Voterama in Congress
WASHINGTON – Voting 232 for and 183 against, the House on Feb. 13 adopted a measure (HJ Res 79) that would advance the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution by replacing a long-expired deadline for states to vote on ratification with an open-ended deadline.
The ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Alabama, joined by two other states, filed suit in December to block ratification of the amendment, saying the time for ratification had long since passed. Read more.
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The House will take up bills to protect wilderness during the week of Feb. 10, while the Senate will vote on asserting congressional authority over any U.S. military strikes against Iran.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted last week to condemn a Trump administration plan to scale back Medicaid’s traditional status as an entitlement program, in which everyone who meets income or disability criteria are guaranteed set minimum benefits. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed to allow states to shift some of their Medicaid offerings to a block-grant program. In a block-grant program, states would set their own rules for what is covered and cap the amount that Medicaid would pay for patient care in a given year. Read more.
WASHINGTON — Senate votes to block witnesses from being called in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump have set up a Wednesday afternoon session in which the Republican-majority body intends to acquit the president of both charges.
But before that, the trial is set to resume Monday at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time to allow House managers and the president’s legal team to make closing arguments. Each side has two hours to present its case. Senators can set up speeches explaining their votes before the official vote is held Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Alabama senators voted along party lines, as expected, on whether to allow witnesses to be called in the trial. Read more.
Alabama’s senators split along party lines on votes involving President Trump’s impeachment last week, as did all the senators. The House was in recess.
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The House will take up measures concerning age discrimination in the workplace and student loan forgiveness the week of Jan. 13, while the Senate will vote on judicial and executive branch nominations and possibly a measure restraining the administration’s actions against Iran.
WASHINGTON — Alabama’s representatives in the U.S. House last week flipped votes on two issues concerning regulation of PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to cancer and found in levels above those allowed by the EPA in the Tennessee River, drinking water and land in northern Alabama.
Alabama’s lone Democrat in the House voted for a bill addressing cleanup of PFAS contamination, and the Republicans who voted gave it a thumbs-down. Then the Republicans voted for a motion to specifically name unborn children among the populations that should be protected from PFAS exposure, and the Democrat voted against it. Read more.
WASHINGTON – Alabama’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives split votes on a package of eight appropriations bills (HR 1865) that would fund non-defense agencies and departments for the remaining nine months of fiscal 2020. Read more.
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The House will vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump this week and may take up a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact. The Senate will consider the 2020 military budget and judicial nominations.
UPDATED WITH SENATE VOTE:WASHINGTON – The House last week approved a $738 billion military policy budget (S 1790) for fiscal 2020 that included a repeal of the so-called “widow’s tax,” sponsored by Sen. Doug Jones, R-Ala.
The “widow’s tax” affects spouses of military men and women who were killed or disabled on active duty or during training. It prevents them from collecting the full amount for which they are eligible under a death benefit and a retirement program, even when retired service members elected to pay into that program.
The rules affect an estimated 67,000 surviving military spouses, 2,000 of them in Alabama, Jones stated in a press release.
Jones scheduled a press conference for Monday morning at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport to celebrate approval of the repeal. The Senate still has to take up the conference report on the military budget this week, but it is expected to pass the Senate in a bipartisan vote. Read more.
WASHINGTON – Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Dec. 6.
Restoring Key Part of Voting Rights Act:
The House on Dec. 6 voted, 228 for and 187 against, a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s “preclearance” requirements, which were invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2013. Preclearance under Section 5 of the law requires states and localities with histories of systemic voting discrimination to obtain advance approval of proposed changes in voting laws from the Department of Justice or a District of Columbia federal court. Read more.
KEY VOTES AHEAD
Both chambers in the week of Nov. 18 will take up a stopgap fiscal 2020 funding bill to keep the government in operation after temporary spending authority expires Nov. 21.
WASHINGTON — Alabama’s representatives split along party lines last week on an amendment to another bill that would have removed provisions that favor renewable-energy sales abroad over sales of fossil-fuel products.
The House on Nov. 15 defeated, on a 188-232 vote, the GOP-sponsored amendment to HR 4863, a bill to extend the U.S. Export-Import Bank for 10 years.
The bill would require sales of renewable-energy goods and services to overseas customers to receive at least 5 percent of the Export-Import Bank’s annual lending authority. In addition, energy-related transactions would have to estimate the volume of carbon dioxide emitted by projects receiving Ex-Im subsidies. In part, the amendment would block creation of a new Ex-Im unit aimed at promoting energy-efficiency and renewable-energy exports and require the bank to weigh the overseas affordability of energy products before approving transactions. Read more.
WASHINGTON – Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 23 passed a measure aimed at combatting foreign interference in U.S. elections.
HR 4617, which was approved on a 227-181 vote, would require U.S. political campaigns to inform law enforcement when they receive offers of foreign assistance. It also would close loopholes that allow foreign funds to illegally enter the U.S. electoral system; prohibit foreign spending on state ballot initiatives; prohibit U.S. campaigns from disclosing non-public information, including poll numbers, to foreign governments and their agents, and require sponsors of online political advertising to identify themselves in the ad, just as they must do in commercials run on broadcast channels.
Alabama’s representatives split on the issue, with Democrat Terri Sewell voting for it and Republicans Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer voting against it. Read more.