WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Editor’s Note: Besides roll call votes, the Senate and House also took action on legislation by voice vote. The Senate also passed the E-Warranty Act, to allow manufacturers of consumer products to meet warranty and labeling requirements by displaying warranty terms online. The House also passed the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act, to improve cooperation with Jordan on military issues.
House vote 1
ID CARDS FOR VETERANS: The House has concurred in the Senate amendment to the Veterans Identification Card Act, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida. The bill would require the Veterans Affairs Department to issue identification cards, in exchange for a fee, when requested by military veterans.
Buchanan said the id cards will allow veterans to more easily obtain discounts offered to veterans by businesses, and no longer have to provide sensitive documents that carry the risk of identity theft in order to prove their status to businesses.
The vote, on July 7, was unanimous with 411 yeas. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, gave yea votes.
House vote 2
OIL, GAS ROYALTY RATES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Stevan Pearce, R-New Mexico, to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would bar any increase in royalty rates paid to the federal government for oil and natural gas produced on government lands.
Pearce said increasing rates would levy added costs on an industry already struggling with low prices, threatening oil and gas companies that improve domestic energy security and help rural economies.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said changing royalty rates could increase government revenue by billions of dollars, giving the public “a fair return from the production of oil and gas from federal leases.”
The vote, on July 8, was 231 yeas to 198 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House Vote 3
COMMON CORE STANDARDS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Lee M. Zeldin, R-New York, to the Student Success Act. The amendment would allow a state to withdraw from the federal government’s Common Core State Standards for primary education or any other education standards set out by the federal government.
Zeldin said the one-size-fits-all approach prescribed by Common Core and similar standards has intensified problems in the nation’s education system, and parents and local educators should be able to devise their own approach to education without the federal government.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, said Common Core was a state-led process, and the amendment was unnecessary because states were already free to withdraw from Common Core.
The vote, on July 8, was 373 yeas to 57 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House Vote 4
TECHNOLOGY AND RURAL SCHOOLS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, to the Student Success Act. The amendment would authorize the issuance of Education Department grants to rural schools for the deployment of digital learning technologies.
Loebsack said educational software and other technology held the promise of “vastly expanding the educational options and opportunities available to students in rural areas,” providing them with an advanced education similar to that available for urban students.
An opponent, Rep. John Kline, R-Minnesota, said the underlying bill already gave adequate support for rural digital learning initiatives.
The vote, on July 8, was 218 yeas to 213 nays. Pingree gave a yea vote, and Poliquin gave a nay vote.
House Vote 5
OPTING OUT OF STUDENT TESTING: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Arizona, to the Student Success Act. The amendment would require states to allow parents to exempt their children from federally mandated student tests for any reason, with those children not counted in federal testing participation requirements.
Salmon said the opt-out amendment would ease a school’s fear of losing federal funding due to not having enough of its students take tests while returning power over a child’s education “back to where it should be, with the parents.”
An amendment opponent, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, said the participation requirement should be firm in order to give the government information needed to identify achievement gaps in schools and take steps to improve education.
The vote, on July 8, was 251 yeas to 178 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House Vote 6
FEDERAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS: The House has passed the Student Success Act, sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minnesota. The bill would maintain federal testing and academic standards for primary education, repeal an array of federal education programs and mandates, and establish new grant programs for states and school districts.
Kline said replacing federal mandates and school policies dictated by the Education Department with greater local control of schools would reduce wasteful spending, expand access to charter schools and magnet schools for students currently in failing schools, and deliver on the promise of providing an excellent education to all children.
A bill opponent, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, said it “shifts resources away from communities where poverty is most concentrated and freezes funding for America’s most needy students.”
The vote, on July 8, was 218 yeas to 213 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House Vote 7
LEGAL CHALLENGES TO FORESTRY MANAGEMENT: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, to the Resilient Forests Act. The amendment would have struck from the bill a provision requiring groups presenting legal challenges to forestry management decisions to post bonds for covering the government’s cost of responding to the challenges, should those challenges be rejected in court.
Polis said the bonding requirement violated the basic principle of equal access to justice by preventing all but the wealthiest corporations and individuals from taking the risk of taking challenges to court.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Ryan K. Zinke, R-Montana, said the bonding requirement would cut the Forest Service’s substantial expenses for responding to frivolous lawsuits, leaving the agency with more resources to maintain healthy forests.
The vote, on July 9, was 181 yeas to 247 nays. Pingree gave a yea vote, and Poliquin gave a nay vote.
House Vote 8
CHANGING FOREST MANAGEMENT: The House has passed the Resilient Forests Act, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas. The bill would allow expedited environmental review of plans to remove dead trees from burned forests and reforest those lands, and allow FEMA to transfer funds to the Forest Service to cover the cost of fighting forest fires.
Westerman said the measures would improve forest management and help prevent fires, ensuring that the national forests maintain their health and value to the country.
A bill opponent, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Massachusetts, said it would erode environmental safeguards for protecting forest habitat and discourage citizens from using the legal process to challenge federal forest policies.
The vote, on July 9, was 262 yeas to 167 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a nay vote.
Senate Vote 1
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kara Farnandez Stoll to serve as a judge on the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
A supporter, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vermont, cited Farnandez Stoll’s extensive experience in intellectual property and patent law as a lawyer, law professor, and patent examiner as preparing her for issues that come before the appeals court.
The vote, on July 7, was unanimous with 95 yeas. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, gave a yea vote. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, did not vote.
Senate Vote 2
GRANTS FOR AMERICAN INDIAN EDUCATION: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, to the Every Child Achieves Act. The amendment would authorize four federal title VII grant programs for American Indian schools.
Tester said the grants help American Indian students “develop the tools they need to succeed.”
An amendment opponent, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said the programs were unnecessary and redundant.
The vote, on July 8, was 56 yeas to 41 nays. Collins gave a nay vote, and King did not vote.
Senate Vote 3
SEXUAL PREDATORS IN SCHOOLS: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, to the Every Child Achieves Act. The amendment would require states, in order to receive federal education funding, to pass laws against a school knowingly recommending that another school hire a convicted sexual offender.
Toomey said the measure was needed given that hundreds of school employees are arrested annually for sexual misconduct against students, and the repeated practice of schools “passing the trash” by recommending a known sexual predator be hired at another school rather than dealing with the sexual predator itself.
The vote, on July 9, was unanimous with 98 yeas. Collins gave a yea vote, and King did not vote.
Senate Vote 4
CONFERENCE ON MILITARY SPENDING BILL: The Senate has agreed to a cloture motion to end debate on a motion sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to insist on the Senate amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, and go to conference with the House to resolve the two chambers’ differing versions of the bill.
The vote to end debate, on July 9, was 81 yeas to 15 nays. Collins gave a yea vote, and King did not vote.
Following the vote, the Senate agreed by voice vote to go to conference with the House.
Senate Vote 5
MILITARY FUNDING AND BUDGET SEQUESTER: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment would have instructed Senate conferees with the House to insist that the final version of the bill negotiated by the two chambers include the $50.9 billion of overseas contingency operations funding and $534.3 billion of base funding requested by President Barack Obama, overriding sequestration spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act.
Reed said his amendment would resolve the budgeting gimmick of transferring base military funding to funding for overseas combat in order to subvert the Budget Control Act.
An amendment opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said it would cut military funding by $38 billion, and was the wrong approach to changing the government’s budgeting process.
The vote, on July 9, was 44 yeas to 52 nays. Collins gave a nay vote, and King did not vote.