CongressionalWatch

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending Jan. 11

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives took up a litany of funding bills last week despite the federal government’s partial shutdown. Among them was a Republican move to increase funding for rural broadband by $125 million, to a total of $565 million.

Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, spoke in favor of the move, saying. “You might not find a great deal of agreement between the parties of President Trump and former President Obama, but the vital need for rural broadband is one of those things.”

Nonetheless, the House defeated the measure on a largely party-line vote.

There was near unanimous support for one bill to ensure federal employees will be given backpay once their departments are fully reopened. All of Alabama’s representatives approved that measure, which now goes to the president.

Read more about how area members of Congress voted during the legislative week ending Jan. 11.

HOUSE 

$35.9 Billion for Department of the Interior, EPA, Other Agencies

Voting 240 for and 179 against, the House on Jan. 11 passed a bill (HR 266) that would appropriate $35.9 billion in fiscal 2019 for the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service and other agencies. This was the fourth individual 2019 spending bill passed by the Democratic-led House in the third week of a partial government shutdown. The bills have been shelved by the GOP-led Senate pending a resolution of President Trump’s request for border-wall funding.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said: “Let’s have a vote in the Senate, which I believe would reopen government. Leader McConnell has a responsibility to do so, a responsibility to the Senate, to his oath of office, to the Constitution and the country. He swore no oath to President Trump.”

Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said: “The bill’s an embarrassment, and the outcome is going to be predictable. The Senate is not going to pick it up, the president would not sign it … . So we’ve wasted an entire week because our (Democratic) friends can’t sit down and split the difference” with Trump over border-wall funding.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Alabama:

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.

Funding Boost for Wildfire Prevention

Voting 190 for and 229 against, the House on Jan. 11 defeated a Republican bid to increase funding in HR 266 (above) for U.S. Forest Service wildfire-prevention programs by $30 million, to a total of $644 million. These efforts use methods such as thinning of unhealthy trees, prescribed burns and underbrush removal to reduce incendiary conditions in forests.

Ken Calvert, R-California, said: “I cannot support a bill that does less to prevent catastrophic wildfires.”

Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, said: “The best path forward is to reopen the government so that the U.S. Forest Service can get back to work on the activities that prevent wildfires.”

A yes vote was to increase the bill’s wildfire-prevention budget by nearly 5 percent.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell 

 $23.2 Billion for Farm, Food, Drug-Safety Programs

Voting 243 for and 183 against, the House on Jan. 10 passed a bill (HR 265) that would appropriate $23.2 billion in fiscal 2019 for the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies. The House sent this measure and three other appropriations bills to the Senate in an effort to reopen some of the departments and agencies that have been largely shut down since Dec. 22 due to expired funding. The move was also intended to put pressure on the Senate and the White House to end the partial shutdown or reduce its scope. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said his chamber will not consider spending bills until President Trump and House Democrats settle their dispute over border-wall funding.

Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, said the FDA oversees “food, medical products, cosmetics and tobacco – products that account for 20 cents of every dollar spent by U.S. consumers. As a result of the Trump government shutdown, the FDA has had to cease a number of important activities that keep our nation’s drugs and food safe for all Americans.”

Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, said: “To paraphrase the president’s remarks two nights ago, in order for us to resolve this funding dispute, we need to invest in border security not because we hate the people on the outside of our border but because we love the people within our border.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Back Pay for Civil Servants

Voting 411 for and seven against, the House on Jan. 11 joined the Senate in passing a bill (S 24) stipulating that more than 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay in the current government shutdown will receive back pay when departments and agencies are fully reopened. In permanent language, the bill also guarantees back pay for civil servants after any future shutdowns of the federal government.

Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said it is “incumbent upon the House to do everything we can to address the pain and suffering being felt by dedicated federal workers who are missing their paychecks.”

Another supporter, Greg Gianforte, R-Montana, said: “When the House Democrats stop using federal employees’ livelihoods as a political football to fund the government, including border security, paychecks will be issued.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Trump.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer, Sewell

Voting no: None

Funding Boost for Rural Broadband

Voting 197 for and 229 against, the House on Jan. 10 defeated a Republican motion that sought to increase funding in HR 265 (above) for rural-broadband programs by $125 million, to a total of $565 million. The Department of Agriculture program provides communities and individuals in rural areas with grants and low-cost loans for obtaining high-speed Internet connectivity.

Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, said: “You might not find a great deal of agreement between the parties of President Trump and former President Obama, but the vital need for rural broadband is one of those things.”

Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, expressed support of rural-broadband expansion, but noted that $125 million of $600 million that Congress appropriated last year for that purpose has not yet been spent.

A yes vote was to increase the bill’s rural-broadband budget by nearly 30 percent.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell

$71 Billion for Transportation, Housing In 2019

Voting 244 for and 180 against, the House on Jan. 10 passed a bill (HR 267) that would appropriate $26.6 billion for the Department of Transportation and $44.5 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in fiscal 2019. This was one of four spending bills passed by the Democratic-led House during the week in an effort to reopen departments and agencies partially closed since Dec. 22. But the GOP-led Senate has refused to consider the bills until Democrats and President Trump resolve their dispute over funding the president’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border.

Mike Quigley, D-Illinois, said: “Shuttering the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development over an unrelated fight about a wall is the height of administrative malpractice.”

Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said: “A negotiation ends up when both parties can say they’ve gotten something that they want, and yet the Democratic leaders … continue to say no to anything the president wants.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Funding Boost for Disabled Housing

Voting 193 for and 228 against, the House on Jan. 10 defeated a Republican bid to add $71 million to a program that issues vouchers to help the severely disabled obtain housing in the private market. The measure sought to increase the program’s budget in HR 267 (above) to $390 million.

Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, said the program “provides a critical lifeline to families who struggle to care for those who are severely disabled.”

In their response, Democrats opposed the motion but did not comment on its substance.

A yes vote backed an 18 percent increase in the bill’s budget for disability housing vouchers.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell

Bill to Reopen Treasury, IRS, Other Agencies

Voting 240 for and 188 against, the House on Jan. 9 passed a bill (HR 264) that would appropriate $23.7 billion in fiscal 2019 for the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies partially closed since Dec. 22. The bill would fund a 1.9 percent pay raise for civil servants in 2019 while prohibiting scheduled raises for Vice President Pence and senior political appointees in the administration.

Charlie Crist, D-Florida, said: “The solution is simple: Vote `yes’ on this legislation, put people above politics and reopen our government today.”

Tom Graves, R-Georgia, said there is “only one reason” for the shutdown: “Democrats are unwilling to negotiate with a president they just don’t like.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Alabama

Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Anti-Terrorism Funding Boost

By a vote of 200 for and 227 against, the House on Jan. 9 rejected a GOP effort to boost spending in HR 264 (above) for the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which combats terrorist financing in U.S. and international financial systems, enforces economic sanctions and polices global money laundering. Republicans sought to increase the office’s 2019 budget by $2 million to $161 million.

Tom Graves, R-Georgia, said: “This important office is fighting on the front lines to enforce economic sanctions against rogue nations like Iran, North Korea and Russia.”

In their response, Democrats opposed the motion but did not comment on its substance.

A yes vote was to increase the bill’s anti-terrorism funding by about 1 percent.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Voting no: Sewell

House Defense of 2010 Health Law

The House on Jan. 9 voted, 235 for and 192 against, to intervene in the defense of the Affordable Care Act in Texas v. United States. In that case, a federal judge held that the law became unconstitutional when Congress, in December 2017, repealed its individual-mandate tax penalty on those who fail to obtain health insurance. This invalidated the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the health law because of its roots in Congress’s taxing power, according to Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas. He stayed his decision while the case works its way through an appeals process expected to end at the Supreme Court. The vote adopted H Res 6.

Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said the measure “will allow this House to legally intervene to protect pre-existing condition coverage in the Affordable Care Act. If you support coverage for pre-existing conditions, then you will support this measure to try and protect it. It is that simple.”

Greg Walden, R-Oregon, said: “Democratic attorneys general from intervening states are already defending the law in the case, and the judge’s ruling has already been stayed and appealed. So this is an unnecessary waste of time, paper and ink.”

A yes vote backed House intervention in Texas v. United States.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

 

SENATE

U.S. Support of Israel, Jordan

Voting 56 for and 44 against, the Senate on Jan. 8 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end a Democratic filibuster against a bill (S 1) that would authorize $3.3 billion annually in U.S. military aid to Israel over 10 years, impose American financial sanctions on individuals and entities doing business with the Assad regime in Syria, authorize unspecified military aid to Jordan and vow to help Jordan secure its borders with Syria and Iraq. Democrats said they would delay the bill until the government has been fully reopened.

Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the bill would address “general events” in the Middle East as well as President Trump’s “decision made a few weeks ago that the United States would be leaving Syria and our presence there.”

Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, advocated delay because “the first business of this body should be to reopen government.”

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Alabama:

Voting yes: Richard Shelby, R, and Doug Jones, D 

KEY VOTES AHEAD

The House will take up fiscal 2019 appropriations bills and a measure to fund disaster relief in the week of Jan. 14, while the Senate’s legislative schedule was to be announced.