CongressNews

How Colorado’s congressional delegation voted this week

Author: Tom Ramstack - May 18, 2018 - Updated: May 31, 2018

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State of the UnionLights shine inside the U.S. Capitol Building as night falls in Washington, D.C., in 2018. (Photo by J. David Ake/The Associated Press)

H.R. 3053: Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 3053 in the House.

This bill provides the authorizations and procedures to begin building a repository for the nation’s nuclear wastes at Yucca Mountain in the southern Nevada desert.

The U.S. Energy Department planned to transport radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to the Yucca Mountain repository for about 30 years. The effort was delayed by safety concerns and protests from Nevada residents. Nevada’s governor was one of the opponents.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act restarts the process by reducing barriers to federal funding and allowing the Energy Department to build or license a temporary nuclear waste storage site while the permanent facility is being built.

Congress members who supported the bill said the greater danger comes from thousands of tons of radioactive waste building up in about 120 communities nationwide. Often it is stored under water at the site of nuclear power plants. However, the storage capacity has reached its limit, meaning Congress wants to move forward with the central Yucca Mountain repository despite the local opposition.

The Obama administration halted the process for the Yucca Mountain repository in 2010 with a policy saying the wastes could be stored only in states that do not oppose the storage. The Trump administration reversed the policy, saying there is no better option than Yucca Mountain.

The bill passed by a large majority in the House but faces an uncertain future in the Senate. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the government has a “moral obligation” to proceed with the Yucca Mountain repository.

“The bill we’re considering today reinforces a promise that the United States Congress, on behalf of the entire federal government, made to our constituents a generation ago,” U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said on the House floor before the vote.

Passed.

Yes  D DeGette, Diana CO 1st
No  D Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R Coffman, Mike CO 6th
No  D Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

H.R. 613: Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 613 in the House.

This bill would require the Bureau of Prisons to provide corrections officers with a storage area for personal firearms.

The bill was named for corrections officer Osvaldo Albarati, who was killed as he returned home in retaliation for his role in an investigation at his job site in a Puerto Rican prison.

The bill was introduced by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., who said, “Corrections officers in our district brought us their concerns for their safety when they finish their shift and leave the prison for the day. This is a reality our officers deal with daily and it has serious ramifications.”

The bill would amend current laws that forbid corrections officers from carrying guns in prison buildings. H.R. 613 would allow them to carry concealed guns outside a security perimeter at the prisons. They also could store the guns in lockers at the prisons.

The bill won support from the American Federation of Government Employees. Congress timed the vote to coincide with Law Enforcement Week.

Passed.

Did Not Vote  D DeGette, Diana CO 1st
Yes  D Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R Coffman, Mike CO 6th
Yes  D Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

H.R. 4854: Justice Served Act of 2018

This was a vote to pass H.R. 4854 in the House.

This bill would dedicate more money to solving violent cold cases. It would require the Justice Department to redirect 5 percent to 7 percent of its budget for testing of rape kits to instead investigating crimes that never resulted in a prosecution, largely because the evidence failed to identify a suspect.

As a result of the Justice Served Act, at least $6 million of the $120 million the Justice Department now uses for rape kits would be turned over to state and local prosecutors. Most of the $6 million would be used for DNA testing.

The bill’s sponsors want to reallocate the Justice Department budget because of recent advances with DNA testing. Traditionally, detectives compared crime scene evidence to DNA records of the prime suspects in an FBI database. However, sometimes there was no DNA evidence of suspects.

In recent years, the science has progressed to identifying suspects based on partial matches from their close relatives in the FBI database.

One notable example was the case of the “Grim Sleeper,” a serial killer of at least 10 people in Los Angeles. Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was convicted of the crimes in 2016, based partly on DNA from his son that was entered in the FBI database after he was arrested on an unrelated weapons charge.

More recently, the alleged “Golden State Killer” was arrested based on DNA evidence found in a public database used by genealogy enthusiasts. Joseph James DeAngelo is suspected of 12 murders and more than 50 rapes in the case.

Passed.

Did Not Vote  D DeGette, Diana CO 1st
Yes  D Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R Coffman, Mike CO 6th
Yes  D Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

S. 35: Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act

This was a vote to pass S. 35 in the House.

The Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act would create a permanent land transfer of about 200 acres of Bureau of Land Management property to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery outside of Sturgis, South Dakota.

Current law limits Bureau of Land Management transfers to 20 years. S. 35 would make the land transfer permanent.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who said in a statement, “Wyoming is one of the few states without a [Veterans Administration] national cemetery, so I am glad that Congress was able to pass this legislation to ensure we are working to provide a resting place for Wyoming’s veterans. Veterans and their families deserve to know that there will always be a place where their families can honor their legacy for generations to come. I look forward to President (Donald) Trump signing this legislation into law soon.”

The Senate already approved its version of the bill in December. Trump is expected to sign the legislation soon.

Passed.

Did Not Vote  D DeGette, Diana CO 1st
Yes  D Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R Coffman, Mike CO 6th
Yes  D Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

Sources: Govtrack, congressional and media reports

Tom Ramstack

Tom Ramstack