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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 31st, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (May 25th-29th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, May 29th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

PLUGGING HOLES IN PAYCHECK PROTECTION: Vot­ing 417 for and one against, the House on May 28th passed a bill (H.R. 7010) that would change the Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram (PPP) to cor­rect defi­cien­cies uncov­ered since it was enact­ed March 27 to help com­pa­nies with few­er than five hun­dred employ­ees stay in busi­ness and retain work­ers dur­ing the nov­el coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. Con­gress has appro­pri­at­ed $649 bil­lion for the PPP, but at least $100 bil­lion of the out­lay has not yet been dis­trib­uted because of pro­gram flaws addressed by this bill.

In its orig­i­nal form, the PPP fund­ed two-year, one per­cent Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion (SBA) loans, which would be con­vert­ed to grants if the recip­i­ent com­pa­ny, in an eight-week span, used at least sev­en­ty-five per­cent of the sum for pay­roll costs and the remain­der for util­i­ty and rent or mort­gage pay­ments.

This bill extends the spend­ing win­dow to twen­ty-four weeks and changes the allo­ca­tion ratio from 75–25 to 60–40. In addi­tion, the bill would:

  • Allow com­pa­nies to include laid-off work­ers who have received “good faith” rehir­ing offers to be includ­ed in the pay­roll count for sat­is­fy­ing loan-for­give­ness require­ments. One effect of this pro­vi­sion would be to allow those out of work to col­lect a full allot­ment of state- and fed­er­al­ly fund­ed unem­ploy­ment checks before return­ing to their employ­er’s pay­roll.
  • Estab­lish a safe har­bor for busi­ness­es, includ­ing restau­rants, that are required to open at lim­it­ed (such as 50 per­cent) capac­i­ty in order to com­ply with social-dis­tanc­ing rules. These com­pa­nies would receive more time to achieve staffing lev­els nec­es­sary to have their loan con­vert­ed to a grant.
  • Allow com­pa­nies to keep IRS pay­roll-tax ben­e­fits, includ­ing deduc­tions, for the por­tion of a worker’s pay fund­ed by a Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram loan that is lat­er con­vert­ed to a grant.

Fred Upton, R‑Michigan, said: “As much as all of us want­ed this night­mare to end by East­er, we are now past Memo­r­i­al Day, and those small busi­ness­es are still not open…and they can’t pos­si­bly meet that 75 per­cent standard…to con­vert that loan to a grant. So with­out the changes in this bipar­ti­san bill, [the PPP] instead will be an anchor that will take them down.”

No mem­ber spoke against the bill.

The neg­a­tive vote was cast by Thomas Massie, R‑Kentucky.

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

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 aye votes

REQUIRING TRANSPARENCY IN CORONAVIRUS FUNDING: Vot­ing 269 for and 147 against, the House on May 28th failed to reach a two-thirds thresh­old need­ed to pass a bill (H.R. 6782) that would require the Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion to set up a pub­licly acces­si­ble data­base of recip­i­ents Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram and Eco­nom­ic Injury Dis­as­ter Assis­tance loans over $2 mil­lion and their num­ber of employ­ees.

The data­base also would have to enu­mer­ate com­pa­nies receiv­ing SBA coro­n­avirus aid that are owned by women, minori­ties and vet­er­ans. There is present­ly no pub­lic resource for track­ing the dis­tri­b­u­tion of at least $725 bil­lion in coro­n­avirus loans and grants this year to com­pa­nies, non-prof­its and the self-employed.

Nadia Velazquez, D‑New York, said the list­ing “is pre­cise­ly the kind of data Con­gress needs to ensure the [mon­ey] is reach­ing those com­mu­ni­ties and busi­ness­es that need it most.”

Steve Chabot, R‑Ohio, said bill “attempts to name and some would say shame busi­ness­es that act­ed in good faith and fol­lowed the law and the guide­lines. I do not believe those busi­ness­es should be put on dis­play for poten­tial sham­ing.”

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 (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (9): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler and Dan New­house

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 14 aye votes, 3 nay votes

EXTENDING DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE AUTHORITY: Vot­ing 284 for and 122 against, the House on May 28th sent a five-year exten­sion (H.R. 6172) of the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act (FISA) to con­fer­ence with the Sen­ate.

The House had been poised to send the bill to Don­ald Trump on a bipar­ti­san vote. But Repub­li­cans abrupt­ly with­drew sup­port after Trump asked them to do so for rea­sons relat­ed to the FBI’s use of FISA war­rants to inves­ti­gate Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. So House Democ­rats arranged this vote to send the bill to addi­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions with the Sen­ate.

The bill would renew FISA pro­vi­sions relat­ed to domes­tic sur­veil­lance that require peri­od­ic con­gres­sion­al renew­al because of their clash with civ­il lib­er­ties.

In part, the bill pro­hibits the use of FISA Sec­tion 215 to obtain GPS and cell-phone loca­tions; requires the attor­ney gen­er­al to approve in writ­ing FISA war­rants issued against elect­ed offi­cials or can­di­dates, and expands civ­il lib­er­ties’ pro­tec­tions for domes­tic reli­gious insti­tu­tions, pub­lic offi­cials, news orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er par­ties tar­get­ed or inno­cent­ly swept up in FISA probes.

Jer­rold Nadler, D‑New York, said: “Repub­li­cans aban­doned this bipar­ti­san [bill] for one rea­son and one rea­son only: The pres­i­dent tweet­ed, on a whim, and told them to oppose this bill. This is just one more exam­ple of how the pres­i­dent and his enablers in this body have stood in the way of nation­al secu­ri­ty, of civ­il liberties.I refuse to let our efforts to reform FISA die sim­ply because Repub­li­cans are unwill­ing to stand up to the pres­i­den­t’s whims.”

Louie Gohmert, R‑Texas, said: “Go reread the Fourth Amend­ment. We are not sup­posed to autho­rize search­es and seizures against Amer­i­cans with­out the prop­er due process, with­out a prob­a­ble cause and with­out par­tic­u­lar­ly describ­ing the places to be searched and what to be seized. And the FISA court has vio­lat­ed that. A vote to go to con­fer­ence is a total abdi­ca­tion of this body’s job to put out a good bill that does reform.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to a House-Sen­ate con­fer­ence.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simp­son

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er

Vot­ing Nay (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Earl Blu­me­nauer

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house

Vot­ing Nay (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 5 nay votes, 1 not vot­ing

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will vote on judi­cial and exec­u­tive branch nom­i­na­tions in the week of June 1st, while 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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