Here’s how U.S. House members and senators voted on major issues during the legislative weeks starting Sept. 25 and ending Oct. 20.
JIM JORDAN LOSES SPEAKERSHIP BID
Rep. Jim Jordan, a nine-term Republican from Ohio who helped plan and implement the Jan. 6, 2021, effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, lost a bid to become speaker of the House on Oct. 17, 2023. He received 200 of the 217 votes he needed to assume the gavel. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, received the votes of all 212 members of his caucus, and 20 Republicans voted for individuals other than Jordan. One Republican was absent, and there are two vacancies in the 435-member House.
The House on Oct. 18 and Oct. 20 rejected two additional bids by Jordan to become speaker with him losing support on each new vote.
According to a report by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Jordan was “a significant player” in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to throw out the results of the presidential election in some states won by Joe Biden, helping to develop “strategies for challenging the election, chief among them claims that the election had been tainted by fraud.” Jordan refused to appear before the committee.
When legislative business resumed hours after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Jordan was among 121 Republicans voting to reject Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for Biden, saying in debate “80 million Americans, 80 million of our fellow citizens, Republicans and Democrats, have doubts about this election; and 60 million people, 60 million Americans think it was stolen. But Democrats say: No problem. No worries. Everything is fine.” He then was one of 138 Republicans voting to not count Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes in furtherance of Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to thwart Biden’s election by sending dozens of electoral votes back to states for review by GOP-controlled legislatures.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said: “Jim Jordan is a patriot. He’s an America-first warrior who wins the toughest of fights, going after corruption and delivering accountability at the highest levels of government….Jim is the voice of the American people who have felt voiceless for far too long….Jim is strategic, scrappy, tough and principled. He’s a mentor, a worker and, above all, he’s a fighter…a winner on behalf of the American people.”
Opponent Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said: “A vote today to make the architect of a nationwide abortion ban, a vocal election denier and an insurrection insider to [become] the speaker of the House would be a terrible message to the country and our allies. It would send an even more troubling message to our enemies, that the very people who would seek to undermine democracy are rewarded with positions of immense power. We are talking about somebody who has spent his entire career trying to hold our country back.”
All Democrats voted for Jeffries.
All Republicans except for the following members voted for Jordan.
Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Tony Gonzalez and Kay Granger of Texas, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, John Rutherford of Florida, Mike Simpson of Idaho and Steve Womack of Arkansas voted for Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Don Bacon of Nebraska, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Carlos Giminez of Florida, Jennifer Kiggans of Virginia, Doug LaMalfa of California and Mike Lawler of New York voted for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California.
Anthony D’Esposito, Andrew Garbarino and Nick LaLota of New York voted for former GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York.
Jake Ellzey of Texas voted for GOP Rep. Mike Garcia of California.
Ken Buck of Colorado voted for GOP Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota.
John James of Michigan voted for GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma.
Victoria Spartz of Indiana voted for GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
Gus Bilirakis of Florida did not vote.
KEVIN MCCARTHY DEPOSED AS HOUSE SPEAKER
Voting 216 for and 210 against, the House on Oct. 3, 2023, adopted a resolution (H Res 757) to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House speaker. He was elected to the post Jan. 7 on the 15th ballot of a four-day power struggle among House Republicans. McCarthy’s continuance as speaker drew opposition from all Democrats who voted and eight Republicans. Because the chamber cannot perform a full range of official duties without a speaker, this vote effectively shut down legislative business until a successor takes office. The Republican conference is scheduled to meet as early as Oct. 10 to begin the process of choosing McCarthy’s replacement.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who sponsored the removal motion, said: “If we continue with Speaker McCarthy, the appropriations process will go right back to…just a sideshow, just a puppet show, just something to keep the hamsters on the hamster wheel as they continue to back people up against a calendar, centralize power with the lobbyists and special interests that move all kinds of money through the leadership. That is how they get their way, and that is why the American people have been getting screwed decade after decade. I am not going to tolerate it anymore without a fight.”
Opponent Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, who voted against the motion to vacate the speakership, said: “Speaker McCarthy’s Republican majority has been successful in bringing common sense back to our nation’s capital by passing legislation to affirm a parents’ right to be involved in their child’s education, bolster American energy production, fully fund veterans’ care and benefits, fight back against the regulatory state and continue delivering on our promise to rein in Democrats’ reckless spending by passing fiscally responsible appropriations bills.”
A yes vote was to vacate the office of House speaker.
BIPARTISAN BILL TO AVERT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Voting 335 for and 91 against, the House on Sept. 30, 2023, passed a continuing resolution (HR 5860) that would fund the government on a stopgap basis through Nov. 15. The Senate was expected to approve the bill later in the day, averting a partial government shutdown slated to begin at midnight Sept. 30 without enactment of this legislation. The bill, which President Biden was prepared to sign into law, would fund disaster assistance for U.S. locales ravaged by floods and wildfires but omit military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine,
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
REPUBLICANS’ STOPGAP FUNDING AND IMMIGRATION BILL
Voting 198 for and 232 against, the House on Sept. 28, 2023, defeated a Republican-sponsored continuing resolution (HR 5525) intended to keep the government fully open during October while Congress seeks agreement on regular funding for the new fiscal year. Opposed by 21 Republicans and all 211 Democrats who voted, the bill slashed discretionary spending by up to 30 percent at all agencies except the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. The vote occurred after Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he would not allow the House to consider a popular bipartisan continuing resolution working its way through the Senate (below). McCarthy’s decision, which placated his detractors on the far-right fringe of the GOP caucus, increased odds that a partial government shutdown would start at midnight on Sept. 30.
The House bill also sought to reinstate harsh Trump-era immigration policies for securing the southwest border and punishing undocumented immigrants including those seeking asylum pursuant to U.S. and international law. In part, the bill would speed the return of unaccompanied migrant children to their native country unless doing so would expose them to sex trafficking, and it would end federal funding of attorneys to represent these youths in immigration proceedings. The bill would prohibit the transfer of migrant families to U.S. communities while they await hearings in immigration court, instead requiring their detention near the border, among other provisions.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Mike Johnson, R-La., said: “We have to change the way that the Biden administration is administering the economy. We have to change…this radical green energy transition. It is nonsense. The American people have had enough. They see the `Democrat’ policies destroying our economy, destroying our security, destroying opportunity for their children and grandchildren. We are taking a stand here. We are operating in good faith. We are negotiating together for the best outcome for the people, and we do not desire a shutdown.
Opponent Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said: “With just hours remaining before…an unnecessary shutdown, the House is being forced to waste time on a measure that would impose draconian cuts to vital federal programs and compel the enactment” of Trump-era immigration policies. The Senate will not take up [the bill] and it will never go to the president’s desk. The House must come together today and stop coddling extreme MAGA members looking to get former President Trump’s failed illegal and immoral policies enacted into law.”
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
ENDING MILITARY SUPPORT OF UKRAINE
Voting 93 for and 339 against, the House on Sept. 27, 2023, defeated an amendment that sought to remove U.S, military aid to Ukraine from the fiscal 2024 defense appropriations bill (HR 4365), which was later passed. Congress has approved $113 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia in February 2022, and the Biden administration has asked Congress to approve tens of billions more in the 2024 budget year.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Sponsor Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said: “I do not fear broken Russian tanks rolling through Europe. I fear Russia’s nuclear weapons and the risk that we could be sleepwalking into a nuclear conflict that could end life as we know it on the planet, all for what? To live out some neoconservative dream in Ukraine? Give me a break.”
Opponent Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said: “Putin and his thugs are committing war crimes on a mass scale. The United States and the other democratic nations of the world must continue to oppose him. If we do not, then he or another authoritarian leader will try something like this again, yes, either in Ukraine or elsewhere in the world.”
A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
The Senate on Oct. 18, 2023, voted, 53 for and 42 against, to nullify a proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule that would prevent banks and other lenders from denying credit requests for on the basis of the applicant’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or in most cases age. The rule requires creditors to report much of the demographic information they collect from applicants on an en masse, anonymous basis to the agency. In other provisions, the rule requires lenders to retain records of credit applications, notify applicants of all actions taken on their requests, report credit histories in the names of both spouses and provide applicants with copies of appraisal reports. This vote adopted SJ Res 32, which is now before the House.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
John Kennedy, R-La., who sponsored the nullification resolution, said: “Why would the CFPB need this information? Well, the truth is, they don’t, but I will tell you why. The CFPB is setting these small-business people — but also these small banks — up for lawsuits. That is exactly what they are doing. What happens if a small-business person goes into the bank and the banker says: ‘Listen, I hate to have to ask you this, but the CFPB says I have to ask you. Are you gay?’ As if that is anybody’s business.”
Opponent Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said: “We are talking about basic data on the borrowers’ demographics, loan pricing, application approvals and other critical information — just like we do with [applications for] mortgages….With this data, we will be able to see gaps in the small business lending market, allowing programs to expand access to credit for small businesses…. Of course, big banks and their lobbyists are putting up a fight. They always do. Any time there is a rule that might change their behavior, they come up with the same song and dance….”
A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.
STOPGAP BILL TO KEEP GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONING
By a tally of 77 for and 19 against, the Senate on Sept. 26, 2023, voted to advance a bill (HR 3935) that would fund government operations for seven weeks beyond the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, giving Congress more time to agree on regular funding for fiscal year 2024. Senate passage of this bipartisan bill to avert a government shutdown was expected on Sept. 30. However, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he would block House action on the legislation even though a clear majority of the House membership had signaled support for it. McCarthy’s stance, which appealed to the most extreme members of the GOP caucus, increased odds that the government would be partially shut down at midnight Sept. 30.
In addition to funding agencies at current levels through Nov. 17, the Senate bill would provide $6.2 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and $6 billion in disaster relief following catastrophic wildfires and flooding in several states, among other short-term funding measures.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader, said: “Bipartisan majorities recognize the ongoing need to counter Russia and China and continue to provide lethal aid to Ukraine. In the coming weeks, I hope the administration will work with Congress to address these pressing needs. But in order for work on appropriations to continue uninterrupted, Congress needs to extend government funding by the end of this week.”
Opponent Ted Cruz, R-Texas, voted to block the bill. But he complained that active-duty military personnel would go unpaid if the government were to close. He urged the Democratic leadership to take up his bill to continue military pay during a shutdown. “At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, the paychecks will stop for every soldier, every sailor, every airman, every marine, every member of the Space Force, and every coastguardsman,” he said. “That is not right. The good news is, we can prevent it.”
A yes vote was to advance the bill.
JAMES C. O’BRIEN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
Voting 67 for and 31 against, the Senate on Oct. 4, 2023, confirmed James C. O’Brien as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, putting him in charge, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, of U.S. diplomatic efforts to confront Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. An attorney who joined the Department of State in 1989, O’Brien served most recently as chief coordinator of U.S. sanctions policies around the world, and before that, he was the special envoy for hostage affairs, special envoy for the Balkans and coordinator of the Dayton Accords peace agreement among Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, among other positions.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., said O’Brien “brings a wealth of experience to this position, having most recently worked as the head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination, targeting, among others, the Russian oligarchs who thrive on corruption — Russian oligarchs whose corrupt networks are continuing to fuel the war in Ukraine, which in turn impacts global energy and food prices for just about every single person in the world.”
No senator spoke against the nominee.
A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.