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, May 30th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (May 24th-28th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, May 28th, 2021.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was in recess.

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

BLOCKING CONSIDERATION OF BILL TO CREATE BIPARTISAN COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE JANUARY 6TH ATTACK: Vot­ing 54 for and 35 against, the Sen­ate on May 28th failed to break a fil­i­buster and pro­ceed with con­sid­er­a­tion of a recent­ly-approved House bill that would estab­lish a bipar­ti­san com­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate the Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021 attack on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol by Don­ald Trump’s mil­i­tant supporters.

Forty-eight mem­bers of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus vot­ed for the bill, along with six Repub­li­cans: Lisa Murkows­ki of Alas­ka, Rob Port­man of Ohio, Mitt Rom­ney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka, Bill Cas­sidy of Louisiana, and Susan Collins of Maine. Nine Repub­li­cans were not present for the vote.

Two Democ­rats were also not present: Ari­zon­a’s Kyrsten Sine­ma and our own Pat­ty Mur­ray. Mur­ray said that she missed the vote due to hav­ing flown to attend a fam­i­ly mat­ter, but released a state­ment con­demn­ing its outcome.

“I’ve heard all the var­i­ous excus­es why Repub­li­cans are oppos­ing this bill,” Sen­ate Major­i­ty Chuck Schumer said in a speech after the vote. “It’s too ear­ly. It goes on too long. It’s not need­ed. Almost all of these excus­es are mer­it­less and were invent­ed in the past two weeks. We all know what’s going on here. Sen­ate Repub­li­cans chose to defend the Big Lie [the attack on U.S. democ­ra­cy] because they believe any­thing that might upset Don­ald Trump could hurt them politically.”

A yes vote was to invoke clo­ture and advance the bill.

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 (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 3 aye votes, 2 nay votes, 1 not voting

PROCEEDING WITH CONSIDERATION OF THE ENDLESS FRONTIER ACT: Vot­ing 68 to 30, the Sen­ate on May 27th agreed to advance leg­is­la­tion (S. 1260) that would autho­rize $110 bil­lion for tech­nol­o­gy research through 2026. Most of the mon­ey would be invest­ed into arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, semi­con­duc­tors, next gen­er­a­tion wire­less pro­to­cols, quan­tum com­put­ing, and biotech. The leg­is­la­tion is aimed at safe­guard­ing the Unit­ed States’ tech­no­log­i­cal com­pet­i­tive­ness and ensur­ing that the U.S. has the capac­i­ty to man­u­fac­ture its own chips.

This vote fol­lowed the con­sid­er­a­tion of sev­er­al amend­ments, most of which were reject­ed. The suc­cess­ful amend­ments were offered by Ben Sasse (to autho­rize appro­pri­a­tions for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to con­duct research and devel­op­ment in key tech­nol­o­gy focus areas) and Chris Coons (to estab­lish the Foun­da­tion for Ener­gy Secu­ri­ty and Innovation).

A sub­se­quent amend­ment offered by the Pacif­ic North­west­’s Ron Wyden and Mike Crapo was also adopt­ed (to ensure trade is con­duct­ed con­sis­tent with Amer­i­can val­ues, to ensure resilien­cy in crit­i­cal sup­ply chains, to improve trans­paren­cy and admin­is­tra­tion of trade pro­grams and over­sight and account­abil­i­ty of trade agen­cies, and to pro­mote Amer­i­can competitiveness.)

“For decades, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has manip­u­lat­ed glob­al com­pe­ti­tion and trade in their favor to grow at America’s expense,” said Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden (D‑Oregon). “It rips off IP, steals tech­nol­o­gy and sends dan­ger­ous coun­ter­feits to our mar­ket. It under­cuts man­u­fac­tur­ers with over­pro­duc­tion and unfair subsidies.”

“It uses cen­sor­ship and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry dig­i­tal poli­cies against its own pop­u­la­tions and Amer­i­can busi­ness­es alike. Worst of all is the prac­tice of forced labor – moral­ly repug­nant on its own, and also a threat to Amer­i­can jobs.”

“Sen­a­tor Crapo and I have an amend­ment that goes after these rip-offs direct­ly. It’s about lev­el­ing the play­ing field with stronger trade rules and quick­er enforce­ment, as well as greater trans­paren­cy in trade.”

“More needs to be done on Chi­nese cen­sor­ship and oppres­sion and I will have plen­ty to say about that before this bill becomes law.”

“For years, Sen­a­tors have been clam­or­ing for a more open process and more amend­ment votes. I can’t tell you how many speech­es I’ve heard on the floor about the virtues of reg­u­lar order,” said Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Well, this com­pe­ti­tion bill ought to be the answer to my col­leagues’ prayers. The bill has moved through the reg­u­lar order, fly­ing through var­i­ous Sen­ate Com­mit­tees with stag­ger­ing bipar­ti­san votes. The entire Sen­ate opt­ed to take up the bill by a vote of 86–11. And here on the floor, we’ve held the kind of vig­or­ous, bipar­ti­san, open amend­ment process that Sen­a­tors have been call­ing for.”

A yes vote was to invoke clo­ture and advance a sub­sti­tute ver­sion of 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 Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

KRISTEN CLARKE, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Vot­ing 51 to 48, the Sen­ate on May 25th con­firmed Kris­ten M. Clarke to be an Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al head­ing the Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s Civ­il Rights Division.

Clarke’s Wikipedia entry states that she “is an Amer­i­can attor­ney who is the pres­i­dent of the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civ­il Rights Under Law. She pre­vi­ous­ly man­aged the Civ­il Rights Bureau of the New York State Attor­ney General’s Office under Eric Schnei­der­man. In 2019, Clarke suc­cess­ful­ly rep­re­sent­ed Tay­lor Dump­son, the first Black Amer­i­can woman stu­dent body pres­i­dent of Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty, in her land­mark case against white supremacists.”

A yes vote was to con­firm Clarke.

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

CHIQUITA BROOKS-LASURE, MEDICARE & MEDICAID ADMINISTRATOR: Vot­ing 55 to 44, the Sen­ate on May 25th con­firmed Chiq­ui­ta Brooks-LaSure, of Vir­ginia, to be Admin­is­tra­tor of the Cen­ters for Medicare and Med­ic­aid Services.

The posi­tion is con­sid­ered to be one of the most impor­tant with­in the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices (DSHS), which is head­ed by Sec­re­tary Xavier Becer­ra. Brooks-LaSure is the first Black per­son to be con­firmed to the post.

“As the offi­cial charged with over­see­ing pro­vid­ing ser­vices to poor and old­er Amer­i­cans in Medicare and Med­ic­aid, Ms. Brooks-LaSure will man­age rough­ly $1 tril­lion of the fed­er­al bud­get in addi­tion to the [Patient Pro­tec­tion] Act’s health insur­ance mar­ket­places and reg­u­la­tions,” The New York Times explains.

A yes vote was to con­firm Brooks-LaSure.

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

LWIC will be on hiatus next Sunday

The Sen­ate will be in recess this week, con­ven­ing only for what are known as “pro for­ma” ses­sions. The House will also remain in recess beyond tomor­row’s Memo­r­i­al Day hol­i­day. Last Week In Con­gress will return on June 13th.

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