Along with roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Ensuring Patient Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatments Act (S. 916), to provide for the delivery of a controlled substance by a pharmacy to an administering practitioner; and the Tribal HUD-VASH Act (S. 1333), to provide for rental assistance for homeless or at-risk Indian veterans. The House also passed the Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act (H.R. 3642), to carry out a pilot program to improve the access to private health care for veterans who are survivors of military sexual trauma; the Veterans Affairs Purchase Card Misuse Mitigation Act (H.R. 5215), to prohibit employees found to have knowingly misused Department of Veterans Affairs purchase cards from serving as purchase card holders or approving officials; and the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (H.R. 4958), to increase, effective as of Dec. 1, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.

HOUSE VOTES

FARM AND FOOD STAMPS BILL: The House rejected the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R. 2), sponsored by Rep. Michael K. Conaway, R-Texas. The bill would have reauthorized Agriculture Department programs through fiscal 2023, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, farm regulation and subsidy programs, and trade in crop products. Conaway called the bill “a safety net to see” farmers and ranchers through a deep slump in their income by helping them fight against predatory trade subsidies by China and other countries, while also addressing the opioid epidemic and the need for better broadband Internet access. A bill opponent, Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said it would cut $23 billion of vital SNAP benefits, did not do enough to help farmers, and “fails our energy independence goals” by slashing government backing for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The vote, on May 18, was 198 yeas to 213 nays.

NAYS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

YEAS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

AID FOR HOMELESS VETERANS: The House passed the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4451), sponsored by Rep. Brad R. Wenstrup, R-Ohio, to extend for five years authorization of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ programs for reintegrating homeless veterans into the labor force. Wenstrup said the reauthorization “would provide much-needed services to our veterans transitioning out of homelessness and ensure no veteran falls through unintended legislative gaps in programs” as they seek to leave imprisonment or homelessness. The vote Monday was 377 yeas to 1 nay.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

PRESCRIBING OPIOIDS FOR VETERANS: The House passed the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act (H.R. 3832), sponsored by Rep. Neal P. Dunn, R-Fla. The bill would order the Veterans Affairs Department to reach an agreement with a nationwide network of state-based prescription monitoring programs to enable VA health care providers to access the network for the purpose of safely prescribing controlled substances to VA patients. Dunn said the network access, by letting physicians easily identify patterns of opioid use by a given patient, would help them avoid overprescribing opioids and the risk of thereby enabling opioid addiction. The vote Monday was 377 yeas to 2 nays

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENTS FOR THE TERMINALLY ILL: The House passed the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act (S. 204), sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. The bill would authorize investigational drug treatments for patients who have terminal illnesses expected to cause death within months. A supporter, Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, said the bill sought to “return choice and control over treatment options to where it is most effective: with the patient, with the doctor” who is treating a terminally ill patient. An opponent, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said it threatened the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to evaluate the safety of medical treatments and therefore “needlessly exposes vulnerable patients to the risks of unproven medications.” The vote Tuesday was 250 yeas to 169 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

REHABILITATING EX-CONVICTS: The House passed the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (H.R. 5682), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. The bill would require the Justice Department to develop a program for determining the risk of recidivism of federal prison inmates and appropriate strategies for reducing their risk of committing crimes after release. Collins said the bill’s “practical, intelligent approach to rehabilitation,” using incentives and strategies that are adapted to each individual prisoner, should reduce crime and increase the chances of ex-convicts reintegrating into society after serving their sentences. An opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., faulted the bill for failing to take up the issue of sentencing reform, and claimed that it would create “new areas of racial biases and disadvantage that make worse a criminal justice system desperately in need of reform.” The vote Tuesday was 360 yeas to 59 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

FINANCIAL REGULATIONS: The House passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to reduce federal regulation of various classes of banks, including community banks with less than $10 billion of assets, and changes to mortgage and credit-reporting regulations. A supporter, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the reduction of “the weight, the load, the volume, the complexity, and the cost of heavy Washington bureaucratic red tape” would make it easier for small banks in particular to make loans that boost the economy. An opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the bill “weakens critical mortgage protections to ensure borrowers can afford their loans, and prevent discrimination and fraud,” for the benefit of large banks and financial firms and to the harm of consumers. The vote Tuesday was 258 yeas to 159 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

MINERALS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: The House passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mark E. Amodei, R-Nev., to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515). The amendment would take measures to speed and streamline the federal review of applications to develop mining of minerals considered critical and strategic for U.S. national security. Amodei said the streamlining would uphold environment protections for mineral mining, while helping resolve heavy reliance on imported minerals for manufacture of the country’s weapons systems. An opponent, Rep. Alan S. Lowenthal, D-Calif., said the amendment’s overly broad definition of a critical and strategic mineral would mean waiving portions of environmental laws for effectively all new domestic mineral mines. The vote Wednesday was 229 yeas to 183 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SANCTIONS AGAINST BURMA: The House passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515). The amendment would authorize financial sanctions and visa bans on Burmese military and security forces following ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya ethnic group, and limit U.S. assistance to Burma in the absence of military reforms. Engel said the measures were needed to hold Burma’s military accountable for its mistreatment of the Rohingya. The vote Wednesday was 382 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

2019 MILITARY BUDGET: The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515), sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, to authorize $639 billion of spending on the Defense Department and military construction programs in fiscal 2019. Thornberry said the spending, by enhancing the military’s strength, would improve America’s ability to use diplomacy, trade, finance, and other tools to maintain its security in volatile and dangerous times. An opponent, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said the bill lacked legislation to strengthen background checks of would-be gun purchasers. The vote Thursday was 351 yeas to 66 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Dana Baiocco to serve a 7-year term as a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Baiocco, a lawyer at the Jones Day law firm for the past 20 years, has focused on business and tort litigation cases, including product liability claims. A supporter, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Baiocco’s “depth of experience and familiarity with consumer product safety issues will bring an important perspective to the Commission” and give restored balance. An opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Baiocco’s history of being on the side of corporate parties in product safety cases showed a lack of “desire to protect the consumers first” if she were confirmed. The vote Tuesday was 50 yeas to 45 nays.

YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine

NAYS: Angus King, I-Maine

HOUSING COMMISSIONER: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Brian D. Montgomery to serve as Federal Housing Commissioner at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Montgomery served in the same post from 2005 to mid-2009, and since then has been a senior executive at the Collingwood Group, a housing finance advisory firm. A supporter, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said Montgomery’s “steadfast leadership” of HUD’s mortgage insurance program during the mortgage crisis a decade ago showed his ability to help ordinary Americans get access to affordable mortgages. An opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, questioned whether Montgomery would act aggressively to enforce federal mortgage lending regulations, given his work at Collingwood Group in helping minimize HUD penalties against mortgage providers. The vote Wednesday was 74 yeas to 23 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

REFORMING VA PROGRAMS: The Senate agreed to the House amendment to the VA MISSION Act (S. 2372), sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. The bill would establish a single community health care program, Choice, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, provide $5.2 billion to fund Choice, and establish a review process for closing and renovating various VA medical facilities. A supporter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said: “This bill will help ensure that we uphold the promise we have made, to provide the care, support, and respect our veterans have earned and deserve.” The vote Wednesday was 92 yeas to 5 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

FDIC CHAIR: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Jelena McWilliams to serve as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a five-year term. McWilliams, currently an executive vice president at Fifth Third Bank, was previously a counsel to Senate committees for six years, attorney at the Federal Reserve, and a private practice corporate and securities lawyer. A supporter, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., cited McWilliams’ diverse experience as giving her sophisticated knowledge of all areas that the FDIC regulates, and said her confirmation would continue “providing Main Street with commonsense regulatory relief.” An opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said McWilliams would be “another rubber stamp from Wall Street’s agenda” of abusive lending and risk-taking without adequate supervision by federal regulators. The vote Thursday was 69 yeas to 24 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

LUXEMBOURG AMBASSADOR: The Senate confirmed the nomination of James Randolph Evans to serve as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Evans, a private practice lawyer in Atlanta since 1985, also served as counsel to the House speaker from 1995 to 2007 and worked in Georgia’s state government. His nomination was not debated on the Senate floor. The vote Thursday was 48 yeas to 43 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King