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Capitol Hill

The U.S. Capitol Building as seen in winter.

Here's a look at how area members of Congress voted the week of Dec. 14 through Dec. 20. This roll call report is provided by Targeted News Service.

HOUSE VOTES:

TREATING ALZHEIMER'S: The House passed the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act (S. 2076), sponsored by Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine. The bill would establish several programs at the Department of Health and Human Services for treating and researching Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. A supporter, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., said: "By smartly investing in a public health infrastructure for this disease, we can reduce this cost burden on the local, state, and federal government, and improve care for those who have received an Alzheimer's diagnosis." The vote, on Dec. 19, was 361 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

CYBERSECURITY AT HOMELAND SECURITY: The House passed the Strengthening and Enhancing Cyber-capabilities by Utilizing Risk Exposure Technology Act (H.R. 7327), sponsored by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, to establish a Homeland Security Department effort to grant rewards for hackers who discover security vulnerabilities in the agency's information technology systems, and establish a program for developing requirements for supply chain security throughout the federal government. Hurd said Homeland Security's key role in securing networks used by an array of government agencies made the bill especially necessary. The vote, on Dec. 19, was 362 yeas to 1 nay.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

MUNICIPALITIES AND WATER QUALITY RULES: The House passed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R. 7279), sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, to adopt an integrated planning process for communities that are trying to comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules governing wastewater and stormwater quality under the Clean Water Act. Gibbs said integrated planning promised to help local governments more affordably make plans to invest in projects that deliver safe and affordable water services for their constituents. The vote, on Dec. 19, was 351 yeas to 10 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

QUANTUM INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: The House passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (H.R. 6227), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to establish the National Quantum Initiative Program for developing information storage technologies that use quantum physics. Smith said the program "leverages the expertise and resources of U.S. industry, academia, and government to move quantum information science to the next level" and help the U.S. develop quantum information technologies faster than China and Europe. The vote, on Dec. 19, was 348 yeas to 11 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES: The House passed the Museum and Library Services Act (S. 3530), sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., to reauthorize the Museum and Library Services Act through fiscal 2023 and expand funding for rural and Indian tribal libraries and museums. A supporter, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said the reauthorization worked to ensure that "these local institutions continue to play the important role they do in educating Americans of every age and communities of every size." The vote, on Dec. 19, was 331 yeas to 28 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

PREVENTING PRISONER RECIDIVISM: The House concurred in the Senate amendment to the First Step Act (S. 756). The bill would take a variety of measures aimed at reducing the chances that former federal prisoners will commit crimes after their release from prison, and allow prisoners who complete rehabilitation programs to serve out part of their sentences in halfway homes or other non-prison environments. A supporter, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Pa., called the bill a step forward on issues including "overcriminalization, prison and reentry reform, sentencing reform, protecting citizens through improved criminal procedures and policing strategies, and civil asset forfeiture reform." An opponent, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said "crime rates will go up within 2 years, if this bill passes," because of allowing thousands of violent offenders to leave prison earlier than is needed to maintain public safety. The vote, on Dec 20, was 358 yeas to 36 nays.

NAYS: Rokita, R-4th

YEAS: Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS: The House passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (H.R. 7328), sponsored by Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind. The bill would reauthorize public health security, preparedness and response programs, including $250 million of spending by public health and medical disasters and emergencies programs under the Department of Health and Human Services's Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Brooks said the bill would make the U.S. "better prepared to respond to natural disasters like hurricanes, emerging infectious diseases like Zika or Ebola, and chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks." The vote, on Dec. 20, was 367 yeas to 9 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

REFORMING CRIMINAL LAW: The House passed the Clean Up the Code Act (H.R. 7093), sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, to strike from the U.S. legal code nine criminal provisions. Chabot called the bill a good-government measure because the nine provisions it would eliminate have either never been applied or "criminalized conduct that should not land someone in federal prison, such as unauthorized use of the Woodsy Owl image or slogan." The vote, on Dec. 20, was 386 yeas to 5 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

CORRUPT LOBBYISTS: The House passed the Justice Against Corruption on K Street Act (S. 2896), sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., to impose penalties on registered lobbyists who do not publicly disclose their past criminal convictions for crimes of character, such as bribery, extortion, fraud, perjury, and money laundering. The vote, on Dec. 20, was unanimous with 391 yeas.

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YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

IRS REFORMS: The House passed the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 7227), sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., to establish the Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals, which will be charged with impartially arbitrating disputes between taxpayers and the IRS, and adopt other measures aimed at reforming the IRS. A supporter, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said the bill improved the appeals and taxpayer services programs at the IRS, ensuring "that taxpayers —especially those who are low-income, disabled, and senior citizens —receive fair, quality, and timely help and support." The vote, on Dec. 20, was 378 yeas to 11 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND HEALTH CARE: The House concurred in the Senate amendment to the Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to Health and Wellness Act (H.R. 767), sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., to establish the Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to Health and Wellness Training pilot program at the Department of Health and Human Services in order to prevent human trafficking in the health care system. A supporter, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., said: "Helping healthcare professionals better recognize the signs of trafficking and improve their ability to intervene can truly be the difference between life and death." The vote, on Dec. 20, was 386 yeas to 6 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd; Visclosky, D-1st

DEFINING NATURAL CHEESE: The House rejected the Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions Act (S. 2322), sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. The bill would have defined "natural cheese" under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as a product derived from milk, while excluding various kinds of processed cheese from the definition. An opponent, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said the Food and Drug Administration and not Congress should define and regulate "natural cheese," and that the bill's definition could lead to consumer confusion. The vote, on Dec. 20, was 230 yeas to 162 nays, with a two-thirds majority required for approval.

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YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd

NAYS: Visclosky, D-1st

CHANGING TAX CODE: The House passed an amendment to a bill (H.R. 88) that would enact various changes to the federal tax code, including tax relief for victims of various 2018 natural disasters, the expansion of retirement savings plans for employees at small businesses, and ending the medical device tax and other taxes established by the health care reform law (Obamacare). A supporter, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said the changes "will help our economy continue moving in the right direction and provide help to families and communities damaged by disaster." An opponent, Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., called the amendment an effort by House Republicans to benefit corporations and the wealthy while sharply expanding government deficits. The vote, on Dec. 20, was 220 yeas to 183 nays.

NAYS: Rokita, R-4th; Visclosky, D-1st

YEAS: Walorski, R-2nd

CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS AND BORDER WALL: The House passed an amendment to the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 695), that would provide federal government funding until Feb. 8, 2019, and provide $7.8 billion of supplemental funding for disaster relief efforts and $5.7 billion to fund construction of physical barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border. A supporter, Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said the disaster funding would help Americans rebuild their lives after this year's hurricanes and other natural disasters, while the continued government funding would maintain stability and predictability before a permanent funding bill is passed by the next Congress. An opponent, Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said the amendment "wastes taxpayer dollars, fails to meet the urgent needs of disaster victims, and, frankly, is dead on arrival in the Senate." The vote, on Dec. 20, was 217 yeas to 185 nays.

YEAS: Rokita, R-4th; Walorski, R-2nd

NAYS: Visclosky, D-1st

SENATE VOTES:

EARLY RELEASE OF VIOLENT CRIMINALS: The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to the First Step Act (S. 756). The amendment would have excluded from eligibility for early release from federal prison those convicted of severe crimes, including carjacking, assaulting a police officer, bank robbery, and assault. Cotton said the bill had erred in not classifying those convicted of such serious and violent felonies as being too dangerous to be allowed early release from prison. An amendment opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called it a scare tactic that was unnecessary because the bill already made dangerous and violent criminals ineligible for early release. The vote, on Dec. 18, was 32 yeas to 67 nays.

NAYS: Young, R-IN; Donnelly, D-IN

PREVENTING PRISONER RECIDIVISM: The Senate concurred in the House amendment to the First Step Act (S. 756), sponsored by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. The bill would take a variety of measures aimed at reducing the chances that former federal prisoners will commit crimes after their release from prison, and allow prisoners who complete rehabilitation programs to serve out part of their sentences in halfway homes or other non-prison environments. A supporter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called the bill a historic achievement in prison reform that had broad support from political groups, federal criminal prosecutors and police, and leading civil rights groups. An opponent, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said: "Many of the policies in this bill are deeply unwise to allow early release from prison--thousands of serious repeat and potentially violent felons over the next few months." The vote, on Dec. 18, was 87 yeas to 12 nays.

YEAS: Young, R-IN; Donnelly, D-IN

Along with roll call votes, the Senate also passed: the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act (S. 1520), to expand recreational fishing opportunities through enhanced marine fishery conservation and management; the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act (S. 3191), to provide for the expeditious disclosure of records related to civil rights cold cases; the Vehicular Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 4227), to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to examine what actions the Department of Homeland Security is undertaking to combat the threat of vehicular terrorism; and the CENOTE Act (S. 2511), to require the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to carry out a program on coordinating the assessment and acquisition by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of unmanned maritime systems.

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