Category: CongressionalWatch

Senators Approve Two-Year Budget Deal That Will Suspend the National Debt Limit

WASHINGTON – The Senate in two votes last week approved a two-year budget deal that will suspend the national debt limit and possibly raise interest payments to more than $400 million a year.

One of those votes was to pass the budget; the other was to kill an amendment to prohibit increasing the national debt.

Both of Alabama’s senators — Richard Shelby, R, and Doug Jones, D — voted for the budget and against the amendment. Read more.

Bill to Set Standards for Humane Treatment of Migrants Passes U.S. House With Support From Alabama’s Democrat, Opposition From Republicans; Votes on Other Bills Last Week

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House last week passed a bill to set minimal standards for the government’s treatment of migrants in its custody.

Representatives voted 233 for to 195 against the bill, which now is on its way to the Senate. Alabama’s Republicans voted against the bill and Democratic Rep. Terry Sewell voted for it.

The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct medical screenings of migrants within 12 hours of their detention, or three hours for children, the disabled and pregnant women, and provide health care as warranted. Read more.

Alabama Republicans in Congress Oppose Minimum Wage Increase, Votes on Other Bills in Washington Last Week

WASHINGTON – All of Alabama’s Republicans in the U.S. House voted against a bill Thursday to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour starting in 2025. Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell voted for it.

The House on a 231-199 vote passed the bill (HR 582), which would increase the minimum wage from its present level of $7.25 per hour. The $15 figure would be indexed to keep pace with increases in the median hourly wage as measured by the Department of Labor.

In addition, the bill would phase out separate minimum wages for disabled and tipped employees and new hires younger than 20 so that these individuals eventually receive the same base wage as the rest of the private-sector workforce. Read more.

The U.S. House Votes to Lift Green Card Caps. How Did Alabama’s Representatives Vote on That and Other Bills?

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would lift the caps on the share of people from individual countries who could be granted green cards that give permanent legal status to the workers.

The House vote on HR 1044 was 365 for and 65 against. From Alabama’s delegation, Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile; Martha Roby, R-Montgomery; and Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, voted to lift the cap. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Saks; Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville; Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville; and Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, voted against lifting the cap.

The proposed change, which was among the major issues considered by Congress during the week ending July 12, affects immigrants living in the United States on temporary, employment-based H1-B visas.

Those visas are used primarily to bring highly skilled, well-educated foreigners into the U.S. workforce for periods generally ranging from three to six years, after which they are usually required to leave the country if they have not received a green card. Read more.

Almost All Alabama Congressmen Approve $4.5B for Southwestern Border Crisis, Other Votes During the Week Ending June 28

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. Read more.

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending June 21

WASHINGTON – Alabama’s delegation in the House of Representatives split along party lines last week on a vote aimed at funding the Trump administration’s proposed addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The House voted 192 for and 240 against the amendment, which was offered to a $690.4 billion spending package (HR 3055) for fiscal 2020 that remained in debate at week’s end.

The outcome of the census affects many things, including some federal funding and the number of congressional seats a state is allocated.

Amendment opponent Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., said the amendment would “reduce the accuracy and increase the undercount in places like Florida, Texas, Alabama, Michigan, California and New York. This, in turn, will affect reapportionment and the distribution of federal funds for the next decade in many of the communities we represent.”

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending June 14

WASHINGTON — U.S. House of Representatives members voted last week to increase funding for vaccine research, a measure driven by the recent measles outbreak in the country. Alabama’s members in the House split their votes on the issue, but not along party lines. Three voted to increase spending while four voted against the majority to leave funding as it is.
Members of Congress also took on a number of controversial issues, including reporting deaths of migrant children, using fetal tissue samples in research and selling arms to Bahrain.
See how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending June 14.

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending May 24

WASHINGTON – Members of the U.S. House voted almost unanimously last week for a bill to expand tax-favored retirement plans and benefits. The bill would remove limits on the amount people can contribute to IRAs each year and raise the age at which they must start making withdrawals, among other things. All of Alabama’s representatives voted for the bill, which is headed to the Senate.

Read more about this bill and other votes in Congress last week.

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending May 10

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives spent part of its week debating proposals to lift some restrictions on health insurance requirements, mostly having to do with whether coverage of pre-existing conditions must be covered.

Alabama’s Republican representatives voted in ways that would allow the coverage reductions and the Democratic representative voted in ways that would not. More health care bills are expected to come up in the House this week.

Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending May 10. Read more.

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending May 3

WASHINGTON – U.S. House of Representatives members from Alabama continued the trend of voting along party lines last week when the body voted to stay in the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Along the same lines, the House voted against a measure that would have held up an agreement until President Trump certified no U.S. jobs would be lost to China. Trump meanwhile, wants the U.S. to withdraw from the agreement.

See how area members of Congress voted on these and other major issues during the legislative week ending May 3. Read more.