PRISONER COMMUNICATIONS: The House has passed the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act (H.R. 546), sponsored by Rep. Hakeem S. Jeffries, D-N.Y., to bar the Justice Department from monitoring privileged electronic communications between an incarcerated person and that person’s lawyer. Jeffries said the prohibition “would enable incarcerated individuals to communicate with their legal representatives privately, safely, and efficiently.” The vote, on Feb. 24, was 414 yeas to 11 nays.

YEAS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District; Jared Golden, D-2nd District

PUERTO RICO BANKRUPTCIES: The House has passed the Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act (H.R. 1192), sponsored by Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, D-N.Y., to require business professionals involved in bankruptcy cases in Puerto Rico to disclose conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest. Velazquez said: “This bill will extend current U.S. law, requiring disclosures of conflicts of interest to Puerto Rico, thereby improving transparency and restoring confidence in the island’s future.” The vote, on Feb. 24, was unanimous with 429 yeas.

YEAS: Pingree, Golden

EQUALITY ACT: The House has passed the Equality Act (H.R. 5), sponsored by Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I. The bill would adopt a variety of measures aimed at barring discrimination against non-heterosexuals or on the basis of sex. Cicilline said it “builds on the Civil Rights Act and other existing laws to extend anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.” A bill opponent, Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., said its provisions would work “against religious freedom, against women, against female athletes, against incarcerated women, and against science and safety. A vote ‘yes’ on this bill is a vote against our daughters.” The vote, on Feb. 25, was 224 yeas to 206 nays.


YEAS: Pingree, Golden

The House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill early Saturday that was championed by President Biden. Pingree voted in favor of the bill, while Golden voted against it. Golden and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines.


AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Tom Vilsack to serve as Agriculture Secretary. Vilsack served in the same post throughout both terms of the Obama administration, and previously was the governor of Iowa. A supporter, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that Vilsack “will continue to work for family farmers and spotlight those farmers’ contributions to agriculture and what agriculture does for society as a whole.” The vote, on Feb. 23, was 92 yeas to 7 nays.

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

AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to serve as ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield has been in the State Department’s Foreign Service for 35 years, including diplomatic postings in Africa, Europe, and Asia. A supporter, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Thomas-Greenfield had the ability to “stand up for the challenges that we face from China, to regain U.S. leverage and influence in the Security Council, to reengage our allies and hold Iran accountable, and to stand firm when Israel is subject to biased attacks.” An opponent, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said she had shown a lack of willingness to oppose “China’s long, dark, lamentable catalog of crimes against America, international order and stability, and its own people.” The vote, on Feb. 23, was 78 yeas to 21 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

ENERGY SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Jennifer Granholm to serve as Energy Secretary. Granholm was the governor of Michigan from 2003 to 2011; since then, she has been a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley. A supporter, Sen. Gary C. Peters, D-Mich., said Granholm “recognizes what must be done to advance our nation’s energy interests, because she has already achieved results in Michigan.” An opponent, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said: “President Biden seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for Secretary of Energy.” The vote, on Feb. 25, was 64 yeas to 35 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

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