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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, May 17th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (May 11th-15th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, May 15th, 2020.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

CONDUCTING HOUSE BUSINESS BY REMOTE VOTING: Vot­ing 217 for and 189 against, the House on May 15th changed its rules to allow mem­bers to vote remote­ly in floor pro­ceed­ings for the first time in the 231-year his­to­ry of the insti­tu­tion. The mea­sure (H. Res­o­lu­tion 965) also per­mits House com­mit­tees to con­duct com­mit­tee busi­ness by remote con­nec­tions includ­ing video links.

A response to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, the res­o­lu­tion pro­vides that the rules we sub­ject to a vote of renew­al in forty-five days (or else shall expire). For vot­ing on the House floor, each phys­i­cal­ly-present mem­ber would be autho­rized to vote by proxy for up to ten absent col­leagues whose vot­ing instruc­tions, filed elec­tron­i­cal­ly with the clerk’s office, he or she would be oblig­at­ed to fol­low.

Jim McGov­ern, D‑Massachusetts, said: “This is not just about pro­tect­ing mem­bers of Con­gress [but] about pro­tect­ing all of those who come in con­tact with us.Convening Con­gress must not turn onto a super-spread­er event. Tech­nol­o­gy has changed con­sid­er­ably over the last 231 years. There are now tools avail­able to make com­mit­tee pro­ceed­ings and remote vot­ing on the House floor pos­si­ble.”

Mac Thorn­ber­ry, R‑Texas, said: “Through the Civ­il War, the 1918 flu, World War II, [Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001], through­out our his­to­ry, there has nev­er been proxy vot­ing on this floor. Mem­bers accept­ed the risk and car­ried out their duty to the best of their abil­i­ty. It was not about tech­nol­o­gy, it was about trust and integri­ty. Were our pre­de­ces­sors so much braver than we are?”

A yes vote was to adopt the res­o­lu­tion.

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 (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rick Larsen; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 10 aye votes, 7 nay votes

APPROVING $3 TRILLION FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF: Vot­ing 208 for and 199 against, the House on May 15th approved a $3 tril­lion coro­n­avirus relief pack­age (H.R. 6800, the HEROES Act) that includes:

  • near­ly $1 tril­lion for state, local, trib­al and ter­ri­to­r­i­al gov­ern­ments;
  • $200 bil­lion to fund haz­ard pay for essen­tial work­ers includ­ing med­ical per­son­nel and first respon­ders;
  • $100 bil­lion for hos­pi­tals serv­ing poor com­mu­ni­ties;
  • $100 bil­lion to help ten­ants pay rent;
  • $75 bil­lion in home­own­er mort­gage aid;
  • $75 bil­lion for test­ing for all and free coro­n­avirus care for those with­out health insur­ance;
  • $25 bil­lion to sus­tain the Postal Ser­vice;
  • $10 bil­lion in dis­as­ter aid to busi­ness­es and non-prof­its shut out of the Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram;
  • $3.6 bil­lion to boost bal­lot secu­ri­ty and vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion in this year’s elec­tions;
  • $600 mil­lion to help local police depart­ments meet pay­roll and equip­ment costs;
  • $600 mil­lion to address virus spread in state and fed­er­al pris­ons,
  • … and unspec­i­fied sums to cov­er $600 per week in enhanced unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits through Jan­u­ary and a sec­ond round of stim­u­lus pay­ments of $1,200 to indi­vid­u­als and $2,400 to fam­i­lies up to cer­tain income lev­els plus expand­ed child tax cred­its.

In addi­tion, the bill would:

  • expand food stamps and nutri­tion­al assis­tance; fund stu­dent-loan for­give­ness of up to $10,000 per bor­row­er;
  • open the Patient Care Act to coro­n­avirus vic­tims lack­ing health insur­ance;
  • expand so-called COBRA tem­po­rary med­ical insur­ance to those los­ing cov­er­age at work;
  • require the Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion to invoke coro­n­avirus work­place rules with­in sev­en days;
  • delay Cen­sus Bureau dead­lines for sup­ply­ing appor­tion­ment and redis­trict­ing data to juris­dic­tions;
  • pro­vide tax cred­its to incen­tivize employ­ers to retain work­ers;
  • expand earned-income tax cred­its for low-income fam­i­lies;
  • tem­porar­i­ly lift a cap on tax deduc­tions for state and local tax pay­ments in cer­tain states and shore up mul­ti-employ­er pen­sion plans in col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments.

Kweisi Mfume, D‑Maryland, said the bill “pro­vides real sup­port for Amer­i­can heroes. Our cops, our teach­ers, our fire­men, our first respon­ders. It is sup­port­ed by Repub­li­cans, and some­body needs to say that. Repub­li­can gov­er­nors. Repub­li­can may­ors. And Repub­li­can mem­bers from that side of the aisle that will vote for this.”

Steve Scalise, R‑Louisiana., said “we should also be talk­ing about what’s not in this bill. [Democ­rats] have $500 bil­lion in this pack­age for states includ­ing many who already wrecked their econ­o­my and had bil­lion dol­lar deficits pri­or to COVID-19. What’s not in this bill is mon­ey to hold Chi­na account­able for this whole mess.”

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): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 9 aye votes, 8 nay votes

REJECTING REPUBLICAN CHANGE TO HEROES ACT ID: Vot­ing 198 for and 209 against, the House on May 15th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can motion to strip H.R. 6800 (above) of a pro­vi­sion that would broad­en ID require­ments for receiv­ing coro­n­avirus stim­u­lus checks. The dis­put­ed pro­vi­sion is intend­ed to ben­e­fit, among oth­ers, those who do not have a Social Secu­ri­ty num­ber and do not file a fed­er­al tax return because of low income. It allows them to use an IRS Tax­pay­er Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber to obtain a stim­u­lus check to which they are enti­tled by law.

The first stim­u­lus round of $1,200 for indi­vid­u­als and $2,400 for fam­i­lies up to cer­tain income lev­els was approved by Con­gress in late March, and the sec­ond round is fund­ed in the cur­rent bill (H.R. 6800).

Den­ver Rig­gle­man, R‑Virginia., said the ID pro­vi­sion would “allow ille­gal immi­grants and non-cit­i­zens to get checks they are not eli­gi­ble for.Now more than ever, we need to make sure these rebate checks go to Amer­i­cans who need them.”

Nita Lowey, D‑New York, said “the only thing Repub­li­cans can offer is regur­gi­tat­ed talk­ing points about immi­gra­tion. COVID-19 does not dis­crim­i­nate or dif­fer­en­ti­ate on immi­gra­tion sta­tus. Our coun­try does­n’t have time for Repub­li­cans to relit­i­gate the cul­ture wars.”

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 (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

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

RENEWING DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE AUTHORITY: Vot­ing 80 for and 16 against, the Sen­ate on May 14th approved a five-year exten­sion (H.R. 6172) of three sec­tions of the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act (FISA) that require peri­od­ic con­gres­sion­al renew­al because of their direct clash with Amer­i­cans’ civ­il lib­er­ties. One sec­tion allows law enforce­ment to place rov­ing wire­taps on home­grown or for­eign ter­ror­ist sus­pects mov­ing about the Unit­ed States, and anoth­er autho­rizes gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance on U.S. soil of for­eign “lone wolf” sus­pects not linked to ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions.

Under the third sec­tion, the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court can autho­rize for­ev­er-secret FBI search­es of domes­tic library, book­store and busi­ness records if the agency shows “rea­son­able grounds” the tar­get­ed infor­ma­tion is vital to an ongo­ing domes­tic probe of specif­i­cal­ly defined for­eign-spon­sored threats to nation­al secu­ri­ty. This author­i­ty is root­ed in Sec­tion 215 of FISA, a law enact­ed in 1978 and expand­ed after the attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001, to strength­en gov­ern­ment pow­ers to detect and pre­vent ter­ror­ist threats to Amer­i­ca.

In part, this bill pro­hibits the use of Sec­tion 215 to obtain GPS and cell-phone loca­tions; requires most infor­ma­tion obtained in Sec­tion 215 search­es to be destroyed after five years; requires the attor­ney gen­er­al to approve in writ­ing FISA war­rants issued against elect­ed offi­cials or can­di­dates; expands Civ­il Lib­er­ties Over­sight Board pow­ers to mon­i­tor abus­es in the dis­charge of the FISA law; restricts the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agen­cy’s already-scaled-back col­lec­tion of meta data on telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions pass­ing through U.S. switch­ing points; and requires the gov­ern­ment to dis­close with­in 180 days all sub­stan­tive opin­ions by the FISA court.

John Cornyn, R‑Texas, said the FISA statute “has been amend­ed sev­er­al times over the more than thir­ty years that it has been law, par­tic­u­lar­ly since 9/11…. It is time to, once again, strength­en the over­sight of our nation’s intel­li­gence activ­i­ties and restore trust in our crit­i­cal insti­tu­tions.”

Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, said the orig­i­nal spon­sors of the FISA law, “who intend­ed to restrain uncon­sti­tu­tion­al search­es, would be appalled at what the FISA court has become…that this secret court intend­ed to be used to inves­ti­gate for­eign spies and ter­ror­ists was turned into a pow­er­ful and inva­sive force to infil­trate and dis­rupt the polit­i­cal process.”

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

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

EXPANDING CIVIL LIBERTIES SAFEGUARDS: Vot­ing 77 for and 19 against, the Sen­ate on May 13th amend­ed H.R. 6172 (above) to expand civ­il lib­er­ties’ pro­tec­tions for reli­gious insti­tu­tions, pub­lic offi­cials, news orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er par­ties tar­get­ed or inno­cent­ly swept up in probes con­duct­ed under Sec­tion 215 of the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act (FISA). The amend­ment would give judges in the secret FISA courts more author­i­ty to order inde­pen­dent “ami­cus curi­ae’ legal reviews by out­side coun­sel of gov­ern­ment actions in such cas­es.

Patrick Leahy, D‑Vermont., said: “We have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reform our flawed sur­veil­lance author­i­ties. These oppor­tu­ni­ties don’t come by often. We should­n’t squan­der it, espe­cial­ly when the Jus­tice Depart­men­t’s own inspec­tor gen­er­al has been alert­ing us of the wide­spread prob­lems with­in the FISA process.”

No sen­a­tor spoke against the amend­ment.

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 Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 1 not vot­ing

REQUIRING WARRANTS TO OBTAIN COPIES OF WEB BROWSER SEARCHES: Vot­ing 59 for and 37 against, the Sen­ate on May 13th reject­ed an amend­ment to HR 6172 (above) that sought to pro­hib­it fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors from con­duct­ing war­rant­less search­es of Inter­net brows­er and search-engine his­to­ries under Sec­tion 215 of the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act. Sup­port­ers need­ed six­ty votes to gain approval of their amend­ment and came one shy.

Steve Daines, R‑Montana, said: “Brows­er data is extreme­ly per­son­al, sen­si­tive, and should require a prob­a­ble cause war­rant to access. If you want to see an Amer­i­can’s search his­to­ry, then you bet­ter go to a judge and get a war­rant.”

Oppo­nents said that the amend­ment would imper­il nation­al secu­ri­ty by delay­ing FISA court approval of gov­ern­ment appli­ca­tions to sur­veil ter­ror­ism sus­pects on U.S. soil. 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 Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 1 not vot­ing

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will debate judi­cial and exec­u­tive branch nom­i­na­tions dur­ing the week of May 18th, and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be in recess.

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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