Along with roll call votes last week, the Senate also passed the Small Business Investment Opportunity Act (H.R. 2333), to increase the amount of leverage made available to small business investment companies.

The House also passed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act (H.R. 5956), to incentivize the hiring of United States workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; the Route 66 National Historic Trail Designation Act (H.R. 801), to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Route 66 National Historic Trail; the Free Veterans from Fees Act (H.R. 3997), to waive the application fee for any special use permit for veterans demonstrations and special events at war memorials on federal land; and the Department of Veterans Affairs Senior Executive Accountability Act (H.R. 2772), to provide for requirements relating to the reassignment of Department of Veterans Affairs senior executive employees.

HOUSE VOTES

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON BIRTHPLACE: The House has passed a bill (H.R. 5005), sponsored by Rep. Al Lawson Jr., D-Fla., to require the Interior Department to examine the suitability of making James Weldon Johnson’s birthplace, in Jacksonville, Florida, part of the National Park System. Johnson, the first black lawyer to pass the Florida bar exam, also led the NAACP in the 1920s, and was a novelist, diplomat, and songwriter. Lawson said making the birthplace a national park would help Americans “know the history of James Weldon Johnson, not only in the Jacksonville community but throughout America.” The vote, on June 5, was 374 yeas to 5 nays.

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

CIVIL WAR CAMP IN KENTUCKY: The House has passed the Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument Act (H.R. 5655), sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., to establish the Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Camp Nelson, a hospital and training center for the Union army in the Civil War, was also a destination for thousands of Confederate blacks who fled to the Union late in the Civil War. Barr said establishing the site as a national monument would “inspire a greater understanding and appreciation for Civil War history, African American history, and a compelling story of the struggle for freedom.” The vote, on June 5, was 376 yeas to 4 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING: The House has passed the Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 8), sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., to authorize spending by the Army Corps of Engineers on harbors, dams, inland waterways, and other elements of the country’s water resources infrastructure. Shuster called the bill necessary to preserve “infrastructure that is critical to our commerce and competitiveness, and to protecting communities throughout the country.” The vote, on June 6, was 408 yeas to 2 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS GRANTS: The House has agreed to the Senate amendment to the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act (H.R. 3249), sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va. The bill would create a Project Safe Neighborhoods block grant program at the Justice Department to fund community efforts to combat crimes by street gangs and transnational organized crime groups. Comstock cited a surge in violence by gangs such as MS-13 as showing the need for grants to help all levels of government and law enforcement obtain the technology and resources needed to develop a multifaceted solution to the multifaceted problem of gang crime. The vote, on June 6, was 394 yeas to 13 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

RETURNING UNSPENT FUNDS: The House has passed the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act (H.R. 3), sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The bill would rescind, and return to the Treasury, close to $15 billion that was appropriated for spending by various federal agencies but has not been spent. McCarthy said returning the funds would fulfill Congress’s responsibility of “being good stewards of taxpayer money” by not continuing to spend money on failed programs. A bill opponent, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said taking away the $15 billion would mean not investing in “the Children’s Health Insurance Program, medical innovation, advanced manufacturing, infrastructure projects,” and other efforts to help the middle class. The vote, on June 7, was 210 yeas to 206 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

KENTUCKY DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Robert Earl Wier to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the eastern district of Kentucky. Wier has been a magistrate judge in the district court since 2006, following 12 years at his own law firm in Lexington. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wier “has the intellect, skill, and experience to take on this role.” The vote, on June 5, was unanimous with 95 yeas.

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

TEXAS DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Fernando Rodriguez, Jr., to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the southern district of Texas. Rodriguez, a lawyer at a Dallas law firm from 1998 to 2010, has since 2010 worked for the International Justice Mission nonprofit group, specializing in human trafficking issues in Central America. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised Rodriguez “for his tireless efforts to combat human trafficking” and ability to handle complicated issues. The vote, on June 5, was unanimous with 96 yeas.

YEAS: Collins, King

ALABAMA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Annemarie Carney Axon to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the northern district of Alabama. Axon, currently a private practice lawyer in Birmingham, was previously an assistant vice president at AmSouth Bank. A supporter, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said: “Her strong, respectful temperament and commitment to impartiality prove that she is well-suited” to serve on the district court. The vote, on June 6, was 83 yeas to 11 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

EDUCATION AND CIVIL RIGHTS: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus to serve as assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department. A supporter, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Marcus had “a deep understanding of civil rights law” gained though his time at the same position during the George W. Bush administration, at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. An opponent, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said Marcus’s record “has demonstrated that he possesses at best a disturbing apathy and at worst a wanton disregard for the importance, if not urgency, of protecting the rights of our kids in school.” The vote, on June 7, was 50 yeas to 46 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

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