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, June 28th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (June 22nd-26th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, June 26th, 2020.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

ESTABLISHING GROUND RULES FOR POLICE: The House on June 25th passed, 236 for and 181 against, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-spon­sored bill (H.R. 7120) that would set fed­er­al rules and guide­lines for law enforce­ment prac­tices at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment. In addi­tion to impos­ing rules for the tens of thou­sands of fed­er­al police offi­cers, the bill includes require­ments for state and local law enforce­ment and uses the dis­burse­ment or threat­ened with­hold­ing of fed­er­al funds to encour­age com­pli­ance. Con­gress typ­i­cal­ly deliv­ers hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars annu­al­ly to state and local law enforce­ment.

Among its wide-rang­ing pro­vi­sions, the bill would:

Choke­holds: Pro­hib­it fed­er­al law enforce­ment from using choke­holds or oth­er appli­ca­tions of pres­sure on the carotid arter­ies, throats or wind­pipes of per­sons being restrained. Finan­cial incen­tives would encour­age state and local police to also out­law such tac­tics. The use of choke­holds based on race would be defined as a civ­il rights vio­la­tion.

Qual­i­fied Immu­ni­ty: Elim­i­nate the “qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty” defense from civ­il fed­er­al and non-fed­er­al lit­i­ga­tion in which a police offi­cer is being sued for dam­ages based on mis­con­duct includ­ing exces­sive use of force. At present, accused offi­cers can obtain immu­ni­ty mere­ly by show­ing their con­duct was not pro­hib­it­ed by “clear­ly estab­lished law” as opposed to a spe­cif­ic statute or reg­u­la­tion.

No Knock War­rants: Pro­hib­it the use of no-knock war­rants in fed­er­al drug cas­es, and use fed­er­al fund­ing as lever­age to per­suade states and local­i­ties to bar the use of such war­rants in non­fed­er­al drug enforce­ment.

Cre­ation of Mis­con­duct Reg­istry: Estab­lish a Nation­al Police Mis­con­duct Reg­istry for data on offi­cers fired by local police depart­ments for rea­sons includ­ing exces­sive use of force. The data­base could be used to iden­ti­fy police appli­cants with trou­ble­some employ­ment his­to­ries.

Bol­ster Pro­hi­bi­tions Against Racial Pro­fil­ing: Pro­hib­it racial, reli­gious and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry pro­fil­ing by fed­er­al and non­fed­er­al law enforce­ment. Indi­vid­u­als could bring civ­il actions for declara­to­ry or injunc­tive relief.

Use of Force Stan­dard: Amend fed­er­al law to jus­ti­fy “use of force” on grounds it was “nec­es­sary” rather than mere­ly “rea­son­able,” and use finan­cial incen­tives to encour­age state and local law enforce­ment to adopt the same stan­dard.

Use of Force Report­ing: Require state and local police to report use-of-force data to a new Jus­tice Depart­ment data­base, break­ing down the infor­ma­tion by race, sex, dis­abil­i­ty, reli­gion and age. Jus­tice could also col­lect data on local offi­cers’ body frisks and traf­fic and pedes­tri­an stops.

Mil­i­tary Equipment/Militarization: Lim­it the trans­fer of mil­i­tary equip­ment from the Depart­ment of Defense to state and local police agen­cies.

Cam­era Require­ments: Require uni­formed fed­er­al police to wear body cam­eras and marked fed­er­al police cars to mount dash­board cam­eras, and give local depart­ments finan­cial incen­tives to equip offi­cers with body cam­eras.

Stan­dard of Evi­dence: Low­er the crim­i­nal intent stan­dard of evi­dence in police mis­con­duct pros­e­cu­tions under fed­er­al law from “will­ful­ness” to “reck­less­ness.”

Local Over­sight Com­mis­sions: Fund local com­mis­sions and task forces for devel­op­ing prac­tices based main­ly on com­mu­ni­ty polic­ing rather than use of force.

Inves­ti­gat­ing Depart­ments: Give the fed­er­al Depart­ment of Jus­tice sub­poe­na pow­er for inves­ti­gat­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry and bru­tal “pat­terns and prac­tices” by local depart­ments, and fund efforts by state attor­neys gen­er­al to inves­ti­gate trou­bled munic­i­pal depart­ments.

Accred­i­ta­tion: Require all 18,000 local police depart­ments in the Unit­ed States to adopt of law-enforce­ment accred­i­ta­tion stan­dards.

Sex­u­al Mis­con­duct: Make it a crime for a fed­er­al police offi­cer to engage in sex, even if it is con­sen­su­al, with an indi­vid­ual under arrest or in cus­tody, and use finan­cial incen­tives to encour­age states to enact the same pro­hi­bi­tion.

Sup­port­er Cedric Rich­mond, D‑Louisiana, said:

“Amer­i­ca is burn­ing and my [Repub­li­can] col­leagues can’t see, or they don’t want to see, because of blind loy­al­ty to a self-absorbed leader that lacks the char­ac­ter or con­cern to care. Amer­i­ca is also weep­ing… for the vic­tims of exces­sive force by those sworn to pro­tect and serve. She is cry­ing for her Amer­i­can lead­er­ship to man up, to meet this moment and to write in the laws of this coun­try once and for all that black lives do mat­ter.”

Oppo­nent Tom McClin­tock, R‑California, called the bill “an ide­o­log­i­cal laun­dry list of oper­a­tional restric­tions and pro­ce­dures upon every police depart­ment in the coun­try” that “ignores the most seri­ous prob­lem we face – the pro­tec­tion of bad cops by col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments that make it almost impos­si­ble to fire them.” He added, “There are racists of every col­or in every soci­ety, it’s the basest side of human nature. But no nation has strug­gled hard­er to tran­scend that nature and iso­late and ostra­cize its racists than has Amer­i­ca.”

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

REJECTING SENATE POLICING BILL: Vot­ing 180 for and 236 against, the House on June 25th defeat­ed a bid to replace a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-spon­sored polic­ing reform bill (H.R. 7120, above) with a less exten­sive pro­pos­al by Sen­ate Repub­li­cans (described in more detail and scored below).

House Repub­li­cans said the Sen­ate bill includes far-reach­ing reforms and could reach Don­ald Trump’s desk this year, while Democ­rats called it unwor­thy of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment because it lacks enforce­ment, omits cer­tain reforms and favors study over action.

Pete Stauber, R‑Wisconsin, said the pro­pos­al “improves access to pri­or dis­ci­pli­nary records, restores invest­ment in com­mu­ni­ty polic­ing, invests in improved police train­ing with a focus on de-esca­la­tion tech­niques, increas­es fund­ing for body-cam­era usage” and, over­all, pro­vides “real and much need­ed police reform.”

Sheila Jack­son Lee, D‑Texas, asked: “Where is the par­ty of Lin­coln? Where is the moment of courage when the slaves were freed in 1863? This Sen­ate bill does not rise the occa­sion of those who are in the streets.It does not con­tain any mech­a­nism to hold law enforce­ment offi­cers account­able for their mis­con­duct. In this bill, George Floyd would not have lived.”

A yes vote was to embrace the Sen­ate Repub­li­can police bill.

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

FAILING TO OVERRIDE VETO ON STUDENT LOANS: Vot­ing 238 for and 173 against, the House on June 26th failed to reach a two-thirds major­i­ty need­ed to over­ride Don­ald Trump’s veto of a mea­sure (H.J. Res 76) con­cern­ing an admin­is­tra­tion rule on stu­dent-loan for­give­ness.

The effect of the vote was to affirm a rule that crit­ics said would pro­vide for­give­ness to only three per­cent of some 200,000 claimants who allege their school fraud­u­lent­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed the qual­i­ty of edu­ca­tion they would receive.

Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos tes­ti­fied that the rule would cor­rect the “blan­ket for­give­ness” of an Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion “bor­row­er defense” rule it replaced.

The Trump rule bars class-action law­suits against schools and requires claims to be adju­di­cat­ed one-by-one by manda­to­ry arbi­tra­tion rather than in open court, with bor­row­ers pro­hib­it­ed from appeal­ing the deci­sion. The rule sets a stan­dard of evi­dence requir­ing bor­row­ers to prove the fraud was inten­tion­al.

A yes vote was to over­ride the pres­i­den­tial veto.

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

CONFERRING STATEHOOD ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Vot­ing 232 for and 180 against, the House on June 26 passed a bill (H.R. 51) that would make the Dis­trict of Colum­bia the fifty-first state, renamed as Wash­ing­ton, Dou­glass Com­mon­wealth (with Dou­glass Com­mon­wealth being the state’s name).

As a state, the new Wash­ing­ton, D.C., would acquire vot­ing rights in Con­gress, with one rep­re­sen­ta­tive and two sen­a­tors, and would have con­trol over prop­er­ty with­in its present bound­aries with excep­tions includ­ing the Capi­tol com­plex, nation­al mon­u­ments, the Supreme Court, the Nation­al Mall and near­by fed­er­al build­ings, the White House com­plex and assort­ed oth­er lots and edi­fices.

Cre­at­ed by the Con­sti­tu­tion as the seat of gov­ern­ment not with­in any state, and estab­lished ini­tial­ly on land carved out of Mary­land and Vir­ginia in 1790, the six­ty-eight-square-mile Dis­trict of Colum­bia, with about 700,000 res­i­dents, has lim­it­ed self-gov­ern­ment but is ulti­mate­ly ruled by Con­gress.

Car­olyn Mal­oney, D‑New York, said the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives “will vote today on whether hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens will final­ly have their voic­es count­ed in Con­gress. We will vote to hon­or the most fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of this nation and for which a rev­o­lu­tion was launched — no tax­a­tion with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion and con­sent of the gov­erned.”

Jody Hice, R‑Georgia., said “what this is real­ly all about is an attempt to get two more Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors.” He said Repub­li­cans “have the Con­sti­tu­tion on our side” because “Con­gress does not have the author­i­ty to take this dis­trict and cre­ate a state out of it. At least one con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment would be required for that to hap­pen.”

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)

BLOCKING REPUBLICAN-BACKED POLICING BILL: By a vote of 55 for and 45 against, the Sen­ate on June 24th failed to reach the six­ty votes need­ed to advance a Repub­li­can-draft­ed bill aimed at improv­ing fed­er­al, state and local polic­ing. Democ­rats called the mea­sure much weak­er than their par­ty’s pro­pos­als in the Sen­ate and House (above). Both par­ties would use fed­er­al fund­ing of law enforce­ment as a lever to encour­age state and local com­pli­ance.

The Repub­li­can bill would pro­hib­it choke­holds as nar­row­ly defined, in con­trast to broad­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic lan­guage in both cham­bers that would out­law the use of a range of restraints on blood flow and breath­ing.

The Repub­li­can bill would estab­lish one fed­er­al com­mis­sion to study polic­ing issues espe­cial­ly affect­ing black males, and anoth­er to rec­om­mend crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms. The bill also sought to make lynch­ing a fed­er­al crime; require police offi­cers to wear a body cam­era; estab­lish a fed­er­al data­base of offi­cers fired for mis­con­duct in order to make it dif­fi­cult for them to get rehired else­where; require local depart­ments to sub­mit details on their use of force caus­ing death or seri­ous injury to a fed­er­al data­base, and fund diver­si­ty hir­ing and de-esca­la­tion train­ing.

The Repub­li­can bill omits Demo­c­ra­t­ic pro­vi­sions to bar or scale back the “qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty” defense in civ­il law­suits against police offi­cers, and to give the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and state attor­neys gen­er­al more pow­er to inves­ti­gate local police depart­ments for “pat­tern and prac­tices” abus­es. The Repub­li­can bill does not include a pro­posed ban on racial pro­fil­ing that Democ­rats put in their bill, nor would it scale back the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of local police depart­ments.

While the Repub­li­can bill requires local police depart­ments to sub­mit data on their use of no-knock war­rants, Democ­rats would pro­hib­it no-knock war­rants in fed­er­al drug cas­es. In anoth­er dif­fer­ence, Repub­li­cans would require most infor­ma­tion in a new­ly estab­lished FBI data­base on police mis­con­duct to be shield­ed from pub­lic view, while both Demo­c­ra­t­ic mea­sures would open the data­base to the pub­lic.

Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, said:

“Faced with the fact that polic­ing is pri­mar­i­ly a local and state, rather than a fed­er­al, con­cern, [we] nev­er­the­less found a vari­ety of levers that Con­gress can pull to advance and incen­tivize and insist on the changes that we need to see. We need to encour­age police depart­ments across Amer­i­ca to imple­ment prac­ti­cal reforms like end­ing choke­holds, train­ing their offi­cers to de-esca­late tense sit­u­a­tions and hav­ing pri­or dis­ci­pli­nary records play a greater role in hir­ing.”

Chris Van Hollen, D‑Maryland, said:

“The police are the agents of the state. Hold­ing police account­able and requir­ing jus­tice in polic­ing is just the first step. We must also con­front the oth­er man­i­fes­ta­tions of sys­temic racism and the insti­tu­tions and soci­etal norms that allow them to con­tin­ue. We must dis­man­tle them with the same delib­er­ate actions that ingrain them in the first place. Tin­ker­ing with the sys­tem will not be enough. We need dra­mat­ic reforms in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.”

A yes vote was to advance the bill to debate and votes on amend­ments.

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

CONFIRMING CORY WILSON TO THE BENCH: Vot­ing 52 for and 48 against, the Sen­ate on June 24 con­firmed Cory T. Wil­son, a state judge in Mis­sis­sip­pi, for a seat on the 5th Cir­cuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has juris­dic­tion over fed­er­al tri­al courts in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sip­pi and Texas. Don­ald Trump has now appoint­ed 53 fed­er­al appeals judges, about one-fourth of the cir­cuit-court total.

While Repub­li­cans praised Wilson’s con­ser­v­a­tive views, Democ­rats crit­i­cized him over his oppo­si­tion to LGBTQ rights and the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act and sup­port of Mis­sis­sip­pi’s vot­er ID law and the car­ry­ing of con­cealed, loaded guns on pub­lic prop­er­ty includ­ing col­lege cam­pus­es in his state.

Cindy Hyde-Smith, R‑Mississipi, said:

“There is no ques­tion that Judge Wil­son will be a fair and impar­tial judge,” adding that his con­fir­ma­tion “rep­re­sents a piv­otal point in the pres­i­den­t’s work to ensure there are more smart, con­ser­v­a­tive jurists in the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry.”

Mazie Hirono, D‑Hawaii, said:

“As a state leg­is­la­tor, Wil­son vot­ed for a bill that would allow busi­ness­es and peo­ple to deny ser­vices to LGBTQ indi­vid­u­als. The Human Rights Cam­paign called that bill ‘the worst anti-LGBTQ state law in the U.S.’ ”

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

The Sen­ate plans to debate the fis­cal 2021 mil­i­tary bud­get in the week that begins on June 29th, while the House sched­ule was to be announced.

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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