Senate actions focused on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
WASHINGTON — Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday.
Expanding consumer rights in credit reports: The House on Wednesday voted 221-189 to require firms such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union to adopt certain consumer-friendly procedures in judging the creditworthiness of the hundreds of millions of Americans in their portfolios. Overseen by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the bill would prohibit firms from reporting on debt incurred for lifesaving medical treatments; delay for one year credit reporting on all other forms of medical debt; reduce from seven to four years the retention period for adverse information; prohibit most employers from basing workplace decisions on credit reports; and enable delinquent student-loan borrowers to repair their credit by making at least nine of 10 consecutive monthly loan payments on time. A yes vote was to send HR 3621 to the Senate. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th Dist.: No. U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-15th Dist.: No.
Defining model for credit scores: Voting 201-208, the House on Wednesday defeated a Republican motion that sought to prohibit credit reports compiled under the terms of HR 3621 (above) from using models that factor in the individual’s “political opinions, religious expression or other expression protected by the First Amendment.” The amendment would forbid the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from requiring such models even though the agency has no plans to do so. A yes vote was to adopt the amendment. Kelly: Yes. Thompson: Yes.
Asserting congressional control over war with Iran: Voting 228-175, the House on Thursday adopted an amendment to HR 550 that would deny funding of any U.S. military action against Iran or its proxy forces without congressional authorization, except when there is an imminent threat to the United States, its armed forces or its territories. The measure asserts the sole constitutional power of Congress to declare war as spelled out in the 1973 War Powers Resolution. The president would have to notify Congress within 48 hours if he marshals the U.S. military against Iran, then withdraw the forces within a specified time unless Congress votes to authorize the action. A yes vote was to amend the bill and send it to the Senate. Kelly: No. Thompson: No.
Repealing Iraq war resolution: Voting 236-166, the House on Thursday adopted an amendment to HR 550 (above) that would repeal the 2002 Iraq war resolution, which has been cited as the legal basis of U.S. military actions in Iraq and other global theaters since, including the recent U.S. assassination at the Baghdad airport of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Congress would have six months to update U.S. war authority. Until it does, the president could immediately deploy forces to protect national security without seeking congressional approval. Opponents said the lapse would endanger U.S. troops and increase American exposure to terrorist attacks. A yes vote was to amend the bill and send it to the Senate. Kelly: No. Thompson: No.
DENYING IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WITNESSES: Voting 49 for and 51 against, the Senate on Jan. 31 defeated a motion to allow votes on subpoenas for witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial of President Trump. The only senators breaking party ranks were Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted with Democrats in favor of issuing subpoenas. The motion did not name potential witnesses. But Democrats said in debate they wished to subpoena, among others, John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, for testimony about topics including his reported conversations with the president about Trump’s solicitation of personal political favors from Ukrainian officials in return for his release of nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine. Trump defenders said the Senate should make its decision on removing him from office based on evidence submitted by the House.
Representing the House, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said: “The facts will come out. In all of their horror, they will come out….The documents the president has been hiding will come out. The witnesses the president has been concealing will tell their stories. And we will be asked why we did not want to hear that information when we had the chance, when we could consider its relevance and importance in making this most momentous decision.”
White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin said: “The Senate is not here to do the investigatory work the House did not do.The reaction of this body should be to reject the articles of impeachment, not to condone and put its imprimatur on the way the proceedings were handled in the House and not to prolong matters further to redo work the House failed to do by not seeking evidence and not doing a fair and legitimate process.”
A yes vote was to allow motions to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Sen. Bob Casey (D): Yes. Sen. Pat Toomey (R): No.
PROHIBITING TESTIMONY BY JOHN BOLTON: Voting 51 for and 49 against, the Senate on Jan. 31 tabled (killed) a Democratic-sponsored motion to subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser to President Trump, to testify in the president’s impeachment trial. This followed defeat of a broader motion (above) authorizing the trial to subpoena relevant witnesses and documents so far withheld by the president and his defenders from House and Senate impeachment proceedings. Bolton, who has said he will testify if subpoenaed, has finished a book manuscript reportedly containing firsthand accounts of actions and comments by Trump over several months in 2019 at the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment case. This was a party-line vote except that Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah voted with Democrats in favor of calling Bolton to testify.
A yes vote was in opposition to calling Bolton as a witness. Casey (D): No. Toomey (R): Yes.
Key votes ahead
The House next week will take up disaster relief for Puerto Rico and a bill strengthening worker rights to organize and bargain collectively. The Senate schedule was to be announced.
— Voterama in Congress