Category: CongressionalWatch

House Passes Sewell-Backed Bill to Restore Voting Preclearance Requirements

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.

U.S. Reps Split on Bill for Ex-Im Bank to Treat Renewable-Energy and Fossil-Fuel Products Equally

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.

House Takes Up Bill to Combat Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections

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.

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.