WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how Maine’s members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes this week, the House also passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act (H.R. 2578), to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program; the Building Up Independent Lives and Dreams Act (H.R. 1060), to provide regulatory relief to charitable organizations that provide housing assistance; and the Banking Transparency for Sanctioned Persons Act (H.R. 1037), to increase transparency with respect to financial services benefitting state sponsors of terrorism, human rights abusers and corrupt officials.
The Senate also passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (S. 1379), to reauthorize programs with respect to public health security and all-hazards preparedness and response; and the Supporting and Treating Officers In Crisis Act (S. 998), to expand support for police officer family services, stress reduction, and suicide prevention.
House vote 1
AGENT ORANGE AND VIETNAM VETERANS: The House has passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 299), sponsored by Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, to extend eligibility for benefits due to Agent Orange exposure to blue water Navy veterans of the Vietnam War, children with spina bifida born to parents exposed to Agent Orange during military service in Thailand, and Korea veterans.
Takano called the bill “the quickest and clearest route to delivering benefits to those deserving veterans” with diseases resulting from Agent Orange.
The vote, on May 14, was unanimous with 410 yeas.
House vote 2
MASSACHUSETTS TRIBAL LAND: The House has passed the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (H.R. 312), sponsored by Rep. William R. Keating, D-Massachusetts, to reaffirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation in Massachusetts as trust land.
Keating said the bill was needed because without the trust land designation “it will be nearly impossible for the Mashpee to engage in any kind of true self-government because they won’t own their own land: no economic development, no tribal headquarters, no elder housing, no pre-K programs.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Arizona, said it would mostly benefit a Malaysian gaming company called Genting that loaned more than $500 million to the Mashpee tribe to build a casino on the tribe’s land.
The vote, on May 15, was 275 yeas to 146 nays. Both U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat, and Jared Golden, a 2nd District Democrat, voted yea.
House vote 3
TRIBAL TRUST LANDS: The House has passed a bill (H.R. 375), sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, to reaffirm the Interior Department’s authority to acquire land in trust for Indian tribes given federal recognition after 1934.
Cole said the bill, by overriding a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that rejected post-1934 trust land acquisitions by Interior, would help Indian tribes use that acquired land for economic developments and “to build community facilities such as schools, health centers, and housing that serve their tribal members.”
An opponent, Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Arizona, said the bill would allow Interior “to take any land in trust without respect for impacted communities, including other tribes,” and lead to a flood of off-reservation casinos being built by tribes.
The vote, on May 15, was 323 yeas to 96 nays. Both Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 4
HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGES: The House has passed the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987), sponsored by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, to require the Department of Health and Human Services to make outreach and educational efforts for informing the public about the opportunity to enroll in federally-facilitated health insurance exchanges that are operated by the states under federal auspices.
Rochester said the bill “will advance important gains made by the Affordable Care Act and further improve our health care system by, one, lowering the cost of prescription drug prices and, two, increasing access to care.”
An opponent, Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, called the funding for the exchanges a partisan measure to prop up the Affordable Care Act that derailed the prospects for other, bipartisan bill measures attempting to lower prescription drug prices to become law by ensuring that the bill could not get the Senate’s approval.
The vote, on May 16, was 234 yeas to 183 nays. Both Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
TEXAS DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Michael J. Truncale to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the eastern district of Texas. Truncale has been a private practice lawyer in Houston since the 1980s, with specialties in product liability and arbitration and mediation.
A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, cited Truncale’s well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association and time serving Texas’s universities.
The vote, on May 14, was 49 yeas to 46 nays. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, voted yea, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Cemocrats, voted nay.
Senate vote 2
APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kenneth Kiyul Lee to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Lee, currently a private practice lawyer in Los Angeles, was an associate counsel in the George W. Bush administration and special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Lee’s “past writings reveal shocking positions on race and diversity, affirmative action, educational opportunity and women’s reproductive freedom.”
The vote, on May 15, was 52 yeas to 45 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.
Senate vote 3
LOUISIANA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Wendy Vitter to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the eastern district of Louisiana. Vitter, the wife of former senator John Vitter, has been general counsel for the Catholic Church’s New Orleans archdiocese since 2013, and from 1987 to 1992 was a lawyer for the Orleans Parish.
An opponent, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, called Vitter part of the “far-right, extremist fringe” and a judge whose rulings would be determined by her own biases, including antiabortion views.
The vote, on May 16, was 52 yeas to 45 nays. Both Collins and King were among the nays.
Senate Vote 4
MANAGING STATE DEPARTMENT: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Brian J. Bulatao to serve as under secretary of state for management. Bulatao, since 2017 the chief operating officer at the Central Intelligence Agency, was previously an executive at various private companies in Texas and Kansas and an Army officer from 1986 to 1993.
The vote, on May 16, was 92 yeas to 5 nays. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 5
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Jeffrey A. Rosen to serve as the U.S. deputy attorney general. Rosen was a senior counsel in the Transportation Department and the Office of Management and Budget in the George W. Bush administration, and is now Transportation Department’s chief operating officer.
The vote, on May 16, was 52 yeas to 45 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.