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U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, the longest serving congressman in Oregon history, announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2022.
The old saying "not to decide is to decide" played out Tuesday in Oregon's races for governor and Congress.
Following September’s contentious redistricting special session in the Oregon Legislature, a judicial panel on Wednesday unanimously dismissed…
Up, in, around or out?
Long-delayed campaigns for the 2022 Oregon Legislature were given a green light on Monday by the state Supreme Court.The justices dismissed a pair of lawsuits seeking to block a redistricting plan approved on Sept. 27 by the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown. The filings claimed Democrats had drawn districts that would build on their current supermajorities in Salem. Democrats hold a 37-23 advantage in the House and have 18 of the 30 members of the Senate.One lawsuit also claimed Rep. Marty Wilde, D-Eugene, was drawn into an unfavorable district to counter his aspiration to run for the Senate.The Supreme Court decision said it would not dive into the litigants' questions of political motivation without evidence of illegal intent."They rely on debatable and unsubstantiated assumptions about the reasons underlying the Legislative Assembly’s actions.”The court's opinion was written by Justice Chris Garrett, a former two-term House Democrat from the Portland area who was on a redistricting committee following the 2010 U.S. Census. “In reviewing a reapportionment plan enacted by the Legislative Assembly, this court will not substitute its own judgment about the wisdom of the plan,” Justice Chris Garrett wrote for the court. Monday's decision clears the last roadblock to implementing new House and Senate district lines required by population changes in the 2020 U.S. Census. The new maps will go into effect Jan. 1.They would be used for 10 years unless a proposed independent election commission initiative makes the 2022 ballot. If approved by voters, the commission could redraw districts again for the 2024 election.The practical effect of Monday's action is to allow incumbents to know which district they represent and challengers to finalize choices on where they will run. State law requires legislators live in their districts. A separate lawsuit against the redistricting of congressional seats in Oregon is under review by a special panel of retired judges who will make a recommendation by Wednesday on the merits of the Republican claim of overtly partisan political mapmaking. The decision can be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. Under the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress do not have to live in their districts, just the state they represent. Though the official window for filing to run for local, state and federal offices opened Sept. 9, candidates for the Legislature and Congress have been in limbo under a freeze on filings until districts were finalized and reviewed by the Oregon Supreme Court. While filing for office is symbolically and, in the end, officially important, the real nuts and bolts of running a political race — such as creating campaign finance committees to raise and spend money — were unaffected by the lawsuits.The final day to file to run for office is March 8.Candidates in both parties have increasingly acted in recent weeks as if the court would give its blessing to the new maps. Each move has set off a domino effect among Democrats and Republicans.Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, said last week he won't run for another term in House District 53. Zika's move led to Bend-La Pine School Board Member Janet Sarai Llerandi entering the race as a Democrat and Bend business coach Michael Sipe as a Republican. Emerson Levy, who lost the 2020 election to Zika, had already filed for a rematch.Several legislators have announced their retirement, while others are running for governor, congress or moving from the House to the Senate.While candidates for Congress must file for office with the secretary of state, fundraising is controlled by the Federal Elections Commission. Included in the creation of a finance committee is a statement of intent to seek office.A map for Oregon's six congressional districts is still awaiting final Oregon Supreme Court action. Currently, Bend is in the 2nd Congressional District, a heavily Republican seat won in 2020 by now U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario.Under a controversial congressional districting plan, the 5th Congressional District would shift east to run from the south end of Portland, cross the Cascades and end in Sunriver.The latest name to show up in the FEC filings is Jimmy Crumpacker of Bend. He filed to run in the new 5th district.In 2020, Crumpacker received the endorsement of Oregon Right to Life in the 2nd district GOP primary. He finished fourth out of 10 candidates.U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, is the official incumbent of the district, though the district's 2022 outlines have shifted significantly east from the current map.The 5th district race has already attracted Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Crooked River Ranch, and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, the former mayor of Happy Valley in Clackamas County.
House Democrats late Thursday appeared on track to adopt on a sprawling, more than $2 trillion package to overhaul the country's health care, education, climate, immigration and tax laws, seeking to seize on their recent legislative successes and advance the next piece of President Joe Biden's economic agenda.
The swift, new push toward passage marked a stark turn for Democrats after months of intense, internal wrangling, reflecting the growing sense of accord among liberals and moderates over the once-contentious spending bill. Its adoption would notch another major milestone for Democrats just days after Biden signed into law a separate effort to invest $1.2 trillion in the nation's infrastructure.
"At the close of the debate, all that remains is to take up the vote - so that we can pass this legislation and achieve President Biden's vision to build back better," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members of her caucus Thursday evening.
Democrats forged ahead toward the vote after they finally had in hand an analysis of the proposal's spending provisions from the Congressional Budget Office. Moderate Democrats had demanded the data to assess whether their party's more than $2 trillion in new initiatives are financed in full.
The CBO analysis found that the bill would result in net increase in the deficit totaling $367 billion over the next decade. But the estimate did not include the full savings that could be achieved from some of the Democrats' revenue-raising provisions, including a plan to empower the Internal Revenue Service to recapture unpaid federal taxes. The White House has said that IRS enforcement alone could capture roughly $400 billion in additional revenue.
With that amount factored into the final estimate, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement Thursday evening that the legislation, known as the Build Back Better Act, "is fully paid for," adding that over time it would help reduce the deficit as a result of tax policies that "ask the wealthiest Americans and large corporations to pay their fair share."
The news appeared to satisfy some moderate lawmakers, who met privately with top White House officials earlier Thursday. Shortly after exiting the gathering, Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, one of the leaders of the centrist-leaning Blue Dog Coalition, said in a statement she intended to vote for the bill despite some additional "reservations about the overall size of the legislation."
"I think we were all united around the desire to have complete information," Murphy later told reporters.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., another party centrist, similarly expressed optimism about the package as he told reporters he continued to review the spending data.
The late statements of supports provided a fresh jolt of good news for Democrats who had struggled for months to advance Biden's broader economic policy agenda.
The roughly $2 trillion measure is vast in its scope: It aims to expand Medicare to include new hearing benefits, lower the cost of some prescription drugs for millions of seniors, provide free prekindergarten for all American children and invest new sums to combat climate change. It proposes a slew of new aid to help low-income families in greatest need, and it covers its spending through new taxes targeting millionaires as well as corporations that currently pay nothing in federal taxes.
Opening debate earlier Thursday in the House, top Democrats took to the floor to stress the popularity of the president's vast spending agenda.
"Virtually every poll on this piece of legislation has shown overwhelming support for each of the elements we are proposing," said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., chairman of the chamber's Budget Committee, which helped craft the legislation.
Republicans, meanwhile, blasted the package, labeling it as socialism and arguing it would contribute to an existing trend of rising prices by flooding the economy with more money. Democrats contend their measure would combat inflation, aiding Americans who are struggling financially. But Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., the top GOP lawmaker on the budget panel, at one point during debate shot back: "The American people aren't that stupid."
Shepherding the proposal to passage has been an uphill battle for Pelosi, who has only a three-vote advantage in the House - and a fractious caucus to keep intact. Moderates and liberals at times have warred over its spending initiatives, forcing Democrats to scale back their initial package, valued at $3.5 trillion, in dramatic fashion.
But Pelosi, Biden and other Democratic leaders helped broker an end to the stalemate over a week of tense negotiations. By Thursday morning, the developments left Pelosi ebullient that the House was on the verge of clinching a "spectacular vision for the future," adding: "It will create millions of good-paying jobs, lower families' costs and cut their taxes, while making the wealthiest few and big corporations pay their fair share."
A successful House vote Thursday would send the bill next to the Senate, where the chamber's majority leader, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he hopes to conclude consideration of the bill before Christmas. Lawmakers including Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., continue to harbor concerns about the size and scope of the bill.
Other troubles also remain, including a fight among Democrats over a provision to address state and local taxes. The House bill would raise the amount that Americans can deduct on their yearly federal returns, a plan that chiefly aids families who live in high-cost states like New York and California. But some liberals say the policy is too generous, largely benefiting wealthy Americans, in a break with the spirit of the bill.
The dispute drew in the White House on Thursday, when press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged some of the concerns with the proposal to boost state and local tax breaks, a provision known as SALT.
"It is a component that wasn't initially proposed" by the White House, she said. "This is a part of compromise."
Amid the squabbling, Democratic leaders on Thursday also maintained that the bill is fully financed - a contention that some cost-conscious centrists continued to evaluate Thursday night.
Experts so far have split over the exact cost of the package. Some estimates reflect it is $2.1 trillion, though others believe its cost is closer to $2.4 trillion if it includes the tax aid provided by lifting the SALT cap. Either way, it marks an uptick from the earlier $1.75 trillion blueprint that Biden helped broker with centrists in Congress, reflecting last minute additions, including a proposal to provide paid leave to Americans.
Pegging the cost at $2.4 trillion, the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget released an analysis Thursday that showed the bill could add to the deficit over 10 years, based on data furnished by the CBO. But the official congressional scorekeeper did not factor into its calculations the full amount of savings that the White House anticipates from the package. That includes a plan to empower the IRS to pursue unpaid taxes, which Democrats say the CBO has historically underestimated.
Home of the Oregon Legislature.
WASHINGTON - Republican senators on Wednesday voted to block debate on the third major voting rights bill that congressional Democrats have sought to pass this year in response to the state-level GOP push to restrict ballot access following former president Donald Trump's false claims of a stolen 2020 election.
Wednesday's vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act - named after the civil rights icon and former congressman who died last year - fell short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed, 51-49. Only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted to advance it.
After the vote Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused the Senate GOP of "implicitly endorsing these partisan Republican actions to suppress the vote and unravel our democracy" and pivoted to attacking the filibuster, the 60-vote supermajority rule that allowed the minority to prevail.
"Anyone who has been here for more than a few years knows, the gears of Senate have ossified," he said. "We will continue to fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward, even if it means going at it alone, to defend the most fundamental liberty we have as citizens."
The two prior bills put forth by congressional Democrats sought to impose a broad variety of new federal mandates for how states conduct elections, setting minimum standards for early voting and vote-by-mail, forbidding partisan congressional redistricting and overhauling campaign finance disclosures. Both bills failed to advance on straight party lines, with Republicans insisting that the federal government had no role setting state election practices.
The John Lewis bill instead seeks to empower the Justice Department and federal courts to review state election laws - in some cases, before they take effect - restoring provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that have been struck down by the Supreme Court in a series of decisions since 2013.
While Republicans have supported prior reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act, most recently in 2006, that support has all but evaporated since the 2013 Shelby County decision. That ruling effectively ended the practice of "preclearance," giving federal prosecutors and judges the right to review and preemptively block discriminatory voting laws in certain covered jurisdictions with a history of racial prejudice. Another ruling earlier this year took aim at a separate part of the 1965 law, making it more difficult for the federal government to challenge state and local voting laws for possible discrimination after they are enacted.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that the bill would allow federal prosecutors to "dictate" state voting procedures, and he accused Democrats of "trying to overturn the courts" with the revised legislation.
"There is nothing to suggest a sprawling federal takeover is necessary," he said. "Nationalizing our elections is just a multi-decade Democratic Party goal in constant search of a justification. Their rationales may change constantly, but their end goal never does."
But unlike the other Democratic voting bills this year, the John Lewis act attracted Republican support - albeit from a single lawmaker. Murkowski, in a statement, called voting rights "fundamental to our democracy" and said the bill "provides a framework through which legitimate voting rights issues can be tackled."
"Every American deserves equal opportunity to participate in our electoral system and political process, and this bill provides a starting point as we seek broader bipartisan consensus on how best to ensure that," she added.
No other Republicans have appeared even close to following Murkowski in support, and Democrats on Wednesday said the vote showed that there is no possible compromise to be had with the GOP on the subject of voting rights. That is expected to fuel a continued push to change the Senate rules in some way to eliminate the filibusterto allow legislation to pass.
Among those criticizing the vote Wednesday was NAACP President and Chief Executive Derrick Johnson, who said the Republicans who opposed the bill "have failed not only to honor the late, great John Lewis, but all American people."
"We are at war for our civil rights, yet a privileged few with competing interests continue to dismantle our democracy," he said, adding: "The urgency of this issue cannot be overstated. We are watching."
But it remains unclear whether Democrats have a path to eliminating, or even modifying, the filibuster.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has publicly opposed rules changes but also spent months trying to build GOP support for voting rights legislation, gave no indication Wednesday that his thinking has evolved. He told reporters that he still believed a bipartisan voting rights bill was possible, despite the firm signal from GOP senators that it is not.
"We have a good piece of legislation," he said. "We'd love to have our Republican friends work with us. We've got Lisa Murkowski; we just need nine more."
Asked how he expected to find those nine Republicans, Manchin did not set out a firm path. "We need other people to be talking to each other and find the pathway forward," he said. "Just can't be one or two people talking to both sides."
In a CNN town hall last week, President Joe Bident indicated that, while voting rights is a priority for him and his administration, he was reticent to push for the elimination of the filibuster while hsi economic agenda remained unfinished.
"Here's the deal: If, in fact, I get myself into at this moment the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, on the foreign policy side of the equation," he said.
Biden went on to advocate for at least partial reform of the filibuster, forcing objecting senators to hold the floor to block debate.
On Wednesday, Biden called on the Senate to act. "Let there be a debate and let there be a vote. ... The soul of America is at stake," he said in a statement.
Schumer, meanwhile, convened a meeting before the vote Wednesday with several centrist Democrats - Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Angus King, I-Vt., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., - to discuss next steps on the voting rights issue and ways to begin what many Democrats are calling a "family discussion" about which rules changes could be advanced.
The discussions, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting but not authorized to comment on it publicly, did not include Manchin or Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., another Democrat who has publicly opposed rules changes. But they are intended to begin the process of convincing them that such changes are necessary.
The argument by Republicans that Democrats gerrymandered Oregon’s congressional districts took a hit on Monday.