Along with the week’s roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act (S. 164), to educate health care providers and the public on biosimilar biological products; and the CONFUCIUS Act (S. 590), to establish limitations regarding Confucius Institutes.

HOUSE VOTES

COLORADO LANDS: The House has passed the Colorado Wilderness Act (H.R. 803), sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., to designate certain federal lands in Colorado and other Western states as national wilderness preservation areas. DeGette said managing the lands as wilderness “will help protect the air we breathe and the water we drink but also the wildlife that call these untouched areas home and the world-class recreation opportunities they provide.” An opponent, Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., said the designations would strip Americans of the ability to recreate on millions of acres of land and create new dangers by preventing active forest management to prevent wildfires. The vote, on Feb. 26, was 227 yeas to 200 nays.

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

STIMULUS SPENDING: The House has passed the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), sponsored by Rep. John A. Yarmuth, D-Ky. The bill would spend $1.9 trillion on various measures, many of them related to COVID-19, including aid for states, an extension of unemployment benefits, education programs, an increased child tax credit, a higher federal minimum wage, and $1,400 payments for most taxpayers. Yarmuth said the spending aimed at achieving the goals of “beating the virus, quickly and equitably distributing vaccines, safely reopening schools, delivering immediate relief to working families, and helping cities and states keep essential workers on the job and critical services up and running.” A bill opponent, Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., said new spending was unnecessary because $1 trillion of COVID-19 stimulus funds were still unspent, and Smith claimed that the bill would wrongly “reward states that severely lock down their citizens and boarded up Main Street.” The vote, on Feb. 26, was 219 yeas to 212 nays.

YEAS: Pingree

NAYS: Golden

CHANGING POLICING: The House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280), sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. The bill’s provisions would end qualified immunity from prosecution for law enforcement officers in federal law, establish federal government standards and data collection requirements for law enforcement practices, and discourage racial profiling by police and their use of chokeholds to restrain suspects. Bass said the bill “raises the standards for policing and holds those officers accountable who fail to uphold the ethic of protecting and serving their communities.” An opponent, Rep. Gregory Steube, R-Fla., said it would degrade the ability of law enforcement officers to protect themselves and, by removing qualified immunity, could result in the departure of many officers. The vote, on March 3, was 220 yeas to 212 nays.

YEAS: Pingree

NAYS: Golden

ELECTION PROCEDURES: The House has passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1), sponsored by Rep. John P. Sarbanes, D-Md. The bill would change various election procedures, including an increase in voter registration opportunities, reduced ability to remove voters from registration lists, new rules for the financing of campaigns, and ethics and tax disclosure requirements for officials in the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. Sarbanes said the changes were “designed to respond to the deep cynicism so many Americans feel when they look at their democracy and wonder if their voice still matters in it.” An opponent, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, said that with measures such as ballot harvesting and universal mail-in voting, “this bill makes elections less trustworthy, not more.” The vote, on March 3, was 220 yeas to 210 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Golden

SENATE VOTES

EDUCATION SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Miguel A. Cardona to serve as Education Secretary. Cardona had been Connecticut’s education commissioner since August 2019, and before that was an elementary school principal starting in 2003. A supporter, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Cardona “is someone who will put teachers, parents, and students first, above special interests, because he has lived American education as the American dream.” The vote, on March 1, was 64 yeas to 33 nays.

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

COMMERCE SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Gina Raimondo to serve as Commerce Secretary. Raimondo had been the governor of Rhode Island since 2015; previously, she was the state’s treasurer and a venture capitalist in New England. A supporter, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said: “She knows how to invest in new technologies and things that are going to help us grow jobs for the future.” An opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Raimondo had failed to commit to a strategy of opposing China’s attempts to undermine and steal government and business secrets from the U.S. The vote, on March 2, was 84 yeas to 15 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

ECONOMIC ADVICE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Cecilia Rouse to serve as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. For two years, Rouse was a member of the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers; she has been an economist at Princeton University since 1992. A supporter, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Rouse “brings exactly the right experience and expertise that we need to help our nation weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic and build back better.” The vote, on March 2, was 95 yeas to 4 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

STIMULUS SPENDING: The Senate has agreed to a motion to consider the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), sponsored by Rep. John A. Yarmuth, D-Ky. The bill would spend $1.9 trillion on various measures, many of them related to COVID-19, including aid for states, an extension of unemployment benefits, education programs, an increased child tax credit, a higher federal minimum wage, and $1,400 payments for most taxpayers. A motion supporter, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said: “This legislation will keep America’s families, businesses, and workers afloat and hasten the day when our country can return to normal and our economy can come roaring back.” An opponent, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said rather than addressing the need for relief in response to COVID-19, most of the $1.9 trillion would go to questionable programs backed by Democrats. The vote, on March 4, was 51 yeas to 50 nays, with Vice President Harris being the 51st yea vote.

NAYS: Collins

YEAS: King

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