PA-08* - 2017
House of Representatives
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s VOTES

(*now PA-01)

Download this guide (PDF)

 

 

 

 

A note on using this guide…
Please don’t be daunted by the length!  Most readers will want to review the first few pages, where you will find assessments divided by topic (like Environment, Human Rights, Information Technology) followed by a table of individual votes that fall under each topic. For those who may want a more information, each bill number contains a clickable link that will bring you to a detailed summary. Once you have reviewed the summary, you can click on the “back to table” link to return you to the topic assessment section.

This guide does not contain every vote taken by the House of Representatives.  Procedural votes and post office renaming bills have been purposely excluded. But it does cover all votes recapped in the 2017 Member of Congress Reports, as well as additional bills and resolutions that, with the perspective of hindsight, merit inclusion.

I hope this helps inform your letter writing, canvassing, Member of Congress calls, and any other resistance activities in preparation for the 2018 election!  If you have any questions about this content, please do not hesitate to contact me.  And don’t forget to keep reading the weekly MoCTrack reports to keep up-to-date on new legislation and votes as we head into 2018.

 

-Kierstyn P. Zolfo

KierstynPZ@gmail.com
Fridays with(out) Fitzpatrick

MoCTrack Report editor and contributor

And please join me in giving a huge thank you to Johnnie Lotesta, who had the daunting task of copy-editing this document!

 

 


 

The Economy, Budget, Taxes, & Appropriations

Representative Fitzpatrick was a fairly reliable vote for the GOP leadership on bills that relate to budget appropriations and taxes.  The only times he voted against his party on this topic were the two votes that set the stage for the big GOP tax bill (H. Con. Res. 71). That resolution allowed the Congress to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, and then pass that through reconciliation.  All other appropriations bills - disaster relief, defense, and the overall appropriations bill that called for a $300 million cut to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration (amongst many other agencies) got his vote, despite his supposed commitment to opioid advocacy.

 

Budget/Taxes/ Appropriations bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

81%

H.R. 1

Tax reform

11-16-17

227-205

Yes

Yes

H. Con. Res. 71-2

Procedural resolution to clear the way for tax reform

10-26-17

216-212

No

No

H. Con. Res. 71-1

Procedural resolution to clear the way for tax reform

10-05-17

219-206

No

No

H.R. 2266/H. Res 569

Hurricane relief appropriations

10-12-17

353-69

Yes

Yes

H.R. 3823

Hurricane relief appropriations

09-28-17

264-155

Yes

Yes

H.R. 601

Short term (3 month) funding bill

09-08-17

316-90

Yes

Yes

H.R. 3354

Trump budget, with cuts to many programs, increases to defense

09-14-17

211-198

Yes

Yes

H.R. 3219

Defense appropriations

07-27-17

235-192

Yes

Yes

H.R. 2810

Defense authorization

07-14-17

344-81

Yes

Yes

H.R. 244

Consolidated appropriations

02-13-17

409-1

Yes

Yes

H.J. Res. 123

Short term (2 week) funding bill

12-07-17

235-193

Yes

Yes

 


 

The Environment

The Representative is a fairly reliable vote for environmental interests, but only on final votes, and only if the Republican party already had enough votes to pass the measure.  He has never voted for an environmental bill that has successfully passed the House.  Also, he can be counted on to vote with the GOP on almost all amendments or motions related to environmental bills.  In short, he votes green on final bills, but votes red on amendments.

 

Environmental Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

38%

H.R. 3905

Allows mining in a Minnesota national wildlife watershed

11-30-17

216-202

No

No

H.R. 3905 - Amdt #487

Increases lease costs to mining company for federal land

11-30-17

187-232

No

Yes

H.R. 2874

National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization

11-14-17

237-189

Yes

Yes

H.R. 2936

Changes rules for forest management

11-01-17

232-188

No

No

H.R. 806

Postpones implementation of ozone rules

07-18-17

229-199

No

No

H.R. 806 - Motion #390

Considers health impacts of the delayed ozone rule implementation

07-18-17

191-235

No

Yes

H.R. 23

Water management

07-12-17

230-190

No

No

H.R. 1654

Water management

06-22-17

233-180

No

No

H.R. 1430

Limits EPA's ability to develop public health safeguards

03-29-17

228-194

No

No

H.R. 1430 - Motion #205

Helps make best science available for EPA

03-29-17

189-232

No

Yes

H.R. 1431

Increases industry input on EPA advisory board

03-30-17

229-193

No

No

H.R. 1431 - Motion #207

Limits revolving door between industry and EPA advisory board

03-30-17

189-233

No

Yes

H.J. Res. 69

Strips protections from wildlife in arctic refuge

02-16-17

225-193

No

No


 

Information Technology

Representative Fitzpatrick voted with the GOP on 100% of reviewed IT related bills.  This isn’t necessarily bad in all situations.  One of these bills ensured that universities and research facilities could continue to access government supplied information - like climate data - unimpeded. Another increased privacy protections for old emails.  However, the most notorious of these bills allows Internet service providers to sell browsing data to third parties without consumer consent. This was a real mixed bag!

Information Technology Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

100%

H.R. 4174

Ennsures open government data

11-15-17

voice vote

Yes

Yes

S.J. Res. 34

Allows ISPs to sell consumer browser history to third parties

03-28-17

215-205

Yes

Yes

H.R. 387

Grants privacy protections for old emails

02-06-17

voice vote

Yes

Yes

Human Rights

Few bills related to human rights have made it to the floor of the House of Representatives. Of those that did, Representative Fitzpatrick voted on the side of protecting people and condemning violence.  The majority of these actions were non-controversial and passed with voice votes.

Human Rights Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

100%

H.R. 2200

Combats modern slavery and trafficking

07-12-17

voice vote

Yes

Yes

H. Res. 354

Condemns the violence against peaceful protesters at the Turkish Embassy

06-06-17

voice vote

Yes

Yes

H. Con. Res. 90

Condemns the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya

12-06-17

423-3

Yes

Yes

 


 

Healthcare

Representative Fitzpatrick made several votes on bills to modify and limit the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One reassigns funds from an ACA program to fund CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Another eliminates an advisory board that monitored Medicare payments, and still another makes the eligibility assessment process more onerous.  However, Fitzpatrick did vote against the Republican ‘repeal and replace’ bill. In sum, he chipped away at the structure of Obamacare, but he voted to keep the program itself in place.

Healthcare Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

75%

H.R. 3922

Reassigns funds from an ACA program to CHIP

11-03-17

242-174

Yes

Yes

H.R.849

Eliminates the ACA-created Independent Payment Advisory Board

11-02-17

307-111

Yes

Yes

H.R. 2581

Makes multiple departments confirm ACA eligibility

06-13-17

238-184

Yes

Yes

H.R. 1628

"Repeal and Replace"

05-04-17

217-213

No

No

Immigration

None of the high-profile immigration issues like the Wall, creating a long term solution for Dreamers, or the Muslim ban, actually resulted in legislative action in the House of Representatives.  The only bills that were considered saw Representative Fitzpatrick vote with the Republican Party to penalize municipalities and states that pass sanctuary laws and to increase prison sentences for undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.

 

Immigration Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

100%

H.R. 3003

Penalizes places that pass sanctuary city laws

06-29-17

228-195

Yes

Yes

H.R. 3004

Imposes longer prison sentences for undocumented immigrants found guilty of crimes

06-29-17

257-167

Yes

Yes

 


 

Deregulation

If there is one pattern that has become abundantly clear in 2017, it is that Representative Fitzpatrick sides with corporations and against individuals on all bills where that choice is present. In 2017, he voted to limit corporate liability for large corporations that subcontract work or sell franchises.  He placed votes that limit the ability of individuals to use the court system to redress grievances related to medical malpractice and class action suits.  He voted to quash a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulation that would have forbid forced arbitration.  And in the most consequential vote, he supported the partial dismantling of the Dodd-Frank financial protections, which included provisions that could allow Congress to defund the CFPB.  He was 100% corporate and Wall Street friendly in his votes this year.

 

Deregulation Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

100%

H.R. 3441

Limits liability for corporations who franchise and sub-contract

11-07-17

242-181

Yes

Yes

H.J. Res. 111

Stops the CFPB from ending forced arbitration practices by financial corporations

07-25-17

230-190

Yes

Yes

H.R. 985

Makes it harder for individuals to file class action lawsuits

03-09-17

220-201

Yes

Yes

H.R. 1215

Limits ability to file malpractice lawsuits for recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA subsidies

06-28-17

218-210

Yes

Yes

H.R. 10

Partially dismantles of Dodd-Frank, includes power to defund the CFPB

06-08-17

233-186

Yes

Yes

 


 

Government Reform

Representative Fitzpatrick reliably voted with the GOP on any issues related to how the government works.  Sometimes this was a good thing - he voted for both bills that increased whistleblower protections, as well as a program that would mandate all government departments create plans to increase the workforce participation of women.  He also voted for a bill that limits who can receive funds as settlements in cases where the government is a party. One example that would now be forbidden under this bill is when a bank found guilty of mortgage discrimination settled their case by paying funds to a third party that provided housing to low income families.  Under this new bill, the settlement funds would have been returned to the Treasury.  In perhaps the most significant of these pieces of legislation, Fitzpatrick voted to table (or set aside) one of the Articles of Impeachment brought against President Trump.

Government Reform Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?
100%

H.R. 732

Limits the recipients of government wrongdoing settlement funds

10-24-17

283-183

Yes

Yes

S. 585

Increases whistleblower protections for government employees

10-12-17

420-0

Yes

Yes

H.R. 2484

Mandates departments make plans to increase women in the workforce

06-20-17

voice vote

Yes

Yes

H.R. 657

Increases whistleblower protections for reporting rule-breaking, not just law-breaking

05-01-17

407-0

Yes

Yes

H. Res. 646 (motion to table)

Tables (set aside) articles of impeachment

12-06-17

364-58

Yes

Yes

 


 

Foreign Relations

Representative Fitzpatrick is a member of the Foreign Relation Committee, and it is not surprising that he voted along with the committee and the GOP on each of the bills we assessed.  Neither of these votes were controversial or contested, and each passed with over 99% support of the House.  Significantly, the vote to impose sanctions on Russia was opposed by the President, but the House was defiant and voted with a veto-proof margin to pass that action.

Foreign Relations Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?
100%

H.Res. 92

Condemns North Korea for its missile program

04-03-17

398-3

Yes

Yes

H.R. 3364

Imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea

07-25-17

419-3

Yes

Yes

Assorted Bills

These bills didn’t really fit under any other heading, but the message of each bill was clear.  Representative Fitzpatrick was an advocate for his own bill to fight the opioid epidemic by increasing the use of modern screening technology at the borders.  He voted to limit women’s reproductive freedom.  He also voted against the concealed carry reciprocity act, which requires all states to recognize permits from every other state, even those with more lenient concealed carry gun permitting rules. The last two votes suggest that Representative Fitzpatrick is unpredictable on issues of concern to progressives.

 

Assorted Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 2142

Increases use of chemical screening at the borders, to intercept opioids

10-24-17

412-3

Yes

Yes

H.R. 36

20 week abortion ban

10-03-17

237-189

Yes

Yes

H.R. 38

Makes all states accept concealed carry permits from every other states

12-06-17

231-198

No

No

 

 

 


 

The Economy, Budget, Taxes & Appropriations

H.R. 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h637

This tax bill received a great deal of press (and you will be seeing much of that coverage below in the media sections for all our MoCs), so I will not recap all that here.  To remind you, this is one step in a much longer process.  The first phase was back in October, when our legislators passed H. Con. Res. 71, the resolution that dictates $1.5 trillion in cuts to social safety net programs across the next decade to free up funding for tax cuts.  This bill, H.R. 1, is the House of Representatives plan for enacting those tax cuts. The bill came to a vote on 11/16/17, and it passed 227-205. All the Democrats and 13 Republicans, mostly from states that have high state and local taxes, voted against the bill.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. This bill now moves to the Senate, who has created a completely different plan for tax cuts, one that includes the elimination of the Affordable Care Act individual mandate.  And if it should pass the Senate, it will then go to conference (which happens to be our Learning about Legislation topic this week) between the two legislative groups, and then back to each house for another vote.

In the hours before this document went out to the public, the House took two more votes on HR 1. On 12/1917 the House voted on the changes agreed to by the conference committee.  That passed 227-203 and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  The bill then went back to the Senate, where several small changes were implemented because of feedback from the Senate Parliamentarian.  If those hadn’t been made, then the vote could not have passed via the reconciliation rules (simple majority) and would have needed the filibuster proof 60 for cloture.  Since the same exact text must be voted upon by both legislative bodies, the changed bill had to go back to another vote in the House of Representatives on 12/20/17, where it passed again, and Fitzpatrick voted YES again.  
Back to Table

 

H. Con. Res. 71 (vote 2): Establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2018 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2019 through 2027

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hconres71/text

This is the concurrent resolution that passed the Senate, but it had to come back to the House to deal with changes introduced by the Senate.  It sets spending levels, but more importantly, it is one step in clearing the way for the Republican tax plan. Among the contents of this bill is a provision that will allow the Congress to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, and then pass that through reconciliation (which means it can get through the Senate with 51 votes, and not have to achieve the filibuster-proof 60 votes).  Newsweek describes the cuts contained in this resolution:

The approved budget will cut health programs like Obamacare and Medicaid by $1.3 trillion, or 30 percent over the next decade. Medicare also gets a haircut to the tune of $473 billion. Income Security spending, which includes welfare programs like food stamps and the earned income tax credit, will lose $653 billion. Another $800 billion will be cut from the non-defense discretionary spending category, which includes just about everything the government does that isn’t military-related or an entitlement program. The budget assumes there will be another $1 trillion saved over 10 years in “unspecified allowances.” That means unidentified future cuts to mandatory spending programs. Finally, the budget imagines that tax cuts will increase economic growth to 2.6 percent each year, nearly a full percent higher than the 1.8 percent that the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

This package passed the House on 10/26/17, 216-212.  Fitzpatrick voted NO. Please remember, this is but one of many steps in the GOP’s tax plan process. This was an important step, as it freed up the funds they need to pass their ultimate tax cut plan, but there are still legislative steps to come across the next two months.  Keep your eyes open for the actual tax cut legislation which this vote enabled, due to come out this come week (October 30-November 3). Back to Table

H.Con.Res. 71: Establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2018, setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2019 through 2027 (vote 1)

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hconres71/text

Several weeks ago the House passed a budget.  This concurrent resolution is different - it sets budget recommendations for coming years. It also creates budget enforcement procedures and establishes reserve funds for legislation relating to the commercialization of air traffic control, investments in national infrastructure, comprehensive tax reform, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The resolution passed 219-206 on 10/05/17.  Fitzpatrick voted NO. He joined a group of 18 Republicans who voted against the bill, including area Republican Congressman Costello (PA-06), Meehan (PA-07) and Dent (PA-15). Representative Fitzpatrick did not have anything on his website or Twitter in regards to his No vote. However, a 10/04/17 Politico piece on the legislation notes that it includes cuts to entitlement programs that Fitzpatrick has supported, as well as anti-environmental actions (like “seeking $1 billion in additional revenues from energy sources like opening up oil drilling in the Arctic”) that could explain Fitzpatrick’s lack of support. Back to Table

H.Res. 569: Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 2266, with an amendment

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hres569/text

 

AND

H.R. 2266: Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2266/text

This is a tricky little bit of legislative business.  H.R. 2266  used to be a different bill entirely, one about bankruptcy judges, and it had passed both houses some time ago.  H. Res. 569 is a resolution that calls for the text of H.R. 2266 to be changed, adding on it a bunch of unrelated text (but still leaving in the bankruptcy judge stuff too). A New York Times article describes the new content as “...a $36.5 billion aid package that would provide hurricane and wildfire relief funding while bailing out the financially troubled National Flood Insurance Program.  The aid package would also help Puerto Rico’s financially beleaguered government avoid running out of cash in the wake of Hurricane Maria.”  The resolution to add the disaster appropriations text to the bankruptcy judge bill passed 353-69 on 10/12/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Now the new version of H.R. 2266 goes back to the Senate for a vote.

Back to Table

H.R. 3823: Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3823

This Aviation Funding, Flood Insurance A bill that would fund federal aviation programs through March 2018, provide temporary tax breaks to help hurricane victims, extend several specialized medical programs, and expand the role of private insurance companies in the National Flood Insurance Program. The House passed on Sept 28th by a vote of 264-155. A yes vote was to pass HR 3823. Costello, Meehan, Fitzpatrick, Dent, Smucker voted YES. Brady, Evans, Boyle voted NO. Back to Table

Bid to Aid to Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

The Democrats made a bid to add unspecified disaster aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to HR 3823. This would be in addition to the bill’s temporary tax breaks to help those American territories recover from recent hurricanes. FEMA says it has adequate funding for current recovery efforts there. A YES vote on this Democratic bid was to add hurricane aid to the bill. Costello, Meehan, Fitzpatrick, Dent, Smucker voted NO. Brady, Evans, Boyle voted YES.

H.R. 3354: Dep’t of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3354/text

This is the budget bill for which we discussed a number of amendments in last week’s report. It would provide funding for the government through September 2018.This bill provides drastic cuts to a number of social safety net, environmental and science related programs.  Countable includes the following data points (and I drew some conclusions from that):

       The Department of Labor will get a cut of $1.3 billion (more than 10%) which will affect programs like Employment Training Administration, Job Corps, and the Veterans Employment and Training Service.

       The Center for Disease Control will get a cut of about $200 million (about 3%), which will affect pandemic preparedness, and will hamper efforts to address the arrival of the Zika virus to the US.

       The Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration will get a cut of about $300 million (about 8%), which will have significant effects on attempts to address the opioid crisis.

       The Department of Education is getting a $2.4 billion cut (over 3%), but the portion that is set aside from charter schools increases from $28 million to $370 million.

       The Department of Justice is getting an increase of $349 million (about 1%).

       The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is getting a massive cut of $710 million (14%). Since they are one of the major sources of climate change data, this is going to have disastrous effects for climate science.

       The State Department  will be cut by $2.6 billion (about 16%), though embassy security will stay the same. This means our diplomatic presence around the world will drop considerably, but the diplomats that remain will be better protected

       Immigration and Customs Enforcement will get an increase of $620 million (about 9%), some of which is expressly earmarked for more enforcement agents and support staff.

       The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will be reduced by $528 million (about 7%).

       The Department of Defense budget will be raised by $68 billion (over 10%).

The vote for this budget occurred around noon on Thursday, September 14th.  It passed 211-198, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. It now moves to the Senate. Back to Table

H.R. 601: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr601/text

When the news came of President Trump making an agreement with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi in the autumn, this was the bill that was under discussion.  It funds the government and pushes off another debt ceiling crisis through December.  It also gives $15 billion in initial spending towards Harvey relief.  Everyone expects that an additional relief package will be necessary, especially in light of the battering Florida is receiving from Irma as I type this up.  The Republican leadership, along with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, wanted a much longer deal, because a government shutdown or credit downgrade never looks good for the majority party.  The Freedom Caucus Republicans in Congress wanted spending cuts tied to the budget/debt ceiling accommodations.  The Democrats wanted to avoid a shutdown, but they also wanted a short term solution, because it serves them to have this debate come up all over again as we head into the 2018 election (as it looks like Republicans can’t govern).  As for President Trump, I don’t think anyone can accurately explain why he did what he did here.  Some people have claimed he wanted to be unpredictable, others laid this decision down to an expression of his personal antipathy towards Sen. McConnell and House Leader Ryan, and yet others say he wanted to reinforce his reputation as a “Dealmaker.”  You can decide which of those explanations makes the most sense to you.

 

The House passed an original version of this bill back in January, as a voice vote.  It went to the Senate on  09/07/17, and the changes related to the agreement with Trump were added. It passed the Senate 80-17.  Casey voted YES, Toomey voted NO.  It then went back to the House on 09/08/17 so that they could vote on the changes, where it passed 316-90, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 3354: Dept. of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3354/text

This is a budget appropriations bill that would lay out spending through September 2018.  Apparently the House is looking ahead, and not leaving this to do at the last minute in December.  The House has already voted on 39 different amendments, and some of them have very interesting things to say about how Representative Fitzpatrick feels about a number of issues.

          Amendment 290 dealt with cuts to a program called Neighborworks America, which provides grants related to affordable housing and foreclosure mitigation. The current bill cuts the program by $47 million. This amendment would have reduced it to a $4 million cut. This amendment failed, by a vote of 200-220.  Fitzpatrick voted NO (so he wants the bigger cut).

          Amendment 299 called for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to have its funding cut by 2%. This amendment failed, by a vote of 140-280.  Fitzpatrick voted NO (so he wanted the higher budget for HUD).

          Amendment 311 would have increased the funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so that they could implement a body camera policy. This amendment failed, by a vote of 140-280.  Fitzpatrick voted YES (in support of body cameras).

          Amendment 317 would have forbidden a certain portion of the appropriated funds from being used to build or expand ICE detention centers. This amendment failed, by a vote of 180-230.  Fitzpatrick voted NO (he is in favor of possible detention center expansion).

          Amendment 338 dealt with redistributing EPA funds.  It moved about $32 million away from Environmental Programs and Management, and reassigned it to the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation pilot program.  This amendment passed by a vote of 207-205.  Fitzpatrick voted NO, unlike most Republicans.

          Amendment 347 concerned ozone standard implementation. Some new, tougher standards were to go into effect this year, and the House had previously voted to delay implementation until 2025 (H.R. 806).  This amendment would have struck text from this bill that confirmed that delay. This amendment failed, by a vote of 194-218.  Fitzpatrick voted YES (in support of getting better environmental regulations about ozone in place sooner).

This bill passed in a 211-198 vote in the week after these amendments were voted upon.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 3219: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3219

This is the 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill. It directs how money will be spent on Defense.  I will admit that it is quite long, and I am relying on the Library of Congress summary to provide the details:

"The bill increases total funding for DOD compared to FY2017 levels and provides additional Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)/ Global War on Terrorism funding for many accounts. OCO funding is not subject to discretionary spending limits and other budget enforcement procedures. The bill contains provisions that prohibit or restrict funds from being used to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility; transfer the detainees to other countries; or construct or modify facilities for the purpose of housing the detainees.It also repeals the Authorization for Use of Military Force that was enacted following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001." 

The repeal of the AUMF from after 9/11 is good news.  It means that the president would actually need to get the Congress to approve war actions in another country and can't keep using the 9/11 authorization for committing troops to war.  But the increase in military spending is considered unnecessary by many authorities, and the Guantanamo-related prohibitions are disturbing from a human rights perspective.  The bill passed 235-192 on 07/27/17 and next moves to the Senate.  Representative Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 2810: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2810/text

This is the annual defense spending bill.  In the words of Govtrack “The federal budget process occurs in two stages: appropriations and authorizations. This is an authorization bill, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used. (It does not set overall spending limits, however, which are the subject of appropriations bills.)”  This bill passed 344-81 on 07/14/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Of particular note for our area, it contains an authorization related to research/remediation of the perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOS and PFOA) water contamination situation that Rep. Fitzpatrick has pursued since the start of his term. Back to Table


 

H.R. 244: The Consolidated Appropriations Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr244/text
This is the spending bill that was discussed at length in March.  It did incorporate some parts of the Trump Budget, but not to the extent that the Administration wanted. (For example, the Administration wanted the EPA budget cut by +30%; this bill cut the EPA budget by 1%.) It does not include any money for the building of the southern border wall. It passed on 02/13/17 with a 409-1 vote back when it was a vote about hiring veterans. But then the text was revised to include the appropriations measures in May 2017.   Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick  voted YES.
Back to Table

H.J.Res.123: Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hjres123

Back in September President Trump came to an agreement with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a short term funding measure to keep the government open for three months.  That money ran out on 12/08/17.  Instead of haggling over the issue again while they were in the middle of the conference for the GOP tax plan (for more on that read below), the House voted on 12/07/17 to approve an extra 2 weeks of funding.  It passed in a 235-193 vote, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  The bill went to the Senate on the same day and passed 81-14. Casey voted Yes and Toomey did not vote. The President signed this short term spending bill on 12/08/17.  Be prepared for this topic to come up again by Christmas. Back to Table


 

The Environment

H.R. 3905: Minnesota’s Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h643

I hope you will forgive a somewhat extended analysis of this bill that has no apparent connection to Pennsylvania interests, but it demonstrates a Fitzpatrick voting pattern that was first brought to my attention by a fellow Fridays with(out) Fitzpatrick attendee, Peg Dissinger.  She observed that Brian Fitzpatrick will usually place (and promote) pro-environment votes on final bills, but often votes against the environmental position during the amendment process.

 

A bill that was voted upon this week is a perfect example of Peg’s observation. The bill concerns public lands that are part of a watershed that borders a national park in Minnesota.  The Congressional Budget Office describes the bill succinctly, noting it “would prevent federal agencies from withdrawing certain federal land in northern Minnesota from use for mining activities. The bill also would restore two mineral leases that were canceled by the Bureau of Land Management.” The National Parks Conservation Association “strongly opposes” this bill and a Minnesota Representative, Betty McCollum, opined, “this bill undermines bedrock environmental and public land management laws in order to create a perpetual lease for a foreign-owned toxic mine. This mine will be on the doorstep of one of our country's last truly wild places, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.” Her statement is part of the Congressional Record.

 

In the debate prior to the passage of the bill, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) proposed an amendment to increase the amount the corporation would have to pay for the leases on the land.  He spoke at length about how little the United States was being compensated by a foreign corporation for these mining rights.  He said, in part (also taken from the Congressional Record):

...the American people are getting ripped off in this bill. The Chilean mining conglomerate behind this bill makes out like a bandit. They get two expired leases back, as well as exemptions from several  key environmental laws that could be used to stop any of their dreams of massive profits from a giant copper mine. The American people are the ones that are getting ripped off. This land is being given away for next to nothing. For the past 50 years, the leaseholder has been paying rent of $1 an acre per year. Think  about that, $1 an acre per year, unchanged for 50 years. The American  people are the landlords here. They are charging the Chilean company about $420 per month for 5,000 acres of prime land right next to the most visited wilderness area in the country.

 

When this amendment (#487) came up for a vote, it failed in a 187-232 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted NO, with the pro-corporate, anti-environmentalist position.  When the final bill came to the floor on 11/30/17, it passed in a 216-202 vote.  Fitzpatrick flipped his position and voted NO, against the bill, in the pro-environment position that he will no-doubt promote heavily.  Other examples of this Fitzpatrick pattern relate to a bill about delaying ozone standard implementation (H.R. 806) and another that would make it easier to stack the Scientific Advisory Board to the EPA with industry insiders and make it harder for actual academics to be placed on the board (H.R. 1431).  I believe that this is an area that makes Representative Fitzpatrick vulnerable in the coming election, and I hope to put more time into researching it in the future. Back to Table


 

H.R. 2874: 21st Century Flood Reform Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h630

This bill was a combination of 7 smaller pieces of legislation that will reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as well as introduce new initiatives.  The topline on this topic is that the NFIP is an important but controversial program where the government provides very inexpensive insurance to homeowners in flood-prone areas where the private market, until now, has not entered due to outsized risks.  If you would like a useful primer on this topic, John Oliver devoted 20 minutes to explaining the system and the flaws in the way it is currently composed.  Insurance Journal, an industry-specific publication, explained the changes to the NFIP introduced in this bill:

Some of the reforms in the House bill seek to encourage more private flood insurers to enter the market; reduce costs from repetitive loss properties, improve flood mapping; cap annual premium increases and surcharges; continue the current practice of grandfathering certain properties from risk-based rates; and require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the flood program, to share historic flood loss data with private insurers. Another provision would permit WYO [Write Your Own] insurance companies to also sell their own private policies, a practice now prohibited.  Other provisions would reduce the reimbursements to the private insurers involved in the WYO program; limit the premium on any residential property to $10,000 a year regardless of the property value; allow businesses to opt out of the flood insurance requirement after one year; and permit localities to create their own flood maps.

The most concise criticism of the bill came from Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), as reported by the Huffington Post.  He said, “A federal program that conceals actual risk through artificially low rates is neither compassionate nor responsible.” He was not alone, but was joined by a number of other coastal area Republicans, who were afraid that this bill would, as the Huffington Post described, “make flood insurance less affordable for their constituents and threaten the solvency of the NFIP.”  Despite concerns from within their own party, the bill passed in a 237-189 vote on 11/14/17, with primarily Republican support.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. He was joined by all of the other PA Republicans, except retiring Charlie Dent, who did not vote. Back to Table

H.R. 2936: Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2936

This bill was introduced by Rep. Bill Westerman (R-AR), and it has 18 co-sponsors (16R, 2D). It is a long, technocratic bill, so I will leave it to the experts at The Nature Conservancy to explains what it does and their issues with it:

“While there is a clear and critical need to better manage our nation’s forests, this bill is not the right way to do it. It leaves the wildfire funding solution incomplete, and undermines the laws designed to ensure meaningful public input and conserve public resources. We’re particularly concerned that it would remove incentives for successful collaboration and reduce critical environmental review.” 

This bill passed 232 - 188 on 11/01/17.  Only 9 Republicans broke rank from their party to vote against this bill, and our representative was one of them.  Fitzpatrick voted NO.  This now moves to the Senate. Back to Table


 

H.R. 806: Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h391

This is a bill that seeks to delay the implementation of air quality standards by the EPA.  In 2015 a bill was passed that established a timeframe for implementing National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).  It was supposed to go into effect his year.  H.R. 806 pushes off the EPA's oversight of these new regulations to 2025.  The bill passed 229-199 on 07/18/17.  Rep. Fitzpatrick voted NO.  He was one of only 11 Republicans to vote against this measure.  There was, however, a motion to return this to committee to consider health concerns.  The Congressional Record reports that the motion was to return the bill to committee to consider “if the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, in consultation with the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, finds that application of this Act and the amendments made by this Act could increase, with respect to Americans without access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance, any of the following health impacts: (1) Asthma attacks, (2) Hospitalizations or emergency room visits for those with respiratory or cardiovascular disease, (3) The risk of preterm birth, babies born with low birth weight, or impaired fetal growth, (4) The risk of heart attacks, stroke, or premature death, (5) Reproductive, developmental, or other serious harms to human health.”  Fitzpatrick voted NO on this motion along with most other Republicans, and it failed in a 191-235 vote on 07/18/17. Back to Table

H.R. 23 and H.R. 1654: Water Management bills

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr23/text

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1654/text

These are two bills related to water management.  As I am not a civil or hydraulic engineer, I must admit that I don’t understand a great deal about them.  What I do know is that while both bills passed the House, Fitzpatrick voted NO on both.  H.R. 23 passed in a 230-190 vote on 07/12/17, and H.R. 1654 passed with a vote of 233-180 on 06/22/17. These votes went against the majority of Republicans in both cases.  I have called his office several times, and sent an email, to request clarification on his rationale for withholding support from these two bills.  I will update you once I have more information. (End of year update - over a dozen requests to the Representative’s office, including asking him to his face in during his office hours, did not reveal answers to my questions about these bills and his votes.  He was unwilling to provide information about his rationale in voting on these bills.) Back to Table

H.R. 1430: HONEST Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1430/text

The Library of Congress describes this bill in the following manner: “This bill amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is the best available science, specifically identified, and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”  While this may not sound particularly bad, the League of Conservation Voters opposes this bill, explaining that:

 the HONEST Act would endanger public health by making it extremely difficult for the EPA to use the best available science. The bill contains favorable exemptions for industry and would restrict the health studies that the EPA is able to use by requiring that data is shared with anyone willing to sign a vague confidentiality agreement. These provisions would severely limit the EPA’s ability to use data that includes studies with confidential health information. These types of studies are the basis for the best research on pollution’s effects on people, but include individual health records that are legally required to remain confidential. H.R. 1430 would cripple the EPA’s ability to develop effective public health safeguards by forcing them to disregard the results of these studies, resulting in less protective standards.” 

 

Fitzpatrick voted NO. The bill passed in a 228-194 vote on 03/29/17.  There was, however an amendment vote in this bill, a request to send the bill back to committee so that they could “make use of the best available science, whether or not it is publicly available in any form, when responding to threats to public health, including black lung disease and asthma, caused by or exacerbated by exposure to pollution or toxic chemicals.”  The motion failed, in a 189-232 vote on 03/29/17, and Fitzpatrick voted NO, with the GOP. Back to Table

H.R. 1431: EPA Science Advisory Board Reform act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1431/text

This bill would create a new framework for “selecting members of the Science Advisory Board, guidelines for participation in board advisory activities, and terms of office. The board provides scientific advice to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)” per the Library of Congress.  The League of Conservation Voters opposes this bill as well, noting that it:

“...would undermine the ability of the Science Advisory Board to provide independent, objective, and credible scientific advice to the EPA. This bill would facilitate greater industry influence of the Scientific Advisory Board by weakening conflict-of-interest protections while unnecessarily and arbitrarily limiting the participation of subject experts. Additionally, new burdens imposed on the Board and provisions that allow industry to significantly prolong the Board’s scientific review process would delay key public health and environmental protections.”

Fitzpatrick voted NO but this bill passed in a 229-193 vote on 03/30/17.  Much like tis sister bill, H.R. 1430, Democrats also made a motion to send the bill back to committee, this time to keep industry insiders off the board and prevent a revolving door between the advisory board and related industries.  The text in the Congressional record reads, “a Board member, during that member's term of service  on the Board and for a period of 3 years following the end of that member's service on the Board, shall not be employed with any corporate or other entity which has interests before  the Board.” That motion failed in a 189-233 vote on 03/30/17, and Fitzpatrick voted NO, with the rest of the GOP. Back to Table

H.J. Res. 69: Providing for congressional disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title V, United States Code, of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to "Non-Subsistance Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska"

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hjres69

This is a resolution that got a lot of press in January and February (I know that Samantha Bee did a big segment on her show about this).  It basically strips a lot of protections from animals in the Alaskan Wildlife refuges.  I am sorry to report that this bill just passed the Senate 52-47.  It then passed the House on 02/16/17 with a 225-193 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted NO.  This bill has since been signed by the President and enacted. Back to Table


 

Information Technology

H.R. 4174: Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr4174/text

This is the bill that was mentioned last week under “Legislation of Interest.”  It is of particular note because it incorporates all of the text of the H.R. 1770/S. 760 OPEN Government Data Act - legislation that would create a “presumption of openness” in relation to taxpayer-funded study. It would also prevent administrations from restricting access to data that was politically inconvenient (like climate science).  When I updated this in early November, I noted that I was not certain yet whether the inclusion of all this great text in House Speak Paul Ryan’s larger bill was a good thing, as it was so voluminous that I couldn’t tell if a poison pill had been hidden in there somewhere.

 

A lot has happened since that report.  On 11/14/17 I spoke to staffers in Rep. Derek Kilmer’s office (D-WA), as he was the author of the original bill.  Martha Spieker, the Press Assistant in Rep. Kilmer’s DC office said, “we are supportive of this, it is a part of a larger transparency initiative.” Then, on 11/15/17 the larger bill (H.R. 4174) was brought to the floor for a vote, and it passed via voice vote, which means there is no indication of how each member voted. However, it can be presumed that Fitzpatrick voted YES as there is no note that there were objections to the voice vote.  In the comments on the floor, Rep. Ryan noted, “Blake Farenthold and Derek Kilmer were key drivers of this measure, and they made it stronger by incorporating their Open Government Data Act.”  In response to the passage of the bill, Rep. Kilmer commented, “Congress gets more done when it works together, and I am glad the House leadership included my bill, the OPEN Government Data Act in this legislation.”  This bill now moves to the Senate. Back to Table

S.J. Res. 34: the joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5 United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.”  

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/sjres34 

This bill allows internet service providers to sell consumer browser history to third parties without notifying their customers first. This has passed in both the House and the Senate. The vote in the House was taken on 03/28/17, with a result of 215-205.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 387: The Email Privacy Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr387/text

This act passed the House unanimously via a voice vote and is awaiting scheduling in the Senate. Right now, despite the provisions of the 4th amendment against search and seizure, if any part of law enforcement wants access to any private person's email that is over 180 days old, they simply have to provide a subpoena to the Internet Service Provider to get those emails.  In that way, old emails are treated under the law kind of like garbage bags that one has put outside their house - police don't need a warrant to search them.  This Act would fix that and require law enforcement to acquire a warrant to search emails older than 180 days from a service provider.(Emails under 180 days currently require a warrant for law enforcement review.) The voice vote occured on 02/06/17, and as voice votes are generally unopposed, we can assume Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

Healthcare

H.R. 3922: CHAMPION Act (Continuing Community Health And Medical Professional Programs to Improve Our Nation)

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h606

This bill was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).  It reauthorizes a number of health programs, including the Children's’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but it does so by taking money away from other health programs, like the Prevention and Public Health Fund.  In their description of this bill, Countable notes that “beginning in fiscal year 2022, state child-health plans would be allowed to adopt more restrictive eligibility standards for children in families whose income exceeds 300 percent of the poverty line.”  The Democrats in the Energy and Commerce Committee expressed their opposition to the bill in their committee report, observing “...while we support the reauthorization of the critical public health programs included in the CHAMPION Act, we cannot support doing so using the partisan offsets the Republicans have proposed in this bill. Rather than working together to identify offsets that we all could support, the Committee Republicans chose to continue their efforts to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through this legislation.”  This bill passed in a 242-174 vote on 11/03/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. This bill now moves to the Senate. Back to Table

H.R. 849: Protecting Seniors Access to Medicare Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr849/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), and it had 270 co-sponsors (225R, 45D). One of those co-sponsors was Representative Fitzpatrick. The bill changes the structure of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  The Library of Congress assessment of this bill indicates that “the IPAB is tasked with developing proposals to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” Very few Congresspeople made statements about this bill’s passage.  One I did find was from Virginia Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith, who observed, “Obamacare has many flaws, but the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is among the worst. IPAB gives unelected bureaucrats the power to make arbitrary decisions about cutting Medicare spending. Passing this bill today is a step toward restoring accountability…”  In light of last week’s budget resolution vote, where literally trillions would be cut from social safety net programs like Medicare, one might observe that Congress may have taken the power to cut spending from ‘unelected bureaucrats’ and just reserved it for themselves.  This bill passed 307 - 111 on 11/02/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  This now moves to the Senate. Back to Table

H.R. 2581: Verify First Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2581/text

After how many votes (41? 52?) to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans have shown that they are willing to make legislative tweaks to Obamacare… but not in a way designed to save the program.  This bill was introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) and it had 14 co-sponsors, all Republican.  The bill itself changes the procedure by which ACA credits are distributed, making sure that a number of departments (Treasury, Homeland Security, Social Security and Health and Human Services) have certified that the recipient of the credit is a citizen or legal resident of the US.  A floor vote was held on this bill on 06/13/17 and it passed, 238-184.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. With all his conference call “town hall” talk on 06/07/17 about unnecessary red tape and over-regulation, I cannot be alone in finding a logical inconsistency here. Back to Table

H.R. 1628: The American Health Care Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1628/text

Please note that the above link is to the bill as it existed as of March 20th.  The bill in its current form was passed out of the House so quickly that the updated text has not yet been published to tracking websites.  This bill is now heading into the Senate.  It has not been assigned to a committee yet, but there is a possibility it will go to the HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions).Senator Casey is a member of that committee. It came up for a vote on 05/04/17 and passed 217-213.  Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick  voted NO (one of only 20 Republicans who did so). Back to Table


 

Deregulation

H.R. 3441: Save Local Business Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h614

This bill is a wonky bit of pro-corporate legislation designed to bypass a pair of legal decisions made in the past two years that benefited employees. In essence, the bill has to do with the concept of “joint-employer.” When you go to a McDonald’s franchise, is the employee behind the cash register only an employee of the franchise-owner, or are they also a McDonald’s Corporation employee, under joint-employment?  This is an important question, because it affects liability. If employees are being harassed, or if they are denied overtime pay, is it only the franchise that is legally responsible, or could McDonalds also be liable for damages?  In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board changed its standard and determined that if “essential terms and conditions” were dictated by a corporation to a “supplier firm” then the pair could be considered joint-employers. A similar case made it to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the findings of that case laid out a similarly employee-friendly interpretation of how to determine if two business entities are joint employers. Despite the name “Save Local Business Act,” this bill truly protects large corporations that subcontract work out to local businesses. It amends both the National Labor Relations Board regulations and Fair Labor Standards Act to define “joint-employer” in a way that protects the corporations from claims of subcontractor employees.  So that McDonalds cashier would only be an employee of the franchise, and could make no claims of being employed by the McDonald’s Corporation itself.  This vote passed 242-181 on 11/07/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. This bill now moves to the Senate. Back to Table

H.J. Res. 111: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to “Arbitration Agreements”

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hjres111/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) and has 34 co-sponsors, all Republican.  A number of businesses force consumers to sign arbitration agreements when they sign paperwork to do business.  This bill forbids consumers from suing the business and makes them enter arbitration instead. Many times the corporation will even get to choose the arbitrator, who is often industry-favorable.  This kind of legal maneuver keeps aggrieved groups of consumers from filing class action lawsuits, where they have an increased chance of success.  Earlier in July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  introduced a new regulation that would disallow forcing consumers into arbitration, but instead would allow the consumer to choose if they want to pursue arbitration or a lawsuit.  This House vote  is negating that regulation change.  The vote was almost exactly party line (with one Republican voting against it).  It passed the House on July 25, 2017 in a 230-190 vote and Representative Fitzpatrick voted YES. It has since passed the Senate and been signed into law. Back to Table

H.R. 985: Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr985/text

This bill would create limits for judges when they are certifying “classes” in class action lawsuits.  It states explicitly that to form a class, litigants must suffer damages of “the same type and scope.”  This may not sound bad, but when I show how it would work out in practice, you can see how damaging it will be.  Several months ago, Wells Fargo was caught in a scheme where they were defrauding customers by opening multiple accounts (checking, savings and credit cards) without the knowledge of customers, and then charging them fees on these accounts that the customer didn’t know existed.  Some people lost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  Even though this one bank, using the same process, defrauded a group of customers, they could be denied “class” status under the new law, because they suffered damages of a different “type” ( some had credit card accounts opened, others had checking accounts opened), and they had damages of a different “scope” (some lost hundreds of dollars, some lost thousands).  When you keep in mind that individuals rarely succeed in court against companies with deep pockets, and class action suits are often the only way of evening the playing field, the end result of this bill would be incredibly detrimental to individuals harmed by corporate wrong-doing.

This bill passed the House on 03/09/17 with a 220-201 vote and is heading into the Senate.  All the Democrats and 14 Republicans voted against this bill, but Brian Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 1215: Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1215/text

From the title of the bill, you might not assume a pro-corporate bias… but that’s just the way legislation is named.  The crux of this bill is that it limits the damages that can be collected by individuals who sue for medical malpractice if they get their health insurance through the federal government via Medicare, Medicaid or the ACA marketplaces.  If it passes, that means that amongst the pile of insurance paperwork that those users sign there will likely be one where a consumer acknowledges that they will not be able to collect more than $250,000 in non-medical damages if they win a medical malpractice lawsuit.   Mr. Fitzpatrick’s vote on this bill shows that he is willing to significantly curtail the ability of individuals to collect damages, in favor of limiting the liability of hospitals and medical device manufacturers.

 

This bill passed the House on 06/28/17 in a 218-210 vote.  Significantly, 19 Republicans voted against this bill, including PA's own Rep. Meehan (PA-07) and Rep. Costello (PA-06). This bill passed 218-210, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 10: Financial Choice Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr10/text

This bill received a lot of press coverage, but to summarize it removes many of the protections from the Dodd-Frank legislation that keep us from experiencing another financial collapse like that of 2007-2008.  The bill moves funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  (which had been made independent of Congress to keep it safe from party politics) back under the power of Congress. This means Congress can defund it at will, thus limiting the Bureau’s ability to function without actually abolishing it.  Instead of acknowledging that this bill will remove the protections afforded by the CFPB, in the June tele-town hall, Mr. Fitzpatrick lumped it in with other “job killing over-regulation.”  This certainly shows a bias towards the desires of the financial industry, despite the negative effects it will have on his individual constituents. This bill passed the House on 06/08/17, with a 233-186 vote that was almost entirely party line (one republican voted against it).  Brian Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table


 

Government Reform

H.R. 732: Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr732/text

This bill was introduced in January by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and has 34 co-sponsors (33R, 1D). The bill would prohibit the government from entering into settlements in court cases where any party of the settlement was required to provide restitution to a “non-victim third-party.”  The example given in the Republican Party’s summary of this bill was a case where, in the wake of the financial crisis, the Justice Department entered a settlement with Citibank and Bank of America where those entities paid a portion of a fine to housing non-profits, instead of into the US Treasury.  This bill passed the House on 10/24/17, 283-183. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  This bill now moves to the Senate. Back to Table

S. 585: Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s585/text

This bill was introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). It is a bill that protects federal whistleblowers who reveal federal waste, fraud and abuse.  Previous whistleblower protections protected people who disclosed law-breaking, but provided little for  those who revealed malfeasance that did not break laws.  The bill is named for a VA doctor who tried to disclose information about the VA over-prescribing opiates to its patients.  Dr. Kirkpatrick was first disciplined, then fired, had his life (and that of his dog) threatened by a former patient, and then tragically committed suicide.  Later investigations revealed that he was completely justified in his concerns about over-prescription. Over the summer, this bill passed the Senate unanimously. This bill came before the House on 10/12/17, and it passed 420-0.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 2484: Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2484/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and has 16 co-sponsors (5D, 11R) including Pennsylvania Republicans Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06) and Rep. Charles Dent (PA-15).  This legislation mandates that various departments compile plans on how to encourage participation from more women in their workforce.  It also establishes a plan for encouraging the participation of women in international negotiation venues.  The bill passed the House by voice vote, unanimously on 06/20/17.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 657: Follow the Rules Act
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr657/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), with bipartisan cosponsors.  The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) generally provides protections for federal employees who make disclosures evidencing illegal or improper governmental activities.  But a court recently found that as currently written, the existing law only protects employees who won't break the law.  This bill would change the existing law to extend whistleblower protections for federal employees who refuse to violate rules and regulations.  In the current bureaucratic environment where word is leaking from agencies that the Trump Administration is moving to redirect career staffers to make changes, protections like this bill could stymie the Trumpist agenda.  This bill passed the House on 05/01/17 in a 407-0 vote, thus Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

On Motion to Table: H. Res. 646 (one of the introduced articles of impeachment)

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h658

This is a vote to table, or set aside, one version of the articles of impeachment against President Trump.  This version was introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX).  It is not the same set that was reviewed in depth in a previous MoCTrack report.  GovTrack describes the charges brought in this set of articles, which include “bringing disrepute, contempt, ridicule and disgrace on the Presidency; associating … the presidency with causes rooted in white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism; and inciting hate and hostility … on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, and sexual orientation.”  When Rep. Green brought this to the floor he announced, “Donald John Trump, by causing such harm to the society of the United States is unfit to be president and warrants impeachment, trial and removal from office.” Politico reports that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer released a joint statement which read in part, “Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment.” I feel that it is likely that they want to wait for the release of the Mueller investigation findings before taking any impeachment actions.  This vote was taken on 12/06/17. The YES vote is a vote to NOT move ahead with impeachment.  The motion passed with a 364-58 result, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table


 

Human Rights

H.R. 2200: Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2200/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and has 29 co-sponsors (16D, 13R).  It is a reauthorization of legislation from 2000. In the words of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, "The [act] is a critical tool for combating modern slavery, providing a comprehensive federal response focused on protecting trafficking survivors, prosecuting perpetrators, and, particularly in this legislation, preventing future exploitation."  In a rare moment of House bipartisanship, this bill passed unanimously by voice vote on 07/12/17, so Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H. Res. 354: Condemning the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16, 2017, and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hres354/text

I first reported on this resolution a few weeks ago.  It was introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA). By the time it came to a vote on the floor of the House, it had gained 45 cosponsors - 26 Democrats and 19 Republicans.  Despite numerous requests, Representative Fitzpatrick would not join the ranks of the co-sponsors, even though at least 15 of his fellow members of the Foreign Affairs committee had done so.  The Representative did, however, vote for this resolution - it passed the House unanimously on 06/06/17.  Because it is a simple resolution, that is the end of its legislative path.  Having the Legislative Branch come out in support of First Amendment freedoms, like the right of assembly, is a positive step in an environment where the Executive Branch seems dead set on ignoring those rights. Back to Table

H. Con. Res. 90: Condemning ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and calling for an end to the attacks in and an immediate restoration of humanitarian access to the state of Rakhine in Burma

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h664

This resolution was introduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and has 31 cosponsors (20D, 11R) including Rep. Fitzpatrick and many other members of the Foreign Affairs committee.  The title of the resolution is fairly self-explanatory.  The one piece of the resolution that is particularly interesting is that it “calls on the President of the United States to impose sanctions on members of the Burmese military and security forces who are responsible for human rights abuses.”  This is significant in that the President has made it clear in the international community that he is not interested in pursuing the agenda of robust protection of human rights (as did all of his predecessors, regardless of party).  This is a nearly unanimous assertion on behalf of the legislative branch that they feel it is his responsibility to return to a stance of defending human rights.  This bill passed on 12/06/17 in a 423-3 vote, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to Table


 

Immigration

H.R. 3003: No Sanctuary for Criminals Act - To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to modify provisions relating to assistance by States, and political subdivision of States, in the enforcement of Federal immigration laws

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3003/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and has 15 Republican co-sponsors.  It came to the House floor last week as part of a group of 'tough on immigration' bills  that were heavily touted by President Trump.  This piece of legislation is an attack on the concept of "sanctuary cities."  The crux of the bill is that if states or municipalities do not comply with ICE and/or Border Enforcement queries and rules about detaining people, they can have grant money for law enforcement stripped. This bill passed 228-195 on 06/29/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 3004: Kate's Law - To amend section 276 of the Immigration and Nationality Act relating to reentry of removed aliens

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3004/text

This bill was also introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and it has 17 Republican co-sponsors.  It also came to the House floor as part of the 'tough on immigration’ bill package promoted by President Trump. From early in his campaign Mr. Trump highlighted the plight of families who lost loved ones to crimes committed by undocumented people in the U.S. This bill would provide much stiffer prison sentences for people who were deported but then returned to the US and committed crimes.  This bill passed 257-167 on 06/29/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to Table


 

Foreign Relations

H.Res. 92: Condemning North Korea’s development of multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hres92/text

This resolution was introduced back in early February.  The name of the bill is fairly self-explanatory - it condemns North Korea for its missile program. With the recent news of additional tests, this moved out of committee and passed on 04/03/17 in a 398-3 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to Table

H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3364/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA), and it has five cosponsors (3D, 2R).  The bill went through several iterations, but the final version increases sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.  This bill faced opposition from President Trump, who has always objected to tough treatment of Russia.  It was made clear that the bill would need to pass by a veto-proof margin. It was introduced on 07/24/17 and came up for a vote in the House the very next day!  The House vote was 419-3, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. This bill then passed the Senate and was enacted in early August. Back to Table

Opioid Epidemic

H.R. 2142: INTERDICT Act - the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2142/text

This is one of this first bills introduced by PA-08’s own Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. It has 18 co-sponsors (13D, 5R).  The bill is designed to stop Fentanyl and other opioids at the border via increased use of chemical screening devices by Customers and Border Protection.  This bill passed the House on 10/24/17 with a vote of 412-3, and as would be expected for his own bill, Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to Table

Reproductive Freedom

H.R. 36: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr36/text

This bill was introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and has 182 cosponsors (180R, 2D). It would criminalize abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy.  Exceptions are in place for cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. GovTrack notes that the bill “...passed the House in both of the past two sessions of Congress, but now with complete Republican control of Congress and the presidency, the bill’s odds of passage seem higher than ever.”  The bill passed 237-189 on 10/03/17, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to Table

Gun Control

H.R. 38: Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h663

This bill was introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and had 213 cosponsors (201R, 3D). Right now states have different rules about how one might get a license to carry a concealed firearm in public.  Some states require little more than a simple request and payment, other states give out few permits and make purchasers participate in training.  Most of the states with tough restrictions do not currently recognize the concealed-carry permits of states with loose regulation.  This bill would force every state to recognize every other state’s permit recipients. In the days before this came up for a vote, the Rules committee agreed that this bill should be combined with another pair of bills; one that would have tightened the national background check system and another that would allow for research into bump stocks. This was a really devious bit of work - a person could not vote for better background checks without allowing domestic abusers and stalkers (who are allowed concealed carry permits in some states, but forbidden in other states) free reign to concealed carry throughout the entire country.  The bill came up for a vote on 12/06/17, and it passed 231-198.  Fitzpatrick voted NO, along with other suburban PA Reps. Meehan and Costello.  Back to Table