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 6th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (Nov. 30th — Dec. 4th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Decem­ber 4th, 2020.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

LEGALIZING MARIJUANA UNDER FEDERAL LAW: Vot­ing 228 for and 164 against, the House on Decem­ber 4th passed a bill (H.R. 3884) that would allow mar­i­jua­na to be used legal­ly for med­i­c­i­nal and recre­ation­al pur­pos­es under fed­er­al law while allow­ing states to con­tin­ue to set their own mar­i­jua­na policies.

The bill would fed­er­al­ly decrim­i­nal­ize mar­i­jua­na, or cannabis, by remov­ing it from the 1970 Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, which out­laws pos­ses­sion, sale and cul­ti­va­tion and impos­es stiff fines and poten­tial jail time for all but the most minor offens­es. In addi­tion, the bill would:

  • Impose a five to eight per­cent sales tax on cannabis prod­ucts, which would fund pro­grams in com­mu­ni­ties dev­as­tat­ed by drug abuse as well as Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion lend­ing to com­mer­cial mar­i­jua­na operations;
  • Allow the Vet­er­ans Health Admin­is­tra­tion to write mar­i­jua­na pre­scrip­tions in states and ter­ri­to­ries where med­i­c­i­nal use is legal;
  • Require the expunge­ment and seal­ing of fed­er­al mar­i­jua­na con­vic­tions and a review of sen­tences for those serv­ing time for offens­es includ­ing the pos­ses­sion of small amounts;
  • Require the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion to devel­op best prac­tices to guide local, state and fed­er­al law enforce­ment in test­ing and rec­og­niz­ing dri­vers impaired by marijuana;
  • Pro­hib­it any denial of ben­e­fits or pro­tec­tions under immi­gra­tion law based on fed­er­al mar­i­jua­na convictions;
  • Require the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics to reg­u­lar­ly pub­lish demo­graph­ic data on mar­i­jua­na enterprises.

At least thir­ty-six states and ter­ri­to­ries autho­rize the med­i­c­i­nal use of mar­i­jua­na, near­ly a third of which also per­mit recre­ation­al use. Sev­er­al oth­er states have eased mar­i­jua­na rules to a less­er degree and six states — Alaba­ma, Ida­ho, Kansas, South Car­oli­na, Ten­nessee and Wyoming — total­ly out­law cannabis.

Mary Gay Scan­lon, D‑Pennsylvania., the fed­er­al mar­i­jua­na pol­i­cy “has failed our youth, failed to stem more harm­ful drug usage and, most notably, has failed com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.… because when it comes to mar­i­jua­na, there are two jus­tice sys­tems in the Unit­ed States — a gen­tler, more under­stand­ing sys­tem most­ly avail­able to White Amer­i­cans and the puni­tive, less for­giv­ing sys­tem pri­mar­i­ly enforced against Black and brown Americans.”

Gre­go­ry Mur­phy, R‑North Car­oli­na, said the bill fails to pre­vent “edi­bles from get­ting in the hands of ado­les­cents and young adults whose brains are still growing.…Marijuana is a gate­way drug [that] undoubt­ed­ly leads to fur­ther and much more dan­ger­ous drug use, and while I do believe that med­ical mar­i­jua­na can [help] in chron­ic pain or those with can­cer, this bill sim­ply goes way too far.”

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, and 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 (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

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

REJECTING WORKPLACE MARIJUANA TESTING: Vot­ing 174 for and 218 against, the House on Decem­ber 4th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can mea­sure to guar­an­tee that employ­ers, under the terms of H.R. 3884 (above), would have the right to test job appli­cants and employ­ees for mar­i­jua­na impair­ment to ensure the safe­ty of the work­place. A yes vote was to adopt the 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 (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

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

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

SPEEDING ALS DISABILITY BENEFITS: Vot­ing 96 for and one against, the Sen­ate on Decem­ber 2nd passed a bill (S. 578) that would enable vic­tims of ALS (amy­otroph­ic lat­er­al scle­ro­sis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease) to start receiv­ing Social Secu­ri­ty dis­abil­i­ty ben­e­fits at the time of their diagnosis.

This would waive the statu­to­ry five-month wait peri­od for receiv­ing Old Age, Sur­vivors, and Dis­abil­i­ty Insur­ance ben­e­fits. The bill awaits House action.

The neg­a­tive vote was cast by Mike Lee, R‑Utah.

Tom Cot­ton, R‑Arkansas, said the bill would ensure that ALS vic­tims “don’t have to wor­ry about ben­e­fits and can focus instead on the things that real­ly mat­ter dur­ing what could be their final months on earth.”

No sen­a­tor spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

CONFIRMING FEDERAL RESERVE GOVERNOR: Vot­ing 48 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Decem­ber 3rd con­firmed Christo­pher J. Waller, six­ty-one, for a term on the Fed­er­al Reserve Sys­tem board of gov­er­nors due to expire in Jan­u­ary 2030. Waller had been exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and direc­tor of research at the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His con­fir­ma­tion leaves one vacan­cy on the sev­en-mem­ber board. 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

Con­gress will debate reg­u­lar 2021 appro­pri­a­tions and the 2021 mil­i­tary bud­get in the week of Decem­ber 7th and could also vote on a coro­n­avirus 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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