Congress Update: Thank You Mike Lee

The House continues its five-week long August recess, while the Senate is taking a one-week break, so this week’s blog will just look at some big events from last week.

Perhaps the most significant vote was one that didn’t happen. Reacting to the hysteria over the Defense Department’s decision to make public the blueprint to download a 3-D gun, Florida Senator Bill Nelson attempted to gain unanimous consent to move legislation preventing the blueprints for downloading a 3-D gun from ever being published—violating both the First and Second Amendments.

Thankfully, Utah Senator Mike Lee objected and stopped this bill from reaching the floor. It will be interesting to see what happens next, especially since President Trump tweeted support for banning these guns and the National Rifle Association has also come out in support of the ban—and was behind the law banning possession of guns that can evade metal detectors.

For a good analysis of this issue, see this article by leading Second Amendment scholar John Lott.

Last week, the Senate passed the conference report on the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 87-10. Here are the ten senators who voted No:

Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Mike Lee (R-UT)

Edward Markey (D-MA)

Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Senator Rand Paul was unable to be on the Senate floor at the time of the vote, otherwise he would likely have voted no, since he is on record opposing the bill.

It may surprise some to see that Senator Rubio voted no, since he is one of the biggest “hawks” in the Senate. He voted no because the final conference report failed to include an amendment reinstating penalties against the Chinese telecom company ZTE, which Senator Rubio believes is engaging in actions harmful to America’s national security interests.

For more details on the conference report see here.

The Senate also voted to pass H.R. 6147, legislation for the Department of the Interior, EPA, Financial Services (such as the Treasury, IRS, and SEC) by a vote of 92-6. The six senators (all Republicans) who voted against the $59.652 billion bill are:

Ted Cruz (TX)

Ron Johnson (WI)

Mike Lee (UT)

Rand Paul (KY)

Ben Sasse (NE)

Pat Toomey (PA)

The Senate also rejected an amendment by Senator Cruz to prohibit funding for the District of Columbia’s individual mandate (since the Constitution gives Congress authority over D.C. government, this bill is a legitimate exercise of congressional power). Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) joined every Democrat in opposing the amendment.

The Senate passed an amendment by Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to provide funding for marketing dairy products — because apparently the dairy industry is incapable of doing their own marketing. Federal marketing  programs tend to favor big corporations over smaller producers, making them yet another example of corporate welfare that tilts the playing field against small businesses.

The following 15 Republicans voted no:

Shelley Moore Capito (WV)

Bill Cassidy (LA)

Bob Corker (TN)

Ted Cruz (TX)

Steve Daines (MT)

John Kennedy (LA)

James Lankford (OK)

Mike Lee (UT)

Rand Paul (KY)

Marco Rubio (FL)

Ben Sasse (NE)

Tim Scott (SC)

Thom Tillis (NC)

Pat Toomey (PA)


The Senate also passed S. 1182, legislation reauthorizing the Flood Insurance program until November 2018. Only twelve senators opposed this measure:


John Barrasso (R-WY)

Tom Cotton (R-AR)

Mike Enzi (R-WY)

James Inhofe (R-OK)

Ron Johnson (R-WI)

James Lankford (R-OK)

Mike Lee (R-UT)

Rand Paul (R-KY)

James Risch (R-ID)

Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

You can read Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul’s thoughts on the program here.

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