Congressional Roll Call: March 17, 2017

By Targeted News Service
Sunday, March 19, 2017

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


Firing VA Employees: The House has passed the VA Accountability First Act (H.R. 1259), sponsored by Rep. David P. Roe, R-Tenn. The bill would establish streamlined procedures for demoting or firing Department of Veterans Affairs employees for poor performance. Roe said it “put veterans and their families first and foremost” by holding VA employees accountability when they fail to do their jobs.

An opponent, Rep Tim Walz, D-Minn., faulted the bill for failing to also hold VA management accountable for overseeing programs that fail to adequately serve veterans.

The vote, on Thursday, was 237 yeas to 178 nays.

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

Veterans’ Access to Firearms: The House has passed the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 1181), sponsored by Rep. David P. Roe, R-Tenn. The bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to have a judicial finding that a given veteran is a danger to himself or herself or others in order to classify the veteran as mentally incompetent to manage his or her financial benefits and possess a firearm. Roe said that under current VA policy, the same veterans who fought to defend constitutional rights for Americans can have those rights taken without a judicial hearing and due process.

An opponent, Rep. Elizabeth H. Esty, D-Conn., said the bill’s changes would make it easier for veterans at risk of committing suicide or homicide to use guns for violent purposes.

The vote, on Thursday, was 240 yeas to 175 nays.

Voting no: Kuster, Shea-Porter


Running Medicare and Medicaid: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Seema Verma to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Health and Human Services Department. A supporter, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, cited Verma’s more than two decades of experience working in health insurance and health care for the impoverished at the state level, and said that experience would help Verma shape policies to improve the lives of Americans covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

An opponent, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., raised concerns about Verma consulting for private companies impacted by the health care policies she worked on in Indiana. Wyden also questioned Verma’s knowledge of basic Medicare and Medicaid issues she would oversee if confirmed.

The vote, on Monday, was 55 yeas to 43 nays.

Voting no: Maggie Hassan, a Democrat; Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat

Drug Tests and Unemployment Compensation: The Senate has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 42), sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, disapproving of a Labor Department rule restricting state government from requiring drug testing for those applying for unemployment compensation. A supporter, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said a 2012 law overturned a previous Labor ban on such drug tests, and the resolution was necessary to block an Obama administration effort to nullify that law.

An opponent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the rule should be preserved “to ensure equitable access to unemployment benefits.”

The vote, on Tuesday, was 51 yeas to 48 nays.

Voting no: Hassan, Shaheen

Intelligence Director: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Daniel Coats to serve as director of National Intelligence. A supporter, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said Coats, until recently a senator from Indiana, had extensive familiarity with intelligence activities and an understanding of the need for the CIA and other agencies to be transparent with Congress and the public.

An opponent, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Coats had not committed to releasing information vital to the question of whether to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The vote, on Wednesday, was 85 yeas to 12 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

General McMaster: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Herbert R. McMaster Jr., to serve as a lieutenant general in the Army. A supporter, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., said McMaster had a reputation for being willing to criticize and dissent from policies he believed were wrong, and that as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, he “will restore order to the National Security Council, and will steward a foreign policy that makes America safer.”

An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was deeply concerned that McMaster’s judgment would not be followed by President Trump.

The vote, on Wednesday, was 86 yeas to 10 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan, Shaheen

In addition to roll call votes this week, the House also passed a resolution (S.J. Res. 1), approving the location of a memorial to commemorate and honor the members of the military who served in Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield.