Here’s how U.S. House members and senators voted on major issues during the legislative weeks starting Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.
REPUBLICANS’ STAND-ALONE AID TO ISRAEL
Voting 226 and 196 against, the House on Nov. 2, 2023, passed a Republican-drafted bill (HR 6126) that would appropriate $14.1 billion in emergency military aid to Israel while reducing the Internal Revenue Service budget by the same amount. Because the IRS cut would result in fewer audits of large corporations and wealthy taxpayers, the bill would increase deficits by $12.5 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Aside from sending aid to Israel, the bill disregards a $105 billion emergency funding request by President Biden that includes $60 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine, $13.6 billion for securing America’s southern border and humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip, among other outlays. Biden’s aid package is now before the Senate.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., said the bill “will provide critical aid to [Israel] as they defend themselves against terrorists while respecting taxpayer dollars….The bill is offset through rescissions of the Democrats’ I.R.S. army provided under the Inflation Reduction Act….America’s support for Israel is unwavering, but there is simply no reason why the funds we supply should be placed on the backs of future generations by furthering our debt crisis.”
Opponent Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the bill’s omission of funding for Ukraine means “Vladimir Putin is happy. I’m always amazed at how my friends on the other side of the aisle fall over each other to make Vladimir Putin happy. Well, he’s happy with the package you’re bringing to the floor today with no aid for any other national security priorities the president has asked for….”
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
FAILED ATTEMPT TO EXPEL GEORGE SANTOS
The House on Nov. 1, 2023, voted, 179 for and 213 against, to defeat a resolution (H Res 773) to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from Congress. Santos, who says he will seek re-election, is under federal indictment on charges including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public money, making false statements to Congress, stealing the identities of campaign donors, using donors’ credit cards without permission and lying about his campaign finances to the Federal Election Commission. This is the second House vote this year on expelling Santos. In May, the House adopted a Republican motion to refer a Democratic expulsion measure (H Res 114) to the Ethics Committee.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Expulsion supporter Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., said: “You don’t expel a member for being a jerk. You don’t expel a member for something they said. You expel a member for their conduct. The conduct of Mr. Santos has been embarrassing and unbecoming for public office. Lying about your background. Lying about your life experiences. Making up events that didn’t occur in an effort to bamboozle” the public.
Santos said the resolution violates “the due process I’m entitled to, and the long-held premise that one is innocent until proven guilty. It is unconscionable to think that this body, [which] is at war with the Department of Justice over their politically motivated practices, would blindly accept their accusation against a member of another branch of government.”
A yes vote was to expel Santos.
FAILED ATTEMPT TO CENSURE RASHIDA TLAIB
Voting 222 for and 186 against, the House on Nov. 1, 203, tabled and thus killed a measure (H Res 807) to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the only person of Palestinian descent serving in Congress, for her criticism of Israel over its treatment of residents of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. She recently labeled Israeli policies toward Palestinians as “genocide” and “apartheid” while calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing war sparked by Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel. The resolution sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., accused Tlaib of “antisemitic activity” and “sympathizing with terrorist organizations.” Without offering evidence, Greene also accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” at the Capitol. Censure ranks behind expulsion as the most severe punishment the House can impose on a member.
There was no debate on the resolution.
A yes vote was to kill the censure bid.
JACK LEW, AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL
Voting 53 for and 43 against, the Senate on Oct. 31,2023, confirmed Jack Lew as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Lew, 68, was secretary of the Treasury and White House chief of staff under President Barack Obama and served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under both Obama and President Bill Clinton. The nomination drew Republican opposition over his role in negotiating financial aspects of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany. President Donald Trump later scuttled the deal, in which Iran was gradually dismantling its nuclear weapons program in return for concessions including the release of tens of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets from western banks.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said: “With everything happening in Israel right now, confirming Jack Lew at this moment will be one of the most…consequential nomination votes the Senate has taken in a long time. The need to confirm Mr. Lew is plain and irrefutable. Israel in crisis. America needs to stand with her, and a most urgent and obvious step would be ensuring we have an ambassador in place.”
Opponent Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said: “As President Obama’s Treasury secretary, Jack Lew was the leading proponent of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. The deal delivered more than $100 billion to the ayatollahs. Mr. Lew called the agreement a strong deal….He apparently didn’t consult our allies, though, before making that statement because our allies in Israel certainly didn’t agree. In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu called the agreement `a very bad deal.’”
A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.
EXECUTIVE ORDER PROMOTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE
Voting 45 for and 50 against, the Senate on Oct. 31, 2023, refused to kill an executive order that promotes nationwide voting participation and affirms the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in protecting the right to vote. In part, the order by President Biden states it is the administration’s responsibility “to promote and defend the right to vote for all Americans who are legally entitled to participate in elections…and to combat misinformation, to enable all eligible Americans to participate” in the U.S. democracy. On this vote, the Senate refused to remove funding for the order from a fiscal 2024 appropriations bill (HR 4366) that was later passed.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Amendment sponsor Ted Budd, R-N.C., said: “Simply put, this executive order is further weaponization of the federal government’s power to boost one side of the aisle over the another.”
Opponent Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said: “Interesting in our democracy: two different political parties and two different attitudes toward registration and voting. Many [Democrats] believe that expanding the number of voters makes the democracy stronger. So does President Biden.”
A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.