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Congressional Roll Call: June 18, 2017


Targeted News Service
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Here’s a look at how members of Congress voted over the previous week.

House

Health Insurance Tax Credit: The House has passed the Verify First Act (H.R. 2581), sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., to block a taxpayer from receiving the health insurance premium assistance tax credit until the taxpayer’s status as a legal U.S. resident has been verified by the federal government. Barletta said the verification requirement would work to stop fraudulent tax credit claims and fulfill an obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer funds by not giving aid to people who do not need or deserve government assistance.

An opponent, Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., said existing verification requirements were adequate protection against fraud, and the bill “would make it more difficult for American families to access affordable healthcare.”

The vote, on Tuesday, was 238 yeas to 184 nays.

Voting no: Annie Kuster, a Democrat; Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat

VA Reforms: The House has passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 1094), sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The bill would establish an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the VA and establish measures intended to hold VA employees to accountability standards and protect agency whistleblowers from retaliation. A supporter, Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., said the changes would improve care for veterans by creating “a more efficient and effective system to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct.”

The vote, on Tuesday, was 368 yeas to 55 nays.

Voting yes: Kuster, Shea-Porter

COBRA Health Plans: The House has passed the Broader Options for Americans Act (H.R. 2579), sponsored by Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi, R-Ohio. The bill would allow those enrolled in COBRA health insurance plans provided by their former employers to continue to receive the premium assistance tax credit, under the health care legislation now under consideration by Congress. Tiberi said re-establishing the COBRA credit would give consumers who have lost a job more options in choosing health insurance and maintaining their level of health care.

A bill opponent, Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., said the COBRA credit, by encouraging older and sicker workers to remain on COBRA, would create a backdoor path for insurers to discriminate against existing health conditions.

The vote, on Thursday, was 267 yeas to 144 nays.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter

Voting no: Kuster

Senate

Assistant Defense Secretary: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kenneth P. Rapuano to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security. Rapuano, a former Marine, had served in various positions in the Defense and Energy Departments, and was Deputy Homeland Security Advisor during part of the George W. Bush administration. His nomination was not debated on the Senate floor.

The vote, on Monday, was 95 yeas to 1 nay.

Voting yes: Maggie Hassan, a Democrat; Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat

Exporting Weapons to Saudi Arabia: The Senate has rejected a motion to discharge a resolution (S.J. Res. 42), sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, that would state congressional disapproval of the inclusion of precision-guided munitions as part of a recent agreement to export $110 billion of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia. Paul criticized Saudi Arabia for its support of extremist Muslim groups that threaten U.S. and for military operations in Yemen that, Paul said, have put 17 million Yemenis on the brink of starvation.

A resolution opponent, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the exported precision-guided munitions would be of vital importance for the Saudi military in its operations against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen and other Iranian efforts to destabilize the Middle East and disrupt the U.S.-led world order.

The vote to discharge, on Tuesday, was 47 yeas to 53 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

Sanctions Against Russia: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (S. 722). The amendment would impose and expand sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, activities in Ukraine, and cyberwarfare against the U.S. Crapo said the sanctions regime “signals to the world that the United States has unflagging commitment to the sanctity of territorial integrity, human rights, and good governance.”

The vote, on Wednesday, was 97 yeas to 2 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

NASA and Russia Sanctions: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (S. 722). The amendment would exempt NASA programs from the bill’s imposition of sanctions on Russia. Gardner said the exemption would allow NASA space launches to continue without interruption and decrease U.S. reliance on Russian spacecraft to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station.

An amendment opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it “a giveaway to the Russian military industrial complex” in its effective continuation of U.S. dependence on Russian rocket engines.

The vote, on Thursday, was 94 yeas to 6 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

NATO Defense Affirmation: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (S. 722). The amendment would reaffirm the strategic importance and success of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which pledges NATO member countries to respond to an attack against any NATO member as if it were an attack against all NATO members.

The vote, on Thursday, was unanimous with 100 yeas.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

Iran Sanctions: The Senate has passed a bill (S. 722), sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. The bill would impose sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program and Iranian backing of terrorist groups and human rights violators. Corker said the sanctions, by holding Iran accountable for activities that threaten the U.S. and U.S. allies, would send the message that the U.S. “will no longer look the other way in the face of continued Iran aggression.”

The vote, on Thursday, was 98 yeas to 2 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

Along with roll call votes this week, the House also passed the HYdropower Permit Extension Act (H.R. 2274), to provide for extended periods relating to preliminary permits and commencement of construction of hydropower projects; and passed a bill (H.R. 338), to promote a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce. The Senate also passed a resolution (S. Res. 193), commending the bravery of the U.S. Capitol Police, police department of Alexandria, Va., and other first responders for their actions during the shootings on Wednesday at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria.