There were two key votes and three roll call votes in the Senate in the week ending Thursday, and nine key votes in the House, which held 34 roll call votes.

The most important Senate vote was to reject an amendment that sought to classify the nuclear development agreement with Iran as a treaty requiring Senate approval. The most important House vote was to approve the conference report with the Senate for the 2016 federal government budget.

Along with roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act (S. 665), sponsored by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., to promote Blue Alert plans for distributing information about threats to law enforcement officers as well as alerts about missing, wounded or killed law enforcement officers; and the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act (S. 304), sponsored by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to improve motor vehicle safety by encouraging employees of car manufacturers, dealers, and parts suppliers to share with the Transportation Department information about defects and violations that create health risks for consumers.

HOUSE VOTES

House Vote 1

FEDERAL LANDS AND SEARCH-AND-RECOVERY MISSIONS: The House has passed the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act (H.R. 373), sponsored by Rep. Joseph J. Heck, R-Nev. The bill would direct the Interior and Agriculture Departments to expedite access to lands managed by the agencies for Good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions, and exempt such missions from a requirement to have liability insurance in order to access those lands. Heck said the months of delay in recently allowing two search-and-recovery groups onto federal land near Las Vegas to recover the bodies of missing men must not be repeated, and the bill, by expediting such recovery missions, would help provide closure for families of the missing. The vote, on April 28, was unanimous with 413 yeas.

YEA: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 2

NATIONAL FOREST IN COLORADO: The House has passed the Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act (H.R. 1324), sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. The bill would add 92.95 acres of land to the Arapaho National Forest in north-central Colorado. Polis said incorporating the land into the national forest would protect the tourist appeal and environmental health of both the forest and the adjoining Rocky Mountain National Park. The vote, on April 28, was 381 yeas to 30 nays.

YEA: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 3

INCREASING FUNDING FOR THE VA: The House has sustained a point of order against an amendment sponsored by Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Ga., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029). The amendment would have provided an added $1.5 billion of funding for the VA and military construction projects. Bishop said the increase, which would bring total funding to the amount requested by the VA and military, as well as President Obama, was necessary to make full investments in health care and other services for veterans. An opponent, Rep. Charles W. Dent, R-Pa., said the amendment was not in order because it would amend parts of the bill not yet taken up by the full House. The vote, on April 29, was 237 yeas to 180 nays.

NAY: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 4

CONFERENCE REPORT FOR BUDGET PLAN: The House has agreed to the conference report with the Senate to accompany a resolution (S. Con. Res. 11), sponsored by Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo. The resolution would set forth a fiscal 2016 budget for the federal government and outline budgets for fiscal 2017 through 2025. A supporter, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., called it a plan to “get Washington’s fiscal house in order” by balancing the budget within 10 years by cutting spending by more than $5 trillion and not raising taxes, spurring economic growth by reforming the government and reducing oppressive federal regulations. A resolution opponent, Rep.Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said it proposed large tax breaks for the rich while cutting investment in education, science and health research, and infrastructure, and would not produce a balanced budget. The vote, on April 30, was 226 yeas to 197 nays.

NAY: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 5

ACCOUNTING FOR MILITARY SPENDING: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029). The amendment would have struck from the bill a paragraph regarding the use of overseas contingency account funds meant for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to help fund the base military budget. Van Hollen said such use was an “accounting scam” that violated principles of honest budgeting. An amendment opponent, Rep. Charles W. Dent, R-Pa., said using the overseas contingency account funds for ordinary military spending had substantial precedent and was appropriate. The vote, on April 30, was 191 yeas to 229 nays.

YEA: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 6

UNION ACTIVITIES AND FEDERAL WORKERS: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jody B. Hice, R-Ga., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029). The amendment would have blocked pay for federal government workers that are using official time to work on union-related activities. Hice said official time costs the government hundreds of millions of dollars annually, funds that he said could be used to help improve services and health care for military veterans. An amendment opponent, Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Ga., called it a punitive measure that could violate collective bargaining rights for federal employees in the civil service by curtailing their ability to ensure that the conditions of employment stipulated by collective bargaining agreements are upheld by the government. The vote, on April 30, was 190 yeas to 232 nays.

NAY: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 7

VA, MILITARY CONSTRUCTION FUNDING: The House has passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029), sponsored by Rep. Charles W. Dent, R-Pa. The bill would appropriate funds for the VA and military construction projects in fiscal 2016, including $163.2 billion for the VA and $7.7 billion for construction. Dent said the nearly 6 percent increase in funding over 2015 levels balanced the goals of cost efficiency and caring for veterans, including sustained oversight of troubled VA health care programs to ensure that those programs “deliver what they promise and taxpayers are well served by the investments we make.” A bill opponent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., said it fell more than $1 billion short of adequately funding the VA, and without adequate funding, veterans will continue to face lengthy delays for medical care. The vote, on April 30, was 255 yeas to 163 nays.

NAY: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 8

D.C. BIRTH CONTROL DISCRIMINATION LAW: The House has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 43), sponsored by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., expressing disapproval of the Washington, D.C., Council’s passage of a law to protect employees from discrimination by an employer based on the employee’s reproductive health decisions, including abortion and birth control. Black said the law violated First Amendment protections for political and religious organizations. A resolution opponent, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., called it an “offensive effort to intrude into the most intimate of decisions of a woman’s life.” The vote, on April 30, was 228 yeas to 192 nays.

NAY: Pingree, D-Maine

House Vote 9

LIGHT BULB EFFICIENCY RULES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2028). The amendment would bar funding for the Energy Department to enforce rules regarding energy efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs. Burgess said the so-called light bulb mandate was regulatory excess by the federal government that would create unacceptably high lighting costs for working families. A bill opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said the mandate has led to the development of more efficient, less costly incandescent light bulbs, and reversing it would create regulatory uncertainty for companies that have invested to make the more advanced light bulbs. The vote, on April 30, was 232 yeas to 189 nays.

NAY: Pingree, D-Maine

SENATE VOTES

Senate Vote 1

NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act (H.R. 1191). The amendment would have found any agreement between the U.S. and Iran involving Iran’s nuclear development program to be a treaty requiring Senate approval to take effect. Johnson said the importance of the proposed agreement justified Congress overriding its previous decision to give President Obama authority to waive sanctions against Iran and exert its authority to pass judgment on the pact. An amendment opponent, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said other legislation before Congress would give it adequate oversight of the pact and its implementation. Corker added that he believed the pact was not a treaty requiring the consent of Congress. The vote, on April 28, was 39 yeas to 57 nays.

YEA: Collins, R-Maine

NAY: King, I-Maine

Senate Vote 2

IRAN AND TERRORISM: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act (H.R. 1191). The amendment would have required the president to certify, as part of a nuclear agreement with Iran, that Iran has not directly supported or carried out an act of terrorism against the U.S. or U.S. citizens. Barrasso said the terrorism provision would “make it clear to Iran that Congress will be able to respond immediately to terrorist actions against us” by Iran’s government. An amendment opponent, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., said the certification requirement would jeopardize passage of the underlying bill on the Iran nuclear agreement, which would decrease the chances of the U.S. getting Iran to end its nuclear weapons program. The vote, on April 29, was 45 yeas to 54 nays.

YEA: Collins, R-Maine

NAY: King, I-Maine