Here’s how U.S. House members and senators voted on major issues during the legislative week of May 29-June 2.

The floor of the U.S. House of Representatives



Voting 314 for and 117 against, the House on May 31, 2023, passed a bill (HR 3746) negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that would suspend the Treasury’s statutory borrowing limit until January 2025; clamp down on nondefense discretionary spending over the next two fiscal years; allow the military budget and veterans’ health care spending to rise at normal rates; require further cuts in discretionary spending if Congress fails to pass all 12 annual appropriations bills on time; reduce Internal Revenue Service spending; expand work requirements for receiving food stamps; rescind $28 billion in unspent appropriations for Covid relief; scale back environmental reviews by federal agencies, and expedite construction of a 300-mile natural gas pipeline between northern West Virginia and southern Virginia. The accumulated national debt is now $31.4 trillion. Congressional action is required to permit additional borrowing needed for the government to pay its bills.

 In more detail, the bill would:

 — Essentially freeze fiscal 2024 nondefense discretionary spending at current (fiscal 2023) levels and allow a 1 percent increase in fiscal 2025. These steps would reduce budget deficits by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

 — Transfer $20 billion from the Internal Revenue Service to other agencies in fiscal 2024-2025, reducing the $80 billion recently added to IRS budgets over 10 years for modernizing computer systems, improving customer service and increasing audits of wealthy individuals and corporations.

 — Increase from 49 to 54 the age cutoff for work requirements imposed on adults without dependents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps); waive the work requirement for veterans, the homeless and individuals 18-24 raised in foster care, and tweak eligibility rules for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the state-federal welfare program for indigent families with children.

 — Weaken the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act to regulate the environmental, health and economic impacts of actions by federal agencies, a step intended to speed the permitting of energy and infrastructure projects.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Tom Cole, R-Okla., said: “The reforms included in this bill are historic. The first year-over-year cut in spending in a debt-ceiling bill. The largest rescission of appropriated but unspent funds in history. The first real reforms to requirements for SNAP and TANF, which will help lift people out of poverty, and real reforms to the permitting process which will streamline major infrastructure and energy projects….”

Opponent Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said: “Even though 97 percent of the [national] debt was accumulated before President Biden took office and over a quarter of the debt was accumulated under Donald Trump, and even though Republicans had no problem adding trillions to the debt with their giveaways to Wall Street CEO’s and lavish tax cuts for the very rich, they now choose to play Russian Roulette with our economy.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was passed and sent to Biden for his signature.



Voting 63 for and 36 against, the Senate on June 1, 2023, joined the House in passing a bill (HR 3746, above) negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that would suspend the statutory debt limit until January 2025, averting default on U.S. debt expected to occur in about three days. See the House summary above for details on the legislation.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the bill “avoids the catastrophic consequences of a default on our nation’s debt, and just as importantly, it makes the most serious headway in years toward curbing Washington Democrats’ reckless spending addiction. The bill that the House just passed has the potential to cut federal spending by $1.5 trillion. Now the Senate has the chance to make that important progress a reality.”

Opponent Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the bill “will cut nutrition programs for kids and the elderly and yet the billionaires continue to laugh all the way to the bank…I cannot in good conscience vote for a bill that makes it harder for working families to afford the outrageously high price of childcare, housing and health care while making it easier for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in America to cheat on their taxes.”

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


Voting 21 for and 75 against, the Senate on May 31, 2023, defeated a bid to replace HR 3746 (above) with a bill that would slash spending on entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare as well as on discretionary spending including the military budget over five fiscal years. The amendment would impose 5 percent across-the-board annual cuts until the federal budget comes into balance in fiscal 2028, and it would raise the statutory debt ceiling by $500 billion over its current level of $31.4 trillion in accumulated deficits. The amendment excluded tax increases to help balance the budget.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Sponsor Rand Paul, R-Ky., said: “Two-thirds of [federal] spending is entitlement spending [on] Medicare, Medicaid…and other programs. They’re called mandatory, and no one ever looks at them, they go on into perpetuity. This is what drives the deficit. Who took them off the table?…Actually, Republicans took them off the table because they fear being criticized by the Democrats.”

Opponent Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said the amendment “would create catastrophic damage throughout the federal economy, with spending cuts as much as 37 percent by 2028, putting federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid, border security and transportation into extremely difficult circumstances. This is not the America that Americans expect….”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.


Voting 30 for and 69 against, the Senate on June 1, 2023, defeated an amendment that sought to remove authority for building the Mountain Valley Pipeline from HR 3746 (above). The bill would expedite approval of permits needed to complete construction of the 300-mile pipeline from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with an extension into North Carolina planned for later construction. With a diameter of 42 inches and transporting natural gas from fracking, the pipeline is routed under hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands areas, cutting through active seismic zones and public lands including Jefferson National Forest and the Appalachian Trail.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Sponsor Tim Kaine, D-Va., said: “To build a pipeline, you have to take people’s land. Sometimes the land you take might be public land, a national park or a national forest, but in any pipeline project of size — and the Mountain Valley Pipeline is about 330 miles long — you have to take a lot of land from private landowners, most of whom don’t want to give up their land.”

Opponent Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., called the pipeline “a prime example of an important project that has faced senseless delays, mostly as a result of litigation filed by anti-natural gas activists at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. This project has undergone numerous environmental reviews and has received approvals from multiple federal agencies both under the Trump and the Biden administrations.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.


Voting 52 for and 46 against, the Senate on May 31, 2023, adopted a resolution (HJ Res 45) that would repeal a Biden administration policy of forgiving up to $20,000 of debt for an estimated 43 million low- to middle-income individuals who received student loans from the federal government for undergraduate education. The executive order does not affect student loans by private lenders. Legal challenges have prevented the nine-month-old order from taking effect, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on its constitutionality.

Under the policy, recipients of Pell grants for low-income students could receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness, and other eligible borrowers could receive up to $10,000 in relief. No individual making more than $125,000 or who has household income above $250,000 is eligible for forgiveness.

Biden’s order also suspended monthly loan payments from September through December 2022 in deference to Covid. This resolution would require recipients to retroactively remit the four months of paused payments plus interest. Among those having to make retroactive payments would be enrollees in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which provides relief to more than 200,000 local, state and federal government employees including members of U.S. military.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Bill Cassidy, R-La., said “these reckless student-loan schemes do not forgive debt. They transfer the burden from those who willingly took out the loans to go to college to make more money when they graduated to Americans who never attended college or who already paid back their loans. These policies are as unfair as they are responsible.”

Opponent Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said support of the resolution “is not just a vote against the president’s student-debt cancelation plan. It is also a vote to force nearly 40 million hardworking Americans to immediately pay back months of student loan payments and interest and restore an estimated $20 billion of student debt to the balances of tens of thousands of public servants.”

A yes vote was to repeal student-loan forgiveness.