WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes this week, the Senate also passed a bill to revise the boundaries of certain units of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System in Florida; passed the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act, to award the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the members of the Office of Strategic Services in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II; and passed a bill to extend the deadline for the submittal of the final report required by the Commission on Care at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The House also passed the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act, to authorize the director of the Bureau of Prisons to issue oleoresin capsicum spray to officers and employees of the Bureau of Prisons, and the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act, to provide for Indian trust asset management reform.
House vote 1
STRATEGY FOR BLOCKING TERRORIST TRAVEL: The House has passed the National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act, sponsored by Rep. John Katko, R-New York. The bill would direct the president to submit to Congress a proposed strategy for suppressing domestic and international travel by terrorists that would be carried out by the Homeland Security Department.
Katko said a strategy was needed to advance Homeland Security and its Transportation Security Administration into further action to protect “the safety and security of the traveling public and America’s transportation systems.”
The vote was unanimous with 392 yeas. Both Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
TERRORIST TRAVEL TO IRAN AND SYRIA: The House has passed the Foreign Fighter Review Act, sponsored by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas. The bill would require the Homeland Security Department to submit to Congress a study of U.S. residents who travel or seek to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State group and other terrorist groups in the two countries.
Hurd said that with over 250 Americans having tried to join the groups since 2011, the government needed to repair a breakdown in its ability to identify those individuals and stop them from traveling overseas, making the study necessary to help stop radicalized Americans “before they leave the country, not after they have gained combat experience and returned to the homeland.”
The vote was unanimous with 397 yeas. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 3
LAWSUITS BROUGHT IN STATE, FEDERAL COURTS: The House has passed the Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act, sponsored by Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado. The bill would require federal courts to reject motions to remand, or send back, to a state a legal case that combines multiple legal issues and was removed from that state’s courts to federal court, if the petitioner does not present a plausible claim for the need to send the case back to state court.
Buck said trial lawyers have filed lawsuits against nationwide companies in state courts by also naming a local business as co-defendant, solely in order to have their lawsuits heard by state rather than federal courts. Therefore, the bill was needed to “protect innocent local parties from being dragged into expensive and time-consuming lawsuits for the sole reason of furthering a trial lawyer’s forum shopping strategy.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, called it an effort by Republicans “to tilt the legal playing field in favor of large corporations” by making it harder and more expensive for victims of misbehavior by large corporations to seek redress in the courts.
The vote was 229 yeas to 189 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
CONFIRMING FOOD AND DRUG COMMISSIONER: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Robert McKinnon Califf to serve as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration at the Health and Human Services Department.
A supporter, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said Califf, a cardiologist, had experience leading a large clinical research organization and track record of scientific research to achieve medical breakthroughs. Murray added that Califf’s “experience and expertise will allow him to lead the FDA in a way that puts patients and families first and upholds the highest standards of patient and consumer safety.”
The vote was 89 yeas to 4 nays. Both Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, were among the yeas.
Senate vote 2
HONORING JUSTICE SCALIA: The Senate has passed a resolution, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to mark the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by honoring his service on the court.
McConnell praised Scalia’s intellect and fidelity to the Constitution, saying he was “in league with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis and John Marshall Harlan as perhaps the most significant associate justices ever” on the Supreme Court.
The vote was unanimous with 93 yeas. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.