Contact: 202-225-4576
Website: https://lesko.house.gov

Name: Debbie Lesko


Congress: Arizona, District: 8, Republican


Cumulative Freedom Index Score: 72%


Status: Active Member of the House

Score Breakdown:
70% (116th Congress: 2019-2020); 73% (115th Congress: 2017-2018)

Key Votes:



H R 4378: Short-term Appropriations
Vote Date: September 19, 2019Vote: NAYGood 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 House passed H.R. 4378 on September 19, 2019 by a vote of 301 to 123 (Roll Call 538). 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.



H R 3877: Budget Deal
Vote Date: July 25, 2019Vote: NAYGood 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.” 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 House passed the budget deal on July 25, 2019 by a vote of 284 to 149 (Roll Call 511). We have assigned pluses to the nays not only because spending needs to be brought under control and deficits eliminated to avoid fiscal disaster — not “down the road,” but now — but also because much of the spending is unconstitutional.



H R 2500: On Agreeing to the Amendment 33 to H R 2500
Vote Date: July 12, 2019Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Indefinite Military Detention. During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA; H.R. 2500), Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment to prohibit the indefinite military detention of any person (including American citizens) detained in the United States, its territories, or its possessions under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force or the NDAA. Instead, such persons would be immediately transferred from military detention for trial and afforded “all the due process as provided for under the Constitution.”

The House rejected Amash's amendment on July 12, 2019 by a vote of 187 to 236 (Roll Call 460). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because indefinite detention without trial is a serious violation of long-cherished legal protections, including the right to habeas corpus, the issuance of a warrant based on probable cause (Fourth Amendment), and the right to a "speedy and public" trial (Sixth Amendment).



H R 2157: Disaster Supplemental Appropriations
Vote Date: June 3, 2019Vote: NAYGood 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 House passed H.R. 2157 on June 3, 2019 by a vote of 354 to 58 (Roll Call 232). 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).



H R 5: Equality Act
Vote Date: May 17, 2019Vote: NAYGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 5) would expand the definition of protected classes in federal law to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Regarding the latter, the Equality Act explicitly states that “an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.” That is, males who identify as females would be able to use the public restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms of the opposite sex — and visa versa. Moreover, the bill not only fails to include religious exemptions (e.g., allowing a church adoption agency to refuse placing children with homosexual couples), but explicitly states that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 cannot be used as a defense against the bill’s applications.

The House passed the Equality Act on May 17, 2019 by a vote of 236 to 173 (Roll Call 217). We have assigned pluses to the nays because of the harm it would cause to heterosexual children and adults, as well as threatening religious freedom and the right of association.



H R 9: Paris Agreement
Vote Date: May 2, 2019Vote: NAYGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 9) would prohibit the use of federal funds for U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change and would require the president to develop a plan for the United States to meet contributions promised under the Obama administration.

The House passed H.R. 9 on May 2, 2019 by a vote of 231 to 190 (Roll Call 184). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the Paris Agreement never should have been signed by the United States in the first place. The Paris Agreement essentially functions as a treaty, and the United States entered into it without ratification by the U.S. Senate, which is required under the Constitution. Furthermore, from a practical standpoint, fulfilling the terms of the agreement would stifle the U.S. economy and energy sector while making almost no impact whatsoever on alleged man-made global warming.



S J RES 7: Yemen
Vote Date: April 4, 2019Vote: NAYBad 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 House passed S.J. Res. 7 on April 4, 2019 by a vote of 247 to 175 (Roll Call 153). 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.



H R 8: Firearms Background Checks
Vote Date: February 27, 2019Vote: NAYGood Vote.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8) would mandate universal background checks, essentially ban all private firearm sales, and create a federal registry of all gun owners in the United States. Michael Hammond, the legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, noted, “Bottom line, H.R. 8 was not about public safety. Over and over again we see that mass shooters, who don’t steal their weapons, pass background checks before purchasing their firearms. So extending the background checks to private sales will do nothing to keep guns ‘out of the wrong hands.’”

The House passed H.R. 8 on February 27, 2019 by a vote of 240 to 190 (Roll Call
99). We have assigned pluses to the nays because this bill would severely infringe upon the Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms, since the bill’s onerous regulations would make it very difficult for law-abiding citizens to privately sell their firearms or to purchase firearms from a private seller.



S 47: Public Lands
Vote Date: February 26, 2019Vote: AYEBad 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 House passed S. 47 on February 26, 2019 by a vote of 363 to 62 (Roll Call 95). 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.”



H J RES 31: Consolidated Appropriations
Vote Date: February 14, 2019Vote: NAYGood 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 House passed the final version of the bill (the conference report) on February 14, 2019 by a vote of 300 to 128 (Roll Call 87). 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.



H R 6784: Gray Wolves
Vote Date: November 16, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 6784) would direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a rule removing the gray wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife, thus removing federal protections for the species in the 48 contiguous United States. It would also direct the Interior Department to reissue a 2011 rule delisting gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and would exempt both rules, and another rule delisting the species in Wyoming, from judicial review.

The House passed H.R. 6784 on November 16, 2018 by a vote of 196 to 180 (Roll Call 420). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because decisions regarding human interaction with various animal species, if handled by government at all, should be handled at the state and local levels. The U.S. Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to declare animals endangered and thus off-limits to hunt or otherwise manage. The growing gray wolf population has been a menace to farmers and ranchers in many states, and farmers are not allowed to protect their own property owing to federal regulations. Working to overturn such regulations is a good thing.



H R 6760: Tax Cuts
Vote Date: September 28, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 6760) would make permanent tax cuts for individuals in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that were set to expire at the end of 2025, including lowered tax rates, increased standard deductions (from $13,000 to $24,000 for joint filers), and an increased child tax credit (from $1,000 to $2,000).

The House passed H.R. 6760 on September 28, 2018 by a vote of 220 to 191 (Roll Call 414). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because tax cuts keep money in the hands of those who earned it and can spur economic growth. Unfortunately, however, neither the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nor this new legislation addresses runaway federal spending, which needs to be reined in via other legislation.



H RES 1099: Opioid Abuse Prevention and Health Programs
Vote Date: September 28, 2018Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 6), as amended by the House, would expand Medicare and Medicaid to cover medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse and would place new requirements on states regarding Medicaid drug review and utilization requirements. It would appropriate $15 million annually, from fiscal 2019 through fiscal 2023, to support the establishment or operation of public-health laboratories to detect synthetic opioids. The House amendment to the Senate-amended bill would allow Medicaid patients with opioid- or cocaineabuse problems to stay for up to 30 days per year in certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.

The House agreed to an amendment to the Senate-amended version of H.R. 6 on September 28, 2018 by a vote of 393 to 8 (Roll Call 415). We have assigned pluses to the nays 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.



H R 6157: Appropriations for Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, and Continuing Appropriations
Vote Date: September 26, 2018Vote: AYEBad 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 House adopted the final version of the bill (the conference report) on September 26, 2018 by a vote of 361 to 61 (Roll Call 405). 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.



H RES 1082: FAA Reauthorization and Supplemental Disaster Appropriations
Vote Date: September 26, 2018Vote: AYEBad 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 House passed the bill on September 26, 2018 by a vote of 398 to 23 (Roll Call 407). 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.



S 1182: Flood Insurance
Vote Date: July 25, 2018Vote: NAYGood Vote.
This bill (S. 1182) would extend the authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program through November 30, 2018.

The House passed S. 1182 on July 25, 2018 by a vote of 366 to 52 (Roll Call 373). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the Constitution does not give the federal government authority to get into the insurance business. Having the federal government as an insurer essentially subsidizes risky behavior, such as building in flood-, fire-, and earthquake-prone areas, and forces the taxpayer to pick up the tab. Insurance policies for natural disasters should be offered by private insurers, with the market setting the rates for such coverage.



H R 184: Medical Device Tax Repeal
Vote Date: July 24, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 184) would fully repeal, after December 31, 2019, the 2.3-percent excise tax on domestic sales of medical devices. The “medical device tax” was put in place as part of the Affordable Care Act to help cover some of the program’s costs.

The House passed H.R. 184 on July 24, 2018 by a vote of 283 to 132 (Roll Call 372). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because, while implementing an excise tax in itself is not an unconstitutional action of the federal government, this particular excise tax was put in place to help pay for an unconstitutional program — the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. Repealing part of the funding for such an unconstitutional federal healthcare program is a good thing and should be supported.



H R 119: Carbon Tax
Vote Date: July 19, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This measure (House Concurrent Resolution 119) would express the sense of Congress “that a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.” During debate on the floor of the House, Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) discussed how a carbon tax would raise and increase costs for families. He pointed out: “There would be an increase by an estimated $1,900 per family on the cost of things that they buy all across this country.”

The House adopted H. Con. Res. 119 on July 19, 2018 by a vote of 229 to 180 (Roll Call 363). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because Congress has no constitutional authority to limit the use of certain sources of energy, such as carbonbased fuels, by selectively imposing taxes on them.



H R 6147: Emissions Standards
Vote Date: July 18, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This amendment to H.R. 6147, introduced by Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), would prohibit appropriated funds of the Fiscal 2019 Interior Environment and Financial Services Appropriations Package from being used to enforce the EPA’s “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emissions Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources” rule, also known as the “methane rule.” According to the Congressional Record for July 18, 2018, Representative Mullin said the following: “This amendment would prohibit funds from enforcing the Obama administration EPA methane rule. This rule is currently facing litigation uncertainty, and Congress must act to block this job-killing regulation estimated to cost our economy $530 million annually. While oil and gas production has increased more than 25 percent since 2005, related methane emissions have actually decreased almost 40 percent during the same time period.”

The House passed this amendment to H.R. 6147 on July 18, 2018 by a vote of 215 to 194 (Roll Call 346). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to regulate the environment in general, let alone regulate methane emissions that accompany oil and natural gas production, processing, and distribution.



H R 3: Appropriations Cuts
Vote Date: June 7, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 3) would cut nearly $15 billion from previously approved, unspent spending, 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 House passed H.R. 3 on June 7, 2018 by a vote of 210 to 206 (Roll Call 243). 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 funding targeted by the bill would not be spent anyway. Yet modest cuts are better than none at all.



H R 3249: Law Enforcement Partnership Grants
Vote Date: June 6, 2018Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 3249) would establish a Project Safe Neighbor-hoods Block Grant Program within the Of-fice of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice to foster and improve existing partnerships between local, state, and fed-eral law-enforcement agencies to create safer neighborhoods through sustained reductions in violent crimes. It would authorize $50 million a year in each of the fiscal years from 2019 through 2021.

The House concurred with the Senate version of H.R. 3249 on June 6, 2018 by a vote of 394 to 13 (Roll Call 239). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the federal government is not autho-rized by the Constitution to partner with, train, or subsidize state or local law-enforcement agencies. Too, our contin-ued existence as a free people under the Constitution depends on the continued independence of our local police from federal and state control.



S 204: Experimental Drugs
Vote Date: May 22, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (S. 204) would allow patients with life-threatening diseases or conditions who are not participating in clinical trials to seek access to experimental and investigational drugs directly from a drug manufacturer, without approval by the Food and Drug Administration. It would require that in order for the patient to be eligible, the patient must first try all approved treatment options and be unable to participate in a clinical trial. Only drugs that have completed phase 1 clinical trials, that have not been approved or licensed for any use, and that are currently under an active FDA application or are undergoing clinical trials would be eligible for use under the bill’s provisions.

The House passed S. 204 on May 22, 2018 by a vote of 250 to 169 (Roll Call 214). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the federal government, under the Constitution, has not been given authority over what medical procedures U.S. citizens choose to engage in. If a person wants to try an “unapproved” treatment, he should be able to do so with no interference from the government. In fact, since the Constitution gives the federal government no authority whatsoever over any aspect of healthcare, the FDA should not even exist. Any law that lessens government overreach into the personal medical decisions of citizens is a step in the right direction.



H R 2: Raw Milk
Vote Date: May 18, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the farm bill (H.R. 2), Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to prohibit federal interference in the interstate transportation of unpasteurized milk and milk products between states that allow for the distribution of such products for direct human consumption.

The House rejected Massie’s amendment on May 18, 2018 by a vote of 79 to 331 (Roll Call 201). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the U.S. Constitution does not give the federal government any authority over what foods a person chooses to consume. In other words, it is illegal for the federal government to make raw milk illegal. While the federal government does have authority to “regulate Commerce … among the several States,” there is no reason for federal interference in a scenario such as this, where a product is legally sold in each of the states in question. Massie’s amendment would have limited federal overreach and should have been supported.



H R 2: Waters of the United States
Vote Date: May 18, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the farm bill (H.R. 2), Representative Jim Banks (RInd.) introduced an amendment to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule. On the floor of the House, Banks called this rule “the poster child of government overreach during the Obama administration,” noting that it gives “unelected bureaucrats at the EPA the power to broadly interpret what is a navigable waterway” under the Clean Water Act — so broadly that “even a puddle in a farm’s drainage ditch could be subjected to Federal regulation.”

The House adopted Banks’ amendment on May 18, 2018 by a vote of 238 to 173 (Roll Call 203). We have assigned pluses to the yeas 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.



H R 2: Agricultural Crop Subsidies
Vote Date: May 17, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the farm bill (H.R. 2), Representative Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) introduced an amendment that would have phased out agricultural crop subsidies by fiscal year 2030.

The House rejected McClintock’s amendment on May 17, 2018 by a vote of 34 to 380 (Roll Call 194). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because no warrant for the appropriation of crop subsidies is found in the Constitution, and subsidies disrupt the free market economy.



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