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, June 30th, 2019

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

Good morning! Here’s how Cascadia’s Members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday, June 28th, 2019.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

PROTECTING U.S. ELECTIONS AGAINST ATTACKS: Voting 225 for and 184 against, the House on June 27th passed a Democratic bill (H.R. 2722) that would authorize a $600 million, multi-year program to bolster state and local voting systems against attacks by adversaries including Russia.

In return for federal grants, authorities would be required to start converting vulnerable, aging electronic voting machines to ones using paper ballots, which could be verified by voters on the spot and audited by election officials.

The bill requires voting infrastructure to be manufactured in the United States and sold from a list of vendors certified by the Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission.

In addition, the bill would prohibit Internet connectivity to devices on which votes are marked or tabulated, and it would allocate $175 million to states and localities every two years for maintaining their electoral systems.

Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said be bill is needed because “our very democracy is under attack. No troops have been sent into combat. No guns have been fired, but a foreign adversary is turning the Internet and the ballot box into battlefields with the integrity of the vote at stake.”

Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said: “Traditionally, elections are left to the states and local governments to conduct as they see fit… in a way that best suits the unique needs of each community. [This bill] turns all that on its head.”

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, and Peter DeFazio

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

Not Voting (1): Democratic Representative Kurt Schrader

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

Cascadia total: 10 aye votes, 6 nay votes, 1 not voting

DISPUTE OVER BALLOT DROP-OFF LAWS: Voting 189 for and 220 against, the House on June 27th defeated a Republican motion to H.R. 2722 (above) targeting state ballot drop-off laws, which allow homebound voters to designate a helper to personally deliver their absentee ballot to election officials.

The motion required a state’s chief election officer to inform the Federal Election Commission whenever a foreign national is chosen as the helper. Backers called this an anti-fraud measure, while critics said it was voter suppression.

Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, said the amendment is needed because “right now, a Russian operative could walk freely around states like California, for example, collecting and turning in absentee ballots, completely altering the outcome of an election.”

Pete Aguilar, D-California, said ballot drop-off laws allow “greater participation in elections because some homebound voters have no family or individuals to delegate that role to. They should not be disenfranchised by our laws.”

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, and Peter DeFazio

Not Voting (1): Democratic Representative 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 Denny Heck

Cascadia total: 6 aye votes, 10 nay votes, 1 not voting

$4.5 BILLION FOR SOUTHWEST BORDER
: Voting 305 for and 102 against, the House on June 27th approved a bipartisan $4.5 billion emergency package to address a humanitarian crisis on the southwest border centered on hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America who have entered the United States in recent months to apply for asylum protections under federal and international law.

The bill (H.R. 3401) allocated about $3 billion for shelter, food, medical care and other services for unaccompanied migrant children held in Department of Health and Human Services custody, and as much as $1 billion to agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This was a scaled-back version of a Democratic bill passed earlier in the week, but then shelved, that raised standards for the administration’s treatment of migrants and denied funding to ICE.

Kay Granger, R-Texas, said:

“Children are sleeping on the ground and need to be moved to shelters or homes. We need doctors and pediatricians and caregivers. This bill gives the agencies the funds to care for these children, to reduce the overcrowding at border facilities, to repay the states and to add immigration judge teams.”

Adriano Espaillat, D-New York, said:

“I am deeply troubled by the way the Trump administration has handled the treatment of migrants, particularly children, at the border….”

A yes vote was to send the bill to Donald Trump.

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 (3): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, and Peter DeFazio

Not Voting (1): Democratic Representative Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (8): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schrier, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Voting Nay (2): Democratic Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith

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

$4.5 BILLION FOR SOUTHWEST BORDER: Voting 230 for and 195 against, the House on June 25th approved a $4.5 billion emergency package to address a humanitarian crisis centered on hundreds of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the United States in recent months, mainly from Central America.

Drafted by Democrats, the bill excluded funding of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) procedures for dealing with individuals seeking asylum in the United States. But the House later shelved this measure and, instead, sent Donald Trump a Senate-adopted version of H.R. 3401 (see final House roll call vote on H.R. 3401 above, see final Senate roll call vote below) that funded both humanitarian needs and his immigration-enforcement policies.

This version of the bill allocated about $3 billion for shelter, food, medical care and other services for unaccompanied migrant children held in Department of Health and Human Services custody. In addition, the bill provided about $1 billion to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for dealing with the detention, care and processing of individuals applying for asylum under federal and international law.

The bill would have required stricter oversight of private firms operating detention centers, allow members of Congress to conduct unannounced inspections of holding facilities and require Congress to be notified within twenty-four hours when a migrant child dies in federal custody.

In addition, the bill would have provided $200 million to develop more orderly and humane procedures for overseeing migrant families and unaccompanied children, enlisting the help of non-profit organizations in the effort.

Nita Lowey, D-New York, said: “The president’s cruel immigration policies that tear apart families and terrorize communities demand the stringent safeguards in this bill to ensure these funds are used for humanitarian needs only — not for immigration raids, not for detention beds, not for a border wall.”

Calling the measure “a sham bill,” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said Democrats “are far more interested in appearing to help children than in actually helping them. The pace and volume at which children have crossed our border over the last year have completely overwhelmed our existing resources.”

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

Cascadia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

$383.3 BILLION APPROPRIATIONS PACKAGE: Voting 227 for and 194 against, the House on June 25th approved a $383.3 billion package consisting of five of the twelve appropriations bills that will fund government operations in fiscal 2020, which starts October 1st. In part, the bill (H.R. 3055) provides:

  • $80.4 billion for veterans health care;
  • $50.1 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • $32 billion for the Department of Justice (including $9.46 billion for Federal Bureau of Investigation salaries and expenses);
  • $22.3 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
  • $17.7 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration;
  • $16.4 billion for the Department of Commerce (including $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau);
  • … and $9.5 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Addressing gun violence, the bill fully funds the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, while providing $80 million in grants to help states supply data to the system, $125 million to fund the STOP School Violence Act; $100 million for youth-mentoring programs and $20 million for police programs in active-shooter training. 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, 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 (3): Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cascadia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

HIRING MORE IMMIGRATION JUDGES: Voting 201 for and 220 against, the House on June 25th defeated a Republican motion to add $75 million to H.R. 3055 (above) for hiring more immigration judges and expanding courtroom capacity. The funds were to be taken from the 2020 census budget. The underlying bill already provides $110 million over 2019 levels to address a backlog of 800,000 immigration cases, many of which involve asylum seekers from Central America or persons who have overstayed their visas or entered the United States illegally.

Will Hurd, R-Texas, said: “Our current shortage of immigration judges delays justice for individuals who have valid immigration claims, while preserving many years of continued illegal presence for others who do not.”

Pete Aguilar, D-California, said: “We need every dollar in this census because the administration is fear-mongering, trying to force an undercount with the inclusion of the citizenship question.”

A yes vote was to transfer $75 million from census to immigration accounts.

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, 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 Denny Heck

Cascadia total: 6 aye votes, 11 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Senate chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

$4.5 BILLION FOR SOUTHWEST BORDER: Voting eighty-four in favor and eight against, the Senate on June 26 passed a bill (H.R. 3401) that would appropriate $4.5 billion in emergency funding to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the departments of Health and Human Services and Defense cope with an influx this year of hundreds of thousands of migrants on the southwest border. The bill combines humanitarian aid with funding to carry out administration policies for dealing with individuals mainly from Central America who seek asylum in the United States.

Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said “there are no poison pills — just a clean bill to provide the emergency appropriations the White House requested two long months ago.”

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said: “President Trump, if you want to know the real reason there is chaos at the border, look in the mirror.”

A yes vote was to pass a bill that the House later approved and sent to 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

$750 BILLION FOR MILITARY: Voting eighty-six for and eight against, the Senate on June 27th authorized a $750 billion military budget for fiscal 2020, including $75.9 billion for war-fighting overseas and more than $57 billion for active-duty and retiree health care. The bill (S. 1790) would:

  • establish a United States Space Force within the Air Force;
  • set a 3.1 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel;
  • authorize $10 billion for procuring ninety-four fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter (F-35 Lightning II) aircraft;
  • expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal;
  • fund programs for military victims of sexual assault and replace $3.6 billion Donald Trump diverted from military programs to wall construction.

John Thune, R-South Dakota, said the bill would “modernize our nuclear arsenal to maximize our deterrence capabilities. It also focuses on ensuring that we are equipped to meet new threats on new fronts, including in space and cyber domains.” Mike Lee, R-Utah, objected to bill’s $75.9 billion outlay for combat operations being exempted from budget caps that apply to the rest of the military budget. He called this “an unaccountable slush fund for the Pentagon.”

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 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

AUTHORIZATION OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAN: Voting fifty in favor and forty against, the Senate on June 28th failed to reach sixty votes needed to advance an amendment to S. 1790 (above) that sought to require the administration to receive congressional authorization in advance of any military action Donald Trump orders against Iran.

Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said the amendment “makes clear that only Congress can authorize the use of military force against Iran, and would provide a clear check on Donald Trump, John Bolton and other hawks in the administration.”

Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, called the amendment “simply an act of appeasement against the ayatollahs who are currently conducting attacks against the United States and our interests on a regular and growing basis.”

A yes vote was to require a congressional authorization for use of military force against Iran.

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

Last Week In Congress will be on hiatus next week

Congress will be in Fourth of July recess until the week of July 6th., so there will be not be an installment of Last Week In Congress next Sunday.

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!

© 2019 Thomas Voting Reports.

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

We’re watching the second night of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate. Join us!

Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle.

NPI staff are watching and sharing impressions of the debate as it progresses, which will take place over the course of two nights in Miami, Florida.

The format is as follows:

Candidates will have sixty seconds to answer questions and thirty seconds to respond to follow-ups. And there will be no opening statements, though candidates will have a chance to deliver closing remarks. The two-hour debates will zip by quickly, with five segments each night separated by four commercial breaks.

Ten candidates will face off each night on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo after a total of twenty candidates met the Democratic National Committee’s threshold for participation.

Our live coverage begins below.

UPDATE, 6:11 PM: The moderators used Bernie Sanders’ identity as the hook for the second night of this first Democratic debate: they teed up their initial question to Sanders and then gave Biden an opportunity to take swipes at Sanders (which Biden declined to do).

UPDATE, 6:12 PM: So far, the candidates seem to agree that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, but not all of them support Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:14 PM: Pete Buttigieg explains that he’s for free college for people who don’t have a lot of means, but doesn’t think free college should be provided to people with means.

UPDATE, 6:15 PM: The best moment in the debate so far was when California’s Kamala Harris turned a badly framed question back on the moderators, inquiring why the mass media didn’t challenge the Republicans on how they were going to pay for their big tax scam.

UPDATE, 6:16 PM: How are you going to pay for that is a question the mass media loves to ask Democratic candidates, but Republicans generally seem to get a pass on how they will pay for increased military spending or whopping tax cuts.

UPDATE, 6:18 PM: Eric Swalwell made the most of his opportunity to riff about passing the torch; Joe Biden grinned as the bit went on before offering his own take on education.

UPDATE, 6:19 PM: Wow, a lot of crosstalk. There are ten candidates and they all want airtime…

UPDATE, 6:20 PM: Boom, there goes the dynamite. Kamala Harris shuts down the crosstalk with this: “America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how they’re going to put food on their table.”

UPDATE, 6:20 PM: Kamala Harris is having a great debate so far.

UPDATE, 6:21 PM: Sanders and Harris raise their hands to say they’d abolish private health insurance in favor of Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:22 PM: Kirsten Gillibrand explains her thoughts on transitioning from private health insurance to Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:25 PM: It’s unfortunate that Joe Biden and Michael Bennet are not referring to the Patient Protection Act by its proper name. That’s a bad example to set. Never pass up an opportunity to reframe… always reframe!

UPDATE, 6:29 PM: In almost the same breath, Marianne Williamson suggested that plans wouldn’t be of much use in defeating Donald Trump, then suggested Democrats needed to go deeper than just slogans. Huh? That the whole point of having plans… and offering specific ideas for building a better America.

UPDATE, 6:35 PM: After correcting Savannah Guthrie, Biden built on Buttigieg’s comments in support of new Americans being able to access healthcare, noting that immigrants pay taxes and pay into Social Security.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

We’re watching the first night of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate. Join us!

Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle.

NPI staff are watching and sharing impressions of the debate as it progresses, which will take place over the course of two nights in Miami, Florida.

The format is as follows:

Candidates will have sixty seconds to answer questions and thirty seconds to respond to follow-ups. And there will be no opening statements, though candidates will have a chance to deliver closing remarks. The two-hour debates will zip by quickly, with five segments each night separated by four commercial breaks.

Ten candidates will face off each night on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo after a total of twenty candidates met the Democratic National Committee’s threshold for participation.

Our live coverage begins below.

UPDATE, 4:50 PM (Andrew): It’s almost time for the debate to begin.

Tonight’s lineup of candidates is:

  • Senator Cory Booker
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • Former Representative Beto O’™Rourke
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Former Representative John Delaney
  • Representative Tulsi Gabbard
  • Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro
  • Representative Tim Ryan
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee

UPDATE, 4:55 PM (Andrew): Television channels airing the debate include NBC + MSNBC (English), and Telemundo (Spanish). Check your provider’s lineup card or online lineup if you don’t know the channel number. You can also watch online: the debate will stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.

UPDATE, 6:03 PM (Caitlin): The first Democratic debate is underway in Miami with ten of the twenty 2020 democratic presidential candidates who met the fundraising quota. Some of the most watched candidates debating tonight include Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker and Senator Amy Klobuchar. Washington Governor Jay Inslee is also on stage.

Immigration, specifically surrounding the troubling treatment of migrant children at the border, as well as tensions with Iran will be discussed.

UPDATE, 6:05 PM (Andrew): Elizabeth Warren just showed everyone why she’s a formidable candidate. That was a masterful answer to a poor initial question and an excellent example of how to reframe.

UPDATE, 6:09 PM (Andrew): We’re really disappointed in the phrasing of the questions so far. But it’s good to see the candidates are pivoting quickly and focusing on their values as opposed to letting the moderators exploit their differences.

UPDATE, 6:11 PM (Andrew): We just heard the lamest moderator question so far from Savannah Guthrie (“Are you picking winners and losers?”)

This phrase needs to be stricken from journalists’ lexicon.

UPDATE, 6:12 PM (Caitlin Harrington): Senator Warren got to open the debate when she was asked about her many plans to relieve American’s student loan debt, as well as Medicare For All and free college. She rhetorically asked who the economy is really working for and argued that, right now, it’s benefiting a slimmer number of Americans, like CEOs of private corporations.

Warren argued that elected officials in our nation’s capital needs to call out all corruption, tackle it head on, and implement structural change in our country.

UPDATE, 6:14 PM (Andrew): We’re almost fifteen minutes in and Governor Jay Inslee — the only governor on the stage — has not gotten a question yet.

UPDATE, 6:16 PM (Andrew): First question to Governor Jay Inslee is about income inequality. He’s ready to go with an energetic, turbocharged answer about supporting working families and organized labor. Nicely done, Governor.

UPDATE, 6:18 PM (Caitlin): Senator Amy Klobuchar was then asked about her previous statements that free college tuition is great in theory but harder to implement. Klobuchar spoke about her family’s history getting degrees from community colleges. She pledged to double the amount of funding that goes toward programs help pay for tuition and she would make it easier for student’s to pay off student loan debt.

UPDATE, 6:19 PM (Andrew): Warren is preaching Governor Inslee’s clean energy jobs gospel — effectively, too — with this answer.

UPDATE, 6:21 PM (Andrew): “I’m with Bernie on Medicare For All,” Elizabeth Warren says. “Let me tell you why.” She’s doing extremely well so far.

UPDATE, 6:23 PM (Caitlin): Former Representative Beto O’Rourke was asked about how some Democrats want a tax rate on those making over million a year. He started by stating that this economy has to work for everyone.

He then spoke in Spanish before then switching back to English, saying that right now we have a system that’s rigged to the most wealthiest. He also assailed Trump’s tax scam before closing with, “We each need to have a voice in this democracy.” When pressed further if he supported a specific tax amount, he continued to elaborate without actually committing to an amount.

UPDATE, 6:24 PM (Andrew): New York Mayor Bill De Blasio just seized an opening and responded to Beto O’Rourke’s answer on healthcare.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Andrew): Tulsi Gabbard says employers will recognize how much Medicare For All can save them if we embrace that approach.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Caitlin): Cory Booker was asked about Warren’s plans to break up big tech after he had previously been perceived as unsupportive of her plan. Booker countered by saying he agrees corporate consolidation was detrimental to Americans’ wellbeing. He argued that it strips dignity from labor and it doesn’t allow small businesses to compete. “I feel strongly about the need to check corporate consolidation and let the free economy work,” said Booker.

“This economy is not working for average Americans.”

UPDATE, 6:28 PM (Andrew): Governor Inslee just jumped in and declared that he’s the only candidate who has passed (actually, signed) legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Caitlin): Warren offered thoughts on breaking up tech, arguing too much consolidation hurts our economy and helps constrict real innovation and growth. “We’ve had the laws out there for a long time to fight back, what’s missing is courage in Washington to take on the giants,” she said.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Andrew): Lots of crosstalk at a few points so far in this debate.

UPDATE, 6:31 PM (Andrew): Castro says he doesn’t just believe in reproductive freedom… he believes in reproductive justice. And he thoughtfully explained the distinction between those two concepts.

UPDATE, 6:32 PM (Caitlin): Equal pay was the next topic. Senator Tulsi Gabbard argued that tax dollars have been irresponsibly spent on unnecessary wars, citing her extensive career in the military.

She said that as president she would ensure Americans’ tax dollars will be spent responsibly, helping us towards equal pay for all.

UPDATE, 6:33 PM (Andrew): And now for the first commercial break… whew.

UPDATE, 6:35 PM (Caitlin): New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cited his work to ensure a minimum wage in NYC, as well as free sick days and pre-k for all. He then went on to say that this is a “battle for the heart and soul of our party. This is supposed to be the party of working people.” He argued the Democratic Party has to be strong, bold and progressive. “We’ve proved we can do that in New York by investing in our communities,” he said.

UPDATE, 6:36 PM (Caitlin): Former Representative John Delaney argued that we need to do real things to help the American people reach equal pay, including doubling of the earned income tax bracket and fixing the public education system.

UPDATE, 6:39 PM (Caitlin): The equal pay discussion keeps rolling on. Washington Governor Jay Inslee stated he was proud to stand up for unions, that help us achieve equal pay. He continued to say he would reinvigorate collective bargaining as well as focus on creating and honing jobs of the present of the future. He attacked Trump, saying that wind turbines don’t cause cancer and that they, in fact, cause jobs – building them provides clean energy jobs of the future.

UPDATE, 6:41 PM (Caitlin): Representative Tim Ryan argued that the bottom 60% of Americans haven’t seen a raise since 1980. “We need a policy that says we need to dominate those (clean energy) industries, especially solar,” he said.

UPDATE, 6:43 PM (Andrew): It’s worth noting that this is a bilingual debate. You’ll never heard multiple Republican presidential candidates interacting with a debate moderator in Spanish. This debate has also been notable for its focus on ideas as opposed to nasty personal attacks and innuendo.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM (Andrew): During the past few minutes, Castro and O’Rourke have repeatedly talked over each other. It’s been hard at times to make out all the words they’re saying. Castro is on the offensive against O’Rourke, pressing his case for welcoming new Americans to our country.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM (Caitlin): When asked about bring jobs back to America, Warren spoke to the fact that giant corporations have one loyalty: to profits. If they can move jobs to save money, they’ll do it. “There’s going to be a worldwide need for green tech and we can be the ones to provide that,” she said.

UPDATE, 6:46 PM (Caitlin): When the moderators asked for a show of hands in support of Medicare For All, only De Blasio and Warren raised their hands. Would have been nice to see ten hands. NPI research has found strong support in Washington State favoring Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:48 PM (Caitlin): Klobuchar defended her healthcare stance by talking about work she did when Obama was trying to pass the Patient Protection Act and noting that a public option was part of the original plan — though it wasn’t in the final bill. “We can’t kick half of Americans off their insurance in two years,” she argued. She argued that pharmaceutical prices are the bigger issue, with 2,500 different drug prices that have gone up since Trump took over.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM (Andrew): Jay Inslee got an opportunity to tout his work in Washington State to protect refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. His track record on this issue is certainly strong.

UPDATE, 6:52 PM (Caitlin): As mentioned, Warren stated unequivocally that she is “with Bernie” on Medicare For All. She argued that the cost of healthcare is number one reason for bankruptcy – even if you have insurance. She argued that the private insurance industry does not benefit Americans.

UPDATE, 6:52 PM (Andrew): The moderators have shifted the debate to foreign policy. Cory Booker explained why he didn’t raise his hand when the candidates were asked about rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, which Donald Trump foolishly abandoned.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Caitlin): During the healthcare portion of the debate earlier, O’Rourke said that guaranteed affordable healthcare for all Americans as quickly as possible has to be an immediate goal as president.

He went on to mention that this includes women making decisions about their own bodies. He was the first candidate to bring up reproductive rights.

He contended that those who have negotiated good healthcare, like union members, should be able to keep that coverage, while those with insufficient coverage should be able to enroll in a public plan.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Caitlin): Tulsi Gabbard chimed in, saying that we need to take the best of each approach (expanding Medicare and reforming the insurance industry) by focusing on a goal of taking care of all Americans.

UPDATE, 6:56 PM (Andrew): The debate is halfway over; the second commercial break is currently airing.

UPDATE, 6:57 PM (Caitlin): Cory Booker argued that healthcare is connected to other issues. Without proper coverage, kids won’t succeed in school and those working will also not retain their employment.

He said it also affects those who are retired and cited that African Americans in his community have a lower life expectancy because of their healthcare. “I’m not going to wait,” he said. “We have to do the things immediately to provide better care. Too many people are profiteering off the pain of Americans.”

UPDATE, 6:58 PM (Caitlin): Warren pointed out that last year, big companies steered billions of dollars into their coffers instead of into healthcare for Americans. She also said that this number doesn’t count lobbying money or executives’ salaries. “It’s time for us to make families come first,” she insisted.

UPDATE, 7:00 PM (Caitlin): Governor Inslee emphasized how he has increased access to healthcare here in Washington State, which is under Democratic control. He signed a law that preserves a woman’s right to access reproductive health care, as well as implementing a public option in the state.

UPDATE, 7:01 PM (Caitlin): As mentioned, Castro stressed that we need not just reproductive freedom but reproductive justice, including for those in the trans community. He argued that being poor should not limit you from exercising reproductive freedoms and he would respect Roe v. Wade.

UPDATE, 7:02 PM (Caitlin): When Elizabeth Warren was asked if she supports a woman’s access to abortion, she responded by saying:

“I would make certain that every woman would have access to the full range of reproductive services, which includes [pregnancy prevention] and abortion. It’s not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us.”

UPDATE, 7:03 PM (Andrew): Things haven’t gone well, technically speaking, at the top of the second hour. There are audio problems preventing the moderators from interacting with the candidates. Right now, some red-faced NBC executives are grimly wringing their hands and wondering how things went so wrong.

Pretty embarrassing.

UPDATE, 7:03 PM (Caitlin): Earlier, in the discussion on healthcare, Booker  turned the conversation to opioid addiction and the high rate of arrests instead of treatment of those suffering. He argued we need to hold the pharmaceutical companies behind the epidemic responsible.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM (Andrew): NBC’s audio problems, in a way, are a metaphor for what’s currently happening in our country.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM (Caitlin): O’Rourke followed up on Booker’s comments, arguing that many of those in prison are there for nonviolent drug crimes, especially on marijuana charges. He implied that since marijuana is legal in many parts of the country now, no one should be imprisoned for nonviolent crimes associated with that substance. He also agreed that pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable for their actions that increased the opioid epidemic.

UPDATE, 7:07 PM (Andrew): NBC got its audio problems figured out and the moderators finally got to ask about gun violence. “Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country.” Good line from Elizabeth Warren.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM (Andrew): This is Cory Booker’s best moment so far in the debate. A strong answer on addressing gun violence. (Booker has proposed buying back guns as part of his plan to tackle this public health scourge.)

UPDATE, 7:10 PM (Caitlin): Before the break and NBC’s embarrassing audio snafu, the debate turned to immigration.

Castro stated that he was the first candidate to put forward a comprehensive immigration plan. He said the recent image of the drowned father and daughter was heartbreaking, but that it should also “piss us all off” and that it should spur us to action. He stated he would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump’s worst immigration policies immediately after taking office.

UPDATE, 7:11 PM (Andrew): Castro did a good job saluting the work of Moms Demand Action and the Parkland teens who organized the March For Our Lives.

UPDATE, 7:14 PM (Andrew): Will Governor Inslee get a chance to talk about the three gun responsibility initiatives Washington State voters have supported, and the bills the Legislature has passed to protect our communities?

UPDATE, 7:14 PM (Caitlin): During the exchange on immigration, Booker alternated between speaking in English and Spanish, saying that he would immediately abolish ICE and that migrants shouldn’t have to leave their rights at our border. He argued we need to reinvigorate pathways to citizenship, including DACA [Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals], as well as address where these issues come from by making investments in the northern triangle.

UPDATE, 7:17 PM (Caitlin): De Blasio stressed that we need to remind Americans hurting economically that immigrants didn’t steal their jobs, corporations and the one percent did that. He argued that Democrats are on the side of working people and we need to champion policies to support them.

“That’s what we need to do as Americans,” he said.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM (Andrew): This has not been a good debate for former United States Representative John Delaney. He’s desperate to be heard, but he doesn’t have much of consequence to say.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Caitlin): Prior to the break that preceded the second hour, Beto O’Rourke was asked, in Spanish, what he would do on day one in the White House to tackle immigration. O’Rourke said we would begin to follow our own asylum laws and not criminally prosecute those migrants and families – especially those fleeing some of the worst violence in the world.

He said he would implement a family immigration program that would efficiently move immigrants through the immigration process. “We then need to rewrite our immigration laws in our country’s image,” he concluded.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Andrew): One hour and twenty-two minutes in, we’re talking about climate damage. Finally. And Governor Inslee appropriately gets the first question on climate from MNSBC’s Rachel Maddow.

UPDATE, 7:25 PM (Caitlin): Booker told the audience that increasing arrests won’t solve our immigration or drug problems. He argued we need to use our resources so that we don’t sacrifice our values or ideals for border security.

UPDATE, 7:27 PM (Caitlin): Inslee stated that there is no reason for the detention of children at the border and they should be immediately released pending prompt hearings. He explained that in Washington state, a law was passed that prevented local law enforcement from acting as ICE agents. He also mentioned that he was the first governor to fight Trump’s racist travel bans. “We welcome refugees and value diversity in our state,” he said.

UPDATE, 7:28 PM (Andrew): Chuck Todd is talking way too much. There’s only two hours and ten candidates in this debate, and he’s burning up time asking long winded questions. It’s unfortunate that he is a moderator.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Caitlin): The JCPOA with Iran was the topic that followed immigration. As Andrew mentioned, the moderators asked which candidates supported rejoining the deal. Booker was the only candidate to not raise his hand. He defended his stance by saying that he does not believe we should have ever dropped out of the deal but that now we need to renegotiate to immediately and aggressively deescalate those tensions.

UPDATE, 7:32 PM (Caitlin): Gabbard contended that the regime’s posture on Iran is very dangerous and Trump needs to start putting Americans first by re-entering the JCPOA and deescalating tensions.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM (Andrew): In his last answer on gun violence, Castro mentioned the names of several people who have been victims of police brutality, like Eric Garner and Sandra Bland. Nicely done, Mr. Secretary.

UPDATE, 7:36 PM (Caitlin): Warren tried to make the most of her opportunity to talk about gun safety and refused to be baited into embracing confiscation. “The federal government needs to treat it like a serious research problem,” she said. She said making sweeping restrictions won’t guarantee a solution and that we need data driven action, whether it’s politically popular or not.

UPDATE, 7:36 PM (Caitlin): “I hope I’m the only one on stage who has had seven people shot in their neighborhood,” Cory Booker said in a somber voice. “This is not just a policy issue, it’s personal. I’m tired of thoughts and prayers.”

UPDATE, 7:44 PM (Caitlin): Castro agreed that we don’t need to accept this as normal. He expressed his belief that in 2020, we will have a Democratic majority in each chamber of Congress. He praised the Parkland students and other gun safety activists by saying that we may have not seen federal legislative action yet, but there will be an opportunity for progress in 2021.

UPDATE, 7:45 PM (Andrew): Barely any time was devoted to addressing climate damage tonight, which just reinforces why we need a climate debate. With good moderators. (That means not you, Chuck Todd.)

UPDATE, 7:45 PM (Caitlin): Tim Ryan sought to broaden the conversation, saying that we need mental health counselors in every school in America so those who feel shame or trauma are supported and don’t resort to gun violence.

UPDATE, 7:47 PM (Caitlin): O’Rourke was then asked about the common refrain that Democrats are going to take Americans’ guns away. He argued that universal background checks save lives and that we need to end the sales of assault weapons and weapons of war. We also need to support red flag laws.

He said when talking to Americans all over the country, what everyone agreed on, whether they were Democrats, Republicans, owners and non gun owners, was that we need stronger and better gun safety laws.

UPDATE, 7:48 PM (Caitlin): Klobuchar argued that we need to listen to the young people. She drew a parallel to marriage equality, saying that it was the young people asking why the freedom to marry didn’t exist. She argued it’s the same with gun safety and that without it, we have failed our young people.

UPDATE, 7:52 PM (Caitlin): Booker was then asked about the Supreme Court, but before addressing that, he stated that if you need a license to drive a car, you ought to need it for a gun. He argued that bold agendas for gun reforms are needed. Regarding the Supreme Court, he agreed with Castro that whoever the eventual Democratic presidential nominee is, they should campaign in places like South Carolina and Iowa to elect Democratic Senate candidates so that Mitch McConnell cannot obstruct the people’s will following the 2021 election .

UPDATE, 7:56 PM (Caitlin): The moderators asked several of the candidates how they would deal with Mitch McConnell, the crafty Senate Republican chieftain. When Warren was asked if she had a plan, of course, she said yes. “We are a democracy, and the way it’s supposed to work is the will of the people matters,” she said. She said McConnell helped make the country work much better for those who lobby and give big campaign contributions, and its not for the people. Warren wants to see us get a Democratic majority in the Senate, but even without that, the fight still goes on and it starts in the White House.

UPDATE, 8:00 PM (Caitlin): Delaney spoke about bipartisanship and tackled the question regarding how to deal with Mitch McConnell who doesn’t operate that way. He stated that we need to get things done. “I’ll sign into law bills that are passed on a party line basis,” he said. “But huge majorities of the American people cause change. We need real solutions, not impossible promises.”

UPDATE, 8:04 PM (Caitlin): Before launching into his pitch for climate justice, Jay Inslee reiterated his call for the abolition of the filibuster, which McConnell used to obstruct bills during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Then he talked about the theme of his campaign, incorporating a line that Washingtonians are familiar with: “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last who can do something about it.”

He said we need to treat it like a crisis and that this next administration is likely the last one who can do anything significant to tackle it. He spoke about his success championing environmental protection in Washington and finished by saying he is the only candidate pledging to make tackling the climate crisis his top priority and put eight million people to work.

UPDATE, 8:07 PM (Caitlin): Gabbard was asked to address her previous anti-LGBTQ stances. She stated that there is no one in our government at any level who has any right to tell any American who they can love or marry. “My record shows my commitment to fighting for equality through my work in the equality caucus,” she said. She said many Americans can probably relate that she grew up in a socially conservative home and has changed her opinions.

“I’ve served with LGBTQ service members in training and down range. I would give my life for them and I know they would give their life for me. It’s this commitment that I’ll carry through as President.”

UPDATE, 8:08 PM (Caitlin): Klobuchar was asked why minority voters should vote for her. She said in short, in her first one hundred days as president, she will tackle voting reform and make sure everyone can vote. She said she would then move on to criminal justice reform.

UPDATE, 8:12 PM (Caitlin): The Taliban recently took credit for killing two service members in Afghanistan. The moderators asked why, even after multiple presidencies, this conflict has not ended?

Ryan stated that of his seventeen years in Congress, twelve of those years have been spent on different armed services committees. He argued that government needs to stay engaged because these conflicts are long and tedious. He then pointed out that Trump doesn’t even have people appointed to deal with these things, whether we’re talking about conflicts in Central America, Iran or Afghanistan. “We had a drone shot down because Trump is distracted,” he argued. “Those dollars could go to [places] like Flint, Michigan.”

UPDATE, 8:13 PM (Caitlin): Gabbard countered by saying that answer was unacceptable. “We have to bring our troops home,” she said. “We are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when it began. We need a commander in chief who knows the cost of war.”

UPDATE, 8:15 PM (Caitlin): The moderators then asked what the biggest geopolitical threat to the United States is from each candidate.

Delaney said the biggest geopolitical challenge is China and nuclear proliferation. Inslee said it’s Donald Trump, drawing huge applause. Gabbard said that we are too close to nuclear war. Klobuchar cited China and Iran. O’Rourke said it’s the climate crisis. Warren said it’s corruption. Ryan said it’s China. De Blasio said it’s Russia’s attempts to interfere in our elections and subvert our democracy.

UPDATE, 8:17 PM (Caitlin): The debate topic switched the the Mueller report and if candidates would prosecute Trump after he leaves office.

O’Rourke said yes. “If we allow him to get away with this without impunity, we set a precedent that those in power are above the law. We must start impeachment proceedings and follow the facts where they go. If we can’t do that now, under my administration, we will ensure accountability and save this country.”

UPDATE, 8:20 PM (Caitlin): Closing statements were then heard, with each candidate getting just forty-five seconds. Delaney said that he is on a mission to find the America that has been lost. We saved the world and created the American dream. De Blasio said that putting working people first matters.

Inslee said he is running for president to address climate damage because he wants to be able to look his grandchildren in the eyes and tell them he did everything humanly possible to protect their futures. “We can save our children and our grandchildren. This is our moment,” he said.

UPDATE, 8:23 PM (Caitlin): Ryan stated that there is nothing worse than not being heard or seen (a comment that drew scorn on social media). He said he has represented a forgotten community and he is ready to play offense.

Gabbard said that she values service above self.

Castro said he will work hard every single day to continue the progress America has made and (after speaking in Spanish) said we will say adios to Trump.

Klobuchar said she listens to people and that’s how she gets things done. She also added that she has won in the reddest of districts.

Booker said he’s calling this country to a common purpose again. It’s a referendum on us, who we are and who we must be to each other.

UPDATE, 8:24 PM (Caitlin): O’Rourke said that we need a new kind of politics, directed by the urgency of the next generation. We need to bring everyone together and not leave anyone behind. Warren finished the night be saying we can make our economy and our country work for everyone. She promised she will fight for Americans as hard as she fights for her own family.

And that’s it for the first night of Democratic debates!

Tune in tomorrow night to hear from the other ten candidates.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler returns from multi-week maternity leave

Sharp eyed readers of NPI’s Cascadia Advocate may have noticed that United States Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-03) has missed a lot of floor votes lately. Until this week, Herrera-Beutler hadn’t cast any votes on the floor of the United States House since before the Memorial Day recess.

That’s because she has been on maternity leave, her office says.

“Jaime’s absence is due to her giving birth a few weeks ago,” her communications director Angeline Riesterer explains. “She is back now voting and resuming her congressional duties with her newborn daughter in tow.”

Today, Representative Herrera-Beutler posted a photo of her walking to the House floor to vote with her newborn daughter Isana in a carrying harness.

“Crossing my fingers Isana can grab a nap,” Herrera-Beutler tweeted.

U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler with baby Isana

U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler tweeted this image of her enroute to vote with baby Isana

Hopefully she got her wish. Congratulations to the Representative and all of her family on the joyous occasion of her daughter’s birth.

While Herrera-Beutler was on maternity leave, the House was busy. It debated and passed a $982.8 billion appropriations bill, a resolution authorizing its committees to ask federal courts to enforce committee subpoenas, and landmark legislation to protect the rights of Dreamers and new Americans.

Top Republican operatives, meanwhile, decided that Herrera-Beutler is vulnerable in 2020 and revealed plans to prop up her forthcoming reelection campaign.

“Republicans plan to pour extra money and resources into ten congressional districts where Republican incumbents are vulnerable amid demographic changes that could swing the elections toward Democrats,” McClatchy’s Rick Childress and David Lightman reported earlier this month.

“The special Republican effort, called the ‘Patriot Program,’ asks party donors to direct funds to incumbent campaigns. The [incumbents] also get additional staff and support for more extensive advertising campaigns from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP’s House campaign arm.”

The complete list of ten is:

  1. Will Hurd, Texas (TX-23)
  2. John Katko, New York (NY-24)
  3. Brian Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania (PA-01)
  4. Pete Olson, Texas (TX-22)
  5. John Carter, Texas (TX-31)
  6. Michael McCaul, Texas (TX-10)
  7. Don Bacon, Nebraska (NE-02)
  8. Lee Zeldin, New York (NY-01)
  9. Fred Upton, Michigan (MI-)
  10. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA-03)

It is noteworthy that almost half of these endangered incumbents are from Texas. An additional two are from New York, which one each from Michigan and Nebraska. And then there is Herrera-Beutler, the last Republican representative representing a district west of the Cascade mountain range.

Last year, the Washingtonians elected U.S. Representative Kim Schrier to represent the 8th Congressional District, once again turning back a bid by Dino Rossi for higher office. Schrier’s win helped Democrats secure their first majority in the United States House of Representatives since 2009.

Prior to Schrier’s victory, the 8th had always been represented by Republicans, including Jennifer Dunn and Dave Reichert. The 3rd is a different story; it has mostly sent Democrats to Congress since the middle of the twentieth century, including Julia Butler Hansen, Don Bunker, and Jolene Unsoeld.

In 1994, Republicans flipped the 3rd with Linda Smith, but Smith did not stay in Congress long. She opted to challenge Patty Murray for the United States Senate in 1998 and was handily defeated. Democrats took advantage of Smith’s Senate run to recapture the district. It was then represented by Brian Baird until his retirement in the 2010 cycle, when Herrera-Beutler defeated Denny Heck.

The next year, the district’s boundaries changed when Washington gained a new congressional district, the 10th, which is widely considered by political observers to have been drawn for Heck. (Heck has represented the district since 2012.)

It was not until last year that Democrats made challenging Herrera-Beutler a major priority, unifying behind challenger Carolyn Long, who earned a respectable 47.33% of the vote despite being a first time candidate without name recognition.

The party has signaled that capturing WA-03 will again be a top priority in 2020; it is deploying field staff to organize in the district and has emphasized the importance of Southwest Washington in fundraising emails.

“I spent the general election last year on the ground in WA-03 with so many dedicated volunteers who worked so hard to flip the 3rd in 2018 for Carolyn Long, and I know that so many of you were heartbroken when we came up just short of victory,” new communications director Will Casey wrote in a May 28th message.

“But Jaime Herrera Beutler will be running scared this year because the focus of the entire state is now trained on Southwest Washington,” Casey’s message adds. “That’s why I’ve joined the state party to marshal our efforts against Representative Herrera Beutler and her downballot Republican allies.”

In last year’s Top Two election, which pitted Long and several other Democrats against Herrera-Beutler, Herrera-Beutler secured the first place spot, but garnered less than 43% of the vote overall, which amazed many political observers. (Usually, multi-term incumbents don’t perform so poorly.)

A lack of visibility might be part of her problem: Herrera-Beutler has not been in the habit of holding town halls and constituent outreach events. While it’s understandable that she has a family to take care of, her constituents in Southwest Washington do need and deserve effective representative in Congress. They’ll likely have a second opportunity to pick between her and Carolyn Long next year should Long seek a rematch, which she is actively considering.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

Don’t want our public discourse dominated by the right wing? Then don’t use their language

Back during the Bush error, when the Northwest Progressive Institute was founded, leading experts in linguistics and and cognitive science (like Dr. George Lakoff) began an effort to teach progressive activists and elected officials how to reframe and reclaim our public discourse from right wing demagoguery.

That work continues today and has taken on a new importance in the wake of Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory, which has put the United States of America on a path to becoming a full fledged kleptocracy and kakistocracy (a state or society governed by its least suitable or competent citizens).

“Framing is about reclaiming our power to decide what’s important,” George Lakoff explained in a January 2018 post. “Framing is about making sure we set the terms of the debate, using our language and our ideas. Conservatives have beaten progressives at this for decades. It’s time for a change.”

What the right wing has long understood is that words matter. Right wing intellectuals and media personalities know that words mean things.

So the right wing has emphasized framing and message discipline to a huge degree. The reason right wing pundits on cable television so often sound coordinated is because they are. They’re all working to promote right wing ideas and keep them at the forefront of America’s public discourse.

Every time progressives use the right wing’s language to talk about the issues, we’re helping them promote their ideas, whether we intend to or not. Even negating a frame reinforces that frame. That’s the first lesson of Lakoff’s classic Don’t Think Of An Elephant, which every progressive activist should read.

In the opening pages of Don’t Think Of An Elephant, Lakoff explains that when he commands his students not to think of an elephant, that’s just what they do. They can’t help it. They picture an animal with a large trunk, tusks, and floppy ears. And that’s because, again, negating a frame reinforces that frame.

The right wing knows that if they can get the language connected to their ideas into widespread usage by the mass media and even their opposition, they’ll be able to dominate our public discourse. So they work very hard at doing just that. It’s why they invested so much energy into coming up with an epithet for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their goal was to make that epithet more ubiquitous than the official name given to the law passed by Congress.

Word choice is thus of the utmost importance. Words are like flags: Write or utter the wrong word, and you’ve just hoisted a flag for the other side.

Word choice is incredibly important. Unfortunately, not everyone gets this, which is why from time to time you’ll hear the ridiculous put down That’s just semantics.

“Semantics are about meaning, and meaning is without question the single most important thing in any communication. If meaning has no meaning, then people are just making random noises,” notes author Tom Christiansen. “So semantics is not a matter of no import as they would have you believe, but indeed the one single matter that is of undeniably paramount importance.”

Unless we reframe, we will end up talking about the right wing’s ideas by default. We need to be mindful of our own word choice and call out the mass media when they use loaded language in supposedly objective news coverage.

That’s exactly what a coalition of organizations committed to women’s rights and reproductive justice did this week when they demanded that the BBC stop using the phrase “heartbeat bill” to describe legislation passed by right wing dominated state legislatures to deny women the freedom to decide to end a pregnancy.

“As an international broadcaster with a global weekly reach in 2018 of 376 million people, [the BBC] … has a duty to avoid being complicit, however unknowingly, in the aggressive campaign by anti-abortion extremists worldwide attempting to rob women of their rights and care,” wrote representatives of Marie Stopes International, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

The BBC’s news director Fran Unsworth dismissively responded: “We would not aim to adopt it as our own description of the legislation… I do not think our reporting can avoid the fact that the phrase is now in common usage.”

That’s the kind of response that makes a right wing intellectual smile.

Operatives working at right wing think tanks know they’ve succeeded in influencing (if not dominating) public discourse when someone in Unsworth’s position decides that language connected to their ideas should continue to be used in copy simply because it is “now in common usage.”

Unsworth’s rationale for rejecting this reasonable request is nonsensical.

Profanities and racial slurs are also in “common usage”, but you generally won’t see such words in the BBC’s copy because the use of such language by a news organization committed to neutral and objective reporting is unacceptable.

“This phrase was chosen very carefully by people who want to end access to legal abortion to insert dangerously emotive language into the common vernacular,” IPPF’s Dr. Alvaro Bermejo noted in response to Unsworth’s comments. “The right thing to do is to stop using it. We call on the BBC to think again.”

Bermejo’s response is spot on. This is exactly how a progressive activist or elected official ought to respond when getting pushback from an institution like the BBC that is resisting abandoning the use of loaded language.

We may not be able to control what the mass media says or uses in their copy, but we can control what we say. We can model the behavior we want to see, and we can be persistent in calling on news organizations that claim to be committed to objectivity to live by that value and avoid loaded language.

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Last week (June 17th-21st) in Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted

Good morning! Here’s how Cascadia’s Members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday, June 21st, 2019.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

$982.8 BILLION SPENDING PACKAGE: Voting 226 for and 203 against, the House on June 19th approved a $982.8 billion package consisting of four of the twelve appropriations bills that will fund government operations in fiscal 2020, which starts October 1st, 2019.

The bill (H.R. 2740) funds a $690.2 billion Pentagon budget while repealing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and prohibiting the diversion of military funds to wall construction on the southeast border.

In addition, the bill would provide $17.2 billion for operating the State Department and $24 billion in bilateral foreign aid including $3.3 billion for Israel, $1.52 billion for Jordan, $1.4 billion for Egypt and $445.7 million for Ukraine.

The bill also would appropriate:

  • $42.2 billion for K-12 education programs;
  • $41.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health;
  • $13.3 billion for the Department of Labor;
  • $4 billion for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
  • and $495 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among hundreds of other outlays.

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, Kurt Schrader

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (6): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, and Adam Smith

Voting Nay (3): Democratic Representative Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

Cascadia total: 10 aye votes, 6 nay votes, 1 not voting

WARRANTLESS COLLECTION OF AMERICANS’ COMMUNICATIONS: Voting 175 for and 253 against, the House on June 18th defeated an amendment to H.R. 2740 (above) aimed at restricting intelligence agencies’ use of the billions of telecommunications involving Americans inadvertently collected as part of warrantless surveillance of foreign targets under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The amendment sought to withhold funding to administer Section 702 next fiscal year unless the government takes additional steps to prevent violations of Americans’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights.

For example, stricter controls would have to be imposed to keep agencies from using warrantless targeting of foreigners, which is permitted, to intentionally or accidentally access the communications of people in the United States.

The FISA law gives agencies including the National Security Agency and FBI warrantless access to commercial databases of foreigners’ voice and digital communications — phone calls, emails, online chats, text messaging and social-media postings — that pass through wireless and landline facilities in the United States. But in order to use the data to target Americans, they must obtain court warrants based on probable cause.

When the government inadvertently collects innocent Americans’ communications, the information must be expunged or disregarded, although the law lacks a means for outsiders to see if that has occurred.

Sponsor Justin Amash, R-Michigan, said his amendment would “allow the government to continue using Section 702 for its stated purpose of gathering foreign intelligence, while limiting the government’s warrantless collection of Americans’ conversations.”

Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said the amendment could mean that “if a terrorist located in a foreign country communicates with conspirators located in the United States, the Intelligence community might not be able to use Section 702 to target that terrorist because he is communicating with a person in the United States.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (1): Republican Representative Russ Fulcher

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (3): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader

Voting Nay (2): Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer; Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (5): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Pramila Jayapal, and Adam Smith; Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Voting Nay (4): Democratic Representatives Derek Kilmer, Kim Schrier, and Denny Heck; Republican Representative Dan Newhouse

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

Cascadia total: 9 aye votes, 7 nay votes, 1 not voting

U.S. FUNDING TO COMBAT CLIMATE DAMAGE: Voting 174 for and 251 against, the House on June 18th defeated an amendment to prohibit U.S. funding in H.R. 2740 (above) to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. With one hundred and ninety-five signatory nations including the United States, the convention, or treaty, is the governing authority for a series of international efforts to slow the rate of global warming.

For example, it ushered in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the Paris Agreement in 2015 and, in 2010, the goal among nations to limit global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (about 1850) levels.

Amendment sponsor Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, called it “reckless and naive to bind taxpayers to international agreements that compromise our freedom and our economic security and virtually do nothing to impact the environment.”

Harley Rouda, D-California, said: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists recognize that climate change is real. The Department of Defense recognizes this is one of the top, if not the number one, national threats to our security.”

A yes vote was to withhold United States government support of international efforts to address climate damage.

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, Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (2): Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse 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 Jaime Herrera-Beutler

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

CITIZENSHIP QUESTION ON CENSUS: Voting 192 for and 240 against, the House on June 20th defeated a Republican effort to fund the Trump administration’s proposed addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The amendment was offered to a $690.4 billion spending package (HR 3055) for fiscal 2020 that remained in debate at week’s end.

The Supreme Court is now weighing the constitutionality of a citizenship question, which Democrats say is a partisan tactic to deter undocumented aliens from taking part in the census. Under the Constitution, the decennial census is required to count all persons living in the United States.

Amendment sponsor Steve King, R-Iowa, referred to the use of the census in allocating congressional districts and said…

… it is important that we understand that the voices in this Congress be the voices of American citizens, not the voices of illegal aliens.

Jose Serrano, D-New York, said the amendment would…

… reduce the accuracy and increase the undercount in places like Florida, Texas, Alabama, Michigan, California and New York. This, in turn, will affect reapportionment and the distribution of federal funds for the next decade in many of the communities we represent.

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican amendment.

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, Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (2): Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse 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 Jaime Herrera-Beutler

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)

BLOCKING ARMS FOR SAUDI ARABIA: Voting 53 for and 45 against, the Senate on June 20th adopted a measure (S.J. Resolution 36) that would disapprove of billions of dollars in planned and ongoing U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Middle East for use in a Saudi-led war against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen. Congress voted this year to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but President Trump successfully vetoed the measure.

Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said the Saudis already have “enough arms to blow up the Middle East ten times over. Is there just no stopping? Is there no limitation to what we will do? Do we not believe that any of our arms sales should be conditioned on behavior?”

Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said: “These sales are needed to address the legitimate security requirements of other countries we support in response to there being numerous threats from Iran and its proxies. These threats are real.”

A yes vote was to block 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

Key votes ahead

The House will debate fiscal 2020 appropriations bills in the week of June 24th, while the Senate will take up the 2020 military budget and emergency spending to deal with immigration overflow on the southwest border.

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!

© 2019 Thomas Voting Reports.

Monday, June 17th, 2019

VICTORY! Cap and invest bill clears Oregon State House of Representatives

It’s time to Act on Climate.

That’s the message the Oregon State House of Representatives sent today by giving final approval to House Bill 2020groundbreaking legislation that makes Oregon the second state in the country to impose a cap on emissions of harmful air pollutants and put a price on pollution that will raise revenue to facilitate a just and responsible transition to a clean energy future.

“We see the effects of climate change in record temperatures, declining snowpack, reduced summer streamflow, water scarcity, increased wildfires, and elevated public health risks,” said Governor Kate Brown, who lauded the vote. “We have a historic opportunity to protect our children’s futures by building long-term competitiveness while creating good jobs and improving access to affordable energy.”

Here’s a synopsis of what the bill does, written by Oregon House Democrats:

Under the legislation, greenhouse gas emissions will be capped each year to achieve at least 45 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2035 and at least 80 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2050.

In order to achieve those reductions, the state will annually reduce the greenhouse gas emissions cap and auction allowances for regulated entities to meet their compliance obligation.

Under the system, polluters are required to buy an allowance for each ton of anthropogenic greenhouse gases they emit and these allowances will go down over time.

Businesses can choose to continue purchasing allowances, reduce their emissions through technological innovation, or both.

The system HB 2020 will create is similar to the one that California has.

Thirty-six Oregon state representatives voted to adopt the bill, with twenty-four opposed. The roll call on final passage in the House was as follows:

Roll Call
HB 2020
Cap and invest
Final Passage in the House of Representatives
06/17/2019

Yeas: 36; Nays: 24

Voting Aye: Representatives Alonso Leon, Barker, Bynum, Clem, Doherty, Evans, Fahey, Gomberg, Gorsek, Greenlick, Helm, Hernandez, Holvey, Keny-Guyer, Lively, Marsh, McLain, Meek, Mitchell, Nathanson, Neron, Nosse, Piluso, Power, Prusak, Rayfield, Reardon, Salinas, Sanchez, Schouten, Smith Warner, Sollman, Speaker Kotek, Wilde, Williams, Williamson

Voting Nay: Representatives Barreto, Boles, Bonham, Boshart Davis, Drazan, Findley, Hayden, Helt, Leif, Lewis, McKeown, McLane, Nearman, Noble, Post, Reschke, Smith DB, Smith G, Sprenger, Stark, Wallan, Wilson, Witt, Zika

Republicans decried the bill in harsh, hyperbolic terms and tried repeatedly to kill it. They attempted to send it back to committee, delay its consideration indefinitely, and contend that minority consent was required to pass it. Majority Democrats rebuffed all of these stalling maneuvers and passed the bill over their objections.

“The climate crisis is a constant threat to our way of life, a threat that would make the planet, as we know it, uninhabitable,” said State Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), who played a key role in putting the legislation together. “We have faced great challenges before and come out stronger for them. We can’t delay any longer. If we do, we will have to face future generations and explain to them our inaction, even with all we knew. Today, we can show that economy-wide programs to transition from fossil fuels toward a clean, renewable future are possible.”

“For regions already experiencing climate change, these investments can’t come soon enough,” added State Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland).

“In my part of the state, we need money for forest management projects that will sequester carbon as we prevent and suppress wildfires.”

“As droughts become more frequent and temperatures continue to rise, we need to upgrade and protect our drinking water and irrigation systems. And we need support from the state to buttress and diversify an economy that is exceedingly vulnerable to the impacts of smoke and fire.”

To reach Governor Kate Brown’s desk, the bill must get through the Oregon State Senate, which won’t be simple or easy. One Oregon Democratic Senator, Betsy Johnson, is a certain no vote, while two more Democrats are uncommitted.

Hard work may lie ahead to get this bill across the finish line, but it’s certainly a huge milestone to see this bill pass the Oregon House. Congratulations to Representative Power and Speaker Kotek on a job well done. The effort to secure a clean energy future for Cascadia and the United States continues.

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

SIFF Documentary Review: Reconnect to the effort to save Alaska’s salmon with The Wild

Salmon took center stage at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, with multiple documentaries either directly or tangentially addressing this topic that is so important to the Pacific Northwest and our environment.

Perhaps the most anticipated of these films (for me, at least) was “The Wild,” directed by Mark Titus. It is a follow-up to his 2015 film “The Breach,” which I previously reviewed here on the Cascadia Advocate.

But for a different outcome in the 2016 presidential election, making “The Wild” might not have been necessary — or, at least, it would be a very different film.

“The Breach” ends with the good news that President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had issued a report concluding that a proposed copper mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska would have a detrimental impact on the salmon fishery. This meant that the permit process for the Pebble Mine was essentially stopped before it started.

This was great news for Bristol Bay and anyone else who cares about the environment, especially salmon and their role in the environment. However, as I noted in my 2017 article about “The Breach,” Scott Pruitt, Trump’s first head of the EPA, met with the CEO of the mining company, Pebble Limited Partnership, in May of that year and hours later rescinded he Obama-era proposal to protect the area.

Cover poster for The Wild

World premiere poster for The Wild

This brings us to the start of “The Wild.” Having previously thought this one battle for salmon was already won, Titus now had to ask himself, and through the subtitle of the film, asks all of us, “how do you save what you love?”

At the first screening of “The Wild”, which was the world premiere of the film, Titus introduced the film with his answer: that “connection, ultimately, can save us.”

In the film he connects with many activists, both everyday citizens and local and national celebrities, discussing their connection to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, and what they are doing to try to protect it.

Renowned Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, who was also at the premiere, notes in the film that it’s easier to maintain a unblemished habitat like Bristol Bay than to try to recover salmon in places like Seattle where humans have already caused so much environmental damage.

A school of sockeye

The Wild
Release Year: 2019
Director: Mark Titus
Running Time: 60 minutes

Watch trailer

Bristol Bay is the last remaining undamaged salmon fishery in the world, and it has been supporting a Native American subsistence culture for over four-thousand years. There are also very active commercial and sport fishing industries, with a total of 14,000 jobs connected to the fishery.

Even with all of this fishing, the fishery is closely and sustainably managed so that salmon population does not decrease.

Pebble’s CEO Tom Collier argues that the mine would create 800 to 1,000 jobs for the next twenty years, and that “it’s pretty damn easy to sit in Seattle and say that they shouldn’t have development in rural Alaska.”

However, putting 14,000 jobs at risk for adding a fraction as many for a finite period of time doesn’t sound like smart development, no matter where you live.

Collier does not leave a good impression on viewers, leading me to ask Titus why he thought Collier was willing to be interviewed for the film.

He said he is not sure, but thought it could mix of two theories that I posited: first, that Pebble feels emboldened by EPA reversal and current administration and therefor are not as defensive, and second, that they are feeling desperate to get the mine permitted as soon as possible before there is another Presidential election and that they want to get their message in front of any camera they can.

“I think Pebble desired a perception of transparency, normalcy and legitimacy to the public,” Titus said.

Director Mark Titus

It’s not a given that the EPA will okay the permit Collier is seeking, and Pebble, by Collier’s admission, has already spent $700 million to get to this point.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently accepting public comments on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and will likely issue their final Environmental Impact Statement in the spring of 2020, Titus says.

They will then issue a decision, which could either be an approval of the permit with the mine proposal as it is, approval of the permit with conditions, or a denial of the application.

A mine expert quoted in the film says that the mine is not economically feasible unless they make it much bigger than proposed in the permit application, and therefore the current DEIS is wrong.

Collier says it is likely that there would be additional phases of the mine, but that each expansion has to go through the permit process.

Activists fear that once the initial application is approved, it will be next to impossible for the other phases to be denied. Plus, even just the initial scope of the mine will cause catastrophic damage to Alaska and the Earth, our common home.

After the premiere and two additional showings at SIFF, the film is next going to be screened in Alaska, then it will be going on the festival circuit. Titus and his team at Eva’s Wild will be connecting to people at screenings and “offering multiple ways for people to take action through use of their votes, voices and dollars,” Titus said.

The DEIS public comment period ends July 1st.

Save Bristol Bay has a form with a message that you can customize to be sent in to the public comment email. You can get more information of the proposed mine and it’s potential impact there or on Eva’s Wild. Eva’s Wild also has trailers of “The Wild”, information about upcoming screenings, copies of “The Breach” for purchase, contact information if you want to host a screening of “The Breach”, and a mailing list you can sign up for to keep abreast of the issue.

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Last week (June 10th-14th) in Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted

Happy Father’s Day! Here’s how Cascadia’s Members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday, June 14th, 2019.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

SEEKING COURTS’ HELP TO ENFORCE SUBPOENAS: Voting 229 for and 191 against, the House on June 11th adopted a resolution (H Res 430) authorizing its committees to ask federal courts to enforce committee subpoenas for documents and testimony from the Trump administration and its current and former officials. The action came in response to the administration’s refusals to comply with House Democrats’ requests for information and witness appearances in more than a dozen areas of inquiry, including Russian interference in U.S. elections, the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census, an administration-backed lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act and the separation of immigrant families on the southwest border.

Democrats say the subpoenas embody Congress’s constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch, while President Trump has cited executive privilege to block testimony of his current and former advisers and thwart legislative-branch scrutiny.

On a related track, the Judiciary Committee on May 8 approved civil contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General William Barr for not complying with its subpoena for the entire unredacted report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and underlying materials. The full House has delayed a vote on citing Barr pending the outcome of negotiations to obtain his voluntary cooperation.

A yes vote was to adopt the resolution, which took effect immediately.

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, 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 Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

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

PUBLIC EDUCATION ABOUT VACCINES: The House on June 12 voted, 341 for and 83 against, to increase spending by $5 million next fiscal year on a government program to educate the public about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. The amendment was intended to combat misinformation being spread about vaccinations on social media. The vote occurred during debate on a bill (HR 2740) appropriating $99.4 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services in fiscal 2020 that remained in debate.

Adam Schiff, D-California, said: “The scientific and medical communities are in overwhelming consensus that vaccines are both effective and safe. There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases, and the dissemination of unfounded or debunked theories about the dangers of vaccination pose a great risk to the public health.”

No member spoke against the amendment.

A yes vote was to increase spending on vaccine education.

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, Kurt Schrader; Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (9): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

Cascadia total: 15 aye votes, 1 nay vote, 1 not voting

“CONSCIENCE RULE” FOR DENYING HEALTHCARE: Voting 192 for and 230 against, the House on June 12th refused to uphold a proposed Trump administration rule under which doctors and workers at hospitals, clinics and other health facilities could deny care to patients that conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs. Scheduled to take effect July 22th, the co-called “conscience rule” would override existing laws and policies that strike a balance between protecting the religious convictions of providers and delivering care in areas including reproductive services. On this vote, the House defeated a Republican-sponsored attempt to fund the rule as part of H.R. 2740 (above).

Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, said:

“We have a First Amendment right to practice our religion in America, and the government forcing someone to act in a way that violates those beliefs is in direct opposition to the very foundation of our Constitution.”

Lois Frankel, D-Florida, said:

“Under this Trump rule, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a prescription for birth control, a receptionist could refuse to schedule an abortion for a child rape victim, an ambulance driver could refuse to take a patient suffering from miscarriage to the hospital, all based upon their personal beliefs, not the patient’s welfare.”

A yes vote was to allow the rule to take effect next month.

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, Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (2): Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse 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 Jaime Herrera-Beutler

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

CLAMPDOWN ON FETAL TISSUE RESEARCH: The House on June 13th voted, 225 for and 193 against, to block funding to implement a newly announced clampdown by the Trump administration on federal support of fetal tissue research. The vote occurred during debate on HR 2740 (above).

In part, the policy would prohibit National Institutes of Health scientists from conducting such research while subjecting academic scientists to an additional layer of ethics and bureaucratic review when they apply for NIH research grants.

Under a 1993 law, the NIH last year funded more than 150 projects by university scientists using fetal tissue donated after elective abortions to pursue treatments and cures for diseases including Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s.

Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, said the administration’s new policy puts “personal ideology ahead of public health.”

Andy Harris, R-Maryland, said additional ethics review is warranted for “one of the most controversial areas of research.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment in support of fetal tissue research.

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, 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 Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

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

REPORTING MIGRANT CHILDREN’S DEATHS: Voting 355 for and 68 against, the House on June 13 adopted an amendment to H.R. 2740 (above) requiring the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services to promptly inform Congress and the public when migrant children die while in the custody of U.S. immigration officials.

Sponsor Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said that in September 2018, “a young 10-year-old girl died. This Congress and the American people were not told for seven or eight months about that young girl’s death.”

Andy Harris, R-Maryland, called the amendment “make-believe” because “this administration reports the deaths” of migrant children.

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 (5): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader; Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (9): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

Cascadia total: 15 aye votes, 1 nay vote, 1 not voting

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Senate chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

$300 MILLION ARMS TO BAHRAIN: Voting 43 for and 56 against, the Senate on June 13 turned back a measure (S.J. Res 20) that sought to block the administration’s planned sale of $300 million in U.S. arms to Bahrain. The package consists mainly of surface-to-surface missiles and mobile rocket launching units along with American technical support. Bahrain, which belongs to a Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen, is host to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Backers called this a proxy vote against American involvement in Yemen’s civil war, while advocates of the arms sale it would benefit a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

A yes vote was to advance a measure blocking the arms sale.

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 debate fiscal 2020 appropriations bills in the week of June 17th, while the Senate will vote on judicial nominations.

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!

© 2019 Thomas Voting Reports.

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Book Review: With “No One at the Wheel”, the rich can steal the roads from us — if we let them

Autonomous vehicles, or AVs, will be the most disruptive technology to hit society worldwide since the advent of the motorcar.

This pronouncement by the team of journalist Karen Kelly and former New York City traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz is the sort of boilerplate futurism you’ll find written about any new technology. Likewise, the very next statement could almost be chalked up to typical hyperbole: “Some futurists and policy experts even talk about driving being banned on some or all roads.”

What sets No One At The Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future apart from that sort of replacement-level schlock isn’t where it looks forward, then, but for how it looks backward to show how a similar process already happened.

A century ago, the original grand theft auto was letting the car industry steal the roads from pedestrians and non-motorized traffic. Soon, driverless industries will be in a position to take the roads from the public entirely.

But only if we let them.

Many people like to make comparisons between horséd carriages and how they irrevocably gave way to the horseless ones, but this is the first book I’ve come across to make that comparison direct and examined in detail.

In a different book review, I argued that for all of the breathless adoration about the future of autonomous vehicles, we could achieve huge reductions in traffic fatalities by utilizing proven technology, which coincidentally has proven cost-benefit analyses already performed for it.

Although not the main target of that review, apartheid-era white South African and “rough-upbringing” survivor Elon Musk is as close to the platonic ideal of that position as you could ask for. Arguing that AVs would save many more lives than they’d kill, Musk has called journalists writing critical coverage of AV technology akin to murderers.

“[When] you write an article that effectively dissuades people from using an autonomous car, you’re killing people,” Musk said in 2016.

Yet, Schwartz and Kelly point out that Musk is not nearly interested in pushing mass (public) transit options or even installing more roundabouts.

Roundabouts

Roundabout driving | WSDOT

“Roundabouts, or traffic circles, reduce fatal crashes by 70 to 90 percent compared to standard intersections, and injuries in crashes by 75 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.”

But Musk doesn’t own a roundabout-installation company, so this method of saving lives is not as morally compelling to him.

Perhaps just as importantly, we actually have some idea just how much it costs to install a roundabout, what it can accomplish, and can’t.

The civil engineer Justin Roczniak, known on YouTube as donoteat01, applied this criticism to Musk’s proposed underground Loop under the common engineering distinction between AM/FM, that is “actual machines” and, well, “fanciful magic”.

No One At The Wheel gives examples of other ways that so many promises of Autonomous Vehicles are already achievable if we changed our approach to road travel to something akin to air travel.

And for air travel, no failure leading to a loss of life is acceptable. The reason we don’t lose 35,000 people per year flying is that we know humans are fallible creatures and the system is designed around folks messing up without the result being deadly.

Roundabouts—boringly—don’t involve engaging in elaborate philosophical constructions about which people tied to railroad tracks you’d have to kill in the case of a runaway trolley.

But they do make it much more difficult for any “trolleys” to go out of control, which seems the better investment, all-in-all.

So Schwartz and Kelly lay out a convincing case for why technology will continue to develop to put AVs on the road but that this is a smokescreen for how the real benefits will accrue and who for.

Algorithms can’t unionize, and new, privatized projects are by definition more profitable than maintaining or improving existing public systems.

Whether or not AV tractor-trailers actually make society safer is a moot question. They’ll get rid of a major fixed cost and point of friction for business owners, and with enough money spent on the right campaign contributions and good lobbying, anyone killed by the vehicle’s bad programming will be the ones blamed for putting themselves in danger.

Or, it won’t be the fault of the company for releasing a vehicle that can be easily hacked and driven into a crowd; it will be the fault of the hacker, solely.

Again, the book really shines because it looks at the past and how all of this already happened as automobiles became legally privileged over pedestrians and other modes of transportation in city streets.

It was not natural, it was not easy, but as the virally shareable illustration by Swedish artist Karl Jilg evokes, we surrendered a lot of valuable real estate to dangerous, pollution-belching machines that aren’t there most of the time, and don’t actually get people places any quicker once rush hour hits.

But it was what the automobile companies and associated industries wanted, and they pushed for it methodically with lots of resources behind them.

In the name of progress, carriages no longer had to avoid people: people had to avoid the carriages.

I don’t think Schwartz and Kelly are being inherently alarmist or imagining a wild dystopia; the superhero film Logan did a fine job showing the plausible terror of sharing the road with AV tractor-trailers when it’s your fault for not having a new enough vehicle to drive you better.

They also logically extend the present into a future where the inevitable UberLyft merger and its AV fleet are permanent zombie traffic because it’s cheaper to leave them driving aimlessly, available to pick up folks, than it is to ever pay for parking. In all likelihood, the cars won’t even solve Sudokus as they do it.

Technology is never just technology, and what seems inevitable with benefit of retrospect took tremendous cost and effort in the moment to be made just so and not different.

And yet, the authors provide you some cause for optimism. The United States is not a democracy, we know: we were set up to be a republic, like the Romans.

Our politics are not incapable of producing positive change, in any case, and we could really see huge improvements in the quality of life for everyday people if those are the goals we choose to actually and consistently advance.

Schwartz and Kelly argue that if the Autonomous Vehicles are publicly owned, integrated into mass transit, and utilized only in situations where they make sense like long distance trips and last-mile for people with disabilities, then it could be a boon to people’s time and comfort.

But we have to be vigilant to see that solutions proposed based on new technology actually can do what they promise and without un-mentioned, externalized costs.

If you were an early 20th-century city dweller, getting rid of the danger fatal kicks in the head by a horse and the smelly pollution of manure on the streets no doubt would have made horseless carriages appear an attractive, safe improvement.

Which is the difference between Actual Machines and, well, Magic.​

Friday, June 14th, 2019

NBC announces debate lineups for initial Democratic debates on June 26th and 27th

Following the Democratic National Committee’s announcement that twenty candidates have qualified for the initial Democratic debates, NBC has unveiled its debate lineups. Each consists of ten candidates who will share a stage on a different night at the end of the month in Miami.

Here are the lineups.

NIGHT ONE, Wednesday, June 26:

  • Cory Booker
  • Bill de Blasio
  • Julián Castro
  • John Delaney
  • Tulsi Gabbard
  • Jay Inslee
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Tim Ryan
  • Elizabeth Warren

NIGHT TWO, Thursday, June 27:

  • Michael Bennet
  • Joe Biden
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Kamala Harris
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Eric Swalwell
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Andrew Yang

The two top polling candidates — Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders — will appear onstage together on the second night.

They’ll be joined by Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who are also in the top tier of the large field, according to polling averages.

The only candidate currently polling in double digits who will appear on the stage the first night is Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Each debate lineup includes at least three United States Senators (yes, 7% of the United States Senate is currently running for President), one governor or former governor, and one mayor. Each also includes at least one United States Representative and one candidate who presently holds no elected office.

Governor Steve Bullock of Montana did not qualify for the initial debates, but he could qualify in July. Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts also failed to make the cut, prompting many political observers on cable television to suggest he end his campaign, which the evidence suggests is getting no traction.

NBC has tapped five — yes, five — moderators for the debates: Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart. Both debates will take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

Three channels will carry the debates: NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

Each debate will begin at 6 PM Pacific Time and conclude two hours later. That’s four hours of live primetime programming devoted to a discussion of Democratic values and policy directions on back-to-back nights.

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

We now know who will be in the first debates – but not everybody is happy about it

On Wednesday night, the deadline to qualify for the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami arrived. Candidates had until midnight to qualify by either reaching one percent support in three Democratic Party-approved polls or securing 65,000 unique donors to contribute to their campaign.

By late morning on Thursday, twenty Democrats had qualified under these rules (fourteen have reached both the polling and donor targets) set by the Democratic National Committee. Coincidentally, DNC Chair Tom Perez had already set a firm numerical limit of twenty candidates for the first debate.

The qualifying twenty will not all participate in the same debate – there are so many candidates that the DNC has decided to split the event over two nights (June 26th and 27th), with ten participants each night. The DNC has not yet revealed which candidates will appear on which night, although they have a complex system to ensure that high polling candidates will appear on each night.

Candidates who have qualified will now be brushing up on their debate skills and thoroughly researching their rivals’ platforms to compare with their own.

Four Democrats running for the presidency have not qualified for the first round of debates, a fact that will likely devastate their campaigns. Mayor Wayne Messam, Representative Seth Moulton and octogenarian Mike Gravel of Alaska have fallen way short of qualifying, not reaching 1% in a single poll between them.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has been infuriated by his exclusion from the debate stage. Bullock had been confident in the fact that he was polling at 1% in three polls when the DNC suddenly disqualified one of the polls (conducted by ABC News/Washington Post) on the basis that the poll did not provide a full list of candidates to the participants. Bullock’s team spent Wednesday denouncing the DNC’s position and writing to Tom Perez to angrily complain about the situation.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock

Montana Governor Steve Bullock speaks at an event in Yellowstone (Photo: YPF/Matt Ludin)

The campaign also released a video of one of Bullock’s constituents – Montana resident Madison Johnson– who claimed, “You won’t see Governor Steve Bullock at the first debate, and I’m the reason why.”

According to the video, while other candidates were focusing on getting their campaigns rolling, the Governor was far too busy battling state Republicans in Montana over healthcare. Hence, his campaign was at a disadvantage.

Bullock’s campaign failed to explain why the numerous other currently-serving elected representatives – including a governor, senators, members of Congress and mayors – were able to perform their duties and set up a presidential campaign at the same time, while Bullock was unable to.

Even if Bullock’s arguments win over a lot of people, he is still faced with the problem of being the twenty-first candidate to qualify, when the limit has already been firmly set at twenty. That fact is likely to mean that the DNC will find it much easier to push his complaints aside and focus on the already huge number of candidates who definitely did qualify.

The first round of Democratic debates will take place on the June 26th and 27th in Miami. They will be streamed online for free on NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News App, and Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Oregon poised to enact groundbreaking “cap and invest” legislation with HB 2020

The State of Oregon is on the cusp of a huge climate action breakthrough.

House Bill 2020 — which would make Oregon the second state in the country to adopt a cap and invest system for pollution reduction — is on its way to the floor of the Oregon State House for a vote after passing out of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means today. The legislation is a major Democratic priority for 2019.

“Climate change threatens our communities, our economy, our ecosystems, and our way of life in Oregon,” said Governor Kate Brown in a statement.

“We have an enormous opportunity to forge a new path on state-level programs to address this crisis. Oregon can be the log that breaks the jam nationally in creating a tailored statewide program that can meet science-based emissions reduction goals while growing the economy and investing in clean energy solutions, rural and coastal communities, and impacted communities.”

“Future generations here in Oregon — and across the United States — deserve us to not just think about their future, but to fight to protect it.”

“I look forward to signing this landmark legislation later this month.”

If you haven’t been tracking the evolution of HB 2020 in the Oregon statehouse, here’s a quick primer on the bill from Joshua Skov, who serves on the faculty of the Lundquist College of Business and the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon. Skov is a longtime advocate for sustainability.

“HB 2020 is an Oregon version of California’s AB 32, the landmark cap-and-trade legislation,” Skov explained in an April commentary. “It will cap total greenhouse gas emissions, auction permits for the right to emit, and use those auction proceeds to invest in an equitable transition to a low-[polluting] economy.”

“HB 2020 deserves our support, but it also deserves scrutiny in the home stretch. I encourage you to contact your legislators to express support for the bill, as it remains the best chance yet for Oregon to join climate leaders around the world with strong policy action on one of the great challenges of our time.”

Jaime Athos, CEO of Hood River based Tofurky, says the legislation is a huge opportunity for rural communities in Oregon and companies that want to bring jobs to those communities to ensure broad prosperity for all.

“I want rural Oregon’s manufacturers to succeed. I want companies like mine to be able to expand and hire more workers across the county,” Athos wrote in an op-ed last month. “This legislative session, lawmakers in Salem can help local businesses achieve these goals by passing the HB 2020 cap-and-invest bill.”

Athos’ company decided ten years ago to make a big bet on clean energy. They spent money on a new building built to LEED standards with rooftop solar and a super efficient HVAC system and refrigeration system. The result? They achieved annual savings of forty to fifty percent on their energy bills, enabling them to expand their payroll and offer more jobs to people in Hood River.

“If HB 2020 passes, more rural Oregon manufacturers in Hood River County and elsewhere could benefit by investing the bill’s proceeds in similar energy upgrades,” Athos says. “This saves companies money over the long haul, freeing up capital to grow operations and create jobs. Even when they’re not in-house, these jobs matter to rural communities. Just think about the installers who drilled solar panel racking onto our rooftop, or the HVAC technicians who installed our ductwork.”

Athos is absolutely correct. A just and responsible transition to clean energy could be a massive boon for Cascadia’s small towns and small businesses.

This is an opportunity we must not squander. Good jobs and cleaner air go hand in hand. If we want healthy communities, then we need to substantially reduce or end unsustainable activities that pollute our atmosphere, our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans, and our soil. HB 2020 will help transform our region for the better.

It’s time to accelerate the clean energy revolution in the Pacific Northwest! Let’s get HB 2020 passed and to the desk of Governor Kate Brown to be signed into law.

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Washington voters strongly support requiring presidential candidates to disclose tax returns

Three out of five Washington voters agree that candidates for President of the United States should be required to disclose at least five years of personal tax returns in order to appear on the state’s general election ballot, with a majority of fifty-one percent in strong agreement, NPI’s most recent survey has found.

A bill that would make tax return disclosure mandatory for presidential candidates wishing to appear the ballot in the Evergreen State (SB 5078) passed out of Washington’s Senate on March 12th, but did not receive a vote in the House.

Senate Bill 5078 remains alive because the current Legislature will return for a new session in January of 2020, which may last as long as sixty days.

Bill sponsor Patty Kuderer (D-48th District), who represents NPI’s home legislative district, is committed to getting a version of the bill to Governor Inslee next year.

“Every Washingtonian – indeed every American – should rightfully expect tax return disclosure for all presidential candidates. It has been an essential transparency standard for over forty years,” said Kuderer.

“The stakes for the Presidency are unmatched by any other elected office in our country. In the past, we relied on the character of candidates from all parties to meet this standard, but it is now painfully clear that we can no longer rely on character alone. That is why this bill is so important.”

We agree.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this survey result is that fifty-one percent of the respondents — a majority — said they strongly agree that presidential candidates should be required to disclosure their tax returns. It’s an emphatic endorsement of the work Senator Kuderer has been doing with SB 5078.

Here is the full question we asked and the responses we received:

QUESTION:

Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with the following statement: Candidates for President of the United States should be required to disclose at least five years of their personal tax returns before their names can appear on Washington’s general election ballot?

ANSWERS:

  • Agree: 60%
    • Strongly Agree: 51%
    • Somewhat Agree: 9%
  • Disagree: 33%
    • Somewhat Disagree: 10%
    • Strongly Disagree: 23%
  • Not Sure: 7%

Our survey of eight hundred and eighty-six likely 2019 Washington State voters was in the field May 21st-May 22nd, 2019. The survey used a blended methodology with automated phone calls to landlines and online interviews of cell phone only respondents. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for NPI, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.

Support for requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns can be found in every region of the state, even in Eastern Washington, which backed Donald Trump’s 2016 candidacy. 48% of voters there agree presidential candidates should be required to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballot, while 43% disagree and 8% were not sure.

“Our state values honesty, transparency and demands the same of our elected leaders,” said Carl Larson of Presidential Transparency, a group that has mobilized Washingtonians in support of SB 5078. “Washington has no tolerance for the sort of corruption and backroom shenanigans we see in some other states.”

Some opponents of SB 5078 have asserted that the bill is unconstitutional because they interpret it as adding a qualification to the office of President.

However, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office disagrees. In a March 12th opinion, Ferguson assessed that the bill was “likely constitutional.”

“There is nothing inherently unconstitutional about a state regulation that restricts candidates’ access to a general election or presidential primary ballot,” the AGO opinion states. “The United States Supreme Court has upheld ballot access restrictions when they were ‘generally applicable and evenhanded restrictions that protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself.'”

From the 1970s until 2016, the presidential nominees of each major political party have voluntarily released at least one or more years of their personal tax returns. However, the amount of data each candidate has provided has varied wildly.

For instance, Bob Dole released thirty years of returns in 1996, while John Kerry released twenty years’ worth in 2004. George H.W. Bush released fourteen years of returns in 1992; Bill Clinton released nineteen years of returns four years later.

More recently, though, John McCain and Mitt Romney each only provided returns going back two years — the fewest since Carter in 1976 and Reagan in 1980.

Why has there been so much variation? Because there’s no law requiring candidates for President of the United States to release their personal tax returns. It’s a norm that developed in the wake of Watergate which candidates have respected and followed to varying degrees… until Donald Trump came along.

As mentioned, though, even before Trump, there was a disparity with respect to how much information the public was getting from the major party’s presidential nominees. Barack Obama chose to release more than five years of tax returns during each of his campaigns, but his opponents only released two years’ worth.

To ensure that the public and the press can appropriately scrutinize presidential candidates going forward, there must be a minimum standard of disclosure. Presidents of the United States are elected for four year terms and wield an incredible amount of power, incomparable to any other elected position in the land.

How can we assess if a candidate is prepared or even able to govern responsibly if they withhold most — or all — of their recent tax returns? How do we know they’re free of foreign entanglements that could jeopardize our nation’s security?

Voters have a right to know whether someone they are considering supporting for President of the United States is someone they can trust who will faithfully discharge the duties required of them by the United States Constitution.

As ballot access is a matter that has been left to the states, it is entirely appropriate for legislators in Washington to decide that presidential candidates who want to appear on our ballot must disclose at least five years of tax returns.

Our research clearly shows that Washingtonians want their legislators to act to make presidential transparency the law here in the Pacific Northwest.

We call on the Washington State House of Representatives to join the Senate next January in passing a bill requiring presidential candidates to disclose five years of personal tax returns in time for the November 2020 general election.