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 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, to deter terrorism and provide justice for victims.
The Senate also passed the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Act, to support global anti-poaching efforts, strengthen the capacity of partner countries to counter wildlife trafficking and designate major wildlife trafficking countries.
House vote 1
REGULATING PRIVATE INVESTORS: The House has passed the Investment Advisers Modernization Act, sponsored by Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Virginia. The bill would order the Securities and Exchange Commission to revise and relax some of its regulations of investment advisers as they apply to private equity firms and private investment funds.
Hurt said removing various outdated and unnecessary SEC regulations and streamlining the SEC’s regulatory process would make it easier for private capital to make investments that “allow our small businesses to innovate, expand their operations and create jobs that our communities need.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, said weakened SEC regulations threaten to increase cases of fraud and risky behavior by private investment groups.
The vote was 261 yeas to 145 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
INTERNET OF THINGS: The House has passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Leonard Lance, R-New Jersey, expressing the sense of the House supporting a governmental strategy to back development of the Internet of Things.
Lance said internet-connected objects could “contribute anywhere from $4 trillion to $11 trillion to the economy over the course of the next several decades,” improving Americans’ lives by enhancing health care, energy, education and many other areas of daily life.
The vote was 367 yeas to 4 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 3
CONSUMER FINANCE AND THE INTERNET: The House has passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, expressing the sense of the House that the U.S. government should adopt a policy of promoting consumer access to online commerce and financial management tools to improve cybersecurity and innovation online.
Kinzinger said the resolution would help push the government to take measures that increase transparency and control over consumers’ financial information on mobile devices, and help the country capitalize on a vital emerging technology.
The vote was 385 yeas to 4 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 4
DEDUCTING MEDICAL EXPENSES FROM TAXES: The House has passed the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act, sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona. The bill would reduce the threshold for taxpayers deducting their medical expenses on their tax returns from expenses that exceed 10 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income to expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.
McSally said the medical expense deduction was especially important to lower-income taxpayers, and increasing their ability to deduct such expenses will help them make ends meet.
A bill opponent, Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Michigan, said the deduction actually mainly benefited higher-income taxpayers, and increasing it “would increase the deficit by nearly $33 billion over the next 10 years.”
The vote was 261 yeas to 147 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 5
CAREER EDUCATION TRAINING: The House has passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pennsylvania. The bill would reauthorize a 2006 law that established the Perkins Career and Technical Education program, which provides career training outside four-year colleges for about 11 million students annually.
Thompson cited the program’s success in developing skills students need to pursue successful, rewarding careers, and he said the bill would improve transparency and accountability in career and technical education efforts and enhance government-employer partnerships “to help students obtain jobs now and throughout their lifetimes.”
The vote was 405 yeas to 5 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 6
MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL: The House has passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, expressing the House’s support for the U.S. reaching a long-term memorandum of understanding with Israel on providing missile defense and other military aid to Israel.
Ros-Lehtinen said working quickly to finalize the memorandum would help a close friend and ally that is facing growing threats from extremists, including the Islamic State group and Iran, whose ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs could help it fulfill its “stated intention to wipe Israel off the map.”
The vote was 405 yeas to 4 nays. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 7
COSTS AND BENEFITS OF PROPOSED REGULATIONS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., R-Louisiana, to the Regulatory Integrity Act. The amendment would require executive government agencies to provide the public with information about cost-benefit analyses performed for proposed regulations.
Boustany said the requirement would help ensure that regulations are “based in facts, clearly understood, and completely transparent to the impacted industry and to the American public.”
An opponent, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, said the agencies were already required to conduct cost-benefit analyses for proposed major rules.
The vote was 241 yeas to 154 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 8
TRANSPARENCY FOR GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS: The House has passed the Regulatory Integrity Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan. The bill would require the federal government’s executive agencies to make available online information about regulations the agencies are proposing.
Walberg said the bill’s basic transparency measures would give the public “a central source for all communication about a specific regulatory action,” allowing citizens to have full understanding of that regulation and the intent behind it.
A bill opponent, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, said its ban on public communications about proposed rules by agencies would lead to less openness in the rulemaking process.
The vote was 250 yeas to 171 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 9
STANDARDS FOR FIRING VA EMPLOYEES: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, to the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act. The amendment would have authorized the Veterans Affairs secretary to suspend without pay VA employees who threaten public health through misconduct in their jobs, and then fire the employee after a VA investigation.
Takano said the amendment sought to replace an unconstitutional provision in the bill with a better, less expensive process for disciplining VA employees.
An amendment opponent, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, said requiring proof that an employee poses a direct threat to public health would impose an unreasonably high bar for punishing employee misconduct.
The vote was 184 yeas to 240 nays. Pingree gave a yea vote, and Poliquin gave a nay vote.
House vote 10
STATUS OF MILITARY RESERVE VETERANS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, to the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act. The bill would authorize veterans entitled to retired pay for nonregular service in the military’s reserves to receive veteran status, without being entitled to any military benefits as a result of that status.
Takano said recognizing retirees from the National Guard and Reserve as veterans was a simple way to honor their military service.
The vote was 421 yeas to 1 nay. Both Pingree and Poliquin were among the yeas.
House vote 11
DISCIPLINING VETERANS AFFAIRS EMPLOYEES: The House has passed the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida. The bill would authorize the Veterans Affairs Department to fire or demote employees for misconduct or poor performance, subject to an appeals process, and allow the VA to otherwise punish employees for misconduct and felony convictions.
Miller said Congress needed to reform an antiquated discipline system at the VA and enact meaningful change that prioritizes veterans needs above the power of VA unions.
A bill opponent, Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, said it would “treat the constitutional rights of VA employees as inconvenient obstacles to evade, instead of fundamental civil service protections to uphold.”
The vote was 310 yeas to 116 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
House vote 12
RELEASING GUANTANAMO BAY DETAINEES: The House has passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana, that would bar funding for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s administration for the transfer or release of any detainees held at the naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Walorski said numerous former detainees have joined terrorist groups after being released from Guantanamo Bay by the U.S., and failing to stop further releases will leave the country “open to new vulnerabilities and will make Americans less safe.”
A bill opponent, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, said the Obama administration was carefully vetting the 20 Guantanamo Bay detainees being considered for release in the next several months, and Congress should not interfere with that vetting process.
The vote was 244 yeas to 174 nays. Pingree gave a nay vote, and Poliquin gave a yea vote.
Senate vote 1
WATER RESOURCES PROGRAMS: The Senate has passed the Water Resources Development Act, sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma. The bill would authorize an array of water management programs at various government agencies, including projects to rehabilitate unsafe dams, upgrade port facilities, improve flood management and repair drinking water infrastructure.
Inhofe said that improving critical elements of the nation’s water infrastructure would provide environmental, economic and public health benefits.
The vote was 95 yeas to 3 nays. Both Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, were among the yeas.
Senate vote 2
MANAGEMENT OF INTELLIGENCE SATELLITES: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Susan S. Gibson to serve as inspector general of the National Reconnaissance Office, an agency of the Defense Department with responsibility for managing America’s intelligence satellites.
A supporter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said given that most of the office’s activities are conducted in secret, an effective inspector general at the office was especially important, and Gibson had shown that she “possesses the extensive experience and background necessary to carry out this mission.”
The vote was unanimous with 93 yeas. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.