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, February 9th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (February 3rd-7th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 7th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

OPPOSING BLOCK GRANTS FOR MEDICAID: The House on Feb­ru­ary 6th vot­ed, 223 for and 190 against, to con­demn a Trump admin­is­tra­tion plan to scale back Medicaid’s tra­di­tion­al sta­tus as an enti­tle­ment pro­gram in which all indi­vid­u­als who meet cer­tain income or dis­abil­i­ty cri­te­ria receive guar­an­teed access to defined stan­dards of health care. The mea­sure (House Res­o­lu­tion 826) was non-bind­ing.

Under pro­posed Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices reg­u­la­tions, states could choose to shift some of their Med­ic­aid offer­ings to a block-grant pro­gram with caps put on fund­ing lev­els and access to care deter­mined by dis­cre­tionary state poli­cies rather than fed­er­al­ly set require­ments. The pro­posed con­ver­sion would main­ly affect the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act’s Med­ic­aid expan­sion. Pre-PPA Med­ic­aid pro­grams in all states would con­tin­ue to func­tion on a need basis fea­tur­ing guar­an­teed access to care and unfet­tered state-fed­er­al fund­ing lev­els.

Michael Doyle, D‑Pennsylvania, said: “Block grants do not strength­en the Med­ic­aid pro­gram and they do not pro­tect Amer­i­cans… Repub­li­cans have been try­ing to cut Med­ic­aid for thir­ty years. This is just the lat­est attempt. They most recent­ly failed to cut Med­ic­aid cov­er­age when they were in the major­i­ty and tried to repeal the Afford­able Care Act… Now the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is try­ing to go it alone.”

Bud­dy Carter, R‑Georgia, said the change “would allow states more flex­i­bil­i­ty to man­age their Med­ic­aid expan­sion pop­u­la­tion by choos­ing to accept their fed­er­al funds in a per-per­son or lump-sum basis. States would be able to [use] that mon­ey to more effi­cient­ly treat these patients…. The Med­ic­aid pro­gram was built to be a safe­ty net for our chil­dren and the poor — not to be our nation’s largest insur­er.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to fund­ing part of Med­ic­aid with block grants.

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, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Peter DeFazio

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

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

EXPANDING LABOR LAWS AND WORKER RIGHTS: Vot­ing 224 for and 194 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 6th passed a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-spon­sored bill (H.R. 2474) that would amend Unit­ed States fed­er­al labor laws and reg­u­la­tions in order to expand union mem­ber­ship and strength­en employ­ee rights to bar­gain for bet­ter pay, ben­e­fits, and work­ing con­di­tions.

In part, the bill would:

  • estab­lish the right to orga­nize as a civ­il right enforce­able in fed­er­al court;
  • make it dif­fi­cult for employ­ers to clas­si­fy “gig econ­o­my” work­ers as inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors to pre­vent them from join­ing unions;
  • estab­lish penal­ties of up to $50,000 per vio­la­tion for employ­ers who break the law to dis­cour­age work­ers from orga­niz­ing;
  • enable employ­ees to file class-action law­suits over work­ing con­di­tions;
  • estab­lish a medi­a­tion and arbi­tra­tion process to guide ini­tial con­tract nego­ti­a­tions between new­ly formed unions and com­pa­nies;
  • ease the pro­hi­bi­tion on unions con­duct­ing sec­ondary boy­cotts;
  • effec­tive­ly void state fire-at-will laws;
  • require employ­ers to pro­vide detailed employ­ee infor­ma­tion to union orga­niz­ers;
  • and ensure that work­ers with mul­ti­ple employ­ers can nego­ti­ate direct­ly with the one exer­cis­ing the most direct con­trol over their con­di­tions of employ­ment.

Jamie Raskin, D‑Maryland, said “the right to orga­nize is root­ed in the First Amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which pro­tects the right of the peo­ple to speak, to assem­ble and to peti­tion for a redress griev­ances. All of these rights have been under severe attack over the last sev­er­al decades of union-bust­ing and inter­fer­ence with the right of the peo­ple to orga­nize into unions.”

Michael Burgess, R‑Texas, said the bill “is noth­ing more than a require­ment that work­ers become mem­bers of labor union. Repub­li­cans sup­port the right of employ­ees to form a labor union, but it should be a choice of every indi­vid­ual work­er.”

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

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

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

PRESERVING STATE UNIONBUSTING LAWS: Vot­ing 187 for and 232 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 6th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can-spon­sored amend­ment that sought to strip HR 2474 (above) of lan­guage that would effec­tive­ly void the union­bust­ing laws now oper­a­tive in twen­ty-sev­en states. Under those laws, employ­ees are enti­tled to receive all the ben­e­fits of a union con­tract with­out hav­ing to pay fees or dues to the bar­gain­ing unit that nego­ti­at­ed on their behalf.

The bill would com­pel these non-union mem­bers to pay union dues.

Spon­sor Rick Allen, R‑Georgia, said:

“No Amer­i­can should be forced to pay for rep­re­sen­ta­tion and polit­i­cal activ­i­ties that they do not agree with, and that is what will hap­pen if we take away states’ author­i­ty to enact right-to-work laws. My amend­ment will pro­tect states’ right-to-work laws so that union dues are vol­un­tary, giv­ing pow­er to work­ers, not union boss­es, who pock­et these ben­e­fits from manda­to­ry dues.”

Brad Sher­man, D‑California, said: “Right-to-work pro­vi­sions under­mine the right to union­ize because our basic labor law requires a union to rep­re­sent all those in the bar­gain­ing unit, and every­one in the bar­gain­ing unit ben­e­fits from the union con­tract. If you tell peo­ple you don’t have to join, you don’t have to pay the union dues, you don’t have to pay a fee and you still get all the ben­e­fits, then right-to-work is real­ly code for right to free ride.”

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 (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

BLOCKING REBUKE OF SPEAKER PELOSI: Vot­ing 224 for and 193 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 6th blocked an attempt by Repub­li­cans to rebuke Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi, D‑California, for hav­ing torn apart on nation­al tele­vi­sion a copy of Pres­i­dent Trump’s State of the Union address to Con­gress on Feb­ru­ary 4th. As a priv­i­leged motion, this mea­sure (House Res­o­lu­tion 832) was not debat­able.

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to rebuk­ing the speak­er.

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

PROVIDING DISASTER AID TO PUERTO RICO: Vot­ing 237 for and 161 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 7th passed a bill (H.R. 5687) that would pro­vide Puer­to Rico with about $5 bil­lion in dis­as­ter aid, includ­ing $18 mil­lion for elec­tri­cal-grid repairs, to help it recov­er from earth­quakes this year and hur­ri­canes Irma and Maria in 2017. The bill also deliv­ers $16 bil­lion in tax breaks over ten years cen­tered on child tax cred­its and earned income tax cred­its for indi­vid­u­als and house­holds on the island and excise tax­es on rum sales.

Mark DeSaulnier, D‑California., said: “Puer­to Rico needs our help. With­out it, roads will remain unpass­able, schools will remain closed, and the poor will become poor­er.”

Michael Burgess, R‑Texas, said the bill “pro­vides addi­tion­al bil­lions in aid with­out any account­abil­i­ty mea­sures. Exist­ing dis­as­ter aid should be expend­ed before appro­pri­at­ing” any addi­tion­al funds.

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

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)

ACQUITTING TRUMP ON ARTICLE I — ABUSE OF POWER: Vot­ing 48 for and 52 against, the Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 5th failed to con­vict Don­ald Trump on the first of two arti­cles of impeach­ment arti­cles approved by the House. Arti­cle I charged Trump with hav­ing abused the pow­er of the pres­i­den­cy by with­hold­ing mil­i­tary aid and an Oval Office vis­it from Ukraine as pres­sure to obtain per­son­al polit­i­cal favors from Ukrain­ian offi­cials aimed at boost­ing his 2020 re-elec­tion prospects.

Mitt Rom­ney, R‑Utah (and the only Repub­li­can to vote Guilty) said: “The grave ques­tion the Con­sti­tu­tion tasks sen­a­tors to answer is whether the pres­i­dent com­mit­ted an act so extreme and egre­gious that it ris­es to the lev­el of a high crime and mis­de­meanor. Yes, he did. The pres­i­dent asked a for­eign gov­ern­ment to inves­ti­gate his polit­i­cal rival. The pres­i­dent with­held vital mil­i­tary funds from that gov­ern­ment to press it to do so. The pres­i­dent delayed funds for an Amer­i­can ally at war with Russ­ian invaders. The pres­i­den­t’s pur­pose was per­son­al and polit­i­cal. Accord­ing­ly, the pres­i­dent is guilty of an appalling abuse of pub­lic trust.”

Lamar Alexan­der, R‑Tennessee, said: “It was inap­pro­pri­ate for the pres­i­dent to ask a for­eign leader to inves­ti­gate his polit­i­cal oppo­nent and to with­hold U.S. aid to encour­age this inves­ti­ga­tion. When elect­ed offi­cials inap­pro­pri­ate­ly inter­fere with such inves­ti­ga­tions, it under­mines the prin­ci­ple of equal jus­tice under the law. But the Con­sti­tu­tion does not give the Sen­ate the pow­er to remove the pres­i­dent from office and ban him from this year’s bal­lot sim­ply for actions that are inap­pro­pri­ate.”

A “Guilty” vote was in favor of remov­ing the pres­i­dent from office.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Not Guilty (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Guilty (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Guilty (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 guilty votes, 2 not guilty votes

ACQUITTING TRUMP ON ARTICLE II — OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS: By a vote of 47 for and 53 against, the Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 5th failed to con­vict Don­ald Trump on the sec­ond arti­cle of impeach­ment approved by the House. Arti­cle II charged Trump with hav­ing unlaw­ful­ly obstruct­ed Con­gress by direct­ing exec­u­tive branch offi­cials and agen­cies to not com­ply with sub­poe­nas for wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted by the House in its impeach­ment inquiry.

Doug Jones, D‑Alabama, said: “The pres­i­den­t’s actions demon­strate a belief that he is above the law, that Con­gress has no pow­er what­so­ev­er in ques­tion­ing or exam­in­ing his actions, and that all who do so, do so at their per­il. That belief, unprece­dent­ed in the his­to­ry of this coun­try, sim­ply must not be per­mit­ted to stand. To do oth­er­wise risks guar­an­tee­ing that no future whistle­blow­er or wit­ness will ever come for­ward, and no future pres­i­dent, Repub­li­can or Demo­c­rat, will be sub­ject to con­gres­sion­al over­sight as man­dat­ed by the Con­sti­tu­tion even when the pres­i­dent has so clear­ly abused his office and vio­lat­ed the pub­lic trust.”

Chief Repub­li­can Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, who vowed at the out­set not to con­duct an impar­tial tri­al, said: “The U.S. Sen­ate was made for moments like this. The framers pre­dict­ed that fac­tion­al fever might dom­i­nate House majori­ties from time to time. They knew the coun­try would need a fire­wall to keep par­ti­san flames from scorch­ing our repub­lic. So they cre­at­ed the Sen­ate — out of ‘neces­si­ty,’ James Madi­son wrote, ‘of some sta­ble insti­tu­tion in the gov­ern­ment.’ Today, we will ful­fill this found­ing pur­pose. We will reject this inco­her­ent case that comes nowhere near — nowhere near — jus­ti­fy­ing the first pres­i­den­tial removal in his­to­ry.”

A “Guilty” vote was in favor of remov­ing the pres­i­dent from office.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Not Guilty (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Guilty (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Guilty (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 guilty votes, 2 not guilty votes

Key votes ahead

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will take up bills to pro­tect wilder­ness dur­ing the week of Feb­ru­ary 10th, while the Sen­ate will vote on assert­ing con­gres­sion­al author­i­ty over any Unit­ed States mil­i­tary strikes against Iran.

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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