Along with roll call votes last week, the Senate also passed a bill (S. 2974), to ensure funding for the National Human Trafficking Hotline; passed the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act (S. 461), to provide alternative financing arrangements for services and infrastructure at land border ports of entry; passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act (H.R. 1561), to improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather research capabilities; and passed the BOTS Act (S. 3183), to prohibit the circumvention of control measures used by Internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for any given event.

The House also passed the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act (H.R. 5458), to provide for coordination between the TRICARE program and eligibility for making contributions to a health savings account; passed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act (S. 2577), to protect crime victims’ rights and change forensic testing practices; passed the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act (H.R. 5877), to promote cooperative homeland security research and anti-terrorism programs relating to cybersecurity; passed a bill (H. Con. Res. 165), expressing the sense of Congress in support of a direct bilaterally negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and passed the Northern Border Security Review Act (S. 1808), to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a Northern Border threat analysis.


FUNDING TRAFFICKING HOTLINE: The House has passed a bill (H.R. 5422), sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to provide funding through the Health and Human Services Department rather than the Justice Department for the federal government’s National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Poe said the shift in funding would make the trafficking hotline operate more efficiently and effectively, improving its ability to prevent and identify cases of sex trafficking. The vote, on Nov. 29, was unanimous with 399 yeas.

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

HONORING VETERANS AT PRIVATE CEMETERIES: The House has passed a bill (H.R. 4757), sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., to direct the Veterans Affairs Department to furnish, for veterans buried at private cemeteries who received the Medal of Honor, headstones or other objects that identify them as medal recipients. Miller said the identification of Medal of Honor recipients “would help us fulfill our duty as a nation to encourage continued respect and admiration for those that have gone on before us.” The vote, on Nov. 29, was unanimous with 401 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

VETERANS AND COLLEGE CREDITS: The House has passed the Protecting Veterans’ Educational Choice Act (H.R. 5047), sponsored by Rep. Jody B. Hice, R-Ga. The bill would direct the Veterans Affairs and Labor Departments to provide soldiers and veterans with information about agreements between institutions of higher learning regarding the transferability of degree credits between the institutions. Hice said informing veterans about credit transfers would give them “as much information as they need at the front end of their educational choices that will best benefit them and their families.” The vote, on Nov. 30, was 411 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

MEDICAL RESEARCH: The House has agreed to the Senate amendment to the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34), sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore. The bill would establish programs at the National Institutes of Health to promote biomedical research and change processes for reviewing new drugs. A supporter, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said it “will ensure that our health system can keep pace with the incredible advances in science and technology.” The vote, on Nov. 30, was 392 yeas to 26 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

INTELLIGENCE SPENDING IN 2017: The House has passed the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 6393), sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. The bill would authorize fiscal 2017 spending on the federal government’s various intelligence and intelligence-related efforts, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Nunes said it balanced fiscal discipline and national security concerns, cutting unessential spending while adequately funding high-priority initiatives. The vote, on Nov. 30, was 390 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

INCREASING HOUSE COMMITTEE FUNDING: The House has passed a bill (H. Res. 933), sponsored by Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., to increase 2016 spending by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by $800,000, with the funds going to the committee’s Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. A supporter, Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said the funding would free up space in the committee’s budget for it to complete its vital work on legislation covering electronic communications, the environment, and health care. An opponent, Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., called the panel “a partisan witch hunt” by Republicans that was “a direct assault on women’s health care and the right to choose.” The vote, on Dec. 1, was 234 yeas to 181 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

STANDARDS FOR REGULATING FINANCIAL RISKS: The House has passed the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act (H.R. 6392), sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo. The bill would change the rule for enhanced government supervision of financial institutions by replacing the current $50 billion threshold for supervision with a method that evaluates the risk that an institution’s business practices pose to the country’s financial system. Luetkemeyer said reforming the supervisory standard by removing an arbitrary dollar figure would make for a more pragmatic and effective strategy for limiting financial risks. A bill opponent, Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., said its requirement that regulators determine which banks need heightened supervision within 12 months would not give them enough time to study financial risks. The vote, on Dec. 1, was 254 yeas to 161 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin


HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION: The Senate has passed the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes Act (S. 2873), sponsored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, to require the Health and Human Services Department to study ways to use collaborative learning systems to improve its education and health care programs. Hatch said that by bringing “expertise to providers serving rural populations by enabling them to gain the skills they need to care for people living in their communities,” the bill should improve care in rural and underserved areas. The vote, on Nov. 29, was unanimous with 97 yeas.

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

EXTENDING IRAN SANCTIONS: The Senate has passed the Iran Sanctions Extension Act (H.R. 6297), sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Royce, R-Calif., to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996. A supporter, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said the extension would limit Iran’s ability to support terrorist groups. The vote, on Dec. 1, was unanimous with 99 yeas.

YEAS: Collins, King

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