Votes in Congress: How the area’s delegation voted this past week

{child_byline}Thomas Voting Reports Inc. via AP{/child_byline}

Votes in Congress

WASHINGTON — Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending July 12:

House

New rules for allocating green cards. Voting 365 for and 65 against, the House on July 10 passed a bill (HR 1044) that would change how green cards granting permanent legal status are allocated by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services to immigrants living in the United States on temporary, employment-based H1-B visas. Those visas are used primarily to bring highly skilled, well-educated foreigners into the U.S. workforce for periods generally ranging from three to six years, after which they are usually required leave the country if they have not received a green card. The bill would remove per-country caps on the number of employment-based green cards issued each year, and instead award them first-come, first-served. The current caps prohibit natives of any country from receiving more than 7% of the annual number of permanent, employment-based visas. That disadvantages workers from populous countries supplying large numbers of H1-B recipients. Those from smaller countries do not wait nearly as long.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: Denver Riggleman, R-5th; Abigail Spanberger, D-7th.

Inventory of U.S. bases overseas. Voting 219 for and 210 against, the House on July 11 required the Department of Defense to provide Congress with an inventory of U.S. military installations on foreign territory along with the cost of operating each one and an explanation of how it serves national security. The amendment was added to the fiscal 2020 military policy bill (HR 2500). The department reportedly owns several hundred permanent bases and short-term military facilities abroad, and the first-ever audit of Pentagon operations, released last November, was unable to locate many of them.

A yes vote was to require an inventory of U.S. military holdings abroad.

Voting no: Riggleman, Spanberger.

Presidential contracts with federal agencies. Voting 243 for and 186 against, the House on July 11 amended HR 2500 (above) to prohibit presidents, vice presidents and Cabinet members from holding contracts with the U.S. government, just as members of Congress are barred by federal law from doing. The rationale of the ban is that high-level federal officials, as insiders, could exert undue influence over the terms of the contract. The expanded ban presumably would prohibit any attempted renewal of the government’s contract for leasing the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington to the Trump International Hotel, which generates profits for the Trump Organization and therefore the president.

A yes vote was to bar top executive-branch officials, including presidents, from holding federal contracts.

Voting yes: Spanberger.

Voting no: Riggleman.

Protecting federal personnel agency. Voting 247 for and 182 against, the House on July 11 adopted an amendment to HR 2500 (above) that would scuttle a Trump administration proposal to downgrade the Office of Personnel Management by merging it with the General Services Administration. With 5,500 employees, the OPM administers programs ranging from health insurance to retirement accounts for millions of active and retired federal civilian workers and their families. The GSA, with a staff of 12,000, is charged with managing federal office space, transportation, communications and procurement, among other duties.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Voting yes: Spanberger.

Voting no: Riggleman.

9/11 victims’ compensation fund. By a vote of 402 for and 12 against, the House on July 12 passed a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through fiscal 2090. Administered by a special master, the fund pays economic and non-economic damages to 9/11 first responders and their survivors as well as to individuals with health problems as a result of participating in 9/11 cleanup efforts, and to their survivors. In addition, the bill would allow claims to be filed until October 2089, remove a cap on non-economic damages in certain circumstances and index for inflation the program’s annual limits on compensation for economic losses. The bill promptly replenishes the fund to avert threatened cuts of up to 70% in pending and future claims and makes whole claims already paid at reduced levels. Although the bill is projected to cost $10.2 billion in its first 10 years, and count-less billions after that as cancers and other latent diseases emerge, it does not yet include a “pay for” mechanism or long-term funding means.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: Riggleman, Spanberger.

$733 billion for military in 2020. Voting 220 for and 197 against, the House on July 12 authorized a $733 billion military budget (HR 2500) for fiscal 2020, including $69 billion for combat operations and more than $57 billion for active-duty and retiree health care. The bill sets a 3.1 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel; addresses global warming as a national-security threat; advances the closure of the Guantanamo Bay military prison; requires Pentagon strategies for countering Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. elections; lifts an administration ban on transgender military service; prohibits U.S. troop reductions in South Korea below 28,000; funds programs for military victims of sexual assault and approves tens of billions for conventional and nuclear weapons while defunding the development of low-yield nuclear weapons.

In addition, the bill requires what would be the first congressional authorization for the U.S. war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria forces in the Middle East. At the same time, it would effectively repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which, along with the Iraq war resolution approved in 2002, has been the legal basis of U.S. military actions since 9/11.

The bill also would establish 12 weeks’ paid family and medical leave for the federal work-force to accommodate circumstances including childbirth, adoptions, foster care and serious illness. The leave is now available without pay to civil servants under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, the bill allows military personnel who are victims of sexual assaults to receive emergency contraception at base clinics, and eliminates co-pays for contraceptive services provided by the Department of Defense health care system.

The bill also would bar funding for space-based missile defenses; prohibit the diversion of military funds to wall construction on the southwest border; halt the sale of F-35 aircraft to Turkey unless it cancels its purchase an air defense system from Russia; require the Marine Corps to admit women to basic training; fund repair of earthquake damages to military bases in Southern California; require more accurate and transparent reporting of U.S.-caused civilian casualties; and provide $250 million to in security assistance to Ukraine.

A yes vote was to send the bill to a House-Senate conference committee.

Voting yes: Spanberger.

Voting no: Riggleman.

Developing low-yield nuclear weapons. Voting 201 for and 221 against, the House on June 12 defeated a Republican amendment to HR 2500 (above) that sought to fund an administration plan to start mounting low-yield nuclear weapons — W76-2 warheads — on submarine-launched Trident ballistic missiles. Military planners say low-yield, or tactical, warheads are for use in limited conflicts, in contrast to strategic nuclear weapons, which are designed to destroy targets far from the immediate battlefield. Advocates say the United States needs to counter Russia’s extensive low-yield arsenal, while critics say the weapons heighten the risk of Armageddon because it is folly to think nuclear war can be waged on a limited basis.

A yes vote was to add low-yield nuclear weapons to the U.S. arsenal.

Voting yes: Riggleman.

Voting no: Spanberger.

Budget increase for combat readiness, pay raise. Voting 204 for and 212 against, the House on July 12 defeated a Republican motion that sought to add nearly $3 billion to HR 2500 (above) for purposes such as expanding combat accounts and increasing the bill’s pay raise for uniformed personnel from the 3.1% level requested by President Trump to 4%.

A yes vote was to adopt the motion.

Voting yes: Riggleman, Spanberger.

Senate

Pallasch for assistant labor secretary. Voting 54 for and 39 against, the Senate on July 10 con-firmed John P. Pallasch, the head of Kentucky’s employment and training agency, as an assistant secretary in the Department of Labor. He will lead the Employment and Training Administration, which consumes nearly two-thirds of the department’s budget while administering workplace programs for 22 million Americans. Pallasch was head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the George W. Bush administration.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

Voting no: Mark R. Warner (D); Tim Kaine (D).

King for assistant secretary of education. The Senate on July 11 confirmed, 56 for and 37 against, Robert L. King, the president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, as assistant secretary of postsecondary education. He served previously as head of the Arizona Community Foundation and chancellor of the State University of New York system of higher education, and he was an aide to former New York Gov. George Pataki.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

Voting no: Warner, Kaine.

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Thomas Voting Reports Inc. via AP

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