In addition to roll call votes this week, the Senate also passed a resolution (S.J. Res. 49), condemning the violence that took place during events on August 11 and August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia; passed the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act (S. 102), to direct the Federal Communications Commission to commence proceedings related to the resiliency of critical communications networks during times of emergency; and passed the Abolish Human Trafficking Act (S. 1311), to provide assistance in abolishing human trafficking in the United States.

The House also passed the Homeland Threat Assessment Act (H.R. 2470), to require an annual homeland threat assessment; and passed the Homeland Security Assessment of Terrorists Use of Virtual Currencies Act (H.R. 2433), to direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis to develop and disseminate a threat assessment regarding terrorist use of virtual currency.

HOUSE VOTES

DEBT CEILING, HURRICANE RELIEF: The House has agreed to the Senate amendment to the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act (H.R. 601), sponsored by Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., that would provide government funding through December 8, raise the debt ceiling until that same date, and provide $15 billion to fund Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Lowey said the amendment would give Congress time “to develop a new budget agreement with realistic caps on defense and nondefense discretionary spending.” An opponent, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the amendment a continuation of Congress’s dysfunctional budgeting process, which is doing “enormous, lasting damage to the American military.” The vote, on Sept. 8, was 316 yeas to 90 nays.

YEAS: Chellie Pingree,

D-1st District, Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

WELL METHANE FLARING RULE: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The amendment would block funding for a Bureau of Land Management rule concerning the venting and flaring of natural gas from gas and oil wells on federal land. Pearce said the estimated $60,000 per well cost of complying with the rule could force many operators of stripper wells that produce small amounts of gas and oil to take those wells offline, creating an “economic catastrophe.” An amendment opponent, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said going forward with enforcement of the rule “would prevent the waste of an estimated 65 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year and save taxpayers $330 million annually.” The vote, on Sept. 8, was 216 yeas to 186 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

REGULATING METHANE EMISSIONS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The amendment would bar funding for implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 rule restricting methane emissions from oil and natural gas production and transmission. Mullin said the rule duplicated other federal regulations and was “estimated to cost the U.S. economy $530 million annually.” An amendment opponent, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said methane emissions put public health at risk, “including more heat waves and drought” due to climate change. The vote, on Sept. 13, was 225 yeas to 186 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

REGULATING COASTAL AREAS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The amendment would block funding for implementation of a 2010 Obama administration executive order setting forth a National Ocean Policy on federal regulation of the nation’s coastal areas. Flores said the order usurped Congress’s legislative powers, making the ban on funding necessary to uphold Congress’s constitutional rights to authorize and appropriate funds for regulating coastal areas. An amendment opponent, Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., said the order merely sought to increase coordination by various government agencies to “reduce inefficiency, waste, and redundancy” and improve management of the coastal areas. The vote, on Sept. 13, was 216 yeas to 199 nays.

NAYS: Pingree, Poliquin

CRIMINAL ALIENS AND SANCTUARY CITIES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ken Buck, R- Colo., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The amendment would block funding under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for municipalities that do not comply with federal immigration law by failing to apprehend aliens with at least one felony or two misdemeanor convictions. Buck said such sanctuary cities “must not continue using taxpayer money to flagrantly violate federal immigration law and put American citizens at risk.” An opponent, Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., said the amendment “would degrade trust between immigrant communities and local police, thereby undermining public safety in all communities and for all residents.” The vote, on Sept. 13, was 226 yeas to 191 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

UNIONIZATION ELECTIONS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The amendment would block funding for implementation of a National Labor Relations Board’s rule allowing rapid unionization elections by a business’s workforce. Walberg said such so-called ambush elections gave workers too little time to decide whether unionization would be a good idea, and also greatly limited an employer’s ability to communicate with employees before an election. An opponent, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said the election rule “improves workers’ ability to hear from all sides prior to making a decision, and it reduces frivolous litigation” around elections. The vote, on Sept. 13, was 221 yeas to 196 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

DEPORTING ALIEN GANG MEMBERS: The House has passed the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act (H.R. 3697), sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va. The bill would allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to proceed with the deportation of illegal aliens who are members of criminal gangs. Comstock called the new process an improvement over current law, which requires convictions for specific crimes before removal proceedings can begin, while preserving the due process rights of aliens facing deportation. A bill opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said it “would shred due process protections and would allow deportation of innocent immigrants based on the flimsiest of evidence.” The vote, on Sept. 14, was 233 yeas to 175 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

2018 DISCRETIONARY BUDGET: The House has passed the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif. The bill would provide $1.2 trillion of fiscal 2018 funding for the military and various discretionary government programs, including Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency. A supporter, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said it prioritized safety by funding measures to combat opioid abuse, secure the border, fight terrorism, and stop trafficking in illegal drugs and goods. A bill opponent, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said “it breaks our promises to women, to seniors, to students, and to our workforce” by cutting funding for reproductive health, workforce development and education programs, and blocking funding for Affordable Care Act programs. The vote, on Sept. 14, was 211 yeas to 198 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kevin Allen Hassett to serve as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the president. A supporter, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., cited Hassett’s extensive experience as an adviser to several past presidents and as an economist at the Federal Reserve as making Hassett exceptionally qualified to chair the Council. An opponent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., claimed that Hassett “wants an economy that keeps working great for those on top, and if it leaves working families further behind, that is just too bad.” The vote, on Sept. 12, was 81 yeas to 16 nays.

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

AUTHORIZATION FOR IRAQ WAR: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810). The amendment would have repealed Congress’s 2002 resolution authorizing the war against Iraq and the Saddam Hussein regime. Paul said the repeal was needed to prompt Congress to fulfill its constitutional role of overseeing military actions and authorize them with geographical and time limits. An amendment opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said a repeal that did not involve simultaneously passing a new authorization “would be premature, it would be irresponsible, it would threaten U.S. national security, and it would inhibit our democracy-building efforts abroad.” The vote to table, on Sept. 13, was 61 yeas to 36 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

HOUSING DEPUTY SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Pamela Hughes Patenaude to serve as Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A supporter, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said Patenaude had substantial experience in housing policy at the local and federal level, nearly unanimous support from affordable housing advocates and public housing agencies, and experience in the Bush administration responding to housing needs created by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. An opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, cited Patenaude’s support for what he called the Trump administration’s “terrible budget” proposal for HUD, including the end of the agency’s community development block grant programs. The vote, on Sept. 14, was 80 yeas to 17 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

2018 MILITARY BUDGET: The Senate has approved a cloture motion to end debate on the substitute amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810). The amendment would authorize a $700 billion military budget for fiscal 2018. A supporter, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said it gave soldiers a deserved pay raise and improved military readiness by increasing personnel levels. The vote to end debate, on Sept. 14, was 84 yeas to 9 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King