Congressional Votes for the Week Ending July 20, 2018


WASHINGTON – Alabama’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives split along party lines when voting on a Republican statement of opposition to a tax on the use of coal, natural gas and petroleum products.

All three are produced in different areas of Alabama, but the state also has had to grapple with pollution caused by the production and use of fossil fuels. The House approved the Republican statement opposing the tax, which was a nonbinding statement expressing the House’s opinion on the issue.

Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending July 20.


GOP Statement Against Carbon Tax

Voting 229 for and 180 against, the House on July 19 adopted a nonbinding GOP statement of opposition to proposals that would put a new tax on the use of coal, natural gas and petroleum products to discourage their use and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide. The measure (H Con Res 119) asserted that a carbon tax “would be detrimental to American families and businesses and is not in the best interest of the United States.” Critics defended such a tax as a cost-efficient and equitable way to reduce toxic emissions while generating revenue to help those most affected by the higher cost of using fossil fuels.

Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, said: “I am not a climate denier. I am not a science denier. I am a climate thinker. I am a science thinker. Real science is not just about assessing cost only. It is about looking at benefits as well. Those supporting a carbon tax look only at costs, but not benefits, of coal and other fossil energy.”

Don Beyer, D-Virginia, said: “It is axiomatic economics that we tax the things we want to discourage. The scientific evidence continues to accumulate in prodigious amounts that carbon pollution is profoundly changing the climate of our earth. The costs of inaction are staggering, into the billions. Carbon pricing is the most market-oriented policy action we can take to combat this.”

A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.

Voting yes: Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6.

Voting no: Terri Sewell, D-7.

Restoring Election-Security Funds for States

Voting 182 for and 232 against, the House on July 19 defeated a Democratic attempt to add funding for Election Assistance Commission grants for states to a 2019 spending bill (HR 6147, below). The underlying bill “zeroed out” funding in the new fiscal year for these grants, which have been used since 2003 to help states upgrade voting machines and fortify electoral systems. On this vote, Democrats sought to restore funding to the 2018 level of $380 million. At least 40 states use outdated voting machines and 13 states employ machines that fail to generate paper backups to electronic voting files, according to debate.

Mike Quigley, D-Illinois, said the funding is needed because “the Russians attacked our democracy. They will be back, and we are not ready. The president is unwilling to meet this challenge, but we must be willing to meet this challenge.”

Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, called for defeat of the Democratic motion but did not address its specific provisions.

A yes vote was to provide $380 million in electoral grants to states next fiscal year.

Voting yes: Sewell.

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

2019 Budget for Environment, Treasury, District of Columbia

Voting 217 for and 199 against, the House on July 19 approved a $58.7 billion appropriations bill (HR 6147) for the treasury and interior departments, federal judiciary, District of Columbia and numerous related agencies in fiscal 2019. In part, the bill would cut the Environmental Protection Administration budget by $100 million, to $7.96 billion; put Congress in control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau budget; set aside $585 million that could not be spent until Congress eliminates annual deficits; increase the Internal Revenue Service budget by $186 million to $11.6 billion; prohibit the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring disclosure of political contributions to shareholders and appropriate $3.9 billion for fighting and preventing forest fires.

In addition, the bill would fund a $751 million federal payment to the District of Columbia while repealing the federal city’s Death With Dignity Act and providing $45 million for vouchers used by some D.C. students to transfer to private and parochial schools. The bill also would raise the Indian Health Service budget by $370 million to $5.9 billion; prohibit regulation of the lead content of ammunition and fishing tackle; scale back certain Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act regulations and provide $21 million for developing an early warning system for West Coast earthquakes.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Brooks, Sewell.

Agreement With Speaker on Russian Interference

Voting 230 for and 183 against, the House on July 17 blocked a Democratic bid for floor debate on a measure (H Res 999) that would formally enshrine Speaker Paul Ryan’s written statement that there is “no question” that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential campaign and continues to interfere with U.S. elections. Ryan commented after President Trump, in a news conference in Helsinki, sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies when asked about Russian interference in his contest against Hillary Clinton. Had Democrats prevailed on this vote, they would have had standing to call the resolution up for debate.

Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said: “Defending our democracy shouldn’t be controversial. Agreeing with the Republican speaker that `the United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable’ should not be controversial.”

No member spoke on the other side of the issue.

A yes vote was in opposition to calling the measure up for debate.

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

Voting no: Sewell.

Not voting: Roby.

Bill to Expand Ballot Access

Voting 226 for and 186 against, the House on July 18 blocked a Democratic attempt to call up for debate a bill (HR 12) that would streamline and promote voter registration in the states, upgrade software and technology at polling places, fortify ballot security and combat obstacles to equal access to the ballot. Had Democrats prevailed on this vote, they would have been able to bring the bill to the floor for debate.

John Lewis, D-Georgia, said: “In a democracy, the right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have. Many people marched and protested for the right to vote. Some gave a little blood, and others lost their lives.  … Today, our democracy is under attack by forces within and forces abroad. We need to fix it and fix it now.”

No member spoke on the other side of the issue.

A yes vote was in opposition to calling the measure up for debate.

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

Voting no: Sewell.

Not voting: Roby.

GOP Support of Immigration Enforcement

Voting 244 for and 35 against, the House on July 18 adopted a nonbinding GOP-sponsored measure (H Res 990) expressing support of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Thirty-five Democrats voted no, while another 133 answered “present,” which is the equivalent of not voting. Some Democrats and progressives have recently criticized the agency’s stepped-up arrests of undocumented immigrants and its role in separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.

Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said, “ICE agents have been the targets of vicious name-calling and partisan attacks. Some (critics) have even described ICE as a terrorist organization. To make matters worse, some politicians in Washington are now calling on Congress to abolish ICE … a reckless and dangerous idea that jeopardizes the safety of American communities.”

Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, asked Republicans: “Where is your resolution to defend the FBI? Where is your resolution to defend NATO, which has been disparaged by this shameful president? No. What we have today is a shameless, spineless group of Republican congressional enablers [of] Trump who totally ignore those dedicated to defending our borders from Russian aggression.”

A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.

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

Voting no: None.

Not voting:  Roby, Sewell.


Russian Request to Interrogate Americans:

Voting 98 for and none against, the Senate on July 19 stated its opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request for President Trump to submit 11 American citizens – including current and former diplomats – to interrogation by Russian prosecutors probing U.S. economic sanctions against their country. Trump weighed the request for three days, then rejected it at about the time of this vote, which adopted a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” resolution (S Res 584).

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said “it is neither the policy nor the practice of the United States to submit our citizens, let alone our ambassadors, to the interrogation of a foreign adversary. Let this resolution be a warning to the administration that Congress will not allow this to happen.”

No other senator spoke during brief consideration of the measure.

Voting yes: Doug Jones, D.

Voting no: None.

Not voting: Richard Shelby, R.


The House will debate health care bills and next year’s Department of Homeland Security budget in the week of July 23, while the Senate will vote on fiscal 2019 appropriations and judicial and executive-branch appointments.