State of Union

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, talks with Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., right, as they wait for the arrival of President Donald Trump to address a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Establishing Ground Rules for Police: The House on June 25 passed, 236-181, a Democratic-sponsored bill (HR 7120) that would set federal rules and guidelines for law enforcement practices at all levels of government. In addition to imposing rules for the tens of thousands of federal police officers, the bill includes requirements for state and local law enforcement and uses the disbursement or threatened withholding of federal funds to encourage compliance. The bill covers topics including chokeholds, qualified immunity, no-knock warrants, racial profiling, investigations of troubled police departments and the creation of a public misconduct registry to prevent the rehiring of abusive officers. A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd: NO

Andy Kim, D-3rd: YES

Rejecting Senate Police Bill: Voting 180-236, the House on June 25 defeated a bid to replace a Democratic-sponsored police bill (HR 7120, above) with a less extensive proposal by Senate Republicans (below). House Republicans said the Senate bill includes far-reaching reforms and could reach President Trump’s desk this year, while Democrats called it unworthy of the Black Lives Matter movement because it lacks enforcement, omits certain reforms and favors study over action. A yes vote was to embrace the Senate GOP police bill.

Van Drew: YES

Kim: NO

Failing to Override Veto on Student Loans: Voting 238-173, the House on June 26 failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to override President Trump’s veto of a measure concerning an administration rule on student-loan forgiveness. The effect of the vote was to affirm a rule that critics said would provide forgiveness to only 3 percent of some 200,000 claimants who allege their school fraudulently misrepresented the quality of education they would receive. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified that the rule would correct the “blanket forgiveness” of an Obama administration so-called “borrower defense” rule it replaced. The Trump rule bars class-action lawsuits against schools and requires claims to be adjudicated one-by-one by mandatory arbitration rather than in open court, with borrowers prohibited from appealing the decision. A yes vote was to override the presidential veto.

Van Drew: YES

Kim: YES

Conferring Statehood on District of Columbia: Voting 232-180, the House on June 26 passed a bill (HR 51) that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state, renamed as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. As a state, the new Washington, D.C., would acquire voting rights in Congress, with one representative and two senators, and would have control over property within its present boundaries with exceptions including the Capitol complex, national monuments, the Supreme Court, the National Mall and nearby federal buildings, the White House complex and assorted other lots and edifices. A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Van Drew: NO

Kim: YES

SENATE

Blocking GOP Policing Bill: By a vote of 55-45, the Senate on June 24 failed to reach the 60 votes needed to advance a Republican-drafted bill aimed at improving federal, state and local policing. Democrats called the measure much weaker than their party’s proposals in the Senate and House (above). The bill would establish one federal commission to study policing issues especially affecting black males, and another to recommend criminal justice reforms. The bill also sought to make lynching a federal crime; require police officers to wear a body camera; establish a federal database of officers fired for misconduct and fund diversity hiring and de-escalation training. The bill omitted Democratic-backed provisions to give the Department of Justice more power to investigate local police departments for “pattern and practices” abuses and bar or scale back the “qualified immunity” defense in civil lawsuits against police officers. A yes vote was to advance the bill to debate and amendment votes.

Robert Menendez, D: NO

Cory Booker, D: NO

Confirming Judge Cory Wilson: Voting 52-48, the Senate on June 24 confirmed Cory T. Wilson, a state judge in Mississippi, for a seat on the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal trial courts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. President Trump has now appointed 53 federal appeals judges, about one-fourth of the circuit-court total. While Republicans praised Wilson’s conservative views, Democrats criticized him over his opposition to LGBTQ rights and the Affordable Care Act and support of Mississippi’s voter ID law. A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

Robert Menendez, D: NO

Cory Booker, D: NO

Source: Richard Thomas, Voterama in Congress

Editorial Clerk

I interned with a small magazine in Wildwood before starting at The Press in 2013. I currently handle our Hometown and At The Shore calendar of events submissions and enjoy interacting with the local community.

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