Here’s how members of the U.S. Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week of Dec. 12, 2022 – Dec. 16, 2022.

The floor of the U.S. House of Representatives



Voting 233 for and 191 against, the House on Dec. 15, 2022, passed a bill (HR 8393) to schedule a plebiscite on Nov. 5, 2023, in which the American territory of Puerto Rico could achieve U.S. statehood. The ballot would present three choices – statehood, independence or sovereignty in “free association” with America. Under free association, current residents but not the future-born could retain certain benefits including U.S. nationality and citizenship and the two countries could negotiate other potential carryovers from territorial status. Under all three options, Puerto Rico would cease to be an American territory.

Puerto Rico, situated about 1,000 miles southeast of Florida, was annexed by the United States in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Its residents serve in the U.S. military; cannot vote in presidential elections; lack meaningful voting representation in the U.S. Congress and, in general, do not pay federal income taxes. As a state, Puerto Rico would have two senators and as many as four House members based on its population of 3.6 million. Unless Congress were to increase the number of U.S. congressional districts from the present 435, allotting districts to Puerto Rico would reduce the number of seats in certain other states.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., said Congress’ “unlimited plenary powers over Puerto Rico are reminiscent of the monarchical powers enjoyed by King George III against which the founders of the American Republic so bravely fought. If Hamilton and Madison were alive today, they would be shocked to see how the anticolonial Constitution they drafted in 1787 is currently used to legitimize colonialism in Puerto Rico….Advocating now for the continuation of the status quo on the island is the height of hypocrisy.”

Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., said: “If Puerto Ricans vote to become a sovereign or independent nation, this legislation tells them what they have to include in their new constitution, how they have to ratify their constitution and how elections for government officers should take place. My friends across the aisle want to talk about colonial power. What does that sound like? Further, this bill would completely circumvent congressional authority by not allowing Congress to ratify the option that Puerto Rico ultimately chooses.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it died at the close of the 117th Congress.


Voting 209 for and 217 against, the House on Dec. 15, 2022, defeated a Republican-sponsored motion that sought to subject the results of a Puerto Rican statehood plebiscite to ratification by two-thirds majority votes in the U.S. House and Senate.

Sponsor Tom McClintock, R-Calif., asked: “So how does it benefit America to admit a state that would be the most indebted, uneducated, poorest and least-employed state in the nation?”

Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said: “I hope we can all agree that we all value basic human rights, and that means, like every American citizen, our Puerto Rican neighbors deserve true representation, equal rights and everything that flows from that.”

A yes vote was to adopt the GOP motion.


Voting 219 for and 201 against, the House on Dec. 15, 2022, passed a bill (HR 1948) that would expand collective bargaining rights at the Veterans Health Administration to the agency’s physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, chiropractors, registered nurses, physician assistants and dental assistants. The power would replace authority now vested in the secretary of Veterans Affairs to regulate the hours and workplace conditions for these categories of employees. Unlike unionized workers in the private sector, federal workers cannot strike or bargain over their compensation, which set by the civil service pay grades each year.

Mark Takano, D-Calif., said: “Frontline healthcare workers deserve the right to organize themselves. They deserve to have a voice. VA nurses or technicians should be able to point out wrongdoing without fear of losing their job or other forms of retaliation. All of this sounds like common sense, and it is, and this is what collective bargaining is all about.”

Mike Bost. R-Ill., said the bill would “tie the secretary’s hands and…put patients at risk….The secretary [of Veterans Affairs] is responsible for ensuring veterans receive high-quality and timely healthcare. To do that, he or she must have the authority to make difficult decisions to keep hospitals running safely and to put veterans first. That is the secretary’s first mission, and he or she must continue to provide care even in the worst of times.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it died at the close of the 117th Congress.



Voting 83 for and 11 against, the Senate on Dec. 15, 2022, gave final congressional approval to a bill (HR 7776) that would authorize an $858 billion Department of Defense budget for fiscal 2023, which 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 from the military chain of command to independent prosecutors in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Jack Reed, D-R.I., said China “poses a serious potential threat to our national security as the only country in the world capable of mounting a sustained challenge to our interests. In addition, Russia has demonstrated its willingness to inflict violence and undermine the global order while states like Iran and North Korea continue to push the boundaries of military brinkmanship. Threats like terrorism, climate change and pandemics remain persistent….The passage of the FY23 NDAA will be a critical step toward meeting these complex challenges.”

No senator spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Biden for his signature.