Along with roll call votes last week, the Senate also passed the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (H.R. 244), to encourage effective, voluntary investments to recruit, employ and retain men and women who have served in the military with annual federal awards to employers recognizing such efforts. The House also passed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act (S. 305), to encourage the display of the U.S. flag on National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

HOUSE VOTES

TRAINING VA WORKERS: The House has passed a bill (H.R. 1367), sponsored by Rep. Brad R. Wenstrup, R-Ohio, to authorize the Veterans Affairs Department to establish a program for providing one-year executive management fellowships to VA employees. Wenstrup said the fellowships would help the VA identify staffing shortages, train employees to fill those shortages, and match qualified job applicants to vacant positions. The vote on March 17 was unanimous with 412 yeas.

YEAS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

OVERSIGHT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The House has passed the Reducing DHS Acquisition Cost Growth Act (H.R. 1294), sponsored by Rep. John H. Rutherford, R-Fla. The bill would require the Homeland Security Department to notify Congress of significant cost or scheduling problems that develop in the agency’s acquisition programs. Rutherford said the notices will work to hold program managers accountable for program failings. The vote on March 20 was unanimous with 408 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

HOMELAND SECURITY STRATEGIC PLANNING: The House has passed the DHS Multiyear Acquisition Strategy Act (H.R. 1249), sponsored by Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. The bill would require the Homeland Security Department to submit to Congress a multiyear plan for the agency’s purchases of technology systems, property and other assets. Fitzpatrick said Homeland Security spends billions of dollars annually without a cohesive strategic vision. The vote on March 20 was unanimous with 409 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

OVERSIGHT OF TSA SPENDING PLANS: The House has passed the Transparency in Technological Acquisitions Act (H.R. 1353), sponsored by Rep. Kathleen M. Rice, D-N.Y. The bill would require Homeland Security to provide Congress with more information about its 5-year strategic investment plan. Rice said tighter congressional oversight should avert the wasting of resources that businesses deploy to meet TSA acquisition plans that then change without adequate notice given to the businesses. The vote on March 21 was 414 yeas to 2 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

ANTITRUST LAW AND HEALTH INSURERS: The House has passed the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (H.R. 372), sponsored by Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Ariz. The bill would declare that health insurers are subject to federal antitrust laws. The vote on March 22 was 416 yeas to 7 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SMALL-BUSINESS HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: The House has passed the Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101), sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas. The bill would authorize the formation of association group health insurance plans by small businesses in multiple states. Johnson said that if small businesses join together to buy health insurance, they will lower costs for themselves and their employees by broadening risk pools. The vote on March 22 was 236 yeas to 175 nays.

NAYS: Pingree / YEAS: Poliquin

FOOD SECURITY MEASURES: The House has passed the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act (H.R. 1238), sponsored by Rep. David Young, R-Iowa. The bill would require the Homeland Security Department to develop a program for increasing defenses against terrorism in the country’s food, agriculture and veterinary sectors. The vote on March 22 was 406 yeas to 6 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

PRISON SENTENCING COMMISSION: The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Danny C. Reevers and Charles R. Breyer to serve as members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission for multiyear terms. A supporter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the confirmations were needed to give the commission a quorum and allow it to do its work of establishing sentencing guidelines for the federal courts. The vote on March 21 was unanimous with 98 yeas.

YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine, Angus King, I-Maine

MANAGING ALASKA’S WILDLIFE REFUGES: The Senate has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 69), sponsored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, disapproving of an Interior Department rule regulating hunting and fishing activities on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. A resolution supporter, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, called the rule a wrongful attempt by the federal government to usurp power by restricting Alaska’s management of the refuges in favor of management by remote bureaucrats. The vote on March 21 was 52 yeas to 47 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

RECORDS OF WORKER INJURIES: The Senate has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 83), sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., disapproving of a Labor Department rule adopted on Dec. 19 requiring employers to keep records for five years of work-related injuries and illnesses suffered by their employees. A resolution supporter, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said the rule violated a law that established a six-month record-keeping requirement. A resolution opponent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said “employers already vastly underreport workplace injuries and illnesses, and without this rule, underreporting will skyrocket.” The vote on March 22 was 50 yeas to 48 nays.

YEAS: Collins / NAYS: King

INTERNET PRIVACY: The Senate has passed a resolution (S.J. Res. 34), sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., that would disapprove of a Federal Communications Commission rule governing privacy and broadband Internet providers. A resolution supporter, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the rule unnecessarily targeted providers and, if upheld, would “make our internet ecosystem less efficient by adding more red tape.” A resolution opponent, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the rule, by requiring consumer consent for providers to collect and sell personal information about browsing history, sought to protect personal liberty. The vote on March 23 was 50 yeas to 48 nays.

YEAS: Collins / NAYS: King

ISRAEL AMBASSADOR: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of David Friedman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel. An opponent, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said Friedman had no diplomatic or government experience, extreme policy views on Israel and the Palestinians, and a history of opposing a two-state solution in Israel, which made Friedman “antagonistic to any realistic peace process with the Palestinians.” The vote on March 23 was 52 yeas to 46 nays.

YEAS: Collins / NAYS: King