Share story

WASHINGTON — Here’s how the state’s members of Congress voted on major issues during the week ending Nov. 21.

Science, environment

By a vote of 237 for and 190 against, the House on Nov. 19 passed a Republican bill (HR 4012) that would negate specific rule-makings by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unless all data from underlying scientific studies — including any confidential health information about participants — has been made publicly available so that the studies can be independently replicated.

Republicans said the bill would promote much-needed transparency at the EPA, while Democrats said it would thwart enforcement actions because many environmental studies depend on protecting the privacy rights of participants. Democrats said the bill’s main targets are studies by the American Cancer Society and Harvard University that link air pollution with ill health and underpin the EPA’s administration of the Clean Air Act.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

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; Denny Heck, D-Olympia

Not voting: Adam Smith, D-Bellevue

Ebola disinfectants

By a vote of 196 for and 230 against, the House on Nov. 19 defeated a Democratic bid to exempt from HR 4012 (above) any EPA actions to approve Ebola disinfectants or protect communities against nuclear, biological or terrorist attacks or chemical spills into drinking-water supplies.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Heck

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting: Smith

EPA advisory board

Voting 229 for and 191 against, the House on Nov. 18 passed a Republican bill (HR 1422) to reshape the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board to make it more industry-friendly. The board provides independent evaluations of the scientific analyses upon which the EPA bases its regulations. Its 52 members are chosen by the EPA administrator and serve without pay.

This bill would diminish academic representation on the board while expanding corporate membership; permit experts with financial ties to EPA-regulated industries to serve if they disclose their conflicts of interest; give state, local and tribal governments a guaranteed number of seats on the board and require the board to gather more public comments, among other provisions.

Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Heck

Not voting: Smith

Conflicts of interest

By a vote of 195 to 225, the House on Nov. 18 refused to amend HR 1422 (above) in a way that would to deny membership on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board to representatives of companies or trade associations having a financial interest in decisions that result from the board’s recommendations.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Heck

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting: Smith

Senate

Domestic spying curbs

By a vote of 58 for and 42 against, the Senate on Nov. 18 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end Republican blockage of a bill (S 2685) that would strip the National Security Agency (NSA) of its authority to collect bulk data on Americans’ phone calls and other telecommunications under federal laws such as section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

Under the bill, when the NSA requests authority from a foreign-intelligence surveillance court judge to search telecommunications involving U.S. citizens, it must provide details short of probable cause to identify its target in the context of a terrorism investigation. And the bill would require the secretive court to hear counter arguments from voices advocating civil liberties.

Existing law allows the NSA to collect and store bulk data such as phone numbers and the duration of calls but not the content of what is said. This bill changes that procedure by keeping electronic records in the possession of telecom companies for up to 18 months, with the NSA allowed access only by an intelligence-court warrant based on “specific selection” criteria.

Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D

Keystone XL pipeline

Voting 59 for and 41 against, the Senate on Nov. 18 failed to end Democratic-led blockage of a bill (S 2280) to bypass environmental laws and approve the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline between the Canadian border and Steele City, Neb.

Under the bill, Congress would usurp authority over the international project from the Department of State and the White House, which after years of study are still noncommittal on the proposed 1,179-mile conduit through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. This would be the final leg of a nearly 4,000-mile Keystone network for shipping tar-sands oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries in the Midwest and on the Texas Gulf Coast.

In addition to overriding executive-branch authority over the pipeline, the bill “deems” that certain environmental and safety hurdles have been cleared and that federal permits for construction, operation and maintenance must be issued. TransCanada Corp. is the pipeline owner.

Voting no: Cantwell, Murray

Child-care grants

By a vote of 88 for and one against, the Senate on Nov. 17 gave final congressional approval to a bill (S 1086) that would extend the Child Care and Block Grant Development Program through fiscal 2019 at a cost of $13.1 billion. States use the federal funds to subsidize the cost of child-care for low-income families.

Under the bill, states must publish online basic consumer information about specific day-care providers, including the results of on-site inspections; conduct annual fire, health and safety inspections of day-care providers and spend at least 13 percent of their federal funds on activities that improve the quality of child care.

In addition, the bill requires criminal-background checks of day-care staff members when they are hired and every five years after that and stipulates that states can determine a family’s eligibility for subsidies no more frequently than once every 12 months.

Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray