WASHINGTON — Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Nov. 15:
Extending Export-Import Bank for 10 years. Voting 235 for and 184 against, the House on Nov. 15 passed a bill (HR 4863) that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank's congressional charter through fiscal 2029 while renaming it the United States Export Financing Agency. The bill would increase the bank's lending authority from $135 billion to $175 billion and require at least 5% of its annual financing to support sales of renewable-energy and energy-efficiency products. Established in the New Deal, the bank provides taxpayer-backed financing to help foreign customers purchase U.S. goods and services when private-sector lenders are unable or unwilling to provide the financial assistance. Fewer than 2% of the Ex-Im transactions have defaulted in recent years, and the bank usually returns a profit to the Treasury even with an exposure of $100 billion-plus in taxpayer liability. But critics say the agency distorts free markets by practicing "corporate welfare" and "crony capitalism."
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: Abigail Spanberger, D-7th.
Voting no: Denver Riggleman, R-5th.
Treating fossil fuels and clean energy equally. Voting 188 for and 232 against, the House on Nov. 15 defeated a GOP-sponsored amendment that sought to remove from HR 4863 (above) provisions that favor renewable-energy sales abroad over sales of fossil-fuel products. The bill requires sales of renewable-energy goods and services to overseas customers to receive at least 5% of the Export-Import Bank's annual lending authority. In addition, energy-related transactions would have to estimate the volume of carbon dioxide emitted by projects receiving Ex-Im subsidies. In part, the amendment would block creation of a new Ex-Im unit aimed at promoting energy-efficiency and renewable-energy exports and require the bank to weigh the overseas affordability of energy products before approving transactions.
A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Voting yes: Riggleman.
Voting no: Spanberger.
Barring assistance to Chinese human rights abusers. Voting 203 for and 218 against, the House on Nov. 15 defeated a GOP-sponsored motion to HR 4863 (above) that sought to place additional requirements on Export-Import Bank assistance designed to facilitate U.S. sales to companies owned by the Chinese government. Under the motion, the assistance would be denied in cases where the Chinese company has a record of human rights abuses.
A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
Voting yes: Riggleman, Spanberger.
Wolf for Homeland Security secretary. Voting 54 for and 41 against, the Senate on Nov. 13 confirmed Chad F. Wolf as an under secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. The vote paved the way for his promotion a day later to the post of acting secretary of homeland security. He becomes President Trump's fifth DHS secretary. Because Wolf's status is "acting," he avoids a confirmation process that would vet his qualifications to run what is the government's third-largest department with 240,000 employees. Democrats called this a misguided end-run around the Senate's constitutional "advice and consent" authority. A former lobbyist, Wolf has held several DHS positions, including chief of staff under former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, where he helped develop the administration's policy of breaking up migrant families on the southwest border.
A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
Voting no: Mark R. Warner (D); Tim Kaine (D).
Menashi for federal appeals judge. Voting 51 for and 41 against, the Senate on Nov. 14 confirmed Steven J. Menashi, a White House counsel and former Department of Education acting counsel, as a judge on the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over district courts in New York, Vermont and Connecticut. Menashi has been a law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, an attorney in private practice and a law-school professor. He drew Democratic criticism over his authorship of a Department of Education policy denying debt relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges, and for his stands on issues including Roe v. Wade, gun laws and LGBT rights.
A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
Voting no: Warner, Kaine.