­cans said ERA rat­i­fi­ca­tion would boost the pro-repro­duc­tive rights agen­da and result in more abor­tions. They also argued that women’s rights are pro­tect­ed by the Fifth and 14th amend­ments to the Con­sti­tu­tion and laws includ­ing the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Preg­nan­cy Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act of 1978 and Title IX of the Edu­ca­tion Amend­ments of 1972. Democ­rats cit­ed an inter­view that for­mer Supreme Court Jus­tice Antonin Scalia gave to The Atlantic in 2001, in which he said: “Cer­tain­ly the Con­sti­tu­tion does not require dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it pro­hibits it. It does­n’t.”

Mary Gay Scan­lon, D‑Pennsylvania, said: “Why the ERA did not become a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment in the 70s is up for debate, but it was in large part due to vicious, antifem­i­nist rhetoric and actions by con­ser­v­a­tive activists who sought to tram­ple on the rights of all women to work for an equal wage, to con­trol their own repro­duc­tive health and to par­tic­i­pate as equal mem­bers of our soci­ety, in the name of pro­tect­ing the tra­di­tion­al val­ues of a priv­i­leged few.”

Deb­bie Lesko, R‑Arizona, argued: “The bill [actu­al­ly, it’s not a bill at all, but rather a res­o­lu­tion] is total­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al” because “when the 1972 ERA dead­line passed with­out rat­i­fi­ca­tion by three-fourths of the states, the pro­posed amend­ment expired and is, there­fore, no longer pend­ing. The 1972 ERA, there­fore, can no longer be rat­i­fied because it no longer exists… Women have made huge strides against insti­tu­tion­al dis­crim­i­na­tion against women in edu­ca­tion, employ­ment, sports, pol­i­tics and many oth­er aspects of soci­ety.”

A yes vote was to send the pro­posed new dead­line 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

EXPANDING PROTECTED WILDERNESS BY 1.4 MILLION ACRES: Vot­ing 231 for and 183 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 12th passed a bill (H.R. 2546) that would add near­ly 1.4 mil­lion unspoiled acres in Col­orado, Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton to the 111-mil­lion-acre Nation­al Wilder­ness Pro­tec­tion Sys­tem, which per­ma­nent­ly safe­guards fed­er­al­ly owned land most­ly in the West from com­mer­cial devel­op­ment includ­ing hard-rock min­ing and oil and nat­ur­al gas drilling.

The new­ly added acreage is locat­ed in areas includ­ing Wash­ing­ton’s Olympia Penin­su­la; north­west­ern Cal­i­for­nia; the San­ta Mon­i­ca Moun­tains and Cen­tral Coast in Cal­i­for­nia; and 36 dis­tinct areas of Col­orado most­ly on the West­ern Slope. The bill also would set aside 100,000 acres as nation­al mon­u­ment areas and expand the Nation­al Wild and Scenic Rivers Sys­tem. In addi­tion, the bill autho­rizes the depart­ments of inte­ri­or and agri­cul­ture to take what­ev­er mea­sures are nec­es­sary to pre­vent and fight wild­fires in fed­er­al­ly pro­tect­ed wilder­ness areas.

Diana DeGette, D‑Colorado, speak­ing for the major­i­ty who vot­ed in favor of the leg­is­la­tion, said the bil­l’s des­ig­na­tions “will do more than pro­tect the land itself. They will help pro­tect the air we breathe and the water we drink. They will help pro­tect wildlife and world-class recre­ation areas. They will pro­vide a boost to the near­by economies and help grow our nation’s multi­bil­lion-dol­lar out­door recre­ation indus­try that direct­ly sup­ports thou­sands of jobs across the U.S.”

Russ Fulcher, R‑Idaho, said: “The wilder­ness des­ig­na­tion is the most vul­ner­a­ble pub­lic land there is. More wilder­ness equals more fire. More fire equals more car­bon about forty tons per acre when a wild­fire burns. And it gets worse. If a for­est burns, that is God’s best tool for absorb­ing green­house gas­es, and that is destroyed. That is like tak­ing out your lungs. The cli­mate-change fight­ers are fight­ing to increase one of the most major caus­es of just that.”

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

PREVENTING AND FIGHTING FIRES IN WILDERNESS AREAS: Vot­ing 199 for and 215 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 12th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can motion that sought to ensure that mech­a­nized fire-pre­ven­tion and fire­fight­ing equip­ment would have unhin­dered access to wilder­ness areas pro­tect­ed by H.R. 2546 (above). This would be in addi­tion to assur­ances already in the bill that fed­er­al agen­cies have full author­i­ty to take actions to prevent/fight fires in the des­ig­nat­ed areas.

Tom McClin­tock, R‑California, said: “If these wilder­ness restric­tions are imposed on acreage near peo­ple’s homes, it is only a mat­ter of time until the for­est suc­cumbs to neglect and the inevitable cycle of over­crowd­ing, death and fire. In the after­math, peo­ple will have the right to ask why their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives refused to pro­tect them, their fam­i­lies, their homes and their forests when they had the chance to do so today.”

Diana DeGette, D‑Colorado, said: “Our local agen­cies already have the abil­i­ty to fight fires if they need to in wilder­ness areas. There is no pro­vi­sion in the Wilder­ness Act that says they can only use axes or non­me­chan­i­cal items, none. [Repub­li­cans] keep say­ing this all day, and I don’t know why. It is sim­ply not true.”

A yes vote was to adopt the Repub­li­can 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 (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: 8 aye votes, 10 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

ASSERTING CONGRESSIONAL CONTROL OVER WAR WITH IRAN: The Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 13th vot­ed, 55 for and 45 against, to require the admin­is­tra­tion to obtain advance con­gres­sion­al approval for mil­i­tary actions against Iran or its proxy forces except when there is an immi­nent threat to the Unit­ed States, its armed forces or its ter­ri­to­ries.

The bipar­ti­san vote sent the mea­sure (Sen­ate Joint Res­o­lu­tion 68) to the House and like­ly on to Don­ald Trump, who says he will veto it.

The mea­sure invokes the 1973 War Pow­ers Res­o­lu­tion, which asserts the pow­er of Con­gress to declare war under Arti­cle I of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Under that Viet­nam-era law, pres­i­dents must noti­fy Con­gress with­in 48 hours when they send the U.S. mil­i­tary into com­bat, then with­draw the forces with­in a spec­i­fied peri­od unless Con­gress has autho­rized the action.

Last year, the House and Sen­ate invoked the war-pow­ers law to end Amer­i­ca’s mil­i­tary involve­ment in Yemen’s civ­il war, but lost their bid when Don­ald Trump suc­cess­ful­ly vetoed the mea­sure.

Tim Kaine, D‑Virginia (and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s 2016 nom­i­nee for Vice Pres­i­dent) said: “We should not be at war with Iran unless Con­gress votes to autho­rize such a war. While the pres­i­dent does and must always have the abil­i­ty to defend the Unit­ed States from immi­nent attack, the exec­u­tive pow­er to ini­ti­ate war stops there. An offen­sive war requires a con­gres­sion­al debate and vote.”

Lind­sey Gra­ham, R‑South Car­oli­na, said: “If this pass­es, the pres­i­dent will nev­er abide by it. No pres­i­dent would. It will have an effect on our ene­mies’ per­cep­tion of the will of the Unit­ed States to stand up to Iran­ian aggres­sion. It will have an effect on our allies: Can you real­ly trust Amer­i­ca? Our friends in Israel are watch­ing with great con­cern about this debate.”

A yes vote was to restrain Trump’s war-mak­ing pow­ers against Iran.

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

LWIC will be on hiatus next Sunday

Con­gress will be its Pres­i­dents Day recess dur­ing the week of Feb­ru­ary 17th.

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!

© 2020 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

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