WASHINGTON — Here's how area senators voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Aug. 2. The House was in recess.
Approving two-year budget deal. Voting 67 for and 28 against, the Senate on Aug. 1 approved a two-year budget deal (HR 3877) that would allow Pentagon and non-military spending to increase by $320 billion over current levels while suspending the statutory borrowing limit until July 31, 2021, to prevent default on the $22 trillion national debt. The bill addresses the nearly 30% of the $4.6 trillion federal budget comprised of discretionary spending, leaving untouched the approximately 70% allocated to mandatory programs including Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits and ruling out tax increases as a means of curbing federal debt. The bill caps discretionary spending at $1.375 trillion for each of fiscal year 2020 and 2021 while anticipating annual deficits approaching $1 trillion and interest payments on the national debt likely to top $400 billion annually.
A yes vote was to send the bill to President Donald Trump.
Voting yes: Mark R. Warner (D); Tim Kaine (D).
Blocking increase in national debt limit. Voting 23 for and 70 against, the Senate on Aug. 1 defeated an amendment to HR 3877 (above) that would block any increase in the statutory debt limit until after Congress has imposed fiscal discipline in three areas — the Senate and House would have to enact major spending cuts, restore spending caps that the underlying bill removes and, thirdly, send the states a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Voting no: Warner, Kaine.
Upholding Trump veto of Saudi arms measure. Voting 45 for and 40 against, the Senate on July 29 failed to override President Trump's veto of a measure (SJ Res 36) that would prohibit the sale of up to $8 billion in U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and its allies for use against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen. The munitions consist mainly of tens of thousands of laser-guided "smart" bombs. Critics needed a two-thirds majority of senators present and voting to defeat the veto. This marked Trump's second successful veto this year of attempts by Congress check the administration's expanding military alliance with Saudi Arabia. With the other veto, he turned back a measure that would end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war unless it receives congressional authorization under the 1973 War Powers Resolution.
A yes vote was to override the presidential veto.
Voting yes: Warner, Kaine.
Confirming Kelly Craft as United Nations ambassador. Voting 56 for and 34 against, the Senate on July 31 confirmed Kelly Craft as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Craft has been U.S. ambassador to Canada since October 2017 and was an alternate delegate to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration. She received her appointment to Ottawa after her husband, Joe Craft, a Kentucky-based coal producer, contributed more than $1 million to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Republicans praised Craft's work in Canada on matters including a trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. But Democrats faulted her for having spent 357 days away from Canada while ambassador and for allowing her husband to take part in meetings on energy and environmental policies. They also criticized Craft for doubting the science validating global warming and climate change.
A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
Voting no: Warner, Kaine.