Name: Doug Jones
Senate: Alabama, Democrat
Cumulative Freedom Index Score: 20%
Status: Active Member of the Senate
20% (116th Congress: 2019-2020); 20% (115th Congress: 2017-2018)
|On the Amendment S.Amdt. 942 to H.R. 4378 (Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020): Spending Cut|
|Vote Date: September 26, 2019||Vote: NAY||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the short-term appropriations bill (H.R. 4378), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to cut the bill’s funding for federal operations and services by two percent. On the Senate floor, Paul pleaded, “The debt is growing at 8 percent a year. Spending is growing only at 4.5 percent, 5 percent a year. The debt is growing more rapidly because we have accumulated so much. We have over a $22 trillion debt. The interest this year is over $300 billion. As it grows faster and faster, the interest will exceed what we are spending on the military within about five years…. What I have put forward today … is an opportunity for the Senators who truly believe the debt is a problem to try to restrain spending with a 2-percent cut across the board.”|
The Senate rejected Paul’s amendment on September 26, 2019 by a vote of 24 to 73 (Roll Call 310). We have assigned pluses to the yeas not only because most of the spending falls outside the scope of constitutionally authorized federal powers, but also because the federal government needs to start reining in ballooning federal spending and debt in order to avert future fiscal disaster. Although two percent may not seem like much, modest cuts are still better than none at all.
|On Passage of the Bill H.R. 4378: Short-term Appropriations|
|Vote Date: September 26, 2019||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 4378) would provide funding for federal government operations and services through November 21, 2019, at fiscal 2019 levels. Passage of this bill, known as a continuing appropriations resolution, was necessary because the House Democrats had passed only 10 of the 12 major 2020 fiscal year appropriations bills so far, and the Senate had not even passed one of the 12, even though the 2020 fiscal year began on October 1, 2019.|
The Senate passed H.R. 4378 on September 26, 2019 by a vote of 81 to 16 (Roll Call 311). We have assigned pluses to the nays because with this continuing appropriations bill, Congress is failing to address its fiscally and constitutionally irresponsible budgeting and appropriating process that is currently yielding annual federal deficits of about $1 trillion that contribute directly to the dramatic growth of our $23 trillion national debt.
|On Passage of the Bill H.R. 3877: Budget Deal|
|Vote Date: August 1, 2019||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This two-year budget bill (H.R. 3877) would establish sufficiently high spending limits to allow the Washington spendathon to continue (and then some) through fiscal years 2020 and 2021. It would also suspend the national debt ceiling until July 31, 2021, in order to accommodate accumulating federal debt between now and then without having to vote to raise the debt limit. Congressional Quarterly (CQ) noted that the bill would “add $324 billion to spending limits over the next two years, not counting an extra $157 billion mainly for overseas military operations.” And although $77 billion of that would be offset, CQ further noted that the supposed cuts “don’t take effect until fiscal 2027.” In the House, Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was so outraged by the budget deal that he attempted (but failed) to change the bill’s title to read, “A bill to kick the can down the road, and for other purposes.”|
The Senate passed H.R. 3877 on August 1, 2019 by a vote of 67 to 28 (Roll Call 262). We have assigned pluses to the nays because spending needs to be brought under control and deficits eliminated to avoid fiscal disaster — not “down the road,” but now — and also because much of the spending is unconstitutional.
|On the Amendment S.Amdt. 883 to S. 1790 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020): To prohibit unauthorized military operations in or against Iran.|
|Vote Date: June 28, 2019||Vote: AYE||Good Vote.|
|During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1790), Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced an amendment to prohibit any funds authorized by the bill to be used to conduct hostilities against the government of Iran or in the territory of Iran. This amendment would allow U.S. forces to defend themselves and would not affect a congressional declaration of war on Iran.|
The Senate voted on Udall’s amendment on June 28, 2019, the day after the underlying legislation (S. 1790) was passed. Per a unanimous consent agreement, 60 votes were required to add the amendment to the bill retroactively. The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 50 to 40 (Roll Call 189). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because hostilities conducted against a sovereign nation, in this case Iran, constitute an act of war, and would thus require, constitutionally speaking, a declaration of war by Congress.
|On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 902 to S.Amdt. 901 to H.R. 3401 (Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019): Supplemental Border Appropriations|
|Vote Date: June 26, 2019||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the supplemental border appropriations bill (H.R. 3401), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to rescind all funding for the East-West Center and the Inter-American Foundation, and funding previously appropriated for global health programs within the fiscal 2019 State and Foreign Operations appropriations measure.|
The East-West Center is an education and research organization established by Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Inter-American Foundation is an independent agency of the U.S. government that funds development projects undertaken by nongovernmental organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rescinding funding for both these organizations would save over $40 million annually.
The Senate tabled (killed) Paul’s amendment on June 26, 2019 by a vote of 77 to 15 (Roll Call 183). We have assigned pluses to the nays because nowhere in the Constitution is Congress authorized to fund such programs. These types of programs should be handled privately, not with U.S. taxpayers’ money. Although Paul’s amendment had little to do with U.S. border appropriations, his effort to eliminate this unconstitutional spending should be commended.
|On Passage of the Bill H.R. 2157: Disaster Supplemental Appropriations|
|Vote Date: May 23, 2019||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 2157) would provide $19.1 billion in supplemental disaster funds for response efforts to damage caused by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters that occurred in 2017, 2018, and 2019. It includes nutrition assistance for individuals impacted by natural disasters in Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. And it provides funds for economic assistance, employment training, healthcare, agricultural losses, and infrastructure repairs in disaster-stricken areas.|
The Senate passed H.R. 2157 on May 23, 2019 by a vote of 85 to 8 (Roll Call 129). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the federal government does not have authority under the Constitution to rebuild areas stricken by natural disasters. Such activity should be undertaken by private companies and charities first, and, as a last resort, handled by local or state governments. This would arguably result in disasters being handled much more efficiently and effectively, as the federal government is often criticized for its slow, inefficient, and ineffective response to such events (think FEMA).
|On the Joint Resolution S.J.Res. 7: Yemen|
|Vote Date: March 13, 2019||Vote: AYE||Good Vote.|
|This bill (Senate Joint Resolution 7) would direct “the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen … unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted.” The measure exempts U.S. forces “engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces.”|
The Senate passed S.J. Res. 7 on March 13, 2019 by a vote of 54 to 46 (Roll Call 48). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because Congress is vested with the power to declare war, and Congress has not authorized any intervention or war in Yemen. Nor should Congress do so, since the civil war in Yemen does not threaten the United States.
|On the Conference Report H.J.Res. 31: Consolidated Appropriations|
|Vote Date: February 14, 2019||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (House Joint Resolution 31) would provide $333 billion in discretionary spending for the seven remaining fiscal 2019 appropriations bills: Agriculture ($23 billion); Commerce-Justice-Science ($64.1 billion); Financial Services ($23.4 billion); Homeland Security ($61.6 billion); Interior-Environment ($35.6 billion); State-Foreign Operations ($54.2 billion); and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development ($71.1 billion).|
The Senate passed H.J. Res. 31 on February 14, 2019 by a vote of 83 to 16 (Roll
Call 26). We have assigned pluses to the nays because most of the bill’s spending programs are unconstitutional, our nation’s national debt is about $23 trillion, and our nation’s 2019 federal budget deficit was nearly $1 trillion.
|On Passage of the Bill S. 47: Public Lands|
|Vote Date: February 12, 2019||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (S. 47) would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which was first authorized in 1964 to assist states in the planning, acquisition, and development of “recreation” lands. The LWCF was initially funded by proceeds from the sales of surplus federal property, motorboat fuel taxes, and fees for recreational use of federal lands, but by 1969 a major funding source was added: fees charged to oil and gas companies for extracting resources from public lands. In this way this could be portrayed as making more “recreational” public land available without any cost to taxpayers (neglecting to admit that ending the LWCF funding would benefit taxpayers by freeing up the fossil-fuel royalties for other purposes). The LWCF has been spending about $1 billion per year in recent years. This bill would also authorize other federal activities pertaining to natural resources, such as designating “National Heritage Areas” and “Conservation Districts.”|
The Senate passed S. 47 on February 12, 2019 by a vote of 92 to 8 (Roll Call 22). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the Constitution does not authorize Congress to purchase private property except “all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.”
|On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed S. 109: Abortion funding|
|Vote Date: January 17, 2019||Vote: NAY||Bad Vote.|
|The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019 (S. 109) would prohibit the use of federal funds to cover the cost of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk unless an abortion is performed. The bill would also prohibit qualified health plans from including abortion coverage.|
The Senate did not vote directly on the bill, but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the bill could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on January 17, 2019 by a vote of 48 to 47 (Roll Call 7; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the government should not subsidize or make provision for the killing of innocent human life.
|On the Motion to Discharge S.J.Res. 54: Yemen|
|Vote Date: November 28, 2018||Vote: AYE||Good Vote.|
|This resolution (Senate Joint Res. 54) would “direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.”|
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made a motion on November 28, 2018 to discharge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from further consideration of Senate Joint Res. 54, so that it could be voted on by the full Senate. In his effort to advance the bill, Sanders was supported not only by all Democrat senators who voted but also by constitutional-minded Republicans. Sanders’ motion was agreed to by a vote of 63 to 37 (Roll Call 250). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because only Congress is vested with the power to declare war. A foreign military intervention is an act of war, and Congress has not authorized any intervention or war in Yemen. Nor should Congress do so, since the civil war in Yemen does not threaten the United States.
|On the Joint Resolution S.J.Res. 63: Short-term Health Insurance Plans|
|Vote Date: October 10, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This measure (Senate Joint Resolution 63) would nullify and disapprove of the rule from the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services that would expand the duration of short-term health-insurance plans. Short-term health-insurance plans, which are not required to follow federal health-insurance regulations — such as guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewability, and coverage of essential benefits — are very affordable and can be purchased at any time (i.e., not subject to enrollment periods). “Short-term” originally meant up to one year, but was reduced to three months under the Obama administration to increase enrollment in ObamaCare. The Trump administration sought to restore the original definition of “short-term” to up to one year. S.J. Res. 63, sponsored by left-wing Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), seeks to stop this Trump administration “deregulation.”|
The Senate rejected S. J. Res. 63 on October 10, 2018 by a vote of 50 to 50 (Roll Call 226). We have assigned pluses to the nays because easing federal regulations is always a good thing, especially in this case since the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate health insurance in the first place. If people want to purchase “short-term” insurance that has less coverage, but is much more affordable, they should be allowed to do so. The federal government should stay out of healthcare, period.
|On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 302): FAA Reauthorization and Supplemental Disaster Appropriations|
|Vote Date: October 3, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 302) would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration though fiscal year 2023, with annual authorizations for federal aviation programs increasing from $10.2 billion in fiscal 2018 to $11.6 billion in fiscal 2023. It also eases restrictions on FAA regulation of drones, authorizes the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and includes $1.7 billion for Hurricane Florence disaster relief.|
The Senate passed the bill on October 3, 2018 by a vote of 93 to 6 (Roll Call 220). We have assigned pluses to the nays because of the bill’s unconstitutional federal overreach in both aviation and disaster relief. One example of this overreach is the TSA, which is known for groping and violating air travelers in the name of providing security. Instead of relying on an inefficient federal bureaucracy, security should be provided by the airlines, which have a vested interest in keeping their customers safe. Another area the feds should stay out of is the regulation of private-sector drones, which instead should be managed by local ordinances or (at most) state laws. And the market, not the feds, should determine such issues as the dimensions of seats on passenger airliners. Regarding disaster relief, this should be handled by private charitable efforts, not the federal government.
|On the Conference Report H.R. 6157: Appropriations for Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, and Continuing Appropriations|
|Vote Date: September 18, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 6157) would provide $855.1 billion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2019, including $674.4 billion for the Defense Department (including $67.9 billion in overseas contingency operations, i.e., Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), $90.3 billion for the Health and Human Services Department, $71.4 billion for the Education Department, $12.1 billion for the Labor Department, and continuing appropriations for all of the remaining federal government departments not explicitly funded by this bill until December 7, 2018.|
The Senate adopted the final version of the bill (the conference report) on September 18, 2018 by a vote of 93 to 7 (Roll Call 212). We have assigned pluses to the nays because social-welfare spending falls outside the enumerated powers of the federal government, and lumping multiple appropriations bills into one mega-bill reduces lawmakers’ accountability to their constituents. Moreover, even though defense spending is constitutional, the “defense” budget is bloated with funding for overseas military operations that have not contributed to the defense of our own country.
|On Passage of the Bill H.R. 6: Opioid Abuse Prevention and Health Programs|
|Vote Date: September 17, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 6) would modify Medicare and Medicaid in relation to opioid abuse. It would authorize $500 million annually, for fiscal 2019 through fiscal 2021, for opioid-response grants to states and tribes. It would authorize $10 million annually, for fiscal 2019 through fiscal 2023, for the establishment and operation of opioid recovery centers. It would also authorize the creation of an Office of National Drug Control Policy and require a study on Medicaid drug review and utilization requirements. A Senate amendment to the bill would remove provisions allowing Medicaid reimbursements for residential substance-abuse facilities.|
The Senate passed H.R. 6 on September 17, 2018 by a vote of 99 to 1 (Roll Call 210). We have assigned pluses to the nay because Medicare and Medicaid are both unconstitutional programs. The U.S. Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to pay people’s medical expenses, no matter how poor or disabled they are. Such assistance should be handled by states, charity, or the free market. Any expansion of Medicare or Medicaid, which is what this bill authorizes, should be voted against.
|On the Amendment S.Amdt. 3967 to S.Amdt. 3695 to H.R. 6157 (Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019): Planned Parenthood|
|Vote Date: August 23, 2018||Vote: NAY||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the appropriations bill for Health and Human Services and other federal departments including Defense (H.R. 6157), Senator Rand Paul (RKy.), introduced an amendment to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood.|
The Senate rejected Senator Paul’s amendment on August 23, 2018 by a vote of 45 to 48 (Roll Call 191). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, and government should not subsidize the killing of innocent human life. Moreover, under the Constitution, the federal government should not be subsidizing any private entity in the marketplace.
|On Passage of the Bill H.R. 6147: Appropriations for Interior- Environment, Treasury, and Transportation-HUD|
|Vote Date: August 1, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 6147) would provide $154.2 billion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2019 to various departments and agencies, including $35.9 billion for the Interior Department, the EPA, and related agencies; $23.7 billion for the Treasury Department; $23.2 billion for the Agriculture Department and related agencies; and $71.4 billion for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and related agencies.|
The Senate passed H.R. 6147 on August 1, 2018 by a vote of 92 to 6 (Roll Call 180). We have assigned pluses to the nays because much of the spending falls outside the federal government’s constitutionally delegated powers. The unconstitutional spending includes federal social-welfare programs such as food and farm subsidies and housing subsidies (under HUD). Also, lumping multiple appropriations bills together, as opposed to voting on them separately, reduces lawmakers’ accountability.
|On the Amendment S.Amdt. 3543 to S.Amdt. 3399 to H.R. 6147 (Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019): Spending Cuts|
|Vote Date: July 25, 2018||Vote: NAY||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act for 2019 (H.R. 6147), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to cut funding in each of the bill’s divisions by 11.39 percent. The purpose (in the words of the amendment) is “to reduce the amounts appropriated to comply with the spending limits under the Budget Control Act of 2011.”|
The Senate rejected Paul’s amendment on July 25, 2018 by a vote of 25 to 74 (Roll Call 171). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the federal government needs to start reining in climbing federal spending (and deficits) somewhere in order to avert fiscal disaster.
|On the Motion (Reed Motion to Instruct Conferees Re: H.R. 5515): NATO|
|Vote Date: July 10, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the Defense authorization bill (H.R. 5515), Senator Jack Reed (DR.I.) moved that Senate members in the House-Senate conference committee insist that the final version of the bill reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance. Under the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO, member nations “agree that an armed attack against one or more of them … shall be considered an attack against them all.”|
The Senate agreed to Reed’s motion on July 10, 2018 by a vote of 97 to 2 (Roll Call 149). We have assigned pluses to the nays not only because the United States should stay clear of entangling alliances such as NATO, but also because the NATO provision that obligates the United States to go to war if any member of NATO is attacked undermines the provision in the U.S. Constitution that assigns to Congress the power to declare war.
|On Passage of the Bill H.R. 2: Farm and Food Programs.|
|Vote Date: June 28, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 2) would reauthorize and extend federal farm and nutrition programs through fiscal 2023, including crop subsidies, conservation, rural development and agricultural trade programs, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (aka food stamps). The Congressional Budget Office estimates that direct spending on agricultural and nutrition programs under this bill would total $867 billion over 10 years. And according to an article in The Hill entitled “Once again, the farm bill is stuffed with food stamps” (May 14, 2018), “roughly 80 percent of the [Farm] bill’s annual budget is earmarked for food stamps.” This bill would also reauthorize a whole variety of other agricultural and nutritional programs, as well as allow industrial hemp to be grown in the United States, subject to strict state regulation.|
The Senate passed H.R. 2 on June 28, 2018 by a vote of 86 to 11 (Roll Call 143). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to subsidize food or agriculture. Moreover, food subsidies have done little to lift people out of poverty, and farm subsidies have caused market distortions as the government essentially picks winners and losers in the food production industry.
|On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 3021 to S.Amdt. 2911 to S.Amdt. 2910 to H.R. 5895: Waters of the United States|
|Vote Date: June 21, 2018||Vote: NAY||Good Vote.|
|During consideration of a minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 5895), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced an amendment to repeal the EPA’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, which allows federal bureaucrats to broadly interpret the meaning of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act. This rule, Lee opined on the Senate floor, “effectively dramatically expanded the jurisdiction of the Federal Government over land in the United States, in some instances saying that if a plot of land is wet some of the time, some of the year, during any particular year, you can be subject to massive fines totaling millions of dollars if you do anything on that land, subject to the arbitrary determinations of Federal bureaucrats.”|
The Senate tabled (killed) Lee’s amendment on June 21, 2018 by a vote of 62 to 34 (Roll Call 138). We have assigned pluses to the nays because both federal water regulations and the EPA are unconstitutional, and if the rule were allowed to stand, activities such as farming and real estate development would be greatly hampered, since farmers and developers would be subject to increased unconstitutional permit requirements and fines concerning their treatment of almost any body of water, no matter how small.
|On the Motion to Discharge H.R. 3: Appropriations Cuts|
|Vote Date: June 20, 2018||Vote: NAY||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 3) would cut nearly $15 billion from previously approved, unspent funding, including $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program and $4.3 billion from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.|
The Senate rejected a motion to discharge H.R. 3 from the Senate Budget Committee (so that it could be considered by the full Senate) on June 20, 2018 by a vote of 48 to 50 (Roll Call 134). We have assigned pluses to the yeas not only because the spending falls outside the scope of constitutionally authorized federal powers, but also because the federal government needs to start reining in ballooning federal spending (and debt) somewhere in order to avert fiscal disaster. The cuts in this bill comprise only a fraction of one percent of total federal spending, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, most of the unspent funding targeted by the bill would not be spent anyway. Yet modest cuts are better than none at all.
|On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 2366 to H.R. 5515 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019): Indefinite Detention|
|Vote Date: June 13, 2018||Vote: NAY||Good Vote.|
|During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act amendment to uphold the right to due process for U.S. citizens and permanent residents on American soil. “This amendment … simply says that if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may not be indefinitely detained on U.S. soil without trial, without charge, without access to a jury or to counsel,” Lee said on the Senate floor. His amendment would negate language in the fiscal year 2012 NDAA that purportedly authorizes the U.S. military to indefinitely detain American citizens accused of being terrorists, without habeas corpus and without being tried and found guilty in a court of law.|
The Senate rejected a motion to table (kill) Lee’s amendment on June 13, 2018 by a vote of 30 to 68 (Roll Call 122). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the war on terror must not be allowed to destroy constitutionally guaranteed legal protections.
|On the Nomination PN1857: Haspel Nomination|
|Vote Date: May 17, 2018||Vote: NAY||Good Vote.|
|In March 2018, President Trump nominated Gina Haspel to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposed Haspel’s nomination, explained why in a Politico Magazine article: “Haspel ran a secret [CIA ‘black site’] center in Thailand where prisoners were tortured”; “Haspel participated in and helped develop the program that our own government has labeled torture”; and “she helped destroy the very evidence of this program.” Regarding the latter, Haspel ordered the destruction of videos documenting the torture.|
The Senate confirmed Trump’s nomination of Haspel on May 17, 2018 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 101). We have assigned pluses to the nays because of Haspel’s complicity in the use of torture, including waterboarding, a violation of U.S. law as well as the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.”
|On the Joint Resolution S.J.Res. 52: Net Neutrality|
|Vote Date: May 16, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (Senate Joint Resolution 52) would nullify and disapprove of the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that seeks to deregulate the Internet. In 2015, as a result of fears that providers would “throttle” customers’ Internet connections and charge higher rates for certain times and/or services, the Obama-era FCC imposed common-carrier mandates on broadband Internet service providers, essentially regulating the Internet as a public utility. The Trump FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai overturned this rule, allowing the Internet to be more or less unregulated as it had been before the rule.|
The Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 52 on May 16, 2018 by a vote of 52 to 47 (Roll Call 97). We have assigned pluses to the nays because regulation of the Internet is not a proper function of the federal government under the Constitution. The new FCC rule under Commissioner Pai was more of a hands-off approach to the Internet, allowing service providers to set their own rules. This is the correct approach, as any provider “throttling” service or overcharging customers will lose business to more competitive providers in a free market setting. Government, in scenarios such as these, will nearly always cause more problems than it claims to attempt to solve. Case in point: Regulations are not always applied equally, as under the Obama FCC rule some sites were forced to “play fair,” while some of the big guys, such as Netflix and Google, could still set their own rules.
|On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1625): Omnibus Appropriations|
|Vote Date: March 23, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (H.R. 1625) would provide $1.3 trillion in discretionary appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018 for federal government operations and services. This represents an overall increase in discretionary spending of 12 percent over the 2017 level. The big winner was the Department of Defense, with an increase of 10 percent over last year’s appropriations. (See House Vote 25 for more information.)|
The Senate passed the omnibus spending bill on March 23, 2018 by a vote of 65 to 32 (Roll Call 63). We have assigned pluses to the nays because with this omnibus bill, members of Congress are failing to address their fiscally and constitutionally irresponsible budgeting and appropriating process that is currently yielding annual federal deficits measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as minimizing their accountability to the voters by combining all discretionary federal spending for fiscal 2018 into one gigantic “take it or leave it” bill.
|On the Motion to Table S.J.Res. 54: U.S. Military Intervention in Yemen|
|Vote Date: March 20, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This resolution (Senate Joint Res. 54), according to the text, would “direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.”|
The Senate agreed to table (kill) a motion to discharge this resolution from the Foreign Relations Committee (so that it could be considered by the full Senate) on March 20, 2018 by vote of 55 to 44 (Roll Call 58). We have assigned pluses to the nays because only Congress is vested with the power to declare war. A foreign military intervention is an act of war, and Congress has not authorized any intervention or war in Yemen. Nor should Congress do so, since the civil war in Yemen does not threaten the United States.
|On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1955 to S.Amdt. 1958 to H.R. 2579 (Broader Options for Americans Act): Immigration (DACA)|
|Vote Date: February 15, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the immigration bill (H.R. 2579), Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) introduced an amendment to provide “conditional permanent residence” (i.e., amnesty) to the unaccompanied minors who illegally entered the United States before turning 18 years old and have been recipients of President Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.|
The Senate did not vote directly on Coons’ amendment, but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the amendment could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on February 15, 2018 by a vote of 52 to 47 (Roll Call 33; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the nays because Obama’s executive action creating DACA was an unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power belonging to Congress, and because granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will, as has been the case with past amnesties, encourage even more border jumping.
|On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1948 to S.Amdt. 1959 to H.R. 2579 (Broader Options for Americans Act): Immigration (Sanctuary Cities)|
|Vote Date: February 15, 2018||Vote: NAY||Bad Vote.|
|During consideration of the immigration bill (H.R. 2579), Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) introduced an amendment to prohibit the disbursement of federal development grants to cities, states, or other political subdivisions that harbor or provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants.|
The Senate did not vote directly on Toomey’s amendment, but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the amendment could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on February 15, 2018 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 34; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the flood of illegal immigrants into the United States has risen to the level of an invasion swamping our Republic, and political entities that provide sanctuary to illegal aliens in contravention of federal immigration laws should not expect to do so while receiving federal aid.
|On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to S. 139): Warrantless Surveillance|
|Vote Date: January 18, 2018||Vote: AYE||Bad Vote.|
|This bill (S. 139) would reauthorize for six years, through 2023, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which governs electronic surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects. The bill would require the development of procedures for searching the NSA database that would protect the Fourth Amendment-guaranteed rights of U.S. citizens, while allowing the FBI to access information with an order from the secret FISA Court, in certain cases.|
The Senate passed S. 139 on January 18, 2018 by a vote of 65 to 34 (Roll Call 12). We have assigned pluses to the nays because FISA, while supposedly put in place to gather intelligence on foreign targets, has been used to spy on U.S. citizens. While the bill does provide provisions to, ostensibly, protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, given the track record of intelligence agencies, it is unlikely that they would actually follow these rules. The FISA Court gives a green light to just about any surveillance request that comes its way, and FISA-approved NSA warrantless surveillance of American citizens has become common knowledge.