WASHINGTON — Here’s how the state’s 10 members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending April 4.
GOP changes to health law
By a vote of 248 for and 179 against, the House on April 3 passed a Republican bill (HR 2575) to raise from 30 to 40 the number of hours worked each week, on average, to meet the Affordable Care Act’s definition of “full-time employee.” The definition is important because under the ACA, companies with at least 50 employees become subject next year to financial penalties based on the number of full-time workers (or “full-time equivalents”) whom they fail to insure with health policies that meet ACA standards for breadth of coverage, affordability and other criteria.
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By contrast, companies face no health-insurance obligations under the ACA for part-time employees. By redefining “full-time” to exclude individuals working 30 to 39 hours per week, the bill reduces the number of employees entitled to company-provided coverage. And this, in turn, would reduce the sum total of financial penalties paid by companies for violating the ACA’s employer mandate.
Supporters said the bill would protect paychecks by removing an incentive for employers to reduce hours in order to avoid ACA penalties. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would cause about one million people to lose employer-provided health coverage each year while increasing budget deficits by $73.7 billion over 10 years as a result, in part, of employers paying fewer penalties for violating the employer mandate.
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
U.S. support for Ukraine
Voting 378 to 34, the House on April 1 sent the White House a bill (HR 4152) authorizing at least $50 million in direct U.S. aid to Ukraine for purposes such as strengthening its governmental and civic institutions and helping it prepare for elections this year. The bill also approves $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees for Ukraine; provides $100 million to promote political and economic reforms in eastern and central Europe; expands and codifies U.S. economic sanctions on Russian leaders and financial institutions, and empowers the U.S. departments of State and Justice to help Ukraine recover assets allegedly stolen by Viktor Yanukovych, its recently ousted president. The bill cuts U.S. aid to Pakistan to pay for itself.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Kilmer, McDermott, Reichert, Smith, Heck
Voting no: Herrera Beutler
“Dynamic scoring” budget doctrine
By a vote of 224-182, the House on April 4 passed a GOP bill (HR 1874) requiring the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to add “dynamic scoring” to its tools for forecasting the impact of proposed legislation on U.S. economic growth. A tenet of supply-side economics, dynamic scoring holds that tax and spending cuts always pay for themselves by stimulating economic activity.
But the CBO, reflecting the views of mainstream economists, does not recognize dynamic scoring as empirically valid, and instead uses what is known as “static scoring” to forecast economic impacts.
Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert
Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Heck
Not voting: Smith
Voting 61-35, the Senate on April 3 advanced a bipartisan bill (HR 3979) to restore jobless benefits that expired in late December for millions of the long-term unemployed. The bill would be retroactive to Dec. 28 and last through May 31. A final vote on the bill was to be held the following week.
Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D