Along with roll call votes last week, the Senate also passed the Small Business Innovation Protection Act (S. 791), to expand intellectual property education and training for small businesses; and a bill (S. Res. 386), urging the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fulfill its agreement to hold credible elections, comply with constitutional limits on presidential terms, and fulfill its constitutional mandate for a democratic transition of power by taking concrete and measurable steps toward holding elections no later than December.

HOUSE VOTES

UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES: The House has passed the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (H.R. 50), sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. The bill would require estimates of the costs to state and local governments of complying with federal program mandates to be supplied to the relevant congressional committees. Foxx said compliance cost estimates would work toward relieving a situation in which “unfunded federal mandates strain state and local budgets, and subvert the principles of American federalism” by making the federal government dominant over the states. A bill opponent, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., said its requirement for government agencies to consult with impacted private companies on proposed rules before the rules are made available to the public would give the companies “an explicit and unfair preference over other stakeholders, particularly the American families and consumers these rules are designed to protect.” The vote, on July 13, was 230 yeas to 168 nays.

NAYS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

YEAS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

PREVENTING GENOCIDE: The House has passed the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (H.R. 3030), sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., to direct the State Department to form a task force on mass atrocities and define the prevention of genocide as a core national security interest and core moral responsibility of the U.S. Wagner called the bill “an important first step” toward measures to prevent genocide by addressing its root causes through humanitarian, development, and strategic efforts. The vote, on July 17, was 406 yeas to 5 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

DIPLOMATS AND LOCATION TRACKING: The House has passed the Protecting Diplomats from Surveillance Through Consumer Devices Act (H.R. 4989), sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, to require the State Department to adopt a policy on use of cell phones and other devices that have location tracking features by workers at U.S. diplomatic and consular facilities. Castro said the policy would work to prevent dangers created by U.S. enemies who could take advantage of the tracking features to learn where diplomats are and the locations of secret foreign diplomatic installations. The vote, on July 17, was unanimous with 412 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

ANIMAL DISEASE PREVENTION: The House has agreed to a motion sponsored by Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., to instruct conferees with the Senate on the two chambers’ conference negotiations over their versions of the Agriculture Improvement Act (H.R. 2). The motion instructed conferees to insist on inclusion of a provision providing permanent funding for various federal animal disease prevention and preparedness programs. Peterson called spending on the programs “important investments in the health of our nation’s animals, our people, and the security of our food supply.” The vote, on July 18, was 392 yeas to 20 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT RESOLUTION: The House has passed a resolution (H. Res. 990), sponsored by Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., to support employees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and denounce calls for the complete abolishment of ICE. Higgins said the resolution was needed given recent calls to abolish ICE despite the agency’s successful apprehension of more than 127,000 criminal aliens on homicide and other violent charges in 2017 alone, and the resulting need to formally state congressional support for ICE workers and their mission. The vote, on July 18, was 244 yeas to 35 nays, with 133 voting as present.

PRESENT: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

REGULATING METHANE EMISSIONS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 6147). The amendment would block funding for enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s methane emissions rule for the oil and natural gas sector adopted in 2016. Mullin called the rule a “job-killing regulation estimated to cost our economy $530 million annually” and unnecessary given that methane emissions related to oil and natural gas production were already declining before the EPA rule. An amendment opponent, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said the oil and gas sector accounted for close to a third of U.S. methane emissions, helping cause destructive climate change that “threatens the health and welfare for current and future generations.” The vote, on July 18, was 215 yeas to 194 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS RULE: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 6147). The amendment would block funding for implementation of the version of the social cost of carbon dioxide emissions rule developed by the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration. Mullin said the rule “could be easily manipulated in order to attempt to justify new job-killing regulations.” An opponent, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said blocking funding “would ignore the sobering cost of health, environment, and economic impacts of extreme weather, rising temperatures, intensifying smog, and other impacts” of human-caused climate change. The vote, on July 18, was 215 yeas to 199 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

ENDANGERED SPECIES LISTINGS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 6147). The amendment would block funding for the enforcement of listings as threatened species or endangered species plants and animals if a given listing has not been reviewed within five years. Lamborn said nearly a thousand listings have not received the required five-year reviews and the amendment, by enforcing the review requirement, would ensure that the Fish and Wildlife Service uses the best available scientific information to review whether a species still needs to be listed. An amendment opponent, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said the amendment’s block would make the backlog worse. The vote, on July 18, was 213 yeas to 201 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

RESOLUTION ON CARBON TAX: The House has passed a resolution (H. Con. Res. 119), sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon dioxide emissions tax would harm the U.S. economy and is not in the country’s best interest. Scalise said the imposition of such a carbon tax would devastate the U.S. manufacturing base, kill jobs, and “increase costs for families all across this country.” A resolution opponent, Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., said it was a pointless waste of time that should instead be spent considering “legislation that actually would help American families today.” The vote, on July 19, was 229 yeas to 180 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

FUNDING EPA AND INTERIOR DEPARTMENT: The House has passed the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 6147), sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., to provide $35.25 billion of fiscal 2019 funding for the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and various arts and cultural agencies. Calvert cited the bill’s funding for wildfire suppression, Native American schools and health care programs, and EPA efforts to improve water infrastructure and clean up contaminated land. An opponent, Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., criticized the bill’s cuts in funding for several EPA programs as failing “the American people by slashing environmental protection.” The vote, on July 19, was 217 yeas to 199 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

EDUCATION ASSISTANT SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Scott Stump to serve as the Education Department’s assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education. A supporter, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., cited Stump’s experience in career and technical education in the Colorado community college system and as head of a national association of state career and technical education directors, and support for his nomination from many stakeholder and advocacy groups. The vote, on July 16, was unanimous with 85 yeas.

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

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT PLANNER: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of James Blew to serve as the Education Department’s assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development. A supporter, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Blew had 20 years of experience at various charter school and education reform groups, yielding a track record of being “in favor of giving low-income children a choice of a better school and in favor of public charter schools, which gives teachers more freedom to teach and parents more freedom to choose the school for their child.” An opponent, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Blew supported undermining public education, including by not giving teachers the tools they need to help students succeed. The vote, on July 17, was 50 yeas to 49 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD MEMBER: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Randal Quarles to serve on the Federal Reserve board of governors for a 14-year term ending in 2032. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited Quarles’s domestic and international financial experience in multiple presidential administrations. An opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said that in his past year on the board, Quarles has been “doing favors for Wall Street at the expense of working families,” including by weakening standards meant to ensure that large banks do not lend recklessly. The vote, on July 17, was 66 yeas to 33 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Andrew S. Oldham to serve as a judge on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited Oldham’s unanimously well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association, recommendations from peers across the political spectrum, and experience litigating in federal appeals courts, as well as Oldham’s current service as general counsel to the Texas governor. The vote, on July 18, was 50 yeas to 49 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

RUSSIA RESOLUTION: The Senate has passed a resolution (S. Res. 584), sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressing the sense of the Senate opposing making current or former government employees available to the Russian government for questioning. Schumer cited the Putin-Trump summit meeting in Helsinki early this week as prompting the Senate to need to state its opposition to submitting “our citizens, let alone our ambassadors, to the interrogation of a foreign adversary” such as Russia. The vote, on July 19, was unanimous with 98 yeas.

YEAS: Collins, King

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