Among other legislation, the Senate passed the COVID-19 Origin Act, to require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information relating to the origin of COVID-19.

There were no key votes in the House this week.

SENATE VOTES

RUNNING MEDICARE AND MEDICAID: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Health and Human Services Department. Brooks-LaSure was a health care official in the Obama administration, then became a managing director at Manatt Health, a consultancy. An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said a no vote was needed to prompt the Biden administration to reverse its unprecedented revoking, without consultation, of Texas’s section 1115 Medicaid waiver. The vote, on May 25, was 55 yeas to 44 nays.

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

ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kristen M. Clarke to serve as a Justice Department assistant attorney general, heading the agency’s civil rights division. Clarke has been a lawyer in the division, at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and, for the past five years, was president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Clarke “a hugely accomplished civil rights attorney who has earned the respect of all sides.” An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited “a long history of statements that placed the nominee on, frankly, the far-left fringe of the political spectrum,” including cutting funding for the police. The vote, on May 25, was 51 yeas to 48 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

ENERGY FOUNDATION: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., to the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260), to create the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation, a nonprofit intended to help the Energy Department raise private funds for commercializing new energy technologies. Coons said the Foundation was needed because federal funding “has remained stagnant, threatening U.S. competitiveness and our potential to develop, bring to scale, and export clean energy technologies.” The vote, on May 26, was 83 yeas to 14 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

HUMAN-ANIMAL CHIMERAS: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., to the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260), that would have made it illegal to create certain types of human-animal chimera embryos. Braun said: “All life is sacred. It is Congress’s responsibility to enact commonsense bioethics.” An opponent, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said a ban “undermines scientifically significant research that could actually help develop new treatments and ultimately lead to lifesaving organ transplants.” The vote, on May 26, was 48 yeas to 49 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

DARPA FUNDING: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260), to authorize $3.5 billion a year, through fiscal 2026, of funding for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency research and development efforts in technology focus areas. Sasse said the added funding would help “make sure that Chairman Xi [Jinping of China] lies awake at night worrying about his critical infrastructure, his networks, and his vulnerabilities.” The vote, on May 26, was 67 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

TECHNOLOGY SECURITY: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260). The amendment would have established a process for federal counterintelligence agencies to screen researchers applying for grants to prevent economic espionage and the theft of U.S. intellectual property and technological research and development by China and other foreign countries. Rubio said of the need for security safeguards: “What is the point of putting up $200 billion of American public taxpayer money on pursuing all of this research if we are going to allow the Chinese to steal it?” An opponent, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the screening process would be excessive and impractical. The vote to table and reject the amendment, on May 27, was 55 yeas to 40 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

TRADE POLICY: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260). The amendment included numerous measures intended to improve the resiliency of critical supply chains and increase the effectiveness of trade agencies and trade programs, in part by countering censorship and barriers to digital trade imposed by China. Crapo said it “will significantly strengthen U.S. competitiveness in response to the malign activities that we continuously see growing from China.” The vote, on May 27, was 91 yeas to 4 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

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