Along with roll call votes last week, the Senate also passed the TALENT Act (H.R. 39), to codify the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program.

HOUSE VOTES

DEMOCRATIC BUDGET PLAN: The House has rejected a substitute amendment sponsored by Rep. John A. Yarmuth, D-Ky., to a bill (S. Con. Res. 3). The amendment proposed a Democratic plan for the federal government’s budget for fiscal 2017, and budget levels for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2026, that would have preserved the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and invested in a nationwide infrastructure program. Yarmuth said the Democratic plan sought to avert significant damage to the economy and health insurance that would result from the Obamacare repeal advocated by Republicans, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars of tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals. An amendment opponent, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said it would maintain a situation of collapsing competition in health insurance markets, rising insurance premiums and deductibles, and less health care choice for patients. The vote, on Jan. 13, was 149 yeas to 272 nays.

YEAS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

NAYS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

REPEALING OBAMACARE: The House has passed a bill (S. Con. Res. 3), sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to set forth a government budget for fiscal 2017, and outline budget levels for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2026. A supporter, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said the bill’s repeal of Obamacare would provide relief from costly and ineffective health insurance plans, and replace it with a better plan “that will provide access to care for all Americans and increase choice and competition.” An opponent, Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said the repeal threatened to end insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, increase prescription drug costs, and end many “consumer protections for people enrolled in insurance and in the Medicaid program.” The vote, on Jan. 13, was 227 yeas to 198 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

EXEMPTION FOR DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Senate has passed a bill (S. 84), sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to provide an exemption from the requirement that a person named Defense Secretary not have served as a military officer within the past 7 years. The exemption would open the way for recently retired general James Mattis to be confirmed by the Senate. A supporter of the exemption, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called Mattis a highly regarded, exceptional leader with unique abilities in the field of national security. An opponent, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said the House Armed Services Committee needed to have Mattis testify before the committee and address concerns about having “a retired military officer who is still subject to military law” serve as Defense Secretary before voting on the exemption. The vote, on Jan. 13, was 268 yeas to 151 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

GAO INVESTIGATIONS OF FEDERAL SPENDING: The Senate has passed the GAO Access and Oversight Act (H.R. 72), sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., to authorize the Government Accountability Office to file civil lawsuits to compel federal government agencies to give the GAO records needed for the GAO to examine agency spending. A supporter, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said the authority would especially help the GAO use a Health and Human Services database of employees nationwide to uncover wasteful and fraudulent spending in benefit programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and the Supplemental Security Income disability program. The vote, on Jan. 17, was unanimous with 99 yeas.

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


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