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, December 13th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (December 7th-11th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Decem­ber 11th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

APPROVING $740.5 BILLION FOR THE MILITARY: Vot­ing 335 for and 78 against, the House on Decem­ber 8th adopt­ed the con­fer­ence report on a $740.5 bil­lion mil­i­tary bud­get (H.R. 6395) for fis­cal 2021 that includes:

  • $69 bil­lion to fund com­bat oper­a­tions overseas
  • $60 bil­lion-plus for active-duty and retiree health care
  • $8.5 bil­lion for mil­i­tary construction
  • $1 bil­lion for address­ing present and future pandemics
  • … and hun­dreds of bil­lions for weapons sys­tems, per­son­nel costs and research and development.

In addi­tion, the bill would:

  • require the removal of Con­fed­er­ate names from mil­i­tary bases;
  • treat cli­mate dam­age as a nation­al secu­ri­ty threat;
  • fund a three per­cent pay raise for uni­formed personnel;
  • expand pro­grams for mil­i­tary vic­tims of sex­u­al assault;
  • and pro­vide Ukraine with $250 mil­lion for defend­ing itself against Russ­ian incursions.

The bill would require the admin­is­tra­tion to pro­vide Con­gress with nation­al-secu­ri­ty jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for Don­ald Trump’s announced plans to slash U.S. troop lev­els in Afghanistan and Ger­many. This would not pro­hib­it the with­drawals but delay them until after the inau­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden.

Adam Smith, D‑Washington, said the bill “does noth­ing to pro­hib­it the next pres­i­dent, Pres­i­dent Biden, from com­plete­ly draw­ing down in Afghanistan. That is a debate he will have. So any­one who comes to the floor and says they are not vot­ing for the bill because of [Afghanistan] is not real­ly telling the truth.”

Matt Gaetz, R‑Flordia, said: “We have spent decades trad­ing the same vil­lages back and forth in Afghanistan. And I believe the admin­is­tra­tion that leads our coun­try should work to bring those troops home, and unfor­tu­nate­ly, this bill …puts bar­ri­ers in the way of an admin­is­tra­tion that wants to bring our troops home and put Amer­i­ca first.”

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

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 Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

Vot­ing Nay (2): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci and Earl Blumenauer

The State of Washington

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

Vot­ing Nay (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jayapal

Cas­ca­dia total: 13 aye votes, 4 nay votes

STOPGAP FUNDING, COVID-19 RELIEF: Vot­ing 343 for and 67 against, the House on Decem­ber 9th passed a bill (H.R. 8900) to fund the gov­ern­ment on a stop­gap basis through Decem­ber 18th. In addi­tion to avert­ing a shut­down, the vote gives lead­ers more time to nego­ti­ate anoth­er round of emer­gency relief for indi­vid­u­als and house­holds fac­ing eco­nom­ic hard­ship as a result of COVID-19.

If the coro­n­avirus aid is agreed upon in com­ing days, it would be includ­ed in a per­ma­nent fund­ing bill for the remain­ing nine-plus months of fis­cal 2021, which would be debat­ed against a dead­line of Christ­mas Day.

A yes vote was to approve stop­gap fund­ing through Decem­ber 18th.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and 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: 16 aye votes, 1 nay vote

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

SENDING MILITARY BUDGET TO DONALD TRUMP: Vot­ing 84 for and 13 against, the Sen­ate on Decem­ber 11th adopt­ed the con­fer­ence report on a $740.5 bil­lion mil­i­tary bud­get for fis­cal 2021 (H.R. 6395).

In addi­tion to pro­vi­sions in the House sum­ma­ry above, the bill would pro­hib­it U.S. troops from being deployed domes­ti­cal­ly against Amer­i­cans exer­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tion­al right to peace­ably protest; rein­force Amer­i­ca’s role in NATO; expand health ben­e­fits to Viet­nam-era vet­er­ans exposed to Agent Orange; and ensure that all fed­er­al employ­ees have access to 12 weeks’ paid parental leave.

The bill would also require the removal over three years of Con­fed­er­ate names from Army bases named after offi­cers who waged war against the Unit­ed States, and from oth­er U.S. mil­i­tary assets includ­ing naval ves­sels named in com­mem­o­ra­tion of Con­fed­er­ate mil­i­tary fig­ures or bat­tle­field prowess.

The bill would add a “vio­lent extrem­ism” arti­cle cov­er­ing hate crimes and oth­er offens­es to the Uni­form Code of Mil­i­tary Jus­tice, while installing an inspec­tor gen­er­al to probe white suprema­cist activ­i­ties in the armed forces and review racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties in the admin­is­tra­tion of mil­i­tary justice.

James Inhofe, R‑Oklahoma, said that with Chi­na and Rus­sia pos­ing “the most seri­ous threats we’ve seen… I can’t imag­ine hav­ing to face these peo­ple in the field in har­m’s way and say, ‘Well, we did­n’t pass a defense autho­riza­tion bill.’ We’re going to pass it. These kids are going to get… the resources they need.”

Tom Cot­ton, R‑Arkansas, said: “The bill con­demns the pres­i­dent for propos­ing to move some troops out of Ger­many and restricts his abil­i­ty to do so, even though NATO’s fron­tier has shift­ed hun­dreds of miles to the east and Ger­many has­n’t exact­ly car­ried its share of the NATO load. The Sen­ate did­n’t debate this major pol­i­cy change.”

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

SELLING WEAPONS TO UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Vot­ing 46 for and 50 against, the Sen­ate on Decem­ber 9th refused to block the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s planned sale of MQ‑9 Reaper drones to the Unit­ed Arab Emirates.

These unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles are equipped with laser-guid­ed bombs and air-to-ground mis­siles. By this vote, the Sen­ate failed to dis­charge from com­mit­tee a mea­sure (S.J. Res 77) to dis­ap­prove of the sale.

On a sep­a­rate vote the same day, the Sen­ate affirmed an admin­is­tra­tion plan to sell as many as 59 F‑35 stealth fight­er jets to the UAE. Total­ing $23.5 bil­lion, the deals drew oppo­si­tion, in part, because they would skirt tra­di­tion­al con­gres­sion­al over­sight of arms sales in the clos­ing days of the Trump administration.

Chris Mur­phy, D‑Connecticut, said this is “the first time that we would sell these incred­i­bly lethal, incred­i­bly com­pli­cat­ed tech­nolo­gies into the heart of the Mid­dle East, a region.. What we risk doing here is fuel­ing an arms race.” He added “there arguably is no oth­er coun­try on the list for the F‑35s that does as much busi­ness with Chi­na and Rus­sia as the UAE does.”

Roy Blunt, R‑Missouri, said the UAE has been “will­ing to stand with us in at least six long-term deploy­ments. They come; they stay. They are side by side with us in the field. They have been with us in the air.…This is not any kind of gift [but] a pur­chase total­ing $23.5 bil­lion for equip­ment that is made by Amer­i­can com­pa­nies and almost always by Amer­i­can workers.”

A yes vote was to effec­tive­ly delay the arms sales.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (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: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSIONER: On a vote of 92 for and four against, the Sen­ate on Decem­ber 9th con­firmed Shana M. Brous­sard for a seat on the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Commission.

The agen­cy’s first African-Amer­i­can com­mis­sion­er, Brous­sard had been an FEC staff attor­ney, and before that she was an attor­ney with the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice and an assis­tant dis­trict attor­ney in New Orleans.

Her con­fir­ma­tion along with that of two oth­er com­mis­sion­ers last week gives the agency a full slate of six com­mis­sion­ers for the first time since 2017.

A post-Water­gate pan­el, the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion is charged with enforc­ing cam­paign-finance laws in fed­er­al con­tests, dis­clos­ing can­di­dates’ cam­paign-finance data to the pub­lic, enforc­ing rules for con­tri­bu­tions and spend­ing and super­vis­ing the pub­lic fund­ing of pres­i­den­tial elections.

A yes vote was to con­firm Broussard.

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

Key votes ahead

Both cham­bers will debate fed­er­al gov­ern­ment fund­ing in the week of Decem­ber 14th and may also take up a COVID-19 relief package.

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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