WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes, the Senate this week passed the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act and passed the READ Act, to require that the president’s annual budget request to Congress include a line item for the Research in Disabilities Education program.
The House also passed the Electrify Africa Act, to promote the growth of electricity generation and distribution in sub-Saharan Africa; and concurred in the Senate amendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Act, to authorize Coast Guard appropriations for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
House vote 1
INVESTING IN PRIVATE BUSINESSES: The House has passed the Fair Investment Opportunities for Professional Experts Act, sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Arizona. The bill would expand the Securities and Exchange Commission’s definition of an accredited investor to include professionals with expertise in a given investment, individuals licensed as financial advisors, and those with at least $200,000 of annual income for the last two years.
Schweikert said the expansion, by allowing more people to invest in private businesses, would open new opportunities for economic growth.
The vote was 347 yeas to 8 nays. Both Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
REFORMING HOUSING ASSISTANCE: The House has passed the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Missouri. The bill would set out a variety of measures intended to improve federal housing assistance programs, including improving energy and water efficiency in Section 8 government housing and increasing private and local government flexibility for seeking to improve public housing and reduce homelessness.
Luetkemeyer called the bill “a significant step in the long journey to reforming a broken system” by revamping outmoded and duplicative bureaucracy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The vote was unanimous with 427 yeas. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 3
VETO OF HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL: The House has failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia. The bill would have repealed the health care reform law’s medical device excise tax, repealed the employer health insurance mandate, repealed the individual health insurance mandate, and blocked funding for Planned Parenthood.
Price said the measures, by decreasing ineffective federal control of the health care system, would “pave the way for real, positive, patient-centered health reform that puts patients and families and doctors in charge of health care decisions.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said it sought to remove health care insurance for 22 million Americans and reduce reproductive choice options for millions of American women.
The vote to override the veto was 241 yeas to 186 nays, with a two-thirds majority required to override. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 4
SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN: The House has passed the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, sponsored by Rep. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma. The bill would require the president to certify to Congress a justification for removing financial sanctions against individuals and groups in Iran suspected of supporting terrorism, nuclear proliferation or human rights violations.
Russell said the requirement would help ensure that the U.S. continues to apply pressure against destabilizing elements in Iran by sustaining sanctions against groups that continue to violate international agreements.
A bill opponent, Rep. Theodore E. Deutch, D-Florida, said certification efforts would waste significant government resources that could be devoted to implement the nuclear weapons pact recently reached with Iran.
The vote was 246 yeas to 181 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 5
FINANCIAL REPORTING AND SMALL COMPANIES: The House has passed the Encouraging Employee Ownership Act, sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Illinois. The bill would exempt private businesses compensating their employees in stock from certain requirements to disclose information about the businesses to those employees, exempt smaller publicly traded companies from Securities and Exchange Commission data formatting rules, and require the SEC to review its rules every 10 years to consider whether the rules are still necessary.
Hultgren said the bill, by removing burdensome regulations, “will improve our capital markets” and access to them for small and growing companies.
A bill opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, said its relaxed regulations “will reduce transparency, establish additional administrative burdens on the SEC, and create easily exploited loopholes for bad actors.”
The vote was 265 yeas to 159 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 6
REGULATING BANK-LIKE DEPOSITORY INSTITUTIONS: The House has passed the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Missouri. The bill would bar federal banking regulators from requiring a depository institution to cancel or not open customer accounts unless the regulators have material reasons for blocking the accounts.
Luetkemeyer said regulatory agencies have acted against payday lenders and other non-bank entities “based not on wrongdoing, but purely on personal and political motivations and without due process,” making it necessary to restrain the regulators.
A bill opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, said regulators were merely trying to combat money laundering and other types of bank fraud, and the bill would “prevent the Justice Department from going after these banks who know they are dealing with crooks and fraudsters.”
The vote was 250 yeas to 169 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
DECLARING NATIONAL MONUMENTS: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The amendment would have required the expiration within three years of any presidential declaration of a national monument if the declaration is not subsequently authorized by federal law and state law where the monument is located.
Lee said recent presidents have overridden the interests of those located near federal lands with monument declarations that deprive them of livelihoods earned on the lands, making the amendment necessary to give those residents “a voice in the land management decisions of their community.”
An amendment opponent, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said it sought to give states an unprecedented veto authority over federal land management practices, hurting the president’s ability to use monument designations to protect threatened lands.
The vote was 47 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
ENERGY SUBSIDIES: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, to the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The amendment would have stipulated that government subsidies for fossil fuels be phased out in the same time frame as the phasing out of subsidies for renewable energy.
Schatz said that “there should be a level playing field for fossil fuels and for clean energy.”
An amendment opponent, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it would violate the constitutional rule that “all revenue-raising measures must originate within the House.”
The vote was 45 yeas to 50 nays. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 3
DEBATING ENERGY BILL: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on a substitute amendment sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The bill would advance numerous energy policy measures, including faster permitting of proposed liquefied natural gas export terminals and natural gas pipelines, subsidies for geothermal and hydropower, and funding for energy efficiency programs, clean energy research and strengthening cybersecurity for the nation’s energy infrastructure.
Murkowski said the bill had strong bipartisan backing and would help increase low-cost domestic energy production and the infrastructure needed to efficiently distribute energy to manufacturers and consumers, without raising taxes or increasing the deficit.
An opponent of ending debate, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, faulted the bill for not addressing the water supply crisis in Flint, Michigan, where city residents have been exposed to lead-contaminated water since Flint began getting its water from the Flint River in April 2014.
The vote to end debate was 46 yeas to 50 nays. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.