US CAPITOL BUILDING
Associated Press

Here’s how members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation voted on major issues this week.

GOP LAWSUIT AGAINST PRESIDENT OBAMA: On a nearly party-line vote of 225 for and 201 against, members on Wednesday authorized a Republican-drafted, House of Representatives lawsuit against President Barack Obama on grounds that he overstepped his constitutional powers by acting on his own to delay the start of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate from Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2015, or later. The measure (H Res 676) did not need Senate concurrence and took effect immediately. All but five of the 230 Republicans who voted supported the resolution and all 196 Democrats who voted opposed the measure.

The five Republicans voting against the resolution were Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Steve Stockman of Texas. Six members did not vote. They were GOP Reps. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Alan Nunelee of Mississippi and Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Democratic Reps. Bill Foster of Illinois, Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and Albio Sires of New Jersey.

A yes vote was to file a civil lawsuit against President Obama in federal court.

Voting yes: Paul Ryan, R-1st, James Sensenbrenner, R-5th, Tom Petri, R-6th, Sean Duffy, R-7th, Reid Ribble, R-8th

Voting no: Mark Pocan, D-2nd, Ronald Kind, D-3rd, Gwen Moore, D-4th

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT HURDLES: Voting 233 for and 190 against, the House on Tuesday passed a Republican-drafted bill (HR 4315) requiring the Department of the Interior to publish online the scientific basis of all new “endangered species” and “threatened species” designations under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bill also requires the department to treat data from state, local and tribal governments as “best available science” in making decisions on species protection. In addition, the bill puts a $125-per-hour cap on government payments of “prevailing attorney fees” in litigation challenging endangered-species designations.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to die.

Voting yes: Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble

Voting no: Pocan, Kind, Moore

DISPUTE OVER FINDINGS: Voting 204 for and 215 against, the House on Tuesday refused to strip HR 4315 (above) of a requirement that Endangered Species Act administrators accept data submitted by state, local and tribal governments as the “best available scientific and commercial data” even if it has not been subjected to peer review. In the scientific community, peer review is a discipline in which new research is not accepted as valid until it is evaluated by other experts in the same field.

A yes vote was to strip the bill of language requiring disclosure of non-peer-reviewed data.

Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore

Voting no: Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble

UPGRADE OF VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE: By a vote of 420 for and five against, the House on Wednesday adopted the conference report on a bipartisan bill (HR 3230) appropriating $17 billion to help the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) improve its medical services and rebound from a scandal that involved lengthy waits for appointments at DVA hospitals and clinics, falsification of records to give the appearance of prompt care, payment of unwarranted bonuses to managers who covered up problems and the apparently forced resignation of Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In part, the measure allocates $10 billion for care outside the DVA system for veterans who are required to wait longer than 30 days for DVA appointments or live more than 40 miles from a DVA medical facility, $5 billion for hiring more doctors and other medical personnel and $1.3 billion for leases to establish hospitals and clinics in up to 18 states and Puerto Rico. About $5 billion of the cost would be taken from other parts of the DVA budget and $12 billion would be new spending.

A yes vote was to send the conference report to the Senate, where it was adopted and sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Voting yes: Ryan, Pocan, Kind, Moore, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble

Voting no: None

REGULATION OF PESTICIDE DISCHARGES: Voting 267 for and 161 against, the House on Thursday passed a bill (HR 935) that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring permits under the Clean Water Act for discharges into navigable waters of pesticides authorized for use under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Clean Water Act permits still would be required for discharges regulated by that law as municipal or industrial waste or storm water.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to die.

Voting yes: Ryan, Kind, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble

Voting no: Pocan, Moore

NEW MONEY FOR HIGHWAYS: Voting 79 for and 18 against, the Senate on Tuesday sent back to the House a bill (HR 5021) to add $8.1 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to finance road, bridge and mass-transit construction through Dec. 19. That ending date would provide an incentive for Congress to agree on a more permanent means of adequately funding highway and transit infrastructure as part of a multi-year transportation bill that is on the table. The short-term funding bill would pay for itself with provisions including an improvement in Internal Revenue Service collections of unpaid taxes. The House version of HR 5021 would finance the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015, enabling the current Congress to avoid action on permanent funding. The highway fund is projected to run dry in August.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where it was promptly rejected.

Voting yes: Tammy Baldwin, D

Voting no: Ron Johnson, R

STATE CONTROL OF TRANSPORTATION: Voting 28 for and 69 against, the Senate on Tuesday defeated an amendment to HR 5021 (above) that would devolve all federal highway and mass transit programs except the Interstate Highway System to the states over five years. Under the amendment, the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon would be reduced to 3.7 cents by 2019. By then, states and localities would be in charge of managing and funding their transportation networks other than interstate highways.

A yes vote was to shift most federal transportation programs to the states and cut the federal gasoline tax by 80 percent.

Voting yes: Johnson

Voting no: Baldwin

IMPROVEMENTS IN VETERANS’ CARE: Voting 91 for and three against, the Senate on Thursday adopted the conference report on a bill (HR 3230, above) to appropriate $17 billion for improvement of veterans’ medical care. In addition to provisions described above, the bill would make post-9/11 GI Bill benefits available to spouses of service members who die while on active duty; allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to improve existing DVA medical facilities, extend scholarship programs for DVA health personnel and curb bonuses for the department’s senior managers. The bill also would ease civil-service rules so that DVA employees with poor work records could be fired, with appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board resolved within 21 days.

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

Voting yes: Baldwin, Johnson

Voting no: None

FUNDS TO EASE BORDER CRISIS: Voting 50 for and 44 against, the Senate on Thursday failed to reach the 60 votes needed to advance a bill (S 2648) providing emergency appropriations to help agencies deal with tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America who have illegally entered the U.S. The bill would appropriate $2.7 billion, mainly for border security and resources to care for the children while immigration judges determine whether they qualify for asylum or refugee status or face deportation. In addition, the bill provides $615 million for fighting wildfires in eight western states and $225 million to bolster Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.

A yes vote supported the bill despite GOP arguments that the spending should be offset by increased revenue or cuts elsewhere rather than added to federal debt.

Voting yes: Baldwin

Voting no: Johnson

Congress is in recess until the week of Sept. 8.

— Thomas Voting Reports

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