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 Building Blocks of STEM Act (H.R. 1665) to direct the National Science Foundation to support STEM education research focused on early childhood; the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act (H.R. 1837) to make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize assistance for Israel; the American Manufacturing Leadership Act (H.R. 2397) to make changes to the implementation of the network for manufacturing innovation; and the Coast Guard Authorization Act (H.R. 3409) to authorize appropriations for the Coast Guard.
The Senate also passed a resolution (S. Res. 282) honoring former Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.
House vote 1
SUPPORTING ISRAEL: The House has passed a resolution (H. Res. 246), sponsored by Rep. Bradley Scott Schneider, D-Illinois, stating opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and other efforts to delegitimize Israel, and supporting a two-state Israeli and Palestinian solution to the conflict between those two groups.
Schneider said that due to its unyielding opposition to the existence of Israel, the BDS movement “pushes the cause of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians further out of reach.”
The vote, on July 23, was 398 yeas to 17 nays. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, voted nay, and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, voted yea.
House vote 2
BANKRUPTCY AND MILITARY RESERVISTS: The House has passed the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act (H.R. 3304), sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee. The bill would extend for four years a law exempting military reservists and members of the National Guard who were called to active duty after the 9/11 attacks from the income means-test portion of the chapter 7 personal bankruptcy code.
Cohen said extending the exemption would help guardsmen and reservists who may “become subject to large loans in difficult times while in service, having to even file bankruptcy, let alone, respond to debts that they incur on behalf of the American people.”
The vote, on July 23, was 417 yeas to 1 nay. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 3
PREVENTING ROBOCALLS: The House has passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375), sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey, to require the Federal Communications Commission to enact regulations that protect consumers from receiving automated phone calls and text messages, also known as robocalls, without their consent.
Pallone said the surge of robocalls has undermined the integrity of communications systems that people rely on in daily life, prompting the bill’s comprehensive approach to curtailing the calls.
The vote, on July 24, was 429 yeas to 3 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 4
REPAIRING PENSION PLANS: The House has passed the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act (H.R. 397), sponsored by Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Massachusetts, to create the Pension Rehabilitation Administration at the Treasury Department. The administration would disburse loans to multiemployer defined benefit pension plans that are insolvent or nearly so.
Neal said the loans would allow a troubled pension plan “to provide retirement security for retirees and workers for decades to come while the plan is nursed back to health.
A bill opponent, Rep. David P. Roe, R-Tennessee, said it would not improve troubled pension plans because it would enact no reforms or fundamental changes to the plans, and did not require loans to be repaid.
The vote, on July 24, was 264 yeas to 169 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 5
DETAINED MIGRANTS: The House has passed the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act (H.R. 3239), sponsored by Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-California. The bill would require the Customs and Border Protection agency to meet various standards for prompt health screenings of detained alien migrants, as well as provide the detained migrants with access to food, shelter, drinking water and sanitation facilities.
Ruiz said the requirements “promote a professional, humane approach to addressing the humanitarian challenges at our border and create the basic conditions for human dignity.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Gregory Steube, R-Florida, said it would worsen the illegal immigration crisis by imposing unworkable health care requirements on agency personnel, taxing already strained resources that should be devoted to law enforcement activities.
The vote, on July 24, was 233 yeas to 195 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 6
BUDGET PLAN: The House has passed the Bipartisan Budget Act (H.R. 3877), sponsored by Rep. John A. Yarmuth, D-Kentucky. The bill would outline a budget for fiscal 2020 and 2021 that includes higher spending limits for military and nonmilitary discretionary spending, suspend the federal government’s debt limit through July 2021, and extend through 2029 spending cuts for several mandatory spending programs
The vote, on July 25, was 284 yeas to 149 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 7
VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS: The House has passed the Venezuela TPS Act (H.R. 549), sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, to assign temporary protected immigration status to Venezuelans, which would prevent their deportation from the U.S. and allow them to obtain authority for travel and employment in the U.S.
Soto said: “It is our moral responsibility to support these brave Venezuelans and their families who are already citizens here in the United States.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Ben Cline, R-Virginia, said that although the Venezuelan people were suffering under the Maduro regime, the temporary protected status could effectively turn into a permanent protected status authorizing Venezuelans who immigrate illegally to remain in the U.S. for decades to come.
The vote, on July 25, was 272 yeas to 158 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Mark T. Esper to serve as Defense Secretary. Esper had been Army Secretary since 2017, and prior to that an active duty Army officer for 10 years and a vice president at Raytheon.
A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, praised Esper’s “expertise, his professionalism, and his patriotic dedication to the men and women who serve to keep us safe.”
The vote, on July 23, was 90 yeas to 8 nays. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, were among the yeas.
Senate vote 2
COMPENSATING 9/11 VICTIMS: The Senate has passed the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (H.R. 1327), sponsored by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York. The bill would authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 through fiscal year 2090 and change various procedures for claims filed with the fund.
A supporter, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said the bill would mean that 9/11 first responders “will not have to return to Congress anymore to fight for the compensation they always should have been given. They will be able to go home, tend to their illnesses, their family members, and their friends.”
The vote, on July 23, was 97 yeas to 2 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 3
AVIATION ADMINISTRATOR: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Stephen M. Dickson to serve as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. For several decades, Dickson was a pilot in the Air Force and then at Delta Airlines. He later worked as a flight operations executive at Delta.
An opponent, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said Dickson’s time at Delta “raises questions about his independence from the industry and at a time when that agency must guarantee its independence from that industry.”
The vote, on July 24, was 52 yeas to 40 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.
Senate vote 4
FLORIDA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Wendy Williams Berger to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the middle district of Florida. Berger has been an assistant attorney and judge in Florida’s judiciary system for most of the past 26 years, including service since 2012 as a state appeals court judge.
The vote, on July 24, was 54 yeas to 37 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.
Senate vote 5
NEBRASKA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Brian C. Buescher to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the district of Nebraska. Buescher has been a private practice lawyer in Omaha since 2000, focusing on commercial litigation, including agriculture.
A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Buescher “has gained expertise in a wide array of legal areas and has earned admiration within the Nebraska legal community and beyond.”
The vote, on July 24, was 51 yeas to 40 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.
Senate vote 6
JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Mark A. Milley to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Milley became the Army’s chief of staff in 2015 and has served in an array of command and leadership positions in the Army for the past 35 years.
The vote, on July 25, was 89 yeas to 1 nay. Collins and King were among the yeas.