WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted last week.

House votes

COMMERCIALIZING SUBSIDIZED INNOVATIONS: The House has passed the Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act (H.R. 539), sponsored by Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., to establish an Innovation Corps program at the National Science Foundation for helping small businesses commercialize their innovative products and services. Lipinski said the so-called I-Corps program would make it easier for scientists and engineers to take to market the products of research aided by federal funding, yielding “a higher return on our research spending by significantly increasing rates of commercialization, economic activity, and job creation.” The vote, on Feb. 25, was 385 yeas to 18 nays.

YEAS: Steil R-WI (1st)

AWARDS FOR SCHOOL WORKERS: The House has passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act (H.R. 276), sponsored by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., to establish at the Education Department the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees program for recognizing excellence by non-teacher public school employees at the prekindergarten through high school level. Titus said the RISE awards would “celebrate the critical role that school staff plays in helping our students learn and enabling our teachers to teach.” The vote, on Feb. 25, was 387 yeas to 19 nays.

YEAS: Steil R-WI (1st)

BORDER SECURITY EMERGENCY: The House has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 46), sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, that would void the national emergency concerning security on the border with Mexico that President Trump declared on Feb. 15. Castro called the resolution a move to “respect the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution, stand up for Congress, for this country, and for the Constitution” by voiding an illegitimate presidential measure. An opponent, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., said Congress had explicitly authorized presidents “to undertake certain military construction projects that are not otherwise authorized by law when it passed the National Security Act,” including the construction of border barriers. The vote, on Feb. 26, was 245 yeas to 182 nays.

NAYS: Steil R-WI (1st)

FEDERAL NATURAL RESOURCES: The House has passed the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The bill’s provisions covered a variety of issues involving natural resources on federal lands, including developing a national volcano early warning and monitoring system and naming three new national monuments in Kentucky and Mississippi. A supporter, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the bill would benefit all Americans “by protecting ecosystems, preserving our cultural heritage, and connecting the people to their lands.” The vote, on Feb. 26, was 363 yeas to 62 nays.

YEAS: Steil R-WI (1st)

FIREARMS BACKGROUND CHECKS: The House has passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif. The bill would make it illegal for individuals without gun sales licenses to transfer firearms to other people without using the federal government’s background check system, with exceptions allowed for gifts by family members and certain other transfers. Thompson said that by making universal the background check requirement for buying guns, the bill would prevent gun violence. A bill opponent, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said it “criminalizes gun transfers between law-abiding citizens who have no criminal record and no criminal intent,” including temporary transfers for safekeeping, while failing to stop criminals from getting guns. The vote, on Feb. 27, was 240 yeas to 190 nays.

NAYS: Steil R-WI (1st)

LENGTHENING FIREARMS BACKGROUND CHECKS: The House has passed the Enhanced Background Checks Act (H.R. 1112), sponsored by Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C. The bill would establish a waiting period of 20 business days before a person who has been entered into the federal background check system for firearms purchases is able to take possession of the firearm. Clyburn said the current 3-day waiting period did not allow enough time for law enforcement agencies to complete background reviews for cases that could lead to violent people using newly purchased guns to commit crimes. An opponent, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said the bill’s restrictions would work toward making “gun ownership by law-abiding people so legally hazardous and so bureaucratically time-consuming that people simply give up” and do not buy guns. The vote, on Feb. 28, was 228 yeas to 198 nays.

NAYS: Steil R-WI (1st)

Along with roll call votes, the House also passed the following bills:

The Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act (H.R. 583), to provide for enhanced penalties for pirate radio; the Strengthening the Health Care Fraud Prevention Task Force Act (H.R. 525), to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a public-private partnership for purposes of identifying health care waste, fraud, and abuse; and the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (H.R. 425), to promote veteran involvement in STEM education, computer science, and scientific research.

Senate votes

ABORTION, INFANTS, AND HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS: The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311), sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The bill would have barred health care providers from neglecting to care for the health of newborns who have survived an attempted abortion, with criminal penalties established for failing to provide that care. Sasse said: “This bill is exclusively about protecting babies who have already been born and are outside of the womb. Every baby deserves a fighting chance.” An opponent, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., said “it would put physicians in the position of facing criminal penalties if their judgments about what is best for their patients are contrary to what is described in this bill.” The vote to end debate, on Feb. 25, was 53 yeas to 44 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate.

YEAS: Johnson R-WI

NAYS: Baldwin D-WI

APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Eric D. Miller to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Miller had worked in the Justice Department, including the Solicitor General’s Office, from 2001 until 2012, then as a lawyer at the Perkins Coie law firm in Seattle. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited support for Miller from his classmates at the University of Chicago Law School, and said Miller “has a distinguished record in both public service and private practice.” An opponent, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., criticized Miller’s record of spending “much of his career fighting against the interests of tribal governments and tribal sovereignty.” The vote, on Feb. 26, was 53 yeas to 46 nays.

YEAS: Johnson R-WI

NAYS: Baldwin D-WI

IRS AND TREASURY OFFICIAL: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Michael J. Desmond to serve as Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service and an assistant general counsel for the Treasury Department. Desmond, currently a sole legal practitioner specializing in tax controversies, was previous a tax trial attorney at the Justice Department and a tax legislative counsel at the Treasury Department. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised Desmond for “an impressive private sector background” and years of public service in the federal government. An opponent, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said that if confirmed, Desmond would support Trump administration tax policies that hurt New Jersey and other states with high property and state taxes. The vote, on Feb. 27, was 83 yeas to 15 nays.

YEAS: Johnson R-WI, Baldwin D-WI

EPA ADMINISTRATOR: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to serve as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Wheeler, currently acting administrator at the EPA, had also worked as staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and as an energy policy consultant. A supporter, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said that if confirmed, Wheeler “will be a good steward of the environment without punishing our states, without punishing our farmers, and without punishing our job creators.” An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized Wheeler for a “career as a lobbyist working on behalf of big polluters and climate deniers.” The vote, on Feb. 28, was 52 yeas to 47 nays.

YEAS: Johnson R-WI

NAYS: Baldwin D-WI

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