Along with roll call votes last week, the House also passed the Small Business Investment Opportunity Act (H.R. 2333), to increase the amount of leverage made available to small business investment companies; the Investing in Main Street Act (H.R. 2364), to increase the amount that certain banks and savings associations may invest in small business investment companies; the African American Civil Rights Network Act (H.R. 1927), to establish within the National Park Service the African American Civil Rights Network; and passed a resolution (H. Res. 317), calling for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent resident aliens being held for political purposes by Iran.

HOUSE VOTES

2018 INTELLIGENCE BUDGET: The House has rejected the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 3180), sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. The bill would authorize funding of classified and unclassified programs at the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Nunes said it sought to reform military intelligence and improve congressional oversight of intelligence activities, while providing the intelligence agencies with “the funding, authorities, and support they need to carry out their mission and to keep us safe.” An opponent, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the authorization bill needed to be fully debated to give House members the chance to submit amendments. The vote, on July 24, was 241 yeas to 163 nays, with a two-thirds majority required for approval.

NAYS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

YEAS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

FUNDING VETERANS CHOICE MEDICAL CARE: The House has rejected the Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act (S. 114), sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. The bill would have provided $2 billion for the Veterans Affairs Department’s Veterans Choice program, for veterans seeking to obtain medical care from non-VA facilities more quickly than the VA can provide such care. A supporter, Rep. David P. Roe, R-Tenn., said the bill, by funding Veterans Choice for the next six months, would prevent a recurrence of the access-to-care crisis that prompted the creation of the program in 2014. An opponent, Rep. Timothy J. Walz, D-Minn., said the bill wrongly proposed cutting other VA programs by $2 billion in order to fund Veterans Choice. The vote, on July 24, was 219 yeas to 186 nays, with a two-thirds majority required for approval.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

FINANCIAL ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS: The House has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 111), sponsored by Rep. Keith J. Rothfus, R-Pa., that would void a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule barring financial firms from requiring their customers to sign predispute arbitration agreements preventing the customer from participating in certain class-action lawsuits against the firm. Rothfus said that arbitration offered customers greater financial relief than a class-action lawsuit would, and he criticized the Bureau’s rule as resulting in unnecessary costs and higher prices for financial services. A resolution opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said “forced arbitration favors big business and results in less compensation for American consumers who have been abused or defrauded.” The vote, on July 25, was 231 yeas to 190 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SANCTIONING IRAN, RUSSIA, AND NORTH KOREA: The House has passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (H.R. 3364), sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Royce, R-Calif. The bill would impose a variety of economic and military sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. Royce called the package of sanctions a belated response to the three countries’ destabilizing sanctions against neighboring countries and against vital U.S. interests upholding human rights and the security of its allies. The vote, on July 25, was 419 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

PRIVATIZING CIVILIAN MILITARY JOBS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3219). The amendment would block funding for Defense Department A-76 studies that determine whether to outsource civilian jobs in the military to the private sector. Cartwright faulted the studies’ methodology as not supported by data on the costs and savings of outsourcing. An amendment opponent, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., said the A-76 studies, by opening up a competitive process, would generate cost savings of 10 to 40 percent for the military. The vote, on July 27, was 253 yeas to 172 nays.

YEAS: Pingree

NAYS: Poliquin

MILITARY BUDGET FOR 2018: The House has passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3219), sponsored by Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, to provide $827 billion of funding for the government’s legislative branch, Energy Department, Defense Department, including overseas war operations, and Veterans Affairs Department in fiscal 2018. Granger said the funding, by reversing the recent trend of reduced spending on the military, would “ensure that the U.S. military is prepared to confront anyone who threatens us,” including China, Russia, Iran and terrorists. A bill opponent, Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn., said its violation of mandated military spending caps was irresponsible and would lead to forced spending cuts soon unless Congress increases the spending caps. The vote, on July 27, was 235 yeas to 192 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SENATE VOTES

DEPUTY INTERIOR SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of David Bernhardt to serve as deputy Interior secretary. A supporter, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, cited Bernhardt’s nearly 10 years of previous experience in the Interior Department and support from many public and private agencies and groups. The vote, on July 24, was 53 yeas to 43 nays.

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

SANCTIONING IRAN, RUSSIA, AND NORTH KOREA: The Senate has passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (H.R. 3364), sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Royce, R-Calif. The bill would impose a variety of economic and military sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. A supporter, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said: “It is time to respond to Russia’s attack on American democracy with strength, with resolve, with common purpose, and with action.” The vote, on July 27, was 98 yeas to 2 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

TAX ON EMPLOYER HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628). The amendment would repeal the 40-percent excise tax, scheduled to take effect in 2020, on employer-sponsored health insurance plans for employees that have high premiums. Heller said failing to repeal the tax would mean reduced benefits, increased premiums, and higher deductibles for tens of millions of American workers. The vote, on July 27, was 52 yeas to 48 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

REPEALING OBAMACARE: The Senate has rejected a substitute amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628). The amendment would have repealed the individual and employer health insurance mandates in the health care reform law (Obamacare), and increased the flexibility of states to regulate their health insurance markets. McConnell said the repeals sought to increase the power of individuals and employers to choose the health insurance plans that best fit their circumstances. An amendment opponent, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said: “It is going to kick millions of people off of care, it is going to raise premiums for millions of families, it will eliminate healthcare for women across the country, and so much more-none of it good.” The vote, on July 27, was 49 yeas to 51 nays.

NAYS: Collins, King