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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 VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act (H.R. 4771) to permit appellants to appear in disability compensation cases before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals by picture and voice transmission from locations other than facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Protecting Families of Fallen Servicemembers Act (H.R. 4356) to allow certain individuals to terminate contracts for telephone, multichannel video programming or internet access service; and the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act (H.R. 1424) to ensure the Secretary of Veterans Affairs permits the display of Fallen Soldier Displays in national cemeteries.
House vote 1
SIGNING UP FOR GI BILL BENEFITS: The House has passed the GI Bill Planning Act (H.R. 4162), sponsored by Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan, to extend to 90 days the period in which newly enrolled members of the military services can choose to enroll in the GI Bill benefits program, and end new enrollments in the program in October 2029.
Bergman said the enrollment deadline extension could save members money by giving them more time to decide whether they want to have $100 per month, for 12 months, deducted from their pay once they have enrolled.
The vote, on Nov. 12, was unanimous with 408 yeas. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, and Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
FEMALE VETERANS: The House has passed the Deborah Sampson Act (H.R. 3224), sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley, D-California, a bill containing various provisions intended to increase women’s access to health care and other benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Brownley said the bill “will ensure that women have consistent access to comprehensive, gender-specific care and services.”
The vote, on Nov. 12, was 399 yeas to 11 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 3
AID TO VETERAN BUSINESSES: The House has passed the Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Act (H.R. 3537), sponsored by Rep. Bradley Scott Schneider, D-Illinois, to codify into law, through 2024, the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business program, which provides assistance to military veterans in developing their own businesses.
Schneider said: “When their service in uniform is completed, many veterans direct their passion to starting a business. Such dedication to nation and community should be recognized every day.”
The vote, on Nov. 13, was 424 yeas to 1 nay. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Chad F. Wolf to serve as the Homeland Security Department’s under secretary for strategy, policy and plans. Wolf was then named the agency’s acting secretary.
A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, cited praise for Wolf from senior Homeland Security officials, and Wolf’s experience at the agency from 2002 to 2005, and as an agency senior official beginning in early 2017.
An opponent, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said that if confirmed, Wolf would further “the Trump administration’s chaotic and inhumane approach to immigration issues,” namely the policy of separating illegal immigrant children from their parents.
The vote, on Nov. 13, was 54 yeas to 41 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
APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Steven J. Menashi to serve as a judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, cited Menashi’s “impressive record in private practice and earned clerkships on the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court with Justice Alito.”
An opponent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, criticized Menashi for providing advice, in his service in the Education Department and White House from 2017 onward, that has advanced “extreme anti-immigrant policies” and argued against full debt relief for students that attended fraudulent for-profit colleges.
The vote, on Nov. 14, was 51 yeas to 41 nays. Collins and King were among the nays.