WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Border Jobs for Veterans Act, to recruit departing members of the military to serve as Customs and Border Protection officers; and passed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, to revise the definition of small employer for the purposes of the health care reform law.
The House also passed the EACH Act, to provide an additional religious exemption from the individual health coverage mandate; passed the Higher Education Extension Act, to temporarily extend the Federal Perkins Loan program; and passed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, to revise the definition of small employer for the purposes of the health care reform law.
House vote 1
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS ON MINORITIES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Arizona, to the RAPID Act. The amendment would require regulators to include effects on low-income and minority communities in their assessments of environmental impact statements for construction projects.
Grijalva said the requirement would seek to fulfill “the promise of environmental justice for all communities.”
The vote was 320 yeas to 88 nays. Both Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
CLIMATE CHANGE AND GOVERNMENT PROJECTS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Arizona, to the RAPID Act. The amendment would bar federal agencies from using draft guidance for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions and their link to climate change in reviewing environmental permits for federal government construction projects.
Gosar said the guidance was unlawful and sought to advance a regime of GHG emissions controls by inserting a bad model for measuring the social cost of GHG emissions into the environmental review process.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, called the guidance a commonsense measure to reduce the federal government’s “contribution and vulnerability to global warming” by accounting for climate risks.
The vote was 223 yeas to 186 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote
House vote 3
ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITS: The House has passed the RAPID Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would adopt measures for streamlining federal regulatory reviews and environmental permits for major proposed construction projects, and bar agencies from using estimates for the social cost of carbon in their environmental reviews of the projects.
Marino said the economy would benefit from a reformed permitting process, with an end to multi-year delays for projects that improve the nation’s infrastructure.
A bill opponent, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, said it “would jeopardize public safety and health by prioritizing project approval over meaningful analysis” of environmental harm that could result from development.
The vote was 233 yeas to 170 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 4
SCREENING INTERNATIONAL RAIL SHIPMENTS: The House has passed the Cross-Border Rail Security Act, sponsored by Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas. The bill would require the Customs and Border Protection commissioner to submit to Congress a report on high-risk shipments of material by railroad across the borders with Canada and Mexico and the use of radiation detection equipment to examine those shipments.
Vela said a recent Homeland Security report found weaknesses in screening of cross-border rail shipments for radioactivity, making it vital to improve the screening process.
The vote was unanimous with 412 yeas. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 5
ABORTION AND MEDICAID: The House has passed the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, sponsored by Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wisconsin. The bill would allow states that participate in the federal government’s Medicaid program to exclude abortion providers from their Medicaid coverage plans. Duffy said the bill, by decreasing government backing for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, would help protect “states’ rights and women’s health and little babies’ lives.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, said it “would deny more than 7 million women access to critical health care services, including contraceptive care, STI tests, lifesaving cancer screenings and other primary care services.”
The vote was 236 yeas to 193 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 6
GOVERNMENT FUNDING PLAN: The House has agreed to the Senate amendment to the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. John Katko, R-New York. The amendment would provide funding for the federal government through Dec. 11.
A supporter, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Kentucky, called the temporary funding necessary to prevent a harmful government shutdown and give Congressional negotiators time to work out an agreement on the government’s fiscal 2016 budget.
The vote was 277 yeas to 151 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 7
MILITARY SPENDING: The House has agreed to the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. The bill would authorize fiscal 2016 spending at the Defense Department, as well as military construction programs and the Energy Department’s defense programs.
Thornberry said that along with providing necessary spending for defense against Russia, the Taliban and others hostile to the U.S., the bill took steps to combat sexual assault in the military, improve health care for soldiers and veterans, and provide weapons to Kurdish and Sunni forces fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
A bill opponent, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, criticized its failure to properly fund overseas contingency operations for emergencies and wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The vote was 270 yeas to 156 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 8
COMPENSATING VICTIMS OF IRAN TERRORIST ATTACKS: The House has passed the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would bar the president from lifting sanctions against Iran until Iran has paid $43.5 billion of judgments against it approved by U.S. courts, for compensation for attacks against U.S. citizens by terrorist groups backed by Iran.
Meehan said granting Iran sanctions relief before the victims of attacks such as the 1983 bombing of the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut would put “the interests of Iran’s terror machine before the American victims of that terror.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-New York, said keeping the sanctions in place would make it impossible for Iran to pay the judgments, making the bill an empty political statement rather than a measure to bring justice for the terror victims.
The vote was 251 yeas to 173 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
TEMPORARY GOVERNMENT FUNDING: The Senate has agreed to the House amendment to the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. John Katko, R-New York. The amendment would provide funding for the federal government through Dec. 11.
A supporter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said the funding was necessary, but he criticized the House and Senate for failing to adopt a budget plan and thereby putting at risk funding for medical research, education and other critical programs.
The vote was 78 yeas to 20 nays. Both Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, were among the yeas.
Senate vote 2
VA, MILITARY CONSTRUCTION SPENDING: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Charles W. Dent, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would fund fiscal 2016 spending for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction programs and related agencies.
A supporter of ending debate, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said it would fix the backlog of veterans’ disability claims, reform Veterans Affairs construction programs and provide new protections for whistleblowers at the VA, while increasing funding for the VA and military construction by $4.2 billion.
An opponent of ending debate, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said it underfunded the VA’s medical facilities by $100 million and inadequately funded post-combat health care and job training programs for veterans.
The vote was 50 yeas to 44 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate. Collins gave a yea vote, and King gave a nay vote.