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How your congressional delegates voted

  • Post published:December 17, 2019
  • Post category:News

For the week ending December 13th

OVERHAULING VISAS FOR FARM WORKERS: Voting 266 for and 165 against, the House on Dec. 11 passed a bill (HR 5038) that would overhaul the H-2A visa program, which admits undocumented migrants for temporary U.S. agricultural jobs the domestic workforce is unable or unwilling to fill. Over time, the bill could enable hundreds of thousands of these workers to apply for legal residency for themselves, spouses and minor children. In addition to meeting labor shortages, the bill would grant up to 40,000 Green Cards annually to those who complete a lengthy path to permanent status and establish a mandatory federal “E-Verify” system by which agricultural employers could determine workers’ immigration status. Under the bill, migrants employed in U.S. farm work for at least 180 days over the two preceding years would qualify for Certified Agricultural Worker status, which they could continually renew by working at least 100 days annually in farm jobs. In addition, undocumented workers (and spouses and minor children) employed in U.S. agriculture before the law takes effect would qualify to pursue legal status. Those with at least 10 years of pre-enactment farm employment could apply for permanent residency by paying a $1,000 fine and working four more years; those with fewer than 10 years would have to pay the fine and work eight more years. All applicants would have to clear criminal and national-security background checks. The bill would freeze overall migrant farm workers’ pay for one year, then allow wages to rise by 3.25% annually over the next nine years; authorize up to 20,000 H-2A visas annually for jobs at year-round operations including dairies; expand the availability of migrant housing; and require mediation in place of lawsuits to resolve disputes under a 1983 migrant workplace law.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

YES: Deb Haaland, D-1, Xochitl Torres Small, D-2, Ben Ray Luján, D-3

APPROVING $738 BILLION FOR MILITARY IN 2020: Voting 377 for and 48 against, the House on Dec 11 adopted the conference report on a $738 billion military policy budget (S 1790) for fiscal 2020, including $69 billion for combat operations and more than $57 billion for active-duty and retiree health care. The bill sets a 3.1% pay raise for uniformed personnel; confronts global warming as a national-security threat; requires Pentagon strategies for countering Russian interference in U.S. elections; and funds programs for military victims of sexual assault. In addition, the bill creates the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the military; ends the “widow’s tax” on Pentagon death benefits received by an estimated 65,000 survivors who also receive veterans’ survivor benefits; and establishes 12 weeks’ paid family and medical leave for the federal civilian workforce to accommodate childbirth, adoptions, foster care and serious illnesses.

A yes vote was to approve the fiscal 2020 military budget.

YES: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

APPROVING MEASURES TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE: Voting 262 for and 151 against, the House on Dec. 10 approved a 10-bill legislative package (HR 729) that would authorize $1.4 billion over five years for programs to help Atlantic, Pacific and Great Lakes coastal communities and certain inland areas deal with the harmful effects of climate change. The package would tailor the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act to better address rising sea levels; fund a Digital Coast Program for supplying data to help communities prepare for storms and their consequences; fund scientific initiatives to conserve the ecosystem and fish populations of the Great Lakes, which hold 18% of the world’s fresh water supply and have 9,000 miles of shoreline; promote the use resilient natural materials instead of hard barriers to protect facilities and ecosystems against flooding; and authorize loan guarantees in support of economic, cultural and recreational “working waterfront” projects underway in many coastal communities.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

YES: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

REDUCING MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTIONS: Voting 160 for and 259 against, the House on Dec. 10 defeated an amendment to HR 729 (above) to scale back the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act in order to speed federal approval of applications for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal-restoration projects on shorelines including Louisiana’s. The law is designed, in part, to protect whales, dolphins, porpoises and other marine life against military and industrial sonar testing in gulf and oceanic U.S. waters. But critics call it one of several overlapping environmental laws that unduly hinder economic development.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

NO: Haaland, Torres Small, Lujan

REQUIRING NEGOTIATION OF MEDICARE DRUG PRICES: Voting 230 for and 192 against, the House on Dec. 12 passed a bill (HR 3) that would require pharmaceutical companies to negotiate with the federal government the prices of approximately 250 top-selling prescription drugs offered in Medicare Part D and employer health plans. The negotiated U.S. retail price of a covered drug could not exceed 120% of the average price that Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have negotiated for their residents. Manufacturers declining to negotiate the price of specific drugs would be subjected to excise taxes of up to 95% on sales of that drug. The bill would cap Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 per year and add dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare Part D. Manufacturers and the Department of Health and Human Services would start negotiations in 2021, with Medicare Part D receiving its first price cuts in 2023. Negotiators would add at least 50 reduced-price drugs to Medicare Part D and commercial plans each year, with the conversion completed by 2026. Negotiated prices would be indexed for inflation and remain in effect until a generic or biosimilar competitor emerges. Lower insulin prices for seniors would be negotiated in the law’s first year.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

YES: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

DEFEATING GOP PLAN FOR DRUG PRICES: Voting 201 for and 223 against, the House on Dec. 12 defeated a Republican version of HR 3 (above) that omitted the requirement for manufacturers to negotiate drug prices with the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to this free-market provision, the GOP substitute would cap Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs at $3,100 per year; expand financial incentives for drug companies to discover cures; cap the cost of insulin for seniors at $50 per month; require drug advertising to list retail prices; expand the use of Health Savings Accounts for drug purchases; and require the U.S. trade representative to ensure U.S. taxpayers do not subsidize the drug costs in foreign markets. The GOP bill also would permanently cap the IRS threshold for deducting medical expenses at 7.5% of adjusted gross income, averting a scheduled increase to 10% in 2020.

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican alternative.

NO: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

ENSURING INNOVATION IN DRUG RESEARCH: Voting 196 for and 226 against, the House on Dec. 12 defeated a Republican motion that would prevent core provisions of HR 3 (above) from taking effect until after the secretary of Health and Human Services has certified that the law would not reduce the number of applications from innovators seeking to put new drugs on the market.

A yes vote was to adopt the motion.

NO: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

CONFIRMING JOHN SULLIVAN AS AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Voting 70 for and 22 against, the Senate on Dec. 12 confirmed Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, 60, as U.S. ambassador to Russia, replacing Jon Huntsman, who resigned in October. In addition to holding Department of State positions in the Trump administration, Sullivan was Department of Commerce general counsel and Department of Defense deputy general counsel under President George W. Bush, an attorney in private practice and deputy general counsel to President George H. W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 1992.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

YES: Tom Udall, D

NO: Martin Heinrich, D

STEPHEN HAHN, FOOD AND DRUG COMMISSIONER: Voting 72 for and 18 against, the Senate on Dec. 12 confirmed Dr. Stephen Hahn, 59, an oncologist and cancer researcher, as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), replacing Dr. Scott Gottlieb, 45, who resigned in March. Hahn’s nomination proved controversial over his refusal to endorse federal regulation of e-cigarettes. An active clinical physician and medical administrator, Hahn leaves the post of chief medical executive of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to take charge of the FDA. He worked at the National Cancer Institute from 1989-1999, serving as chief of its Prostate Cancer Clinic, among other positions.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

NO: Udall, Heinrich

HOUSE Deb Haaland (D) Ben Ray Luján (D) Xochitl Torres Small (D)

SENATE Martin Heinrich (D) Tom Udall (D)

Contact your legislators at the U.S. Capitol
Zip codes: House 20515, Senate 20510
Capitol operator: (202) 224-3121

Courtesy of Voterama In Congress © 2019 Thomas Reports Inc.