Here’s how members of the U.S. Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week of Dec. 5, 2022 – Dec. 9, 2022.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN FEDERAL LAW
Voting 258 for and 169 against, the House on Dec. 8, 2022, gave final congressional approval to bill (HR 8404) that would establish as federal law the right to same-sex marriage that the Supreme Court affirmed in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. The bill also would enshrine in federal law the court’s 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling that interracial marriage is protected by the equal protection and due protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. In addition, the bill would exempt individuals and groups from providing services for a wedding ceremony or celebration if doing so would violate their religious beliefs, and it states that the federal government is not authorized to recognize polygamous marriages.
The bill would require states to honor valid out-of-state marriage licenses regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity or national origin. In addition, it would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman and prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Although invalidated by the Supreme Court, DOMA remained on the books.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said: “As the mother of an incredible trans daughter, I am here to fight for her rights and those of all LGBTQ+ people, who for too long have been denied the dignity and the respect that they deserve. And as someone who is myself in an interracial marriage, it is far past time that we codify those rights.”
Opponent Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said the bill “only serves to further demonize biblical values by establishing a private right of action against organizations who believe in natural marriage, opening the floodgates for predatory lawsuits against people of faith. The bill’s only purpose is to hand the federal government a legal bludgeoning tool to drive people of faith out of the public square and to silence anyone who dissents.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to President Biden.
APPROVING $858 BILLION MILITARY BUDGET
Voting 350 for and 80 against, the House on Dec. 8, 2022, passed a bill (HR 7776) that would authorize an $858 billion Department of Defense budget for fiscal 2023 that includes a 4.5% pay raise for uniformed personnel. In addition to funding standard military accounts such as those for weapons, personnel, logistics and the operation of global and domestic bases, the bill would end a mandate that troops be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The bill would provide $800 million in aid to Ukraine while imposing stricter auditing of money spent there; authorize $10 billion over five years in military aid to Taiwan; block U.S. military usage of Chinese semiconductor products and services; and take steps to strengthen the NATO alliance. In addition, the bill would transfer authority to prosecute sexual assaults on service personnel from the military chain of command to independent prosecutors in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said the bill “is laser-focused on preparing our military to counter threats from China and our other adversaries. It makes critical investments in new systems capable of surviving in contested environments. It includes provisions that will further harden our supply chain and industrial base against filtration from China; and it reaffirms our support to allies in the region, especially Taiwan. Finally, it strengthens our European alliance as these democracies face grave threats from that crackpot in the Kremlin.”
Another supporter, Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said the bill “moves us forward in reforming the military justice system. We took sexual assault out of the chain of command last year in the [military budget]. This year, we take sexual harassment out of the chain and we require trained investigators who will investigate cases outside the brigade. Both are critical for the safety of military personnel because sexual harassment begets sexual assault.”
No member spoke against the bill.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.