WASHINGTON — Along with roll call votes this past week, the House also passed the GAO Mandates Revision Act (H.R. 5687), to eliminate or modify certain mandates of the Government Accountability Office; passed the Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act (H.R. 5094), to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine and assist Ukraine’s democratic transition; passed the Improving Small Business Cyber Security Act (H.R. 5064), to allow small business development centers to assist and advise small businesses on cyber security matters; and agreed to the Senate amendment to the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494), to support global anti-poaching efforts, strengthen the capacity of partner countries to counter wildlife trafficking, and designate major wildlife trafficking countries.

The Senate also passed the Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act (S. 3076), to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish caskets and urns for burial in state and tribal cemeteries of veterans without next of kin or sufficient resources to provide for caskets or urns; passed the Advancing Hope Act (S. 1878), to extend the pediatric priority review voucher program; and passed the Federal Aviation Administration Veteran Transition Improvement Act (S. 2683), to include disabled veteran leave in the Federal Aviation Administration’s personnel management system.


House Vote 1

MEDICAID SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS: The House has passed the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 670), sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. The bill would extend an exemption from a federal government rule requiring disabled people to have a special needs Medicaid trust provided for them by a parent or other party, allowing the disabled to have their own trusts. Thompson said allowing the disabled to have their own special needs trusts would help them manage their savings and secure their future financial stability. The vote, on Sept. 20, was 383 yeas to 22 nays.

YEAS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District; Bruce Poliquin R-2nd District

House Vote 2

INVESTIGATING GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: The House has passed the GAO Access and Oversight Act (H.R. 5690), sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga. The bill would authorize the Government Accountability Office to take legal action to require federal agencies to provide records that the GAO needs to perform its duties of auditing and investigating agency activities. Carter said that with the authority, the GAO would better investigate fraud and improper payments made by federal agencies, helping it protect against wrongful government spending. The vote, on Sept. 20, was unanimous with 404 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 3

EXPENSING COSTS FOR REPLANTING CITRUS TREES: The House has passed the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act (H.R. 3957), sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. The bill would allow citrus farmers to temporarily expense on their tax returns some of their costs for replanting diseased citrus trees. Buchanan said citrus farmers in Florida and other southern states have lost many trees to citrus greening, a bacterial disease infecting many groves in recent years, and allowing the deduction will help them replace those trees and keep the citrus industry healthy. The vote, on Sept. 21, was 400 yeas to 20 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 4

REVIEWING COSTLY FEDERAL REGULATIONS: The House has passed the Require Evaluation before Implementing Executive Wishlists Act (H.R. 3438), sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa. The bill would require federal agencies to wait until 60 days after publishing in the Federal Register a proposed regulation that would have a $1 billion or greater annual cost before implementing the regulation. Marino said the 60-day period, by allowing those impacted by expensive regulations time to appeal the regulations in court, would be “proper and responsible regulatory reform” to rein in a surge of expensive regulations in recent years. A bill opponent, Rep. Hank Johnson Jr., D-Ga., called it “yet another reckless measure designed to delay the implementation of the most important rules protecting the health, safety, and financial well-being of everyday people.” The vote, on Sept. 21, was 244 yeas to 180 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

House Vote 5

DISCLOSING IRANIAN OFFICIALS’ ASSETS: The House has passed the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act (H.R. 5461), sponsored by Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine. The bill would require the Treasury Department to provide Congress and the general public with estimates of the assets that senior Iranian politicians and military officials control. Poliquin said given the tremendous amount of personal wealth obtained by corrupt Iranian leaders, disclosing information about those leaders’ assets would help put pressure on them to change their ways. A bill opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Iran would view the asset estimates as a bad faith move by the U.S. to interfere with Iran’s recent nuclear weapons accord, likely pushing Iran toward withdrawing from the accord. The vote, on Sept. 21, was 282 yeas to 143 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

House Vote 6

FUNDING COUNTERTERRORISM TRAINING: The House has passed the Community Counterterrorism Preparedness Act (H.R. 5859), sponsored by Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas. The bill would authorize a $39 million Homeland Security grant program for providing funds for emergency response providers in major metropolitan areas to prepare for potential terrorist attacks. McCaul said the recent spate of active shooter terrorist attacks in U.S and foreign cities showed the need to continuously train first responders so they are ready to counter emerging threats to public safety. The vote, on Sept. 21, was 395 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 7

DIAPER CHANGING AND GOVERNMENT BATHROOMS: The House has passed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act (H.R. 5147), sponsored by Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I. The bill would require all bathrooms in federal government buildings to be equipped with facilities for changing babies’ diapers. Cicilline said “access to baby changing stations in restrooms in federal buildings will help in protecting the health and safety of children and will encourage a family-friendly environment.” The vote, on Sept. 21, was 389 yeas to 34 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 8

PRIVATE COMPANY STOCK OPTIONS: The House has passed the Empowering Employees through Stock Ownership Act (H.R. 5719), sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn. The bill would allow private companies to defer for income tax purposes income resulting from equity grants in company stock given to employees. Paulsen said the changed tax treatment, by making it easier for companies to issue stock options to talented employees, would help those companies develop “new, creative environments that could lead to the next breakthrough innovation” in biotechnology, information technology, and other growing industries. A bill opponent, Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., said it was fiscally irresponsible because it would increase the federal deficit by $1 billion or more in the next 10 years. The vote, on Sept. 22, was 287 yeas to 124 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

House Vote 9

DISCLOSING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS: The House has passed the Social Security Must Avert Identity Loss Act (H.R. 5320), sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas. The bill would require the Social Security Administration to avoid including Social Security numbers on mailed documents unless the numbers must be on the documents. Johnson said removing the numbers from tens of millions of mailings will improve the security of personal identities. The vote, on Sept. 22, was unanimous with 414 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 10

IRS SEIZURES OF CASH BANK DEPOSITS: The House has passed the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools Act (H.R. 5523), sponsored by Rep. Peter J. Roskam, R-Ill. The bill would bar the Internal Revenue Service from seizing property the IRS suspects has been structured to avoid bank reporting requirements unless the IRS believes the property was illegally obtained or otherwise part of a criminal action. Roskam said that in many cases, the IRS has seized cash deposits at banks only because the depositors did not know that it was illegal to arrange their deposits to be below the $10,000 threshold for reporting deposits to the government. Therefore, Roskam said, the bill was needed to protect innocent depositors from having their money taken by the IRS. The vote, on Sept. 22, was unanimous with 415 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 11

JUVENILE OFFENDER PROGRAMS: The House has passed the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963), sponsored by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. The bill would reauthorize various programs involving juvenile offenders and efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency, and adopt measures aimed at improving oversight and effectiveness of the programs. Curbelo said it “will help state and local leaders better serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders” and give vulnerable juveniles a better “opportunity to work toward a brighter future.” The vote, on Sept. 22, was 382 yeas to 29 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

House Vote 12

RANSOM PAYMENTS FOR HOSTAGES: The House has passed the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act (H.R. 5931), sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Royce, R-Calif. The bill would declare a policy of the federal government not making ransom payments for the release of Americans taken hostage abroad, and bar cash payments to Iran’s government. Royce cited cash payments made to Iran in January as Iran was releasing four U.S citizens it held, and said the bill’s ban was needed to discourage Iran and other countries from detaining other U.S. citizens in hope of extracting ransom payments from the U.S. An opponent, Rep Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., said the January payments were not ransoms, and said the bill was misguided in focusing solely on cash payments. The vote, on Sept. 22, was 254 yeas to 163 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin


Senate Vote 1

SELLING MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO SAUDI ARABIA: The Senate has tabled a motion to discharge from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a resolution (S.J. Res. 39) sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., of disapproval of the proposed U.S. sale to Saudi Arabia of $1 billion worth of Abrams tanks and other military equipment. Paul said stopping the sale of the equipment would send a message to Saudi Arabia’s government disapproving of its persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims, and its other violations of human rights. A resolution opponent, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., cited benefits to the U.S. economy of selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and said blocking the sale would result in bolstering Iran’s position in the Middle East to the detriment of longtime ally Saudi Arabia. The vote to table the motion, on Sept. 21, was 71-27.

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

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