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, April 18th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (April 12th-16th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, April 16th, 2021.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN: Vot­ing 217 for and 210 against, the House on April 15th passed a bill (H.R. 7) to tight­en cur­rent fed­er­al law against gen­der-based wage dis­crim­i­na­tion and pre­vent employ­ers from pay­ing women less than men for equiv­a­lent work. Spon­sors of the bill said full-time female work­ers receive eighty-two cents for every dol­lar paid to male counterparts.

The leg­is­la­tion would pro­hib­it wage dis­crim­i­na­tion based on gen­der, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­ti­ty, preg­nan­cy or childbirth.

Employ­ers chal­lenged in court would have to show that wage dis­par­i­ties are based on fac­tors oth­er than sex — such as edu­ca­tion, train­ing or expe­ri­ence — and are a busi­ness neces­si­ty. Civ­il penal­ties would be increased, puni­tive and com­pen­sato­ry dam­ages would no longer be capped, class action law­suits would be facil­i­tat­ed, and retal­i­a­tion would be pro­hib­it­ed against work­ers dis­clos­ing pay infor­ma­tion or mak­ing inquiries or complaints.

Salary his­to­ry could not be used in the hir­ing process or in set­ting pay lev­els, so that pay gaps would not fol­low work­ers from one job to the next. Fed­er­al agen­cies would col­lect more pay infor­ma­tion from employers.

Rosa DeLau­ro, D‑Connecticut, said the bill “would give Amer­i­ca’s work­ing women the oppor­tu­ni­ty to fight against wage dis­crim­i­na­tion and receive the pay­check they have right­ful­ly earned.”

Tom Cole, R‑Oklahoma, called the bill “a very blunt instru­ment being used to address a very com­plex issue. It’s a bill writ­ten by tri­al lawyers for the ben­e­fit of tri­al lawyers and ulti­mate­ly caus­ing much big­ger prob­lems for employ­ers and employ­ees alike.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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 Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

SELF-POLICING BY EMPLOYERS: By a vote of 183 for and 244 against, the House reject­ed on April 15th a pro­posed amend­ment to H.R. 7 (above) that would have allowed employ­ers accused of wage dis­crim­i­na­tion to avoid penal­ties if dur­ing the pre­vi­ous three years they had con­duct­ed a job and wage analy­sis and tak­en steps to rem­e­dy any dis­par­i­ties based on sex that the audit revealed.

The amend­ment would allow employ­ers to put ground rules on dis­clo­sure and dis­cus­sion of wages. The Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office would be direct­ed to study caus­es and effects of wage dis­par­i­ties among men and women, dis­par­i­ties in nego­ti­at­ing skills among men and women, and the extent to which deci­sions to leave the work­force for par­ent­ing rea­sons affect wages and opportunities.

Mar­i­an­nette Miller-Meeks, R‑Iowa, said the amend­ment “cre­ates a vol­un­tary pay analy­sis sys­tem to encour­age the good-faith efforts of employ­ers to iden­ti­fy and cor­rect any wage dis­par­i­ties should they exist, cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment of con­sis­tent self-reflection.”

Jahana Hayes, D‑Connecticut, said “Ask­ing the employ­er who may be involved in pay dis­crim­i­na­tion to self-police their prac­tices is a bla­tant con­flict of inter­est… The very idea behind this pro­vi­sion is insid­i­ous. It pre­sumes that employ­ers should be giv­en loop­holes to avoid lia­bil­i­ty after break­ing the law.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

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 Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 12 nay votes

PROTECTING HEALTHCARE WORKERS FROM VIOLENCE: Vot­ing 254 for and 116 against, the House on April 16th passed a bill (H.R. 1195) to order new Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA) rules pro­tect­ing health­care and social ser­vice employ­ees from work­place violence.

The bil­l’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic spon­sors said those work­ers need spe­cial pro­tec­tion because they are exposed to a par­tic­u­lar­ly high risk of on-the-job vio­lence from those they are work­ing to assist. Oppo­nents said the new rules would be rushed and over­ly rigid. OSHA would have a year to issue an inter­im stan­dard and forty-two months to com­plete the rule­mak­ing process.

Joe Court­ney, D‑Connecticut, said: “Every year we fail to enact this leg­is­la­tion we are con­demn­ing thou­sands of nurs­es, doc­tors, aides, EMTs and social work­ers to suf­fer pre­ventable injuries, some­times fatal.”

Vir­ginia Foxx, R‑North Car­oli­na, said: “This bill would impose yet anoth­er care­less reg­u­la­tion on busi­ness­es that have been hero­ical­ly fight­ing on the front lines to bat­tle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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 Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 14 aye votes, 3 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

WENDY SHERMAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: By a vote of 56 for and 42 against, the Sen­ate on April 13th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Wendy R. Sher­man to the num­ber two posi­tion at the State Department.

Sher­man, sev­en­ty-one, was a high-rank­ing diplo­mat dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and was the chief U.S. nego­tia­tor of the 2015 agree­ment (the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) that sought to restrict Iran’s nuclear activ­i­ties. Don­ald Trump scrapped that agree­ment, but Pres­i­dent Biden has promised to try to rene­go­ti­ate the mul­ti­lat­er­al pact.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

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

POLLY TROTTENBERG, DEPUTY TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Vot­ing 82 for and 15 against, the Sen­ate on April 13th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Pol­ly E. Trot­ten­berg, 57, to the sec­ond-rank­ing post at the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment. Trot­ten­berg was New York City’s trans­porta­tion com­mis­sion­er the past sev­en years and was a senior offi­cial at DOT dur­ing the Oba­ma administration.

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 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

GARY GENSLER, CHAIR OF SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION: By a vote of 53 for and 45 against, the Sen­ate on April 14th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Gary Gensler as chair­man of the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion, the body that reg­u­lates Wall Street and pub­licly trad­ed com­pa­nies. Gensler, 63, who chaired the Com­mod­i­ty Futures Trad­ing Com­mis­sion dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and was an under­sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury in the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion, is expect­ed to pro­mote tougher rules and enforcement.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

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

Key votes ahead

The House will take up a bill con­fer­ring state­hood on the Dis­trict of Colum­bia in the week of April 19th, while the Sen­ate will debate a COVID-relat­ed hate crimes bill that would pro­tect Asian Amer­i­cans and Pacif­ic Islanders.

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!

© 2021 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

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