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Congressional Roll Call: June 22, 2018


Targeted News Service
Sunday, June 24, 2018

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

House

Improving Disposal of Opioids: The House has passed the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate Disposal and Packaging Act (H.R. 5687), sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C. The bill would direct the Food and Drug Administration to issue requirements for opioid manufacturers to take measures that change the packaging and disposal of their products, in order to reduce overprescribing and abuse of the opioids. Hudson said many cases of opioid addiction come from surpluses of prescribed opioids remaining in the home after they are not needed, and the bill was a first step to reducing that oversupply.

The vote, on Tuesday, was 342 yeas to 13 nays.

Voting yes: Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat; Annie Kuster, a Democrat

Seniors and Narcotics Prescriptions: The House has passed the Stop Excessive Narcotics in our Retirement Communities Protection Act (H.R. 5676), sponsored by Rep. Thomas MacArthur, R-N.J. The bill would authorize Medicare to suspend payments to a pharmacy under suspicion of fraud, pending the results of a Medicare investigation of that pharmacy. MacArthur cited cases of pharmacies using stolen Medicare numbers to fraudulently bill Medicare for opioid prescriptions, and said payment suspensions will stop Medicare dollars from having to pay for prescriptions filled by the very pharmacies suspected of fraudulently billing the agency.

The vote, on Tuesday, was 356 yeas to 3 nays.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster

Medicaid and Opioid Addiction: The House has passed the Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Delivery Act (H.R. 5797), sponsored by Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif. The bill would allow states to receive payments from Medicaid for enrollees aged 21 to 64 with opioid use disorders who are provided inpatient treatment services in institutions for mental diseases. Walters said the bill, by lifting the current ban on Medicaid funding of the inpatient services, would expand options for combating the opioid epidemic.

An opponent, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., faulted the bill for failing to expand overall federal funding of state-provided Medicaid services.

The vote, on Wednesday, was 261 yeas to 155 nays.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster

Sharing Substance Abuse Information: The House has passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082), sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., to authorize the release of an insured patient’s substance use disorder records to various healthcare providers and health insurers. Mullin said ending the current regime of federal criminal penalties for sharing substance use records without the patient’s written consent would, by giving healthcare providers more information about a patient’s health situation, improve their ability to provide effective care.

An opponent, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., said the bill’s weakening of privacy protections for people with substance abuse problems would leave those people vulnerable to unwarranted harm resulting from employers and governments learning of their problems.

The vote, on Wednesday, was 357 yeas to 57 nays.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster

Immigration Reform: The House has rejected the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. The bill would have eliminated the diversity visa program, barred government entities from adopting so-called sanctuary city policies for blocking compliance with immigration laws, mandated use of the E-Verify program for verifying an employee’s citizenship status, and assigned DACA beneficiaries with renewable legal nonimmigrant status. Goodlatte called the bill a measure “to strengthen our borders, close gaping loopholes, curtail endemic fraud, and enhance interior immigration enforcement so that our nation won’t face the same dilemma” it now faces with DACA in the future.

An opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said: “This bill fails to repair our broken immigration system and, indeed, in many ways, makes it even worse, and all without substantially helping the Dreamers.”

The vote, on Thursday, was 193 yeas to 231 nays.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster

Farm and Food Stamps Bill: The House has passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R. 2), sponsored by Rep. Michael K. Conaway, R-Texas. The bill would reauthorize Agriculture Department programs through fiscal 2023, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, farm regulation and subsidy programs, and trade in crop products. Conaway called the bill “a safety net to see” farmers and ranchers through a deep slump in their income due to low commodity prices by helping them fight against predatory trade subsidies by China and other countries, while also addressing the opioid epidemic and the need for better broadband Internet access.

A bill opponent, Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said it would cut $23 billion of vital SNAP benefits, did not do enough to help farmers, and “fails our energy independence goals” by slashing government backing for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The vote, on Thursday, was 213 yeas to 211 nays.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster

Senate

2019 Military Budget: The Senate has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515), sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, to authorize up to $716 billion of spending on the Defense Department and military construction programs in fiscal 2019. A supporter, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said investment in the military was needed because “America no longer enjoys the comparative advantage it once had over our competitors and adversaries,” despite still playing a central role in providing security and peaceful relations across the planet.

An opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, ID-Vt., said Congress should spend less on the military and more on improving circumstances for older Americans with no retirement savings, impoverished children, and generally “addressing the issues and the needs of the working people of this country.”

The vote, on Monday, was 85 yeas to 10 nays.

Voting yes: Maggie Hassan, a Democrat

Not voting: Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat

Research and Development Efforts: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment expressed the sense of the Senate that Congress and the Energy Department should continue to increase scientific research and development funding at government and non-government organizations.

The vote, on Tuesday, was 93 yeas to 3 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan

Not voting: Shaheen

Advanced Nuclear Reactors: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would increase funding for the use of spent nuclear fuel from the Navy’s nuclear reactors at Energy Department laboratories that are developing advanced nuclear reactor designs.

The vote, on Wednesday, was 87 yeas to 9 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan

Not voting: Shaheen

Returning Unspent Funds: The Senate has rejected a motion to discharge from committee 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, $14.8 billion that was appropriated for spending by various federal agencies but has not been spent. A bill supporter, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said canceling the spending would be “one small step toward sanity” by Congress as a measure of budgetary discipline.

An opponent, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., called it an unconscionable move to “cut children’s health insurance, affordable housing investments, infrastructure, rural development, and innovative energy programs.”

The vote, on Wednesday, was 48 yeas to 50 nays.

Voting no: Hassan

Not voting: Shaheen

Transparency at the VA: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would bar funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies funded by the appropriations bill for the denial of documents requested by agency inspectors general. A supporter, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said evidence of the VA in particular seeking to hide damaging documents from its inspector general showed that Congress must ensure that it is “held accountable to the veterans and taxpayers” by stopping it from blocking the uncovering of misbehavior.

The vote, on June 20, was unanimous with 96 yeas.

Voting yes: Hassan

Not voting: Shaheen

Veterans and Emerging Tech Industries: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would direct the Energy Department to analyze the possibility of partnering with colleges and private businesses near military bases to train veterans to enter the cybersecurity, energy, and artificial intelligence workforces. A supporter, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said the partnerships could help link veterans with high-demand skills to industries that are in need of those skills.

The vote, on Thursday, was unanimous with 96 yeas.

Voting yes: Hassan

Not voting: Shaheen

Waters of the United States Rule: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would have voided the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule. Lee said if not overturned, the rule will subject land users to ruinous and arbitrary fines from bureaucrats for actions taken on land that should not be under federal water management authority.

An amendment opponent, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Waters of the United States was already being revoked by the Trump administration and the courts, and added that the amendment belonged in an authorizing bill rather than an appropriations bill.

The vote to table, on Thursday, was 62 yeas to 34 nays.

Voting yes: Hassan

Not voting: Shaheen