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Zip codes: House 20515, Senate 20510
Capitol operator: (202) 224-3121
ABORTION COVERAGE IN HEALTH LAW: Voting 227 for and 188 against, the House on Jan. 28 passed a Republican bill (HR 7) that would ban subsidized insurance policies that cover abortion from the Affordable Care Act’s state and federal marketplaces. The bill would prohibit any use of federal funds, including tax credits, to subsidize premiums for such policies. Critics call this an overreach because the ACA already requires policyholders to pay the premium share that applies to reproductive services. But backers said the “separate payment” requirement is being widely disregarded. The bill also adds the so-called “Hyde Amendment,” now a rider on annual appropriations bills, to permanent U.S. law. Since 1976, the amendment has prohibited the expenditure of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to die.
YES: PEARCE NO: LUJAN GRISHAM, LUJÃN
WOMEN’S MEDICAL PRIVACY: Voting 192 for and 221 against, the House on Jan. 28 defeated a bid by Democrats to prevent HR 7 (above) from violating the medical privacy of any woman, including rape and incest victims, with respect to her choice or use of a health- insurance policy. The motion addressed privacy issues that could arise as insurance companies seek to document a woman’s claim to have been raped and thus eligible for taxpayer-funded abortion coverage under the 1976 Hyde Amendment. That amendment bars federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape or incest or if the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.
A yes vote backed the Democratic motion.
YES: LUJAN GRISHAM, LUJÃN NO: PEARCE
FARM SUBSIDIES, FOOD STAMPS: Voting 251 for and 166 against, the House on Jan. 29 approved the conference report on a bill (HR 2642) to renew farm and food programs for five years at a projected cost of nearly $100 million annually, down nearly $2.3 billion per year from pre-sequester levels. The bill would cut food-stamps spending by 1 percent; eliminate direct payments to farmers; expand crop insurance for growers of crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice; fund rural development; boost exports; add stability to dairy incomes without directly limiting milk production; expand crop research and promote soil conservation and wetlands protection, among many other objectives. About 80 percent of the bill’s $956 billion cost over 10 years is for food stamps and other food and nutrition programs, with the remainder allocated to farm programs.
A yes vote was to approve the conference report, which awaits Senate action.
YES: LUJAN GRISHAM, PEARCE, LUJÃN
FLOOD-INSURANCE PREMIUMS: Voting 67 for and 32 against, the Senate on Jan. 30 passed a bill (S 1926) to delay for four years steep increases in premiums for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) time to redraw the maps of flood plains upon which risk assessments and premium levels are based. Adding $900 billion to U.S. debt over five years, the bill would blunt reforms enacted by Congress in 2012 to phase out taxpayer subsidies that lower premium costs for about one in five NFIP policyholders. The program is $24 billion in debt, due largely to covering damages from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Sandy in 2012. Serving a market shunned by private insurers, the NFIP covers 5.6 million residential and commercial properties in flood plains in 22,000 U.S. communities.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where it faces stiff opposition.
YES: UDALL, HEINRICH
TO ALLOW DEFICIT SPENDING: Voting 64 for and 35 against, the Senate on Jan. 29 reached a supermajority needed to exempt S 1926 (above) from statutory spending limits set by congressional budget resolutions. Because the bill would increase deficit spending by $900 billion over its first five years and possibly by additional sums in later years, it needed this waiver to move forward.
A yes vote was to allow deficit spending in the flood- insurance bill.
YES: UDALL, HEINRICH
PHASE-IN OF PREMIUM INCREASES: Voting 34 for and 65 against, the Senate on Jan. 30 defeated an alternative to S 1926 (above) that would allow flood- insurance premiums to rise by 25 percent per year until the property owner has begun paying an actuarially sound rate no longer subsidized by taxpayers. To put the flood-insurance program on a pay-as-you-go basis over the next several years, the amendment would impose a surcharge of $40 annually on premiums for properties valued below $500,000 and $80 annually for more costly properties.
A yes vote backed the amendment.
NO: UDALL, HEINRICH