This week in Congress update and wrap-up

Here is the vote on the latest “compromise” immigration bill. Despite the massive failure of two of these bills in as many weeks, leadership has made clear that they still plan to try to pass the mandatory E-Verify National Database scheme. The latest news out of D.C. revealed they will take another bite at the apple as early as mid-July.

In other news, the House passed the Defense Appropriations bill with a vote of 359-49. Only three Republicans voted no: Justin Amash (MI), Ken Buck (CO), and Thomas Massie (KY). Roll-call here.

The House also voted to subpoena documents relating to the Department of Justice’s use of FISA to target the Trump campaign. Every Republican voted yes; every Democrat voted no. (Now if they’d investigate how FISA is used to violate the civil liberties of average Americans, we'd be making some progress.)

Last Monday, the Senate passed H.R. 5895, the combined Energy and Water Legislative Branch, and Military Construction/Veteran Affairs Appropriations bill by a vote of 86-5. Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky voted no as did  Democrat Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts.

Yesterday, the Senate passed the Farm Bill by a vote of 86-11. The eleven senators who voted no were all Republicans:

Richard Burr (NC)
Bob Corker (TN)
Tom Cotton (AR)
Jeff Flake (AZ)
Dean Heller (NV)
Jim Inhofe (OK)
Ron Johnson (WI)
James Lankford (OK)
Mike Lee (UT)
Rand Paul (KY)
Pat Toomey (PA)

Toomey and Corker likely voted no because they were blocked from offering amendments requiring the president to get congressional approval before imposing tariffs.

Another amendment that was blocked was a bipartisan one from Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reducing subsidies to farmers with adjusted gross incomes over $1.4 million by 15%. At a time of our 20 trillion-dollar national debt, it is shameful  that the Senate will not even debate cutting subsidies to millionaire famers.

The Senate also did not vote on amendments reforming the sugar program.

The Senate did vote to table an amendment offered by Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton to the House-passed work requirements to the SNAP (Food Stamps) program.

The motion to table -- which means kill the amendment without actual debate on it -- passed on a vote if 68-30. You can see that vote here.

The Senate also rejected an amendment by Senator Mike Lee to reform and make more transparent the Agriculture Department’s “check-off” program. This program, which producers are forced to contribute to, pays for ads like “Got Milk" and “Beef. It’s what for Dinner.” While every producer is forced to pay into the programs, the ads benefit large businesses who have greater name recognition. So small businesses are forced to take money they could use to build their brand and use it to help subsidize their larger competitors.

Finally, the House considered these additional bills under suspension:

  1. HR 5346—Provides for licenses and experimental permits for private space ships

  2. HR 5905—Authorizes research programs in Department of Energy’s Office of Science

  3. HR 5906—Establishes a new advanced energy research projects agency in the Department of Energy

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