Category: CongressionalWatch

Senate Rejects Plan to Restore Obama Rules Aimed at Climate Change

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate last week defeated a Democratic bid to restore the Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” which was aimed at reducing carbon emissions by coal- and natural gas-fired electricity plants.

Senators voted 41 for and 53 against in the Oct. 17 vote, with both Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Sen. Doug Jones voting against the change. Read more.

Trump Inquiry Dominates Congressional Conversation

WASHINGTON — All of Alabama’s U.S. House of Representatives members voted to call for the release of a whistleblower complaint alleging misconduct by President Trump centered on his interactions this year with the Ukrainian government.

That action (H Res 576) passed, but by that time, the administration already had sent Congress the complaint, which it had refused to release for more than a month. The Senate adopted an identical resolution on a non-record vote.

However, the vote split along party lines on a measure (H Res 590) to force floor debate on a Republican resolution disapproving of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to start a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump. The measure was quashed on a technicality, and the House voted 232-193 to uphold that ruling, meaning the measure could not be debated

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-7, was the only Alabama representative who voted not to debate H Res 590. Supporting the resolution were Republican Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, and Gary Palmer, R-6. Read more.

House Sends Bill Designed to Avert Government Shutdown to Senate

Key Votes Ahead
The House in the week of Sept. 23 will take up bills dealing with banking rules, the Border Patrol and medical care for migrant children. The Senate will debate fiscal 2020 appropriations and executive-branch nominations.

WASHINGTON — The House last week passed a continuing funding resolution (HR 4378) in an attempt to avert a government shutdown.

The resolution, which is expected to be taken up this week by the Senate, provides stopgap appropriations for the first seven weeks of fiscal 2020, which starts Oct. 1. It would fund agencies at 2019 levels while giving negotiators time to reach agreement on regular appropriations bills for the 2020 budget year.

Alabama’s representatives split on the vote, with Reps. Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt and Terri Sewell voting for it. Voting against it were Reps. Bradley Byrne, Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer. Read more.

Drilling Bans Greet Representatives as They Return From Break

Key Votes Ahead
The House this week will take up a bill to eliminate mandatory arbitration in employment, consumer and civil rights litigation, while the Senate will debate judicial and executive-branch nominations.

WASHINGTON — In the legislative week ending Sept. 13, members of the U.S. House passed a bill (HR 205) that would permanently prohibit the federal government from awarding leases for oil and gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
The bill, which passed 248 for and 180 against, would replace a temporary moratorium slated to expire June 30, 2022. The protected waters extend at least 125 miles from the Florida coastline and include a 122,000-square-mile military testing range stretching from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys. Read more.

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.”