WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes this week, the House also passed the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act, to improve access to durable medical equipment for Medicare beneficiaries; passed the Senior Safe Act, to provide immunity from suit for certain individuals who disclose potential examples of financial exploitation of senior citizens; passed the Save Our Salmon Act, to exclude striped bass from the anadromous fish doubling requirement in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act; and concurred in the Senate amendments to the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, to direct the president to establish guidelines for U.S. foreign development and economic assistance programs.
The Senate also passed a bill expressing the sense of the Senate in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the NATO summit to be held in Warsaw, Poland, from July 8-9, and in support of committing NATO to a security posture capable of deterring threats to NATO; passed a bill reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as cornerstones of U.S.-Taiwan relations; and passed a bill urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and to increase pressure on Hezbollah and its members to the fullest extent possible.
House vote 1
REGULATING VENTURE CAPITAL: The House has passed the Supporting America’s Innovators Act, sponsored by Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-North Carolina. The bill would exempt venture capital investment funds with less than $10 million from having to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission under a 1940 law.
McHenry said the exemption sought to better enable “early-stage companies to raise the capital they need by opening up angel investing to more accredited investors.”
The vote was 388 yeas to 9 nays. Both Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
REGULATING CROWDFUNDING OF BUSINESSES: The House has passed the Fix Crowdfunding Act, sponsored by Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-North Carolina. The bill would increase from $1 million to $5 million the value of shares that can be sold to the public by a company that receives the government’s crowdfunding regulatory exemption, and also allow single-purpose funds that invest in one company to sell shares under the exemption.
McHenry said the changes would make it easier for entrepreneurs to obtain financing by crowdfunding, improving their ability to grow their young businesses and create new jobs that improve the overall U.S. economy.
The vote was 394 yeas to 4 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 3
HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS AND DRUG PURCHASES: The House has passed the Restoring Access to Medication Act, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas. The bill would repeal provisions in the health care reform law that disqualify from tax deductions the purchase of over-the-counter drugs under a taxpayers’ health savings account.
Jenkins said that allowing people to use their health savings accounts to buy medications without a prescription would save them money and time, speeding their recovery from common illnesses.
A bill opponent, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, said it would primarily benefit the wealthy, who have a disproportionate number of health savings accounts, and put billions of dollars in the hands of manufacturers of over-the-counter drugs.
The vote was 243 yeas to 164 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 4
GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY: The House has passed the Global Food Security Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pennsylvania. The bill would require the president and regulatory agencies to develop a global food security strategy that will supply food aid to developing countries with the goal of improving their nutrition, and resilience to drought and other disasters that impact food supply.
A supporter, Rep. Edward R. Royce, R-California, said it “will improve food security, stimulate economic growth, and better enable people” in developing nations to access stable food supplies, while also improving oversight of the government’s international food security programs.
The vote was 369 yeas to 53 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 5
TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS: The House has passed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would create an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders at the Health and Human Services Department and authorize numerous measures in order to expand and improve treatment of mental illness in children and adults.
Murphy said the measures, which include training thousands of child psychiatrists and reforming federal grant programs, should make meaningful advances in reducing deaths and suffering caused by mental illness.
The vote was 422 yeas to 2 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 6
REGULATING PAYDAY LOANS: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Alabama, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would have struck from the bill a provision blocking funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to enforce its regulations of payday loans, vehicle title loans and similar short-term loans to consumers.
Sewell said there was a “critical need for stronger consumer protections to fight against unfair and abusive lending practices,” and the funding block would stop such protections.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-North Carolina, said the Bureau’s rules would impose substantial new expenses for the short-term loans, and the funding block would allow needed time to review the potential harmful impact of those rules.
The vote was 182 yeas to 240 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 7
PACS AND INDUSTRY TRADE GROUPS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mark E. Amodei, R-Nevada, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for enforcement of a Federal Elections Commission rule requiring industry trade groups to receive approval from their member corporations for the groups’ solicitation of donations to political action committees.
Amodei said the rule, by singling out industry trade groups for restrictions to PAC contributions, would wrongly stop the tradition of applying a level regulatory playing field for all types of PACs, including unions, businesses and environmentalists.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-New York, said blocking the rule would “empower groups, like the Chamber of Commerce, over the needs of ordinary Americans.”
The vote was 235 yeas to 185 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 8
INTERNET PRIVACY RULES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for the Federal Communications Commission to implement its proposed consumer privacy rules for internet service providers.
Blackburn said the FCC lacked the technical expertise to effectively regulate privacy, and it would be better to leave regulation to the Federal Trade Commission rather than have the FTC and FCC setting out conflicting Internet privacy rules.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-California, said the FCC’s rules were needed to stop service providers from selling sensitive personal data about their customers.
The vote was 232 yeas to 187 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 9
CYBERSECURITY AND FEDERAL AGENCIES: The House has passed the Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act, sponsored by Rep. Gary J. Palmer, R-Alabama. The bill would give the heads of federal agencies authority to take any action the agency deems necessary to address information technology security dangers for the agency.
Palmer said the bill sought to redress a recent finding that federal employee unions can require negotiations between them and their agencies before such cybersecurity actions can take place. He said allowing unions to block efforts to secure agency networks and databases put the convenience of agency employees above the vital need to prevent cybersecurity attacks, making the bill necessary to affirm cybersecurity authority for agency heads.
An opponent, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Maryland, said it would “attack the due process rights of millions of hardworking, dedicated federal employees.”
The vote was 241 yeas to 181 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 10
CHANGING THE MILITARY DRAFT: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for changes to the Selective Service System for drafting young people into the military.
Davidson said that before the draft is changed, potentially by covering women as well as men, Congress should exercise its authority and deliberate whether or not such changes should be made.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-New York, said: “I believe, since the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women in combat roles, every American who is physically qualified should register for the draft or we should do away with it.”
The vote was 217 yeas to 203 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the nays.
House vote 11
REGULATING LARGE FINANCIAL COMPANIES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett, R-New Jersey, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for government regulators to designate any nonbank financial company as a systemically important financial institution or as so large that its failure could warrant a government bailout.
Garrett said such designations would weaken financial stability by imposing a protected status on chosen financial companies, decreasing competition and corrupting the private sector through government control.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-New York, called it “an attempt to roll back the critical rules of the road we have passed in the wake of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.”
The vote was 239 yeas to 182 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 12
CAR DEALER LOANS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Frank C. Guinta, R-New Hampshire, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue regulatory guidance for indirect auto lending.
Guinta said guidance issued by the bureau in 2013 could end the ability of car dealers to provide discounted interest rates on loans for vehicles purchased at the dealers, making it harder for consumers to finance vehicle purchases.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, said it would stop the bureau from protecting minorities against discriminatory vehicle loans.
The vote was 260 yeas to 162 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 13
ENFORCING CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to begin any regulatory or civil legal action after its three-year statute of limitations for taking such actions has expired.
Messer said the block was necessary because the bureau has asserted that the statute of limitations does not apply to its administrative proceedings.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-New York, said the Bureau should be able to pursue redress for violations of pre-existing consumer protection laws without a statute of limitation that are enforced by the bureau.
The vote was 235 yeas to 179 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 14
VETERANS AND GOVERNMENT JOBS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Rubin Gallego, D-Arizona, to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for federal government measures to change policies regarding the preferential hiring of military veterans for government jobs.
Gallego said the system of veterans preference “has done so much to help courageous Americans returning from war to find good jobs so they can provide for their families.”
The vote was 409 yeas to 14 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 15
FUNDING VARIOUS GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: The House has passed the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Florida. The bill would provide $21.7 billion of funding for fiscal 2017 for the Treasury Department, Washington, D.C., the federal judiciary system, the White House and several independent executive agencies.
Crenshaw said the bill amply funded vital federal programs, including law enforcement, loans to small businesses and the judiciary, while appropriately reducing funding for the Internal Revenue Service and General Services Administration, in consequence of the two agencies’ recent histories of inappropriate behavior.
A bill opponent, Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-New York, said the cut in IRS funding would allow more tax cheats to go undetected, and claimed the bill also contained “attacks on women’s health” and “interference in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and net neutrality.”
The vote was 239 yeas to 185 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
NEW JERSEY DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Brian R. Martinotti to be a U.S. district judge for the New Jersey district.
A supporter, Sen. Cory A. Booker, D-New Jersey, cited Martinotti’s 14 years of experience as a judge on the New Jersey Superior Court and previous experience in several public and private roles in the justice system.
Booker said Martinotti “possesses a sharp legal mind, a breadth of experience, solid judicial temperament, and he is prepared to do the work of a federal jurist.”
The vote was 92 yeas to 5 nays. Both Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, were among the yeas.
Senate vote 2
SANCTUARY CITIES AND FEDERAL GRANTS: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would bar local governments with policies of not helping enforce federal immigration law from receiving various community development and economic development grants from the federal government.
Toomey said “it is unbelievable that we have municipalities that are willfully releasing dangerous” illegal immigrants into communities rather than help deport them, and “it is entirely reasonable that we withhold this funding as a way to hopefully induce these cities to do the right thing.”
A bill opponent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, called it “political posturing before the Republican National Convention” to re-introduce a bill that the Senate voted down in late 2015.
The vote to end debate was 53 yeas to 44 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate. Collins gave a yea vote, and King gave a nay vote.
Senate vote 3
PENALTIES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the Stop Illegal Reentry Act, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The bill would increase maximum prison sentences for individuals who illegally re-enter the U.S. after being denied admission or removed from the country on several prior occasions.
Cruz said “we are failing to adequately deter deported illegal aliens from illegally re-entering the country, especially those with violent criminal records,” showing the need for tougher penalties for illegal re-entry.
A bill opponent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said “this measure is unacceptable and unaffordable” and the Senate’s time would be better spent on needed legislation on matters such as the Zika virus and opioid abuse.
The vote to end debate was 55 yeas to 42 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate. Collins gave a yea vote, and King gave a nay vote.
Senate vote 4
GMO LABELS FOR FOOD: The Senate has concurred in the House amendment to a bill that would require the Agriculture Department to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, including foods with genetically modified organisms, that would pre-empt state disclosure standards.
An amendment supporter, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, said state labeling standards could increase food costs by billions of dollars, and a federal standard “provides an immediate and comprehensive solution to the unworkable state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws” for GMO foods that would arise in the absence of a federal standard.
An amendment opponent, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said the proposed federal standard “betrays the desires of 90 percent of the American people who want clear, comprehensive, truthful, accurate information” about the content of their food.
The vote was 63 yeas to 30 nays. Both Collins and King were among the nays.
Senate vote 5
DEBATING MILITARY SPENDING BILL: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey. The bill would fund $575 billion of fiscal 2017 military spending by the Defense Department, including $58.6 billion for combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other overseas countries.
A supporter, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, said it would improve combat readiness and wartime efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and support the training of soldiers and equipment maintenance programs.
The vote to end debate was 50 yeas to 44 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate. Collins gave a yea vote, and King gave a nay vote.