PASSING FEDERAL BUDGET, PROTECTING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, FUNDING UKRAINE
Voting 225 for and 201 against, the House on Dec. 23, 2022, gave final congressional approval to a bill (HR 2617) that would fund the federal government for the remaining nine months of fiscal 2023 at an annualized level of $1.7 trillion, including $45 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and NATO countries and a 10% increase in U.S. military spending. In major policy changes, the bill would reform the 1887 Electoral Count Act to protect the peaceful transfer of presidential power against overthrows such as the one attempted by former President Trump on and before Jan. 6, 2021; require removal of the Chinese-owned TikTok video service from federal devices; require employers to provide adequate workplace accommodations for pregnant employees and mothers engaged in breast feeding; bolster retirement savings by steps such as requiring the automatic enrollment of eligible workers in 401(k) and 403 (b) retirement plans established starting in 2025.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House speaker, said: “It was sad to hear [Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy] earlier say that this legislation is the most shameful thing to be seen on the House floor in this Congress. I can’t help but wonder: Has he forgotten January 6? Indeed, this is a day of immense patriotism…as we reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to thwart future attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power…here in the heart of our democracy.”
Opponent Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House minority leader, said the bill “is a monstrosity that is one of the most shameful acts I have ever seen in this body. The appropriations process has failed the American public, and there is no greater example of the nail in the coffin of the greatest failure of a one-party rule of the House, the Senate, and the presidency than this bill here. You [Democrats] controlled it all.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to President Biden for his signature.
COMBATING INFLATION & CLIMATE CHANGE
Voting 220 for and 207 against, the House on Aug. 12, 2022, gave final congressional approval to a Biden administration bill (HR 5376) that would make the largest-ever federal investment to curb climate change; reduce Medicare drug costs including the price of insulin for seniors; extend Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for millions of policyholders; and expand Internal Revenue Service resources for pursuing corporate and individual tax dodgers. Named the Inflation Reduction Act, the bill was projected to reduce deficit spending by $300 billion over 10 years as a result of revenue measures including a 1 per cent excise tax on corporate stock buybacks and a 15 percent minimum income tax rate for billion-dollar corporations that often pay no taxes under current law. The bill would, in part:
- Authorize $80 billion for modernizing Internal Revenue Service computer systems and hiring of thousands of new IRS agents focused on collecting billions of dollars in taxes that go unpaid each year.
- Empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices starting with up to 10 widely-used pharmaceuticals in 2026.
- Cap Medicare participants’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 annually while capping insulin prices under Medicare at $35 per month and giving seniors free access to vaccines.
- Authorize $370 billion over 10 years for climate programs including ones to reduce fossil-fuel emissions; help communities address drought and natural disasters caused by extreme weather; use tax credits to promote green technology including the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels; and fund $7,500 tax credits for purchasing new electric vehicles and $4,000 credits for buying used ones.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the bill “listens to the climate experts who tell us that melting glaciers and record heat are not normal. It puts us on a path to cutting carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030, helping create millions of new jobs along the way. This is a huge investment in energy security made in America by American workers that lowers energy costs for working families…This is a turning point in the fight to protect our planet.”
Opponent Tom Cole, R-Okla., said that under “the grossly misnamed Inflation Reduction Act,” the IRS would hire 87,000 new employees, and only Democrats “think that is a good idea. Nobody thinks 87,000 new IRS agents are going to do anything to help us with inflation or help us with the problems that we have in energy or help us in any meaningful way improve the economy or the lives of the average American….Despite the title, there’s nothing in this bill that will reduce inflation.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was passed and sent to President Biden, who signed it into law (PL 117-169) on Aug. 16, 2022. Senate vote here.
APPROVING TENS OF BILLIONS TO COMPETE WITH CHINA
Voting 243 for and 187 against, the House on July 28, 2022, gave final congressional approval to a bill (HR 4346) that would authorize $52 billion over five years to pump life into the once-dominant U.S. semiconductor industry, which has fallen behind competitors in mainland China and Taiwan in producing the highly advanced computer chips upon which America’s economy and national defense depend. The sweeping industrial-policy bill also would authorize tens of billions of dollars to remove snags in domestic and global supply chains; fund basic scientific research with an emphasis on combatting climate change; authorize advanced-manufacturing investment tax credits; and fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) instruction from the pre-K level through higher education. Corporations receiving funding from the bill would be prohibited from using any of it for stock buybacks or investing in overseas operations. Named the CHIPS and Science Act, the bill was passed by the Senate on July 27 and signed into law by President Biden on Aug. 9.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said: “The Covid–19 pandemic laid bare the vulnerability of our semiconductor supply chains. As a result, automakers, medical supply companies and manufacturers of heavy machinery faced severe disruptions, which drove up prices. The [bill] appropriates over $52 billion to ensure more semiconductors are produced right here in the United States, ending our reliance on other countries and lowering costs for consumers.”
Opponent Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said: “The Chinese Communist Party uses its centrally controlled economy to pick winners and losers through massive government subsidies and handouts that benefit the ruling party’s political allies. They do not adhere to free-market principles and the high labor and environmental standards that we have here in America. This is not a model America should embrace….We cannot beat China by trying to outspend them.”
(Five months earlier, the House approved a more extensive version of this bill, which failed in the Senate. It is described immediately below.)
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was passed and sent to President Biden, who signed it into law (PL 117-167) on Aug. 9, 2022. Senate vote here.
(For parliamentary reasons, the bill title above the attached House and Senate listings of yeas and nays incorrectly describes the subject matter of the bill being voted on.)
MAKING AMERICA COMPETITIVE, KEEPING JOBS AT HOME
Voting 222 for and 210 against, the House on Feb. 4, 2022, passed a nearly 3,000-page industrial-policy bill (HR 4521) that would use federal agencies from the Department of Commerce to the National Science Foundation to boost scientific research and new technologies in the U.S. private sector, assist blue-collar workers dislocated by global economic forces and fund programs to make American industries more competitive with China and other rivals in the world economy. The America Competes Act would spend $325 billion over five years. It would, in part:
- Provide U.S. semiconductor firms with financial incentives to manufacture their products in the United States;
- Allocate $45 billion in grants and loans to end delays in U.S. supply chains and manufacturing;
- Expand Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers displaced by the pandemic and other extraordinary global and domestic forces;
- Change immigration rules to make it easier for the United States to recruit foreign-born high-tech entrepreneurs;
- Increase the number of foreign students allowed to become permanent residents after receiving advanced U.S. science and engineering degrees;
- Enact the Civics Secures Democracy Act authorizing $6 billion over six years to promote the teaching of history and government in elementary and secondary education;
- Give the Food and Drug Administration mandatory authority to take unsafe drugs off the market;
- Allocate $8 billion over two years to the United Nations Green Climate Fund, which helps underdeveloped countries address the climate crisis;
- Require the Department of State to develop a 10-year plan for easing the global impact of climate change;
- Spend $3 billion over five years on making U.S. solar energy firms less dependent on components from China;
- Tighten customs and import-duty rules for inexpensive goods from China;
- Give federal science officials broad authority to fund basic research as opposed to fields narrowly defined by Congress;
- Fund global marine-mammal research and measures to preserve coral reefs;
- Direct the National Science Foundation to develop ethical, environmental and other “societal rules” for the burgeoning field of biological engineering;
- Require the Chinese Communist Party to match emissions standards established in the United States.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Judy Chu, D-Calif., said: “From climate change to cybersecurity, many of the greatest challenges facing our country can only be met through research and innovation that will develop new products and create new jobs, but in order to rise to this moment, we need to turbocharge America’s scientific sector, and that is what this bill does….”
Opponent Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, said: “China will stop at nothing to try and surpass the United States as the world’s greatest superpower, and we have the tools at our disposal to counter this growing threat of the Chinese Communist Party. But this nearly $325 billion bill prioritizes Build Back Better and Green New Deal provisions over real solutions to compete with China.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where no vote has occurred.
APPROVING $1 TRILLION FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
Voting 228 for and 206 against, the House on Nov. 5, 2021, approved a Biden administration infrastructure package (HR 3684) that would provide $1 trillion over five years for repairing and building roads, bridges, water facilities, power grids, broadband connections, airports, mass transit, railroad lines and other public works throughout the United States. Large sums in the bill address climate change, including spending to reduce vehicular use of fossil fuels, put exponentially more electric vehicles on the road and help communities prepare for and recover from worsening natural disasters ranging from flooding and drought to wildfires and ice storms. The bill would increase deficits by $256 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Thirteen Republicans supported the bill and nine Democrats voted against it.
In part, the bill would provide $110 billion for road and bridge construction; $73 billion for modernizing the power grid; $66 billion for Amtrak passenger service and for freight rail; $65 billion for extending broadband service to rural areas; $55 billion for water systems including funds to replace lead pipes and build storage and recycling facilities; $39 billion for mass transportation; $25 billion for airports; $17 billion for ports and waterways; $11 billion for highway safety; $6 billion for nuclear energy; $3.5 billion for clean-water and sewer projects on tribal lands; $3.3 billion to fight wildfires and $1 billion for restoring the Great Lakes
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said: “Our roads, bridges, and water systems are crumbling. Some water systems are over 100 years old, made of brick and wood. Our electric grid system is vulnerable to catastrophic outages. We must not only rebuild the infrastructure for the 21st century economy, we must rebuild the middle class [by] creating good-paying American jobs and turbocharging American competitiveness and growth.”
Opponent Jack Bergman, R-Mich., said: “Only a fraction of the funds [goes] to roads, bridges, broadband, and other things people outside the `swamp’ would generally consider infrastructure, a true and embarrassingly small drop in the bucket….This package will stretch the long, intrusive arm of the federal government into your life more than ever before. Your energy bill, your taxes, your job, your nation’s borders, your economic freedom.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was passed and sent to President Biden, who signed it into law (PL 117-58) on Nov. 15, 2021. Senate vote here.
APPROVING AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
Voting 219 for and 212 against, the House on Feb. 27, 2021, approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief package (HR 1319) sponsored by the Biden administration that would expand jobless benefits by $400 per week from March 14 through August 29; deliver payments of $1,400 per person to individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples up to $150,000; raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2025; expand Paycheck Protection Program benefits for small businesses and nonprofits; establish a $25 billion grant program for the restaurant industry; and increase Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for a large number of the uninsured.
The bill would increase the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children younger than 6 and $3,000 for ages 6 through 17. It would make the maximum credit refundable to single heads of household earning up to $112,500 and married couples up to $150,000 as well as to families with little or no income in an attempt to lift 4.1 million children above the poverty line and reduce child poverty by 40 percent.
In addition, the bill would expand the earned income tax credit (EITC) for low-income working adults without children at home from $530 to $1,500 per person and raise the income limit for receiving the credit from $16,000 to $21,000 for individuals. It would lower the age at which non-students can start claiming the EITC from 25 to 19 and make the credit available to qualified working seniors over 65.
The bill also would provide:
- $130 billion for K-12 schools to be used mainly to fund ventilation improvements and projects to reduce class sizes, reverse pandemic learning losses and supply protective gear to teachers and pupils;
- $40 billion for post-secondary education, with colleges and universities required to allocate at least half of their sum to Pell Grants;
- $350 billion to help state, local, tribal and territorial governments meet expenses including payroll costs of front-line workers, with 60 percent directed to states and the District of Columbia and 40 percent to be split between county and municipal governments. Tribal governments would receive $20 billion and territories $4.5 billion;
- $1 billion for Head Start and $39 billion in grants to keep child-care centers open, with low-income families given priority for receiving child-care tuition aid;
- $12 billion for programs to address hunger, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and a program that electronically pays grocery bills for children to offset their loss of school meals;
- $4.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for home heating and cooling plus billions for Older Americans Act beneficiaries and programs addressing child abuse and domestic violence;
- $28 billion for mass transit; $8 billion for airports; $1.5 billion for Amtrak; and $15 billion in payroll support to avert layoffs in the passenger-airline sector;
- $46 Billion for tracing and monitoring Covid-19; $8.5 billion for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination efforts; $5.2 billion for vaccine research and manufacturing; and $7.6 billion for community health centers;
- $10 billion to fast-track the purchase of goods and services for combatting Covid-19 under the Defense Production Act;
- $25 billion in rent and utility assistance; $10 billion to help landlords pay mortgages, property taxes and utility bills; $5 billion for homeless shelters; and $5 billion in housing vouchers for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking;
- $3.6 billion for Department of Agriculture food distribution and grants and loans to farmers, plus hundreds of millions for rural health care and loans to minority farmers harmed by historically biased farm policies;
- $13.5 billion for expanding health care including Covid-19 treatments for veterans; $750 million for veterans’ day care; $400 million for job retraining; and $272 million for processing medical claims;
- $570 million to fund family and sick leave with pay for postal workers and federal civil servants.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was passed and sent to President Biden, who signed it into law (PL 117-2) on Mar. 11, 2021. Senate vote here.