DAY CARE AT VETERANS CLINICS, HOSPITALS:
Voting 400 for and nine against, the House on Feb. 8 passed a bill (HR 840) that would establish a nationwide system of day care centers at veterans hospitals, clinics and psychological and social counseling facilities. This would expand and make permanent a pilot program under which full-time caretakers can place their children for supervision while they receive treatment elsewhere on the premises. The bill is tailored to veterans who need intensive physical or mental care and would miss appointments without the availability of on-site care for their children. Because the bill lacks a pay-for to offset its projected $120 million annual cost, it likely would shift funds from other veterans programs to day care.
Julia Brownley, D-Calif., said, "For many veterans, the lack of access to child care is a barrier to receiving VA health care, especially mental health care and intensive-care services. Research has shown that women veterans more commonly face this barrier."
Another supporter, Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said, "We know that in this country, 20 veterans commit suicide each day, and 14 of them have never gotten into VA care."
No member spoke against the bill.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: Bruce Westerman, R-4
Voting yes: Louie Gohmert, R-1, John Ratcliffe, R-4
DAY CARE STAFF:
Voting 200 for and 214 against, the House on Feb. 8 defeated a Republican motion addressing language in HR 840 (above) that would prohibit Department of Veterans Affairs contracts with child care firms that employ individuals convicted of serious offenses including sex crimes, drug felonies and violent crimes. The motion sought to expand the prohibition to cover contractors with employees who have been charged with but not yet convicted of the specified crimes.
Sponsor Andy Barr, R-Ky., said his measure "does not presuppose the guilt of anyone who charged with one of these crimes. Rather, it acknowledges that we have an obligation to ensure the safety of children who will be cared for under this program."
Conor Lamb, D-Pa., said the bill "already includes an amendment that does keep children safe. We have made sure that no one will provide child care to these children who is in serious trouble."
A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
Voting yes: Westerman
Voting yes: Gohmert, Ratcliffe
SUPPORT OF ISRAEL, REBUKE OVER TROOP WITHDRAWALS:
Voting 77 for and 23 against, the Senate on Feb. 5 passed a bill (S 1) that would rebuke President Trump over his planned troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan; authorize $3.3 billion annually in U.S. military aid to Israel over 10 years; expand economic sanctions on the Assad regime in Syria; require a probe of money laundering by the Syrian central bank; authorize military and humanitarian aid to Jordan and support Jordan's efforts to secure its borders and care for hundreds of thousands of refugees. In addition, the bill would give a federal stamp of approval to so-called anti-BDS laws enacted by state and local governments. Those laws deny contracts and other benefits to companies or individuals that support boycott, divestiture or sanctions against Israel in response to its treatment of Palestinians.
Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the bill "doesn't in any way prevent anyone from participating in boycotting or divesting from Israel. All it says is that if you do, your clients, in the form of state or local governments, can boycott or divest from you in return. Free speech is a two-way street."
Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, "the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom to protest and the freedom to boycott are fundamentally American. How can we give that up so easily? Our Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they knew what we were doing today."
A yes vote was to send the bill to the House.
Voting yes: Tom Cotton, John Boozman
Voting yes: John Cornyn, Ted Cruz
KEY VOTES AHEAD
In the week of Feb. 11, both chambers are expected to vote on a government-funding conference report that would avert a shutdown of agencies on Feb. 16. The Senate will resume debate on a public-lands bill.