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Congressional Votes Update – March 15, 2017

Senators Carper and Coons voted no where it mattered this week.  I don’t care if Senator Coons voted to confirm Congressman Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior.  Zinke is qualified and there was nothing overly controversial about his nomination.  Both voted no on the unqualified Ben”I can’t believe he is a brain surgeon” Carson.    Senator Carper voted yes on Rick “Oops” Perry to be Secretary of Energy.   Yeah, Perry is unqualified, and yeah, he wants to eliminate the department he now leads, but I would rather Carper vote no on both cloture and the nomination of Judge Gorsuch than lose my sh*t over a Perry yes vote.    Both Senators voted no on a host of GOP Deregulation that seeks to destroy our environment and enslave our workers.

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester voted no on everything this past week but the 2017 Defense Appropriations bill.   That legislation would provide full-year appropriations for Defense Department programs and activities for fiscal 2017, providing $577.9 billion in discretionary spending, $5.2 billion more than fiscal 2016.

Recent Senate Votes
Confirmation of Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior – Vote Confirmed (68-31, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke to be secretary of the Interior.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted YES


Confirmation of Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Vote Confirmed (58-41, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Ben Carson to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Confirmation of Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy – Vote Confirmed (62-37, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Rick Perry to be secretary of Energy.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted YES
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Disapprove Labor Law Rule – Vote Passed (49-48, 3 Not Voting)

The joint resolution would disapprove, under the Congressional Review Act, a Defense Department, General Services Administration and NASA rule that requires federal contractors to self-certify violations of 14 specified federal labor laws and equivalent state laws. The laws include the Fair Labor Standards Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, National Labor Relations Act, Davis-Bacon Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act, among others.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Disapprove BLM Land Use Planning Rule – Vote Passed (51-48, 1 Not Voting)

The joint resolution would disapprove the rule issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Dec. 12, 2016, which modified the process under which BLM develops plans for the use of the public lands it manages, including by considering a wider variety of issues and possible impacts.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Disapprove Teacher Education Program Rule – Vote Passed (59-40, 1 Not Voting)

The joint resolution would disapprove the rule issued by the Education Department on Oct. 31, 2016, relating to teacher preparation programs that require states to annually evaluate the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher education and to publicly report this information, including the job placement and retention rates of graduates.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Disapprove State Education Accountability Rule – Vote Passed (50-49, 1 Not Voting)

The joint resolution would disapprove the rule issued by the Education Department on Nov. 29, 2016 which addresses implementation of a state’s accountability systems when receiving federal education funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA). Among other things, the rule requires states to identify low-performing schools for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement, and requires that each state’s statewide plan use multiple indicators of student success that are the same for all public schools (including charter schools).

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Confirmation of Seema Verma to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – Vote Confirmed (55-43, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Seema Verma to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Recent House Votes
Review Federal Regulations for Repeal – Vote Passed (240-185, 4 Not Voting)

The measure would establish a commission to review existing federal regulations and identify those that should be repealed in order to reduce costs on the U.S. economy — including those that should be repealed immediately and those that should be repealed over time through a new regulatory “cut-go” system under which agencies could not issue new rules unless the cost of a new rule was offset by repealing existing rules identified by the commission.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


OMB Regulatory Oversight – Vote Passed (241-184, 4 Not Voting)

The bill would require proposed rules by federal departments and agencies, including independent agencies, to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and it would direct OIRA to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of significant regulatory actions and to ensure that proposed rules are consistent with applicable law and that regulations do not conflict.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Disapprove OSHA Record-Keeping Rule – Vote Passed (231-191, 7 Not Voting)

The joint resolution would disapprove the rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Dec. 19, 2016, that extends to five years the period for which OSHA can cite an employer for failing to officially record a workplace injury or illness.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Disclose Agency Rule-Making Communications – Vote Passed (246-176, 7 Not Voting)

The bill would require each federal agency to maintain an online searchable list of its regulatory actions and all public communications it makes regarding those regulatory actions. It also would prohibit agencies from soliciting support for, or promoting, its regulatory actions.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Fiscal 2017 Defense Appropriations – Vote Passed (371-48, 10 Not Voting)

The legislation would provide full-year appropriations for Defense Department programs and activities for fiscal 2017, providing $577.9 billion in discretionary spending, $5.2 billion more than fiscal 2016. It would include $516.1 billion subject to spending caps for fiscal 2017 and $61.8 billion in uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations war and anti-terror funding.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted YES


Class Action Litigation – Vote Passed (220-201, 1 Present, 7 Not Voting)

The bill would prohibit federal courts from certifying proposed classes of individuals for a class-action lawsuit unless each member of the class has suffered the same type and degree of injury, and it would require quarterly reports by asbestos trusts of claims made against the trusts and any payouts made by the trusts for asbestos-related injuries.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Civil Litigation Jurisdiction – Vote Passed (224-194, 11 Not Voting)

The bill would establish national standards under which federal courts, when considering whether to remand back to state court a lawsuit against an out-of-state entity, must deny that motion and have the case decided in federal court because it determines that an in-state co-defendant should not have been joined to the case.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Penalties for Frivolous Lawsuits – Vote Passed (230-188, 11 Not Voting)

The bill would modify federal rules governing civil lawsuits to require federal courts to impose sanctions on parties that violate the existing prohibition on the filing of frivolous lawsuits, with such sanctions to include monetary penalties to cover the other party’s attorneys’ fees and other costs.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Upcoming Votes
Nomination of Dan Coats to be the Director of National Intelligence – PN41

The Senate will take up the nomination of Dan Coats to be the director of National Intelligence.


Nomination of Herbert R. McMaster Jr. to be a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army – PN87

The Senate will take up the nomination of Herbert R. McMaster Jr. to be a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army.


Mentally Disabled Veterans and Guns – HR1181

The bill would clarify the conditions under which individuals who receive federal benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) may be declared mentally incompetent for purposes of being added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and thereby prevented from purchasing guns or ammunition — requiring that an affirmative declaration be made by a judge that the person is dangerous.


VA Personnel Accountability – HR1259

The bill would provide the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) with additional tools to fire or demote VA employees based on performance or misconduct, and would modify the appeals process to provide for the appeals of decisions by administrative law judges. It also would include provisions to protect VA whistleblowers against retaliation by supervisors, authorize the department to recoup employee bonuses and relocation expenses, and allow the pensions of VA employees to be reduced if convicted of certain felonies.


VA Medical Professional Staffing – HR1367

The measure would establish new staffing, recruitment and retention programs at the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) to enable the VA to help recruit and retain a strong medical professional workforce. It would create a recruiting database to make high-quality potential employees aware of positions at the VA, provide for additional opportunities for career training and advancement for current VA employees through fellowship positions and establish a promotional track for technical experts. It also would require the department to train human resources employees in recruitment and retention methods.

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