Along with roll call votes last week, the House also passed the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1188), to reauthorize certain programs established by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act; passed the Targeting Child Predators Act (H.R. 883), to provide a certification process for issuing nondisclosure requirements accompanying certain administrative subpoenas; passed the Child Protection Improvements Act (H.R. 695), to establish a national criminal history background check system and criminal history review program for certain individuals who, related to their employment, have access to children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities; and passed the Targeted Rewards for the Global Eradication of Human Trafficking Act (H.R. 1625), to include severe forms of human trafficking in the definition of transnational organized crime for the purposes of the State Department’s rewards program.

HOUSE VOTES

PROBATION OFFICERS: The House has passed the Probation Officer Protection Act (H.R. 1039), sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., to grant a probation officer authority to arrest, without a warrant, third parties who obstruct or impede the probation officer from performing his official duties. Reichert said requiring the warrant or requiring a police officer to make the arrest puts both the probation officer and the person on probation at risk in a volatile situation. An opponent, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said probation officers lack the training needed to make such arrests themselves. The vote, on May 19, was 229 yeas to 177 nays.

NAYS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

YEAS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

EXPANDING SEX OFFENDER LAW: The House has passed the Global Child Protection Act (H.R. 1862), sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala. The bill would expand the scope of U.S. criminal law by defining unlawful sexual contact with a child in a foreign country as a federal sex offense against a minor. Roby said repairing a technical flaw in the law would make it easier “to put serial child abusers away where they belong.” An opponent, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., criticized the bill for imposing a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for breaking the sex offender law. The vote, on May 22, was 372 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRIES: The House has passed the Strengthening Children’s Safety Act (H.R. 1842), sponsored by Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas. The bill would add violent crimes that violate state law to the list of crimes that prompt enhanced penalties when sex offenders fail to register or report certain information as required by federal law. Ratcliffe said it closed existing loopholes in order to “make sure that all dangerous sex offenders are treated the same and are subject to the same enhanced penalties.” An opponent, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich. criticized what he called the bill’s unfair and counterproductive expansion of mandatory minimum sentences for criminals. The vote, on May 22, was 371 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

VA DISABILITY CLAIMS: The House has passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (H.R. 2288), sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill. The bill would change processes for veterans to appeal Department of Veterans Affairs rulings on disability benefits claims, including the establishment of three different appeals pathways. Bost said the changes “will speed up the process for our nation’s veterans and ensure that the appeals system works for them” by working to reduce the large appeals backlog now existing at the VA. The vote, on May 23, was unanimous with 418 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SOLDIERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: The House has passed the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Against Technological Exploitation Act (H.R. 2052), sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. The bill would change the Uniform Code of Military Justice to prohibit the wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images. McSally cited the recent non-consensual posting of photos of nude soldiers to social media websites in stating the need for a military law that “clearly prohibits the wrongful, non-consensual sharing of intimate visual images, even when those images were initially given with consent.” The vote, on May 24, was unanimous with 418 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

MEDICAL CARE FOR VETERANS: The House has passed the VA Scheduling Accountability Act (H.R. 467), sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. The bill would require Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to annually certify that they fully comply with agency rules for scheduling appointments for veterans in need of hospital care and medical services. Walorski said: “Holding every VA facility accountable for following scheduling rules is an important, commonsense step as we work to fix the VA so it works for the veterans in our country.” The vote, on May 24, was unanimous with 419 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

REGULATING PESTICIDES: The House has passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (H.R. 953), sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio. The bill would bar the Environmental Protection Agency or state governments from requiring permits for releasing pesticides into navigable waters if existing law already approves such a discharge. Gibbs said that by canceling an appeals court ruling that required the individual permits, the bill would avert costly, time-consuming red tape that hinders the ability of communities to prevent mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile virus. A bill opponent, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Calif., said that given the damage caused by pesticide contamination of waterways, the permits were a reasonable, workable way to prevent further damage. The vote, on May 24, was 256 yeas to 165 nays.

NAYS: Pingree / YEAS: Poliquin

PUNISHING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY: The House has passed the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act (H.R. 1761), sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La. The bill would make it a federal crime to knowingly consent to the creation or transmission of child pornography. Johnson said the designation was needed to close a loophole in current federal law that he said “essentially allows a child rapist to admit to sexually abusing a child and yet still evade punishment.” An opponent, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., criticized the bill for expanding the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences, which Scott said could leave teenagers who engage in consensual sexual conduct facing 15-year prison sentences. The vote, on May 25, was 368 yeas to 51 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SEXUAL ABUSE IN YOUTH ATHLETICS: The House has passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act (H.R. 1973), sponsored by Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind. The bill would require national athletic governing bodies, such as USA Gymnastics and USA Swimming, to report cases of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities. The vote, on May 25, was 415 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Terry Branstad to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: “Having served as the governor of Iowa for more than two decades, Branstad has developed a strong understanding of agriculture, trade, and other key national interests. His experience on these issues will guide him as he works to strengthen our relationship with China.” The vote, on May 22, was 82 yeas to 13 nays.

YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine, Angus King, I-Maine

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: The Senate confirmed the nomination of John J. Sullivan to serve as Deputy Secretary of State. The vote, on May 24, was 94 yeas to 6 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Amul R. Thapar to serve as a judge on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited his “reputation as a qualified judge with an impressive legal mind,” and noted Thapar’s 10 years of experience as a U.S. district judge in Kentucky. An opponent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., claimed Thapar’s nomination was spurred by his backing from two groups, the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, backed by wealthy conservatives, which would possibly spur him “not to contravene the views of those organizations and their big-money donors” once on the appeals court. The vote, on May 25, was 52 yeas to 44 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King