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Bryanwatch: Dec Week 2

by John Heckenlively about a month ago in legislation

Steil votes against Dolphins

Bryanwatch: Dec Week 2
Drift nets were one of the issues Congress discussed this week.

A fairly light week, with only eight votes in the House, and almost all of the passing on a nonpartisan basis. There was actually only one party line vote, and that was on the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (S 906, RC 242, Dec 10). The bill regulates the size of drift nets in hopes of protecting marine wildlife. Republicans voted against protecting our ocean friends 56 to 105, with Steil voting NO.

The two substantial bills the House dealt with this week both passed with bipartisan support. The first was the defense budget, technically known as the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (HR 6395, RC 238, Dec 8). Trump has been making threats about vetoing the defense budget over removing the names of Confederate generals from military bases, as well as several other ridiculous issues.

The House passed HR 6395 by a veto-proof margin of 335 to 78. The opposition split about even, with 40 Republicans and 37 Democrats against. The Democrats were almost all members of the Progressive Caucus, while most of the Republicans were on the conservative wing of their party. A great example of politics making strange bedfellows. Steil voted to support the $740 billion military budget.

The other major bill this week was HR 8900, the Further Continuing Appropriations bill, which basically keeps the government running. To his credit, Steil voted to keep the government running, which he hasn’t always done over the last two years. (Roll Call 240, Dec 9). Sixty six Republicans, about one-third of the caucus, voted to government health care programs shut down.

Because the major focus of HR 8900 is health care. It provides funding for state Medicare programs as well as a variety of other health related programs including community health centers and the national health service corps.

There were five bills which passed largely unanimously this week:

On Monday, the House passed S 461, the Historically Black Colleges Partners Act, which gives black colleges greater access to federal resources. Only 6 members voted against it: Justin Amash (MI), Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Tom Massie (KY), Tom McClintock (CA) and, Chip Roy (TX), all fairly regularly members of the Crazy Caucus. (RC 237, Dec 7)

The House also passed H Res 512, which calls for the US State Department to work on repealing laws against blasphemy, heresy and apostasy. Remarkably, 71 nations currently have such laws on the books, primarily in Africa and the Middle East. Pakistan is a notable violator of religious rights. The bill passed 386 to 3 (RC 236, Dec 7) with only Biggs, Massie and Roy voting against religious freedom.

On Tuesday, the House passed its weekly “we love veterans” bill. This week was HR 8354, the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative Act, which creates staff in the Department of Justice focused on the needs of veterans. It passed 400 to 1, with only Justin Amash against. (RC 239, Dec 8)

On Wednesday, the House passed HR 5758, the Ceiling Fan Improvement Act (RC 241, Dec 9) on a vote of 396 to 2. In a surprise twost, the bill creates new energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans. Only Roger Marshall (KS) and Daniel Webster (FL) voted against improving ceiling fans.

And on Thursday, it was HR 5040, the AIR Safety Act, which passed 372 to 6. (RC 243, Dec 10) . The bill requires the Bureau of Land Management to investigate the impact of drones on the suppression of wildfires in the western United States. The usual suspects of Amash, Biggs, Massie and Roy were joined by Steve King of Iowa and Webster.

John Heckenlively
John Heckenlively
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