WASHINGTON — All but one of Alabama’s House members and senators voted to approve a bipartisan $4.5 billion emergency package to address a humanitarian crisis on the southwest border centered on hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America who have entered the United States in recent months to apply for asylum protections under federal and international law.
The bill (HR 3401) allocated about $3 billion for shelter, food, medical care and other services for unaccompanied migrant children held in Department of Health and Human Services custody, and as much as $1 billion to agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This was a mild version of a Democratic bill passed earlier in the week, but then shelved, that raised standards for the administration’s treatment of migrants and denied funding to ICE.
Kay Granger, R-Texas, said: “Children are sleeping on the ground and need to be moved to shelters or homes. We need doctors and pediatricians and caregivers. This bill gives the agencies the funds to care for these children, to reduce the overcrowding at border facilities, to repay the states and to add immigration judge teams.”
Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said: “I am deeply troubled by the way the Trump administration has handled the treatment of migrants, particularly children, at the border.”
The Senate earlier had passed the bill on an 84-8 vote.
During debate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said “there are no poison pills – just a clean bill to provide the emergency appropriations the White House requested two long months ago.”
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said: “President Trump, if you want to know the real reason there is chaos at the border, look in the mirror.”
With approval from both chambers, the bill was sent to President Trump.
A yes vote was to send the bill to President Trump.
Alabama House members
Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Palmer, Sewell.
Voting no: Brooks
Alabama Senate members
Voting yes: Richard Shelby, R, Doug Jones, D
Voting no: None
Here’s how area members of Congress voted on other major issues during the legislative week ending June 28.
Protecting U.S. elections against attacks:
Voting 225 for and 184 against, the House on June 27 passed a Democratic bill (HR 2722) that would authorize a $600 million, multi-year program to bolster state and local voting systems against attacks by adversaries including Russia.
In return for federal grants, authorities would be required to start converting vulnerable, aging electronic voting machines to ones using paper ballots, which could be verified by voters on the spot and audited by election officials. The bill requires voting infrastructure to be manufactured in the United States and sold from a list of vendors certified by the Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission.
In addition, the bill would prohibit Internet connectivity to devices on which votes are marked or tabulated, and it would allocate $175 million to states and localities every two years for maintaining their electoral systems.
Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the bill is needed because “our very democracy is under attack. No troops have been sent into combat. No guns have been fired, but a foreign adversary is turning the Internet and the ballot box into battlefields with the integrity of the vote at stake.”
Tom Cole, R-Okla., said: “Traditionally, elections are left to the states and local governments to conduct as they see fit … in a way that best suits the unique needs of each community. (This bill) turns all that on its head.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: Terri Sewell, D-7
Voting no: Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6
Not voting: Mike Rogers, R-3
Dispute over ballot drop-off laws:
Voting 189 for and 220 against, the House on June 27 defeated a Republican motion to HR 2722 (above) targeting state ballot drop-off laws, which allow homebound voters to designate a helper to personally deliver their absentee ballot to election officials. The motion required a state’s chief election officer to inform the Federal Election Commission whenever a foreign national is chosen as the helper. Backers called this an anti-fraud measure, while critics said it was voter suppression.
Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said the amendment is needed because “right now, a Russian operative could walk freely around states like California, for example, collecting and turning in absentee ballots, completely altering the outcome of an election.”
Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said ballot drop-off laws allow “greater participation in elections because some homebound voters have no family or individuals to delegate that role to. They should not be disenfranchised by our laws.”
A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer
Voting no: Sewell
Not voting: Rogers
$383.3 billion spending package:
Voting 227 for and 194 against, the House on June 25 approved a $383.3 billion package consisting of five of the 12 appropriations bills that will fund government operations in fiscal 2020, which starts Oct. 1. In part, the bill (HR 3055) provides $80.4 billion for veterans health care; $50.1 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development; $32 billion for the Department of Justice including $9.46 billion for FBI salaries and expenses; $22.3 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; $17.7 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration; $16.4 billion for the Department of Commerce including $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau and $9.5 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Addressing gun violence, the bill fully funds the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System while providing $80 million in grants to help states supply data to the system; $125 million to fund the Stop School Violence Act; $100 million for youth-mentoring programs and $20 million for police programs in active-shooter training.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Sewell
Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer
Hiring more immigration judges:
Voting 201 for and 220 against, the House on June 25 defeated a Republican motion to add $75 million to HR 3055 (above) for hiring more immigration judges and expanding courtroom capacity. The funds were to be taken from the 2020 census budget. The underlying bill already provides $110 million over 2019 levels to address a backlog of 800,000 immigration cases, many of which involve asylum seekers from Central America or persons who have overstayed their visas or entered the United States illegally.
Will Hurd, R-Texas, said: “Our current shortage of immigration judges delays justice for individuals who have valid immigration claims, while preserving many years of continued illegal presence for others who do not.”
Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said: “We need every dollar in this census because the administration is fear-mongering, trying to force an undercount with the inclusion of the citizenship question.”
A yes vote was to transfer $75 million from census to immigration accounts.
Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer
Voting no: Sewell
$750 billion for military:
Voting 86 for and eight against, the Senate on June 27 authorized a $750 billion military budget for fiscal 2020, including $75.9 billion for war-fighting overseas and more than $57 billion for active-duty and retiree health care. The bill (S 1790) would establish a United States Space Force within the Air Force; set a 3.1 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel; authorize $10 billion for procuring 94 fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter aircraft; expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal; fund programs for military victims of sexual assault and replace $3.6 billion President Trump diverted from military programs to wall construction.
John Thune, R-S.D., said the bill would “modernize our nuclear arsenal to maximize our deterrence capabilities. It also focuses on ensuring that we are equipped to meet new threats on new fronts, including in space and cyber domains.”
Mike Lee, R-Utah, objected to the bill’s $75.9 billion outlay for combat operations being exempted from budget caps that apply to the rest of the military budget. He called this “an unaccountable slush fund for the Pentagon.”
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Shelby, Jones
Voting no: None
Authorization of force against Iran:
Voting 50 and 40 against, the Senate on June 28 failed to reach 60 votes needed to advance an amendment to S 1790 (above) that sought to require the administration to receive congressional authorization in advance of any military action President Trump orders against Iran.
Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said the amendment “makes clear that only Congress can authorize the use of military force against Iran, and would provide a clear check on Donald Trump, John Bolton and other hawks in the administration.”
Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called the amendment “simply an act of appeasement against the ayatollahs who are currently conducting attacks against the United States and our interests on a regular and growing basis.”
A yes vote was to require a congressional authorization for use of military force against Iran.
Voting yes: Jones
Voting no: Shelby
KEY VOTES AHEAD
Congress is in Fourth of July recess until the week of July 8.