Along with roll call votes last week, the House also passed a bill (H.R. 2877), to add Ireland to the E–3 nonimmigrant visa program; a bill (H. Res. 754), expressing the sense of the House that the United States should continue to support the people of Nicaragua in their peaceful efforts to promote democracy and human rights, and use the tools under United States law to increase political and financial pressure on the government of Daniel Ortega; a bill (H.R. 6020), to require an evaluation by the Government Accountability Office of the social, economic, and historic contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to American life and culture; and the Federally Requiring Earned Education-debt Discharges for Vets Act (H.R. 3598), to automatically discharge the loans of certain veteran borrowers.


REUNITING KOREAN AMERICANS: The House has passed the Divided Families Reunification Act (H.R. 1771), sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., to require the State Department to work with South Korea on attempts to reunite Korean Americans with their relatives in North Korea, either in person or by video. A supporter, Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., called the bill an effort “to provide much-needed relief to Korean Americans who have been separated from their family members, many of them for decades now,” following the Korean War in the early 1950s and establishment of North Korea and South Korea. The vote, on March 9, was unanimous with 391 yeas.
YEAS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District; Jared Golden, D-2nd District

MODERNIZING CONGRESS: The House has passed the Moving Our Democracy and Congressional Operations Towards Modernization Resolution (H. Res. 756), sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., to take various measures aimed at improving Congress and its use of technology. Measures include changing orientation for new senators and representatives, and requiring reports on actions to improve public access to legislative information, and the accessibility of the U.S. Capitol for the disabled. Kilmer said the “resolution is a first step toward restoring capacity and strengthening Congress. The resolution improves transparency so that the American people can easily access basic information about Congress.” The vote, on March 10, was 395 yeas to 13 nays.
YEAS: Pingree, Golden

VETERANS IN APPRENTICESHIPS: The House has passed the Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act (S. 760), sponsored by Sen. Gary C. Peters, D-Mich., to require the Labor Department to make changes to its registered apprenticeship programs to promote access to the programs for military veterans. A supporter, Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kan., said the bill “acknowledges the unique capabilities of veterans and simplifies the process for veterans transitioning from successful careers in the military to civilian life.” The vote, on March 11, was unanimous with 412 yeas.
YEAS: Pingree, Golden

GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE: The House has passed the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6172), sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. The bill would reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and change various government surveillance activities, including ending the National Security Agency’s call detail records program and increasing disclosure of rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Nadler said the changes were “very decisive steps in the direction of protecting our civil rights and our civil liberties.” An opponent, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said the bill offered only inadequate “parchment barriers” for preventing the government’s abuse of surveillance authorities. The vote, on March 11, was 278 yeas to 136 nays.
NAYS: Pingree, Golden


IRAN WAR RESOLUTION: The House has passed a resolution (S.J. Res. 68), sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to prevent the use of military force against Iran in the absence of a declaration of war by Congress or specific legal authorization from Congress.  A supporter, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., said it “will send a clear message that the American people don’t want war with Iran and that Congress has not authorized war with Iran.” An opponent, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, said passage would send a message to Iran and its proxies that Congress “does not fully support the ability of our commander in chief to adequately respond to threats against Americans.” The vote, on March 11, was 227 yeas to 186 nays.
YEAS: Pingree, Golden


FRAUD AND STUDENT LOANS: The Senate has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 76), sponsored by Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., that would void a September 2019 Education Department rule concerning the process by which former students at public and private schools seek forgiveness of their federal student loans due to alleged fraud by their schools. A resolution supporter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the rule “makes it almost impossible for future defrauded borrowers” to prove that the schools made fraudulent claims to induce enrollment under false pretenses. The vote, on March 11, was 53 yeas to 42 nays.
YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine

ENERGY REGULATION: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of James P. Danly to serve as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Danly has been FERC’s general counsel since 2017, and previously was a private practice energy lawyer in Washington, D.C. A supporter, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Danly “is well qualified and has a deep understanding of the issues that will come before him.” An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Trump administration has failed to meet a legal requirement to send both Danly’s nomination and the nominee for a Democratic seat on the Commission to the Senate for confirmation votes, and therefore, “for the sake of fairness and parity, I urge my colleagues to vote against his [Danly’s] nomination.” The vote, on March 12, was 52 yeas to 40 nays.
YEAS: Collins
NAYS: King

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