PA-08*: January-June 2018
House of Representatives
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s VOTES

Download this guide (PDF)

 

 

 

 

A note on using this guide…

This is a mid-year update on the
2017 Fitzpatrick votes guide published at the end of last year.

 

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 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 2018 Member of Congress Reports to date.

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 the election season.

 

 

-Kierstyn P. Zolfo

KierstynPZ@gmail.com
MoCTrack Report editor and contributor
PA Together - PA Statewide Indivisible

 

 

* On the usage of “PA-08” - until the 116th Congress goes into session in January 2019, we still live in Congressional district PA-08.  The current Congressional election is for the representation of the new PA-01, but Brian Fitzpatrick still currently represents PA-08.  Thus we will use that designation until the new district map goes into effect for representation purposes in January 2019.

 

The Economy, Budget, Taxes & Appropriations

 

Budget/Taxes/ Appropriations bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 195

Continuing resolution - funding the government for 3 weeks

01-18-18

230-197

Yes

Yes

H.R. 1892

Continuing resolution - funding the government for 6 weeks

02-06-18

245-182

Yes

Yes

H.R. 1625 - vote 1

"Omnibus spending package" funding the government for 6 months

03-20-18

211-207

Yes

Yes

H.R. 1625 - vote 2

reconciling the Senate version of the 6 month funding bill

03-22-18

256-167

Yes

Yes

H.R. 3

"Rescission" bill to cut some spending (half from CHIP) from the recently passed omnibus spending bill, at Trump's request

06-07-18

210-206

No

No

H.R. 2 - vote 1

The Farm Bill, with work requirements for SNAP

05-18-18

198-213

No

No

H.R. 2 - vote 2

The Farm Bill, still with work requirements for SNAP

06-21-18

213-211

No

No

H.R. 695

Defense appropriations through 09/30/18

01-30-18

250-166

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5515

Defense authorization for 2019

05-24-18

350-66

Yes

Yes

H.R. 6157

Defense appropriations for 2019

06-28-18

359-49

Yes

Yes

 

The Environment

 

Environmental Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 1119

lower clean air standards, allows higher mercury emissions

03-08-18

215-189

No

No

H.R. 3144

uses flawed study that would harm endangered animals for ue in creating hydro power plan

04-25-18

225-189

No

No

 

Healthcare

 

Healthcare Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

S. 2372

Lets veterans leave the VA system to receive covered healthcare elsewhere

05-16-18

347-70

Yes

Yes

 

School safety

 

School safety Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 4909

Post-Parkland response, lots on reporting and security, NOTHING about guns

03-14-18

407-10

Yes

Yes

 

Deregulation

 

Deregulation

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 3299

lets payday lenders and other high-interest loan providers bypass usury laws in states

02-14-18

245-181

Yes

Yes

H.R. 4296

lets big banks increase their borrowing and reduce the private capital held to protect the public against megabank failures

02-27-18

245-169

Yes

Yes

H.R. 4607

chips away at the CFPB ability to work for consumers, by adding more review burdens

03-06-18

264-143

Yes

Yes

H.R. 1116

Forces government regulators (all areas) to report on new rules implemented in the last seven years and tailor them to limit burdens on industry

03-14-18

247-169

Yes

Yes

H.R. 4263

Gives exemptions from reporting requirements that used to go to small, community banks to larger banks

03-15-18

246-170

Yes

Yes

H.R. 4545

adds a new layer of appellate process to the CFPB so banks can appeal supervisory decisions

03-15-18

283-133

Yes

Yes

H.R. 4566

exempts brokerage and investment firms (NBFIs - non bank financial institutions) from more than 1 stress test per year

03-20-18

395-19

Yes

Yes

H.R. 4293

reduces the number of Dodd-Frank mandated stress tests for banks

04-11-18

245-174

Yes

Yes

S.J. Res. 57

Removes auto-lenders from CFPB anti-discriminatory oversight

05-08-18

234-175

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5645

Reduces federal oversight of big corporate mergers, and forces the FTC to oppose mergers through the courts (as opposed to administrative review)

05-09-18

230-185

Yes

Yes

S. 2155

Changes regulatory oversight for mid-size ($50-$250 billion) banks and exempts them from the Volcker Rule

05-22-18

258-159

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5247

Removing FDA oversight into access to trial drugs for the terminally ill

03-21-18

267-149

Yes

Yes

S. 204

Removing FDA oversight into access to trial drugs for the terminally ill

05-22-18

250-169

Yes

Yes

 

Government Reform/Procedural

 

Government Reform/Procedural Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H. Res. 705

Tables the impeachment of Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors

01-19-18

355-66

Yes

Yes

H. Res. 726

Tables the censuring of Rep. Gosar, who called ICE on DACA recipients invited to the State of the Union

02-06-18

231-187

Yes

Yes

H.J. Res. 2

A Balanced Budget amendment (needs 2/3 vote to pass)

04-12-18

233-184

Yes

Yes

H. Res. 878

Tables the creation of an inquiry into Speaker Ryan forcing the House Chaplain to resign

05-08-18

223-182

Yes

Yes

H. Res. 970

Forces the Justice Department to turn over sensitive materials to the House Intelligence Committee (which could damage Rosenstein and the Mueller Investigation

06-28-18

226-183

Yes

Yes

 

Human Rights/Civil Liberties

 

Human Rights/Civil Liberties Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

S. 139 (Amash amdt)

FISA Reauthorization rewrite, to reform the secretive warrantless spy program

01-11-18

183-233

No

no party line vote

S. 139

Full FISA reauthorization

01-11-18

256-164

Yes

no party line vote

S. 534

Extends mandatory reporting requirements for sexual abuse to additional professional classes

01-29-18

406-3

Yes

Yes

H.R. 620

Guts provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, limits rights to sue businesses who do not comply with accessibility rules

02-15-18

225-192

No

No

H.R. 2152

Publicly reports personally identifiable information of people in pretrial programs who have NOT been convicted of crimes

05-09-18

221-197

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5698

Makes attacks on law enforcement officials and first responders a hate crime

05-06-18

382-35

Yes

Yes

 

Opioid Epidemic

 

Opioid Crisis Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 2851

Creates a process for faster classification of synthetic drugs

06-15-18

239-142

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5041

Lets hospices and caregivers destroy unused opiates

06-12-18

398-0

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5327

Awards grants to fund model opioid treatment centers

06-12-18

383-12

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5735

Sets aside public housing vouchers for people in recovery

06-14-18

230-173

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5788

Creates new standards for US Postal Service screening for drugs

06-14-18

352-52

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5891

Creates an interagency task force to help families and kids impacted by opioid abuse

06-13-18

409-8

Yes

Yes

H.R. 6082

Changes rules for health records disclosures related to substance use disorders

06-20-18

357-57

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5797

Increases Medicaid coverage for inpatient, outpatient and transitioning care for substance use disorders

06-20-18

261-155

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5796

Locates outlier over-subscribers of opiates and offers them pain management training

06-19-18

voice vote

Yes

Yes

H.R. 5687

Sets up a new program for disposal of unused opiates

06-19-18

342-13

Yes

Yes

H.R. 6

Comprehensive plan including changes to Medicare and Medicaid to support screening, treatment and research

06-22-18

396-14

Yes

Yes

 

Immigration

 

Immigration Bills

Topic

Date

Vote result

Fitzpatrick Vote

with GOP?

H.R. 4760

Trump-supported immigration plan, deeply conservative

06-21-18

193-231

No

No

H.R. 6136

So-called "compromise" bill, but only a compromise between moderate and xenophobic wings of the GOP

06-27-18

121-302

Yes

No

 

The Economy, Budget, Taxes & Appropriations

H.R. 195: Continuing appropriations through February 16, 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h33

The Republican-controlled Congress has been unable to create, negotiate and pass a budget since the last one ran out in September. They have passed short-term ‘continuing resolutions’ (CRs) three times since then. The latest CR legislation, passed right before the holiday recess, was due to run out on 01/19/18. Any bill created to fund the government past that deadline would need to have some level of Democratic support, as it would need to achieve the filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. Democrats have made clear that to gain their support, any funding legislation would need to include a solution for the Dreamers as well as reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The infamous 01/11/18 immigration meeting, at which the president uttered the now-notorious racist profanity, was an attempt to negotiate a part of the solution to this situation.

 

As the deadline approached, the House Leadership decided to set aside any attempt to pass a long-term fix, but instead pushed yet another short-term CR (this one through mid February). To entice Democrats to support it, the GOP leadership included six years of funding for CHIP. In a devious move, they conspicuously left the Dreamers out of the CR, forcing a difficult choice on the Democrats. This bill passed the House on 01/18/18, 230-197. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  The vote did not split along purely party lines, as 6 Democrats voted YES, and 11 Republicans voted NO. Back to table

 

H.R. 695: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr695

Originally this bill was to establish a national criminal history background check system and criminal history review program for people who have access to children, the elderly or individuals with disabilities in the course of their work.  But in the past weeks the bill was amended to become the vehicle for passing the defense appropriations for the fiscal year ending 09/30/18. It came to the floor of the House for a vote on 01/30/18 and passed 250-166.  Fitzpatrick voted YES.  It now goes back to the Senate because of the changes made to its content. Back to table

 

H.R.1892 – Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h60

There are so many potential nicknames for this situation: Yet Another Continuing Resolution (CR), or perhaps Fast Five–the Littlest Shutdown? Regardless of how the parties are spinning it, several facts are unassailable: the government shut down again because one senator got feisty and obstructionist, the GOP-led Congress just failed to pass a long-term funding deal for the fifth consecutive time, and the Dreamers are still in limbo. Let’s break down what happened.

 

We are all getting used to the idea that the leaders in the Congress like to take already-pending bills and then tack on other materials. This bill started out as the “Honoring Hometown Heroes Act,” but the Bipartisan Budget was pasted onto it. The additions would fund the government from February 9, 2018, through March 23, 2018.  It also added on $80 billion in disaster recovery assistance, $6 billion in funding toward opioid and mental health treatment, and $7 billion in funding and a two-year reauthorization for community health centers among other provisions. The first House vote on this funding measure was taken on 02/06/18, and it passed 245-182. Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to table

 

H.R. 1625: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (vote 1)

After five consecutive short-term spending bills since last September, the Congress has finally passed a bill to fund the government for 2018. As this is from nearly two weeks ago, it feels like ancient history. As such, I’ll minimize the recapping. If you would like to read more about the bill’s contents, see this Vox explainer.  If you want to learn more about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his attempt to stall the bill, see this article from the New York Times. And for more on President Trump’s unfulfilled threat to veto the bill, please read this Slate piece.

 

On Mar. 20, 2018, the House took its first vote, to consider the bill for no more than one hour and to disallow any amendments. This passed narrowly, 211–207. Most of the Republican “Freedom Caucus” joined with all but one Democrat (Rep. Fitzpatrick’s “bipartisan valentine, #CupidOnTheHill" Rep Kyrsten Sinema [D-Ariz.]) to oppose this maneuver.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to table

 

H.R. 1625: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (vote 2)

After the Senate passed a revised version, the newly revised 2,200-plus-page omnibus spending bill then came before the House. That vote was also held on Mar. 22, 2018, and it passed  256–167. The vote breakdown was surprising: Democrats voted 111 for and 77 against, while Republicans voted 145 for and 90 against. Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to table

 

H.R. 2: Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (vote 1)

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h205

This is the “Farm Bill,” a massive piece of legislation that gets worked on every five years or so. It sets subsidy levels for agricultural products, addresses crop insurance and covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. This iteration of the farm bill was a giant departure from farm bills past. Usually working on the bill is a long-negotiated process with a bipartisan result. This time, the GOP dropped a fully formed bill on the House Agriculture Committee — one that included work requirements for SNAP. The Washington Post reports that, in response to that provision, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Republicans are taking food out of the mouths of families struggling to make ends meet.” The run-up to the House vote on the bill turned into a scrap over immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The GOP’s so-called “freedom caucus” demanded that a deeply conservative immigration bill be brought to the floor for debate as the price for their support for the farm bill. The same Washington Post article notes that, “The House leadership put the bill on the floor gambling it would pass despite unanimous Democratic opposition. They negotiated with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus up to the last minutes. But their gamble failed.” The vote was taken on May 18, 2018, with a final result of 198–213. Fitzpatrick voted NO. Back to table


H.R. 2: Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (vote 2)

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h284

This bill is also known as the Farm Bill. It is the measure passed every five years that sets the framework for crop insurance, subsidies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. A massive piece of legislation, the bill contains $860 billion in funding and allotments. Even the summary is 122 pages long. This bill is usually one of the last bastions of bipartisanship, and the result of months of negotiation from the Agriculture Committee. This time, however, it was introduced and passed out of committee with no Democratic input or support. The main sticking point was a work requirement for SNAP that would affect between 5 and 7 million households that currently receive the benefit. It is believed that this new provision, along with tighter eligibility requirements, would cause around 400,000 households to lose food assistance altogether. The bill was brought up for a vote back in May and failed, 198–213. No Democrats supported the original version of the Farm Bill. Its failure fell on the shoulders of the Freedom Caucus, the deeply conservative wing of the Republican party.

 

In the immediate aftermath of the failed vote on the Goodlatte One immigration bill, Speaker Ryan pivoted to bring up the Farm Bill again. In the weeks since the initial failure, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) secured enough support for the H.R. 2 version of the Farm Bill to move it forward. It came up for a vote on June 21, 2018, and it passed, 213–211. Fitzpatrick voted NO. Back to table

 

H.R. 5515: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h230

This bill authorized $717 billion in defense spending for 2019. While the final vote makes it appear that this was a non-controversial vote, the amendment process was heated. In an article titled “House easily passes $717B defense authorization bill”, The Hill reports that “...prior to the vote, Democrats argued for amendments eventually voted down on immigration, gun control and limiting nuclear spending, but ultimately backed the bill over readiness concerns.”  Another issue covered was President Trump’s coveted military parade.  USA Today reports:

 

The House defense bill gives its endorsement to a military parade as a way of expressing appreciation and admiration for the men and women in uniform. The legislation authorizes spending for the display of small arms and munitions, but it does place some restrictions on which hardware can be put on parade. Operational units and equipment would be barred from taking part if the Defense secretary believes their use will hamper military readiness.

 

What’s more, the bill says, the focus of the parade should be the nation’s veterans — many of whom served in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan but have been “denied the public display of gratitude their service deserves.”

 

On May 24, 2018, the bill passed in a 351–66 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to table

 

H.R. 3: Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h243

Back in 1974 the Congress passed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, legislation that allows a President to request that Congress rescind funds from an appropriations bill that has already passed (for more on rescission, page down to this week’s “Learning about Legislation” section).  The President sent a rescission request to Congress this past May. The package would take back about $15 billion from the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package passed earlier this year.  While that works out to a little more than 1% being taken back, the big problem is that almost half of the funds are being clawed back from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The bill narrowly passed with a 210-206 vote taken on 06/7/18.  Fitzpatrick voted NO. Back to table

 

H.R. 6157: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h313

The House voted this week on a 2019 defense appropriations bill that will cost $675 billion.  Included in this package is funding for two new aircraft carriers, 93 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, and 12 new Navy ships.  The bill also calls for increasing the staffing of the armed forces by 15,600 active-duty and Reserve troops this year and giving a pay raise of 2.6% to personnel.  During the amendment process Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) proposed an amendment that would, according to POLITICO, “bar funding for the Pentagon to procure goods and services from ZTE and Huawei, which Democrats and Republicans alike have called a risk to national security.” The same article further explains:

The Trump administration stirred up controversy earlier this month when it struck a deal with ZTE to lift sanctions on the company. And since then, lawmakers have sought to limit the companies, which have ties to the Chinese government. Defense policy legislation passed by the House and Senate contain varied bans on the Pentagon and other government agencies doing business with ZTE and Huawei.

That amendment passed by a voice vote. Other amendments related to over $1 billion in additional funding for a new submarine, failed. The final bill passed on 06/28/18 with a vote of 359-49. Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to table

The Environment

H.R. 1119: SENSE Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h101

This bill was introduced by Rep. Ken Rothfus (R-Pa.) early last year. It lowers clean air standards for plants that use coal refuse to produce energy, and lets them emit higher levels of mercury than was previously permitted. This bill is one chapter in a much a longer story about the EPA’s efforts to regulate toxic power plant emissions, the energy industry’s desire to evade those regulations, the court system’s rulings on this topic, and an industry-friendly Congress legislating away environmental protections. If you would like more detail, this Sierra Club article titled “Ideology, Common Sense, and Poisoned Children” recaps the saga concisely.  On Mar. 8, 2018, the Congress passed this dangerous reduction in air quality with a 215-189 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted NO. Back to table

 

H.R. 3144: To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h153

This is a bill that looks mundane, but actually has at its center the choice between protecting endangered animals or promoting hydro-power. On its face, the bill indicates that the power authority in the area must maintain some dam facilities in a manner consistent with a particular biological study. The Capital Press, an agricultural website for the northwest, explains the issues at the heart of this bill:

...it forces use of a 2014 biological opinion that was found to be “flawed” by a federal judge. In May 2016, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon ruled that the biological opinion did not satisfy requirements of the Endangered Species Act and violated the National Environmental Policy Act.  The court ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration to conduct a review of the river system to develop a new opinion, slated to be in place September 2021.

This bill would provide inadequate protection for endangered animals in the area for three to four years. In a vote taken on April 25, 2018, this bill passed the House, 225–189.  Fitzpatrick voted NO.  Back to table

Healthcare

S. 2372: VA MISSION Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h189

This bills had gone through several non-descriptive names, but it actually addresses giving veterans access to covered medical care outside the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) system. The bill refers to a “Veterans Community Care Program,” which simply means that veterans could use hospitals, medical services and extended care services that are not part of the VA, but the VA would handle payment and “the establishment of a mechanism to receive medical records from non-Department providers.” President Trump is a vocal supporter of this change to the VA system. Earlier this month he tweeted, “Choice is vital, but the program needs work & is running out of $. Congress must fix Choice Program by Memorial Day so VETS can get the care they deserve. I will sign immediately!” A number of veterans groups support this initiative. Those who object to it seem to do so on the same grounds as objections to school vouchers/charter schools; they fear that a program like this will reduce the funding given to the struggling public system, which will cause more difficulty fixing the current problems. The bill, which already passed the Senate via unanimous consent in March, came to the floor for a vote on May 16, 2018. It passed, 347–70. Fitzpatrick voted YES. Back to table

Deregulation

H.R. 3299: Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3299

This bill was introduced in the House last July by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC). The Republicans have presented this as a bill that will help address “market uncertainty” caused by a circuit court decision about lending rates. In reality, the bill “makes it easier for payday lenders and other nonbanks to use rent-abank arrangements to ignore state interest rate caps and make high-rate loans,”  notes a letter sent to Congress in opposition to this bill, signed by 152 state and national organizations, from  groups as diverse as Habitat for Humanity to the National Consumer Law Center to the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.  They argue that this bill makes it possible for lenders to ignore the maximum interest rate set by a state law by selling the loan to an out-of-state lender in whichever state has the most lenient banking laws.

 

This bill came up for a vote on the House floor on Feb. 14, 2018.  It passed with a final vote of 245-181, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4296: To place requirements on operational risk capital requirements for banking organizations established by an appropriate Federal banking agency

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h89

This bill was introduced in November by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.). It relates to some of the regulations on banks that were put into place after the 2007-2008 financial crisis to prevent a future one. At that time, some financial institutions collapsed was that they were over-leveraged — that is, they did not have enough liquid assets relative to the risk they had accrued. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandated “operation risk capital requirements” to prevent such collapses.  When H.R. 4296  was introduced, a American Bankers Association Banking Journal article referred to this bill as “regulatory relief” that “would prohibit the establishment of operational risk capital requirements,” basically nullifying the portion of Dodd-Frank that would prevent financial collapse due to over-leverage positions. The Americans for Financial Reform wrote a letter opposing H.R. 4296, in which they said the proposed new law “is a transparent effort to boost big bank profits by pressuring regulators to weaken public protections. If it were passed, major Wall Street banks could increase their borrowing and reduce the private capital they hold to protect the financial system and the public against the effects of a megabank failure.”  As one might expect from this anti-regulatory GOP Congress, the bill passed in a 245-169 vote on Feb. 27, 2018.  Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4607: Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h95

This bill was introduced by Rep. Kenneth Loudermilk (R-Ga.) in December. The bill creates a framework where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)  must review its regulations every seven years with an eye towards eliminating overly burdensome ones. In a letter in support of this bill, the Consumer Bankers Association applauded the Congress for making the CFPB “identify redundant or unduly burdensome regulatory requirements imposed on depository institutions, increasing the reviews of these rules from a 10-year to a 7-year cycle will help regulators modify, streamline, and repeal outdated regulations.”  While reviewing legislation is not inherently nefarious, with this particular Congress and its ardent anti-regulatory stance, coupled with the banking industry’s support, one does need to be concerned that this chips away at the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers and could drain away protective resources and redirect them towards regulatory review. This bill passed 264-143 on 03/06/18, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 1116: TAILOR Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h108

According to the Library of Congress, this bill requires government regulatory agencies to “tailor any regulatory actions so as to limit burdens on the institutions involved” and to report to Congress on any such regulatory actions. That reporting requirement is retroactive and forces the agency to report on the actions taken in the past seven years. This bill came up for a vote on Mar. 14, 2018, and passed, 247–169. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4263: Regulation A+ Improvement Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h110

This bill raises the minimum rate under which some securities are exempt from reporting requirements. On Mar. 15, 2018, this passed in a 246–170 vote, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4545: Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h112

This bill changes banking review processes at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It “requires the establishment of an independent internal agency appellate process at the CFPB for the review of supervisory determinations made at institutions supervised by the CFPB.”  On Mar. 15, 2018, it passed in a 283–133 vote, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4566: Alleviating Stress Test Burdens to Help Investors Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h119

This bill changes the Dodd-Frank financial regulation package to exempt “nonbank financial institutions” (NBFIs, i.e., brokerage and investment firms) from undergoing stress tests more than once per year. This passed in a 395–19 vote on Mar. 20, 2018, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4293: Stress Test Improvement Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h137

This bill, introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), is a continuation of the banking regulatory push that resulted in the passage of several related bills last week. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank bill of 2010 mandated that certain banks undergo regular stress tests. A stress test is a procedure where both the bank’s risk management group and the Federal Reserve performs an analysis “under unfavorable economic scenarios designed to determine whether a bank has enough capital to withstand the impact of adverse developments.” This bill reduces the number of stress tests the banks must perform. In response to this bill, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca.) noted, “When we crafted Dodd-Frank, we mandated these stress tests and put in place other enhanced prudential guardrails for large banks to not only prevent damage to our economy but also help grow our economy. And they are working. But H.R. 4293 weakens the rigor and frequency of those stress tests, a move that simply makes no sense.”  The bill passed in a 245–174 vote on April 11, 2018.  Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 4790: Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h139

This bill was introduced by Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.).  The Volcker Rule, named after a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is a part of the Dodd-Frank bill that prevents depository banks (the kind most of us use) from investing in hedge funds, private equity groups or other risky enterprises. The rule was put into place to curb some of the excesses that led to the banking crisis. This bill exempts banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the rule altogether, and gives all rule-making authority over the Volcker Rule to the Federal Reserve, an agency led by a political appointee. The American Bankers Association lauded the bill, saying it “provides proper safeguards while streamlining the process." Their executive vice president, James Ballantine, added, “this much needed reform is long overdue.” The bill passed in a 300–104 vote on 04/13/18. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

S. J. RES. 57: 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 Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h171

If the long name of that legislation sounds somewhat familiar, it is because this resolution was fast-tracked after a vote in the Senate a few weeks ago. At the time I noted that this is a somewhat complicated path for legislation and warrants a bit of procedural background. In 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) introduced a rule that limited discriminatory auto lending practices. Then, in late 2017 the Government Accountability Office ruled that although this rule had been in effect for four years, the Congress could exert oversight of the rule via the Congressional Review Act. That’s the tool they used to get rid of Obama-era laws related to gun control and wildlife protection. Senator Toomey was active in supporting the current effort to keep the CFPB from continuing to implement this anti-discriminatory rule.  In the statements on his website, Toomey refers to the CFPB’s action regarding auto lending as “overreaching” and “overstepping.” The Senate voted on April 18, 2018, to quash this CFPB regulation in a 51–47 vote. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES. This passed the House on May 8, 2018, with a 234–175 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5645: Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h177

This bill was introduced last April by Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.), the winner of last year’s special election against Jon Ossoff. This is a seriously wonky bit of legislation (for all the nerdy details, see this piece) that would reduce government oversight into big corporate mergers. It would also require the Federal Trade Commission to oppose proposed mergers through federal court instead of just performing a quicker and less expensive administrative review. This kind of bill makes it easier for monopolies to flourish. The Open Markets Institute, a center-left think-tank that spun off of the New America Foundation to address anti-trust issues, sent a spirited letter opposing the bill to the House. It said, in part:

After close review, the Open Markets Institute has concluded that the bill would dangerously reduce the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to protect American citizens from concentrations of power that threaten them politically and economically. Worse, it would do so exactly at a moment when we need a stronger and more active FTC… Increasing monopolization is a main driver of destructive trends ranging from increasing regional and personal inequality to the loss of privacy and the erosion of institutions essential to democracy. Consolidation and monopolization affect every aspect of our political economy... H.R. 5645 would be a major step in the wrong direction. It would curtail the FTC’s ability to address such consolidation just when this authority is most essential.

The House voted on this bill on May 9, 2018, and it passed, 230–185.  As would be expected for a pro-corporate, anti-regulation measure, Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

S. 2155: Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h216

This bill passed the Senate earlier this year. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who chairs the Senate Banking Committee. It is a highly divisive piece of legislation: Supporters say it will help community banks struggling under Dodd-Frank regulations, while opponents say that it chips away at the protections put in place to protect us from future financial meltdowns.

 

GovTrack provided a useful summary of the bill, which:

  Permits banks with between $50–$250 billion in assets to run with less regulatory oversight from the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC).

  Exempts banks with less than $10 billion in assets from some rules entirely, most notably the so-called Volcker Rule, which bans banks from making some forms of speculative trades.

  Requires the Federal Reserve to take bank size into account when crafting regulations, rather than writing “one size fits all” regulations, as critics contend the Fed has been doing for the past decade.

  Allows huge foreign banks to avoid regulations by tallying their U.S. assets in ways that keep them under that $250 billion threshold. An amendment offered by Democrats to close this loophole was rejected.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been one of the bill’s most vocal critics.  Politico reports her saying that, “The people in Congress may have forgotten the crash 10 years ago, but I guarantee that people across this country have not forgotten the pain that these giant banks caused. They do not want to see Congress move toward deregulating these banks.” The same article said that Warren, “...accused her colleagues of backing the legislation because of years of sustained bank lobbying in the wake of Dodd-Frank’s enactment.”  Moderate Democrats, especially those in red states who are up for re-election this year, provided a different perspective. In the run-up to the final vote, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said via CNN: “After years of bipartisan work to advance regulatory relief for the community banks and credit unions across Indiana, I'm pleased that the full Senate will debate the legislative package I negotiated. This legislation would make it easier for Hoosier families to gain access to mortgages and small businesses to access capital, and it also includes important new consumer protections, such as free credit freezes, in response to the Equifax data breach.”  If you would like to read more about what this bill could mean for consumers, please see this MarketWatch article titled “How the rollback of Obama-era financial regulations could affect you.”

 

The bill came up for a vote in the House on May 22, 2018, and passed, 258–159. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  President Trump has already signed it into law. The Philadelphia Inquirer commented on the passage of the bill in an article and said that it “...allowed Trump to fulfill his campaign pledge of dismantling the landmark Dodd-Frank law.”  Back to table

 

 

H.R. 5247: Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h121

This bill was introduced by our own Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. The idea behind the bill — to let terminally ill patients have access to unapproved drugs that are still going through trials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — sounds noble and good. However, the FDA already has an extended access (compassionate use) program, and more than  99 percent of those who apply to that program are granted access to experimental treatments. Since the vast majority of people who want access to these drugs can already get them through the FDA’s compassionate use program, the practical purpose of the new bill is somewhat vague. Hundreds of medical ethicists, patient advocates and doctors signed a letter opposing the new right-to-try bill, noting that “this legislation sells vulnerable patients and families false hope at the expense of weakening the FDA’s critical role in making sure that all Americans can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of our medical products.” The letter adds, “Because the FDA is not the obstacle to patient access to investigational drugs and plays a vital role in ensuring proper patient safeguards are in place, we implore the Committee to not pass legislation that would remove the FDA from the initial authorization process for accessing an investigational therapy outside of a clinical trial.”  An additional concern about this bill is that while it indemnifies any drug manufacturers, sponsors, their agents and representatives from legal liability from the use of experimental treatments, that indemnification excludes treating doctors, medical assistants, nurses, pharmacies — so big business is protected, but the individuals actually treating patients are not. Despite these serious concerns, this bill passed on Mar. 21, 2018, in a 267–149 vote. As might be assumed for a bill he sponsored, Fitzpatrick voted YES.   Back to table

Readers may wonder why this bill is placed here in deregulation as opposed to healthcare.  While the topic may be access to pharmaceuticals in test phase, the ultimate goal of this bill is to undermine the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, thus it fits in with the general GOP deregulatory agenda. 
Back to table

 

 

S. 204: Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h214

This issue has been a focus of Representative Fitzpatrick’s legislative advocacy for the past year, but this is not the bill that he authored. Right to Try is a widely popular movement supported by many in the Trump administration, but it does not hold up under close scrutiny. The Food and Drug Administration already grants more than 98 percent of applications for access to experimental pharmaceuticals under its Compassionate Use program. This bill would remove the FDA protections from the process of obtaining investigational drugs that have completed phase-one trials. Investigational drugs must go through three phases of clinical trials before FDA will approve them. CBS News explained the problems with the bill in a piece titled “Right to try bill passes, but will it help terminally ill patients?”:

 

Despite good intentions – and the legislation's name – right to try legislation grants no rights. It would merely grant permission for a patient to try to get experimental medication from a pharmaceutical company. Patients would be allowed to try experimental drugs, but nothing in the legislation would make it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to provide these medications.

 

The reasons for a company to withhold a drug are many. Giving access to pre-approval drugs can be costly, particularly given the limited supply, and almost no medical insurance will cover experimental treatments. Access to the drugs will likely only be feasible for wealthy Americans who can afford to pay for the treatment, as well as the consequences of any negative side effects out of pocket.

 

Over a hundred patient advocacy groups, medical provider associations and medical ethicists objected to this legislation. Art Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine, summarizes the situation best in an article from CNN titled “Right-to-try' bill passes Congress,” observing, “...at the end of the day, creating a world in which you say there's a right to try, if it's nothing more than a right to beg a company, that right already exists, and you're really not doing much to help anybody gain access to much of anything."

 

The bill passed with a 250–169 vote on May 22, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

Government Reform/Procedural

On Motion to Table: H.Res. 705: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high misdemeanors

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h35

This resolution was introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX), who also introduced the previous set of articles of impeachment that were voted upon last fall (H. Res. 646). Both of these bills cited the President’s racism and bigotry as the main reason for the need for impeachment. From the newer version:

 

“In his capacity as President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office, of the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony, and respect necessary for stability within the society of the United States, Donald John Trump has with his bigoted statements done more than simply insult individuals and groups of Americans, he has harmed the American society by attempting to convert his bigoted statements into United States policy and by associating the presidency and the people of the United States with bigotry…”

 

This new version includes the profane statements the President made at the 01/11/18 immigration meeting.  Like the last impeachment motion introduced by Rep. Green, this one was also defeated. The House voted to table the motion on 01/19/18; in this situation a YES vote means that the Representative does NOT want the bill to go forward. The motion to table the bill passed 355-66, and Fitzpatrick voted YES. Nine more people supported this impeachment motion than the prior one in 2017.  Back to table

 

On Motion to Table: H.Res. 726: Raising a question of the privileges of the House

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h53

In the run-up to the State of the Union Address, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted out a series of statements.  In them, he “contacted the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking that they consider checking identification of all attending the State of the Union address and arresting any illegal aliens in attendance  and went on to add “any illegal aliens attempting to go through security, under any pretext of invitation or otherwise, should be arrested and deported.”

 

In response to this, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) introduced a resolution in the House to censure Rep. Gosar. In that resolution she observes that, “Representative Gosar's comments explicitly targeted the DACA recipients that Members of Congress brought as their guests to the State of the Union…[and] Representative Gosar's actions to inappropriately pressure the U.S. Capitol Police to detain and deport Dreamers, who are staying in the country according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations, intimidated these young people who are already facing fear and uncertainty.”  The resolution concludes by noting that all members of the House are supposed to behave in a “manner that shall reflect creditably on the House  and that the House should condemn Rep. Gosar for “his inappropriate actions that intimidated State of the Union guests and discredited the House of Representatives.”

 

This resolution was brought to the floor on 02/06/18.  The motion was to table this resolution, so a “yes” vote means that the legislator believes that this resolution should not even be considered.  The vote was strictly party-line. It passed 231-187, so Rep. Gosar, despite threatening people who are in the United States legally, was NOT condemned for his actions. Fitzpatrick voted YES along with the rest of his party, to protect Rep. Gosar, despite his boorish and undignified behavior.  Back to table

 

H.J.Res. 2: Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h138

This is a constitutional amendment proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). This bill would require a supermajority of three-fifths of both houses to approve a budget where spending exceeds government revenue. Similarly, it would require a three-fifths vote to raise the debt limit. An exception in the bill waives these requirements if a declaration of war is in effect. The resolution was brought to the floor on April 12, 2018, under a “suspension of the rules,” so it needed two-thirds of the House to vote for the bill for it to pass. The motion did not get the required two-thirds, so it failed in a 233–184 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

On Motion to Table: H.Res. 878: Raising a question of the privileges of the House

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h172

About two weeks ago, the chaplain of the House of Representatives offered a letter of resignation at the behest of the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. For more on that tempest, this CNN article is a good source.  The chaplain has since been reinstated.  Last week, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution that would have created an ethics investigation into the events that culminated in the resignation. On May 8, 2018, a motion to table this resolution was brought to the floor; that means they were voting on dismissing the resolution so that there would be no ethics investigation into Speaker Ryan’s action. Apparently this motion to table led to some heated exchanges on the floor, including shouting, finger pointing and table banging. The motion to table passed in a 223–182 vote.  Fitzpatrick voted YES (against the investigation).   Back to table

 

H.Res. 970: Insisting that the Department of Justice fully comply with the requests, including subpoenas, of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the subpoena issued by the Committee on the Judiciary relating to potential violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by personnel of the Department of Justice and related matters

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h306

This is a somewhat complicated Republican maneuver to discredit Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (who oversees the Mueller investigation with Attorney General Sessions recused) and potentially set him up for dismissal. This is a non-binding resolution introduced by Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-S.C.) that demands the Justice Department produce sensitive and classified documents to Rep. Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee. Just a reminder, those are the folks who already decided there was no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion in the run-up to the 2016 election. If Mr. Rosenstein doesn't provide the requested documents within seven days, it is an excuse to put him in contempt of Congress. This resolution was agreed to on 06/28/18 in a 226-183 party line vote.  Fitzpatrick votes YES.  Back to table

Human Rights/Civil Liberties

S. 139: FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s139

FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  These rules allow our intelligence agencies to collect information from foreign sources, but also permit them to collect (without warrants) and keep some information on Americans as well.  This program is highly controversial, and the support breakdown does not fall along party lines.  If you would like to read a quick explainer on the program, CNN Politics compiled one this week. Before the bill came to a vote, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) offered an amendment that would replace the entire text of the FISA Reauthorization with the text of the USA Rights bill, a bipartisan effort to reform the “secretive warrantless spy program” (as the authors describe it). The Amash amendment failed in a 183-233 vote, and Fitzpatrick voted NO.   The unamended FISA reauthorization itself then came to the table.  It was reauthorized by a vote of 256-164 on 01/11/18.  Fitzpatrick voted YES to reauthorize the bill.  This bill now moves on to the Senate.  They have already voted to proceed on it, and a final vote is expected on 01/16/18.   Back to table

 

S. 534: Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h45

In the past few weeks, a flood of news about a sexual abuse scandal has rocked the US gymnastics establishment.  More than 150 young girls were abused by the team doctor, Larry Nassar.  For years, his abuse had been reported to various adults in the gymnastics establishment, but a decade passed after the first reports were made before they were finally taken seriously and the offender brought to justice.  This bill, introduced in the Senate last year by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would extend mandatory reporting responsibilities to “adults who are authorized to interact with minor or amateur athletes at a facility under the jurisdiction of a national governing body.”  In other words, it would not be left to the adult who hears such a report to dismiss the allegations (which happened a number of times in the Nassar case). Instead, the adult would be required to bring the issue to law enforcement for a thorough and professional investigation.  This bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent last autumn.  It came before the House on 01/29/18 and it passed 406-3.  Fitzpatrick votes YES.  Because of some small changes, the bill will return to the Senate for a second vote before it goes to the President.   Back to table

 

H.R. 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h80

This bill would gut several provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To read the perspective of a disabled person on this bill, please see the MoC Twitter Action segment below. Honorable mention went to a series of tweets from Senator Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee who explained how this bill would allow businesses to bypass rules about ramp inclines and stair heights, and how that would affect the quality of life for disabled people. This article from Newsweek also explains how this bill would make it easier for businesses to ignore provisions in the ADA. The GOP leadership presented this as a part of their efforts to reduce regulations that they believe stifle business. The bill came up for a House vote on Feb. 15, 2018 and passed 225–192. Fitzpatrick voted NO. This now moves on to the Senate.   Back to table 

 

H.R. 2152: Citizens’ Right to Know Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h175

This is a bill that Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced in April. The Leadership Conference on Human and Civil Rights has serious concerns about the bill:

The Citizens’ Right to Know Act requires jurisdictions receiving funds from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to report to the Attorney General the names, arrest records, and appearance failures for those participating in DOJ funded pretrial services programs. The legislation allows the Attorney General to make public the names, arrest records, and failure appearances that jurisdictions report…. The bill requires that the Attorney General penalize noncompliant jurisdictions by denying them 100 percent of the DOJ grant program funds that are used to support pretrial services programs.

The Professional Bail Agents of the United States aggressively supported this bill. In a letter urging members to call their Congresspeople to express that support, they claimed “passage of HR 2152 could stop the ‘bail reform’ movement in its tracks.” On the other side of the issue, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Congress opposing the bill. Among their concerns were “...that the Citizens’ Right to Know Act would collect and publicly report personally identifiable information of individuals participating in pretrial services programs—individuals who have not been convicted of a crime given their pretrial status.“  The ACLU  also feels this bill would adversely affect the bail reform movement:

The Citizens’ Right to Know Act is inconsistent with bipartisan efforts to reform money bail systems, like the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act, which the ACLU endorses. By collecting and reporting only certain data about pretrial services programs and those participating in them, the Citizens’ Right to Know Act will depict a one-sided picture of pretrial services programs and participants. For example, the legislation’s focus on when an individual has failed to appear promises a negative narrative around the pretrial stage. If this bill were serious about measuring the true impact of pretrial services programs, it would collect a more robust data set and not that which is of interest only to the bail bonds industry. The ACLU supports bail reform that corrects the injustice of basing a defendant’s release on how much money the person has. Instead of considering the Citizens’ Right to Know Act, the Committee should take up the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act. This legislation would incentive jurisdictions to reform their money bail systems through federal resources rather than penalize them like the Citizens’ Right to Know Act, which denies DOJ grants to noncompliant jurisdictions.

Despite these serious concerns, the bill passed the House in a 221–197 vote on May 9, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.   Back to table

 

H.R. 5698: Protect and Serve Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h188

This law makes it a federal crime to target law enforcement officers. It puts police officers into a protected class. Targeting them would be like targeting someone for race or religion. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a coalition of 45 other civil rights organizations — including Lambda Legal, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League and National Organization for Women (NOW) — sent a letter to Congress opposing this bill. It states, in part:

Extending hate crimes protections to law enforcement officers is a profoundly inappropriate and misguided proposal for several reasons. First, police already have substantial protections under federal and state law, rendering this bill superfluous. Second, hate crimes laws are intended to extend protection to historically persecuted groups that have experienced a history of systemic discrimination based on a personal characteristic, such as race,religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability; law enforcement officers are not a historically persecuted group. Third, this bill signals that there is a “war on police,” which is not only untrue, but an unhelpful and dangerous narrative to uplift. Fourth, bills similar to Protect and Serve that have been introduced in states around the country—so called “Blue Lives Matter” bills—appear to be a political response to the growing national movement for police accountability in the face of continued killings and assaults of unarmed African Americans; therefore, this bill is divisive and will have a negative impact on the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

This bill came to the floor for a vote on May 6, 2018. It passed, 382–35. Fitzpatrick voted YES.   Back to table

Immigration

H.R. 4760: Securing America’s Future Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h282

In the past months, support in Congress had grown for a discharge petition to bring potential immigration solutions to the floor. As of this week, the issue had 216 supporters of the 218 votes needed to initiate Queen of the Hill proceedings that would allow the House to vote on several immigration bills; the one that received the most votes would move on to the Senate. . To avoid this procedural embarrassment to the leadership, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) agreed to bring two immigration bills to the floor.  One was to be a deeply conservative bill that included all of President Trump’s “four pillars”:  a wall; legal status (but not a path to citizenship) for a severely limited number of Dreamers; an end to the diversity lottery; and an end to so-called “chain migration,” also known as family reunification. The second bill was supposed to be a compromise bill, but that term should not be taken seriously. The compromise was between the moderate and Trump wings of the Republican party, with no involvement of Democrats.   Back to table

 

This week, the House considered the deeply conservative bill, H.R. 4760, also known as “Goodlatte One.”  C-SPAN offers full coverage of the debate preceding the vote.  An interesting development during the debate concerned speeches and time allotment. Each party is given an equal amount of time to support its position, which a member assigned to the task can give out in minute-long chunks as he or she sees fit. With all Democrats lined up against the bill, they scarcely had enough time to allow every representative to get on the record opposing the legislation. Many had to talk quite rapidly to get their points in. On the other hand, the Republicans had trouble getting enough people to speak in support of the bill. The GOP speeches were made slowly in order to eat up the extra time. At one point the Democrat assigning time asked the Republican if he could have the GOP’s extra time since the Republicans had so few people who wanted to speak and the Democrats had so many. That request was, obviously, denied.

 

In a vote on June 21, 2018, the bill failed, 193–231. Fitzpatrick voted NO, as did 40 other Republicans.  No Democrats voted for this bill. In the aftermath of that failure, Speaker Ryan made the decision to hold off on the vote on the so-called compromise bill’ Politico reports that Ryan was “...delaying a vote on a ‘compromise’ immigration package until next week, as GOP leaders search for a way to get 218 votes to pass the measure. Ryan told lawmakers that leadership may add an E-Verify mandate — an online system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in the United States — as well as other provisions called for by rural state lawmakers to the package.”   Back to table

 

 

H.R. 6136: Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h297

After last week’s defeat of the immigration bill known as ‘Goodlatte One’, House Speaker Paul Ryan delayed the vote on the second immigration option, the so-called “compromise bill” in order to garner more support.  Despite its name, this bill was no true compromise, as its crafting only involved the moderate and xenophobe wings of the Republic Party and excluded the Democrats altogether. Amongst the provisions included in this ‘compromise’ were a drastic redefinition of who would constitute a Dreamer, with only 420,000 of the 1.8 million people eligible for the DACA program included in a path to legal residence in this bill.  The legislation also included billions of dollars for both Trump’s wall and massive increases to Customs and Border Patrol staffing and funding.  Under this bill the rules for granting asylum would have been curtailed significantly.  The bill came to the floor for a vote on 06/27/18 and it failed, 121-302.  Fitzpatrick voted YES, for the Trump-endorsed position.  Back to table

Opioid Epidemic

H.R. 2851: Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h268

This bill creates a new process for faster classification and scheduling of synthetic drugs, so that law enforcement doesn’t have to wait months or years for new drugs, like fentanyl, to fall under their purview. The bill passed, 239–142, on June 15, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5041: Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act

 https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h259

This bill gives hospices and caregivers the right to destroy unused pain medications after a hospice patient passes away, helping to keep those drugs from being diverted into the community. The bill passed, 398–0, on June 12, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5327: Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h258

This bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to at least 10 model opioid treatment centers, which will use Food and Drug Administration-approved medications and evidence-based treatments and generate data to create additional comprehensive plans for model opioid recovery plans. The bill passed, 383–13, on June 12, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5735: THRIVE Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h266

This bill sets up a  program to set aside public housing vouchers for the use of supportive and transitional housing for individuals recovering from substance use disorders. The bill passed, 230–173, on June 14, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5788: STOP Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h265

This bill sets new standards for reviewing all incoming international mail for the presence of drugs by requiring the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to transmit advance electronic data (AED) to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on all international packages by 2020. It also creates a new $1 fee to be added to all inbound shipments to the United States. The bill passed, 352–52, on June 14, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5891: Improving the Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act

 https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h264

This bill sets up an interagency task force to develop a strategy for supporting families and children impacted by the opioid crisis. The task force will include representatives of the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS); Education; Agriculture; and Labor. It will solicit input from people impacted by the crisis and local groups dealing with it first hand. The bill passed, 409–8 on June 13, 2018. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 6082: Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr6082

This bill changes and improves the rules related to disclosure of medical information, particularly related to people with substance use disorder (SUD). It increases the penalties if SUD information is disclosed, and forbids discrimination based on SUD status. It passed 357–57 on June 20, 2018, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5797: Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Execution Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr5797

 This bill changes Medicaid rules to give people with a SUD full coverage for 30 days of care at an institution for mental diseases (IMD) per year. It also includes provisions for states to improve both access to outpatient care and transitioning from inpatient to outpatient care. The bill passed 261–155 on June 20, 2018, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5796: Responsible Education Achieves Care and Healthy Outcomes for Users’ Treatment Act of 2018 

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr5796

This bill was sponsored by our own Rep. Fitzpatrick. It requires the Department of Health and Human Services to identify medical providers who are high prescribers of opioids and offer them new training on pain management that includes methods other than opioids. This measure passed the House by voice vote on June 19, 2018, so no talley was kept. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 5687: SOUND Disposal and Packaging Act 

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr5687

This bill requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create a new program for the return or destruction of unused Schedule II or III opioids. It will also encourage the use of packaging that may reduce overprescribing, diversion or abuse of opioids. In a vote on June 19, 2018, this bill passed 342–13. Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

 

H.R. 6: SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr6

This bill is the most expansive effort of all of the legislation in the push to address the opioid crisis. A detailed summary can be found here. In brief, it makes major changes to Medicare and Medicaid to support screening, treatment, research and management programs for SUDs. It also requires other insurance to cover services provided by certified opioid treatment programs, and expands programs to support increased detection and monitoring of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The bill passed 396–14 on June 22, 2018, and Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table

School safety

H.R. 4909: STOP School Violence Act of 2018

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h106

This bill was Congress’s first attempt at finding a solution to the plague of school shootings our country has experienced. As one might expect from legislation negotiated by the GOP leadership, it contains very little content related to common-sense gun safety legislation and much more about school security. The abbreviation from the bill name stands for “Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence.”  TIME Magazine has the most succinct recap of what is — and is not — included in the bill. They report that this legislation “provides $50 million per year to:

      Create and operate an ‘anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications, hotlines, and internet websites’

      Implement improvements to school security infrastructure.

      Develop student, teacher and law enforcement training to prevent violence”

The bill contains absolutely no language related to gun control. For more extensive analysis of the wrangling that led to the bill, this Vox article titled “As student activists rally outside, the House passes a narrow school safety measure” is a good place to start.

 

The GOP leadership brought this bill to the floor under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” that allowed them to bypass debate if they could get a supermajority of two-thirds to approve the bill. The vote took place on Mar. 14, 2018, the same day as the school walkouts around the country, and it passed 407–10.  Fitzpatrick voted YES.  Back to table