Here’s how Washington state’s members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Sept. 16.
WASHINGTON — Here’s how the state’s members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Sept. 16.
Lower personal taxes, higher national debt
By a vote of 261-147, the House on Sept. 13 passed a Republican-sponsored bill (HR 3590) that would increase the share of personal income that can be deducted for unreimbursed medical expenses. This tax cut for filers who itemize deductions would add a projected $32.7 billion to the national debt over 10 years because it is not offset by spending cuts or revenue increases. Specifically, the bill would lower from 10 to 7.5 percent (of adjusted gross income) the threshold above which taxpayers are allowed to deduct medical expenses not covered by insurance. At present, the 7.5 percent break point is available only to taxpayers 65 and older. Without this bill or a similar remedy, the threshold for seniors who itemize deductions will rise to 10 percent starting in 2017. Non-seniors who itemize deductions already are subject to the 10 percent threshold.
Voting yes: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, 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
Job security at Department of Veterans Affairs
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By a vote of 310-116, the House on Sept. 14 passed a GOP-sponsored bill (HR 5620) that would reduce civil-service job protections at the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it easier for the agency to fire or discipline poorly performing employees. In part, the bill would require the Merit Systems Protection Board to adjudicate appeals from targeted employees within 60 days; restrict the ability of these employees to pursue appeals in federal court; limit the ability of senior executives to appeal disciplinary actions within the department, and give more protection to whistleblowers who call out supervisors.
Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers, Kilmer, Reichert, Heck
Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, McDermott, Smith
GOP clampdown on regulations
The House on Sept. 14 passed, 250-171, a Republican-sponsored bill (HR 5226) that would impose additional reporting and disclosure requirements on federal agencies when they seek public comments on proposed new regulations. In part, agencies would have to publish on their websites the contents of their substantive verbal, written and electronic communications with interested parties, including sensitive internal discussions not now shared with the public. The bill would affect the several thousand new regulations that agencies put into effect each year to implement the broadly worded laws passed by Congress.
Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert
Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck
Zika virus, opioid abuse, lead poisoning
By a vote of 185-238, the House on Sept. 14 defeated a Democratic attempt to exclude from a GOP clampdown on federal regulations (HR 5226, above) “any public communication to combat a public-health crisis including the Zika virus, opioid abuse and lead poisoning.”
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck
Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert
Corps of engineers water projects
By a vote of 95-3, the Senate on Sept. 15 passed a bill (S 2848) that would authorize $10.6 billion over 10 years for hundreds of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects for purposes such as flood control, shoreline protection, river navigation, harbor dredging, lock and dam maintenance and environmental restoration. The bill includes $100 million in emergency grants and loans to help communities such as Flint, Mich., deal with lead-poisoned drinking water and $700 million to help municipalities replace crumbling drinking-water infrastructure.
Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D