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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, August 15th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (August 9th-13th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, August 13th, 2021.

The Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was in recess.

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL (INVEST IN AMERICA ACT): The Sen­ate on August 10th passed its ver­sion of the Invest in Amer­i­ca Act (H.R. 3684), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Peter A. DeFazio, D‑Oregon, to autho­rize through fis­cal 2026 sur­face trans­porta­tion pro­grams, includ­ing high­ways, mass tran­sit, and rail, and set out fis­cal 2022 spend­ing lev­els on those programs.

A sup­port­er, the Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, said the spend­ing would help ensure that prod­ucts quick­ly reach their cus­tomers, improv­ing U.S. com­pet­i­tive­ness against oth­er nations.

Six­ty-nine sen­a­tors vot­ed aye on the bill, while thir­ty vot­ed nay. A yes vote was to approve the leg­is­la­tion, send­ing it back to the House of Representatives.

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

APPROVAL OF SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT TO INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: The Sen­ate on August 8th passed a sub­sti­tute amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Kyrsten Sine­ma, D‑Arizona, to the Invest in Amer­i­ca Act (H.R. 3684, above), that would autho­rize $1.2 tril­lion of spend­ing on var­i­ous forms of infra­struc­ture, includ­ing high­ways, mass tran­sit, rail­roads, ship­ping, and broad­band Internet.

A sup­port­er, Sen­a­tor Roger Wick­er, R‑Mississippi, said “the invest­ments in this leg­is­la­tion will gen­er­ate a stronger econ­o­my and larg­er sums of revenue.”

An oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor Mike Braun, R‑Indiana, cit­ed con­cerns about the lev­el of debt incurred by the leg­is­la­tion, and result­ing infla­tion­ary pressures.

The vote was 69 ayes to 28 nays.

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

PROCEDURAL MOTION ON BUDGETARY POINTS OF ORDER: The Sen­ate on August 8th agreed to a motion to waive bud­getary points of order against the sub­sti­tute amend­ment to the Invest in Amer­i­ca Act (H.R. 3684).

A motion oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor James Lank­ford, R‑Oklahoma, said $250 bil­lion of the amend­men­t’s rough­ly $1 tril­lion of spend­ing was not paid for, and there­fore should be elim­i­nat­ed. The vote was 64 ayes to 33 nays.

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

AMERICAN JOBS & FAMILIES PLAN/2022 BUDGET INSTRUCTIONS: The Sen­ate on August 11th launched the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process for a bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont, to set out the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s fis­cal 2022 bud­get and estab­lish pro­posed bud­getary lev­els for fis­cal 2023 through 2031. Sanders said the bill “is going to pro­vide the long-await­ed-for help that work­ing par­ents all over this coun­try des­per­ate­ly need, and when we do that, we will sub­stan­tial­ly reduce child­hood pover­ty in America.”

An oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor John Thune, R‑South Dako­ta, crit­i­cized pro­vi­sions increas­ing cor­po­rate tax rates and cut­ting tax­es for the wealthy, and called the bill “the first step toward a mas­sive and per­ma­nent expan­sion of gov­ern­ment that would be paid for on the backs of ordi­nary Americans.”

A yes vote was to send the res­o­lu­tion to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Fifty sen­a­tors vot­ed aye and forty-nine vot­ed nay.

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

ADDRESSING CLIMATE IMPACTS: The Sen­ate on August 10th adopt­ed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Tom Carp­er, D‑Delaware, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), to estab­lish a fund for address­ing cli­mate impact by cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions and reduc­ing fos­sil fuel use.

Carp­er said: “We are in a code red sit­u­a­tion. This is all hands on deck when it comes to the cli­mate cri­sis.” An oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor John Bar­ras­so, R‑Wyoming, said: “We can pro­tect the envi­ron­ment with­out pun­ish­ing the econ­o­my, and this bill and amend­ment fail that test.” The vote was 51 yeas to 48 nays.

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

TAX CODE PROVISIONS FOR BUSINESSES AND FARMS: The Sen­ate has passed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor John Thune, R‑South Dako­ta, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14). The amend­ment would pro­vide for sta­ble tax regimes regard­ing cross-gen­er­a­tional trans­fer of busi­ness and farm own­er­ships, includ­ing the step-up in cost basis for inheritances.

Thune said chang­ing tax pol­i­cy by impos­ing cap­i­tal gains tax­es on the increased val­ue of inher­it­ed land would “hit gen­er­a­tional­ly owned enter­pris­es hard, par­tic­u­lar­ly in rur­al com­mu­ni­ties. And it could force fam­i­lies to sell off part of the farm or busi­ness just to pay the new tax.” The vote was unan­i­mous with 99 yeas.

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

FINANCIAL ACCOUNT REPORTING REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE BALANCES: The Sen­ate on August 10th passed an amend­ment spon­sored by the Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden, D‑Oregon, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), that would estab­lish require­ments for the tax report­ing of large finan­cial account bal­ances to the Inter­nal Rev­enue Service.

Wyden said tax avoiders would “have a much tougher time if the Con­gress requires that finan­cial insti­tu­tions take prac­ti­cal and rea­son­able steps to require that finan­cial insti­tu­tions report on finan­cial accounts.”

An oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo, R‑Idaho, said the require­ment would autho­rize the IRS to arbi­trar­i­ly deter­mine what qual­i­fies as a large account bal­ance, and vio­late pri­va­cy rights by requir­ing the dis­clo­sure of such bal­ances to the agency.

The vote was 50 yeas to 49 nays.

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

CONTINUING TO ALLOW FRACKING (HYDRAULIC FRACTURING): The Sen­ate on August 10th passed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Kevin Cramer, R‑North Dako­ta, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), that would bar new reg­u­la­tions that ban hydraulic frac­tur­ing (frack­ing) of oil and nat­ur­al gas wells. Cramer said a frack­ing ban “would raise Amer­i­cans’ cost of liv­ing, weak­en our nation­al secu­ri­ty, and, of course, actu­al­ly enhance green­house gas emissions.”

An amend­ment oppo­nent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, ID-Ver­mont, said: “We have got to move away from fos­sil fuel. We have got to end fracking.”

The vote was 57 yeas to 42 nays.

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

MAINTAINING FLEXIBILITY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Sen­ate on August 10th reject­ed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Tim Scott, R‑South Car­oli­na, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14, above), that would have stip­u­lat­ed that pub­lic schools should be open through­out the 2021–2022 school year. Scott said the amend­ment was nec­es­sary because “thanks to labor union boss­es and their unneed­ed and dam­ag­ing school shut­downs, kids have been kept out of school, and many — far too many — have suf­fered psychologically.”

An oppo­nent, the Pacif­ic North­west­’s Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, said “in addi­tion to ensur­ing in-per­son learn­ing, we need to encour­age adher­ence to pub­lic health guid­ance, espe­cial­ly as this Delta vari­ant is surging.”

The vote was 49 ayes to 50 nays.

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

RESTRICTING AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT FROM WITHDRAWING FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR FOSSIL FUELS: The Sen­ate on August 10th passed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor John Booz­man, R‑Arkansas, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), that would bar the Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment from ban­ning loans to build or main­tain fos­sil fuel-burn­ing elec­tric pow­er plants.

Booz­man said the amend­ment “ensures that rur­al Amer­i­cans con­tin­ue to have acces­si­ble, afford­able, reli­able ener­gy to pow­er their farms, their busi­ness­es, and broad­band net­works.” An oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor Deb­bie Stabenow, D‑Michigan, said a ban would cur­tail the Agri­cul­ture Depart­men­t’s “abil­i­ty to sup­port a tran­si­tion to clean fuel economies.” The vote was 53 ayes to 46 nays.

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

RESTRICTING ELECTRIC VEHICLE TAX CREDITS: The Sen­ate on August 10th passed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Deb Fis­ch­er, R‑Nebraska, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14, above), that would adopt means tests for elec­tric vehi­cle tax cred­its, includ­ing a max­i­mum vehi­cle val­ue of $40,000 and a max­i­mum indi­vid­ual income of $100,000.

Fis­ch­er said: “There is noth­ing wrong with the well-off buy­ing fan­cy cars. I just don’t think Amer­i­ca’s hard-earned tax­pay­er dol­lars should help to pay for it.”

An oppo­nent, Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow, D‑Michigan, said that with­out means tests on tax cred­its, “we elim­i­nate more car­bon pol­lu­tion when peo­ple who dri­ve trucks and SUVs choose all-elec­tric vehi­cles like the great ones that are now com­ing out into the mar­ket­place.” The vote was 51 ayes to 48 nays.

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

BARRING THE TEACHING OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY: The Sen­ate on August 10th passed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Tom Cot­ton, R‑Arkansas, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14, above), that would bar fed­er­al fund­ing for the teach­ing of crit­i­cal race the­o­ry in schools.

Cot­ton claimed that the fund­ing ban “will ensure that fed­er­al funds are not used to indoc­tri­nate kids as young as pre‑K to hate Amer­i­ca. Our future depends on the next gen­er­a­tion of kids lov­ing Amer­i­ca and lov­ing each oth­er as fel­low cit­i­zens, no mat­ter their race.”

An oppo­nent, the Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Sen. Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, said: “There are sev­er­al long­stand­ing pro­vi­sions in fed­er­al edu­ca­tion law that pro­hib­it the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment from man­dat­ing or direct­ing school curriculum.”

The vote was 50 ayes to 49 nays.

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

CONTINUING SUBSIDIES FOR FOSSIL FUELS AND NUCLEAR POWER: The Sen­ate on August 10th adopt­ed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor John Hoeven, R‑North Dako­ta, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), that would pro­vide for fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pro­mo­tion of the expan­sion of base­load elec­tric pow­er gen­er­a­tion, includ­ing fos­sil fuel-based and nuclear pow­er plants.

Hoeven said: “Instead of new tax­es or the Green New Deal, we should be expand­ing access to pow­er gen­er­a­tion from resources avail­able twen­ty four/seven, regard­less of weath­er conditions.”

An oppo­nent, Sen­a­tor Shel­don White­house, D‑Rhode Island, said: “There is no rea­son what­so­ev­er to put anoth­er thumb on the scales for this already heav­i­ly sub­si­dized indus­try when most of these black­outs and brownouts are dri­ven by extreme weath­er caused by the cli­mate change from their pollution.”

The vote was 52 ayes to 47 nays.

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

MORE FUNDING FOR ICE (IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT): The Sen­ate on August 11th passed an amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Bill Hager­ty, R‑Tennessee, to the 2022 bud­get bill (S. Con. Res. 14), that would pro­vide for ensur­ing that the Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) agency has ade­quate resources to deport peo­ple who have been con­vict­ed of crimes com­mit­ted in the Unit­ed States.

Hager­ty said depor­ta­tions have declined by about sev­en­ty-five per­cent so far in 2021, and argued that more fund­ing would help reverse that decline.

An oppo­nent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D‑Illinois, said deport­ing every per­son who has com­mit­ted a crime and lacks papers “would divert ICE from focus­ing its resources on the tru­ly seri­ous pub­lic safe­ty and nation­al secu­ri­ty threats.”

The vote was 53 yeas to 46 nays.

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

EUNICE LEE, APPEALS COURT JUDGE, SECOND CIRCUIT: The Sen­ate on August 7th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Eunice C. Lee to serve as a judge on the U.S. Sec­ond Cir­cuit Court of Appeals. Lee has been a crim­i­nal pub­lic defense lawyer, in New York City and in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, since 1998, as well as a law pro­fes­sor at New York Uni­ver­si­ty from 2003 to 2019.

A sup­port­er, Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑N.Y., said Lee “will bring dynamism, bril­liance, and a real diver­si­ty of expe­ri­ence to courts in New York.”

The vote was 50 ayes to 47 nays.

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

ADVANCING THE FOR THE PEOPLE ACT: The Sen­ate on August 11th dis­charged from the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee the For the Peo­ple Act (S. 1), spon­sored by the Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley, D‑Oregon.

The bill would make numer­ous changes to vot­er reg­is­tra­tion and elec­tion prac­tices in all fifty states, and estab­lish cer­tain ethics require­ments for fed­er­al gov­ern­ment work­ers, includ­ing politi­cians and judges.

A sup­port­er, Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑New York, said the bill was nec­es­sary because “reac­tionary Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tures are mak­ing it hard­er for poor­er, younger, and non-white Amer­i­cans to vote, while at the same time mak­ing it eas­i­er for par­ti­san actors to steal an election.”

An oppo­nent, Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky called the bill “an absurd and clum­sy effort by one polit­i­cal par­ty to lit­er­al­ly rewrite the ground rules of our democ­ra­cy to try to advan­tage them and dis­ad­van­tage the oth­er side.” The vote to dis­charge, on August 11th, was 50 ayes to 49 nays.

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 week

The Sen­ate has joined the House in recess, so Last Week In Con­gress will be on hia­tus next week. The House is expect­ed to return on August 23rd for votes.

Editor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cascadia’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice. 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 Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice, LLC. 

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