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 Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks Act (H.R. 4355) to direct the director of the National Science Foundation to support research on the outputs that may be generated by generative adversarial networks, otherwise known as “deepfakes,” and other comparable techniques that may be developed in the future; and the Emerging Transportation Security Threats Act (H.R. 3318) to require the Transportation Security Administration to establish a task force to conduct an analysis of emerging and potential future threats to transportation security.
The Senate also passed a bill (S. Res. 150) expressing the sense of the Senate that it is the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian genocide through official recognition and remembrance.
House vote 1
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: The House has passed a resolution (H. Res. 326), sponsored by Rep. Alan S. Lowenthal, D-California, expressing the sense of the House supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the only way to ensure Israel’s survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations for a Palestinian state.
Lowenthal said “a two-state solution represents the only path to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
A resolution opponent, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said it “completely ignores the reason why the two-state solution has never gotten off the ground: venomous voices among the Palestinians don’t want two states. They want one, a Palestinian state.”
The vote, on Dec. 6, was 226 yeas to 188 nays. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, and Jared Golden, a Democrat representing Maine’s 2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
CHANGING VOTING RULES: The House has passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), sponsored by Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Alabama, to change the federal government’s criteria for whether a state receives preclearance approval for changes to its voting practices.
Sewell said the new criteria was needed “to cover the states and jurisdictions where there has been a resurgence of significant and pervasive discriminatory voting practices.”
An opponent, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, said: “This bill would essentially federalize state and local election laws when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that those states or localities engaged in any discriminatory behavior when it comes to voting.”
The vote, on Dec. 6, was 228 yeas to 187 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 3
OPIOID SMUGGLING: The House has passed the DHS Opioid Detection Resilience Act (H.R. 4761), sponsored by Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Louisiana, to require Customs and Border Protection to use chemical screening devices that can identify narcotics at purity levels equal to or less than 10 percent.
Higgins said the devices, by targeting detection of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, would improve on the agency’s current detection capacity, and so combat cartels that “are ruthless and steadfast in their determination to exploit our laws and poison our communities.”
The vote, on Dec. 9, was 393 yeas to 1 nay. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 4
FUNDING BLACK COLLEGES: The House has passed the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (H.R. 5363), sponsored by Rep. Alma S. Adams, D-North Carolina, to permanently reauthorize federal funding for historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving colleges.
Adams said the reauthorization worked toward “ensuring a bright and prosperous future for millions of low-income, first-generation college students of color.”
An opponent, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said a provision authorizing the large-scale sharing of previously protected information on millions of taxpayers “creates a dangerous opportunity to potentially misuse our private tax information.”
The vote, on Dec. 10, was 319 yeas to 96 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 5
PROTECTING TRIBAL COASTAL LAND: The House has passed the Tribal Coastal Resiliency Act (H.R. 729), sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Washington, to authorize Commerce Department grants to Native American tribes for meeting various tribal environmental and cultural coastal zone goals.
Kilmer said the bill “will make significant strides to address the critical challenges our coastal communities face as a direct result of climate change and sea level rise.”
An opponent, Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Arizona, said the bill was designed merely “to create giant authorization slush funds that future Democratic Congresses working with future Democratic presidents will have available to funnel money to their schemes to combat climate change.”
The vote, on Dec. 10, was 262 yeas to 151 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 6
2020 MILITARY BUDGET: The House has agreed to the conference report with the Senate for the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1790), to authorize military spending, including military construction programs and Energy Department military-related spending, in fiscal 2020.
A supporter, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the bill “is good for the troops and it is good for national security.”
An opponent, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, criticized the absence of House-passed provisions “that would have prevented the president from using unauthorized force against Iran, prohibited U.S. support for and participation in the Saudi-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen, and repealed the long-outdated 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq.”
The vote, on Dec. 11, was 377 yeas to 48 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 7
GUEST AGRICULTURAL WORKERS: The House has passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California. The bill would change laws governing non-immigrant alien agricultural workers in the U.S., including enabling the workers to apply for lawful permanent resident status after working for a number of years and changing the H-2A temporary worker program to adjust its minimum wage and make it available for year-round agricultural work.
Lofgren said the changes would help current alien farm laborers get agricultural worker visas, improve the H-2A program for both workers and employers, and improve security measures against granting criminals work visas.
A bill opponent, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-California, said it “ignores enforcement and rewards anyone who has illegally crossed our borders, both with amnesty and a special path to citizenship, as long as they claim to have worked part-time in the agriculture sector for the last two years.”
The vote, on Dec. 11, was 260 yeas to 165 nays. Pingree voted yea, and Golden voted nay.
House vote 8
PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES: The House has passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), sponsored by Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey. The bill would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to negotiate for lower prices on certain insulin products and heavily used prescription drugs, and change Medicare drug coverage and pricing procedures with the aim of reducing costs for the federal government.
Pallone said the bill was needed to remedy a situation in which “drug companies can charge whatever they want because there is no competition until a generic comes to market.”
An opponent, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, said the bill, by threatening drug manufacturers with a 95 percent revenue tax if they do not agree with proposed drug prices, would remove “incentive for drug companies to invest the time and money it takes to create new cures and treatments.”
The vote, on Dec. 12, was 230 yeas to 192 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Patrick J. Bumatay to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. From 2012 to the present, Bumatay has been a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and since 2017, he has been on detail as part of the staff to the U.S. attorney general.
The vote, on Dec. 10, was 53 yeas to 40 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
REVIEWING NON-PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: The Senate has passed the Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act (S. 2740), sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, to change the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory framework for reviewing the sale of non-prescription drugs.
Isakson said the bill, by reforming the review process and speeding the marketing of sunscreens and other protective drugs, would save lives.
An opponent, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, said the bill’s increase in drug application fees to more than $2 million per application was eroding the capacity for congressional oversight of the Food and Drug Administration by replacing appropriated funding with fee-based funding of the agency.
The vote, on Dec. 10, was 91 yeas to 2 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 3
VETERAN SUICIDES: The Senate has passed the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act (H.R. 2333), sponsored by Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, to require a Government Accountability Office report to Congress on the responsibilities, workload, training and vacancy rates of suicide prevention coordinators at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The vote, on Dec. 11, was unanimous with 95 yeas. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 4
SECOND APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Appeals Court. VanDyke, a deputy assistant attorney general since this April, was previously Nevada’s solicitor general from 2015 through 2018, and Montana’s solicitor general from 2013 to mid-2014.
An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said: “VanDyke has a history of bigoted writing about LGBTQ Americans, radical views on even the most common-sense gun safety legislation, and a proven hostility to reproductive rights.”
The vote, on Dec. 11, was 51 yeas to 44 nays. Collins and King were among the nays.
Senate vote 5
FISH AND WILDLIFE HEAD: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Aurelia Skipwith to serve as director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Skipwith has been the Interior Department’s deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks since April 2017, and was previously a lawyer, consultant and manager both in the private sector and at government agencies.
An opponent, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, said Skipwith’s failure to provide adequate responses to information requests from Democratic senators added to his previous concerns “about her qualifications, her commitment to environmental conservation and whether she can ethically lead the Fish and Wildlife Service.”
The vote, on Dec. 12, was 52 yeas to 39 nays. Collins voted yea, and King voted nay.
Senate vote 6
AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of John Joseph Sullivan to serve as ambassador to Russia. Sullivan has been deputy secretary of state since May 2017, and previously was a private practice lawyer and senior official in the George W. Bush administration.
The vote, on Dec. 12, was 70 yeas to 22 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 7
FOOD AND DRUGS COMMISSIONER: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Stephen Hahn to serve as commissioner of food and drugs at the Health and Human Services Department. Hahn, currently chief medical executive and a professor at a cancer center in Houston, previously was a radiation oncology professor in Philadelphia from 1996 to 2014.
The vote, on Dec. 12, was 72 yeas to 18 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.