WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes this week, the House also passed the following legislation: the Education for All Act, to provide assistance for developing countries to promote quality basic education; the Digital Global Access Policy Act, to promote Internet access in developing countries and update foreign policy toward the internet; and the African Growth and Opportunity Act Enhancement Act, to promote access to benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
House vote 1
SETTLEMENTS OF GOVERNMENT LAWSUITS: The House has passed the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia. The bill would bar federal officials from agreeing to settlements of civil lawsuits if the settlements require a non-government party to the lawsuit to make donations to non-government entities.
Goodlatte said the Justice Department has been directing hundreds of millions of dollars to such entities under settlements, without congressional oversight, and with the danger that the settlements will create ethical problems.
A bill opponent, Rep. Hank Johnson Jr., D-Georgia, said it “would remove an important civil enforcement tool available to agencies to hold corporations accountable for the general harm caused by unlawful conduct.”
The vote was 241 yeas to 174 nays. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, gave a nay vote, and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, gave a yea vote.
House vote 2
SUPPORTING COUNTRY OF GEORGIA: The House has passed a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, expressing the sense of the House supporting the integrity of Georgia, a country on Russia’s southern border, and criticizing Russia for occupying two regions of Georgia for the past eight years.
Poe said Russia was “a cancer in the area” including Georgia, where, Poe said, it has sought to culturally suppress the Georgian people and disrupt Georgia’s attempt to build a free, democratic nation in the 25 years since Georgia left the Soviet Union.
The vote was 410 yeas to 6 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 3
REGULATING STOCK SALES BY PRIVATE FIRMS: The House has passed the Accelerating Access to Capital Act, sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri. The bill would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to change and simplify a filing requirement for companies seeking to sell stock to private investors.
Wagner said that making the filing process easier and less expensive will help those companies obtain funds to grow their businesses, creating jobs and boosting the economy.
An opponent, Rep. John P. Sarbanes, D-Maryland, said the bill was designed “to roll back the important oversight of our financial markets and to eliminate critical consumer protections that guard against unscrupulous securities sales” by fraudulent companies.
The vote was 236 yeas to 178 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
FUNDING ZIKA PROGRAMS, MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, VA: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the conference report for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida. The report would provide fiscal 2017 funding for military construction and the Veterans Affairs Department, as well as $1.1 billion of fiscal 2016 emergency supplemental funding for Health and Human Services Department measures to contain the Zika virus and treat Zika victims.
A supporter of ending debate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the rapid growth of Zika cases in recent weeks, especially in Florida and Puerto Rico, showed the need for Congress to do “what is necessary to respond to this public health crisis” and approve the funding.
An opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said the conference report was the result of political games and included provisions such as defunding Planned Parenthood and cutting Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico that would impair the Zika response.
The vote to end debate was 52 yeas to 46 nays, with a three-fifths majority required for approval. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, gave a yea vote, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, gave a nay vote.
Senate vote 2
DEBATING MILITARY SPENDING BILL: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey. The bill would fund $575 billion of fiscal 2017 military spending by the Defense Department, including $58.6 billion for combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other overseas countries.
A supporter, Sen. Daniel Sullivan, R-Alaska, said passing the bill would fulfill Congress’ primary responsibility to adequately fund and support the military’s efforts to secure the country.
The vote to end debate was 55 yeas to 43 nays, with a three-fifths majority required for approval. Collins gave a yea vote, and King gave a nay vote.
Senate vote 3
AMBASSADOR TO BRAZIL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Peter Michael McKinley to serve as U.S. ambassador to Brazil. McKinley has recently served as a deputy ambassador to Afghanistan, ambassador to Colombia and Peru, and in many other diplomatic posts for the State Department since the 1980s.
There was no debate on his nomination.
The vote was unanimous with 92 yeas. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.