WASHINGTON — Here’s how the state’s members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Jan. 31.
Abortion coverage in health law
By a vote of 227-188, the House on Tuesday passed a Republican bill (HR 7) that would ban subsidized insurance policies that cover abortion from the Affordable Care Act’s state and federal marketplaces. The bill would prohibit any use of federal funds, including tax credits, to subsidize premiums for such policies. Critics call this an overreach because the ACA already requires policyholders to pay the premium share that applies to reproductive services. The bill also adds the so-called “Hyde Amendment,” now a rider on annual appropriations bills, to permanent U.S. law. Since 1976, the amendment has prohibited expenditure of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
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Voting yes: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Doc Hastings, R-Pasco; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane; Dave Reichert, R-Auburn
Voting no: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina; Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Jim McDermott, D-Seattle; Adam Smith, D-Bellevue; Denny Heck, D-Olympia
Women’s medical privacy
Voting 192-221, the House on Tuesday defeated a bid by Democrats to prevent HR 7 (above) from violating the medical privacy of any woman, including rape and incest victims, with respect to her choice or use of a health- insurance policy. The motion addressed privacy issues that could arise as insurance companies seek to document a woman’s claim to have been raped and thus eligible for taxpayer-funded abortion coverage under the 1976 Hyde Amendment.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen , Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck
Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings , McMorris Rodgers, Reichert
Farm subsidies, food stamps
By a vote of 251-166, the House on Wednesday approved the conference report on a bill (HR 2642) to renew farm and food programs for five years at a projected cost of nearly $100 billion annually, down nearly $2.3 billion per year from pre-sequester levels. The bill would cut food-stamp spending by 1 percent; eliminate direct payments to farmers; expand crop insurance for growers of crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice; fund rural development; boost exports; add stability to dairy incomes without directly limiting milk production; expand crop research and promote soil conservation and wetlands protection, among many other objectives. About 80 percent of the bill’s $956 billion cost over 10 years is for food stamps and other food and nutrition programs.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Kilmer, Reichert, Heck
Voting no: McDermott, Smith
Voting 67-32, the Senate on Thursday passed a bill (S 1926) to delay for four years steep increases in premiums for the National Flood Insurance Program, giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency time to redraw the maps of flood plains upon which risk assessments and premium levels are based. Adding $900 million to U.S. debt over five years, the bill would blunt reforms enacted by Congress in 2012 to phase out taxpayer subsidies that lower premium costs for about one in five national flood-insurance policyholders. The program is $24 billion in debt, due largely to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Sandy in 2012.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the bill provides relief “while FEMA goes back to the drawing boards and figures out a way to have a flood-insurance program that does not bankrupt thousands of middle-class, working-class people.”
Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D
To allow deficit spending
By a vote of 64-35, the Senate on Wednesday reached a supermajority needed to exempt S 1926 (above) from statutory spending limits set by congressional budget resolutions. Because the bill would increase deficit spending by $900 million over its first five years and possibly by additional sums in later years, it needed this waiver to move forward.
Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray
Phase-in of premium increases
Voting 34-65, the Senate on Thursday defeated an alternative to S 1926 (above) that would allow flood-insurance premiums to rise by 25 percent per year until the property owner has begun paying an actuarially sound rate no longer subsidized by taxpayers. To put the flood-insurance program on a pay-as-you-go basis over the next several years, the amendment would impose a surcharge of $40 annually on premiums for properties valued below $500,000 and $80 annually for more costly properties.
Voting yes: None
Voting no: Cantwell, Murray