WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how Maine’s members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes this past week, the House also passed the Protect Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act (H.R. 1988), to clarify seasoning requirements for certain refinanced mortgage loans; the Housing Financial Literacy Act (H.R. 2162), to require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to discount Federal Housing Authority single-family mortgage insurance premium payments for first-time homebuyers who complete a financial literacy housing counseling program; the Improving Investment Research for Small and Emerging Issuers Act (H.R. 2919), to require the Securities and Exchange Commission to carry out a study to evaluate the issues affecting the provision of and reliance upon investment research into small issuers; and the Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act (S. 1749), to clarify seasoning requirements for certain refinanced mortgage loans.
House vote 1
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS: The House has passed the Whistleblower Protection Reform Act (H.R. 2515), sponsored by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, to extend anti-retaliation protections to whistleblowers at a company regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission who report alleged misconduct to their employers but not to the SEC.
Green said the protections would send a message that the company a whistleblower works for can correct misdeeds before the commission is involved.
The vote, on July 9, was 410 yeas to 12 nays. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Jared Golden, D-2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
FINANCING RURAL BUSINESSES: The House has passed the Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act (H.R. 2409), sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Axne, D-Iowa, to require the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to include rural small businesses in its focus on identifying the need for various types of small businesses to access capital.
Axne said the inclusion “will help create jobs in rural Iowa and in rural areas across the country contributing not only to their success but to the economic success of this entire country’s GDP.”
The vote, on July 9, was 413 yeas to 7 nays. Pingree and Golden voted yea.
House vote 3
IMMIGRANT VISAS: The House has passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044), sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California. The bill would eliminate the current 7 percent per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas and double the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7 percent to 15 percent.
Lofgren said: “By eliminating the per-country limit on employment-based visas, all immigrant visa applicants will eventually be restored to a level playing field, where one’s country of nationality has no bearing on their place in line.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, said some of its provisions were unworkable, and that there was not enough evidence of how it would change immigration visas.
The vote, on July 10, was 365 yeas to 65 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 4
YEMEN CIVIL WAR: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2500). The amendment would bar funding for activities that support the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s war against the Houthi faction in Yemen’s civil war.
Smith said to “the extent that we participate in helping Saudi Arabia, through intelligence sharing, through refueling, through a variety of different means, we are participating in the atrocities that are being committed on that side, and we should not be.”
An amendment opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-New York, said that by blocking the sharing of intelligence information with Saudi Arabia, the amendment would put U.S. assets in Yemen as well as Saudi Arabia’s civilians and infrastructure at risk of attack by the Iran-backed Houthi faction.
The vote, on July 11, was 240 yeas to 185 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 5
NUCLEAR ARMS TREATY: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2500). The amendment would state Congress’ intent for the U.S. to extend the New START nuclear arms limitations treaty with Russia to 2026.
Engel said given signs that the Trump administration may be planning to withdraw from New START, the amendment was needed to ensure the preservation of a treaty placing strong limits on Russia’s strategic nuclear forces and advancing U.S. national security interests.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, said advocating for a simple extension of New START would tie the president’s hands and prevent talks on adding treaty provisions covering the “development of tactical nuclear weapons and the development and deployment of systems that aren’t covered by the treaty.”
The vote, on July 11, was 236 yeas to 189 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Daniel Aaron Bress to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bress, currently a partner at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, has also been a law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and Catholic University of America.
The vote, on July 9, was 53 yeas to 45 nays. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, voted yea and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted nay.
Senate vote 2
FLORIDA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of T. Kent Wetherell II to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the northern district of Florida.
A supporter, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, cited Wetherell’s two decades of experience as a Florida state deputy solicitor general, administrative law judge and district court judge in saying “Wetherell will continue to serve our state and nation well.”
The vote, on July 10, was 78 yeas to 15 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 3
PENNSYLVANIA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of J. Nicholas Ranjan to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the western district of Pennsylvania. Ranjan has been a lawyer at the K&L Gates law firm in Pittsburgh since 2005, litigating commercial and appeals cases.
The vote, on July 10, was 80 yeas to 14 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 4
INDIANA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Damon Ray Leichty to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the northern district of Indiana. Leichty has been a lawyer at the South Bend law firm of Barnes & Thornburg since 2000, specializing in commercial and product litigation.
The vote, on July 10, was 85 yeas to 10 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 5
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Robert L. King to serve as Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the Education Department. King was chancellor of the State University of New York System, and more recently was president of the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education.
The vote, on July 11, was 56 yeas to 37 nays. Collins voted yea; King voted nay.
Senate vote 6
LABOR OFFICIAL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of John P. Pallasch to serve as the Labor Department’s assistant secretary for labor and training. Pallasch most recently served in a similar role at Kentucky’s Labor Department, and previously was the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for mine safety and health.
The vote, on July 11, was 54 yeas to 39 nays. Collins voted yea; King voted nay.
Senate vote 7
EPA OFFICIAL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Peter C. Wright to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator at the office of solid waste. Wright had been a managing counsel at Dow Chemical, specializing in the handling of Superfund sites and other site remediation matters.
The vote, on July 11, was 52 yeas to 38 nays. Collins voted yea; King voted nay.