How They Voted (Congress)

Here’s how area House and Senate members voted on major issues during the legislative week ending July 28. Congress is in summer recess. The Senate will resume legislative business the week of Sept. 4 and the House the following week. See the nonpartisan for more information on top congressional issues and individual voting records. Click here for previous votes.

Mike LawlerMichael Lawler (R), District 17 (including Philipstown)
Lawler, 36, was elected to Congress in 2022. From 2021 to 2022, he was a Republican member of the state Assembly from the 97th district in Rockland County. A graduate of Suffern High School, he holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Manhattan College. He is a former  director of the state Republican Party and former deputy town supervisor of Orangetown.

Pat RyanPat Ryan (D), District 18 (including Beacon)
Ryan, 41, was elected to Congress in 2022. Formerly the county executive of Ulster, he grew up in Kingston and holds a bachelor’s degree in international politics from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown. Ryan served in the U.S. Army as a combat intelligence officer from 2004 to 2009, including two tours in Iraq. He is also a former technology executive.

Veterans, Military Construction and NATO Funding

Voting 219 for and 211 against, the House on July 27 passed a bill (HR 4366) that would appropriate $155.7 billion in discretionary spending and $161.7 billion in mandatory spending in fiscal 2024 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction and housing projects, U.S. support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the budgets of several other agencies.

The bill provides $20.3 billion for the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund, which provides health coverage to veterans afflicted by cancer after being exposed to burn pits in combat zones. The bill prohibits the funding of programs that teach “critical race theory” or promote “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

In addition, the bill prohibits closure or realignment of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of Muslim men arrested after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were detained at one time or another over the past two decades. About 30 prisoners are now held there.

Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) praised the bill’s defunding of VA diversity programs. “The great news for all of us here today,” she said, “is that the Constitution declared long ago that all of us are created equal. It is time that we started acknowledging that in all of our funding, in all of our departments and all across America, and, as well, that our veterans are created equal. We don’t have to spend $86 million on educating everyone on how different they are. It is time to start treating everyone equally.”

Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said the bill “attacks the dignity of veterans and all Americans of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality, by blocking the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to advance equity…. If members of today’s extreme Republican majority were in office in 1948, I fear they would have attacked President Truman’s desegregation order as an unacceptable diversity, equity and inclusion measure.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, which is drafting a competing version.

Michael Lawler (R-17, including Philipstown) voted yes
Pat Ryan (D-18, including Beacon) voted no

Defunding Biden Administration Climate Program

Voting 220 for and 214 against, the House on July 26 adopted an amendment that would prohibit funding in HR 4366 (above) to carry out an executive order by President Joe Biden leveraging the scale and purchasing power of the federal government to sharply reduce carbon emissions throughout public and private sectors of the U.S. economy.

Under the order attacked by this amendment, the administration is pursuing goals such as a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2030; the elimination of new-vehicle carbon emissions by 2035; immediate or near-term net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in federal procurement; infrastructure that can withstand climate change; net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 in building construction and a 65 percent decrease by 2030 (compared to 2008) in greenhouse-gas discharges by federal facilities.

Chip Roy (R-Texas) said: “The fact is, our national security is dependent upon our ability to produce and export liquefied natural gas and being able to use the God-given minerals that we have in this country, oil and gas, to be able to power the world.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said: “Despite the wildfires, smoke-covered skies, life-threatening heat waves, and extreme weather we now face nearly every day in the United States, this amendment would hamstring our ability to address the accelerating threat of climate change.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Michael Lawler (R-17, including Philipstown) voted yes
Pat Ryan (D-18, including Beacon) voted no

Gun Rights of Mentally Impaired Veterans

Voting 228 for and 206 against, the House on June 26 adopted an amendment to HR 4366 (above) affirming the gun rights of individuals adjudicated to be so mentally impaired that they cannot manage their own veterans’ benefits. By law, the Department of Veterans Affairs must appoint a fiduciary to manage their benefits and report the individual’s name to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system, which would prohibit the individual from purchasing a firearm because of his or her mental condition. This amendment sought to ban funding to carry out the NICS reporting requirement.

Mike Bost (R-Ill.) said: “The mission of the VA is to care for those who have served. To me, it seems this practice is the opposite of caring for our veterans.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said: “The program has a full due process system, and veterans can file an appeal. This is an example of generating a controversy where there is none.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Michael Lawler (R-17, including Philipstown) voted yes
Pat Ryan (D-18, including Beacon) voted no


$886 Billion for Military in Fiscal 2024

Voting 86 for and 11 against, the Senate on July 27 authorized an $886 billion military budget (S 2226) for fiscal 2024 that funds a 5.2 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel while approving more than $60 billion for active-duty and retiree health care and hundreds of millions in military aid to Ukraine.

The bill funds procurement of naval vessels, combat aircraft, armored vehicles and nuclear and conventional weapons systems while restocking arsenals that have been depleted by weapons shipments to Ukraine. The bill also requires a two-thirds Senate vote to approve any presidential decision to withdraw the United States from NATO.

Confronting Chinese expansion in the Indo-Pacific region, the bill reinforces the Australia-United Kingdom-United States partnership known as AUKUS, steps up training of Taiwanese military forces and increases U.S. naval exercises including freedom-of-navigation operations in the Pacific. In addition, the bill requires the Pentagon to develop a strategy for countering fentanyl deliveries over the southern border and establishes a Pentagon inspector general’s office to oversee the distribution of aid to Ukraine.

Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said the bill “addresses a broad range of pressing issues, from strategic competition with China and Russia to countering threats from Iran, North Korea, violent extremists and even climate change. The bill authorizes a record level of investment in key technologies like … artificial intelligence and makes real progress toward modernizing our ships, aircraft and combat vehicles.”

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said: “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. Tens of thousands of American troops have returned home. Yet the Pentagon’s budget continues to go up. Every year … Congress somehow comes together very quietly, with little debate, to vote for the one thing they agree on, and that is more and more money for the Pentagon.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill, which must be combined with a competing House version.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted yes
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted yes

10 Percent Cut in Military Spending

The Senate on July 27 defeated, 11 for and 88 against, an amendment to S 2226 (above) that sought to make a 10 percent cut in every account in the $886 billion military budget for fiscal 2024 except those for personnel, health care and aid to Ukraine.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said: “Year after year, with very little debate, we pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the military-industrial complex … while the Pentagon remains unaudited with massive waste and fraud. We now spend more than the next 10 nations combined. It is time to change our national priorities.”

Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said: “We are now involved in an existential conflict helping Ukrainians defend democracy…China has increased their military dramatically….This world is more dangerous perhaps today than at any time, and to simply walk away from adequately funding our Defense Department would be…in error.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted no
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted no

Flags on Federal Property

Voting 50 for and 49 against, the Senate on July 27 failed to reach 60 votes needed to adopt an amendment to the 2024 military budget (S 2226, above) that would allow only the U.S. flag to be displayed on federal property. Backers said the amendment was patriotic. But critics called it an attack on the LGBTQ+ community, whose Pride flag occasionally is flown at public buildings, including at the White House on June 8 during Pride month.

Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said: “A vote against this amendment is a slap in the face of those of us who have served and disrespectful to the families whose loved ones have died defending this one flag and the republic.”

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said: “I think the American people are getting tired of politicians who make their support for our military servicemembers and their families contingent on pushing a discriminatory agenda, whether that be about women’s rights or LGBTQ+ rights.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted no
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted no

One thought on “How They Voted (Congress)

  1. Rep. Lawler’s most recent newsletter lauded his commitment to bipartisanship and his support for veterans and military personnel. However, his recent votes on the National Defense Appropriations for 2023 show that these claims are false.

    The NDA includes a 5.2 percent pay increase for military personnel and it increases spending to meet the growing threat from China by funding more missile defense systems and tech innovations.

    The yearly defense appropriation bill always garnered bipartisan support and easily passed both houses of Congress with substantial majorities. The military establishment has historically been heralded as the gold standard for its cutting technology and achievements in greater diversity, especially in the officer corps. The Senate easily passed their version of the NDA with a 86-11 vote.

    The uniqueness of the U.S. military and its institutions was even recognized by the Supreme Court. Writing for the majority in the ruling that banned affirmative action programs in college admission, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that because of “potentially distinct military interests” the military academies were exempt and their academies could continue to use affirmative action programs as part of their admissions.

    But the Republican majority in the House voted to add three amendments to the NDA that restricted funding or programs dealing with transgenders, diversity training and abortion. These were added over the strident objections of the secretary of defense and the Joints Chiefs of Staff. They didn’t want the military and its appropriations to become a political football in Washington’s partisan wars.

    In spite of these objections, the Republican majority added them to the NDA and Rep. Lawler voted yes. Four of Rep. Lawler’s Republican colleagues voted no and one of the amendments was passed with a margin of a single vote. Which means Rep. Lawler’s single vote could have prevented this debacle from happening. As a consequence not a single Democratic representative voted for the NDA, which is unheard of!

    The NDA’s final passage is now delayed as it will be sent to a conference committee for a final resolution. Considering the fact that the Democratic majority in the Senate and the president are on record opposing these amendments it will take time to resolve this problem. It is also troubling to realize that these discussions and compromises will have to be done within a very short calendar because the upcoming debt limit vote is fast approaching.

    Rep. Lawler’s votes and the Republican majority have dragged the military into a partisan ideological battle- in spite of its historic standing as a bastion of bipartisanship. These votes show Rep. Lawler ’s true colors. He does NOT support bipartisanship and he will NOT hesitate to leverage appropriations for veterans and our national defense for political ideology.

    Actions always speak louder than words.

Leave a Reply

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. All online comments are moderated, must include your full name and may appear in print. See our guidelines here.