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Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending July 24, 2020.

 

HOUSE

REMOVING CONFEDERATE STATUES FROM CAPITOL:

Voting 305 for and 113 against, the House on July 22 passed a bill (HR 7573) that would remove from the Capitol building a bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the author of the Dred Scott vs. Sandford ruling in 1857 that African-Americans could not be citizens of the United States or sue in federal courts. The bill also would banish from the Capitol the statues or busts of Confederate and/or pro-slavery leaders including Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate commander; Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy president and a U.S. senator and House member; John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, a U.S. vice president and senator; John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky, a U.S. vice president and Confederate war secretary; former North Carolina Gov. Charles B. Aycock, and former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator James P. Clarke. Under the bill, the Taney bust on the Senate side of the Capitol would be replaced with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice. All removals would have to occur within 45 or 120 days and the statues would be returned to their donor states.

James Clyburn, D-S.C., said, "I am not for destroying any statue. Put them where they can be studied. But do not honor [these individuals]. Do not glorify them. Take them out of this great schoolhouse so that the people who visit here can be uplifted by what this country is all about."

Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said, "If we remove memorials to every person in this building who ever made a bad decision this will be a very barren place, indeed. It is only by the bad things in our history that we can truly measure all of the good things in our history."

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

ARKANSAS

Voting no: Bruce Westerman, R-4

TEXAS

Voting no: Louie Gohmert

 

APPROVING $741 BILLION FOR MILITARY IN 2021:

Voting 295 for and 125 against, the House on July 21 approved a $741 billion military budget (HR 6395) for fiscal 2021 that includes $60 billion-plus for active-duty and retiree health care, a $1 billion fund for dealing with present and future pandemics and hundreds of billions for weapons systems and personnel costs. In addition, the bill would require Confederate names to be removed from U.S. bases within one year; prohibit public display of the Confederate flag on military property; treat global warming as a national-security threat; combat foreign interference in U.S. elections; fund a 3 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel; expand programs for military victims of sexual assault; require a Pentagon report on alleged Russian bounty payments for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and provide Ukraine with $250 million for defending itself against Russian belligerence.

The bill would add a "violent extremism" article covering hate crimes and other offenses to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and install an inspector general to probe white supremacist activities in the armed forces and review racial and ethnic disparities in the administration of military justice.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

ARKANSAS

Voting no: Westerman

TEXAS

Voting no: Gohmert

 

PROHIBITING UNDERGROUND NUCLEAR TESTING:

The House on July 20 voted, 227 for and 179 against, to deny funding of Trump administration plans to possibly lift a 28-year moratorium on the underground testing of nuclear weapons. The amendment was added to HR 6395 (above). Since 1992, federal weapons laboratories have used technological simulations and scientific probes to ensure the safety and potency of the nation's aging nuclear arsenal. But a Senate version of next year's military budget includes $10 million to prepare for a resumption of explosive underground testing that was common throughout the Cold War but outlawed for reasons having to do with arms control and protecting public health and the environment.

Dina Titus, D-Nev., said, "Conducting an explosive nuclear test encourages our adversaries, like Russia and China, to do the same. There is no good reason to risk the restart of a global arms race, especially at a time when we have the technological advantage."

Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said, "If this amendment becomes law, the United States loses the ability to ensure that we can test, if necessary, to ensure that our deterrent is reliable and, therefore, credible. That emboldens our adversaries and it undermines our allies' faith in the nuclear umbrella."

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

ARKANSAS

Voting no: Westerman

TEXAS

Voting no: Gohmert

 

NATIONAL PARK REPAIR, PUBLIC LAND FUNDING:

Voting 310 for and 107 against, the House on July 22 passed a bill (HR 1957) that would authorize $9.5 billion over five years for repairing facilities at the National Park Service, other federal land agencies and Indian Education Service schools. In addition, the bill would permanently require an annual budget of at least $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides federal and non-federal agencies with revenue for acquiring undeveloped land for conservation and recreational purposes. All funding in the bill would come from royalties from oil and gas drilling operations on federal property. The bill would set aside about $6.5 billion over five years for long-neglected repairs at scores of national parks and related properties, generating tens of thousands of private-sector jobs and halving the park service's $12.5 billion backlog of unfunded maintenance.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Trump for his expected signature.

ARKANSAS

Voting yes: Westerman

TEXAS

Voting no: Gohmert

 

NULLIFYING BANS ON MUSLIM-MAJORITY IMMIGRATION:

Voting 233 for and 183 against, the House on July 22 passed legislation (HR 2486; HR 2214) that would nullify executive orders by President Trump prohibiting permanent immigration into the United States by residents of 12 named countries, many of which have Muslim-majority populations. In addition, the bill would limit the ability of presidents to use Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to close American borders to immigrants who pose no threat to U.S. public safety or national security.

Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called for an end to "discriminatory bans that send the repugnant message that our foundational values of freedom of religion and liberty and justice for all do not apply."

Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., credited Trump with "decisive action to help ensure the security of our immigration programs and, thus, the safety of our country. Every time he does so, my Democratic friends cry foul."

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

ARKANSAS

Voting no: Westerman

TEXAS

Voting no: Gohmert

 

LEGAL COUNSEL AT PORTS OF ENTRY:

Voting 231 for and 184 against, the House on July 22 passed legislation (HR 2486; HR 5581) that would ensure that lawful permanent residents and other holders of U.S. visas can obtain prompt access to counsel when they are held by Customs and Border Protection for screening at U.S. ports of entry lasting more than one hour.

Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said, "All this bill says is that if someone is held in secondary inspection for at least an hour, they must be given an opportunity to call counsel, to call other people, to call their brother-in-law, to call whoever, and to communicate."

Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said only 17 million of the 400 million persons entering the United States each year receive secondary screening, and that permitting them "to consult with counsel or some other interested party will bring legitimate trade and travel to a grinding halt."

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

ARKANSAS

Voting no: Westerman

TEXAS

Voting no: Gohmert

 

SENATE

APPROVING $741 BILLION FOR MILITARY IN 2021:

Voting 86 for and 14 against, the Senate on July 23 approved a $740.5 billion military budget for fiscal 2021 that includes $69 billion to fund combat operations overseas and hundreds of billions for weapons, personnel and research and development. The bill (S 4049) would authorize a 3% pay raise for uniformed personnel; prohibit U.S. troop deployments against Americans exercising their constitutional right to peaceably protest and fund preparations for possibly ending the 1992 moratorium on underground nuclear testing.

In addition, the bill would require the removal over three years of Confederate names from 10 Army bases named after officers who waged war against the United States, and from other U.S. military assets — including naval vessels — named in commemoration of Confederate military figures or battlefield prowess.

James Inhofe, R-Okla., said America needs "a credible military deterrent that tells Russia and China and anyone else who would do us harm: You just can't win. We are going to win. We will beat you. That is what this [bill] does."

Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said, "It has been more than 150 years since the end of the Civil War, but 10 U.S. Army posts around this country currently bear the names of officers of the Confederate States of America who took up arms against the United States to defend slavery."

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

ARKANSAS

Voting yes: Tom Cotton, R, John Boozman, R

TEXAS

Voting yes: John Cornyn, R, Ted Cruz, R

 

OUTLAWING TRANSFER OF MILITARY WEAPONS TO LOCAL POLICE:

Voting 51 for and 49 against, the Senate on July 21 failed to reach 60 votes needed to adopt an amendment to S 4049 (above) that would permanently outlaw the U.S. military's transfer of combat-level weapons and equipment to local police at no cost. The untransferable items would include bayonets, tear gas, tanks, armed drones, grenade launchers and explosives. But police departments could continue to receive non-lethal items such as highwater vehicles, cold-weather gear, computers, first-aid kits and flashlights under what is called the "1033 Program."

Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said, "The last month has made clear that weapons of war don't belong in police departments. We saw the terrifying images of police in military gear storming the streets, combat vehicles rumbling down city blocks, rounds and rounds of tear gas shot at peaceful protesters, frequently without warning and often unprovoked. Our communities are not battlefields. The American people are not enemy combatants."

James Inhofe, R-Okla., called the program "an effective use of taxpayers' money" which, since 1990, has recycled more than $7 billion worth of vehicles, desks, boots, computers and other items to local police. "This is military equipment that the military no longer needs and that these [localities] would be purchasing anyway. The equipment is always demilitarized so that it is appropriate for public-safety use."

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

ARKANSAS

Voting no: Cotton, Boozman

TEXAS

Voting no: Cornyn, Cruz

 

KEY VOTES AHEAD

The House will take up fiscal 2021 spending bills in the week of July 27, while the Senate will vote on judicial nominations. Both chambers are expected to take up a coronavirus-relief package.

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