WASHINGTON — Here’s how area members of Congress voted during the legislative week ending March 15. The House and Senate are in recess until the week of March 25.
Public disclosure of Mueller report: By a unanimous vote of 420-0, the House on March 14 adopted a nonbinding measure (H Con Res 24) calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on any ties and/or coordination between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to be publicly disclosed when it is completed. Under law, Mueller must provide a confidential summary of his findings and related documents to Attorney General William Barr, who has been noncommittal as to how much of the information, if any, he would make publicly available. This resolution also urges Barr to provide Congress with information not suitable for public release as well as any investigative leads turned up by Mueller that would help Congress fulfill its constitutional oversight role. Since it began in May 2017, the investigation has yielded indictments of at least 34 individuals and three companies and secured guilty pleas or convictions from eight individuals. Using terms such as “witch hunt,” “hoax” and “scam,” Trump has made thousands of public attacks on the probe and its personnel, none of which has drawn a response from Mueller or his staff. A yes vote was to send the resolution to the Senate.
Voting yes: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, Denny Heck, D-Olympia
Voting no: None
Nullification of border emergency: Voting 59 for and 41 against, the Senate on March 14 sent President Trump a House-passed resolution (HJ Res 46) that would nullify a national emergency he declared on the southwest border over immigration concerns. If Trump vetoes this measure as he said he will do, two-thirds majority votes in both chambers would be required for an override. In the Senate, his foes would have to gain eight votes over the number above. In the House, which would vote first on the veto, they would need a 43-vote pickup if turnout is the same as for the chamber’s first nullification vote Feb. 26. The two-thirds calculation is based on the number of lawmakers participating in the vote, not the total membership of each chamber. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said: “There is no national security emergency at the southwestern border. The president and his administration continue to mislead Americans about what really is happening at the border in order to fulfill a misguided campaign promise to build a wall.” John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the emergency declaration is Trump’s “commitment to finally address the problems that overwhelmed our communities along the southern border, both in 2014, when President Obama identified [them], and today.” A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.
Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D, Patty Murray, D
U.S. military withdrawal from Yemen: The Senate on March 13 adopted, 54 for and 46 against, a measure (HJ Res 37) that would end American military involvement in Yemen’s civil war unless Congress approves the deployment in keeping with its constitutional authority to declare war. If the House were to go along, it would mark the first time Congress has used the 1973 War Powers Resolution to try to stop a military action. The U.S. involvement has consisted mainly of logistical, intelligence and targeting support, and until recently aerial refueling, to a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels battling the Yemeni military. The United Nations says the 4-year-old conflict is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Congress should “step up and say that enough is enough. We are made weaker in the eyes of the world when we willingly participate in war crimes and when we allow for our partner to engage in activity that leads to the slaughter of innocents.” James Inhofe, R-Okla., said: “We are not engaged in hostilities in Yemen against the Houthis, and here is what we are doing in Yemen: We are providing intelligence support that helps construct no-strike lists that enable humanitarian efforts and protect humanitarian aid workers.” A yes vote was to send the resolution to the House.
Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray
Neomi Rao nomination: By a vote of 53 for and 46 against, the Senate on March 13 confirmed Neomi J. Rao for a seat on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The 11-judge panel is regarded as the most powerful court below the Supreme Court because it has jurisdiction over federal agencies and the regulations they issue. Rao, who had been the administration’s regulatory czar, drew Democratic criticism over her scaling back of Obama-era rules addressing climate change and consumer protections. A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
Voting no: Cantwell
Not voting: Murray
William Beach nomination: Voting 55 for and 44 against, the Senate on March 13 confirmed William Beach to a four-year term as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency collects and analyzes data for determining the unemployment rate, payroll levels, workplace conditions, the Consumer Price Index, population levels, import and export prices, productivity and other measurements used in shaping federal laws and policies. Beach had been vice president for policy research at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, which studies the impact of government policies on market forces. A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
Voting no: Cantwell
Not voting: Murray