WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how Maine’s members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes, the House also passed the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act (HR 1063), to require information on contributors to presidential library fundraising organizations.
The Senate also passed a bill (S 461), to strengthen the capacity and competitiveness of historically black colleges and universities through robust public-sector, private-sector and community partnerships and engagement; a bill (S Res 71), honoring the memory of the victims of the senseless attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a year ago; the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act (S 488), specifying lynching as a deprivation of civil rights; and a bill (S Con Res 1), calling for credible, transparent and safe elections in Nigeria.
House vote 1
VA child care benefit
The House has passed the Veterans Access to Child Care Act (HR 840), sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley, D-California, to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide child care assistance to veterans receiving covered medical care at VA facilities.
Brownley said it sought to give veterans “a safe, reliable and cost-free option for child care during those appointments” for care at the VA.
The vote, on Feb. 8, was 400 yeas to 9 nays. Both Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Jared Golden, D-2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
Social media and security clearances
The House has passed the Social Media Use in Clearance Investigations Act (HR 1065), sponsored by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Massachusetts, to require the Office of Management and Budget to send to Congress a report on security clearance investigations by the federal government that utilize examinations of social media activity by the person being investigated.
Lynch said that working toward a better use of social media reviews would make the national security framework responsive to newer technologies and uncover dangers revealed by online activity by government employees.
The vote, on Feb. 11, was 377 yeas to 3 nays. Both Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 3
Yemen and intelligence gathering
The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado, to a bill (HJ Res 37) to require the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Yemen. The amendment would exempt intelligence gathering and sharing activities from the withdrawal requirement.
Buck said that by allowing continued monitoring of terrorist and other security threats coming from Yemen, the exemption “ensures our country will not face another major terrorist attack or be caught flat-footed in battle because the necessary intelligence information didn’t reach our leaders.”
An amendment opponent, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-New York, said it was unnecessary because the bill would not curtail intelligence activities in Yemen.
The vote, on Feb. 13, was 252 yeas to 177 nays. Pingree voted nay, and Golden voted yea.
House vote 4
Intervention in Yemen
The House has passed a bill (HJ Res 37), sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, to require the removal from Yemen, within 30 days, of U.S. soldiers stationed there, barring congressional authorization of the use of force in Yemen.
Khanna said U.S. assistance for Saudi Arabia in its intrusion into Yemen’s civil war has put 14 million Yemenis in danger of starvation because a systematic bombing campaign is preventing food and medicine from reaching the Yemenis.
A bill opponent, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said it would not bring relief to Yemenis, but would damage the military’s ability to combat terrorist threats coming from Yemen and would clear the way for Iran to increase its interference in Yemen’s civil war, with lasting consequences for Iran’s ability to destabilize the Middle East.
The vote, on Feb. 13, was 248 yeas to 177 nays, with one voting present. Both Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 5
Database on legal settlements
The House has passed the Settlement Agreement Information Database Act (HR 995), sponsored by Rep. Gary J. Palmer, R-Alabama, to require the establishment of a public database with information about legal settlements reached by federal government agencies that involve agency allegations of violations of federal civil or criminal law.
Palmer said the growing use of secretive consent decrees and settlement agreements to end federal charges brought against state and local governments has left officials in those governments with insufficient knowledge of the costs and terms of compliance with the agreements.
The vote, on Feb. 13, was unanimous with 418 yeas. Both Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 6
Resolving border and government funding dispute
The House has agreed to the conference report with the Senate to settle the two chambers’ versions of a bill (HJ Res 31). The report provided fiscal 2019 funding for various federal agencies, including the Homeland Security and Justice Departments, and $1.375 billion to build barriers on the border with Mexico, resolving the dispute that led to the recent partial government shutdown.
A report supporter, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said it funded vital government activities, and Granger called the $1.375 billion “a good downpayment that will allow us to build new barriers in the areas that the Border Patrol says it is needed most.”
A report opponent, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, called the $1.375 billion “a complete waste of resources that makes us no safer but perpetuates environmental degradation and dehumanizes border communities.”
The vote, on Feb. 14, was 300 yeas to 128 nays. Both Pingree and Golden voted yea.
Senate vote 1
Federal natural resources
The Senate has passed the Natural Resources Management Act (S 47), sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The bill’s provisions covered a variety of issues involving natural resources on federal lands, including developing a national volcano early warning and monitoring system and naming three new national monuments in Kentucky and Mississippi.
Murkowski said the bill’s achievements included measures to “promote wildlife conservation, combat endangered species, protect endangered species and water management provisions that save water, protect public safety, enhance fish protections and wildlife habitat.”
The vote, on Feb. 12, was 92 yeas to 8 nays. Both Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, were among the yeas.
Senate vote 2
The Senate has confirmed the nomination of William Barr to serve as U.S. attorney general. Barr. Barr served as the U.S. attorney general from 1991 until January 1993, and then served as a corporate telecommunications executive until 2008.
A supporter, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said: “Barr has displayed both legal acumen and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law—a basic prerequisite to serve as the highest law enforcement officer in the country.”
An opponent, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, said Barr had indicated that as attorney general, he would yield to the Trump administration’s “extreme, almost wild, unlimited assertions of executive privilege” rather than uphold the Justice Department’s integrity.
The vote, on Feb. 14, was 54 yeas to 45 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.
Senate vote 3
Resolving border and government funding dispute
The Senate has agreed to the conference report with the House to settle the two chambers’ versions of a bill (HJ Res 31). The report provided fiscal 2019 funding for various federal agencies, including the Homeland Security and Justice Departments, and $1.375 billion to build barriers on the border with Mexico, resolving the dispute that led to the recent partial government shutdown.
A report supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, called it a bipartisan agreement that will “address urgent priorities, including funding for our nation’s border security” and the enforcement of immigration laws.
The vote, on Feb. 14, was 83 yeas to 16 nays. Both Collins and King voted yea.