WASHINGTON – The U.S. House last week voted to approve a five-year extension of the Violence Against Women Act, including expansion of some of its provisions to help victims fleeing violent domestic situations and protect women in violent situations.
Alabama’s representatives voted along party lines, with Rep. Terry Sewell voting in favor of the extension and the state’s other representatives voting against it.
Read how area members of Congress voted on that and other measures during the legislative week ending April 5.
Renewal of Violence Against Women Act
Voting 263 for and 158 against, the House on April 4 approved a five-year extension of the Violence Against Women Act, which was enacted in 1994 to combat crimes including domestic violence and sexual assault. The bill (HR 1585) would renew grant programs to help states, localities and non-governmental organizations prevent gender-based crimes and help victims to recover when crimes occur.
In addition, the bill prohibits persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking or dating violence from possessing firearms; expands the availability of counseling, legal aid and alternative housing; ensures the eligibility of domestic-violence survivors for jobless benefits; bolsters tools for prosecuting offenders; requires shelters to admit transgender individuals in their acquired sex; strengthens tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians charged with committing crimes on reservations; improves services to help children exposed to domestic violence; expands rape prevention and education programs; and steps up efforts to address sexual violence on campuses.
Lucy McBath, D-Georgia, said: “We cannot address the epidemic of gender-based violence without addressing gun violence. The NRA sees it differently … .They don’t want to keep firearms out of the hands of those whose actions show that they are a threat. Their solution to gun violence is by arming women, selling more guns, even though we know that this would make women less safe.”
Doug Collins, R-Georgia, said the bill “contains a large expansion of unemployment insurance benefits, which amounts to a new tax on employers. This bill continues to expand the focus of programs (beyond) women and children, and … fails to provide a faith-based exemption for grant recipients, which could jeopardize these organizations’ ability to provide services for victims.”
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, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6
U.S. Military Withdrawal From Yemen
Voting 247 for and 175 against, the House on April 4 sent President Trump a measure (SJ Res 7) that would end American military involvement in Yemen’s civil war unless Congress were to approve the deployment in keeping with its constitutional authority to declare war. This marks the first time Congress has used the 1973 War Powers Resolution to try to stop a military action. But President Trump appears to have the votes he needs to uphold his promised veto of the measure. The U.S. involvement has consisted mainly of logistical, intelligence and targeting support, and until recently aerial refueling, to a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels battling the Yemeni military. The United Nations says the 4-year-old conflict is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said: “Today is a moment of moral clarity, a moment for this chamber to act as the Constitution requires: To weigh war and peace and, for once, to extract ourselves from a war we did not start and to find a way to make peace the victor.”
Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said “the fundamental premise of this resolution is flawed, because U.S. forces are not engaged in hostilities against the (Iran-backed) Houthis in Yemen … . If we want to cut off economic assistance or … security assistance to Saudi Arabia, there is a way to do that, but it is not through the War Powers Act.”
A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.
Voting yes: Sewell
Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer
Boycotts, Divestiture, Sanctions
Voting 194 for and 228 against, the House on April 4 defeated a Republican bid to expand SJ Res 7 (above) to include a rebuke of the so-called “BDS” movement. BDS is a global campaign by some companies and other entities to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel and Israeli-owned firms in response to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said “It is in the national security interests of the United States to oppose the global movement to boycott the state of Israel” that seeks “to exclude, isolate and eventually destroy Israel.”
Majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, called the motion a “cynical political ploy” unrelated to withdrawal from Yemen. “The American people will not be fooled or misled by this tactic. Our fellow supporters of Israel will not be fooled.”
A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer
Voting no: Sewell
Administration Opposition to Health Law
Voting 240 for and 186 against, the House on April 3 adopted a Democratic condemnation of the administration over the Department of Justice’s refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act in the lawsuit United States v. Texas. A federal judge in Texas declared the law unconstitutional on Dec. 14, and the suit is now before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the administration has joined plaintiffs in calling for the entire law to be invalidated.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Republicans either will vote “for protecting their constituents’ health care, or they will vote for taking it away. With this vote, we will see their values and their intentions.”
Minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said: “This is not a bill … . This isn’t even a resolution that goes to the Senate. This will never end up with the president. This will do nothing for your health care. What will it do? It will make a great press release.”
Voting yes: Sewell
Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer
Mark Calabria, Housing Finance Regulator
Voting 52 for and 44 against, the Senate on April 4 confirmed Mark A. Calabria, the chief economist to Vice President Pence, as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The agency regulates the Federal Home Loan Bank System and the mortgage-liquidity enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As FHFA director, Calabria will oversee day-to-day management of Fannie and Freddie, which have been in conservatorship since the financial crisis with their combined assets of $5 trillion.
Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, said Calabria is an “expert on housing and mortgage finance and a respected Ph.D. economist. He has almost 30 years of experience interacting with the housing market from nearly every perspective – academia, industry, trade associations, think tanks, as a congressional staffer and as a regulator.”
Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Calabria “questions the need for a 30-year mortgage” at a time when “most people can’t afford to buy a house if they don’t have a…25- or 30-year mortgage. They can’t put 50 percent down, like it was before Franklin Roosevelt, and then pay it off in 5 years. That is how we did homeownership in this country 70, 80 or 90 years ago. That is why there wasn’t much homeownership then.”
A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
Voting yes: Richard Shelby, R
Voting no: Doug Jones, D
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The House will vote on whether to repeal Federal Communications Commission “net neutrality” rules in the week of April 8, while the Senate will resume debate on disaster aid for several states and U.S. territories.