WASHINGTON — Here’s how area members of Congress voted during the legislative week ending March 29:
Wage bias against women: By a vote of 242 for and 187 against, the House on March 27 passed and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 7) that would expand federal prohibitions on paycheck discrimination based on gender while giving women additional legal tools for obtaining equal pay for substantially equal work. The bill, which exempts companies with annual revenue less than $500,000, would require employers to demonstrate that any pay disparities between men and women are a business necessity and job-related; prohibit retaliation against those who share salary data with co-workers; prohibit the use of salary histories in setting pay levels, so that sex-based pay gaps do not follow workers from job to job; allow plaintiffs to receive unlimited punitive and compensatory damages just as they can in other civil- rights litigation; and expand the categories of payroll data the Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can collect from employers to determine their compliance with laws including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A yes vote was to send HR 7 to the Senate.
Voting yes: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, Denny Heck, D-Olympia
Voting no: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane
Contingency fee caps: The House on March 27 defeated, 191-236, a Republican bid to cap lawyers’ contingency fees and expenses in lawsuits brought under HR 7 (above) to 49 percent of the recovered sum. A contingency fee is the payment attorneys receive when their client wins a judgment; if the client loses, the attorney goes without pay. The American Bar Association says contingency fees of 33 percent are typical, but critics say they often go higher. A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, Rodgers
Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, Jayapal, Schrier, Smith, Heck
Transgender service ban: The House on March 28 voted, 238-185, to repudiate President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender persons from serving openly in the U.S. military. Soon to take effect, the ban would undo a 2016 Obama administration policy granting the trans community its first-ever opportunity to serve openly in the armed forces. Trump’s policy would allow the several thousand trans individuals now in uniform to continue serving openly if they identify their sex as that which they had at birth, although the Pentagon could relax that requirement on a case-by-case basis. A yes vote was to adopt H Res 124.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, Jayapal, Schrier, Smith, Heck
Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, Rodgers
Trump prevails in veto vote: The House on March 26 failed to override President Trump’s veto of a measure (HJ Res 46) nullifying his declared national emergency on the southwest border over immigration concerns. The tally was 248 for and 181 against, with override forces falling 38 votes short of the two- thirds majority they needed to prevail. This clears the way for Trump to transfer appropriations from military accounts specified by Congress for other purposes to the construction of a border wall, an action Democrats say they will challenge in court. A yes vote was to defeat the presidential veto.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Herrera Beutler, Rodgers, Kilmer, Jayapal, Schrier, Smith, Heck
Voting no: Newhouse
Green New Deal ploy: By a vote of zero for and 57 against, the Senate on March 26 turned back a Democratic-sponsored measure (SJ Res 8) that would establish a “Green New Deal” for greatly expanding governmental and private- sector initiatives for dealing with climate change. All 53 Republican senators voted against the resolution along with three Democrats and one independent, while 42 Democrats and one independent answered “present,” which is a nonvote similar to absenteeism. Republicans, who arranged this vote, said it was time to take a stand on ambitious proposals to phase out consumption of fossil fuels over 10 years. But Democrats said it was too soon to conduct votes on legislation still in the discussion stage. A no vote was a statement against the so-called Green New Deal.
Not voting: Maria Cantwell, D, Patty Murray, D,
KEY VOTES AHEAD: The House will vote on renewing the Violence Against Women Act in the week of April 1, while the Senate will debate aid for areas struck by wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other natural disasters.