Last Week In Congress
Last Week In Congress is a long-running Sunday series on NPI's Cascadia Advocate that helps people across the Pacific Northwest and beyond follow how Washington, Oregon, and Idaho's United States lawmakers voted. The illustration above incorporates photo art depicting the U.S. Capitol from NPI's image library.

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Thurs­day, Decem­ber 24th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives
The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

APPROVING $900 BILLION FOR COVID-19 RELIEF: Vot­ing 359 for and 53 against, the House on Decem­ber 21st approved a $900 bil­lion COVID-19 relief pack­age that would start deliv­er­ing ben­e­fits immediately.

The mea­sure (H.R. 133) includes:

  • one­time pay­ments of $600 to those with incomes under $75,000 and of $1,200 to cou­ples earn­ing less than $150,000;
  • $300 per week through March 14th in added job­less ben­e­fits for laid-off employ­ees as well as “gig econ­o­my” work­ers and the self-employed;
  • $284 bil­lion in for­giv­able Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram (PPP) loans for busi­ness­es with few­er than 300 work­ers that retain or rein­state employees;
  • an expan­sion of PPP to include news­pa­pers, radio and TV broad­cast­ers, reli­gious insti­tu­tions and nonprofits;
  • $82 bil­lion for K‑12 and post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion with a focus on mak­ing class­rooms COVID-free;
  • tax cred­its for employ­ers grant­i­ng paid sick leave; and expand­ed earned-income and child tax cred­its for low-income fam­i­lies impact­ed by the pandemic.

In addi­tion, the bill would put an end to sur­prise billing for emer­gency and out-of-net­work med­ical care. The bill was sent to the Sen­ate after being joined with a $1.4 tril­lion mea­sure to fund the gov­ern­ment through September.

Don­na Sha­lala, D‑Florida, said in debate: “With this bill, we are attempt­ing to right our moral com­pass and ful­fill our oblig­a­tion [to] those suf­fer­ing across our coun­try, and guide us out of this dark winter.”

Chip Roy, R‑Texas, said in a press release the bill would “rack up debt, fund the very local gov­ern­ments lock­ing downs schools and busi­ness­es, extend fed­er­al sub­si­dies to pay peo­ple more not to work than to work, fall short on des­per­ate­ly need­ed small busi­ness relief…”

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

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate
The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

SENDING CORONAVIRUS AID TO DONALD TRUMP: Vot­ing 92 for and six against, the Sen­ate on Decem­ber 21st gave final con­gres­sion­al approval to a bill (H.R. 133, above) that would pro­vide $900 bil­lion in coro­n­avirus relief along with $1.4 tril­lion in gov­ern­ment-wide appro­pri­a­tions for fis­cal 2021.

In addi­tion to out­lays not­ed above, the bill would:

  • pro­vide $29 bil­lion for pur­chas­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing vaccines;
  • $25 bil­lion in emer­gency rental aid plus a mora­to­ri­um on evic­tions through Jan­u­ary; $22 bil­lion to help states address COVID-19;
  • $20 bil­lion tar­get­ed to Main Street businesses;
  • $16 bil­lion for air­lines and $14 bil­lion for mass tran­sit plus a few bil­lion for Amtrak and inner-city bus service;
  • $15 bil­lion for cul­tur­al venues and movie theaters;
  • $13 bil­lion for food stamps and nutri­tion pro­grams to sus­tain hun­gry children;
  • $13 bil­lion for farm­ers and ranchers;
  • $10 bil­lion to keep child-care cen­ters open;
  • and $1.3 bil­lion in for­give­ness of fed­er­al loans for infra­struc­ture repairs at his­tor­i­cal­ly Black col­leges and universities.

The bill also would expand Pell Grants for low-income col­lege stu­dents and, for the first time, qual­i­fy those in prison for Pell grants to pay tuition costs.

Rob Port­man, R‑Ohio, called the pack­age “a tar­get­ed bill that focus­es on pro­vid­ing a bridge between now and the time at which the vac­cines will be wide­ly available.”

Crit­i­ciz­ing the bil­l’s use of deficit spend­ing to make appro­pri­a­tions, Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, said the coun­try “can be saved, we can sur­vive this [pan­dem­ic] if we pull togeth­er, but adding more debt is a mistake.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to Don­ald Trump.

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 (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

Last Week In Congress will return in the new year

The 117th Con­gress will con­vene on Jan­u­ary 3rd, 2021.

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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