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 Homeless Assistance Act (H.R. 4302) to authorize public housing agencies to share certain data regarding homeless individuals and families for the provision of housing and services; and the President George H.W. Bush and First Spouse Barbara Bush Coin Act (S. 457) to require that $1 coins issued during 2019 honor President George H.W. Bush and to direct the secretary of the Treasury to issue bullion coins during 2019 in honor of Barbara Bush.
The Senate also passed a resolution (S. Res. 375) recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising; the Indo-Pacific Cooperation Act (S. 2547) to state the policy of the United States with respect to the expansion of cooperation with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region and Europe regarding the People’s Republic of China; the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act (H.R. 133) to promote economic partnership and cooperation between the United States and Mexico; and a resolution (S. Res. 371) reaffirming the support of the United States for the people of the Republic of South Sudan and calling on all parties to uphold their commitments to peace and dialogue as outlined in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.
House vote 1
BANNING PFAS CHEMICALS: The House has passed the PFAS Action Act (H.R. 535), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, to require the Environmental Protection Agency to designate all perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances within a year. PFAS chemicals are used in various consumer and industrial products, largely for their resistance to degradation from heat, water and other forces.
Dingell said: “PFAS is an urgent public health and environmental threat, and the number of contamination sites nationwide is growing at an alarming rate.”
An opponent, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, said the ban would be a hasty measure taken despite a lack of evidence on how PFAS chemicals impact human and environmental health.
The vote, on Jan. 10, was 247 yeas to 159 nays. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, and Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
INSIDER SECURITIES TRADING: The House has passed the 8-K Trading Gap Act (H.R. 4335), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York, to bar executives at publicly traded companies from trading securities in their company before it has filed a Form 8-K disclosing to the public a significant company event.
Maloney said the bill “would fix a loophole in our current law that allows corporate executives to trade on information before it is disclosed to the public and to their own shareholders.”
The vote, on Jan. 13, was 384 yeas to 7 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 3
HOMELESS VETERANS: The House has passed the Veteran HOUSE ACT (H.R. 2398), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Scott H. Peters, D-California, to make military veterans with non-honorable discharges, so long as they were not dishonorably discharged, eligible for receiving housing vouchers from a Veterans Affairs Department housing assistance program.
Peters said the expanded eligibility “will stop more homeless veterans from falling through the cracks.”
The vote, on Jan. 13, was 362 yeas to 31 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 4
MANAGING IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The House has passed a resolution (H. Res. 798), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, to establish seven House Democrats as managers for the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
Nadler said: “This trial is necessary because President Trump gravely abused the power of his office when he strong-armed a foreign government to announce investigations into his domestic political rival.”
An opponent, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, said the resolution violated the rules for the impeachment investigation included in a House resolution that passed the House on Oct. 31, 2019.
The vote, on Jan. 15, was 228 yeas to 193 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 5
WORKERS AND AGE DISCRIMINATION: The House has passed the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (H.R. 1230), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia. The bill would expand the ability of workers to make age discrimination complaints against their employers by allowing mixed motive complaints.
Scott said the bill, by supplanting a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that found workers taking legal action must prove that age was the decisive factor in discrimination by their employers, “would restore workers’ protections and re-establish a consistent burden of proof for claims alleging discrimination on the basis of age.”
An opponent, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, said the need for the bill had not been shown, and that allowing mixed-motive claims would primarily benefit plaintiffs’ attorneys, because most employers would be able to show that their actions were not taken based on a worker’s age.
The vote, on Jan. 15, was 261 yeas to 155 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 6
FRAUD AND STUDENT LOANS: The House has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 76), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nevada, that would void a September 2019 Education Department rule concerning the process by which former students at public and private schools seek forgiveness of their federal student loans due to alleged fraud by their schools.
Lee said the rule put an undue burden of proof on students for showing that they were defrauded.
A resolution opponent, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, said the rule was needed to remedy a 2016 rule that blurred the line between fraud and inadvertent mistakes made by a school, which thereby created the danger that institutions would be found to have engaged in fraud despite not intentionally doing wrong.
The vote, on Jan. 16, was 231 yeas to 180 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Peter Gaynor to serve as administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gaynor has been FEMA’s deputy administrator since October 2018; before that he directed Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency for three years, and for six and a half years was the emergency manager for Providence, Rhode Island.
The vote, on Jan. 14, was 81 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
USMCA AGREEMENT AND BUDGET RULES: The Senate has agreed to a motion to waive budgetary discipline regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 5430).
A motion supporter, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the spending was needed to guarantee fulfill commitments made in the USMCA, and that it followed the tradition of past trade bills resulting in changes to federal spending and revenue levels.
A motion opponent, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said that the bill included discretionary spending not necessary to implement the trade agreement, and approving that spending without subjecting it to the Senate’s 60-vote majority threshold for authorizing government spending would set a dangerous precedent for violating the Senate’s budgeting standards.
The vote, on Jan. 16, was 78 yeas to 21 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 3
TRADE DEAL WITH MEXICO AND CANADA: The Senate has passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 5430), sponsored by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Maryland, to implement the trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that was preliminarily reached a year ago.
A supporter, U.S. Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, said: “USMCA is projected to have a positive impact on all broad industry sectors, increasing employment by 176,000 jobs and increasing real GDP by $68.2 billion. This agreement also makes important improvements to labor and environmental standards.”
The vote, on Jan. 16, was 89 yeas to 10 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.