On Thursday, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.

The bloated $768 billion authorization increases topline funding levels by five percent relative to the FY 2021 authorization, despite the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Biden administration’s promises to curtail endless war.

The vote was 316 to 113, with 181 Democrats and 135 Republicans voting for it and 38 Democrats and 75 Republicans voting against it.

Here were the 38 Democrats who voted NO:


After an 11:52 am 50–49 party line vote on a motion to proceed Tuesday morning to consideration of a budget resolution that could lead to a much-needed expansion of the social safety net, the Senate kicked off what is called a “vote-a-rama,” a marathon of amendment voting in which senators try to put each other on record on contentious issues, until almost 4 am the next morning. These amendments are all non-binding and mainly just serve for messaging purposes.

But it still matters what messages politicians choose to advance. So let’s take a look at them.

Several votes were unanimous…


Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021, which would require the SEC to adopt clear, consistent standards for companies to disclose to investors information related to climate change risks, corporate political spending, and worker pay, as well as requiring public companies to disclose profits and foreign taxes paid by their subsidiaries.

The bill passed 215 to 214, with 4 Democrats voting against it. Those 4 were Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Susie Lee (NV-03), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05).

The House voted down two Republican amendments before doing so.

One was an amendment…


On Thursday, to little fanfare, the House of Representatives passed the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines Act of 2021 (the “BIG” Act) by a wide bipartisan margin of 323 to 92, with two abstentions.

The bill was introduced by a bipartisan team of Republicans Drew Ferguson (GA-03) and Michael Burgess (TX-26) and Democrats Scott Peters (CA-52) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to facilitate the development of best practices to assist elementary schools, secondary schools, and institutions of higher education in establishing and using behavioral intervention teams.

The bill sounds innocuous at first glance, but…


Yesterday marked the 18th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. The Iraq War, in other words, is now old enough to fight in Iraq — where the US still has a troop presence.

Although the war would not begin until March 2003, the House passed the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq in October 2002. The vote was 296 to 133. 215 Republicans and 81 Democrats voted for it. 126 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 1 Independent (Sanders) voted against it.

Of those 127 NAY votes from the Democratic caucus, 37 are still there:

Earl…


Earlier today, Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021, which would guarantee health care to everyone as a human right.

They were joined by 111 of their colleagues (109 representatives and two delegates, Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC and Gregorio Sablan of the Northern Marian Islands). With 111 members of the 219-member voting caucus, the bill commands a slim majority, and it’s likely that the vacant seats will be filled by future co-sponsors.

Last session, the bill had the support of 119 members. What accounts for the difference?

Seven first-year members of…


At 12:12 pm on Saturday afternoon, the Senate voted 50 to 49 in support of the $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package. Every Democrat voted in support, and every Republican voted against the widely popular package.

In the just-over-24 hours leading up to passing the bill, the Senate had taken three dozen votes, part of what is called a “vote-a-rama.”

The vote that got the most news was the first one: the vote on Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The amendment failed 42 to 58, with Democratic Caucus members Tom Carper (D-DE)…


Last night, the House voted 220 to 210 in favor of H.R.1, the For the People Act. All Democrats but one (Bennie Thompson of MS-02) voted for it; every Republican voted against it.

The bill is an ambitious and important omnibus for democracy reforms:

*Expanding and protecting voting rights: H.R. 1 fights institutional barriers to voting by implementing key reforms such as automatic and same day voter registration, early and absentee voting, and complete restoration of voting rights for individuals who have completed felony sentences. H.R. 1 also prohibits voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia, and elsewhere…


At 5:23 am Friday morning, after a marathon of amendment voting, the US Senate passed its budget resolution teeing up Biden’s COVID relief package 51–50.

For the prior fifteen hours, the Senate voted on a series of non-binding amendments in what is called a “vote-a-rama.” Senators have the opportunity to put themselves and their colleagues on record on a whole host of issues in a largely meaningless but nonetheless fascinating PR exercise.

Here are all the non-unanimous, non-party-line recorded votes:

*Establishing a fund to provide grants to food service and drinking establishments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (introduced by Roger…


In order to preserve civilian control of the military, current law prevents the appointment any military officer who has been out of active duty for less than seven years. Although the principle of civilian control of the military goes back to the Constitution, this specific requirement traces to the National Security Act of 1947.

In 2017, Trump had to get a waiver from Congress to nominate General Mattis as Secretary of Defense, a rare move that set a bad precedent — a bad precedent that President Biden has already decided to follow in nominating General Lloyd Austin.

Back in 2017…

Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.

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