Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Besides roll call votes, there were three other key votes in the Senate and six key votes in the House. The Senate, on voice vote, passed the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act to reauthorize through fiscal 2020 a grant program for local governments to purchase bulletproof vests.
House vote 1
EXPORTING NATURAL GAS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Keith J. Rothfus, R-Pennsylvania, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for using an Energy Department report on lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions resulting from exports of liquefied natural gas in making any public interest determinations on proposed liquefied natural gas export projects.
Rothfus said the report’s “arbitrary determinations” about climate change and GHG emissions could be used to delay or block approvals of liquefied natural gas exports that would “keep America’s energy economy growing.”
An amendment opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said “it makes no sense to require the Department of Energy to make a determination without the benefit of all the facts” concerning how liquefied natural gas exports would affect climate change.
The vote was 232 yeas to 172 nays. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, gave a nay vote, and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, gave a yea vote.
House vote 2
CALIFORNIA WATER MANAGEMENT: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-California, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for the Bureau of Reclamation to buy water in order to meet California instream river water flow requirements.
McClintock said that at a time of severe drought in the state, “squandering water” by dumping it into rivers in order to help young steelhead trout and other fish reach the Pacific Ocean would waste millions of dollars and make a mockery of California’s water conservation efforts.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said rather than seek to undermine the judgment of the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the freshwater needs of fish, Congress “should be working on solutions to grow the water supply in California.”
The vote was 228 yeas to 183 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 3
FUNDING CLIMATE MODELS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Arizona, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would bar funding for the Energy Department’s Climate Model Development and Validation program.
Gosar said funding Energy’s “duplicative and wasteful” climate modeling effort was not central to Energy’s mission and was redundant, given an abundance of other global climate models being adopted by other U.S. and foreign governments and private businesses.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said Energy’s modeling effort sought to “further improve the reliability of climate models and equip policymakers and citizens with tools to predict the current and future effects of climate change.”
The vote was 224 yeas to 184 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 4
WETLANDS AND WATER REGULATION: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-California, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would block funding for implementation of an Army Corps of Engineers regulation regarding activities that qualify for exemption from wetlands restrictions established by the Clean Water Act.
LaMalfa said the Corps has used “creative interpretations” of the law to deny exemptions for farmers making changes to the use of their land, and such regulatory overreach has discouraged farmers from improving their land management.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said that given the vital role of wetlands in maintaining a robust environment, Congress should not act hastily to approve measures that could degrade wetlands by reducing regulatory oversight of wetlands.
The vote was 239 yeas to 174 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 5
FUNDING ENERGY, WATER PROGRAMS: The House has passed the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Michael D. Simpson, R-Idaho. The bill would provide $35.4 billion for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and other energy and water government agencies in fiscal 2016. Simpson said its ample funding of ports, waterways and other water infrastructure projects would reduce flooding damage while improving transportation, and its strong, balanced investments in energy would improve the safe, reliable, affordable supply of energy and electricity to the nation.
A bill opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said it “sacrifices the long-term strength of our nation by raiding” funding for other government programs to fund energy and water agencies.
The vote was 240 yeas to 177 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 6
FUNDING LEVELS FOR ENERGY, WATER PROGRAMS: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would have cut by 1 percent funding for all agencies included in the bill.
Blackburn said the cut would save taxpayers $356 million, reducing the harm of a growing national debt while giving agencies the flexibility to determine how to reduce their spending to meet the 1-percent funding decrease.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Michael K. Simpson, R-Idaho, said the bill’s authors had already made considered decisions on how to minimize spending while making necessary investments in infrastructure and other job-creating programs, but an across-the-board spending cut would override those decisions.
The vote was 159 yeas to 248 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
CONFERENCE REPORT ON BUDGET: The Senate has agreed to the conference report with the House to accompany a bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyoming, to establish the federal government’s budget for fiscal 2016 and outline planned budgets for fiscal 2017 through 2025.
Enzi said the report would set a path for turning from the recent trend of rapidly growing deficits to reaching a balanced budget in the 2020s without raising taxes. He added that it provided for sustained military strength, repealing and replacing health care reform, also known as Obamacare, with policies to “improve access to quality, affordable, innovative health care,” and preserving Medicare, all while bolstering economic growth.
An opponent of the conference report, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, called it “a roadmap to disaster” that, by repealing Obamacare, would end health insurance for 16 million Americans and also cut Medicaid funding by more than $1.3 trillion.
Boxer said it would cut $270 billion from investments in education and job training over the next decade, cut aid to low-income families, and, rather than make needed infrastructure investments, cut spending on such programs by 40 percent.
The vote was 51 yeas to 48 nays. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, gave a yea vote, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, gave a nay vote.
Senate vote 2
UNIONIZATION ELECTIONS: The Senate has tabled the veto message accompanying a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, that stated Congress’ disapproval of a National Labor Relations Board rule to shorten the period between when employees seeking to organize a union at a workplace ask for a secret ballot election to vote on unionization and when the election takes place.
The vote allowed President Obama’s veto of the resolution to remain in effect.
There was no floor debate in the Senate.
The vote to table was 96 yeas to 3 nays. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 3
NUCLEAR AGREEMENT WITH IRAN: The Senate has passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would provide for congressional review of the proposed nuclear development agreement with Iran, including the question of whether to lift sanctions against Iran after that country’s agreement to stop its nuclear weapons program, and Iran’s sponsorship of acts of terrorism against the U.S.
A supporter, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, said Congress should be skeptical about Iran’s plans to stop its nuclear weapons ambitions and use of terrorism and other hostilities to threaten its neighbors given evidence that it is still trying to obtain materials to build nuclear weapons, making it essential for Congress to have strict oversight of any agreement and Iran’s subsequent compliance with its terms.
The vote was 98 yeas to 1 nay. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.