Here’s how U.S. House members and senators voted on major issues during the legislative week of July 24-28. Congress is in recess until early September.

The floor of the U.S. House of Representatives



Voting 219 for and 211 against, the House on July 27, 2023, passed a bill (HR 4366) that would appropriate $155.7 billion in discretionary spending and $161.7 billion in mandatory spending in fiscal 2024 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction and housing projects, U.S. support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the budgets of several other agencies. The bill provides $20.3 billion for the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund, which provides health coverage to veterans afflicted by cancer after being exposed to burn pits in combat zones. The bill prohibits the funding of programs that teach “critical race theory” or promote “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

In addition, the bill prohibits closure or realignment of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of Muslim men arrested after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were detained at one time or another over the past two decades. About 30 prisoners are now held there.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., praised the bill’s defunding of VA diversity programs. “The great news for all of us here today,” she said, “is that the Constitution declared long ago that all of us are created equal. It is time that we started acknowledging that in all of our funding, in all of our departments and all across America, and, as well, that our veterans are created equal. We don’t have to spend $86 million on educating everyone on how different they are. It is time to start treating everyone equally.”

Opponent Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said the bill “attacks the dignity of veterans and all Americans of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality, by blocking the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to advance equity….If members of today’s extreme Republican majority were in office in 1948, I fear they would have attacked President Truman’s desegregation order as an unacceptable diversity, equity and inclusion measure….”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, which is drafting a competing version.


Voting 220 for and 214 against, the House on July 26, 2023, adopted an amendment that would prohibit funding in HR 4366 (above) to carry out an executive order by President Biden leveraging the scale and purchasing power of the federal government to sharply reduce carbon emissions throughout public and private sectors of the U.S. economy.

Under the order attacked by this amendment, the administration is pursuing goals such as a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2030; the elimination of new-vehicle carbon emissions by 2035; immediate or near-term net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in federal procurement; infrastructure that can withstand climate change; net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 in building construction and a 65 percent decrease by 2030 (compared to 2008) in greenhouse-gas discharges by federal facilities.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Sponsor Chip Roy, R-Texas, said: “The fact is, our national security is dependent upon our ability to produce and export liquefied natural gas and being able to use the God-given minerals that we have in this country, oil and gas, to be able to power the world.”

Opponent Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said: “Despite the wildfires, smoke-covered skies, life-threatening heat waves, and extreme weather we now face nearly every day in the United States, this amendment would hamstring our ability to address the accelerating threat of climate change. “

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.


Voting 228 for and 206 against, the House on June 26, 2023, adopted an amendment to HR 4366 (above) affirming the gun rights of individuals adjudicated to be so mentally impaired that they cannot manage their own veterans’ benefits. By law, the Department of Veterans Affairs must appoint a fiduciary to manage their benefits and report the individual’s name to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system, which would prohibit the individual from purchasing a firearm because of his or her mental condition. This amendment sought to ban funding to carry out the NICS reporting requirement.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Mike Bost, R-Ill., said: “The mission of the VA is to care for those who have served. To me, it seems this practice is the opposite of caring for our veterans.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said: “The program has a full due process system, and veterans can file an appeal. This is an example of generating a controversy where there is none.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.



Voting 86 for and 11 against, the Senate on July 27. 2023, authorized an $886 billion military budget (S 2226) for fiscal 2024 that funds a 5.2 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel while approving more than $60 billion for active-duty and retiree health care and hundreds of millions in military aid to Ukraine. The bill funds procurement of naval vessels, combat aircraft, armored vehicles and nuclear and conventional weapons systems while restocking arsenals that have been depleted by weapons shipments to Ukraine. The bill also requires a two-thirds Senate vote to approve any presidential decision to withdraw the United States from NATO.

Confronting Chinese expansion in the Indo-Pacific region, the bill reinforces the Australia-United Kingdom-United States partnership known as AUKUS, steps up training of Taiwanese military forces and increases U.S. naval exercises including freedom-of-navigation operations in the Pacific. In addition, the bill requires the Pentagon to develop a strategy for countering fentanyl deliveries over the southern border and establishes a Pentagon inspector general’s office to oversee the distribution of aid to Ukraine.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Jack Reed, D-R.I., said the bill “addresses a broad range of pressing issues, from strategic competition with China and Russia to countering threats from Iran, North Korea, violent extremists and even climate change. The bill authorizes a record level of investment in key technologies like…artificial intelligence and makes real progress toward modernizing our ships, aircraft and combat vehicles.”

Opponent Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said: “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. Tens of thousands of American troops have returned home. Yet the Pentagon’s budget continues to go up. Every year…Congress somehow comes together very quietly, with little debate, to vote for the one thing they agree on, and that is more and more money for the Pentagon.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill, which must be combined with a competing House version.


The Senate on July 27, 2023, defeated, 11 for and 88 against, an amendment to S 2226 (above) that sought to make a 10 percent cut in every account in the $886 billion military budget for fiscal 2024 except those for personnel, health care and aid to Ukraine.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Sponsor Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said: “Year after year, with very little debate, we pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the military-industrial complex…while the Pentagon remans unaudited with massive waste and fraud. We now spend more than the next 10 nations combined. It is time to change our national priorities….”

Jack Reed, D-R.I., said: “We are now involved in an existential conflict helping Ukrainians defend democracy…China has increased their military dramatically….This world is more dangerous perhaps today than at any time, and to simply walk away from adequately funding our Defense Department would be…in error.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.


Voting 50 for and 49 against, the Senate on July 27, 2023, failed to reach 60 votes needed to adopt an amendment to the 2024 military budget (S 2226, above) that would allow only the American Flag to be displayed on federal property. Backers said the amendment was patriotic. But critics called it an attack on the LGBTQ+ community, whose Pride flag occasionally is flown at public buildings, including at the White House on June 8 during Pride Month.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Sponsor Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said: “A vote against this amendment is a slap in the face of those of us who have served and disrespectful to the families whose loved ones have died defending this one flag and the republic.”

Opponent Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said: “I think the American people are getting tired of politicians who make their support for our military servicemembers and their families contingent on pushing a discriminatory agenda, whether that be about women’s rights or LGBTQ+ rights.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.